TOASTER: A ROLEPLAYING GAME
Updated January 28, 1998
Copyright © Patrick Riley 1998
Table of Contents
|3.4||Extended d10* Rolls|
|3.6.6||A Note on Criticals and Fumbles|
|4.1||The Combat Round|
|4.2||Attacking and Defending|
|4.3||Weapon and Armor Class|
|4.4||Sample Weapons and Armor|
|4.5||Effects of Damage|
|4.6||Miscellaneous Combat Tables|
|4.6.1||Attack Critical or Defend Fumble|
If you are looking for an innovative, groundbreaking, revolutionary roleplaying game that will lead a paradigm shift in the hobby, this is not it. For experienced roleplayers, there is nothing new, not a single original idea, presented in Toaster that cannot be found elsewhere. Rather, ToasterRPG is just an exercise in creating a straightforward roleplaying system that has enough flexibility to be used in a wide range of campaigns.
Like other rpgs available on the Internet, ToasterRPG assumes that the reader is familiar with roleplaying and roleplaying games. I do not want to bore you or myself with sections on "How to Roleplay" and you probably do not want to be bothered with those either.
1.1 Why "Toaster"?
That humble household appliance, the toaster, is a good model for simplicity of concept and design. Toasters have one basic function, a simple user-interface, and so long as you don't try to shove anything to large in it, they are generally very reliable. ToasterRPG is a humble roleplaying game built around a few basic concepts and mechanics, using simple math and die rolling, and it can handle most genres and settings with no difficulty.
With a toaster, you can cook bread, breakfast pastries, frozen waffles, English muffins, or perhaps even bagels. Toasters work great for all these applications, but do not try to bake a cake with one. Likewise, ToasterRPG is genre-inspecific, so you can use it in a wide variety of campaigns, but it will not work for every setting or every style of roleplaying.
1.2 The Rules
The rules in Toaster are designed to give players a sketch of the system and how it might be applied in a variety of circumstances. However, many of the details have been made vague or left out completely. GMs and players are encouraged and expected to customize the details to best fit their campaign and gaming style. As development of Toaster continues, more of the details will be filled in.
1.2.1 Optional Rules
For the sake of completeness, ToasterRPG includes some rules that are superfluous to the basic game. Mostly, these are included as examples of how the game can be detailed and expanded to fit the tastes of the GM and Players. These are indicated by an asterisk, *, and/or by italics in the HTML version.
1.2.2 Rule Development
As Toaster undergoes revisions and alterations, this section will be used to chronicle those changes, excluding typos, HTML fixes, or similar non-rule fixes.
January 28, 1998
December 4, 1997
1.3 The Dice
Toaster uses the standard set of polyhedral dice, namely the 4-sided, 6-sided, 8-sided, and 10-sided, though the latter is used almost exclusively. The standard rpg notation is also used, such that 2d6+1 means to roll two 6-sided dice and add one to the result.
1.3.1 The d10*
Toaster uses the notation d10* to indicate that a 10-sided die is rolled, with the "0" treated as a zero. If the notation is simply d10 with no asterisk, then the "0" is equal to ten.
The most complex mathematical function used in ToasterRPG is averaging. To average two numbers, add them together and divide by two. When fractions come up, lop off all digits to the right of the decimal place. For example, to take the average of 5 and 8, add them together to get 13. Then, divide by two to get 6.5, but drop the fraction to get a final answer of 6.
1.5 Future Developments
To complement the basic Toaster rules, several more supplements are planned. These future projects will develop Toaster into genre-specific areas such as Magical Toasters, SuperToaster!, Toasters in Space, CyberToaster, EST: Extra-Sensory Toaster, and Toaster-Fu.
Chapter 2 -- CHARACTER DEFINITION
Attributes encompass a character's natural physical and mental abilities. When describing a character, the first thing mentioned might very well be the character's attributes. There are four attributes, though the GM and players may agree to add or change attributes to best reflect the needs of the campaign.
2.1.1 Attribute Ranks
Attributes are typically ranked from 0 to 10, with rank 4 representing a fairly average individual. Higher attributes are possible, but should be reserved for superhuman characters.
2.1.3 * Other Attributes
The GM may wish to add primary attributes based on the needs of the genre and campaign. For example, a campaign which features mystical and magical powers, an attribute called Attunement could be added to describe the characters' natural affinity for magical talents. The GM might also wish to split an existing attribute up into separate attributes. For a game with lots of investigation and social interaction, Charisma could be its own attribute and not linked to Aura.
2.2.1 Skill Base
The skill base represents a character's level of training. This training can include spending time in a classroom, reading texts, hands-on experience, and other forms of training.
The skill base has a score from 0 (no training, formal or informal) to 10 (years of dedicated study). The GM may allow a character to have a skill base over 10, but only in those cases where a character has a low attribute and needs an extra-high skill base to make up for it.
2.2.2 Skill Rank
The skill rank combines the character's natural talent (attributes) and training (skill base). The skill rank is an average of the character's skill base and attribute. For example, a character with an attribute of 6 and a skill base of 9 has a skill rank of 7. Some traits can also affect skill ranks.
Which attribute to use for a given skill is left to the GM and Players to agree upon. In some cases, more than one attribute is appropriate, and this can depend on how the skill is used. For example, woodworking might depend on Coordination while crafting things but on Intellect for identifying and appraising objects. One method to resolve this issue is to use two or more skill ranks, one for each attribute. When the skill is used, the GM chooses the one which is most appropriate for that situation. For simplicity, though, the GM and Player might agree on a single attribute to use.
