RPGAMIX© : The Rules

Damage Weapons and Armour Hit Points and Damage Effects Taking and Healing Damage
Character Basics Backgrounds Building the Character Combat

In order to maximize playing enjoyment, the kernel of a game should be quick and simple, but accurate. Simplifying the rules and mechanics allow for more focus on role-playing and characterization. In that vein (we all hope), all characters have 8 basic STATs:


Each STAT is rated from -5 to +5. In addition, each character will have a number of skills, each rated (usually) from 1 to 5. Generally, success or failure in an action is determined by summing the skill and its related STAT (as determined by the situation). The result is then added to a ten-sided die (1D10) or occasionally a 6-sided die (1D6), and the total compared to a difficulty level set by the referee, or to the total that another character gets in their responsive action.

The process described above is similar to at least one previously existing system: Ars Magica. However, there is an overriding inaccuracy inherent in most combat systems which still must be addressed - the determination of damage. Most systems have two rolls for any given attack; one to hit and one for damage. But that method seems a little too random; glancing wounds should not happen because a marksman's damage skill is lower than his firing skill; they should happen because whatever random factors affecting the use of the marksman's firing skill caused the bullet to go wide. Thus, in my opinion (and the opinion of RPGamix), the degree of success of the hit itself should determine the amount of damage. The better existing games have attempted to mitigate this discrepancy by giving players a bonus to damage for extra good hits. We have taken a simpler tack: remove the damage roll. We propose the following procedure for finding damage:


  • Roll to-hit, as described above.
  • If the to-hit roll, plus modifiers does not exceed the difficulty required to hit, no damage is done.
  • If it exceeds the difficulty, subtract the defense total from the to-hit total.
  • Multiply the difference by 10% to get the success factor.
  • Add STR to weapon potential (if approprate) to get the damage factor
  • Multiply damage factor by success factor to get final damage.
I.E. Bob discover that Sue burned his comic books and wants to kill her with a short sword. Bob has a 0 DEX and +3 Short Sword skill. He rolls a 6 on 1D10 for an attack total of 9. Sue adds her DEX (-2) and Parry (3) to her roll of 2 for a defense total of 3. 9 (attack total) - 3 (defense total) = 6 x 10% = 60% (success factor). Now add the short swords weapon potential (15) to Bob's STR (+5) for a damage factor of 20. Damage factor (20) x success factor (60%) = 12 points of damage. Sue is toast and won't be burning anybody else's comics anymore.

[Insert of a stupid table for folks that don't know how to use a calculator]

Note that if the skills of two opponents are equal, the chances of hitting are 50% (which is about right; the average success factor overall will hover somewhere around 50% (which is about right), but can range from 0 to 100%.)

Success factors can exceed 100%!!! If the to-hit roll exceeds the defense roll by 15, then the success factor is 150%. Multiply the success factor by the weapon factor as normal. This rule automatically accounts for several real-world phenomena:
  1. A defenseless person is easy to kill. If someone is unconscious, his defense is 0. If you have a 2 dex and a 3 sword skill, your success factor is a minimum of 50%, but can easily reach 150%. For a short sword, that means your total damage is 22 points, which is enough to kill some charcters and severely maim most. The average character has 25 hit points, and as we will see, a character with only 3 points left will die really soon if he isn't treated.
  2. Very skilled attackers are very deadly because they can hit vital parts of the anatomy. This explains why people can be killed with a small knife if the attacker is quick. Just nick the carotid artery and watch 'em bleed!

That said, there is a limitation on the rule that success factors can exceed 100%: the tartget has to be living. Doors and rocks do not have vital organs. When non-living things are attacked, the success factor cannot exceed 100%. Normally. Complicated machines may be counted as living, if the GM permits. I.E. Luke Skywalker destroyed the Death-Star by hitting a "vital organ".


