Sherpa (TM)

A role-playing game to play while hiking in the mountains, strolling in a park, walking on the beach, sitting by a pool or lake, floating down a river on a raft, as a passenger in a car or space shuttle, waiting in a long line, etc.

Copyright 1995, 1997 by Steffan O'Sullivan
Sherpa is a trademark of Steffan O'Sullivan for his outdoor roleplaying game
This document may not be published without written permission of the author. Do not even post it elsewhere on the internet - instead, you should link to this file from your web page, if desired (
Sherpa may be copied and printed for personal use only.
This page last updated August 21, 1997

Please do not "deep link" to this file. If providing a link to Sherpa, please use Thank you.

0. Table of Contents (at the end of the file)

1. Introduction

[If you haven't read the introduction in a separate file, you probably should read that first ... especially since it explains that this is not the full product.]

It's a glorious day, too nice to be inside. Gamers already scheduled to come over, though - what to do? Easy: play a game while hiking in a park or the country!

Sherpa is an easy game system designed to allow playing in "difficult" gaming situations. It is necessarily rules-light, and the Sherpa Guide (called GM for familiarity) is expected to use common sense throughout the game - no rules to fall back on, sorry. Those in need of advice on running a freeform game should read Fudge from Grey Ghost Games.

These rules may seem lengthy to be carrying around hiking, but you don't need to bring them; reading them beforehand should be sufficient. The core rules (found in the GM Aid Sheet) fit on the back of a business card, and you can leave the rest at home!

The name Sherpa is derived partly from the fact you can play it while hiking up mountains (tested in the White Mountains of New Hampshire), and partly from the first letters of the attributes, which, oddly enough, spell SHERPA.

1a. Equipment Needed

Each player should have a "character sheet" (see Character Creation), and the GM should have a digital watch with a stopwatch feature. Also, each player and the GM need a number of "luck tokens" - colored stones, poker chips, bingo chits, tiddlywinks, what have you. The number will vary from zero to five, depending on how cinematic the game setting is. These slip easily into a pocket or belt pouch.

In the "diceless" version, each player needs perhaps ten tokens. This number may vary from GM to GM. You can leave the watch at home.

2. Attributes

In Sherpa there are six character attributes:

Strength (Str)
Health (Hlth)
Experience (Exp)
Reasoning (Rsn)
Profession (Prof)
Agility (Agil)

Note: the attributes are listed in the order above to spell the name of the game. As exciting as this is to the author, it is not the optimum order to consider them. All further discussion and sample characters will list the attributes as:


This order makes more sense, really: Profession first, to get a handle on what the character does, then mental attributes, and finally physical attributes, ending with Health so you can easily check how wounds affect you. Unfortunately, PERASH makes a lousy game name.
In brief, the attributes are defined as:
  • Profession consists of all the skills and knowledge apropos to a given profession. The GM is final arbiter of which skills are covered by a given Profession and which are not. Some Professions include combat abilities while others do not. Another term for Profession is "Character Class" - it amounts to the same thing. There is a further discussion of Profession in section 4.
  • Experience refers to knowledge of things outside the character's Profession. Even though it has nothing to do with physical skills, it is still a very broad attribute, covering most mental skills. The GM has the right to assign a negative modifier for certain uses of Experience, based on the character's Profession. In other words, nobody knows everything.
  • Reasoning is the ability to think logically through puzzles (raw brain power) and is independent of experience.
  • Agility governs any physical skill not covered by Profession. This includes combat for many characters, as well as reflexes and sprinting speed, and manual dexterity. Combat, however, cannot be higher than Profession. E.g., if your Agility is 8, and Profession is 6, you fight at level 6.
  • Strength can be used to judge relative ability to do damage, lift, carry, etc. It can also be used to resolve actions that require raw physical power rather than agility.
  • Health is used largely to assess damage taken rather than to resolve actions, but some actions might be based on Health, such as long-distance running (if not covered by Profession). Health includes stamina, resistance, fitness, etc.

3. Character Creation

A character sheet should be the back of a business card or something similarly easy to carry and refer to while hiking. Use a pencil - you won't need to write while on the hike, but the character may develop between gaming sessions.

