The High Speed Role Playing System

by Adam McKee* and James G. Walker, Jr.*

     Alacrity is a synonym for speed. It also suggests a delighted willingness to move on quickly. Thus, the name was chosen for this role playing game system to reflect its purpose. Most of the games on the commercial market have far too many rules, charts, and other distractions. Most of this can be attributed to designer zeal, the rest to selling more books. What ever the reason, play is slowed down by this, and player enjoyment of the game is diminished. In designing this game, every effort was made to capture the essential rules, and leave it at that. There are no charts to look at during the game. Most actions are resolved the same way, using the same procedure with the same type of dice. Only a few charts exist, and they are used during character generation. The object of the game was to minimize the rules and maximize the flow of the game -- to put the role playing back into RPGs. I think we did a pretty fair job, I hope you'll agree.

     There are no worlds, no monsters, no magical items listed here. Some sample weapons are listed for example purposes, but that's about it. For the most part, this is a game engine. The universe and everything within it are up to the game master, the way it should be. The rules are few and simple, so this is a short document as game systems go. As time goes on, and interest warrants, I will add some weapons, monsters, magical items, bad guys, vehicles, etc., to this site with links from this page. My hope is that the system will spark some interest, and some freelance talent will offer up quality expansions.

Character Generation

Step 1: Statistics

     This system uses four basic statistics: Strength, Mind, Body, and Dexterity. Each of these is on a scale from 1 to 20. At a rating of one, you are on par with an unborn fetus. At a level of 20 you are among the top 1% in the world and can perform record breaking feats. The average score for all stats is 10. Since this is a role playing game and you want to be somewhat heroic (above average) you will add 1 d 10 to 10 to get your score.


     At the game masters option, an appearance score can be used. This score can be derived from rolling a d10. This yields a result on the standard looks scale of 1 to 10. The 20 point system described above may also be used, but most of us tend to use a ten point scale for this anyway. "On a scale of 1 to 10, how did she look?"

Step 2: Derived Statistics

     Movement is calculated by adding your Dex score to your Str score and dividing by 2. This stat average is then multiplied by 10. The result is the number of feet you can move in a ten second round.

Movement = [(Dex + Str)/2] x 10
EXAMPLE: YOU HAVE A Dex OF 12 AND A Str OF 16. [(12 + 16) / 2] X 10 = (28/2) X 10 = 14 X 10 = 140

     Hit Points are obtained by rolling a d 10 for each point of body your character has and adding his Str score to the sum of the die rolls. Hit Points should range from a low of 20 (unborn fetus) to a high of 220 (Hercules).


     Stun Points are equal to your hit points.

     Strength Damage Adjustment is derived by dividing your Str score by 3, rounding down.

     Quickness is derived by the following formula:

(Dex + Dex + Mind) / 3

Terms Defined:

Margin of Success:
This term refers to the difference between your roll and your modified skill score on a successful skill check.
Strength Damage Adjustment:
This term refers to the extra damage one does with muscle powered weapons due to strength. This statistic is derived by dividing your strength score by three and rounding down.
This term refers to your base reaction time and is used to determine your initiative in a combat round. Quickness is determined by the following formula: (Dex + Dex + Mind) /3
To determine your initiative for a particular round, roll a d10 and add it to your quickness score.


A characters skills determine what he can do and how well he can do it. All skills are represented by percents. Think of how good a skill is as a percentile ranking in the population at large. Thus if you have a skill at 60%, 60% of the world is worse than you are at that particular skill. Skills cost 1 xp per percent to raise up to 60%, 2 xp per percent to raise up to 100%, and 3 xp per percent to raise a skill above 100%. If you have a skill above 100%, you are an extreme outlier and have reset the population parameters. In other words, you are very, very cool. All skills have an associated statistic(s). All skills start out at the level of your score in that associated statistic, or a derivative of statistics as noted in parentheses.

