Designer’s Diary: Blue Phoenix Publishing – Chronicles of Cathura


Chronicles of Cathura
Chronicles of Cathura is a complete RPG published by Blue Phoenix Publishing.
By Scott Hibbard
Learn more about Chronicles of Cathura here
Purchase the Chronicles of Cathura here

Welcome to the latest Designer’s Diary, a column where designers are given the opportunity to take readers on an in-depth ride through the design and development process of their system, setting, or product. If you’d like to share your product in the Designer’s Diary column, send a message to

Designer’s Description
Chronicles of Cathura is a tabletop roleplaying game that runs off of a d6 system built from the ground up as a customizable and stackable system grounded in an enriching story.

We wanted to accomplish four-main goals with the building of this system: customization, stacking modifiers, streamlined combat, and a single core rulebook. With these four factors, we believe the GM and the players have more creative freedom in their games and allowing them to focus less on mechanics and more on roleplaying.

As a group we were influenced by past tabletop RPGs we’ve played including: World of Darkness, Dungeons and Dragons (All Editions), Savage Worlds, and Traveller to name a few. These tabletop games have made an impact on our lives in some way and we wanted to take a piece of that and put it in our world to give people the same effect.

Most of the mechanics had been researched from our past experience and homebrew games we ran, but the creation of the world itself was a different story. To create a world full of creatures, we had to pull from creation itself, mythologies, and media to gather ideas for interesting and unique encounters.

Orange PhoenixArt Direction
Our main goal with art was to allow the players and GM to see what we have envisioned for certain creatures, items, etc., but also to inspire creativity. We didn’t want to have a picture drawn for every item and every creature, we just wanted to give a glimpse of what the world of Cathura looks like. Our main objective was to inspire creativity, we wanted GMs and players alike to read a description and immediately begin thinking of how they can take it and add their own specific features to it that fits their world. Better yet, maybe through reading the description of one creature or item will spark creativity to create a brand new creature or item for their own personal world. This was the goal with the art.

Gaming Experience
From playing Chronicles of Cathura you can experience a tabletop RPG that is simple to understand, easy to get started and focuses on roleplaying. This in turn brings the social game back into tabletop gaming instead of just resolving everything through combat, your social skills with other players can stop a battle before it begins or even create a new one. By focusing on roleplaying it gives a deeper experience to the players as they play their characters.

Comparatively speaking our system is made up of five distinct features. It is simplistic, running on a single die type system (d6). It features a single core rulebook that has the players guide, GM section and beastiary included. It has a stacking system built from the ground up, meaning we wanted you to be able to stack bonuses from items, effects and environments to gain the edge in combat. Customization was key in building our system, developing it to allow the players and GM to create a variety of different characters. Two characters as the same race and class can have very different builds and function as a different component of the same party. Lastly, streamlined combat allows for quicker resolution and more time spent roleplaying.

Development Process
The entire world building was a great undertaking that had to be broken off into sections. We began with creating a rough draft of the prologue to gain a backstory to the world and worked on the races and classes first. From there we built the factions, NPC’s and worked on the equipment and Mystical Items of the world. Beastiary was one of the largest undertakings we had to accomplish as we had to cover a large range of levels with a world full of differentiating regions. During the whole development process, we were playtesting the combat mechanics with the races, classes and equipment to get a handle on the system itself to make sure everything was balancing correctly. Playtesting was part of the development process and was accomplished as part of, not after everything was written. This allowed us to make corrections immediately instead of revising everything later. The Judge (GM) section was written last to grant tips, ideas and information needed to run campaigns in Cathura. There were many harsh playtests and mechanics had to be stripped away or new ones added to balance out the system, but over the course of the project, it began to build into what it is today.

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