Written by Nathan J. Hill sometime in the year of 1998
Early into my college experience, I wrote this game as one of my first attempts at rules light game design. It’s not very good, but it is what it is. Enjoy.
- GamePlayer: The people who create characters, play the game, and eat the GameRunner’s food.
GameRunner: The individual who stands in between the world and the forces of darkness (namely, the GamePlayers). This person is very important as he or she is the narrator of the story, telling the Gameplayers what their characters touch, feel, smell, see, and hear. A GameRunner is also responsible for arbitrating disputes.
Test: Anytime you need to roll to discover whether or not you succeeded in an action. Sometimes, the occupation tested will precede this word. (I.E. Doctor Test, Mercenary Test)
To play, first create a character. Basically, come up with a name and some quick info. Who is this person? What does this person do, act, look like? Depending on whatever setting you want to play, you need to decide what your character does for a living.
For example, if you are playing a fantasy game, you might be a warrior, thief, mage, or dragonslayer. If you are playing a sci-fi game, you might be a soldier, starship pilot, or bounty hunter. Whatever the case and time period, decide three occupations that you want your character to be good at.
The first occupation is your character’s main job. Roll a 2d4+2 to decide your character’s ability score for that. Then for the next best occupation, roll a 1d4+2 and assign that result. Finally, for his least best occupation, roll a 1d4 and assign that to his final score.
Next, add all of those scores together to get your character’s hit points (how many hits he can take before he dies). Multiply your character’s main occupation score by 100 to see how much starting money he gets (ie. gold, credits, cash). Then, you are ready to purchase whatever equipment your GameRunner might allow.
Let’s do an example. We will make a sample character for the MobHits pre-made setting (below). This guy is a tough fellow, who grew up on the streets in a life of crime but eventually turned to a cop. Years later, he became a full-fledged detective, helping hunt down and put in jail the evils of society. His name is Jack Spencer. We roll a 2d4+2 for his main occupation, that of a detective. We get a 7, which is pretty good. Next, we roll his second occupation, that of a cop. We get a 3. Finally, he grew up as a criminal, so roll and assign the final occupation. We rolled a 2. Now we determine his starting cash. He starts out with $700 in saving which amounts for a pretty good amount in that day and time. Now, up to the GameRunner, he may buy some guns, clothes, a car, and a variety of other equipment.
To perform a test on an ability, roll a 1d12. Your roll has to be equal or below that ability’s score to succeed.
How do you know if you can perform a certain action? Well, for the most part, it will be up to you and the GameRunner’s decisions. For example, if you wish to shoot at a target on a wall, our example above, Jack Spencer, would be able to use any of his occupation ability rolls to shoot. You want to choose your highest, so he would use his Detective occupation. On a 1d12, he must roll a 7 or below. But, let’s say, a fellow named Dr. Rubence (Doctor: 8, Professor: 5, Grocery Clerk: 2) wants to shoot at the same target. Well, looking at his occupations, it doesn’t look like he has any occupation which is generally taught firing guns. In that case, he may roll his lowest score, divided by half. His lowest score is 2, divided by half equals 1. He must roll a 1 on 1d12 to hit the target.
Improving on occupations is an important point to make. At the end of every game session, you may make three rolls to determine improvement. If your three rolls all are higher than your corresponding occupations, then you are awarded one point to raise one of your character’s occupations. Sadly, you can never improve beyond 11 in a trait. No one is perfect in our world.
How does this work? Tim’s character just got done raiding a house full of no-good gangsters. The adventure is over, so Tim decides to see if his character improves. Using a 1d12, he rolls for each of his character’s occupations. If he rolls above each score, he is rewarded one point to raise one of his character’s occupations. That’s easy, right?
Combat in FERpg
To begin combat, you need to decide who goes first. The GR will flip a coin, and depending on its result, it will dictate which side goes.