A partial list of weapons and their qualities are listed below.
WeaponDamage PotTo-Hit PenaltyParry ModifierMax Range (cm)Min Range (cm)Min Str.
Shield (bludgeon)5-1+55050+1
Short Sword30-1+215050---
Long Sword30-1+2200200---
Broad Sword40-2+1200200+2
Spear40-1+2300200 (50, choke)-1
Short Bow*30-1/50m---200002000
Long Bow*40-1/50m---30000200+2
* no strength bonus given to damage factor.

Notes on the weapons table:

Damage: Notice that most of the weapons have the potential to do half of the hit points of an average person, and many can easily kill at one blow. This follows from the fact that weapons are designed to kill. Different rifles can have different calibers, but if even the weakest hits you, expect to take no less than 6 points of damage. On average, a short sword will do 15 points of damage, which is easily enough to make the average person pass out. The lesson? If you don't want your character to die, use armour or don't get into fights.

To-Hit Penalties: Notice that ranged weapons have a to-hit penalty proportional to the distance from the target in meters. (E.g. for a javelin shot up to 50m away, the penalty is -1. 50 to 100m, the penalty is -2, etc).

Parry Modifier: Not all weapons give a parry modifier. Bows are considered ineffectual for this purpose. Both weapon speed and weapon length have been taken into account.

Maximum Range: Note that this is measured in centimeters, unlike the variable to-hit penalties. Chop two zeroes off the end of the number to convert to meters.

Minimum Range: You can't use a 12 foot spear against a guy who's right next to you -- unless you choke up. Minimum ranges are given for the tacticians in the audience. Note that if you choke up on a spear, it's still good for close-work. This takes a round, however, and another round to "unchoke" to full length. If you try to choke up on a sword, you are liable to cut your hands up.

Minimum Strength: Characters who do not posess the minimum strength take a penalty to hit equal to the discrepancy. Remember that minimum 0 str is not the same as no minimum.


Armour is rated in hit points. These points are subtracted from the damage total. Depending on the world in which the game is set, different types of armour may have different properties, and may or may not itself take damage when hit.

Hit-points, Stunning and Damage Penalties

When any strike hits, even if there is no damage (i.e. attack total = defense total), the victim must make a roll of Con + Wits - Damage vs. a difficulty of 10 or be stunned for the next round. Thus a character with 0 Con and 0 Wits will be stunned by any attack doing 1 point or more damage; a character with 5 Con and 5 Wits will be stunned by any attack whose damage total is 10 or greater. Whenever a character takes Con + 5 hit points of damage or more in a round, roll vs. con (diff 5) or pass out.

Con + 5 is an important number in another way as well. Characters have a total number of hit points equal to (Con + 5) times 5. Furthermore, the characters hit points are divided into five ranks of (Con + 5) points each. So Character 'A' with a Con of 5 has (5 + 5) x 5 = 50 hitpoints total. Character 'B' with a Con of 0 has (0 + 5) x 5 = 25 hitpoints total. Character 'A' has five ranks of 10 hit-points each. Character 'B' has five ranks of 5 hit-points each. A character with a Con of -4 has only 5 hit points ((-4 + 5) x 5 = 5). A character with a Con of -5 is allowed 1 hit point, gratis, however a constitution that low is best reserved for fetal mice.

Unless you have chosen a Con of -5, all characters will have five health ranks: Good, fair, poor, awful and incapacitated (the fetal mouse has only good and dead).

Good:Characters in the Good range suffer no penalties, but must treat their wounds before they worsen.
Fair:All actions suffer a penalty of -2.
Poor:All actions suffer a penalty of -4.
Awful:Make a Con roll vs. 5 or fall unconscious immediately. If still awake, all actions are at -8. Simple actions require great effort. Roll Con with each exertion (difficulty of 5 plus the number of times you've rolled so far), or go unconscious (e.g. if a character has a con of 2 and he has just droppd to Awful condition (between 8 and 14 points), add con (2) to 1d10. if the result is 5 or over, he stays awake. If he then tries to do something strenuous (crawling for the door), roll again as before. If he tries to do something else strenuous (opening the door), roll again, but instead of difficulty 5, use difficulty 6. Next time (closing the door) difficulty 7, etc.)
Incapacitated:The character is unconscious. If (by magic?) the character is awake, he or she operates at -16. Bleed, baby, bleed.

