I have decided to give the Lumen Jam a shot. This jam has been organized by Lumen’s creator Spencer Campbell of Gila RPGs with the goal of participants “making a brand new game, or creating some new classes, rules, or supplements for existing LUMEN RPGs!” The only major rule is that any creations have to be built around the Lumen SRD.

As part of the process of making an RPG based on an SRD, I normally study the system to make sure the setting and feel I want for my game will actually match the mechanics. In only felt right to share the impressions from my initial read-through should any of you like to also participate or would just like to learn more about Lumen-driven game like Gila RPGs’s Light and upcoming Nova or the submissions to the game jam.

The logo for games that use the Lumen system. It reads "Illuminated by Lumen" and shows a geometric representation of light being scattered after going through a prisim.

Looking at the Lumen SRD

The text states that Lumen is a lightweight RPG engine built around three main elements: powerful characters, fast and combat-oriented action, and a sortie style “gameplay loop.” It points out that it has been heavily inspired by video games like Overwatch, Diablo, and Destiny. The original design goal of the engine is to give the players the feeling of being one of those characters that can go out, get the job done in the face of dubious odds, and get home alive to do it all again.

The three core attributes, labeled in the SRD as “Force,” “Flow,” and “Focus,” indicate acting with strength or big action, quickness, or patient and practiced care, respectively. They do not indicate what the character is doing, but rather how they are doing it. Actions in the game is based on dice pools of d6 based on the Stat being used. The highest die result in the pool decides the results of the attempted action in a scale of “yes / yes, but / no, and.”

The classes in the game, should the creator decided to use them, are built around 3-5 unique powers that do not require rolls to activate. There is also health, and a resource that indicates their limited, but renewable ability to use those powers. This resource may also be useful for other things like rerolling attribute checks, regenerating health, or negating damage. Some passive abilities and the like could be layered on to provide some extra flavor, especially if the game uses a class system.

The combined effect of these approach-related attributes and powers without a skills list is to simplify the flow of the action. There is even a system where defeated enemies drop resources or health in order to keep the PCs going and minimize the loot mechanics that exist in many other RPGs.

Advancement can be improving the attributes scores, increasing the resource or health pool, or providing loot-like equipment. It is also suggested that advancements could be used to to boost powers like improving power effectiveness or reducing resource costs.

My Impressions of Lumen

This system in some ways strongly reminds me of the Cypher system. The three Attributes have similar descriptions to the Might, Speed, Mind descriptions from base Cypher. The desire for simplicity of rules and speed in action also meshes between the two systems, though a number of mechanics differ. I think there may be some game concepts that can be pulled from Cypher to tinker with the mechanics of Lumin.

I will consider my options, but I can tell that my initial idea is not going to work. I will keep the concept to myself for now for use later, but I do not think it would mesh well with the power fantasy elements of the Lumin system.

That said, I can think of several possible story/setting concepts that would mesh well with this system I have not seen anyone use yet. One is pretty classic for power fantasy. Another other would be double-layered, almost being like having two different characters. The stats would be the same, but the powers and action will be different depending upon which layer the action is occurring on.

A third I will most likely go with for my initial attempt at building a game will be bringing in mechanics inspired by others, but I will save discussing that for later. Sorry for being coy, but I need to have something to write about as I consider my options in the coming days! ^_^;

Several games have already been submitted for the Lumen Jam, which you can check out here! There are several TTRPGs, adventures for Lumen RPGs, and a “Mouse Media” inspired class.

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