To illustrate character creation, we'll create a fantasy character: Brogo the Halfling, a Scout. Each attribute starts at a base allowance of four:

    Brogo the Halfling
    Prof: Scout  4
    Exp          4
    Rsn          4
    Agil         4
    Str          4
    Hlth         4
The GM allots a number of points to each player to improve the attributes with. As a general guide, use:
0 to 5 points for a game with "average folk" PCs,
6 to 10 points for Potential Heroes, and
11+ points for True Heroes.
Another way to allow for more powerful PCs is to permit powerful Gifts - see Supernormal Powers

Each player then distributes the GM-allotted points, raising or lowering attributes as they wish according to three simple rules:

  1. Attributes at character creation can be no higher than 8 or lower than 2. (The human norm is about 4 to 5.)

  2. All attributes except Profession may be raised either by spending points the GM has allotted, or by lowering other attributes enough to offset the raise.

    Example: the GM has allotted the sample character, Brogo, 9 points to spend on character creation. The player wishes to raise Brogo's Agility from 4 to 6. There are four possible ways to do this:

    1. One other attribute is lowered from 4 to 2; or
    2. Two other attributes are each lowered from 4 to 3; or
    3. Two GM-allotted points are spent; or
    4. One attribute is lowered from 4 to 3 and one GM-allotted point is spent.

    In Brogo's case, option (4) is chosen: Strength is lowered from 4 to 3 since Brogo's a Halfling and low Strength fits his character concept. So the player spends only one of his nine allotted points, and the character sheet now looks like:

        Brogo the Halfling
        Prof: Scout  4
        Exp          4
        Rsn          4
        Agil         6
        Str          3
        Hlth         4

  3. Profession can only be raised by spending some of the points the GM allows. Each point spent in Profession raises it one level, up to a maximum starting level of 8. Profession may be lowered below 4 if the player wants an inept character, but no points may be transferred to (or from) other attributes.

    Example: Brogo spends four of his remaining eight points to get his Profession (Scout) at level 8. This is the only way to get it at level 8.
        Brogo the Halfling
        Prof: Scout  8
        Exp          4
        Rsn          4
        Agil         6
        Str          3
        Hlth         4
Those are the only rules governing initial attribute levels. Returning to our example:

Brogo has four more points to spend. He raises Health to 7 with three of them, and Reasoning to 5 with the last point. Experience remains at level 4.

    Brogo the Halfling
    Prof: Scout  8
    Exp          4
    Rsn          5
    Agil         6
    Str          3
    Hlth         7
Characters now need a GM-approved Gift - anything outside of the attributes which benefits the character. The ability to see well at night, a high-pain threshold, wealth, good looks, contacts in the police force, ambidexterity, lucky (e.g., "reroll" once per hour), etc., are all Gifts. You also might include one very specific skill as a Gift - see the sample character Jack Smith. See also Supernormal Powers, which are simply powerful Gifts.

Characters also need one or more GM-approved Faults - anything that will limit their actions. Faults can be physical problems, societal prejudices, psychological disturbances, attitudes, a specific skill lower than an attribute would suggest, an enemy, bad reputation, etc. Note that a fault is not necessarily the sign of a flawed personality: a Vow of Poverty limits your actions, but doesn't mean you're flawed.

3a. Sample Characters

Brogo is from a fantasy game (9 points: Potential Hero) and Marie is from a setting similar to The Three Musketeers, but with female Musketeers a possibility (14 points: True Hero).

     Brogo the Halfling                         Marie de la Croix
     Prof: Scout  8                             Prof: Musketeer  7
     Exp          4                             Exp              5
     Rsn          5                             Rsn              4
     Agil         6                             Agil             7
     Str          3                             Str              7
     Hlth         7                             Hlth             8
     Gift: Always knows                         Gift: Patron: Captain of
       which way is north                         the Musketeers
     Fault: Helps those in                      Fault: Code of Honor;
       need for no pay                            very proud; a bit vain

4. Professions

Defining what exactly is covered by a Profession can be tricky, and may vary from game to game. For example, what does the Profession: Musketeer include? To some GMs, this would include swashbuckling actions such as swinging on chandeliers, while other GMs would base such actions on Agility. The GM and player should agree on what actions come under a given Profession before play. To this author, for example, the Profession Musketeer includes fencing, musket use, riding skills, tactics, knowledge of Paris and palace routines, an ability to hold your liquor, etc. It wouldn't include swinging on chandeliers (governed by Agility) - but if another GM wants to include that, great - especially if I'm playing!