The skill rank is a direct reflection the character's ability. For flavor, the GM may assign descriptors based on the skill rank. The table below gives some examples.
|Skill Rank||General Ability||Tradesman Rank||Karate Belt|
|0 to 2||Unskilled||Novice||White|
|3 to 4||Student||Apprentice||Yellow|
|5 to 6||Proficient||Journeyman||Green|
|7 to 8||Expert||Adept||Brown|
|9 to 10||Master||Master||Black|
|11+||Grand Master||Grand Master||Other (Red?)|
2.2.3 * Specialization
If a character has a rank of 4 or more in a particular skill, the Player is allowed to designate one specialty. The specialty is a subset of the skill, applying to a very specific application of the skill. For instance, a character with the throwing skill may specialize in knives or a blacksmith can specialize in making armor. When the character uses the skill within the specialty, the character has a +1 to the skill roll, which is the same as saying the character's skill rank is 1 higher.
Once a character has reached a rank of 8 or higher in skill, the Player may either choose a second specialty or double the current specialty. Thus, the character could have two specialties at +1 or a single specialty at +2.
The GM should allow specializing on a case-by-case basis and only in those circumstances when it enhances the character description without abusing the system. If the GM and Players cannot think of 3 independent areas to specialize in, then the character should not be allowed a specialty. Also, the GM may place a limit on the number of skills a character can have a specialty in, perhaps limited to the few core skills that best define the character's role.
2.2.4 Sample Skills
The GM and players need to decide which skills are appropriate for their campaign. The types of skills available will depend greatly on the time period, genre, and tone of the game. For instance, in modern times, astrology and astronomy are very distinct, whereas in ancient times, these fields were one and the same. Similarly, a campaign set in a historically accurate medieval Europe might distinguish weapon skills among the hundreds of varieties of swords, maces, flails, and polearms available at the time. On the other hand, a campaign focused on solving mysteries and crimes in the pre-war America of the 1930s and 40s, might lump all such weapon skills into a single ancient weapons skill.
Many of the skill definitions, especially those within skill groups, are left intentionally loose. The players can chose how specific they want their characters' skills to be. The more narrowly a skill is defined, the more detailed and specific the character's knowledge and ability will be. For instance, a character who has a skill in the history of World War II will know more details about the war than a character who knows history of the 20th century. On the other hand, the latter character will know more about events before and after the war than the former character would. Choosing to define a skill narrowly or broadly does not preclude a character from having a specialty. For instance, a character can know history of World War II, specializing in the campaigns of Patton, while a character with a skill in history of the 20th century can specialize in the history of technology in the century.
Some of the skills listed below, like Artistic Skill are actually a group of skills listed under a single heading. Rather than list every possible skill, the players and GM can decide which skills are available and appropriate for the campaign. These skills tend to vary significantly based on the time period and technology of the setting as well as the genre of the campaign. For instance, in a fantasy campaign, the available language skills might be Human, Elvish, Dwarvish, and The Forbidden Mystical Tongue of Urix. A game set in the Wild West might focus on English, Spanish, Chinese, French, and hundreds of Native American languages; whereas in a modern campaign, the GM might say that any of the world's languages are available.
Any of the character's abilities which are not described by attributes or skilled are called traits. Positive traits give characters some advantage or special bonus. Conversely, negative traits put the character at a disadvantage, penalizing the character. Traits are ranked from -5 to +5. Negative traits have negative rank, positive traits have a positive rank. The further from 0 the rank, the more extreme the trait is.
2.3.1 Neutral Traits
Neutral traits have a rank of 0. These traits provide no net benefit or detriment to the character. A neutral trait can be nothing more than a very minor, yet interesting, quirk -- a footnote on character description. Examples of these types of traits include: always dresses in a black-motif, attracted to redheads, collects stamps, or plays solitaire a lot.
A neutral trait can provide the character some benefit but it comes with added baggage that balances the good points. For example, the character might have a cousin who is connected with the Mafia. Most of the time, this trait is inconsequential to the game. However, in dire need, the character may be able to call upon help from the Mafia. On the other hand, the cousin could also call the character for help in some mob-related activity. All told, the positive and negative aspects balance each other out, and the trait is counted as neutral with rank 0.
2.3.2 Sample Traits
2.3.3 New Traits
Severity is a measure of how drastically the trait affects the character or the campaign. Frequency reflects how often the trait would come into play or make a difference in the game. Rare traits might only be used over other gaming session. A common trait is used about once a session or a few times during an adventure. A trait that occurs constantly gets used many times in a gaming session. Just because a trait cannot be turned off, it does not mean that the trait should automatically be treated as a constant trait. What is important is how often it makes a contribution, positive or negative, to the story.
2.4 Character Creation
Character creation should be an interactive experience between the players and the GM. The players should come up with character concepts, and assign skills and traits that are appropriate for the campaign. The GM should guide the players, offering suggestions to make the most interesting and appropriate characters possible.
All character creation should start with a basic concept. The concept can be a simple one-sentence description or fully detailed with an extensive description of the character's background, personality, and appearance. However extensive, the character concept should provide a basic outline of the character's abilities and provide clues about how the character's attributes, skills, and traits will look.
To determine a character's attributes, there are three basic methods from which to choose. The GM and Players can decide up on a consistent method for everyone to use or may allow each Player to decide individually. When rolling randomly for attributes, the GM may allow players to re-roll any attribute that has a rank of zero.
Every character begins with a number of skill points with which to buy skills, increasing their base rank. The number of skill points a character possesses is determined one of three ways.
Each skill point increases the skill base by 1. All characters automatically have a skill base of 4 in their native language at no cost of skill points.
Characters can have any number of positive traits of any rank. However, the character must balance these positive traits with negative ones. The sum of all the character's positive and negative ranks must equal zero. The ranks of the negative ranks do not have to match the positive ranks, so long as their total ranks match. For instance, a rank 3 positive trait could be balanced with a rank -3 negative trait or three negative traits each with rank -1.
