Jazz 2.2:JazzCore

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Contents

JazzCore

JazzCore is the base rule set for Jazz. For games set in the "real" world, JazzCore is sufficient. For more outlandish games, additional rules may be necessary (or you can just wing it).

Introduction

What is This?

Jazz is an attempt to create a new role-play gaming system which is both flexible and easy to use. Jazz, like its namesake, is inspired by and incorporates concepts from many sources.

Jazz does assume a basic familiarity with principles of role-playing and the basics of making up a character. I haven't gone into great detail describing what role-play gaming is, or defining what "Trading" allows a character to do, for example. These sparse spots may be filled in as time goes on, but feel free to use your best judgment if something doesn't make immediate sense to you. Jazz is intended for my personal use, but feedback and suggestions are welcome. If you think a section is unclear, or needs more elaborate explanation, do feel free to drop me an e-mail with your suggestion.

Sections that are still under construction will appear in this color. If it's this color, you are better off not using it.

What, no Super Powers/Magic/Psionics?

What you are reading now is JazzCore (or just "Jazz"), the basic structure of the game system. The "genre modules" for Jazz (i.e. JazzFurry, JazzSorcery, JazzSupers, etc.) are still very much under construction. In the fullness of time you'll be able to use Jazz for superhero games, sword-and-sorcery games, and so on, but at the moment the game mechanics only support less outlandish genres. There is still a lot of room for heroic characters: extraordinary strength and balance, a preternatural sense for danger, etc. are easily done. But for the time being, more blatant violations of what we tend to call reality would have to be handled case-by-case by the GM and players.

Character Generation

How Many Dots?


After you have an idea for the kind of character you want to play, and think you have a good handle on what she knows and what she can do, you translate this information into a character sheet so you can show your idea to other people. The only purpose for a character sheet is so you have something to show others: the real character is in your head.

A character's various abilities are measured in "dots". Jazz uses dots to make it more visually intuitive on the character sheet. You can simply use numbers and call them "points" instead, if that is more to your liking. A healthy "normal" person has around 25 dots in Traits, but your character is probably not a normal person and will start off with more than this.

Table: Fiction level
Fiction level Traits
Everyday [realistic] 25
Elite [semi-realistic] 35
Exceptional [TV action show] 45
Incredible [action movie] 55
Outlandish [blockbuster action movie] 65
Mythic [superhero comic book] 75


Complications

Complications are problems that your character has. Because you as a player will be inconvenienced by your character's problems, and because a character with problems is generally more interesting to others than a character without them, you are rewarded a little for having a Complication or two. Each Complication gives you a few dots with which you may improve your character's Skills. Depending on the type of game setting, there will be a limit to how many Skill dots you are given as a reward for taking Complications. No more than ten Skill dots total is a good general rule, but the GM decides what the limit actually is.

Background: Gain 5 Skill dots for a 500 word written character description.

Enemy: Gain 5 Skill dots if your character is an outlaw, hated and/or hunted by people more powerful than your character.

Gruesome: Gain 5 Skill dots if the sight of your character makes children cry (-2 AV penalty with Public Speaking, Seduction, and any other action that depends in large part on a pleasant appearance).

Physical Disability: Gain 5 Skill dots for a major physical disability (-2 AV penalty with actions pertaining to the disability).

Psychological Disability: Gain 5 Skill dots if your character has a major mental problem (-2 AV penalty with actions pertaining to the disability).

Vulnerability: Gain 5 Skill dots if your character takes x2 damage from a common type of attack (fire, cold, bullets, bladed weapons, etc.). Note that damage is multiplied after penetrating armor or other defenses.

Traits

Traits are mainly those abilities in which your character has deliberately trained herself. Normal adult human beings typically have Traits in the Fair to Good range (2-3), at best. Individuals who are among the best and brightest that humanity has to offer may have a Great (4) Trait or two. If the game is set in something approximating the humdrum "real" world, it is probably not appropriate for the characters to have Traits that are of Heroic (5) calibre.

Table: Trait examples
AV Description Example: Close Combat
1 Poor Karate Kid
2 Fair Dirty Harry
3 Good Sarah Connor
4 Great Walker, Texas Ranger
5 Heroic Jason Bourne
6 Legendary River Tam
7+ Superhuman Batman


Universal Traits

Universal Traits are a half-dozen or so things generally known by everyone in a specific culture or time period. In a modern-day game set in the USA, for example, you might get Athletics, Driving, (Knowledge) of your hometown, your native (Language), Observation, and your (Profession), all at a starting level of 1 dot. The dots the GM assigns to universal Traits are filled in before anything else, free of charge. If you were given 20 dots to put toward your character's Traits, for example, those 20 dots would be in addition to your character's dots in universal Traits.

Typical Traits


These are typical Traits that might be useful in a modern-era game set in the USA. They are not exhaustive, nor would they be necessarily appropriate in games set in other times and places. The GM should modify the "default" Trait list as she sees fit, and if the players want to make up even more Traits, it is up to the GM to determine the new Traits' suitability to the game setting.

Table: Typical traits
Physique Intelligence Presence
Athletics Computers
Close Combat Concealment Animal Handling
Demolitions Investigation Bureaucracy
Driving Gambling Conversation
Heavy Weapons Disguise
(Knowledge) Deception
(Language) Interrogation
Machinery Treating Injuries Public Speaking
Piloting Observation Resistance
Ranged Combat (Profession) Seduction
Forgery Streetwise
Sleight Of Hand Security
Stealth Tactics
Survival Technology Trading
(Use Power) (Use Power) (Use Power)


Animal Handling

The skills of animal handling, training, and care as applicable. This skill enables a character to ride a living creature under difficult circumstances. If it makes sense for the character to know how to ride it, she can. (WIL)

Athletics

The ability to perform flips, jumps, and rolls like an acrobat. The character can also jump and flip over an obstacle, landing on her feet, ready to fight. Athletics also covers basic athletic skills; balancing, climbing, swimming, etc.