A Profession should also include any equipment that an individual is likely to own, or have access to, if appropriate for the situation. For example, a Musketeer would have a rapier, dagger, pistol, musket, ammo, horse & tack, appropriate clothing, and a little wine money. But if he's caught in an adventure while out for a glass of wine after guard duty, he'll only have the rapier, dagger, whatever's left of his wine money, and the clothes he's wearing. Likewise, a Road Construction Worker doesn't automatically have a bulldozer - it may not be appropriate for the situation.

Players can design their own Professions, but the GM has the final say on what a Profession includes and doesn't include.

Some sample Professions and what they might cover are given in Appendix B.

4a. Dual Professions

What do you do when all the PCs are the same Profession? How do you differentiate them? Or what if you simply want characters who are a little more clearly defined? In these cases, use dual Professions. For example:
     Athos                                      Porthos
     Prof: Musketeer  7                         Prof: Musketeer  7
           Nobleman                                   Gigolo
     Exp              8                         Exp              5
     Rsn              7                         Rsn              4
     Agil             6                         Agil             7
     Str              5                         Str              8
     Hlth             6                         Hlth             8
     Gift: Immune to feminine wiles             Gift: Good looks
     Fault: Shameful secret, moody,             Fault: Boaster, womanizer,
       immune to feminine charms                   overconfident
So Athos has all the skills, knowledge, and contacts apropos to a nobleman at level 7, while Porthos is a smooth operator with women and expert at wheedling money out of them.
     Aramis                                   D'Artagnan
     Prof: Musketeer  7                       Prof: Musketeer  6
           Theologist                               Envoy
     Exp              7                       Exp              4
     Rsn              8                       Rsn              6
     Agil             6                       Agil             8
     Str              6                       Str              6
     Hlth             5                       Hlth             7
     Gift: Important Church Contacts          Gift: Fencing is at level 8
     Fault: Poor liar about his               Fault: Impulsive, stubborn
       lechery, loves conspiracies              very proud & chivalrous
Aramis has influential contacts in the Church and is good at behind-the-scenes manipulation, while D'Artagnan excels at traveling long, hard and well - knowledge of geography, diplomatic skills, etc. Note: D'Artagnan's Gift is the only way to have a combat skill higher than Profession.

All have the usual Musketeer skills, also. In fact, they all have the basic Musketeer Gifts (Rank in the King's Service, Patron: Captain of the Musketeers, Status: Gentleman) and Faults (Gentleman's Code of Honor, Duty to the King, Sense of Duty to each other). No need to write these things down - but be sure they are understood by all.

The GM may charge double points for dual Professions, but shouldn't bother if all PCs have them. Or you could set each Profession's level independently of the other.

4b. Other Traits

Any other attribute or skill in the game will have to be derived from one of the six attributes or Gift or Fault. If you want to fit a character sheet on the back of a business card, you have to simplify, honest ...

The same physical skill might be governed by Agility for one character, but by Profession for another. Most mental skills will fall under Experience or Profession, but some might come under Reasoning. The GM has the final say about which attribute governs which skills for which characters.

Note there are no Charisma or Willpower attributes: role-play them. Brogo's a charming little fellow with a strong will, but that will only come across in the way he's played. Likewise, Athos, Porthos, Aramis and D'Artagnan are all much more charming than reading their Faults would leave you to believe!

Perception is based on Profession for things relating to Profession, but on Reasoning or Experience for other things - a case can sometimes be made for one and sometimes for the other. Of course, there are penalties to notice some things: an accounting error for non-accountants, for example, or a needle in the proverbial camel's eye or haystack or whatever it is. Stating that a character is on the lookout for something in particular gives a bonus to notice it - possibly even automatic success.

5. Supernormal Powers

Any player wishing magic, psi, or super powers, should define such powers into a Gift. This may only be done with permission of the GM. Sample supernormal Gifts might be: "Flying Superhero with Super-speed," or "Earth and Air Witch." Some supernormal Gifts have an associated attribute. Any attribute associated with a supernormal Gift costs double points to raise above the base level of 4. There is no other point cost associated with a supernormal Gift.