Available Skills:

Vigilance (Mind)
This is a measure of how attuned you are to the world around you at all times.
Athletics (Dex)
This is a measure of you athletic skills. Running, jumping, climbing, swimming, etc. fall under this skill.
Unarmed Combat (Dex + Str / 2)
This is a measure of how well your character does in a fight without weapons. You must select an unarmed fighting style when you take this skill. If you want to learn another style, you must take the skill again. The following damage codes are associated with skill levels:
1% to 19% 1d10
20% to 39% 2d10
40% to 59% 3d10
60% to 79% 4d10
89% to 100% 5d10
All unarmed combat styles do STUN DAMAGE.
Dodge: (Dex + Mind /2)
This skill represents your ability to anticipate damage headed toward you and get out of the way.
Armed Combat: (Dex + Str /2)
This skill reflects your ability to use a particular type of non-ranged weapon. You must specify a specific type of weapon when this skill is taken, e.g., sword, mace, staff, etc. If you wish to learn the use of another type of weapon, you must buy this skill again.
Handguns: (Dex)
This skill represents your ability to use hand held projectile weapons, primarily pistols and revolvers.
Long arms: (Dex + Str/2)
This skill represents your ability to use shoulder fired weapons, such as rifles and shotguns. It does not apply to shoulder fired anti-vehicular weaponry.
Special Weapons: (Dex + Mind / 2)
This skill reflects your ability to use a special type of weapon that is so unique in function that it does not fall into any easily defined group. Such weapons as LAW rockets, Bazookas, RPGs, M60s, etc. fall into this category. You must purchase this skill for each such weapon you wish to be skilled with.
Thrown Weapons: (Dex)
This skill reflects your ability to throw weapons, such as grenades, at a target. A successful thrown weapons roll means that you hit close enough to your target to do it damage. The exact proximity is determined by your damage roll. A low degree of damage reflects a marginal success, while a high degree of damage reflects a point blank explosion.
Performing: (Mind)
This skill reflects your ability to be dramatic, on the stage or off.
Command: (Mind)
This skill reflects your ability to take charge of a situation and organize people and events.
Slumming: (Mind)
This skill reflects your ability to interact with the less desirable elements of society.
Deceit: (Mind)
This skill represents your mastery of untruth and deception. Bluffing, spin doctoring, and the ball-faced-lie fall under this skill.
Animal Affinity: (Mind)
This skill represents your ability to understand, handle, and train animals of all sorts.
Vocations (Mind)
This skill reflects your ability to perform specific hands on tasks. You must specialize in a particular vocation when you take this skill. If you want to learn another vocation, you must take this skill again. Carpenters, plumbers, mechanics, electricians, blade smiths, etc., are examples of this skill.
Drive: (Dex)
This skill reflects your ability to drive various land vehicles. Trucks, cars, and motorcycles fall into this category. Exotic vehicles may be driven with this skill at a penalty determined by the game master.
Protocol: (Mind)
This skill reflects your ability to properly handle yourself in various social settings. You must specialize the type of protocol you are familiar with when you take this skill. If you want to learn another type of protocol, you must take this skill again. High-society, Political, Military and various cultures fall under this skill. At the Game Master's option, you may substitute a similar protocol with a penalty.
Security: (Mind)
This skill reflects you knowledge of how to keep people and places secure, and how to thwart such efforts made by others. Such aspects as hardware, lighting, fencing, guard placement, CCTV systems, alarm systems, etc. fall under this skill.
Stealth: (Mind)
This skill represents your ability to move unseen; using concealment, cover, and shadows to your utmost advantage.
Survival: (Mind)
This skill represents your knowledge of obtaining food, clothing, shelter, heat, water and other necessities in times when the creature comforts of civilization are not available.
Academics: (Mind)
This skill represents your level of academic knowledge. You must choose a specialty area when you take this skill. You are also assumed to have a basic knowledge of most scholarly subjects. The following is an estimation of educational level at various skill levels:
1% - 19% High School Graduate
20% - 39% College Degree
40% - 59% Masters Degree
60% - 80% Doctoral Degree
81% - 100% Post Doctoral Work/Years of Research
Computers: (Mind)
This skill represents your knowledge of computers and their applications. Software, Hardware, Networks, etc. fall under this skill.
Business: (Mind)
This skill represents your knowledge of businesses and how they work. It also includes knowledge of finance, economics and marketing.
Law: (Mind)
This skill represents your knowledge of legal theory and practice. Not only do you understand the law of the land, but you are adept at creating and understanding rules and regulations of all types.
Languages: (Mind)
This skill represents your ability to read, write, and speak a particular language. All players begin play with a score of 80% in their native language.
First Aid: (Mind)
This skill represents your ability to administer rapid treatment to ill or wounded persons. A successful use of this skill means that you have stabilized the person for a number of hours equal to your margin of success.
Medicine: (Mind)
This skill represents your knowledge of medicine. Unlike first aid, you will need a clean environment and the proper equipment to practice medicine. See the section on healing for the results of a successful medicine check.
Politics: (Mind)
This skill represents your understanding of how governments and organizations work and how to organize and manipulate them.
Boat Piloting: (Mind)
This skill represents your ability to pilot various boats. It also represents your knowledge of navigation, communications, and other know ledges held by boat captains.
Other Skills: (Variable)
You may want to learn a skill that is odd or unique. At the game master's option, he may create such a skill and allow you to take it. Thus, if you want to know how to fly a space shuttle, a new skill is probably called for.