The GM and Players may agree to set a maximum limit on the total positive, or negative, ranks allowed. This helps prevent Players from loading up characters with negative traits so that they can have more positive traits. For example, they could agree that characters can have up to 5 total ranks of positive traits. In this case, the character cannot have a total of 6 or more positive trait ranks even if they are balanced by negative traits.
The GM determines what kind of equipment characters have at the start of a campaign. This can be based on a set amount of starting money or whatever seems appropriate given the character's profession, skills, and the setting.
2.4.6 * Campaign Style
The GM may wish to alter the characters' starting attributes and skill points based on the style of the campaign.
|Average||4 or 1d6+1d4-2||Subtract 10|
|Above Average||5 or 2d6-2||Normal|
|Heroic||6 or (3d6)-2||Add 10|
|Larger Than Life||7 or (4d6)-2||Add 20|
In the case of Heroic or Larger Than Life campaigns, after the dice are rolled, only the best two dice are added. For example, a player in a Larger Than Life campaign rolls 4d6 with the results of 2, 4, 6, and 3. The best two dice are added together for a sum of 10. The player then subtracts 2 to get an attribute rank of 8.
2.5 Character Advancement
One of the enjoyments of roleplaying is to see characters grow in experience and ability. However, characters must grow in a natural and believable way. The GM and players must agree on how a character will advance in ability, and work the advancement into the story.
At the conclusion of an adventure, which can span many game sessions, the GM awards each character with 1 to 5 experience points. These points are doled out as a function of the players' roleplaying, the fulfillment of the characters' goals, and other factors.
Experience points convert directly to skill points. A character can improve the skill base of any skill used in the course of the adventure. Characters can improve other skills that were not used in the adventure if the GM and players agree on why the characters' skill improved. Perhaps the character had undergone some training from other characters during the adventure or will spend time after the adventure to seek out a professional tutor.
Traits cannot normally be changed after character creation, since they tend to be more permanent aspects of the character's description than skill ranks. However, if deemed appropriate for the character and campaign, a GM may allow a player to rearrange a character's traits.
The only way to reduce or remove a negative trait is to increase or add another negative trait. Alternatively, an equal number of positive traits can be decreased or removed. The sum of all negative and positive traits must always equal zero.
Chapter 3 -- CHARACTER ACTIONS
When a character attempts to do something, the GM must determine if the action occurs automatically, with no die rolling, of if a roll is required. The GM must also decide which skill (or skills) is most appropriate for the situation.
3.1 Automatic Actions
If an action is sufficiently mundane, run-of-the-mill, boring, and does not add drama to the story, the die rolling can be skipped. Examples are any actions that are very likely for anyone to accomplish: climbing a ladder, shattering a glass in a fireplace, carrying on a normal conversation, or standing up from a prone position. If more adverse conditions exist, like climbing a ladder while in a sword duel, trying to hit the fireplace from 20 paces away, conversing in an unfamiliar language, or trying to stand on slick ice, then a roll would be required.
If a character has some skill in a particular activity, then more complex actions also become automatic. A person with riding skills can ride a trained horse over smooth ground without a roll, a doctor will automatically know what to do for a broken arm, and a photographer does not require a roll to take decent pictures. These activities might be difficult, and require a die roll, for untrained individuals, but characters with a non-zero skill in these areas should not need to roll.
At the other extreme, if the action is so outrageous and impossible that it could never succeed, the GM can declare the action a failure without requiring a die roll. Whether or not these acts of sheer folly warrant a chance at success will depend a lot on the genre and the level of realism desired. Some GMs and Players like to roll in these cases, just on the slim chance that it might actually be pulled off.
3.2 Dice Actions
If an action is sufficiently perilous, dramatic, or uncertain, then the GM can require a die roll.
3.2.1 Unopposed actions
When the character is not acting directly against another character, the action is called unopposed. There is still opposition based on the circumstances and the difficulty, but it does not come directly from another character who can also react to the situation. Examples of unopposed actions include picking a lock, hitting a stationary target at range, drawing a picture, and deciphering a code.
3.2.2 Opposed Actions
When two (or more) characters are engaging in actions against each other, this is an opposed action. These include a character searching for one who is hiding, one character is trying to hit the other, making a sale to a wary customer, or playing a game of strategy.
In some cases, the characters are not directly interfering with each other, like trying to hit the same target or trying to woo the same person. Each character must make a roll just as with an unopposed action, trying to reach a target of 10. The winner is either the character who had the highest total or the one who did not fail. The winner of the outcome did the best job, like getting closest to the bullseye or winning favor over the other. It is possible for both characters to fail, and these circumstances are sometimes the most interesting.
If the opposed action results in a dead tie, the GM should follow the same guidelines for marginal results described below in section 3.6.3.
3.3 Which Skill?
Most of the time, a character will attempt an action which falls within the definition of a specific skill. The selection of which skill is not always obvious, however.
3.3.1 Related Skills
There are times when a character does not have a very good skill rank in the required skill, but the character does possess some skill in a closely related skill. For instance, a character who knows how to drive a car can use some of that knowledge when trying to pilot a speedboat.
The GM may allow characters to use a related skill in place of a more appropriate one. Doing so makes the task more difficult and the GM should increase the difficulty appropriately. Typically, an additional modifier of -3 (or worse) should be applied to the skill roll. The GM should never feel obligated to allow the use of related skills and may require the character to use the most appropriate skill or even declare the action an automatic failure.
3.3.2 Attribute Rolls
Some actions do not require training in a specific skill but rely more on natural ability. For example, if a character is trying to remember a clue, this relies more directly on memory and intelligence than any one skill.