The player and GM need to define a supernormal power as precisely as possible. How potent is it? How wide is the range of effects? How frequently may it be used? Are there any drawbacks to using it? And so on. Once those questions are answered (and they don't really have to be written down), mechanics for running the power may suggest themselves - or the GM may wish to translate rules for such powers from another game. Uses per day might equal Profession, Reasoning or Health, or the power might lower an attribute each time it is used. (A full night's sleep restores the attribute.) Modifiers for range, size of target, potency of effect, etc., may also apply.

Here are two sample characters with supernormal powers. Both are True Heroes: Katina is 16 points and Lt. Hall 20. *Attributes associated with supernormal Gifts are marked with an asterisk, and cost double points to raise above level four.

     Katina, Elven Maid                        Lt. Vespasian Hall
    *Prof: Nature Mage  8                      Prof: Space navigator  7
     Exp                7                      Exp                    6
     Rsn                8                     *Rsn                    8
     Agil               4                      Agil                   8
     Str                4                      Str                    5
     Hlth               5                      Hlth                   6
     Gift: Can work Nature Magic               Gift: Telepathy
     Fault: Pacifist - must try                Fault: Prejudiced against
       diplomacy before fighting                    earth's alien allies
Example of psionic power definition and game mechanics: Lt. Hall's Telepathy skill is based on his Reasoning, which therefore costs double. He is at -1 for each 3 yards (meters) between himself and his target to establish contact. He is at -1 for each additional link if contacting multiple targets, and is at -2 or worse for non-humans. Each attempted use lowers his Health attribute by one, regained by sleep. Once mind-linked he can read surface thoughts, send mental messages, or cause distracting headaches. He can maintain a link over great distances if he concentrates on it. His spaceship has a hyperspace telepathy amplifier, allowing telepathy use over vast distances.

See Appendix B for more sample supernormal Gifts.

6. Luck Points

The tokens mentioned in Equipment Needed represent luck points. The GM should decide before the game begins how many each player starts with. Use zero to two tokens for fairly realistic games, three to five tokens for more cinematic games.

The GM may also award a player a token during a session for some particularly clever and entertaining action.

7. Action Resolution

The GM and players need to be very descriptive in their play. The more thoroughly a situation or an action is described, the more smoothly the game will proceed. Ideally, a player will describe a character's actions so that there is no doubt of the outcome of the action, given the situation at hand and the character's level in the relevant attribute. In such a case, the only action resolution is for the GM to announce the outcome of the action.

However, if the outcome is one the player isn't happy with - failure, or merely partial success, when the player had hoped for complete success - the player can attempt to influence the GM's decision. There are two ways to handle this, depending on the GM: randomized or "diceless." Some GMs may use both methods, others only one.

7a. Modifiers

Basically, the GM assigns a modifier to a task depending on the situation and what the player has described the character as doing. The following modifiers are recommended:

     Very favorable situation:     +3 or better
     Advantageous situation:       +2
     Slight edge:                  +1
     Average situation:             0
     Uncomfortable situation:      -1
     Difficult situation:          -2
     Very unfavorable situation:   -3 or worse
The player then adds the modifier to the relevant attribute (decided by the GM), and the GM consults the randomizer, if necessary. For an unopposed action, a modified attribute of 10 or higher is automatic success - you don't need to consult the randomizer. Likewise, a modified attribute of zero or less is automatic failure.

Example: Brogo needs to leap over a chair quickly to get to the magic wand before the evil mage can grab it. For a human, this might be a trivial task - no randomization would be necessary. But Brogo is a four-foot tall Halfling, and a human-sized chair is a significant obstacle when speed is critical. The GM rules that this action is governed by Agility in Brogo's case. The GM also rules that this is an uncomfortable situation for Brogo: he's at -1. Brogo's Agility level is 6, which is modified down to a 5 for this action.

Another Example: The GM states Marie notices a vaguely familiar, sinister-looking man tailing her. Marie tries to remember where she saw him. The GM asks the player to be more specific about this attempt to remember - in which situations is Marie trying to place this man? The player, noting that Marie's Profession is better than her general Experience, hopes that she knows this man from some professional duty. She reviews events at the palace, the parade grounds, the favorite bar that off-duty musketeers patronize, etc. Marie's level in her Profession is 7. Secretly the GM assigns a modifier of +1 because Marie's on the right track: a modified level of 8. If she succeeds at this, she will remember having seen the man in the Cardinal's retinue at one point in time. If the attempt is a failure, however, the GM will simply say Marie can't remember where she saw him, and the player won't know about the +1 modifier ...