Health Deterioration and Healing

Damage begets damage. Wounds can become infected, and bleeding takes its toll. Untreated wounds get worse in proportion to how severe they are, regardless of how they started. Treated wounds have a better chance of healing. The following table shows how often to make a constitution check for healing or deterioration. All rolls are Con vs. difficulty 5, except where the table says automatic. Sometimes the result of a roll is a change of only one point (healed or lost), but sometimes, the success factor of the roll (the con roll minus the difficulty, one point minimum) is used instead. To use the table, find the health level of the character (good (less than maximum) fair, etc), and determine whether the character has been stabilized or not (stabilizing the character usually involves first aid, or cleaning the wound or something. Wounds in the Good range can be stabilized with soap and clean water, or the equivalent. Note that these may be absent in primitive societies. Specific skills may be needed in these situations (first aid, etc). Some skills aid healing more than others, See the section on skills and disciplines). Then for make a roll at each interval listed. The effect of the roll is listed under the gain and loss columns (e.g. for the weekly roll for an unstabilized person in good condition, no gain is possible, but failing the con roll means a loss of one point. The daily roll for the same character says that you gain one point if you make the roll, but do not lose anything if you you fail it. Together this means that you tend to get better rather than worse, but if you leave even a small wound untreated for a week, you run a small risk of getting worse). In one place, the table says automatic. Here, there is no roll. Lose one point per round automatically. In one place, the table says healed this means that if you make the Con roll, you are back up to your maximum number of points.

week 0-1
yesdaysuccess 0
weekhealed 0
Fairnoday 1-1
yesdaysuccess 0
Poornohour 0-1
day+1 0
yeshour 0 0
Awfulnoround 0-1
Incapacitatednoround 0-1 automatic

Character Generation

I. Vital Statistics: Strength, Constitution, Dexterity, Intelligence, Wits, Perception, Charisma, Appearance.
The value range for RPGamix is from -5 to +5. The total cost of these Stats (for this stage of creation) is 2.

CON+1 0+1-2
DEX 0-1-2+4
PER 0-1-3 0
CHA-2 0 2 0
APP 0+1+1 0
  1. Okay, BOB has spent too much on his Stats, with a total of 4 (5 + 1 + 0 - 1 + 1 + 0 - 2 - 0) rather than 2. This situation is easily remedied by reducing one Stat by two, or reducing two by 1 each to meet the criteria.
  2. JIM has violated the maximum Stat level with a +6 STR. While his overall total is 2 (which is good), he cannot have any Stat above 5 at this stage in character building. He would do well raise one of his other Stats to round him out more.
  3. Sue has hit the nail on the head! Her Stat total is 2, and no Stats are above 5 or below -5. Of course, she's a girl, so she's probably not a powergamer, and pays attention to the rules. Way to go, Sue!
  4. Hal is just an idiot. He has given himself a total of negative 2, and will surely get trounced by the first opponent he faces. He does have a good DEX, though, so might live long enough to get trounced by the second. At least he didn't make his Con -5. Even though starting with a lower Stat total only hurts the character, we are currently still saying it is not an option for self-flaggelators - they'll have to demean themselves in some other way.