Rolling Dice

     Simple statistic checks are called for when an action is in question that does not fall under a particular skill, such as walking across a patch of ice. In such a case, you will want to roll under your stat on 2d10.

     There are two major types of rolls that your character will make on a regular basis. Contested actions and uncontested actions.

     Contested actions occur when someone is actively trying to thwart you. In such a case, the character with the highest Margin of Success prevails.


     Uncontested actions are resolved by a simple roll. If you roll under your modified skill level, you succeed in your attempt.

Modified Rolls:

     Certain situations are harder or easier than others to deal with. For this reason, the game master will periodically assign modifiers to actions that are above or below average difficulty. The modifier is added or subtracted from your skill score before you roll. This modified number is your modified skill level. What follows is a general guide to situational modifiers:
Insanely Easy +50%
Very Easy +40%
Routine +30%
Moderate +20%
Easy +10%
Average 0%
Slightly Difficult -10%
Difficult -20%
Hard -30%
Very Hard -40%
Your Joking, Right? -50%

Rounds of action and initiative:

     Each round lasts for ten second. Each round is divided into as many as five segments. Characters can perform only one action per segment, on his initiative for that segment. Initiative is determined by your quickness score plus 1d10. During these ten seconds, your character may perform as many actions as you like, up to five. For each action beyond the first, you suffer a cumulative 10% penalty for that action. On the first action you take no penalty. On the second action you take a 10% penalty, on the third you take a 20% penalty, on the fourth you take a 30% penalty, and on the fifth you take a 40% penalty. All other penalties are cumulative. Some actions that take very little time are considered free actions, that is, they do not give penalties. Such things as cocking a weapon, dropping something, shouting curses, etc., fall into this category.

Critical Success and Critical Failures:

     If you roll above 97% on a d100 roll, you have achieved a critical success, I.e., you have performed extraordinarily well. The game master will decide the effects of your critical success (and failures). Critical failures result when a number below 3% is rolled on a d100 roll. In this case, something nasty happens.

Health and Healing

     Your character's Hit Points are a measure of his health. When you go below 25% of your hit point maximum, you are considered to be injured and take a 10% penalty to all die rolls. When you go below 50% of your hit point maximum, you are considered to be seriously wounded and take a 20% penalty to all die rolls. When you go below 75% of your hit point maximum, you are considered to be mauled and take a 30% penalty to all die rolls. When you go below 10% of your hit point maximum, you are incapacitated and can perform no actions. Characters that have lost less than 25% of their Hit Points are merely bruised, and will heal these loses at a rate of 1d10 per day, plus another d10 for a successful medicine check.

     Injured characters (25% - 49% of Hit Points) will heal at a rate of 1 hit point per day without medical attention. If a successful first aid roll is made within an hour of the injury, the character will heal at a rate of 2 Hit Points per day. A successful medicine roll will add a d10 Hit Points to the characters total. Medicine rolls can only be made once per day. Such characters can perform light duties that do not involve physical exertion.

     Seriously Wounded characters (50% - 74%) will not heal naturally unless they have bed rest and perform no physical actions that day. A successful first aid roll will result in the character regaining 2 Hit Points per day. A successful medicine roll will add 10 Hit Points to the characters hit point total. Only 1 medicine roll may be made per day for any character. If the character is forced out of bed for any reason, he gains no Hit Points back that day, and loses a d10 from his total. When the character is back up to the injured level, treat him as such.

     Mauled characters (75% - 90%) begin to lose a d10 Hit Points per hour until a successful first aid check is made. First aid checks can only be made once per hour, unless something changes such that the Game Master determines another check is warranted, such as finding a better first aid kit. A successful first aid check means that the character is stabilized and will lose no more Hit Points. Further first aid rolls have no effect. Characters regain 1 hit point per day for each day of bed rest. Any day the character fails to rest in bed, he loses a d10 from his total. A successful medicine check results in the character regaining an extra d10 Hit Points that day. Medicine checks may only be made once per day for any character.