Before (but not after!) the randomizer is used, the player may spend luck tokens to increase the odds of success - even to certainty. Each luck token spent gives a +3 modifier.

Example: the final modified level for Brogo to succeed at following a difficult trail is a 5. The player can spend zero luck tokens and let the randomizer decide it at 5, or spend one luck token and let the randomizer decide it at 8, or spend two luck tokens for a sure thing without having to check the randomizer. In this case, he doesn't want to spend a luck token yet - he's holding on to both of them in case of combat.

A luck token may also be used to affect an action by an NPC against the PC, giving a -3 modifier to such an action. You might, for example, wish to give a -3 modifier to an enemy magician casting a spell at you ...

7b. Randomizer

The randomizer is the stopwatch mentioned in the Equipment Needed section. This should be one of those digital types that measures in hundredths or tenths of a second. The GM should let the stopwatch run the whole game. When a randomizer is called for, the GM, without looking at the watch face, simply presses the "lap" or stop button, and then consults the final digit - hundredths of a second or tenths of a second, depending on the watch. For an unopposed action, if the number is less than or equal to the modified attribute level for the action, the action succeeds - the greater the amount succeeded by, the better, if it matters. Players familiar with ten-sided dice will recognize this as simply an electronic version of such a die. A result of "0" on the randomizer equals 10 - for an unopposed action, always a failure if the stopwatch is used at all.

Example: Katina, the Elven mage, is trying to cause some plants to entwine magically around the ankles of a threatening brigand. The GM rules that there are some suitable plants, but that the brigand looks strong enough to require a lot of plants. This is a difficult situation: -2 modifier. Katina's Profession 8 is down to a 6 for this attempt. The GM stops the watch, reads the result of 3, and declares that many vines entangle the brigand just as he is about to leap forward with his sword. He finds himself unable to move, and stares stupidly at the vines as Katina begins a spell to turn his sword into a pumpkin vine ...

7c. Combat

Melee combat and other opposed actions are handled differently from unopposed actions. Instead of comparing an attribute level with the random number, add the two. This total is then compared with a similar total for the opponent. A result of "0" on the randomizer equals 10 - for an opposed action, the highest result possible.

Example: Marie's fencing level is the same as her Profession, Musketeer: 7. She's facing Michelle, a Cardinal's Guard, whose fencing skill is 6. The player describes Marie's actions very well: a feint to bring Michelle to her left, then a series of vicious attacks calculated to push her back into a chair. Once Michelle has hit the chair, Marie will try to drive her point home.

The GM decides this plan is worth a +1, so Marie is at 8 this round, and Michelle still at 6. The GM stops the watch for Marie: a 4. Added to her 8, this is a score of 12 this round. The watch is then started, and a random amount of time later it is stopped again to read for Michelle: a 6. This round is a standoff - both fencers scored 12. So the fight continues, and on the next round Michelle manages to get away from the chair she was pushed up against ...

Marie's player could have spent a luck token before consulting the watch to give her a +3 that round, but felt Marie could beat Michelle without it.

Ranged combat is more likely to be handled as an unopposed action, with a positive modifier for an easy target or negative modifier for a hard-to-hit target.

Combat skill cannot be higher than Profession - see Attributes.

7d. Wounds

When a character takes a wound, the GM must assess how serious the damage is, and compare any damage or stun points received with the character's Health attribute. (Some weapons and situations might call for stunning rather than wounding.) Considering how much the attacker won the opposed action by, the deadliness of the weapon, the Strength of the character delivering the blow, the armor worn by the target, etc., the GM announces whether there is:
no effect,
a light wound (1 to 2 stun or damage points),
a moderate wound (3 to 4 stun or damage points),
a severe wound (5+ stun or damage points), or
instant death.
There is no way, in a simple game, to make this more objective. The only solid advice is:

The fight is over if one combatant's total of [attribute + random number] is at least twice the other's.