The GM may call for a skill roll based on an attribute instead of a skill. The roll is made exactly as per any other action roll, except that the character's attribute is used directly, with no averaging. If there is an appropriate skill then it must be used, even if the character does not possess it. In this case, the attribute is averaged with the skill base of zero which equals one-half the attribute.
3.3.3 * Complementary Skills
Most of the time, actions require only one specific skill. However, the character might have other skills which could help in the task. In these cases, the GM may give a small bonus to the roll, increasing the chance of success. How much this bonus is will depend on the character's level in the complementary skill and how helpful the skill would be. In any case, the bonus should not be larger than +2 or so.
3.3.4 * Working Collaboratively
When two or more characters try to work together on the same task, the GM must decide if such assistance will improve the chances of success. If so, every character who is involved in the collaboration rolls a d10*. The highest roll among them is then added to the character with the highest appropriate skill rank.
The GM may require that all participants have a minimum skill rank before they can be helpful. For instance, the GM may say that a particular task requires a skill rank of 4 or more. Alternatively, the GM may determine that in order to be a valuable assistant, the characters cannot have a skill rank more than 2 ranks below the highest skilled character. Those characters whose skill rank is too low would not be allowed to roll.
There may be practical limit as to how many characters can assist at once. For instance, if everyone is trying to break down a door, then realistically only a few people can actually get close enough to be of any help. The GM may also determine that some minimum amount of skill is required before a character can be of assistance, and the die rolls from unskilled characters can be ignored.
It is also possible to worsen the chances of success by having too many people trying to help -- too many cooks spoil the broth. In these cases, every character makes a d10* roll, but the lowest roll is used and added to the character with the highest skill.
3.4 * Extended d10* Rolls
3.4.1 Rolling Nines
Anytime the d10* comes up a "9", a second die can be rolled and added to the first. Hypothetically, this process of rolling 9s and be extended indefinitely, though the GM should probably set a practical limit of only one extra roll. This limit will depend on the level of gritty realism the campaign has. If the characters are expected to perform outlandish feats, surviving despite impossible odds, then there should not be a limit.
3.4.2 Rolling Zeros
If a "0" is rolled on a d10*, it results in an automatic failure of the attempted task and may result in a fumble. To check for a fumble, the skill roll is tried again. If this second roll results in a failure or another "0," then the character has fumbled, resulting in an extraordinary mishap or setback. Fumbles are discussed in more detail below. If this second skill roll is a success, the action is still a failure, but the character successfully avoids a fumble.
3.5 Difficulty Modifiers
The default difficulty for the majority of actions should be 0. The percentage chance of success is then 10% per ability rank. For example, a character with a skill rank of 6 has a 60% chance to succeed. Each plus or minus 1 applied to the roll alters this chance, up or down, by 10%. So, the same character would have an 80% chance to succeed if the difficulty modifier was +2, but only a 30% of success if the difficulty was -3.
3.5.2 Unopposed Actions
When a character tries an unopposed action, the GM should look at all the factors that make the task easier or more difficult than most. Sometimes, the rules will dictate an appropriate modifier, such as the range of a missile weapon. Most of the time, however, the difficulty is determined solely by the GM.
Modifiers above +5 and below -5 are possible, but not recommended. If the task is so easy that the modifier is above +5, then it probably should be treated as an automatic action. A good rule of thumb is that if the character can succeed even if a zero is rolled, then do not bother rolling. Then again, GMs who use extended d10* rolls might require a roll on the 10% chance that a zero is rolled, resulting in a failure or even a fumble.
Similarly, if a task is so difficult that it has a modifier below -5, then the GM might declare it an automatic failure. If using extending d10* rolls, it is possible to roll considerably high and perform actions with very negative difficulty factors. Again, it all comes down to the level of realism and if the characters are expected to do the impossible.
As a general rule, if the character knows that a task will be more difficult than most, then the GM should tell the player what the modifier is. If, on the other hand, the task has difficulties that are unknown to the character, then the GM should apply the difficulty modifier in secret.
3.5.3 Opposed Actions
Difficulty modifiers for opposed actions work exactly the same way and use the same scale as unopposed actions. The key to remember with opposed actions is that adding a modifier to one character has the same effect as subtracting the same modifier from the other character. So, if a character is at a disadvantage which the GM considers "Very Difficult," then either a -3 is applied to the character's roll or +3 is added to the opponent's roll, but not both. Follow the rule that if the character knows about the difficulty, then the modifier should be applied to the character's roll; otherwise for hidden difficulty factors, apply it to the opponent's roll.
3.6 * Variable Outcomes
For added drama and realism, the GM may wish to employ a more descriptive approach to the outcome of actions beyond "it succeeded" and "it failed." Based on the roll total, and how close it is to the target, the GM can describe the outcome differently. For unopposed actions, the target is 10, but for opposed actions, the target is the total of the other character.
|How Close To Target||Outcome|
|Under by more than 5||Fumble|
|Under by 2 to 5||Failure|
|Within plus or minus 1||Marginal|
|Over by 2 to 5||Success|
|Over by more than 5||Critical|
A fumble is a mishap, setback, or catastrophe. Very often, a fumble will leave characters worse-off than if they had not tried the action in the first place. Fumbles have been known to break equipment, injure the character or other people, and put the character is very awkward and often embarrassing situations. Fumbles should not be used as an excuse for the GM to be cruel such as outright killing or maiming characters. Fumbles can be humorous and/or make the game a lot more interesting.
