Sunday 21 August 2011

Something More Concrete - Instant RPG

Well you've put up with one rambling, vague and cryptic post after another. It's about time I put my money where my mouth is. Presenting...

Instant RPG - Alpha Edition

Instant RPG can be played in person or using social technology like Facebook, Google+ or Twitter. All you need is a line of communication between the GM and Players and you can have your own adventure.

Player Information

When you play the Instant RPG a situation will be described by your GM, who may also ask you questions. You answer these questions and describe what you want your character to do in response to the situation at hand. You can try and do anything you can imagine, though the GM will roll dice to see if some actions are successful or if you face consequences for failure.

Think about what your character will be like. What are they good at? How do they act? With this in mind start playing and most of all have fun!

GM Information

Only the Gamemaster needs to read any further. If you're a player then start playing!

To run the game the GM remembers the three rules.

The Two, Four, Six, Rule
A Task will fit into one of the following categories.
Simple: Requiring a 2 or more to succeed.
Challenging: Requiring a 4 or more to succeed.
Formidable: Requiring a 6 or more to succeed.

The High, Mid, Low Rule
Whenever a Task is rolled, three six-sided dice are thrown.
A character that is completely unskilled in the Task uses the lowest die.
A character that has basic understanding of the Task uses the middle die.
A character that is skilled in the Task uses the highest die.

Rule X
When all else fails, if you are unsure what to do in a situation, roll a single die. If this is high the situation goes in favour of the character in question. If it is low if goes against them. This could be used to determine anything from whether or not a character makes a good first impression to whether or not they survive a potentially deadly injury. In the case of the latter a roll of 1 would often mean death.

Glossary of Terms

The GM may need some of these terms clarified.

Abilities: These are things the character can do without it being a speciality. Most settings come with certain assumptions, such as a modern setting assuming characters can drive and operate a computer. This lists exceptions that the characters have been given by the GM such as a wizard being able to cast spells or a dragon being able to fly.
Adventure: The setting and situation that the characters are in. The characters explore and interact with the setting and to act out their adventure.
Equipment: A character's equipment affects how they carry out tasks. For example, some tasks simply require a piece of equipment, or else can't be attempted at all. Others will be made easier by posessing a certain piece of equipment. For example, blasting an opponent away at close range would be a Simple task with a shotgun, but Challenging with a weapon more suited to long range, such as a sniper rifle. The GM decides, with player suggestions, what equipment characters have access to.
GM: The Gamemaster. He describes the situation the characters are in and, after hearing what they want to do, describes what happens next. He may use the three rules to determine this.
Module: A pre-written plan that helps the GM run the Adventure. May include maps, non-player characters and an explanation of the current situation before the characters' involvement.
Skills: A list of things the character can do really well, from natural qualities to knowledge and experience. The GM allocates these Skills by asking the players about their characters, typically choosing around four Skills. These should be quite specific. Think duelling or staff-fighting instead of just "armed combat".
Task: A Task is something the characters cannot carry out with certainty. This could be because of opposition, a time limit or high risk in the event of failure. The GM will assign the Task a difficulty using the Two, Four, Six rule based on the character's abilities, equipment and support from their allies. The GM then rolls the Task, using the High, Mid, Low Rule to decide which die to use, describing the result to the players. Tasks could be interrogating a suspect, casting a spell or avoiding incoming bullet fire.

Character Information
The GM will note down a character's Skills and Abilities as well as any Equipment of importance they are carrying. An example might look like this.

Hol Varnoo - Space Knight
Skills: Starfighter Piloting, Intimidation, Leading a Crowd, Beamsword Duels.
Abilities: Use of Spaceknight Technology, Speaks Yarnese.
Equipment: Hyper Armour, Beamsword, Rapiblaster.

The Player will influence this information but does not need to track it themselves.

Example of Play
Mike: I could try and shoot the chain but I think Red will stand a better chance.
GM: Red is in a good position to use his sniper rifle.
Red: Ok, I'll take the shot.
[The GM rolls a Challenging task, which Red is skilled in thanks to his "Sniping" Skill, resulting in a success. Had Mike attempted the shot with their Handgun it would have been Formidable instead]
GM: The chain is shot with a clean break, sending Hannah dropping to the ground, collapsing in a heap but not badly hurt. Murca's henchmen return fire on Red, having given up his position.
Red: I'm out of here. Make a break for the exit.
[The GM rolls a Challenging task for Red to avoid being shot as he flees, which he fails. To see how bad the wound is the GM uses Rule X, rolling a 5. Surely just a flesh wound.]
Mike: I'll follow!
GM: Red is hurt by a glancing shot from Murca's henchmen, but Mike manages to help him to safety. Now that you're out of the base you're faced with countless bloodthirsty henchmen in one direction and a frozen wilderness in the other.
Mike: Can't we call in for the Colonel to come and pick us up? I have that radio.
[The GM rolls a Simple task to call for help, assuming that Mike has an Average skill in using his radio, resulting in a success. He uses Rule X to see how long before support arrives, rolling a 1. Not good for our players.]
GM: You get through to the Colonel, who's already airborn with his helicopter. "I'd pick you up right now, boys, but there's still a SAM site that's making the run less appealling. Take care of that and I'll be right there".
Red: Great, well how do we knock out that SAM site?
GM: Red is bleeding pretty badly. Not life-threatening at the moment but you're not in top shape for much physical activity.
Mike: Listen up, I've got a plan...

Social Assumptions

As well as the three play-rules used in gameplay there are some guidelines that all players and the GM should follow.

1: The players do not need to know any of the rules or how the GM is implementing them.
2: The GM will roll all dice and has the final decision over tasks, their difficulty and the Skills and abilities of each players' character.
3: The GM will choose each character's Skills and Abilities based on the player's description of their character and their background.
4: If a player's character is killed or otherwise removed from a game the GM will soon present an opportunity for that player to rejoin the game as another character.
5: A player can leave the game without any ill feeling. Similarly, new players should always be welcome within limits. The GM will find ways to bring in new players' characters as soon as possible.

Now, imagine an adventure your players would enjoy, using a module if you wish, and start playing!

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