Laying Down Some Rules
The other night I got a bee in my bonnet that I wanted to write a really simple and streamlined RPG that does away with experience points. The result is a game I have called ‘Here Be Dragons’. I mean, okay, there are Development Points, but they’re not quite the same thing, as you’ll see when you read on.
The following is really bare bones stuff, as I haven’t spent a huge amount of time adding polish to it. Part of me is thinking that if I had done, it would defeat the whole object of having a really simple system, because I want to give players and GMs license to be creative. In terms of style and genre, that’s up to you. For me I see the game as an action oriented mystery setting. Perhaps in the vein of the X Files, but with action movie references thrown in (I really want to create an archaeologist called Rock Hammer!).
Anyway, I digress. Here’s is part I of ‘Here Be Dragons’.
There are three characteristics called Body, Mind and Spirit
Characters start with 0 in each of their Characteristics, but these can be improved later.
Characters start with 5 points in one Ability, 4 points in a second, 3 points in a third and then three more Abilities with 1 point a piece.
Each Ability (Brawling, Medicine, Persuasion, Ranged Combat, Sorcery, etc.) is linked to a Characteristic. Basic Abilities can be used by anyone. Advanced Abilities can only be used if a character has at least 1 point in that Ability.
Characters start with 1 Perk each. Perks are specialisations or special abilities characters can use during play. Each Ability has a list of Perks available, but feel free to add more if it makes sense to do so.
Characters earn between 0 and 3 Development Points (DPs) at the end of each session. 1 or 2 points is usual. Use the chart below for reference, but feel free to add your own
|You and the players had fun
|Everyone gets 1 DP
|The player acted really well or described something really cool
|Give the character 1 DP
|The end of an adventure
|Everyone gets 1 DP
DPs may be spent on improving Characteristics, or learning the first point in an Advanced Ability, or learning a new Perk. Characteristics may be increased by one point by spending a number of DPs equal to the new level of the Characteristic. For example, Mind 2 can be increased to Mind 3 by spending 3 DPs. It costs a single DP to learn the first point in an Advanced Ability. To learn a new Perk it costs 1 DP for the total number of Perks you will have. For example, to buy a 4th Perk will cost 4 DPs.
During play make a note of the Abilities you use (a simple tick next to the Ability is enough). At the end of the session roll a d6 for each one and add its linked Characteristic to the total. If you score more than your current level in that Ability you increase it by one point. For example, Slug used Ranged Combat during the session and rolls a d6 to see if it improves. His current Ranged Combat is 5 and his Body is 2, so Slug will need to roll a 4 or more to increase it to 6. Once Slug has increased his Ranged Combat to 8 he won’t be able to improve it further until he increases his Body Characteristic above 2.
Players declare what they want to do and the GM assigns a difficulty number. Roll 2d10 and add the relevant Ability. If the roll is equal to or higher than the difficulty number you succeed. In an opposed test the highest score wins. In the event of a draw, the GM may allow a re-test to see who wins.
If a 10 is rolled, roll it again and add the results together. Keep doing that until you stop rolling 10s. If the initial roll results in 2 1s it is known as a Fumble and the GM gets to decide whatever misfortune has befallen you.
|Walk and chew gum
|Lift a bunch of keys from a sleeping guard
|Hotwire a car before the thugs catch up
|Push a boulder to start it rolling
|Flip a truck into your enemies
Before a fight begins each character rolls a d10 and adds their Reactions Ability to determine their Initiative score. The character with the highest Initiative acts first, then the next highest and so on. Once all participants have acted a new round begins, starting with the highest Initiative again. Characters may make a Move and an Action during a round.
To attack make an opposed roll using a suitable Ability. If the attacker wins, they either cause damage (if against a named character) or they take out the opponent (if against an unnamed character). Damage is equal to 1d6 + the linked Characteristic of the attacker.
It’s possible to attack multiple opponents at once with some attacks. For each additional opponent, apply a -2 modifier to the dice roll to attack. The reverse is also true. If ganging up on someone, apply a +2 modifier to the attack roll for each additional attacker.
A character’s total Health is 10 plus the sum of their Characteristics. If it is reduced to 0, they are knocked out until the end of the fight (at which point they return to 1) or until healed by another character. Healing works like combat, but with damage restoring Health and the roll is usually unopposed.
If all player characters are reduced to 0 Health, the GM can decide their fate.
Weapons come in all shapes and sizes. Some are better than others at causing damage, but you’d be hard pressed trying to hide a bazooka in your coat pocket, whereas as a pair of brass knuckles might be just the ticket. It’s up to you as GM to decide what is and is not allowed and what your players can get away with. Below are some examples.
|Close Combat Weapon
|Small and easily concealed
– Brass knuckles
– Flick Knife
|Average close combat weapon
– Baseball bat
|Large close combat weapon
– Step Ladder
|Ranged Combat Weapon
|Small thrown object
– Rock or pebble
– Can of beans
|Small ranged weapon
– Throwing knife
– Pistol fire
|Average ranged weapon
|Large ranged weapon
– Sniper rifle
Armour & Shields
There are three basic types of armour and shield: Light, Medium and Heavy. Characters can only use one type of armour at a time and can usually only carry one shield too. You’re free to adjust the stats or add Perks as you see fit though (for instance, a fire resistant suit might have Complete or Partial Immunity to fire).
The Armour Value is the amount that any incoming damage is reduced by the armour or shield.