     Incapacitated (91+) characters begin to lose a d10 hp per round until a successful first aid check is made. A character that loses Hit Points to the negative value of his body score has died. If a character is below 1 hit point, a successful first aid roll stabilizes the character at 1 hit point for a number of hours equal to the rolls margin of success. If a character is above one hit point (but still in the incapacitated range) a successful first aid roll stabilized the character at his current hit point level for a number of hours equal to the rolls margin of success. The character will regain 1 hit point per day of bed rest. If the character does not rest in bed, he loses 1d10 per day from his total. A successful medicine check will cause the character to regain a d10 -2 Hit Points per day. Medicine checks can only be made once per day per character.

     Stun Points have the same effects as their corresponding levels of Hit Points, but heal much faster. Stun Points are recovered at a rate of 1d10 per hour. However, for every 5 stun points lost, a character loses 1 hit point. This hit point loss must be healed like any other hit point damage.


     Armor is rated by dice and takes away damage equal to your roll. Thus if your armor roll is better than the damage roll, you take no damage. If your armor roll is worse than the damage roll, you subtract the armor roll from the damage roll before applying damage.

Armor Examples:
Heavy Clothing 1d10
Biker Leather 2d10
Kevlar Vest/Leather Armor 4d10
Full Riot Gear/Chain Mail 8d10
Plate Mail 9d10


     Weapons fall into two major categories. Those that are muscle powered and those that are not. For those that are muscle powered, your strength damage modifier will be part of the damage code. Weapons that are not muscle powered will have a standard die code with no strength bonus. Ranged weapons will have three listed range categories: Short, Medium, and Long. Short range gives a bonus of !0% to hit. Medium range is considered average and has no modifier. Long range shots have a -10% modifier. Most weapons will have an associated minimum strength requirement. If your strength is not up to par, you can not wield this weapon.

Weapons Examples: Armed Combat

Weapon Cost Min.
Hit Modifier Damage
Knife/Dagger (knife) 20 4 - SDM +2d
Sword (swords) 300 8 +5% SDM +4d
Crowbar (clubs) 10 12 - SDM +3d
Club/Bat/Pipe (clubs) 5(or free) 8 - SDM +3d
Brass Knuckles*** 50 4 - SPECIAL
Staff (staff) 25(or free) 8 - SDM +2d
2-handed Sword (sword) 400 16 - SDM +5d
Battle Axe (special) 500 18 - SDM +6d
Small Rock*(thrown) free 4 -5% SDM +1d
Dart* (thrown) 2 4 - SDM +1d
Throwing Knife*(thrown) 25 4 - SDM +2d
Boomerang* (special) 25 4 - SDM +2d
Crossbow** (handguns) 250 10 - 5d
Compound Bow**(special) 400 10 - SDM +4d
Large Rock*(Thrown) free 18 - SDM +4d
  *  S/M/L ranges: 15/30/45 yards
  ** S/M/L ranges: 25/50/75 yards
 *** Allows unarmed combat to do lethal (hp) rather than stun (sp) damage.

     For firearms, check out the Guns and Ammo Guide in the Portcullis Main Page. Use the damage category listed for the damage dice.

Getting Better

     Each adventure, the game master will award experience points. You can use these experience points to improve your characters skills and attributes. Attributes are raised at their current level times three. You may not raise an attribute above a 20, unless the Game Master determines that you are not bound by human limits, such as cybernetic implants or the fact that you are an Orc. Skills are raised on a one xp for one percentage point level until the skill reaches 60%. After this point, skills cost two xp per percentage point to raise. After 100%, skills cost 3 xp per percentage point to raise. If you raise your attribute scores, don't forget to raise skills and derived attributes accordingly. The Game Master may wish to impose a limit on how much you may raise a skill of 10% per skill per game.

Magic and Other Funky Junk

     Magic is one of the most nebulous aspects of this system. This is because the workings of magic are different in every fantasy world. Whether you call it psionics, priestcraft, witchcraft, magic, or the ForceŽ, you are still taking about powers outside the pale of normal human ability. The game master must first decide how magic works in his universe. This is a case where the rules must be bent to the story. Where does the characters magic come from. Does he draw it from the Earth (or whatever planet), or does it come from God, or his own inner resolve? After you understand the working of magic in a particular world, come up with names for it. Say your world is a high fantasy realm where magic flows like water. Then create a skill called magic, then let the characters that want to be adept at magic take that skill. As with all skills, the game master must work out the details of training and advancement. Must the magician study his craft? Must the priest prove his faith, or pray often, or perform rituals, etc?