Bureaucracy

The character knows how to deal with bureaucrats, cut out red tape, who to talk to, how to reach them, and how to extract information from bureaucracies. A character with this skill knows when to bribe someone, how to approach her, and how much to offer. (WIL)

Close Combat

Skill at fighting with bare hands or with different types of melee weapons, such as knives, clubs, axes, swords, spears, etc. If it makes sense for the character to know how to hit people with it, she can. The actual Martial Art style the character practices (e.g., Karate, Street Brawling, Classic Fencing, Aikido), if any, is up to the player and GM to figure out.

XXXchange to Technology

The ability to program and operate computers. (INT)

XXXcan this be combined?

The character can hide things and find things that other people have hidden — like important papers, weapons, jewels, artifacts, drugs, and so forth. (INT)

Conversation

This Skill allows the character to extract information from people through the careful use of dialogue. Conversation also covers the ability to convince, persuade, or influence individuals. The use of this Skill takes time, and if the roll is missed, the subject realizes she is being manipulated or pumped for information. (WIL)

Deception

This skill represents the character's ability to bluff, lie, fake her moods or emotions, or conceal her true identity. (WIL)

Investigation

The character knows how to look for clues, dust for fingerprints, examine evidence, do ballistic tests, examine records, search through files, and so on. The character is also good at finding things by deducing the most likely places in which they might be hidden. (INT)

Demolitions

The ability to properly use, handle, set, and defuse explosives

Disguise

The ability to change a character's appearance through makeup, costumes, body language, and facial expression. (WIL)

Driving

Driving cars, motorcycles, jeeps, trucks, tanks, hovercraft, and other ground vehicles. If it makes sense for the character to know how to drive it, she can.

Forgery

The ability to create false documents, identification, currency, and so forth. This skill also covers the ability to recognize such forgeries. (INT)

Gambling

The ability to win gambling games that require some skill, such as blackjack, poker, and more exotic games. A character may also use this skill to cheat, or to evaluate the odds of other risky endeavors. (INT)

Heavy Weapons

Use of stationary military weapons such as RPGs, mortars, rockets, hand-held missiles, vehicle-mounted weapons, artillery, etc. (INT)

Interrogation

The ability to forcibly extract information from people. The character knows how to avoid leaving marks, can judge how close a victim is to death or breaking, and is an expert at manipulating subjects into revealing desired information. (WIL)

(Knowledge)

Familiarity with general fields of knowledge: chemistry, gardening, etiquette, law, geology, and so forth. This can be a hobby, or an in-depth knowledge of a specific field or area. It could also be knowledge of a geographical area; who's who, where things are, general customs, schedules, and peculiarities of the environment. The character has knowledge of one general subject with the first dot, an additional two subjects with the second dot, an additional three subjects with the third dot, and so on. (INT)

(Language)

The character is fluent and literate (if applicable) in one language family with the first dot, an additional two language families with the second dot, an additional three language families with the third dot, and so on. If a dot in (Language) is not considered a universal Trait, the character is assumed to be fluent and literate in her native tongue without spending a Trait dot on it. (INT)

Table: Languages
Family Typical Languages
Aboriginal American Aztec, Mayan, Navajo, Inuit
African Swahili, Bambara, Ewe, Gur, Hausa
Germanic German, Dutch, Swiss
Mid-Eastern Arabic, Persian, Hebrew, Berber
North Asian Japanese, Korean
Romance English, French, Spanish, Italian
Scandinavian Danish, Norwegian, Swedish
Slavic Russian, Polish, Czech
South Asian Mandarin, Cantonese, Hakka, Thai
Computer BASIC, C++, Cobol, Java
Other ASL, Braille, Morse Code, lip reading


Machinery

Skill with mechanical devices and the knowledge of how to repair, replace, and build them.

Treating Injuries

This skill enables the character to stop bleeding, repair damage, and generally keep someone alive. It also covers a general knowledge of basic medical techniques and common pharmaceuticals. (INT)

Observation

The skill of spotting subtle things (like clues), and detecting lies and emotions. Sight is the sense on which humans most rely, but this skill covers the use of other senses, as well. (INT)

Piloting

Flying prop aircraft, civilian jets, military jets, helicopters, etc. If it makes sense for the character to know how to fly it, she can.

(Profession)

The ability to perform and get paid for an ordinary profession (such as doctor, painter, pianist, plumber, secretary, singer, etc.) The character is skilled enough to make a living in one profession with the first dot, an additional two professions with the second dot, an additional three professions with the third dot, and so on. Obviously, certain other Skills will greatly enhance the character's ability to practice her profession. (Varies)

Public Speaking

The ability to speak to an audience and to deliver a convincing presentation. (WIL)

Ranged Combat

Use of muscle-powered weapons such as bows, crossbows, slings, slingshots, etc., as well as small arms such as pistols, rifles, shotguns, machine-guns, etc. If it makes sense for the character to know how to shoot it, she can. Ranged weapons which do not include some manner of tool or launching device (grenades, darts, throwing knives) may be determined by either Ranged Combat or Athletics, at the player's choice.

Resistance

The character can resist interrogation, domination, and Mental Powers. (WIL)

Security

This skill allows the character to open key, combination, electronic, and magnetic locks, as well as the ability to set up, recognize, and evade various types of alarms and traps. It also includes the ability to properly implant and operate listening, visual, or other sensing devices ("bugs"). (INT)

Seduction

The ability to gain others' trust by offering companionship or favors. (WIL)

Sleight Of Hand

The ability to palm items, fool the eye, perform magic tricks, etc.

Stealth

The ability to hide in shadows, move silently, or avoid detection in combat situations. Also the ability to subtly follow someone without being noticed.

Streetwise

This skill gives the character knowledge of the seamy side of civilization: she knows how to find the black market, talk to thugs, gain information, and so on. (WIL)

Survival

This skill enables the character to live off the land, find food and water, identify dangerous plants and animals, make snares for small game, and so on.