Tails = Baddies
Heads = Players
Then, resolving of combat comes next. All the players decide what will be happening. Who is their character going to attack and other actions will be answered here. To attack someone else, you must roll against that target’s agility-related occupation, using a 1d12. So if you were shooting a cop, you might have to roll against his cop occupation. Rolling against someone requires you to get higher than your opponent’s occupation score. If the cop has a cop occupation score of 8, you must get a 9 or above to successfully hit your opponent. The same rule above applies for character’s with no agility-related occupation. Whatever the case, the GR will decide the number you have to beat. Then, consult the table below to determine damage.
Roll Result: Damage:
+0-+1 = 1d4
+2-+3 = 1d4+2
+4 or Above = 2d4
After the first side performs and resolves their actions, its time for the opposite side to do the same. Finally, once both sides have gone, the entire process repeats itself.
Initiative (Coin Flip) >> First Side Goes >> Second Side Goes
What else? Well, you might add some modifiers for particular weapons, but that is the GameRunner’s business, and as far as I am concerned, he can dig his own grave.
Combat in Review
Let’s put this together for the slow learners. Jack Spencer, our notorious and cunning detective, comes ‘in contact’ with a couple of boys from the Radini family.
The GameRunner flips a coin, and it turns out, that the Radini mobsters get to act first. The first one opens fire, with his submachine gun. He must roll equal to or above Spencer’s agility-occupation ability roll. The GameRunner decided that detective work doesn’t require lots of regular agility, so he ruled that Spencer’s cop occupation would be fine. The GameRunner rolls a 4 for the badguy, and so the badguy hits Spencer! The GameRunner consults the chart for damage and sees that since the roll was 1 above Spencer’s score, Spencer must lose 1d4 hit points.
Do you see now? This would go for each creature or character involved in battle. Then, the process starts all over again with the coin tossing.
One Final Note: What if your character does get hit and some hitpoints are taken off? As soon as the character’s hitpoints drop to zero, he is dead unless a doctor (or equivalent) is there to help him. The doctor can make an ability test to save the character. Otherwise, in between each adventure, it is assumed that the character is healed back up and starts out with his fresh maximum hp.
As a GameRunner, you control the action and dictate the story. You are the plot provider (or taker-away depending on the situation), and you describe the outcome of the character’s actions. If you have not roleplayed before, find a game and play first before attempting to run a game. Otherwise, it is fairly easy and fun to run a game, especially in FERpg.
A GameRunner’s first job is to provide a setting and occupations for the characters. The two pre-made settings below are examples of what you can do, but it real easy to do any sort of world. The whole purpose it to keep it simple and not worry about nitty gritty details. You should create a sample list of possible occupations for the characters to be but allow them to create their own as long as it fits and the definition of the occupation agrees with both of you. One player might think that some occupation can use weapons, while you may differ. Make sure you come to a mutual understanding, and remember punching your players is allowed.
You control all the characters and people in the story that the GamePlayer’s interact with. Ham it up as much as possible. Sometimes, the more striking personalities or catch phrases the characters have, the more realistic they seem. Sometimes, it will be necessary to write down a few occupations and scores for these characters, especially if they are villains or important to the story.
New York City in the 20s. This is the whole Untouchables, Al Capone feel. Dick Tracy included. The city is rampant with mob wars, with several families battling it out. For some reason, the GamePlayers get involved. The easiest way is to have one or two of them be cops or detectives. They must try to put a end to the mob’s violence. You might even throw some dark magic into the mix. A little bit of black magic here and there always makes for a good game.
Detective: Working for the FBI has never been so fun, and time consuming. The mobs are practically running the city and no one can get a get lead on the criminals. Until you come along that is.
Cop: You have a feel for walking the streets of your home city, so when some low life comes along, you are there to stop him. With these mobs about these days, your beat hasn’t been so fun, as several such have invaded your home turf.
Professor: You have always taught that there were things in the world better left unexplained. Your study into those shady practices have made you somewhat of a celebrity. Most of your students look at you with suspicion, until some ambitious detective or cop comes to you for advice.
