Not everyone reading this document will have experience with roleplaying. If this is not your first RPG, please feel free to skip to the next chapter, as the basics change little from system to system. However, even if you have experience, this chapter lays out an overview of how the system works.
What is Roleplaying
Roleplay is the act of playing out a part (or role) within a scenario. Typically roleplaying of any kind involves at least one participant who sets the scenario and at least one participant who reacts to the scenario. In a roleplaying game these roles go by many names, but in VERS these roles are player and gamemaster (GM for short). A group of players is called a troop.
Roleplaying games are different from acting in that an actor knows his lines beforehand, as well as what stimuli his character will be facing. Roleplaying games are also similar to writing, however an author typically works alone when creating their story, or at least has final say on its content. With a roleplaying game only the GM has any idea what is coming, and even the GM does not know what the players will do once the session has started and each player works together to create a story. The GM sets up the scenario, then the players have a chance to react to the initial scenario. The GM then reacts to the player’s actions, tweaking the scenario to reflect the effects of these actions and thus setting up a new situation that the players have to react to. Each player has to make up their part as the game progresses in a constant give and take with the GM.
The most basic element in any roleplaying game is how the characters, both those played by the players (PCs) and those played by the GM (NPCs) interact. Without a framework to work this out the whole exercise devolves into multiple narratives which do not affect each other, or in which endless arguments are had over how the characters actions affect each other. If you ever played an imagination game as a child where you and your friends were superheroes or something like that, you probably have experienced this. An endless litany of "No way! That is not how those powers work!" or "That can't happen to him! Nothing ever hurts him!" and so forth.
To get around that, we use a rules system that is basically just an agreed on contract that we all we will do things in a certain way so that things are fair and we can create together and all be on the same page. The core of that is the way characters interact. What can they do? How often? What challenges are there to it? That is what a rules system, like the one you are reading, is for.
So, roleplaying games are a method to create stories in a collaborative environment. What is the most important thing in a story, at least to most people? Characters! To help facilitate this ever changing story, each character has a description (usually referred to as a “Character Sheet”) that features both numeric measurements and other details relating who a character is and what they are capable of. This character sheet forms the framework by which the GM and players build the narrative and make decisions for that character.
These numeric measurements are called ranks, and the more ranks in one category the more talented, well-trained, or powerful the character is in that area. The deeper details of those categories will be explained in Chapters 2 and 3, but for now just think of them in the abstract. These ranks are purchased at character creation and can be upgraded as the game goes on.
Ranks do not always correspond to exact numbers. Somethings, like how strong a character is, can be estimated or simplified down in a rational manner into a rank system, while other things like how smart or charming the character is cannot be easily boiled down in such a way. To achieve this, these components are abstracted out into a system of relative values. These attributes are given an average rank of zero, with people who are more intelligent, strong, etc getting higher ranks and those who are less intelligent get negative ranks.
Each rank is double the value of the last, so a character with rank of 1 is twice as good in that area as a character with a rank of 0, which is itself twice as good as a rank of -1. Or to look at it from the other direction, a -1 is half as good as a 0, which is in turn half as good as a 1. Some attributes, like Strength, are tied to more concrete and measurable things. However, even this does not change how the ranks are used, each doubling the last, etc.
This ranking structure underlies all measurements in VERS, with the following table laying out what rank 0 is for the major physical measurements the character is likely to encounter or need to know.
|Rank 0 Examples|
|Rank 0||Measurement||Equivalent to|
|Mass||16 kg||A huge bag of dog food|
|Distance||2 m||A tall adult male|
|Volume||0.2 m³||A book shelf|
|Density||1,024 kg/m³||Water, or the human body|
|Time||2 sec||A simple action|
|Speed||1 m/sec||3.6 km/h (a slow walk)|