Tactics

The ability to plan a fight effectively and efficiently. A character with this skill is an expert at the theory of combat, and usually knows (in theory) what must be done to win a battle -- if it can be won. (INT)

Technology

Skill with electronic devices and the knowledge of how to repair, upgrade, and hack them.

XXXNegotiation

The ability to strike a good bargain with a merchant or customer. (WIL)

(Use Power)

Proficiency with a paranormal power or supernatural ability. If this skill is required, it must be bought for the specific power(s) the character might have (e.g., Theurgy, Psionics, Sorcery). (Varies)

Secondary Traits


There are also a few Secondary Traits, which are based on other Traits and can't normally be modified directly.

Table: Secondary Traits
Trait Base
TUF Brawn + Vigor Toughness - how naturally resistant the character is to Bashing damage
END Vigorx5 Endurance - how long it takes to knock out or kill the character
MOJ Intuitionx5 Mojo - attunement to psychic, supernatural, or superhuman forces


Talents

Talents are exceptional abilities that a normal human can have, but that most humans do not have. They are purchased with Skill dots just like any Skill. In a game where the players are supposed to be portraying characters within the range of human possibility, they could probably purchase Talents (but not Powers). The list of Talents below is a general one; which ones are available depends on the GM and the game setting. If the Talent is listed with a "(+)", the character may buy more than one dot in that Talent: each dot in a Talent costs 1 Skill dot.

Typical Talents


These are typical talents that might be useful in a modern-era game set in the USA. They are not exhaustive, nor would they be necessarily appropriate in games set in other times and places. The GM should modify the "default" talent list as she sees fit, and if the players want to make up even more talents, it is up to the GM to determine the new talents' suitability to the game setting.

Table: Typical Talents
Amazing Sense (+) Double Jointed Light Sleeper
Animal Empathy Echolocation (+) Lightning Calculator
Blind Reaction Eidetic Memory Longevity
Combat Sense (+) Fascinating (+) Night Vision
Common Sense Fast Draw Simulate Death
Cramming High Pain Threshold Speed Reader
Danger Sense (+) Immunity (+) Time Sense
Direction Sense Intuition  


Amazing Sense (+)


One of the character's five senses (sight, sound, smell, touch, taste) is extremely acute, and she gains a +1 bonus in all Observation checks related to that sense. If the sense is touch, the character can read print with her fingertips, feel tumblers moving in a lock, and determine subtle differences in materials by feel. If the sense is smell, she can instantly detect people or substances by scent alone and can track them like a bloodhound (+1 AV bonus to Survival for purposes of tracking). If the sense is sight, she can discern subtle differences between colors and patterns. If the sense is taste, she can perceive subtle additions to food and detect harmful substances with the barest taste. If the sense is hearing, she always knows if something's in tune, and automatically gains a +1 bonus in any musical task (singing, playing instruments, etc).

Animal Empathy

Animals normally like your character; they will never harm or attack her unless severely provoked (by her or by someone else). She always seems to attract whatever animals are common to the area, and they will gravitate to her, although they may not necessarily do what she asks of them.

Blind Reaction

The character can counterattack (in close combat only) with no negative modifiers for darkness or being obscured (normally a -4 AV penalty to attack an unseen opponent, or -6 AV penalty if the character is completely blind), even if she can't see or hear her opponent.

Combat Sense (+)

The character's reflexes are keyed for battle; she reacts faster to attacks than other people. Each dot in Combat Sense provides a +1 AV bonus only for the purpose of acting first during combat: it does not actually increase the number of dice the character rolls. Combat Sense is only effective against known threats: it provides no benefit if the character is unaware of an attack.

Common Sense

The character always looks before she leaps; the GM must give you warning whenever your character is about to do something obviously stupid. This is not the same thing as Danger Sense, however: the character can't use Common Sense to avoid a situation that she can't see coming.

Cramming

The character can study a subject intensively for several hours, and be familiar enough with the subject to bluff her way past employment interviews and essay tests. The knowledge will fade quickly (in a day or so) unless the character studies continuously.

Danger Sense (+)

The character's dots in Danger Sense (maximum of five) are added to her Observation if she is in immediate danger and doesn't already know it. If the Danger Sense roll is successful, but the Observation roll wouldn't have been without the bonus, the GM doesn't have to specify the danger, just that "something is not quite right...."

Direction Sense

The character is never lost; she always knows where North is and can orient herself easily without any external cues.

Double Jointed

The character can bend her limbs and joints in impossible ways. She can fit into any space equal to half her height and width and it is nearly impossible to tie her up or entangle her with a rope; she can only be restrained using restraints like cuffs, shackles, or nets.

Echolocation (+)

The character generate ultrasonic clicks or squeaks to see in even absolute darkness. A character with Echolocation incurs no penalty for dim light, starlight, or even the darkest room or blackest night. Echolocation does not allow a character to see variations in color or fine details, such as the beam of another character's flashlight, the print in a book, or the embossed name on a credit card. If this Talent is purchased twice, the character does not have to generate her own ultrasonic sounds: she can echolocate merely by listening to ambient sounds (even that of the air moving around her).

Eidetic Memory

The character never forgets anything she has read, seen, heard, smelled, or touched. Unless the character made a conscious effort to remember at the time, however, she must make a successful INT roll to retrieve the desired memory when desired.

Fascinating (+)

The character is extremely attractive; people will tend to stare at her when they pass by, and the character is generally surrounded by admirers. In addition, Fascinating provides a +1 AV bonus to her Seduction Skills for each dot in Fascinating. At the max of five dots, her godlike appearance inspires stupefied awe in normal people.

Fast Draw

The character can ready a one-handed weapon without using an action. If the character wishes to draw and fire in a single action, she does not incur the standard -2 AV penalty. Contests to see who draws a weapon first are resolved with opposed Reflexes rolls; characters who have Fast Draw have +4 AV bonus to Reflexes rolls when participating in such contests.

High Pain Threshold

The character is especially resistant to pain and shock. If Impairing wounds are used, this character ignores penalties from Impairing wounds. If tortured, the character has a +2 AV bonus to her Resistance rolls.