Lawyer: Your job is to find the legal way to put those damn villains behind bars. You are pretty good, but with all this Mob violence going on, you don’t know where to start and if you should. Most mob families have already sent you a warning – ‘Leave us alone or your next.’
Criminal: Life is never easy for one such as yourself. Running from the law and your past, you don’t have much time to think about your future. But still, the ultimate heist might be ripping off one of the mob’s themselves.
Scholar: Around the world, you saw some strange things. You have been deep into dark catacombs and forgotten tombs, finding out the hidden secrets of people ages past. Still, when you come back home to NYC, you didn’t expect to see a full fledged war raging in the streets… and the taint of evil magic.
Doctor: Your business has only been getting better. More patients means more money, but you really have a caring for your work. The violence has increased, and you wonder if there is a way to help stop it, so fewer people will be getting hurt each day. Of course, it means less business, but it sure as Hell would make you feel better.
Acrobat: The mobs pay high dollar for fancy dancers and performers like yourself, and New York is alot better than your home of Russia. But still, you have been looking for a way to get out of the normal grind.
Entertainer: Night clubs are the mecca of the mob’s dirty men. Its a tough life, but worth the tips you get each night. Until your friend ends up disappearing do you begin to worry….
Spy: Germany is your homeland, but few people can tell. You are the best of the best. Unfortunately, you ran into some trouble with one of the mobs and now you can’t leave your house without fear of losing your life. It will only be a matter of time.
Businessman: Business is booming and you don’t feel like waiting around. Still, if you don’t pay the rackets soon, you might have some visitors crashing your place. Business is great, but protection is expensive.
Black Magic: Can characters use black magic in this game? The simple answer is no. But like every other game in the world, this is up to the GameRunner’s discretion. If so, the GameRunner must be careful to preserve balance between characters. One important note is to remember that black magic is generally evil in such a setting, and characters who use it might very well become corrupted by such forces. If the GameRunner can find a way to insert it in such a fashion that does not deter from the game, then by all means that is perfectly allowed.
I. Newspaper Headline – “Truckload of Coffins Stolen, Mob Hit Says Police”
This catchy and interesting news article itself might draw attention, but if not, a cop or detective might be assigned the case. Once the group gets underway, they have many options to try. They can visit local funeral homes where the coffins were intended to arrive. All have the same story of some gruff man wanting to order a 100 coffins, but none of the funeral homes had enough in stock. Other work might lead to other clues, but the most important will be learning that the Galloti family has been building a large private cemetary behind their estate. This should drive the GamePlayers to drop by for a visit.
II. The Dead Walk….. and Carry Submachine Guns?
When the group arrives at the estate, they will be shown in by an elderly maid and offered tea and wine. Time will pass uneventfully, and the maid will answer no questions about the whereabouts of the head of the Galloti family. The maid will tell the GPs to wait till dark for the master of the house to arrive. Snooping characters can discover the cemetary behind the house, with 50 freshly dug graves. Others might find a hidden and dark altar of some kind in the basement. Other coffins can be found about the premises, and other darker horrors could be discovered just as well. Finally, as soon as night comes, the coffins will open and the Galloti family will stream forth. Luckily for the GPs, they are merely undead and can be killed with a few shots to the head. But the Galloti family will not take kindly to the GPs snooping around their estate. Whatever concludes will be up to the GPs luck, determination, and resourcefulness.
Robert Galloti (Wizard [Black Magic]: 7, Mobster: 4, Criminal: 4) Robert is the head of the Galloti family.
Don Galloti (Mobster: 6, Wizard[Black Magic]: 6, Doctor: 1) Don is second in command.
Galloti Mobster (Mobster: 5, Thief: 2) A typical Galloti mobster.