     Magic is powered by something. Whatever powers magic is finite (at least for players). Thus, players have a number of 'magic' points equal to their rating in the magic skill. This is a measure of the mystic energy that a player can store in a single day. The game master must determine how much magical energy that a particular power/spell will cost. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to make a list of powers and spells. These powers can be as limited or as vague as suits the game master. The game master is advised to work with each player on this to add a personal touch to the characters. Generic Spell slingers are a dime a dozen, so try to make a unique character that is memorable.

     Several factors should be given consideration when creating spells. What does it do? Spells/powers that do damage should generally be given a higher cost in the name of game balance. A power that bends spoons will be much cheaper than a power that moves buildings. At what range will the spell/power work? If the caster has to touch the target the spell should be cheaper than if he can perform the feat from a mile (or plane) away. How long does the effect of the power/spell last? If it is over in an instant, it should cost much less than an effect expected to last forever, such as enchanting a weapon. What special strictures are placed on the spell/power? Does the character have to supply expensive components, or rare items that require great effort to obtain? Or does the great power of the spell damage the players body, resulting in the loss of physical stat points? Spell costs should be within a range of 1 to 100. This is the practical range of magic points. Players may have more, but they will be among the most powerful beings in the universe, save the gods. An effect that costs one magic point will be insignificant. A spell that costs 100 magic points should be awesome indeed, such as the proverbial moving of a mountain. Extremely powerful effects may even cost thousands of magic points over a long period of time. These types of effects can be achieved by the solitary practitioner with elaborate, expensive, and time consuming preparations. Such effects can also be achieved by similar persons working together to achieve an effect, such as an order of priests working to rid land of a pestilence. The game master should work out the details of just how magical energy is stored and combined (if at all) in his world. These types of effects will be spectacular, and should be the culmination of several adventures, or represent years and years of work by the players' antagonist(s).

     The best advice for creating new spells and powers is to make them very expensive and low powered. Once it has been determined that the spell is not overly powerful, it can be upgraded or the cost can be reduced. In play, this can be justified by researching a better version, practice effects, greater love of god, etc. Players always like upgrades, and never like downgrades. If a downgrade is necessary, it should be roleplayed. Mayhaps a thief has stolen the magician's book of spells in the night, and when it is recovered, a page has been destroyed. Or maybe an angry god has taken away the players power to cast the spell. You can also look to other roll playing material for ideas. In any case, you will need to know the cost of the spell/power in magic points (or psi points, or whatever you want to call them), the range at which the power can be used, exactly what the spell/power does, any ill effects/ side effects the spell/powers use may have.

Magical Items and Other Funky Stuff

     As with spells, great consideration must be given to magical or other mystic items before they are entered into the game. First the game master must consider just how common magic is in his world. If magic flows like wine, magical items may be a dime a dozen, and only extremely powerful items are rare and valuable. In a world where magic is rare, any magic item is a prized possession. A glowing rock (the standard AD&DŽ flashlight) might be a valuable treasure. Special items should be given elaborate histories and should be sought after by anyone who knows the item exists. The game master must first decide exactly what powers the object has, any side effects the item has, and any cost associated with the item. A weapon created by an evil priest might drive the person who wields it mad, for example. On the other hand, a holy artifact belonging to a saint might serve to protect the wearer from evil. Items with game system effects should not be taken lightly. Be careful of items that increase stats, skills, or weapon accuracy or damage. Weapon accuracy should never be increased over 30%, and weapons of that caliber should be rare indeed. A weapon that powerful would surely disrupt game balance. Any item that has an effect on system mechanics should be rare, and represent a treasure for the character who is lucky enough to get one. Other wise, characters become super characters and their power level inflates to the point that they can easily overcome any situation and the game becomes boring.