Immunity (+)

The character is immune to the effects of a general poison or disease type (must specify a general type: snake venom, insect venom, gas, etc.).

Intuition

The character has an uncanny feel for hunches; the GM will give you a chance to make a Observation roll whenever she thinks your character might get a hunch, even if there are no perceptible clues present.

Light Sleeper

The character wakes instantly from even the lightest touch or smallest sound (no Observation check required).

Lightning Calculator

The character can automatically do complex mathematical operations in her head without using any aids.

Longevity

The character is extremely long lived, but does not show any appreciable signs of aging.

Night Vision

The character see in all but absolute darkness. A character with Night Vision incurs no penalty for dim light or starlight, and only a -2 AV penalty for the darkest room or blackest night. Night Vision does not allow a character to see if there is no light whatsoever, such as in a cave or the bottom of a submarine. In these places the character incurs a -6 AV penalty just like anyone else.

Simulate Death

The character can lower her heart rate and breathing to such a low level that it is a Nigh Impossible task (-6 AV penalty) to tell whether the character is dead or not.

Speed Reader

The character can read one page of any normal text in around three seconds (she can read a 200 page book in 10 minutes).

Time Sense

The character always knows what time it is, and always knows how much time has elapsed between the present and the last time she checked.

Perks & Privileges

Perks are useful items, privileges, or contacts a character has access to in a game setting. Perks can be special licenses or symbols of authority, friends, favors or fringe benefits accruing from a profession. They are purchased with Skill dots just like any Skill, and the more dots a character has in a Perk the powerful the Perk is. A 4 or 5 dot Perk is pretty impressive. It is probably a bad idea for a character to start the game with a Perk any higher than 3 dots, but that is for the GM to decide.

Once the GM has established the level of the Perk, she must decide just how much impact that Perk has on the world; for example, in a superheroic game, being the head of a huge corporation would be a character affectation; in a cyberpunk game setting, that same status would have serious impact. If the GM thinks that a Perk is either too important for a PC to have, or too trivial to bother buying with Skill dots, then the character either doesn't buy it or doesn't have to (respectively).

Typical Perks

These are typical perks and privileges that might be useful in a modern-era game set in the USA. They are not exhaustive, nor would they be necessarily appropriate in games set in other times and places. The GM should modify the "default" list of perks as she sees fit, and if the players want to make up even more perks, it is up to the GM to determine the new perks' suitability to the game setting.

Table: Typical Perks
Contact License Wealth
Fame Membership  

Contact

Your character knows someone who can (and generally will) help her through money, power, or sheer skill, and this help is usually "off the record". A mercenary who'll occasionally back her up in a fight costs 2, a local Yakuza Boss costs 3, the head of the FBI costs 5.

Fame

The character has a reputation, usually in a favorable light. People go out of their way to curry favor with her, or to at least avoid getting on her bad side. At 2, most local people know her; at 4 she's nationally known; at 5 she's an internationally recognized figure.

License

The character has a legally sanctioned right to do things that would normally be considered illegal (license to kill, to collect taxes, hunt criminals, etc). Licenses are individual cases, granting her authority rather than "loaning" her use of the authority of a group (as Membership, below) — she gets no resources, but she also doesn't have so many responsibilities. For example, in the modern era a concealed weapon permit might cost 1, a Private Investigator's license might cost 2, a license to buy and sell machine-guns might cost 3, and having a license to buy and sell munitions might cost 4.

Membership

The character can call upon the resources of an organization, person, government, or group — but she also has responsibilities. For example: A Membership of 1 in the FBI would make her a rookie or a clerk, but at 5 she's the Director's trusted advisor.

Wealth

Wealth boosts your character's lifestyle. Characters are assumed to be comfortably in the middle class, capable of buying common things and living in a decent place. Spending 1 dot places the character in upper middle class; she can buy pricey toys without worrying about her budget, she probably invests without giving it too much thought, lives in a very nice place, and vacations for a few weeks every year. At level 2, the character is well-to-do and has more than enough money to support herself; she can afford costly hobbies, has an expensive home, and probably owns a vacation home or two. At 3 she's a millionaire; she can afford large purchases like yachts and personal jets, and lives in a very expensive home that has its own zip code (although the requirements of maintaining her fortune will likely mean that she does not have the leisure time to enjoy it — contrary to popular belief, the "merely" wealthy tend to work very long hours). At 4 she's a multimillionaire; she can buy unique, expensive items on a whim, and she probably loses more money due to rounding errors than many people see in a lifetime. At 5, she's a billionaire, can live anywhere and buy almost anything she wants.

Generally, players are discouraged from keeping track of their money directly — it's a lot of tedious bookkeeping. However, there may be times when you'll absolutely need to know if you can buy that Caribbean island. In this case, you might use the following rule: at Wealth 1, the character has a disposable income of $1,000 per week; this value triples for each additional level of Wealth. This means at Wealth 5, your character could spend over 4 million dollars a year on nonessentials (the character's actual income is much more). Wealth is a fleeting thing, however, and how a character starts the game is no guarantee that her fortunes will not decline (or improve) thereafter.

Rolling Dice

Using Traits

When your character tries to use a Trait to perform a non-trivial task, you roll a number of six-sided dice to see if she succeeds or not. Add the relevant Trait score to any bonuses, subtract any penalties, and roll that quantity of dice. If she has Stealth 4, you would roll 4 six-sided dice, or 4d6. If the same character has +2 bonuses and -3 penalties, you would roll 3 six-sided dice, or 2d6 (4 + 2 - 3 = 3).

Each "5" or "6" you roll on these dice is a "success". For unopposed tasks, a single "success" is sufficient to accomplish the task. For opposed tasks, where two characters are competing at the same task (playing tic-tac-toe, for example), the character who rolls the most "successes" on an opposed roll succeeds at the task (on a tie, neither does, or both do, as the GM sees fit).