Wounds are cumulative: PCs fall unconscious when they take damage points greater than their Health. So a PC of Health 8, can take eight damage points and still be (barely) conscious, while a PC of Health 2 falls unconscious after three points of damage. (The GM may rule that seriously wounded characters are at a penalty in further actions.) Characters who take hits equal to twice their Health may die - make a check on the stopwatch vs. original Health: failure = death.

Characters heal in proportion to their Health level. That is, a given period of time heals 1/4 of the damage, or 1/2 the damage, etc. Thus a character of Health 8 with four damage points will heal as fast as a character of Health 4 with two damage points.

To denote wounds while hiking (where it's awkward to write things down), simply give the player a pebble for each damage point. Players can store pebbles in a pocket or pouch, and throw them away as they are healed.

A luck token may also be used to reduce the severity of a wound by three damage points. Unlike other uses of luck tokens, this may be done after the fact.

Since assigning a wound level is very subjective, the GM must be careful to be impartial - or even lean a little in the PCs' favor. Better to have happy players than realistically dead PCs.

Example of wound determination: Before the evil mage can reach his wand, Brogo manages to bound over the chair, grab the wand, and break it. Enraged, the mage lashes out with his staff at Brogo. This is an opposed action, and the GM rules it's against Brogo's Agility (combat isn't covered by a Scout's Profession). Brogo is in a very unfavorable position: no weapon in hand and focused on breaking the wand. Brogo's Agility is 6, modified down to 3 for this situation. The mage has Agility 5.

The stopwatch gives a 5 for the mage: total of 10. A little later, the GM stops it for Brogo: a 6, for a total of 9. The mage wins, but just barely. Even so, the GM decides that Brogo's preoccupation with the wand, the leverage of the hardwood staff, and the human Strength (compared with Brogo's Halfling size) means that Brogo is hit moderately: 3 wound points. Since Brogo's Health is 7, he's still okay, but decides it's time to retreat quickly!

7e. Diceless

In the "diceless" method of Sherpa, the GM's knowledge of the story line and the players' input will determine the outcome of most actions.

However, there will be some critical actions in which players will want more input. In those cases, figure a character's score of attribute + modifier, as above. If it's below ten, the player must turn in a number of tokens (at +3 each) equal to the difference in order for the action to succeed. Each player begins the game with ten tokens - or more, for a very cinematic game.

When out of tokens, the character is out of luck, and had best stick to safe actions, or settle for partial success. Of course, the best way to do this is to describe actions so well and cleverly that the GM never even asks for tokens to begin with.

8. Character Development

There are a number of ways to improve a character after a given playing session. The GM can increase the number of luck tokens for the next session as a means of character development. Rewarding characters (not players!) with money, equipment, patrons, reputation, status, etc., is another way to help them in future sessions.

The GM can also occasionally award one point for the players to raise an attribute with. Although a beginning attribute level cannot be above 8, players may raise an attribute to a maximum of 9 through development. However, raising an attribute is a generous bonus in Sherpa, where the range is so small, and so should not be granted every session or even every other session. The GM may wish to charge double to raise Profession, and players may save a point for this purpose.

However, Sherpa is not really intended as a campaign gaming system. Instead of setting up a long-term campaign, try to complete a single adventure each outing - everyone will probably enjoy it more.

Appendix A: GM Aid to Bring Hiking

You may wish to copy some of this information onto the back of a business card before leaving home.

       Unopposed:  Attribute >= random number [low "roll" is better]
       Opposed:    Attribute + random number [high "roll" is better]
       Very favorable:       +3 or better
       Advantageous:         +2
       Slight edge:          +1
       Average:               0
       Uncomfortable:        -1
       Difficult:            -2
       Very unfavorable:     -3 or worse

       One luck token spent: +/-3

       Light:     1 to 2 damage or stun points
       Moderate:  3 to 4 damage or stun points
       Severe:      5+   damage or stun points

Appendix B: Sample Professions, Supernormal Gifts, & Characters

This section contains a list of sample Professions by genre. These are intended strictly as templates for the GM and players, and may be modified at will by the GM. Note that it's possible to have dual Professions.