Examples of fumbles:
With a failure, characters do not succeed with what they were trying to accomplish, but without the added negative effects of a fumble. If the action was particularly perilous, like swimming across a raging river, then a failure could be harmful or even deadly. For less dangerous activities though, like building a makeshift radio, a failure simply means that the character will have to start over and try again. The character may or may not have some idea of what went wrong, and the GM should indicate any information that might be helpful in the future.
Whether or not a second attempt can be made will depend on the circumstances, like how much time and how many resources the character has. The GM should disallow any repeat attempts if the task is obviously beyond the character's capabilities or resources. A character might also try a different tactic to resolve a problem, like using threats or blackmail instead of persuasion to illicit somebody's help.
A marginal result is neither a clear success nor failure. The character may have accomplished only a portion of the task at hand or perhaps succeeded but with some negative side effects. Marginal results are an opportunity to add suspense to the game. The character might literally be hanging from a thread, teetering between victory and defeat. In these cases, a second skill roll might be needed to determine the fate of the character, though the second skill used might be different than the first one rolled. If the character missed the target by 1, it should be interpreted more towards the negative, while making the target by 1 should yield a more positive outcome.
Examples of marginal results:
In opposed actions, the GM should interpret a marginal result as a tie or draw with no clear victor. In combat, this typically means the attacker struck a blow, but at only half the normal damage. In some cases, it is either more realistic or it behooves the story to have a clear victor in the contest. In these cases, there are several methods the GM can use as a tiebreaker.
Examples of tie-breakers:
With a success, characters clearly accomplish their tasks, but not a particularly spectacular way. The character receives no special bonuses or attention from a moderate success, except on the merits of the task itself. Compared to a critical result, a mere success will appear boring and mundane.
A critical result is the best possible outcome for a given situation -- everything worked out exactly the way it was supposed to, or even better. The GM should reward the character with an added bonus based on the situation. Typically, the task was completed in record time or appeared very impressive to onlookers. Criticals can go a long way in boosting a character's ego and reputation. It is also possible for a critical to include benefits unrelated to the task at hand.
Sample bonuses from criticals:
3.6.6 A Note on Criticals and Fumbles
The GM must keep in mind the difficulty of the task when interpreting a critical or fumble. To achieve a critical for a simple task is hardly worthy of notice. Realism can limit what can be accomplished with a critical; there are some things that simply are not possible no matter how high the SL was. The same is true for fumbles. If it was sheer folly to attempt the task in the first place, then a fumble might not mean anything more dramatic than a failure. GMs should feel free to downplay the significance of a critical or fumble if it hampers the believability and realism of the story.
In opposed actions, keep in mind that a critical success for one character is a fumble for the other. If the GM awards a bonus for the critical success, it is overkill to further penalize the character who fumbled. The GM should apply one or the other, but not both. Whenever possible, the GM should describe the outcome from the PCs' point of view.
3.7 * Luck
There are several ways to simulate a character's luck in a roleplaying game. This section is intended to show some of the possibilities. GMs and Players are encouraged to work out their own methods that suits their campaign.
3.7.1 Luck Points
Every character starts a campaign with a number of luck points, equal to the character's Aura attribute. The GM may wish to increase the number of available luck points for more cinematic and less-realistic games. Luck points can be spent in a number of ways to help characters grasp victory from the jaws of defeat. It is assumed that all luck points are applied to action rolls, though the GM may allow luck to be used for rolling damage.
Spent luck points return at a rate determined by the GM. Typically, the character returns to full luck points at the beginning of the next adventure. For prolonged adventures that take many gaming sessions, the GM may allow a faster return of luck points. Other GMs may require characters to buy back luck points with experience points.
3.7.2 Luck Rolls
In the course of play, questions will arise that can have significant effects on the characters. Whenever the GM does not know the answer to one of these questions, the GM may ask for a luck roll, based on the character's Aura attribute. These are treated as any unopposed action roll, and the GM may even apply a difficulty based on how likely an event might occur. If the roll succeeds, the situation comes out in the character's favor; in other words, the character got lucky. If the roll fails, the character is faced with an unfortunate situation.
Example: A character is running from some thugs and breaks into an unoccupied car on the side of the road. The player asks if the keys are in the ignition. The GM had not planned for this eventuality, so the GM has to decide on the spot whether or not there are keys. If there are, it will make the character's get-away must easier. If not, then the character will have to find other means of escape. The GM asks the player to make a luck roll. Since this is a large city with a fair number of car thefts and other crimes, not many people would leave their keys in the car, and the GM adds a -2 modifier to the luck roll.
The GM can interpret the outcome of the luck roll to dictate the situation. In the above example, if the luck roll was a fumble, the car's owner could have seen the break in and gone after the character. On a failure, the character finds no keys and will have to either hot-wire the car or abandon it. With a marginal result, the GM decides the keys are in the car, but they are hidden; the character must spend some time looking for them. On a success, the character finds the keys in the ignition. A critical result could mean that the character finds other useful items in the car or perhaps the car belonged the thugs, who no longer have a means to continue the chase.
If more than one character in involved in a scene, the GM could allow any or all of them to make a luck roll or even use the guidelines for collaborative skill use. To prevent characters from over using their luck rolls, the GM might wish to reduce a character's luck by one if the luck roll succeeds. The luck would return in the same manner as luck points.
Chapter 4 -- COMBAT
Combat is handled like other actions, though most often combat involves opposed actions. An entire chapter is dedicated to combat because few things in roleplaying are as dramatic, tense-filled, and dangerous as combat. Because of this, there are more specific, detailed rules about combat -- enough to warrant its own chapter.
4.1 The Combat Round
In tense, action-filled moments like combat, time seems to slow down. ToasterRPG reflects this by breaking down the sequence of events into rounds. During each round, every character has a chance to act and be part of the action. The exact length of a round is set by the GM based on the actions of the characters, though three to five seconds is generally reasonable.