Easy tasks do not require a roll at all: if the character has any competence at all with an easy task, she succeeds. Most tasks are assumed to be "Challenging". A Challenging task is one that requires a die roll to resolve, but which imposes no penalties on the roll. More difficult tasks impose a penalty to the character's action value, reducing the number of dice rolled: the more difficult the task, the greater the penalty. If the penalty reduces the number of dice to be rolled to zero, the task is just too difficult for that character to perform.

Table: Difficulty examples
Difficulty Penalty
Routine no roll Lock a door, fire a weapon, drive a car
Challenging normal Pick a lock, fire a weapon at a moving target
Formidable -2 dice Draw a weapon and fire in one action,
perform an action while seriously distracted
Desperate -4 dice Fire a weapon at a moving unseen target,
perform an action when surprised
Nigh Impossible -6 dice Fire a weapon at a moving target while completely blind


Table: Action Values
Action
Value
Dice
Rolled
Average
"Successes"
"Successes" Probability
1+ 2+ 3+ 4+ 5+ 6+ 7+
1 1d6 0.3 33% — — — — — —
2 2d6 0.7 55% 11% — — — — —
3 3d6 1.0 70% 25% 4% — — — —
4 4d6 1.3 80% 40% 11% 1% — — —
5 5d6 1.7 86% 53% 20% 4% — — —
6 6d6 2.0 91% 64% 31% 10% 2% — —
7 7d6 2.3 94% 73% 42% 17% 4% 1% —
8 8d6 2.6 96% 80% 52% 25% 8% 2% —
9 9d6 3.0 97% 85% 61% 34% 14% 4% 1%
10 10d6 3.3 98% 89% 69% 43% 21% 7% 2%


If you think the term "successes" is cumbersome to say, you can use some other term instead, such as "caps" or "hits". The important thing is that everyone understands each other. The precise terminology isn't important as long as the meaning is clear.

Feats of Strength

Lifting Stuff

To lift an object, compare the character's Strength to the table below. If the character's Strength is equal to or greater than that listed for the object, the character can lift it. To lift anything heavier, the character must roll as many dice as she has in Strength, and count the "successes" (5's and 6's). She adds the "successes" to her Strength score: if this equals or exceeds the required Strength next to the object she wishes to lift, she lifts it. If not, she strains to no avail.

Example: Joe Genero has a STR of 1. He can pick his wife up fairly easily (STR 1 required) but can barely lift his sidekick, Drinking Buddy (STR 1 + 1 "success" required). On the other hand, Atlastan has a STR of 7. He doesn't even think about lifting anything smaller than a small jet (STR 7 + 1 "success"), regularly lifts train cars (STR 7 + 2 "successes"), strains to lift a battle tank (STR 7 + 3 "successes") but lifting a mountain is beyond even his great strength.

Table: Feats of Strength
STR Lifts Breaks Throws a Baseball
1 Slender adult Wood Skirmish range
2 Bulky adult Aluminum  
3 Racing motorcycle, Lion Bone  
4 Touring motorcycle, Bear Stone Firefight range
5 Small Car, Hippopotamus Iron  
6 Large car, Elephant Steel  
7 Tractor-trailer Meteoric iron Visual range
8 Small jet Titanium  
9 Train car Mithril  
10 Battle tank Stanlium Remote range
11 Large jet, Train Adamantite  
12 Fishing trawler, Small building Siegelite  
13 Battleship, Large building Eternium Into orbit
14 Aircraft carrier, Skyscraper Unknownium Out of orbit
15 Mountain Anything Out of Solar System


Throwing

Jazz uses the Harlick Baseball Test to create a benchmark for what can be easily thrown. A baseball represents any roughly aerodynamic object that weighs less than a kilogram and that can be hurled with one hand. This includes grenades, footballs, basketballs, Frisbees, beer bottles, and other small, inconsequential items that can be easily thrown. When throwing something that passes the Baseball Test, simply add the character's STR to the "successes" on a STR roll, just as with a Strength or lifting feat, and try to beat the required Strength listed for the Distance being thrown. If the total meets or exceeds the required Strength, the character has thrown it that far.

Example: Atlastan (STR 7) wants to throw a baseball out of sight (beyond visual range). He can easily make this.

If the roll fails, compare the total to the first STR value you could beat. This will determine how far the throw actually went.

Example: Atlastan (STR 7) wants to throw a baseball into orbit. He rolls an amazing 3 "successes" for a total of 10, which means he only tossed it over the horizon (remote range), not out of orbit.

Heavier Objects

This is more complicated. To throw something that's heavier than a baseball, add the required Strength to lift the object to the Strength required to throw it for the desired distance to get the final required Strength.

Example: Lady Hercules (STR 9) can easily throw a baseball over the horizon (STR 9 + 1 "successes"). However, if she tries it with a small car (STR 5), the required Strength rises to 15 (5 to pick it up + 10 to throw it over the horizon = 15, or STR 9 + 6 "successes"). The best she can reliably do is toss that car a few city blocks (5 to pick it up + 7 to throw it out of sight= 12, or STR 9 + 3 "successes").

Combat

Time

When the characters get into a fight, Combat Time starts. Combat Time goes in Turns; each character normally gets one action in each Turn, and each Turn is around three seconds long (give or take a few seconds).

Who Goes First

During each Turn, the characters act in order of their relevant combat Trait; the character with the highest combat-related Trait goes first, and the character with the lowest Trait goes last. If two characters have the same Trait score, the character with the highest Reflexes goes first, or the GM can flip a coin. Extra Actions come after all the normal actions have been used for that Turn, and work the same way.

Basic Actions

Each character can normally take one action during a Turn. Offensive actions typically require an opposed roll, if the target is aware of the attack. Making an opposed roll in response to an attack does not require an action: a character who is attacked five times in one Turn may make five opposing rolls at no penalty (and without using her action for this Turn).