II. Disciplines and Skills:
Skills are basic abilities, such as athletics, fighting or area lore. For the purposes of this game, skills, talents and knowleges (disctinctions made in other systems) are treated identically.
Disciplines are a nifty invention for this system; they are what make this system universally flexible. A Discipline is a framework for learning that allows a character to buy certain skills or abilities. We would say that the purchase of a discipline carries permissions to buy certain skills. For example, anyone can buy "Street Fighting," but with the Discipline Martial Arts, one can buy special attacks that seem to defy the basic rules of combat, or meditation techniques, or resistance to the effects of pain, etc. Similarly, the advanced sciences are only available to characters who purchase the Education Disciplines. Disciplines represent long periods of study and/or training in an art, science or other framework of learning or understanding. They may also be nested, so that the purchase of one discipline permits the character to buy other disciplines. Skills or disciplines that can be bought by any player (i.e. that do not require the purchase of a discipline) are called root skills or root disciplines. This street-fighting is a root skill, and martial arts is not nested inside another discipline (i.e. it has no prerequisite disciplines) it is a root discipline.
The purchase of a discipline automatically carries 2pts of lore in that discipline. Disciplines may also carry the establishment of specialized variables, such as magical potential or ki, which represent pools of energy to be used. The variable might initially be set to zero, or to any appropriate number, depending on the rules of the discipline. Thus, one magical discipline might define a variable called "manna" which is used for spells. The initiate might get three points of manna for free. A different magical discipline might define "blood points," but the initiate might get no points to start until they are somehow earned. Unless otherwise specified, assume that the variables used by different disciplines represent different things and are not freely exchangeable. The GM may reverse this rule in specialized circumstances (for example, if a spell is found that converts blood points to manna, or if the players beg and whine sufficiently).

III. Backgrounds:
Now hold on a moment. "Backgrounds" almost means what you think it means, but not quite. Backgrounds are similar to the backgrounds, virtues, advantages and flaws from Ars Magica and World of Darkness, but these concepts have been unified, and are all called Backgrounds, after the concept from Unix (and other operating systems) of a background operation. It's sort of a pun, really. Backgrounds are any traits or histories that operate in the background. Fame is a background because you're always famous, whether of not you're using it. Danger sense is a background because the GM is supposed to remember to tell you when your character is in danger whether or not you ask him to. If you have a rival, he's running around doing things in the background, (like Hamlet in Rosencrantz and Gildenstern Are Dead) even when he's not interacting with you. If you have a strange history, it comes back to haunt you at odd times. If you cannot be killed by man born of mortal woman, that's effectively a watchdog that protects you, somehow, from men born of mortal women (perhaps your defense roll becomes infinitely high when one attacks you, or maybe you get spcial regenerative powers - I don't know, It's not MY character...). You might be able to interact with your background at will, but it does not usually require a roll to do so. Thus, you don't need to roll to draw from the trust fund your parents left you. Or you might be able to call on the services of your henchmen, but it won't require a roll on your part to get him to do what you need (usually). You might even be able to cure your disease, but that will have more to do with role playing or experience points than with the disease itself. The point-value of a background isn't usually your chance of success, so much as the background's over-all effect on the character, like an 'inconvenience factor.'
Just like skills, there are root backgrounds, and there are disciplined backgrounds. If you have learned a discipline, there is probably a mentor background either available to you or forced upon you. Probably the more points you spend on it, the more useful it is. Similarly, if you have a samurai discipline, you might buy the danger sense background. But anyone can buy the fame background, or the scads of money background. In a medieval context, buying the aristocrat discipline might permit you to buy the land background (in addition to education and leadership, etc).

Building the Character

When generating a character, players are given a number of points to start with, depending on the circumstances. Sometimes a number will be suggested in the module. Characters buy skill points from this initial pool on a one-for-one basis. Disciplines are also bought with these same points. The cost of a discipline depends on the power of the discipline, and will be set in the rules for that discipline. Once a discipline is purchased, the character may buy any skill allowed by that discipline until their point allowance is exhausted. Characters may purchase more than one discipline if they have sufficient points. When disciplines carry their own variable (such as ki), the rules for that discipline determine how that variable is set or increased. Generally, a point in a variable will be worth more than a point of skill.
The eight basic staistics may be viewed as root statistics. If the character need more points for skills, he or she may "purchase" or exchange points from his basic stats. Each point of basic statistic is worth five skill points. Similarly, if it is desired to have higher stats than is permitted through basic character creation, the character may increase his stas by expending five skill points per point of basic statistic. (e.g. in the example way above, Bob had to reduce his STAT total by 2 (probably by reducing two Stats by 1 each). Alternately, he might also have expended a total of 10 skill points to keep his STAT total of 4).

