A "vardy" is a shorthand term applied to "varient D&D" systems that proliferated back in the 1970s and beyond.
Perhaps the major innovation that I've introduced is "Elements". The Elements I use are:
- Dragon * (very rare)
- Feral * (animals only)
- Evil * (bad guys only)
Characters roll four d6s to establish their "elemental makeup" (which is also their "aura"). The first of these is their "Prime Element" and takes up two spaces on their Elemental Circle (of five segments). The next three fill out the remaining spaces of the Circle.
1s through 5s give you the respective element (i.e., Air, Fire, Earth, Water, Spirit). A "6" allows one to choose or to re-roll. If this re-roll is another 6 that allows for a segment of Dragon. Below are the Elemental Circles for our current delving group:
Dleps the Dwarf has a 33145 pattern, giving him:
Fasboo the Cleric of Athena has a 55312 pattern, giving her:
Bejal the Cleric of Ra has a 55221 pattern, giving her:
Ptaro the Magic-User has a 11451 pattern, giving him:
Well, that's great . . . but what does it mean?
Let us look at Ptaro first. He is an "Air Mage". All mages (regardless of element) may use any of the spells as long as they know them . . . but Ptaro can only use a spell if it is in its "Air" format. He cannot read or use it if it is in Fire, Earth, Water or Dragon format . . . thus the only spell books of use to him are those of other Air mages (and so it is with all mages -- they can only learn spells in their Prime Element).
Next let us look at "magic weapons", which only have one element. A character may only make use of its advantages if he/she has the requisite segments.
Take for example a +2 "Fire" Sword. Bejal, having two segments of Fire could use it as a normal +2 weapon. But Fasboo only has a single segment of Fire, so for her it would only act as a +1 weapon. Meanwhile neither Dleps nor Ptaro has a segment of Fire so for them, the sword would be a normal sword EXCEPT that it would hit things that can only be hit by magic weapons (but they would get no bonus to hit or damage).
Now let us look at "saving throws". Not all saves deal with magical effects . . . but some do. For those that do, you have a -2 penalty if you do not have a segment of the particular element of magic involved . . . but you do not suffer any penalty if you have that element.
For example, a spell cast by a Water Mage would cause penalties to the saves of both Fasboo and Bejal because neither has any water amongst their elements; bit Dleps and Ptaro would not be penalized because they do have a water segment.
On the other hand, if you have multiple segments of the needed element, you get a +2 bonus to your save for each segment past the first. So if the spell they were saving against was an Air Mage, none of the above delvers would suffer any penalty because all have at least one element of Air . . . but Ptaro has three segments so he would have a +4 save.
Likewise segments of Spirit (which is the mirror of Evil) provide similar bonuses/penalties when faced with Clerical magic (whether of either the Spirit or Evil nature).
I should note, by the way, that when I roll up "bad guys" any of the d6s I roll that is either a 5 or 6 becomes a black segment of Evil instead of Spirit or choice/reroll.
A final note (at least for now), Feral is only used for animals whose true alignment is not Evil, but "Hungry". In my world, neither Evil nor Feral can be part of a PC's elemental nature.