Table: Basic actions
Action Type AV Effect
Aim Offensive +2 Spend this entire Turn stationary and preparing, for +2 action value on your next action
Basic Attack Offensive +0 Move anywhere within skirmish distance and make an attack
Disarm Offensive -2 Knock a weapon from an opponent's hand
Draw & Attack Offensive -2 Draw a weapon and use it in a Basic Attack
Grab Offensive +0 Get a firm grip on someone or something
Killing Blow Offensive -4 Converts STR damage from Bashing to Killing damage
Mighty Blow Offensive -2 Adds 1 to STR damage
Sweep/Trip Offensive +0 Push down, knock down, or trip someone
Throw Offensive +0 Throw an object at someone
Abort Defensive — Interrupt opponent's action to use a defensive action; the Aborting character must not have already taken an action this Turn
Basic Defense Defensive +0 Make an opposing roll against an attack: does not require an action
Block Defensive +4 Spend a Turn doing nothing but blocking, for +4 action value with a single opposing roll that Turn
Dodge Defensive +2 Spend a Turn doing nothing but bobbing and weaving, for +2 with all opposing rolls that Turn
Get Up Defensive +0 Get up from being knocked down
Move Defensive +0 Move to anywhere within skirmish distance, or move one range band
Recover Defensive — Get back END equal to STR score; may not attack this turn
Wait — — Wait for chance to act or act later
Other Action — — Reload, change weapons, mount up


Attacks

When your character tries to attack something, you roll a number of six-sided dice to see if she hits the target or not. Add the relevant Trait score to any bonuses, subtract any penalties, and roll that quantity of dice. This is called the character's action value (AV). If the character has Stealth 4, her action value is 4, and you would roll 4 six-sided dice, or 4d6. If the same character has +3 bonuses and -2 penalties, her AV is 5 (4 + 3 - 2 = 5), and you would roll 5 six-sided dice, or 5d6.

The Trait used to determine the number of dice rolled from an offensive action is usually determined by the weapon being used. The Trait used by the defender is whatever makes the most sense: typically, it is the same Trait that the attacker is using (or, in the case of Mental Powers, the defender may use Resistance). If the defender does not have a relevant Trait with which to defend herself, then she does not roll any dice. Attacking noncombatants is very easy.

Attacking someone is typically an opposed task (unless the target is unconscious or restrained). If the attacker rolls more than the defender, the attack hits the target. On a tie, the attack misses.

Damage

If the character is using her Strength to attack, then the damage she inflicts is equal to her Strength Trait plus the "successes" she rolled when making the attack. If using a weapon, then the damage she inflicts is equal to the damage rating of the weapon plus the "successes" she rolled when making the attack. If she is using a Power, the damage she inflicts is usually equal to her dots in the Power plus the "successes" she rolled when making the attack. The total damage is applied against the target's defenses, and the target's Endurance is reduced by the amount of damage that exceeds her defenses.

Blunt weapons (fists, clubs, saps) do Bashing (non-lethal) damage, while sharp weapons, bullets, and other pointy objects do Killing (lethal) damage. When struck by a Bashing attack, the character subtracts her Toughness from the damage done by the attack. When the defender is aware of the attack and makes an opposing roll against it, the "successes" she rolls are subtracted from the damage, as well. Any damage left over after subtracting her "successes", her natural Toughness, and any Bashing defense provided by armor or Powers is then subtracted from the character's Endurance.

When struck by a Killing attack, only the defender's "successes" and her defense against Killing damage (usually provided by armor or Powers) reduces the damage. Any damage left over after subtracting the character's "successes" and her Killing defense is subtracted from the character's Endurance.

When the character has no more END, the character is unconscious or dying. If any of the damage that brought the character to 0 END was from a Bashing attack, the character is knocked out. If all of the damage was caused by Killing attacks, the character is dying. Note that once a character is knocked out, all damage she suffers from that point on is Killing damage, even if it is from a Bashing attack.

Range Bands

There are three basic ranges: skirmish, firefight, and visual. Skirmish range is the distance that a character can cross in a single Turn and usually still have time to do something else (typically up to five to ten meters). Firefight range is too far for most people to reach in one Turn, but is within range of most small arms and other ranged attacks (from around ten meters to 100 meters or so). Visual range is too far away to hit reliably with most firearms, but is still within line of sight. A few weapons and Powers have even greater range, called "remote": these effectively have no maximum range.

Weapons and attack Powers have a range beyond which they are less useful. Attacking targets at more distant ranges is more difficult or impossible (at the GM's discretion). If the GM declares that the attack is possible, the attacker generally incurs a -2 penalty for each additional range band.

Example: An attacker with an AV of 7 tries to throw his sword at an opponent in firefight range. The GM determines that this is possible, but that it imposes a -2 penalty on the attacker's roll. The attacker rolls 5d6 to see if he hit.

Example: An attacker with an AV of 7 tries to throw his sword at an opponent in visual range. The GM determines that this is impossible, but if it had been possible, the GM would have imposed a -4 penalty on the attacker's roll (-2 for each additional range band beyond "skirmish"). The attacker would have rolled 3d6 to see if he hit, had it been possible to do so.

Table: Range bands
Skirmish Fist, foot, sword, whip, taser, thrown knife, thrown axe
Firefight Pistol, bow, crossbow, rifle, slingshot, shotgun, machinegun
Visual Sniper rifle, laser, trebuchet, antiaircraft gun, psychic power
Remote Long-range artillery, guided missile, mortar, rocket

Autofire

Weapons (or Powers) capable of firing more than one projectile in a single action are called "autofire" weapons. In the real world, these are called "automatic weapons" (or "fully automatic weapons", to distinguish them from what are erroneously called "semiautomatic weapons"). The number of projectiles an autofire weapon can fire in a single action is called its "rate of fire" (ROF). The rate of fire (ROF) is the maximum number of rounds a weapon can fire in a single action, and the maximum number of rounds the weapon can fire in a single Turn.

The attacker chooses how many rounds she is going to fire, up to the rate of fire (ROF) of the weapon. The attacker then makes a normal combat roll to see if she hits the target. The target is struck once for each "success" rolled (up to the number of rounds fired), reduced by the number of "successes" rolled by the defender.