Backgrounds are purchased like skills, except that they are not always available in variable amounts, and their values can be negative. The Leprosy background might give you a constant of 10 extra skill points to play with. But you might have a choice between buying the rich background for 2 points and the filthy rich background for 5.

Generic Fighting Discipline

This discipline is the template on which specific fighting styles can be modelled. It is also provided as an example of the purpose of a discipline as opposed to a set of root skills. This is not intended to be an actual discipline, but as written let's say that it would cost 20 or 25 points to purchase.
The basic skills inherent in any kind of fighting are: hitting the target with something, doing damage, and defending. AnyoneAnyone can take these root skills (attack, defense), but characters who study a specific fighting discipline will get bonuses, and can 'break' certain of the basic combat rules. The skills that the basic fighting discipline permits are Aggravated Attack and Strategic Defense.

  1. Aggravated Attack - by using this skill instead of a regular attack, the attacker gets a damage bonus. To-hit is rolled normally. If the attack hits, add the Aggravated Attack skill value to the success factor. This ensures a higher potential of damage.
    E.g. A sword-wielder has trained under a basic fighting discipline. He attacks an opponent and hits with 1 point to spare. Without the basic fighting discipline, the fighter would multiply his damage factor (let's say this is 24 points) by 10% to do a whopping 2 points of damage. Small ouch. With this discipline, he gets to add his Aggravated Attack score (the same skill he used to hit) to his success fraction, so that he does more than 10% of the damage potential. If his Aggravated Attack skill is 4, his success factor is 50%, and he does 12 points of damage. If this were a mystical art, the fighter might expend ki points to use this skill. Perhaps if the fighter used 2 ki points he would add his Aggravated Attack skill to the success factor twice, so that instead of a 50% success factor, he would have a 90% success factor. Probably the ki points would have to be expended before the die was rolled, and in this case, ki points would be expensive or hard to get.
  2. Strategic Defense - There is more to a fight than just trading blows. There are ways to defend that not only ward off damage, but actually improve the defender's position. By using Strategic Defense instead of regular dodging, the defender can allocate points toward his next attack or next defense. When the fighter is defending, roll stategic defense instead of a standard dodge. If the defender wards off the blow (i.e. the defense roll is higher than the attack roll), the defender may perform one of the following actions:
    1. Allocate any excess points in his favor toward his next attack on the same opponent.
    2. Allocate any excess points toward his or her next defense against the same opponent.
    3. Divide the excess points betweent the next attack and the next defense against the same opponent.
    4. The defender may use this skill to safely charge or slip inside the attacker's range. The attacker then cannot attack the defender again until his next turn begins. Startegic defense can only be used in this manner if the defender has sufficient movement left for the turn to both get inside the defender's range, and sufficient additional movement to stay there in case the attacker back-pedals (i.e. more than the attacker has). See combat-sequence section below for movement during combat. This application of the skill also requires the defender to use a weapon with a range shorter than the attacker's weapon range.
Note: The basic fighting discipline is intended as a template. A real discipline would assume or require a specific weapon to be used. The aggravated attack might become sword, aggravated. and the startegic defense might be called strategic sword-parry or some such thing. Some disciplines would permit specializations in multiple weapons, while others might be restricted to one or none. The cost of the discipline would be adjusted accordingly. Further augmentations are also possible, with appropriate modification to the discipline.
Thus, Aikido can be seen as a discipline in which all the moves are strategic defenses. The two basic skills might be throw attacker and hold attacker (and perhaps stun attacker). Throw Attacker would be a strategic defense in which if the attacker misses, he is immediately thrown some distance and incurs some damage. Hold Attacker would be a strategic defense in which the attacker is rendered immobile or is otherwise physically manipulated. Pain from such a defense could be simulated with an appropriate penalty to all actions, as if the person being held in a wrist lock had lost some number of health levels (even if he really hasn't). Further attacks would be impossible without breaking free. Ki could be used to modify these results somehow, or even for truly magical effects, such as special awareness or danger sense skills, or the ability to resist the effects of pain.