     In a magical world, there are bound to be creatures and even objects that have some resistance to the use of magical powers. A particular alien species may not so easily fall sway to a character's mind altering powers. A dragon might laugh at a character's magical ball of fire when it is hurled at him. In such cases, the games master must determine the level of resistance, and prescribe a percentage chance not to be effected. Think of this as a Resist the Effects of Type X skill. If the target character or object rolls below its percentage chance, then the spell/power has no effect. If the margin of success is high enough, the spell may even backfire on the character who cast it in some terrible, unpredicted way. Note: If you wish to convert weapons over from the AD&DŽ system, give each bonus point a 5% percent value, I.e., +1 = +5%, +3 = 15%. Weapon bonuses from the Portcullis Guns and Ammo Guide are given 10% for each +1 (as with any d10 system). For truly extraordinary items like magic bullets, bonuses should never compound to a level past 30%.

Money and Stuff

     No matter what type of world your game is set in, characters will always want hordes of stuff. Be it armor, weapons, vehicles, or jewels, they will want a lot of it. Players should want stuff. Stuff helps define us, and enriches the role playing experience. If you walked into my apartment and looked around, you would get an idea of what kind of person I am by looking at my stuff. You would observe my wall hangings, my book titles, whether or not I had cool stuff, etc. Role playing characters are the same way. No character should have a sword, long, +10%. Each character should have signature items that help define him. Swords should have elaborate descriptions (and possibly names) and be sources of pride or shame. Of course, coils of rope need not be elaborately described, but items that have character of their own should be recognized as such.

     Players have to have stuff, this is a given. How they get this stuff is limited. They can find it, take it, have it given to them, or buy it. In order for characters to buy stuff, role playing worlds need economies. They can be simple or complex, but they must be there. Your character may be a spacer working for the Galactic Defense Force and have every thing he wants given to him by the GDF, or he may be a lone adventurer in a primitive society where everything must be bartered for. Barter is the most complex system for characters to deal with. They must always be on the lookout for items that are universally wanted or needed to trade with. Coin based economies are the most common in fantasy settings, where characters have to carry around hordes of gold, silver, or other precious metal to make purchases. More advanced economies will have paper money, or letters of credit, while high tech worlds may have electronic systems where balances are transferred by computer. Whatever system you use, you will want to know the conversion to the type of currency you use in real life. If you decide to create a coin economy based on the Royal Ploof, you need to know how much a RP is worth in real money. Characters will want to buy everyday stuff, and you can use your real world knowledge to convert into game mechanics. This also gives you the ability to use the standard equipment tables from other role playing systems. Also remember that hard to find items will be much more expensive than common ones, and that exotic items always have exotic prices. A magical sword will cost a fortune, if you can find someone foolish enough to sell. Also remember that technology plays a big part in the availability of most goods. I bottle of imported wine may not cost much more than the domestic stuff in a modern or future world, but it will cost a fortune if some poor sot had to bring it across a thousand miles of desert on a camel.

Game Mastering Notes: Running an Alacrity Game

     Out of the above listed rules, the three most important rules to this system aren't listed, because every good GM knows them, they are the universal.

     Three Laws of Game Running:

  1. Role Playing is the most important aspect of any RPG.
  2. It's your game--YOU make the rules.
  3. If your players aren't having fun, you suck.

     Rule Number 1 is the reason this system was created in the first place. In designing this system, it was everything I could do to keep from making up charts and a rule to cover every possible event, even though that was the purpose of the game. Every game designer gets a warm feeling when he or she can sit back, look at a neatly ruled piece of paper, and go "that's a cool chart!" Game designers love charts because charts make sure that the flow of the game goes as per the creators intentions. Some novice GMs (and lazy ones) love charts because they don't have to be creative...just look at the chart on page 176 to see what happened. Yet all these charts are in direct violation of the Three Laws of Game Running. To make a clear distinction, there are two types of charts: Those that are used outside game-play, and those that are used during the game. 25,667 charts outside the game are fine. Have a chart for everything from characters relatives to their shoe sizes. It doesn't really matter.

     During the game, however, is a different story. Playing a RPG is a creative experience and takes great concentration to be done effectively. Instructional handbooks on fiction writing (See Ray Bradbury's Zen in the Art of Writing) suggest time and time again that you write with great fervor and passion--get your thoughts on paper before they vanish! You are instructed not to worry about grammar, diction, punctuation--thats what a second draft is for. Playing a role playing game is little different. You (the player and game master) are about the task of creating a work of fiction. Every time you stop to look at a chart, clarify a rule, or bother over some subtle rule of order, you break the flow of the story, and thus diminish it. The drama in roll, roll, roll, look at a chart, roll, roll, look at a chart, tell what happened, is all but dead. All that need be said by a player is "I rolled a 78 to hit, and 17 points of damage." From there the Game Master should begin a colorful, vibrant description of the actions effect. In many RPG systems, you roll damage, roll a hit location, look at a chart, and proudly report "Head Wound! Extra Damage!" In this system there are no such charts. The Game Master takes a quick look at the damage total and reports, "You bury your blade up to the hilt in the dragon's leg. He roars in terrible agony." It's all done on the fly. The action moves quickly.

