It’s all just saves from here on out

My roleplaying game socialization happened in 1984, with a game that used stats between 8 and 20, and roll-on-or-under saves. This mechanic is probably the single most important imprint on my gaming DNA.

Add hit points, and you already have a system that works.

The outcast-whose-name-shall-not-be-mentioned came up with a pretty cool idea on freeform rpgs many months ago. I’m riffing off of these now.

LEVEL
You start at 1.

STATS
Each player: Roll six times 3d6 and write down the numbers. Invent six stats, assign each one a number. If the referee thinks you’re trying to fuck with him, you might lose that stat. AND the number.

SKILLS
You get 10 skills, each linked to one of your stats. If you save against a skill, save against the stat+Level.

GEAR
Pick 2d6 items from an rpg book. Then, lose 1d6 of them. If gear can be destroyed, assign hit points to it. Or assign stats, just like characters have.

POWERS
Pick 1d4. These can be cyberware, mutations, spells, PSI, connections, special backgrounds, whatever your group thinks is Cool.

SAVES
Roll ad20 on or under the most appropriate stat. If you don’t have any, save vs. 4.

DAMAGE
Small weapons: 1d6; medium weapons: d8; large weapons: d10; some weapons might have smaller or bigger dice than that.

NO HIT POINTS
Damage comes off a random stat. One stat at 0: scratched. Two stats at 0: unconscious. Three stats at 0: serious wound. Four stats at 0: dead.

ARMOR
Light: reduce damage by 1. Medium: reduce damage by 2. Heavy: reduce damage by 3 or even more.

COMBAT
Save vs. your most appropriate stat, opponent does the same. The highest, but still successful roll hits and rolls damage.

Unimportant NPCs
Assign stats and numbers as you need them. Give them between 5 and 20 hit points. Make a KO save vs. 10 each time they are hit and have less than half of their hp left. or simply drop them after one hit.

Important NPCS
Treat them like player characters.

Add-Ons
Instead of rolling damage and subtracting it from stats, simply make a save vs. the most appropriate stat. The referee may slap modifiers on the roll. A successful roll means you took the damage quite well. A failed roll means it got you good. The exact number of hits a character can take varies from setting to setting, but 4 is a good number.

————————————————————————
Example character (for Shadowrun) 
Fatback McCormic, Overweight Elven Gang Member Level 1 
(and hell yeah, I rolled great!)

STATS and (Skills) 

  • Brute Force 15 (Brawling, Steamrolling opponents) 
  • Agility 14 (Bando Bull Kung Fu, Freeclimbing, Shooting Pistols) 
  • Eye for Opportunities 12 (Help friends in combat) 
  • Stubborness 12 (Immovable) 
  • Leadership 8 (Intimidate bigger opponents) 
  • Smarts 12 (Tamper with electronics, speaks English, Russian and Chinese)


GEAR (picked from SR1e)
Knife d6
Expandable Baton d6
Browning Max-Power d8
Yamaha Rapier


POWERS
Cyberware: Dermal Plating (counts as Armor 3)
————————————————————————

Example combat, no fluff text
Fatback McCormick against T-Rex, a small arms dealer (20 hp, armed with a pistol)

Fatback sees T-Rex with a pistol closing in on him, draws his Browning Max-Power and squeezes off three shots. T-Rex also tries to shoot. As Fatback shoots three times, my ruling is that he has to roll with disadvantage (roll 2d20, pick the worse number).
Fatback: rolls save vs. is Shooting Pistols 15, gets a 12 and an 11.
T-Rex: rolls save vs. 10, fails the roll. 
Fatback hits with all three bullets.
Fatback rolls for damage: 6,3,8.
T-Rex now has (20 hp – 17=) 3 hp left. I roll a save vs. 10 to see if he remains conscious, but I fail. 
T-rex drops to the ground.


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