Magical Disciplines There is no limiting the abilities permitted by a truly magical discipline, nor the complexities or subtleties involved. The following is an example of a simplistic magical discipline.

Brotherhood of Pyromancy (50pts)
New variable: Fire pool. Maximum level set at the rate of one fire pool point per two experience or character generation points spent. Fire points are regenerated at the rate of one per night of deep sleep. The consumption of a purely carnivorous diet, with frequent imbibing of liquor will increase the regeneration rate to two per night (The usual health risks of meat and booze continue to apply). Fire Pool points may be spent at the beginning of any action in which one of the Pyromancy spells is used to increase the chances of success on a one-for-one basis.

Special Skills:
  1. Fire Defense - rolled like a normal defense against any fire-based attack or damage, or included into another defense against fire.
  2. Create Fire - Allows the pyromancer to create a specified size of fire. Larger fires have greater difficulty to create. Flammable material is required. Line of Sight is required.
  3. Control Fire - Used to control the direction and speed of spread of a fire, or prevent it from spreading. Difficulty proportional to the size of the fire.
  4. Extinguish Fire - Used (as one might infer) to extinguish flames. Difficulty proportional to the size of the flames.
Wherever the difficulty of using a spell is proportional to the size of the flame, use the following chart as a guideline:
Size of FlameDifficulty
< 1/2m dia.5
1/2m-2m dia.10
2-4m dia.15
up to (2n)m dia.5n+5
Where the combustbility of the material is a useful factor, use the following table as a guideline of difficulty:
MaterialDifficulty Multiplier
dry, oily tinder or waxx1/2
dry tinder/hairx1
compact hardwood/bonex2
damp tinder/fleshx3
soggy tinderx4
rock, air, waterx10
Where the combustibility of the material is detrimental putting out a fire, or reducing its spread, use the following table.
MaterialDifficulty Multiplier
dry, oily tinder or waxx2
compact hardwood/bonex2
dry tinder/hairx1
damp tinder/fleshx1/2
soggy tinderx1/4
Note that materials that are hard to set alight may also be hard to put out. An oak log is burns slowly, but very hot.

The flames so created behave normally after being created. So, a match flame lit at the base of a tree may light the whole forest on fire, but only under favorable conditions. Repeated applications of small spells may encourage such a phenomenon. Thus, if a character actually manages to burn water, a cupful of water will put it out, unless the cupful is lit as well...

Some Other Disciplines (sketch)

Elementary Education (5pts)
Includes 2 points each: Reading, Writing and Arithmetic.
Permits: (skills) Social Studies, Geography, Computers
Prerequisite for: High School Education (Discipline), Language, Memorization.

Highschool Education (5pts)
(Requires: Elementary Education Discipline)
Permits: Math Discipline, English Discipline, Foreign Language Discipline, Science Discipline, Social Studies Discipline, etc.

Medical Doctor (10pts)
(Requires: Elementary Education, HS Education and College Education Disciplines.)
Permits: (skills) First Aid, EMT, Diagnosis, Long-Term Care/Healing, Psychoanalysis, Surgery, Research, Gross Anatomy, Pharmacology.
(backgrounds) Wealth, Special Facilities (hospital, laboratories, etc.), Licence to Practice Medicine (comes free)

Some skills listed here might also be permitted by other disciplines. For example, the EMT skill would certainly be permitted under an EMT Discipline, but the EMT discipline might offer Emergency Driving or Wilderness Medicine and other useful items. It might also be much cheaper to buy, because it does not provide the same licence to practice.


[Combat Rules Currently Under Construction]

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