Sample Fantasy Professions

Some of these can be easily translated to other genres, of course.
  • Fighter includes: Combat, tactics, weapon evaluation & repair, evaluation of foes' abilities, etc.
  • Knight includes: Combat, tactics, riding, court etiquette, evaluation of foes' abilities, etc.
  • Scout includes: Move quietly, notice & remember details, draw maps, survival skills, tracking, etc. Use Agility for combat
  • Ranger could be considered a dual Profession of Scout and Fighter. The GM may charge double for this Profession, or define it in a more limited way.
  • Thief includes: Move quietly, breaking & entering, pick pockets, pick locks, streetwise, climbing, etc.
  • Con Artist/Rogue includes: Tell believable lies, good acting, performing abilities, gambling, sleight of hand, etc.
  • Craftsman/Artisan includes: Perform one trade well, barter, knowledge of sources of raw materials, markets, etc.
  • Troubadour/Actor includes: Entertainment skills, self-promotion, gossip, possibly thief or seduction skills, etc.
  • Merchant/Trader includes: Barter, knowledge of trade routes, sources, and markets, evaluate goods, etc.
  • Alchemist includes: Ability to produce and recognize alchemical potions, knowledge of materials, etc.
  • Cleric includes: Theology, healing, turn demons, recognize supernatural events, etc. Some GMs may have a mandatory Gift requirement of Divine Favor.
  • Sage includes: Knowledge of many subjects (the more subjects the player chooses to be expert in, the shallower the knowledge), diplomatic techniques, societal mores & etiquette, etc. (A GM may require low physical attributes to reflect an advanced age.)
  • Jack of All Trades includes: Many crafts (at apprentice level), odd-jobs, general skills - never any specialized skills or very deep knowledge about any craft or skill. (Use Experience for general knowledge.)
  • Wizard includes: Cast spells limited to a certain sphere: elemental, scrying, combat, animals, flying, etc. A mandatory Gift of Magical Ability is required for all Wizards, and it costs double to raise a Profession of Wizard. Spending time to cast a spell carefully can grant a positive modifier. Uses per day = Profession. Failed attempts count against uses per day. (Remember, this is just a suggestion ...)
      Some sample wizards (there are many other types):
    • Illusionist includes: Create illusions. The larger the illusion, the greater the penalty to Profession to create it. The more intricately detailed the illusion, the greater the penalty. Creating a movable illusion carries a negative modifier. If you want it to have "programmed" independent existence, there is a severe penalty, and so on.
    • Lightness/Darkness Mage includes: Creating a glow at the end of a staff (easy); creating a flash to blind foes (harder). Creating a movable cloak of darkness to cover you is difficult: -2 at least. Other spells might be granting someone the ability to see in complete darkness, covering a foe's eyes with an impenetrable cloud of darkness to blind them, etc.
    • Movement Wizard includes: Teleport, walk on water, walk on walls or ceilings like a fly, restrain a foe from moving, levitate objects, speed up someone's movement, throw an arrow as if fired from a bow, etc.
    • Shapeshifter includes: Can change own shape and that of others, fully or partially. Changing mass has a severe penalty, however. Can change the shape of inanimate objects, too, but only while they are being touched.

Sample Modern Professions

  • Private Eye includes: Pistol and brawling, shadowing, observation, interrogating, disguise, research, some contacts, etc.
  • Spy includes: Pistol, knife, poison, shadowing, disguise, acting, political knowledge, observation, breaking & entering, etc.
  • Occult Investigator includes: Research, knowledge of the occult and protections against it, some combat, some contacts, etc.

Sample SF Professions

  • Spaceship Science Officer includes: Knowledge of most sciences, some engineering and medical skills - you know the archetype.
  • Asteroid Prospector includes: Mineralogy, space survival skills, blaster, xenobiology, spaceship piloting, barter - basically a loner, a survivor.
  • Deep Space Scout includes: Piloting, ship combat, personal combat, survival, observation, xenobiology, etc.
  • Cyberpunk Hacker includes: Computer use & programming, net-running, net-etiquette, streetwise, etc.

Sample Historical Professions

See also Fantasy Professions and Musketeers.
  • Age of Sail Pirate includes: combat, seamanship, evaluate goods, climbing, survival, swimming, disguise, smattering of languages, carouse, etc.
  • Condottiere includes: combat, leadership, tactics, map drawing, various languages, knowledge of armies of the day, etc.
  • Greenwood Outlaw includes: Archery, survival, disguise, knowledge of forest paths, climbing, riding, etc.
  • Medieval Monk Detective includes: Herbalism, knowledge of human nature, observation, persuasion skills, theology, etc.
  • Old West Gunslinger includes: Combat, quick reflexes, horseback riding, gambling, area knowledge, survival, etc. Can also be used for a bandit.