At the start of each round, each character involved in or near the action should make an initiative roll. 1d10 is added to the character's Coordination. The character with the highest initiative can act first, the second highest acts next, etc. Once every character has had a chance to act, the GM may start at the top of the list and allow everyone another chance to act. This process continues until every character has exhausted their available actions and a new round begins.
Characters may choose to skip their chance to act when their initiative number comes up. They may wish to wait for another character to act or for something special to happen. Skipped characters can take their action at any time after they were skipped. However, if they skip their first action, then they have to take their action before other characters start their second action; otherwise, they have waited too long and lost their opportunity to act. When a skipped character cuts into the action and it directly interferes with another character, the GM may require the characters to make opposed Coordination rolls to see who actually gets to act first.
4.1.2 Normal Actions
During a round, a character may normally perform two actions. These can be two automatic actions, two dice actions, or one of each. If one of the character's actions involves movement, then the character can perform both actions simultaneously. In this case, the character's non-movement action takes place after every other character has had a chance to take their first action.
Simple activities, like walking a yard or two, talking, or making a quick hand signal, do not generally count as count as actions. The GM may allow a character to perform multiple automatic actions at the cost of reducing the character's initiative. For example, if a character in a gunfight has to draw a gun, the GM might subtract 3 from the character's initiative, making the character shoot later in the round than if the gun had already been drawn. The GM must decide if a character's activities are complex and time-consuming enough to warrant counting as an action.
4.1.3 Long Actions
Some things that characters want to do may require the character's full concentration and may take several combat rounds to complete, like picking a lock, hot wiring a car, searching for computer files, etc. In these cases, the GM will disallow the character from performing any other action until the current task is completed. The character always has the option of stopping a long action to take another action; however, the character may be forced to start their long action from scratch.
4.2 Attacking and Defending
4.2.1 Attack Sequence
When an attack is made against another character, there are five distinct steps that should be followed. Each of these steps can be complicated by various factors, such as fumbles and miscellaneous modifiers. Steps 3 through 5 only apply if the attack roll exceeds the defense roll.
Shields are specially designed for defense and give the wielder a bonus while defending, based on the size of the shield. The bonus is applied to the shield's parry skill roll. If a character chooses to dodge or parry with a different weapon, the shield bonus does not apply.
Some GMs believe that using a shield can impede a character from making an effective attack because the shield gets in the way. To represent this, the GM may penalize an attack by an amount comparable the defensive bonus the shield provides. For instance, a character wielding both a sword and medium shield would suffer a -2 penalty when attacking with the sword.
4.2.3 Range Penalties
Each ranged weapon has a base range. Attacks made within this base range incur no range penalties. Attacks made out to double this distance have a -1 penalty, and attacks made out to triple the base range have a -2 penalty, etc.
|Distance to Target||Penalty|
|Up to Base Range|
|Up to 2x Base Range|
|Up to 3x Base Range|
|Up to 4x Base Range|
|Up to 5x Base Range|
4.2.4 * Weapon Length
Hand-to-hand weapons have range limitations based on their respective lengths. To fight with a short sword, one has to be closer to the opponent than when using a long spear, for instance. When using longer weapons, it is possible to be so close to an opponent that it is difficult to make a descent strike.
If two combatants are using roughly the same length of weapon, then the GM can ignore the effects of length. When making an attack from a non-optimum range, there is a -2 penalty to the attack roll. If the attack succeeds, the attacker is now at optimum range. If the attack fails, the range has not changed. If the weapon lengths are only slightly different, the GM may decrease the penalty to -1.
Example: A foot soldier with a pike is fighting a dismounted knight using a broad sword. At the beginning of combat, they are at optimum pike range -- the knight will have to fight past the point to close with sword. The knight attacks with a -2 penalty and succeeds, which means that the knight was able to close to appropriate sword distance. The soldier, thinking fast, drops the pike and attacks with a dagger. Since the dagger requires closer range than the sword, the soldier attacks with a -2 penalty. The attack succeeds, so now the two are right next to each other. If the knight wishes to attack with the sword again, there will be a -2 penalty. Or, the knight may try to kick or punch the soldier at no penalty, since the distance required for a dagger and unarmed combat are about the same, though the GM may set the penalty of -1, since the dagger does have a longer reach than a fist alone.
4.2.5 * Stance
In combat, a character can choose to take an offensive or defensive stance. The character can increase an attack roll by sacrificing the defense roll, or visa-versa. The GM may allow the character to add a +1 or +2 bonus to an attack roll so long as a corresponding penalty is applied to the character's next defense roll, even if the defense roll is not made until the next round. Or the character may choose to increase the defense roll and penalize the character's next attack roll. If the character completely forgoes attacking or defending for the next two actions, the GM may allow a character a +3 bonus.
4.3 Weapon and Armor Class
The weapon class (WC) of a weapon indicates how much damage it can deliver. Similarly, the armor class (AC) of protection says how much damage it can stop. WC and AC use the same scale, so that a WC of 8 does the same amount of damage as an AC of 8 prevents.
ToasterRPG uses the shorthand convention "WC/AC" to refer to both weapon class and armor class. This notation does not mean to divide the weapon class by the armor class. The only division ToasterRPG uses is when calculating averages.
4.3.1 Calculating WC/AC
Those weapons which rely on a character's strength, like a sword, bow, or bare fist are called muscle-powered weapons. The WC of these weapons are the sum of the weapon's WC and the character's Physique.
Section 4.2 lists some common muscle-powered weapons along with the WC of each. For instance, the WC of a bare fist is 0 and a kick has a WC of 1. A character with a Physique of 7 has a WC of 7 when punching and a WC of 8 when kicking. A bastard sword used two-handed has a WC of 9, so this same character would have a WC of 16 when using it.