Example: An attacker with an AV of 7 opens fire at a target with an AV of 9. The attacker decides to fire the full ROF of the weapon: 8 shots. If the attacker rolls a phenomenal 5 "successes" and the defender rolls 2 "successes", the attack strikes the target (5 - 2 = 3) 3 times. If the defender had rolled 4 "successes", she would only have been struck once; 1 "success", 4 times (and so on). The shots that missed keep going until something stops them, but unless there is a schoolbus full of nuns and children directly behind the target, the stray rounds probably hit something relatively boring like a tree or a wall.

Autofire Attacks vs. Multiple Targets

An autofire attack can be directed against several targets at once. The area being attacked is called the "fire zone", and is about the size of a skirmish area. The center of the fire zone must be declared by the attacker at the time of the attack. The attack is made as above, with the attacker rolling once for each defender at a cumulative -1 AV penalty for each target. Obviously, the rate of fire of the weapon must be equal to or larger than the number of targets.

Example: Makarov Mike with an AV of 7 opens fire at a group of 4 soldiers who each have an AV of 5. Mike decides to fire the full ROF of the weapon, 9 shots, at the entire group. Mike rolls four individual attacks, one at each soldier. For each attack, Mike rolls 3 dice (7 AV - 4 targets = 3 AV).

Optional: Cinematic Guns

If a main character (a Player Character or a significant Non-Player Character) successfully hits a minor character with an autofire attack, the minor character is struck once for every "success" the attacker rolls, not reduced by the defender's "successes". The shots that miss the target spectacularly destroy any breakable objects behind her, showering her with broken glass, chips of brick, pieces of wood, and so on.

Example: A main character with an AV of 7 opens fire at a minor character with an AV of 5. The main character decides to fire the full ROF of the weapon: 9 shots. The main character rolls 3 "successes" and the defending minor character rolls 2 "successes": the attack strikes the minor character. Because the main character rolled 3 "successes" and the defender's opposing roll is not subtracted, the minor character is hit three times. If the minor character had rolled just one more "success", the attack would have missed her entirely.

Optional: Realistic Guns

For every three rounds the attacker fires in one action, she incurs an additional -1 AV penalty (2-3 rounds = -1 AV, 4-6 rounds = -2 AV, 7-9 rounds = -3 AV, etc). Hitting a target when firing more than 15 rounds in an action is Nigh Impossible (-6 AV). The shots that miss the target keep going until something stops them (they probably won't hit an innocent bystander, but do you really want to take that chance?). If the attacker is firing into an area at multiple targets, she incurs either this penalty or the Multiple Targets penalty, whichever is greater.

Weapons

Unless a character is amazingly strong, she can probably cause more mayhem with a weapon than she can with her bare hands.

Table: Weapons
Melee Weapons   AV   Damage Range Concealment Notes
Axes & Maces          
Hand Axe +0 3 K Firefight Jacket  
Large Axe -1 4 K Skirmish Trenchcoat  
Battle Axe -1 5 K Skirmish N/A  
Great Axe -1 6 K Skirmish N/A Two-handed
Hammer +0 3 K Skirmish Jacket  
War Hammer -1 4 K Skirmish Trenchcoat  
Large Hammer +0 4 K Skirmish N/A Two-handed
Maul +0 5 K Skirmish N/A  
Small Mace -1 5 K Skirmish Jacket  
Mace +0 3 K Skirmish Jacket  
Morningstar -1 4 K Skirmish Trenchcoat Defender has -2 AV w/ opposing roll, Block, & Dodge
Large Mace +0 5 K Skirmish N/A  
Great Mace +0 5 K Skirmish Trenchcoat Two-handed
Clubs & Staves        
Sap +1 3 B Skirmish Pocket
Sai +0 4 B Firefight Jacket +2 AV w/ Block, Disarm
Club +0 4 B Skirmish Jacket  
Tonfa +1 4 B Skirmish Jacket  
Quarterstaff, Bo +1 4 B Skirmish Jacket Two-handed
Nunchaku -2 4 B Skirmish Jacket Defender has -4 AV w/ opposing roll, Block, & Dodge
War Club -1 5 B Skirmish Trenchcoat  
Large Club +0 5 B Skirmish N/A  
Great Club +0 6 B Skirmish N/A Two-handed
Fist Loads        
Brass Knuckles +0 STR+1 B Skirmish Fist  
Fist Load +0 STR+1 B Skirmish Fist  
Shuko +0 3 K Skirmish Fist +1 AV w/ Climbing
Ashiko +0 3 K Skirmish Fist +1 AV w/ Climbing
Cestus +0 3 K Skirmish Pocket  
Swords        
Razor +0 3 K Skirmish Pocket  
Knife, folding +1 3 K Firefight Pocket  
Dagger +1 3 K Firefight Jacket  
Dirk +0 4 K Skirmish Jacket  
Machete +0 4 K Skirmish Jacket  
Short Sword +0 4 K Skirmish Jacket  
Wakizashi +1 4 K Skirmish Jacket  
Rapier +1 4 K Skirmish Trenchcoat +1 AV w/ opposing roll, Block, & Dodge
Sabre +0 5 K Skirmish Trenchcoat  
Katana +1 5 K Skirmish Trenchcoat Two-handed
Bastard Sword +0 5 K Skirmish Trenchcoat 6 K if Two-handed
Great Sword +1 6 K Skirmish Trenchcoat Two-handed
Pole Arms        
Javelin +0 4 K Firefight N/A  
Short Spear +0 5 K Skirmish N/A  
Long Spear -1 5 K Skirmish N/A  
Halberd +0 5 K Skirmish N/A +1 AV w/ opposing roll & Block
Flails        
Whip +0 1 K Skirmish Jacket Can be used w/ Grab action
Bullwhip +0 3 K Skirmish Jacket Can be used w/ Grab action
Flail -1 3 K Skirmish Trenchcoat Defender has -2 AV w/ opposing roll, Block, & Dodge
War Flail -1 4 K Skirmish Trenchcoat Defender has -2 AV w/ opposing roll, Block, & Dodge
Battle Flail -1 5 K Skirmish N/A Defender has -2 AV w/ opposing roll, Block, & Dodge
   