Sample Superhero Gifts

  • "Flying Brick" Superhero: Gifts are super strength, resistance to damage, flight. Health costs double. Profession, unless of a secret identity, includes combat, flying acrobatics and crime-fighting techniques. Powers are always on - no "uses per day." Reduce damage when hit, and increase damage when attacking.
  • Psionicist includes: one or two of many possible psionic skills. Reasoning usually costs double, but it may be another attribute, or the power may be too erratic to charge extra for - see Fr. O'Donnell. (Note: if doing an "idiot savant" type of psionicist, use Health instead of Reasoning as the basis for the power. In this case, however, it's an unconscious Gift, probably triggered by stress.)
      Two examples of Psionic Gifts:
    • Mind Fog: opposed action (Reasoning vs. target's Reasoning) to convince anyone that you are someone else: their boss, an FBI agent, a repairman with a legitimate reason to be there, etc. Duration equals 10 minutes for each point you won the opposed action by. Reasoning costs double. Uses per day = Reasoning. Multiple targets each count as a use.
    • Telekinesis: only works on inanimate objects. Can move objects weighing up to Reasoning kg [Reasoning X2 pounds]. Precise placement of objects equals [Reasoning minus weight in Kg]: e.g., if Reasoning is 6 and weight of object is 2 kg, skill at placing object precisely is 4. Unlimited uses per day until a "0" result on the randomizer comes up: then no more uses until after 6 hours of sleep. Reasoning costs double.

More Sample Characters

Two Potential Heroes, each 10 points:
     Praxilites (Mythic Greece)              Father F. X. O'Donnell
     Prof: Messenger/   7                    Prof: Modern Occult 8
           Boxer                                   Investigator
     Exp                7                    Exp                 7
     Rsn                5                    Rsn                 7
     Agil               6                    Agil                4
     Str                4                    Str                 4
     Hlth               5                    Hlth                4
     Gift: Can call for a favor from         Gift: Erratic ability to detect
       his patron Deity: Hermes                psi use or a paranormal being
     Fault: Enemy: Athena (he boasted        Fault: Vow of Duty to his
       he was wiser than she ...)              superior (disagrees w/him)
Praxilites' Gift can only work after he's tried to help himself first - don't frivolously ask the gods for favors! Success for major request = 1; moderate request <= 2; minor request <= 3. No attribute costs double as it is rarely successful.

Father O'Donnell's power may be attempted once per hour, real time. Ability is equal to [random number -1]. Then randomize again, to test against it. No attribute costs double for this as it is so unreliable.

The following two characters are five points each: An "average" human wandering Jack-of-all-trades - the genre could be fantasy, historical, modern or even SF; and an average bunny, from a Bunnies & Burrows (or Watership Down) setting. (*Prof means it costs double to raise Profession because of her supernormal Gift.)
     Jack Smith                               Sagebrush
     Prof: Jack of       5                   *Prof: Seer Rabbit  6
           All Trades
     Exp                 6                    Exp                5
     Rsn                 5                    Rsn                6
     Agil                4                    Agil               3
     Str                 4                    Str                3
     Hlth                5                    Hlth               4
     Gift: Plays the fiddle                   Gift: ESP: precog visions,
        at level 8                              psychometry, seeker sense
     Fault: Unlucky with money,               Fault: Very nervous: check
       it always seems to                       Health before any combat:
       melt away ...                            on failure, she faints!

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
. . . 1a. Equipment Needed
2. Attributes
3. Character Creation
. . . 3a. Sample Characters
4. Professions
. . . 4a. Dual Professions
. . . 4b. Other Traits
5. Supernormal Powers
6. Luck Points
7. Action Resolution
. . . 7a. Modifiers
. . . 7b. Randomizer
. . . 7c. Combat
. . . 7d. Wounds
. . . 7e. Diceless
8. Character Development
Appendix A: GM Aid to Bring Hiking
Appendix B: Sample Professions, Supernormal Gifts, & Characters
Index (separate file)

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