Items of Note:
Robert Galloti discovered, in his family’s library, an ancient tome describing the various uses of black magic. After teaching himself its use, he passed the skill down to Don. Until recently, their magic was little beyond simple curses on people, but not but two weeks ago he discovered how to create ‘living death’. After using the magic on his people, the entire household of Galloti’s must remain underneath ground or in coffins during the day, but at night, they rise to rule the mob scene. This undeath gives them 5 extra hit points than normal.
Gapnack – “The Realm of Odd Flying Things”
Gapnack is a realm of fantasy, where everyone gets in everyone else’s way and nothing turns out as planned. Join the evergoing crusade to defeat the non-existant odd flying things, which threaten the safety of the land. This realm is supposed to provide a major comical relief to players of other fantasy rpgs, and GRs should feel free to add as much irony and puns as needed.
Clumsy Warrior – “I am great, powerful, and all-knowing. I am the Warrior of the North. I am thud thank swoosh thud … ehhhh? Hello? Hello? Mom, why’d you turn out the lights?” – Fonan, Warrior of the North after he was attacked by a tin bucket.
Forgetful (And Naive) Merchant – “Yes, oh certainly. That sword is 5 gp. That is right. What? Oh? You paid me yesterday? Well, I don’t… remember that, but why would such a nice orc like yourself lie? Here is your sword. Have a nice day!” – The well-known merchant of Waffledeep, Tham.
Befuddled Wizard – “Yes, and the forces of… hmmm.. where did I put that wand? I seemed… hmm.. where did it go? I swear I had it right here!” The well known (and powerful) wizard Bingo, as an approaching horde of evil beasties rushed at him. “Ah! This is very embarrassing. Let me teleport back to my tower for a moment so we can resume. I must have left my wand on the dresser.”
Smelly Thief – “Ahhhh… I am the greatest of all greats. Few are…. Hey! What are you doing?” Jink the Thief as a few town guards apprehend him. “What? How do you know I robbed that house? …. WHAT? My smell? I don’t smell!!”
Boring Sage – “If you turn and look at page 5 of the Player’s Handbook, you will read that the…” – Geg, the most boring sage of the world (also known as the Sleepmaster).
Loud Bard – “HEY! YOU? WANT TO HEAR A SONG?” The worst bard in the known lands, called Mouth by his friends, but known officially as Gape.
Mean Thug – “Hey. If you don’t stop staring at me, I am going to pull your tongue out and wax my chariot with it, buddy!” – Umber (Hulk), the meany from Caleenee.
Suspicious Priest – “The church is a place for you to… hmmmm… Where are you going with that purse brother? Ok.. Ok.. It BETTER be on the altar when I get done.” – The infamous priest of the Church of Moth.
Vengeful Apprentice – “Let me look at that book, Wizard.” “Hah! Its magics would surely blow your mind. You must wait until you have passed the proper tests!” “Fine. When I am done here, I will send a fireball up your *ss.” “What was that?!?” “Nothing sir.. nothing.. I just said it feels like my *ss is on fire.” – Exerpt from the Official Guide to Hate by Apprentice Duck of the tutelage of Arch-wizard Farfmore [censored by Felminster of Babbledale].
Conniving Rogue – “Hmmm. No wait! I think it is better if we leave all of our gold HERE, before heading into the dragon’s lair. That way, the dragon won’t try to steal it.” Get rich quick rogue, Max, to a foolhardy band of adventurers who walked unknowingly into a dragon’s cave with weapons drawn. Max is still living happily in Feverly Hills.
Whiny Storyteller – “You want to hear another story? But I’ve told that one a million times! Choose a better one! … Uhhh.. no! I told that one last week! Nope. umm.. no.. Come on, pick one that I haven’t said in a while.” – Edward the Storyteller at another of his sold-out performances when people TRY to be the first person to get him to tell a story.
Greedy Mayor – “I am imposing a new tax upon the town. One gold coin must be paid to me every hour, if I am still breathing!” – The wise and caring mayor of Waterdale.