Ranged Weapons   AV   Damage Range Concealment Notes
Bows          
Light Bow +0 3 K Firefight N/A  
Medium Bow +0 4 K Firefight N/A  
Heavy Bow +0 5 K Firefight N/A  
Light Crossbow +0 4 K Firefight N/A  
Heavy Crossbow +0 5 K Firefight N/A  
Revolvers          
.22LR +0 2 K Skirmish Fist Ex: North American Arms .22LR
.38 Special +0 4 K Firefight Pocket Ex: Rossi .38
.357 Magnum +0 5 K Firefight Jacket Ex: Colt Python
.44 Magnum +0 6 K Firefight Jacket Ex: Ruger Super Blackhawk
Autoloaders          
.22LR +0 2 K Skirmish Fist Ex: Beretta Model 21A
.380 +0 4 K Firefight Pocket Ex: Llama Micro Max
9mm Parabellum -1 5 K Skirmish Pocket Ex: Taurus P111
9mm Parabellum +0 5 K Firefight Jacket Ex: Ruger KP94
.45 +0 5 K Firefight Jacket Ex: Colt 1911A
Sub-machineguns          
9mm Parabellum +0 5 K Firefight Trenchcoat  
.45 +0 5 K Firefight Trenchcoat  

Armor & Defense

Armor is typically rated by two numbers separated by a slash (e.g. "+4/+2"). The first number is the defense against Bashing damage (in addition to the character's natural Toughness); the second number is the defense provided against Killing damage. If a second number is not specified, the armor or power only provides defense against Bashing damage, not Killing damage.

Example: A person with a natural Toughness of 2 is wearing +4/+2 armor, and is struck by a bullet that does 9 points of Killing damage. (For the sake of this example, the target was unaware of the attack and did not make an opposing roll.) The armor subtracts 2 from this damage. The final 7 points of Killing damage are subtracted from the character's Endurance without modification.

Example: A person with a natural Toughness of 3 is wearing +3/+2 armor, and is struck by a Martial Arts strike that does 9 points of Bashing damage. This time, the target was aware of the attack and rolled 2 "successes" on her opposing task roll. The armor subtracts 3 from this damage, and her "successes" subtract another 2. The character's natural Toughness subtracts another 3 points of Bashing damage. The remaining 1 point of Bashing damage is subtracted from the character's Endurance without modification.

Table: Armor
Typical Armor Toughness
Light leather, trash can lid, thickly padded clothing +1/+0
Heavy leather, "hubcap" armor, wooden shield +1/+1
Padded heavy leather, "junk heap" armor, ballistic mesh clothing +2/+1
Police riot shield, personal force field, chainmail bikini +1/+2
Chain mail armor, light metal shield, bullet-proof vest +2/+2
Light ceramic armor, light polycarbide armor, duelling force field +2/+3
Plate metal armor, heavy ceramic armor, heavy metal shield +3/+3
Dwarven plate armor, heavy polycarbide armor, assault force field +3/+4
Stanlium armor, servo-assisted armored exoskeleton +4/+4
Dragon scale armor, Siegelite armor, heavy assault force screen +5/+5


Impairing Wounds

Whenever the character's Endurance has been reduced enough, she will become Impaired. At half of her total END, all of her Traits will be reduced by 2 dots; at one quarter of total, they will be reduced by another 2 dots (4 dots total). A Trait cannot, however, be reduced to less than 1 by Impairing wounds. When calculating half and one quarter END, round in the chracter's favor, as always.

Healing

If a character uses her action to Recover, she can regain some of the Endurance that she has lost from Bashing attacks. She gets a quantity of her END back equal to her Vigor Trait, but only if that END was lost from a Bashing attack. She may not attack during a Turn in which she Recovers.

All Bashing damage taken in a fight is recovered as soon as the fight is over, unless the character was knocked unconscious. If she was knocked out, she stays knocked out until the GM decides she wakes up (anywhere from five minutes to overnight).

Half of the Killing damage taken in a fight is recovered as soon as the fight is over, unless the character is dying (reduced to 0 END or less, all from Killing damage). If she is dying, she will soon be dead unless she receives medical aid. All Killing damage is healed between adventures. If you have any trouble telling when one adventure ends and another begins, assume that any time a week or more has passed without additional injury, the character has recovered from her injuries.

Experience

Accruing Karma

The GM may award players with Karma at the end of a play session. These can then be spent to improve the character's Traits (or Powers, if such are appropriate to your game setting.) The GM should award Karma to players who role-played exceptionally well and made the game more fun for everyone. Here are a few suggestions:

Table: Good Karma
Player was clever, inventive, or role-played well: 0 or 1 Karma
Player solved a mystery or major point of plot: 1 or 2 Karma
Adventure was resounding success: 2 Karma


By the same token, the GM can assign "Bad Karma" to a character if the player wasn't role-playing well, took advantage of information their character wouldn't have had, or was otherwise a pain in the butt that evening. "Bad Karma" is subtracted from the character's current Karma. If the character doesn't have any Karma saved up to subtract from, the GM can assess the Bad Karma against one of the character's Skills, instead. Here are a few suggestions:

Table: Bad Karma
Player was "phoning it in": 0 or 1 Bad Karma
Player used information that her character wouldn't have known to the character's benefit: 1 or 2 Bad Karma
Player was a real pain and made the game less fun for everyone: 2 Bad Karma


Getting More Dots

Traits

One Karma for each dot of the Skill at its new level. To buy a Skill from 3 dots to 4 dots would require 4 Karma and your GM's agreement.

Perks and Talents

Three Karma for each dot of the Perk or Talent at its new level. To buy a Perk from 1 dot to 2 dots would require 6 Karma and your GM's agreement. The GM should look carefully at a character's new or improved Perks and Talents.