The CORE20 system is a d20-based fantasy roleplaying game ruleset that’s the brainchild of writer, designer, and editor Scott Fitzgerald Gray. Since 2004, Scott’s been working as a full-time freelance RPG editor and designer, primarily on the Dungeons & Dragons game — including working as an editor on the Monster Manual, the Dungeon Master’s Guide, and the Player’s Handbook for fifth edition D&D. He’s written and edited upwards of two hundred books, adventures, and articles for Wizards of the Coast, including writing Dead in Thay in the Tales from the Yawning Portal anthology, and being managing editor and co-creative director for the Acquisitions Incorporated book. He’s written or edited for MCDM, Ghostfire Gaming, Schwalb Entertainment’s Shadow of the Demon Lord, Sly Flourish, Gamehole Publishing, Green Ronin, Frog God Games, and others, as well as for Dragon, Dungeon, Dragon+, and Arcadia magazines. He also creates and publishes adventures and gaming supplements under his own Insane Angel Studios imprint.
CORE20 first came to life in Scott’s home game in 2010, as a loose collection of house rules for fantasy roleplaying with no classes and no levels. It’s expanded inexorably since then through six revisions of what we’ll call closed-alpha playtesting, during which time the game has grown to include new rules for spellcasting, combat, hit points, downtime, magic items, skills, and much more.
CORE20 is a game that focuses on a number of the specific aspects of heroic fantasy roleplaying that have been at the center of Scott’s love of the game for the past 40-odd years. It’s a game that reshapes the standard pass/fail mechanic of many fantasy RPGs into a more story-fueled system for resolving skill checks and combat rolls. It’s a game that thrives on long-term campaigning rather than accelerated sprints through various heroic tiers. It’s a game that moves away from the fantasy-superhero trope that modern fantasy games often push toward.
It’s a game that makes character building the foundation of the story, working around the idea that even before the DM asks the in-game question, “What do you want to do?”, every player gets to ask the question:
“Who do I want to be?”
And then they get to answer that question in a new way.