Magic: How do we do magic in this blasted game? There are two types of magic in Gapnack, the kind that works and the kind that doesn’t work. The kind that works was outlawed a long time ago by some no good celestial beings, so from now on, anytime a GP casts a spell, the effect cannot be predicted in any logistical way. The GR should feel free to decide what effect comes from the result of the caster’s spell, and whatever might happen, the caster always make sure everyone knows, “I meant to do that.”
I. Recruit Us!
In Waterdale, a new recruiter has arrived from the Kingdom’s Army, seeking worthy recruits. A line has formed next to the Dry Brew Church, and they are taking anyone with at least one arm (legs not needed). The brave (or not so brave) volunteers will be given a shiny coin (type and value unknown) and be carted off to the front lines. If any GPs happen to ask about who they are fighting, they will be told about the evil odd flying things which are menacing the land. Beyond that, no information about the odd flying things will be told, because they don’t exist! Of course, this should not be made aware to the GPs just yet.
II. Its a Large and Cuddly Dragon!!
A dragon has taken up residence in a cave called (appropriately) the Cave of Cutting Wind. The dragon is a loving and caring individual, who prefers tea over fire breathing anyday. It does have a hate against two-legged creatures with pointy objects though. It will give gifts (several millions of gold) and expect hugs in return. Such a hug though, could kill a GP if they are not careful. The GPs may be required to find the dragon and request its help, or possibly run it off from the cave. Whatever seems the funnest. In any event, the GPs may find more than they bargained for, a caring and loving beast that merely wants to hug you… The GR should ham it up for as long as possible.
So, you mastered the system. You’ve played with your friends, your dog, your grandma, and even your tv! Well, good! You have come to the right place, as this section will detail some very cool rule changes to add some spice to your game.
Something that requires little effort to add some changes when playing is called the Occupation Risk. Players may choose this when creating their character. Instead of choosing 3 occupations, players can choose only two. In return, the two occupations that they have have a possibility of ending up with a bit higher score.
If a player elects to use this option, they may choose two occupations and roll 2d4 for both. It is a risky move, and the character might suffer when a wide variety of skills are needed.
This option is the exact opposite of Occupation Risk. The character may choose 4 occupations. His two main will both get a roll of 1d4+2, and his final others will both get rolls of 1d4. A character with this method will never be in trouble when looking for a job.
Play with Coins:
FERpg assumes you have dice to play, but at times, dice may be inaccessible. For this option, you will need four coins of any kind. Instead of rolling dice, you will flip coins to see if you succeed or fail in tests.
A basic rule of thumb for coins is heads is a success and tails is a fail.
Result ||||||||| Equivalent
1 Success | Easy – (11-9)
2 Success | Fair – (6-8)
3 Success | Difficult – (3-5)
4 Success | Very Difficult – (1-2)
No Success | Fail – (12)
Therefore, when a test is needed to be performed, consult the chart to determine how many successes you will need to be successful. If you have a score of 5 that is being tested, it is a Difficult test, and 3 of the 4 coins must be tails to succeed in the action.
For combat, subtract 12 from your opponent’s agility-related score for the equivalent number on the chart.
Creating Your Own World:
Though a number of settings will be posted on the internet for your use, there will come a time when you wish to try out a world of your own. Perhaps you saw a cool movie or tv show and wish to create a game based after it. It is very easy to do so, and here are a few tips to help guide you.
Keep it simple. Including a hundred thousand details for a game like FERpg would be overkill, since it is not intended for that. Instead of worrying about how each item or occupation works, relax and just say it does.
Watch tv shows and movies for ideas. The best source is the ‘tube’. There are hundreds of ideas each day for cool games and stories. Old shows also give good plot ideas. Most gamers have their favorite shows or movies and would die to have a chance to play a game or two as their favorite heroe or heroine.
Have fun. Overall, this is important. If you are not enjoying yourself, then you have it totally wrong. Try to relax and remember the end result.