For weapons which do not require strength to do damage, like handguns or grenades, use their WC directly without adding any factor from the character's Physique. For example, all characters, regardless of their Physique, have a WC of 18 when using a .44 magnum.
To calculate a character's AC, add up all various forms of protection. All characters have a base AC equal to their Physique when not wearing any clothing or protection. Some characters may have innate protection, like extra thick hide, scales, or an exoskeleton, which can increase this AC.
For example, a character with a Physique of 7 and thick lizard-like skin (AC 4) is wearing a kevlar vest (AC 5) and a force field belt (AC 8). The character's total AC is 24, so it will take some non-trivial hardware to penetrate all the layers of defense.
4.3.2 WC/AC Rolls
When a hit is scored in combat, the attacker rolls to determine the damage delivered by the blow. Meanwhile, the defender rolls to see how much damage is stopped. In each case, the roll is WC/AC+1d10*.
Using the above method for WC/AC rolls, there is no correlation between how good an attack roll was and how much damage is done. GMs and players may wish to modify the WC/AC roll so that it integrates the attack results.
One method that also speeds up combat is to use the same 1d10* result for both the attack and WC roll as well as the defense and AC roll. For example, a player rolls a 7 on a 1d10*, adding the character's attack skill. If the attack is successful, the player takes that same 7 and adds the character's WC to determine how much damage is done. With this method, high attack rolls correspond to high WC rolls, and low defense rolls translate into low AC rolls.
A popular method for attacks that succeed with critical results is to use a critical hit table. The WC is rolled normally, but the player also rolls on the critical hit table which can increase the WC roll or have other advantageous effects. An example of a critical hit table appears in section 4.6.1. Critical hit tables can also be used to include tactical benefits to the attacker instead of or addition to extra damage.
Another method is to roll WC normally, but then increase the damage by the difference between the attack roll and defense roll. So, if an attack roll of 14 hits against a defense roll of 8, the damage roll is increased by 6.
4.3.3 * Strength Requirements
In order to use a weapon in combat effectively, the character must have a minimum strength to lift and wield it. If the character is not strong enough, the weapon can still be used, but not as well as it could be.
Listed with each weapon is a strength requirement. If the character's Physique equals or exceed this minimum, then there are no problems using the weapon. If the character's Physique is too low, the character suffers a penalty equal to -1 per point of Physique below the requirement. For instance, if a weapon has a strength requirement of 5, but the character only has a Physique of 3, then there is a -2 penalty every time the weapon is used, for attacking or defending.
4.3.4 * Partial Armor
The AC listed assumes that the protection covers the majority of the character's body. The armor may only protect a small section or the character may use different types of armor in different locations. If the GM and players care about this added detail and realism, they should use a hit location table. When a hit is scored, apply the appropriate AC based on where the attack landed and what AC is protecting that portion of the body.
4.4 Sample Weapons and Armor
4.4.1 Hand-to-Hand Weapons
|Weapon||Base WC||STR Req.|
4.4.2 Ranged Weapons
|Weapon||Base WC||Base Range|
|Rock, Thrown||20 yards|
|Spear, Thrown||15 yards|
|.22 Revolver||15 yards|
|.357 Revolver||15 yards|
|9mm Revolver||15 yards|
|.45 Revolver||15 yards|
|.30-06 Rifle||100 yards|
|12-gauge Shotgun||10 yards|
4.5 Effects of Damage
The physical damage a character sustains should be more than numbers on a page. Players should roleplay their character's aches and pains, and have their characters react appropriately in the face of physical danger.
4.5.1 Stun Points
Every point of damage that gets past a character's defenses counts as one stun point. Stun points reflect the effects of bruises, pain, and being bashed around. If a character accumulates too many stun points, the character can get disorientated and groggy or even get knocked out. For every 5 cumulative points of damage, the character's condition worsens by a degree, suffering a penalty to all actions.
|Total Stun||Character is...||Penalty|
For example, if a character has taken 13 stun points, the character is battered and suffering a -2 penalty. If knocked out, the character will remain unconscious for as long as the GM deems appropriate.
For every 5 points of damage suffered from a single attack, a character takes a wound. Wounds may be bleeding gashes, broken bones, or massive tissue damage.
|Damage from Single Attack||Wounds|
As a character accumulates wounds, physically demanding tasks become more difficult. For every wound, the character has a -1 penalty to all actions. The GM may also choose to impose a smaller penalty for mental activities. If a character is suffering penalties from stun points in addition to wounds, apply only the worst of the two penalties. Thus, a character who is dazed (-3 penalty) and has 4 wounds (-4 penalty) would have -4 applied to all actions.
A character who is mortally wounded is incapacitated and on death's door. Each combat round, the character must make a skill roll based on Physique at -1 per accumulated wound. Any roll of 0 means the character dies instantly; any other failed roll means the character will die at the end of the current round. The GM should give these doomed characters a chance to perform one last simple action, such as a world-saving shot or heartfelt soliloquy before shuffling off the mortal coil. If the Physique roll succeeds, then the character maintains a grip on life. If a successful medical skill can be applied to the character, with a penalty of -1 per accumulated wound applied to the skill roll, the character is stabilized and need not make any more Physique rolls unless the character gets wounded further.
4.5.3 Character Size
A character's size affects how much damage a character can sustain -- larger characters can take more physical punishment than smaller ones. If a character is significantly smaller or larger than average, the character should take the Physical Size trait (section 2.3.2).
