View Full Version : Super-Simple Storytelling RPG

2012-02-07, 10:44 PM
This is one of those things that popped into my head more-or-less fully formed. The basic idea is a system for one-on-one or small-group roleplay with people who don't like many rules. I had three main design goals: minimal complexity, minimal math and maximum flexibility, the first two of which led to a distinguishing feature: the player does all the rolling. So, without further ado... the rules!

For actions where there is some chance of failure or danger, like throwing a punch, the player must make a skill check. The player may propose what skill he wishes to use to accomplish a specific task, but the GM is the one who ultimately decides which one applies.

When making a skill check, the player’s odds of success are dictated by his rank. A good rank skill has a 2/3 chance of success, an average rank skill has a 1/2 chance of success, and a poor rank skill has a 1/3 chance of success. If you have no ranks in a skill, it is considered untrained. Not all skills can be used untrained, but if it is possible, there is a 1/6 chance of success. A roll of a six-sided die is the easiest way to determine these probabilities.

If the skill check is successful, the character accomplishes the action he was attempting— he climbs the wall, connects with the punch, picks the lock, persuades the guard, and so on. The player makes all rolls, even when the action is initiated by a non-player character. When attacked, he uses the Block skill. When trying not to be detected, he uses the Stealth skill. And so on.

If a character does not have any ranks n a skill, he may attempt to use one of his ability instead. Abilities represent a character’s raw physical and mental abilities. When using an ability in place of an existing skill, such as a Charm check instead of a Fast-Talking check, your rank is decreased by one (good to average, average to poor, and poor to cursed). Certain tasks, such as shoving open a door or shrugging off a mind-control spell, are better represented by raw abilities, and you do not take a penalty for doing so.

For exceptionally easy or difficult tasks, or tasks where the player is at a significant advantage or disadvantage, the GM may increase or decrease your skill rank by one. An increase in skill rank should be given for exceptionally good descriptions of actions.

The list of skills presented on the character sheet is incomplete. Anything can be a skill, pending the GM’s approval. For example, a detective character might wish to have an “Investigate” skill to use when examining crime scenes, questioning suspects, and so on.

Sometimes, characters get into fights. Combat can be as simple as a fist-fight in a bar, or as complex as a mid-air duel against a dragon. There are special rules for how combat works, due to the greater risk of life and limb.

Combat is divided into rounds. On each round, you may move and take one action— usually a skill check, such as swinging a sword. Certain skills, such as Athletics, may be used as part of a movement.

NPCs can usually take only one or two hits before being killed or knocked out, depending on the nature of the attack. A player character must make a Vigor check each time he is hit. On a success, he is able to endure the hit and keep fighting; on a failure, his Vigor rank is decreased be one. If it ever dips below cursed (1/6 chance of success), he dies.

Some enemies are tougher than others. These NPCs are known as bosses. When interacting directly with them, all of a player’s skills and abilities are decreased by one rank. Example bosses might be a master swordsman or a gang leader— any NPC who is supposed to be a major villain or challenge. Certain NPCs might even be overbosses, and decrease a character’s skills and abilities by two ranks. Example overbosses might be an archdemon or a demigod— any NPC who the player is not expected to overcome in direct confrontation.

Magic is treated as a number of separate skills, such as “Fire Magic” or “Mind-Control Magic.” By default, magic skills affect only one target. They can be expanded to area affects, but a character takes penalties for doing so (see the table in the Numbers section). He may take an addition one-rank penalty to make a spell selective— that is, to have his control magic only affect the targets he chooses in an area. These trade-offs are not permanent, and may be changed each time he uses the skill. A character may reduce his rank to cursed with these penalties, but not below— once his rank reaches cursed, he may not take any more penalties.

{table]Magic Areas|-1 rank|-2 ranks|-3 ranks
Cone|30ft |60ft|120ft
Line|120ft long, 5ft wide|250ft long, 5ft wide|500 ft long, 10ft wide
Burst|10ft radius|20ft radius|50ft radius
Column|5ft radius, 40ft high |5ft radius, 60ft high|10ft radius, 100ft high[/table]

Speed checks can be made in non-combat conditions when time is critical— for example, when chasing someone, or trying to run home before curfew. In combat, however, it is important to know how far you can move without trouble. These distances can be doubled with a successful Speed check.


Character Creation:
The mechanics of Character Creation are very simple. First, the player assigns ranks to his seven abilities— Agility, Charm, Smarts, Speed, Strength, Vigor, and Will. He may make two abilities good, three average, and two poor. Next, he selects skills— two good, four average, and six poor. Finally, he lists any items in his possession, although items which provide special bonuses should not be allowed without permission from the GM.

Higher or Lower Power Games:
To create more or less powerful characters, simply increase or decrease the number of good- and average-ranked skills chosen during character creation.

Game Mastering:
Running a game is a subtle art, and there are far too many nuances to cover here. As a general rule, develop the world first, and allow the player to find creative ways to overcome challenges. Don’t be afraid to improvise— because all mechanical interactions are based on the player’s own rolls, little preparation is needed for a given NPC.

Suggested Skills
Slight of Hand