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.
|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)|
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.
Character points (or CP) are the units of measure of a character’s growth after character creation. They are the currency used to purchase attributes, skills, and advantages as the character learns lessons and becomes more experienced. As time goes on in the game, the character will accumulate more character points with which to grow their abilities, emulating the way that real people grow over time.
There are two very important rules regarding character points: One, finalize all CP expenditures before the game session begins, and two, the character may only advance an attribute, skill or advantage by 1 rank at a time. Of course, this is up to GM discretion. GMs may, as an optional rule, only allow upgrades to something your character has actually used in recent game sessions; progress doesn’t come from not using those skills, after all! It is also recommended that the GM require certain periods of training time to upgrade skills or even regular practice to keep them from degrading.
There is no “best by” date on character points. Saving CP for a larger purchase is a great idea. Just keep in mind that stashing them for longer means being less on par with other characters and the GM’s enemies. CP is for spending!
VERS divides time into two equally important types: conflict driven time and dramatic time. The biggest thing to know about each type of time frame is that they encompass different types of narrative. Dramatic time is for exposition, travel, and player interactions and it measures time in scenes similarly to a play or television show. Conflict driven time, on the other hand, is for action like combat or chases and it measures time in turns and actions which have discrete lengths.
For more information about keeping time in the game, go to the detailed description
Finally, there are the dice. In real life there are lots of complex interactions between physics, psychology, and sociology that go into every single event that happens across the planet, with many of those interactions unknown to the people participating in them. The rules system cannot recreate all those interactions without becoming as complex and labyrinthine as reality itself. Instead, the rules deal with the largest, most obvious components to interaction, and dice rolls fill in the blanks. Why did your carrot cake not turn out as well this time as it did last time? Maybe you can pick out the exact deviation, but more likely you have no idea. It was random chance as far as we can tell.
That is where the roll of the dice comes in, generating a slight randomness that not only helps model the tiny fluctuations in real life that determine why things happen in different ways, but it is also a tool of balance and fairness, so that no character is always right, successful, or important while others are not.
For more information, please see the more detailed description of how dice are used here.
|VERS Playtest v20.7 - Online Rule Reference|
|Making a Character||Character Profile - Mechanical Aspects (Attributes - Skills - Abilities - Gear)|
|Gameplay||Mental Conflict - Physical Conflict - Social Conflict - Stunts|
|Optional Rules||Not Yet Complete|
|Gamemastering||Not Yet Complete|
|Storytelling and Drama||Not Yet Complete|
|Advanced Techniques||Not Yet Complete|
|Appendices||Example Abilities||Fantasy - Psionics - Superheroes|
|Example Gear||Prehistoric to Dark Ages - Medieval to Renaissance - Modern - Sci-Fi|
|Example NPCs||Animals - People - Fantasy - Horror - Sci-Fi|