For average characters, they suffer a -1 modifier for every 5 points of cumulative stun points they take. This value of 5 changes for large or small characters. Similarly, a character takes a wound for every 5 points of damage sustained from a single attack. Exceptionally large characters take a wound for every 6 points of damage, whereas very small characters take a wound for every 4 points of damage taken from a single attack.
|Size Trait||Stun Threshold||Wound Threshold|
To calculate a character's stun penalty, take the cumulative stun total of the character and divide by the stun threshold listed above, ignoring all fractions. For example, if character with size trait -1 has a total of 13 stun points, the character has a -3 penalty. Average characters would have only been at -2.
In the case of wounds, take the damage sustained from a single attack and divide by the wound threshold listed above, again ignoring all fractions. For instance, a character with size +2 takes 16 points of damage from a single attack, resulting in 2 wounds. An average character would have taken 3 wounds from the same attack.
4.5.4 * Bleeding
For each wound a character has, the character takes 1 stun point per round from blood loss. For every 10 stun points taken from bleeding, the character suffers another wound. This added wound does not normally increase the bleeding rate, though the GM might increase the rate of bleeding if the character is moving or aggravating the wounds. If the character continues to lose blood until the total wounds reach 5 or more, the character can bleed to death.
To stop the bleeding, medical skills must be applied. The wound penalty is applied to the medical skill roll. If the medical roll fails, the character must find other means of healing.
Alternatively, the GM might look the difference between the medical skill roll and 10 to determine the number of bleeding stun points stopped. In this case, the wound penalty is not applied. For example, a character who has 4 wounds is taking 4 stun points per round. Medical aid is attempted, with a roll of 13. Now, the character is only taking 1 stun point per round from bleeding. Future medical rolls will still need to succeed by 4 or more to stop that last point of bleeding.
Stun points recover fairly quickly. For each ten minutes of rest, stun points accumulated by a character is reduced by the character's Physique. The GM may wish to modify the recovery rate to reflect the realism of the campaign.
Wounds take longer to heal. Assuming minimal medical care, such as bandages and plenty of rest, a character's health may improve. At the end of a full week of rest, the character must make an unopposed roll based on Physique, applying any wound penalties. If the roll succeeds, one of the character's wounds heals. If the roll fails, the character's condition does not improve and the character must wait another week. If the roll is a fumble, the character's condition worsens, increasing the wound severity and penalty by 1.
For instance, a character with 4 wounds rests for a week and at the end of the week makes a Physique roll, applying the -4 modifier. If the roll succeeds, the character's wounds are reduced to 3, and the character suffers only a -3 penalty. Another week of rest will have to pass before any more improvement is made.
If the character receives medical attention, the character administering to the wounded should make a medical skill roll. This roll is modified by the wounded character's wound penalties. The amount by which the medical roll is made acts as a positive modifier to the wounded's Physique roll. In the case of first aid, this modifier is only applied once. Furthermore, if first aid was successfully applied soon after the character received the wounds, the GM may allow the character the to make the first Physique roll at the end of a day or two instead of a full week. For long-term care, the modifier can be applied to all Physique rolls until the character either fails a roll or is wounded further.
For example, a character is shot, resulting in 2 wounds. The paramedics arrive soon and administer first aid. The paramedic gets a 14 on the first aid skill roll, which includes a -2 modifier for the wounds. The first Physique check the character makes will have +4 modifier due the excellent job of the paramedics.
The GM may wish to apply modifiers to the healing roll based on the medical facilities and technology. Lower technology increases the chances for infections, bones setting wrong, quack medicine, and other factors that can impede the healing process. Higher technology can not only increase the chances of recovery, but the GM may decrease the time between Physique rolls.
4.6 * Miscellaneous Combat Tables
The tables below are designed to add more variability and excitement into combat. Many other roleplaying games use similar tables, most of which can be applied to ToasterRPG. The tables presented here are just examples. GMs and Players may want to create tables specially tailored to the campaign.
4.6.1 Attack Critical or Defend Fumble
When an attacker scores a critical hit, or the defender fumbles, roll on the table below to determine the added effect. To use the table, roll a d10 and a d6 without adding them.
|1||Defender loses weapon (attack or parry weapon -- GM's option)|
|1-3||Weapon dropped to ground at defender's feet|
|4-5||Weapon dropped out of reach of defender|
|6||Weapon shatters and is unusable|
|2-3||Defender is left off balance and out of position|
|1-3||Defender suffers -1 penalty to all actions next round|
|4-5||Defender suffers -3 penalty to all actions next round|
|6||Defender trips and falls to ground|
|4-5||Attack bypasses defender's protection|
|1-3||Defender does not roll 1d10* to AC|
|4-5||Defender can only apply one-half AC and does not add 1d10*|
|6||Defender gets no AC roll whatsoever|
|6-8||Attack does extra damage|
|1-3||Add 5 to the damage roll|
|4-5||Add 10 to the damage roll|
|6||Double damage roll|
|9-10||Attack does extra wounds|
|1-3||Attack does 1 extra wound|
|4-5||Attack does 2 extra wounds|
|6||Attack does 3 extra wounds|
4.6.2 Hit Location
When a hit is scored, the GM and players may wish to know where on the body it landed. The GM can make up something that sounds appropriate or use a more random method, such as the hit location table. Designating the location of a hit can improve the narrative detail of the game and help the player roleplay their characters' injuries. The GM and players may also declare than a limb which takes more than a couple of wounds becomes disabled and useless until healed.
The table assumes that the wounded character is roughly humanoid. More exotic tables would be required for the non-humanoid races and species found in many fantasy and science fiction stories. To use the table, roll a d10 and a d6 without adding them. For example, if the d10 comes up a 3 and the d6 is a 6, this indicates the area around the hips or groin.
Copyright © Patrick Riley 1998