     When situation comes up that requires some form of resolution, think quickly as to how to handle it. Can't remember exactly how to handle a particular situation? Improvise. No rule exists for a particular situation? Make something up. Make a stat check, make a skill check with a penalty--just make up your mind quickly and do it. If your players complain, listen to what they say and see if you like. If you like their suggestion better, use it. If you like your way better, use that. Later when you're sitting on the toilet and you think of a better way you could have done something in the game, don't let it bother you. Just make a note of it and use it next time. Role playing is not about good and just application of the rules. You are not a Judge, you are a creator of fiction. The only rules you should be worried about making sure you follow are the Three Rules of Game Running. You will however want to apply rules consistently. Don't swap methods between characters, or thoughts of favoritism will dance in your players' heads.

     If you find rules here that you don't like, change them. Just don't do anything that slows down the flow of the game. If you try something different and it works well, e mail it to me and I may add it to this page. If a skill would not exist in your game world, delete it. If you're running a fantasy game, change drive to horseback riding. Add, delete, change or modify any skill until it suits your taste and the flavor of your game world.

     Rule Number 3 is not intended to put off the novice game master. This system will be difficult to run for a first time game master because it takes a lot of knowledge for granted, but not impossible. What Rule Number 3 speaks to is the God complex. All too often Game Masters let the power of this self-appointed position go to their heads. They feel they have to kill at least one character per game to be worth their salt. Rest assured that many a good game has been run in which no characters ever died. Don't let the rules dictate your story. If you don't want your character to die, fudge the die rolls or provide a miracle. Characters are the heart of your game. Unless the death of a character does something for your story line, it's probably not a good idea. However, it is not a good idea to let your characters know this. They will take advantage of it, performing foolish acts that will get them killed because they know that they will come out of it one way or another. If they do stupid stuff, warn them the first time that its not a good idea. After that, kill them off. After one good killing, players tend to be more careful and not test your goodwill again.

     Many role players talk often of realism as if it were the Holy Grail of RPGs. Foolishness. If we wanted something just like reality, we wouldn't roleplay in the first place. Role playing places us in the midst of a fictional dream. Dreams flow forward like a stream, winding around, over, and through the barriers of reality. Every time you read a novel, you decide to put away your disbelief and get involved in the story. Role playing is the same way. Realism is only as important as maintaining our suspension of disbelief. If we can go through all the trouble to believe in magic within the game world, we can do it for a lot of system mechanics as well. Complex mechanical systems that aim to reflect reality waste a lot of time on a goal that can never be achieved, thus distorting the fictional dream that you have worked so hard to create.

     Even with the most brilliant minds and finest computer equipment, social scientists can never really duplicate reality. They can merely search for the best model to describe reality. The more factors they try to build into the model, the more error that is introduced. Role playing systems are a lot like social science statistics. They both try to model reality, although with different ends. The social scientist wants to predict and explain reality. We want to create fiction that is close enough to reality to maintain the coherence of the fictional dream. Long-winded debates over whether a sword does more damage than a mace is just plain silly. It is not important to a good game. Lay down the rules at the start and stick to your guns. Characters are much more than a list of statistics. The less of these statistics you have, the more the players are forced to role play, which is, after all, the point of the game.

     Copyright 1999 by Adam McKee and James Walker, Jr. Money Grubbing rights reserved.

     *Note: I, Adam McKee, am solely responsible for the format and presentation of this material. Mr. Walker played a large part in the development of this system, but has no knowledge of or responsibility for its publication on Portcullis. Pease direct all comments and flames to me via e mail at Special thanks to Stevil Markley for all his helpful suggestions and questioning looks, and Drewcifer for his help playtesting the Alpha version of this system. Permission is granted by the authors to download and print this page for personal use. Please place any links to this site on the main page, so I can keep track of hits, and hopefully not get disgusted and delete all this junk. AD&D[TM] is the property of TSR Inc., all rights reserved.