Sherpa RPG - Introduction

This page last updated May 15, 2014

Latest addition:

Philippe DeBernay sent me a suggestion to replace the "luck token" idea - nothing to carry! He kindly gave me permission to post his idea about slip knots as luck tokens here.

I have simply scanned the portion of his letter dealing with slip knots and posted it here as jpg file (214 KB), as it contains a useful illustration:

Slip Knots as Luck Tokens (jpg)

Thanks, Philippe!

Sherpa character cards and GM aid sheet by Bob Portnell - thanks, Bob! Bob also wrote a review of Sherpa published in Pyramid Magazine. Since that's copyrighted material, we can't reproduce it anywhere, but if you're a Pyramid subscriber you can read it at this Pyramid link. (July 2006)

An RPGnet review of the RPG Sherpa by Lafe Bagley. Thanks, Lafe!(September 1999)

Another RPGnet review of the RPG Sherpa by Michael Richter. Thanks, Michael!

Lafe also has a good idea for Sherpa: Proficiencies (Aptitudes) and Deficiencies (Ineptitudes). Basically the GM may allow you to take one aspect of your Profession at +1 if you take another, equally valuable aspect at -1. This is a minor enough addition that a character sheet still fits on a business card. Lafe's example is of a cop who has Streetwise at +1 (grew up on the streets herself) but Diplomacy at -1 (blunt personality; doesn't suffer fools gladly).

So this would look like, on a character sheet:

Apt: Streetwise
Inept: Diplomacy
Or it would be simpler and probably just as clear to write:

+1: Streetwise
-1: Diplomacy
Thanks, Lafe, nice idea - I'm going to use it!

Blatant Advertisement

You are about to link into the web version of Sherpa, which is free. It's also only about 80% of the finished product, and not nearly as well edited - in fact, it's the first draft of what is now about the 10th draft in the commercial version, and I tend to write poorly at first and get better with each draft. But it's free, and it works, and you can play with it and see how you like it.

What is it? It's an RPG that you can play outside - even while hiking. It uses a digital watch with a stopwatch feature as a randomizer and a character sheet fits on the back of a business card. Hence, you don't have to deal with full-size character sheets or dice while on a hike - just tell the story, which is fortunately easy to do while hiking. Oh, you don't have to hike - you can laze around the beach if you'd rather.

Sherpa was not specifically designed as a live action RPG (LARP) - but I suppose you could use the rules for a LARP if you wanted to.

The finished version of Sherpa is available from Two Tigers Games - see below. It includes everything of value in the web version, minus some extraneous verbiage, plus:

  • More detail on the wound and stun rules
  • Multiple combatants
  • A discussion of monsters, animals and scale
  • More sample characters, including a complete, ready-to-run fantasy party for spur-of-the-moment games, and some sample NPCs
  • More sample Professions, and some of the others more detailed.
  • A more thorough index
  • and probably some other stuff I can't remember at this time
Sherpa is available in two printings. The only differences between the two printings are:
  1. One has a cardstock cover with a poor quality reproduction of a nice drawing by Kelly Bennett (whose work has appeared in Lost Worlds game books) while the other has a very sharp two-color graphically designed cover by Chris Adams - it looks a lot better, but that's not Kelly's fault!
  2. The Kelly Bennett cover edition has some mild errata (see below) which has been corrected in the Chris Adams cover edition.
Both are nicely formatted booklets, with sidebars and other eye-pleasing gimmicks. Sherpa is 30 pages in an 8.5" by 5.5" format (roughly A5 size for you non-Yanks). It's easy on the eyes and very readable - and much more convenient than carrying around a printout of the web version.

You can order a copy of:

  • The Kelly Bennett cover edition for US$8+shipping, or
  • The Chris Adams cover edition for US$8+shipping.
Either edition has an additional shipping/handling charge of:
  • $3 in North America,
  • $4 elsewhere.
Order from:

Steffan O'Sullivan
P.O. Box 465
Plymouth, NH 03264

Make the check or money order out to Steffan O'Sullivan, please.

Note as of August, 2009 (still valid as of March, 2015!):

I can no longer accept PayPal. They angered me once too often so I deleted my account. (Which was not easy to do, angering me even more.)

However, the New Hampshire Humane Society does accept online payment!

Simply make a donation to that organization of at least $15 (North America) or $20 (elsewhere), take a screen shot of the "printable receipt," and email that to me (sos at panix dot com). I'll count that as if it were payment to me and I'll send you a copy of Sherpa. (No, I don't get any money out of it, but that's okay: I could use the good karma. And, since it's local and I've been there, I know this is a worthy, well-run, non-rip-off charity.)

Thank you for your attention. You may now link to the web version of Sherpa, which will not be updated, even if the booklet version is. Enjoy!


In the printed book with the Kelly Bennett cover, on p. 16, change the entire short paragraph starting "Stun damage is also cumulative ..." to:

Stun damage dissipates fairly quickly: moderately stunned characters miss one combat round, severely stunned miss two.
Apologies for the error - the Chris Adams cover edition has corrected this. My thanks to Brian S. Anderson for pointing this out.
E-mail address: sos at
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