Issue Four | Spring 1995
An alternative Tékumel roleplaying game
This is a quick and simple game system that allows players to maximize their imagination and roleplaying without having to rely on constant dice rolls. Dice are only used when the Referee decides a roll would add drama to a situation. It is possible to play the game without ever rolling a dice.
Each character is rated in Strength, Health, Speed and Intellect. Scores in these attributes range from 1 to 10. An average man has a score of 5 in all attributes. The Referee assigns attribute scores in consultation with his players, or they can be generated randomly (roll 2d10 and halve the total).
Skills take precedence over attributes. Thus a character who is trying to dodge a falling rock, for instance, uses ACROBATICS rather than Speed. Only consult attributes when a feat is attempted that does not fall under any of the ten skills, or when two characters of equal skill-level are competing. The ten skills are:
A character’s ability in each of the skills is rated according to four levels: Basic, Advanced, Master or Grandmaster.
Normally the Referee will simply pre-assign a level of difficulty to any task, and only characters at that level of ability have any chance of success. For example: the player characters are searching for someone lost in the Foreigners’ Quarter of Jakálla. The referee decides this calls for TRACKING to at least Master level.
Use of dice is optional, but may be preferred in life-or-death circumstances —a daring leap from an upper window, etc. Dice can be used to see if a character utilizes his skill (or attribute) effectively. The player rolls 2d6. The roll needed for success depends on the skill-level: Basic 2-4, Advanced 2-6, Master 2-8 and Grandmaster 2-10.
First compare the COMBAT skill-levels of the two fighters; the higher wins.
If they both have the same skill-level, compare attribute scores—Speed in case of weapons, Strength if a fistfight. If both have the same attribute score, compare the weapons being used (a sword is better than a dagger, dagger better than a cudgel, etc).
For circumstances involving more than one combatant, Assume that each skill-level is twice as good as the one below it. (Thus a Grandmaster warrior would be exactly a match for eight Basic warriors, other factors being equal.)
Both combatants lose a set amount of Health depending on the opponent’s weapon: fists 1, cudgel 2, dagger 3, sword 4, two handed sword 5.
The winner of the melee has the option to increase the loser’s injury by 1 point for each skill-level that his COMBAT exceeds the loser’s. Alternatively, if he has a shield, he can reduce the injury he takes himself.
Luck Points can then be spent to reduce damage.
Lastly, armour reduces the injury: 1 point for light, 2 points for medium, 3 points for heavy.
At Basic Level, MARKSMANSHIP allows you to automatically hit a stationary target in good light at short range. Each higher level allows you to cope with one more negative factor from this list:
Damage is sustained off Health, ranging from 2 points for a thrown dagger, 3 points for a javelin, 4 points for an arrow, 5 for a crossbow bolt. (Check to see if armour is effective by rolling a d6: 1 for light, 1-2 for medium, 1-3 for heavy.)
Luck Points are awarded by the Referee when a character achieves fulfillment of a vow, has great success in an adventure, does something clever, receives a blessing or magical boon, gains the respect of others, etc.
Luck Points are spent to achieve tasks that would not normally be possible for the character, such as hitting a target at long range if you’re only a Basic Level in MARKSMANSHIP. Luck Points can also be spent defensively —to throw off someone else’s aim so they miss you, for example.
Used Luck Points only recover at the rate of 1 a month, so you can’t afford to push your luck too far!
SORCERY in this system generally takes longer to use than in most roleplaying games, but with effects more like you would expect in fantasy literature. For instance, given long enough a Grandmaster could teleport himself from city to city. Being opposed by the will of another sorcerer makes a spell more difficult.
Basic level effects include (eg) silent mirages that disappear when touched. Higher skill-levels then allow improvements up to full solid illusions at Master. The number of spells a sorcerer can maintain is one at Basic, two at Advanced, etc. Note that SORCERY can always be used to achieve an effect equivalent to another skill two levels lower. For instance, a Master can employ magic that achieves the effect of Basic TRACKING, MARKSMANSHIP, etc.