Priest Soldier Sorcerer Spy 3e EN:Introduction
What Is This?
Priest Soldier Sorcerer Spy: Volume One of the Bog-Standard Fantasy Game System, is a fast and simple fantasy role-playing game inspired by the fantasy RPGs of the late 20th century.
Play is very loose, and players are encouraged to take initiative rather than simply hanging around and waiting for someone to kick in the door. Players are also encouraged to flesh out the setting and be creative, rather than passively accepting what has already been described.
What Is A Roleplaying Game?
Every roleplaying game has a section at the beginning that attempts to explain what a roleplaying game is, and Priest Soldier Sorcerer Spy is no exception. So let's get started! As trivial as it sounds, two distinct elements set "roleplaying games" apart from other things which are not roleplaying games: roleplaying and game play.
First, a roleplaying game involves roleplaying. Generally speaking, roleplaying involves taking on a persona or character and making decisions based on what that character would do in a given situation. Does having a character in a game, by itself, make that a roleplaying game? No. The little dog token in a Monopoly game and a Blood Elf in World Of Warcraft are both characters, but Monopoly and World Of Warcraft are not roleplaying games. Can you roleplay as a dog while playing Monopoly? Yes, and you can roleplay as an elf while playing World Of Warcraft. What keeps these from being roleplaying games is that the roleplaying is not part of the game -- you can't get your Monopoly dog out of jail through unscripted conversation with the jailer, nor can you use roleplaying to convince a cultist in World Of Warcraft to let you pass by without a fight. If the rules of the game do not allow for the possibility that a conflict could be resolved through unscripted conversation (however unlikely that might be), then it isn't a roleplaying game.
Second, a roleplaying game is a game. Roleplaying games are sometimes compared to improvisational theatre, and there are similarities, but improv theatre isn't a game. How can you tell if something is a game? Games have rules that govern things like conflicts between players and whether something a player attempts is successful. Improv theatre is fun, but there aren't any rules like this. As Drew Carey described "Whose Line Is It Anyway?", it's "the show where everything's made up and the points don't matter." It's fun, but it's not a game, and therefore it's not a roleplaying game.
Priest Soldier Sorcerer Spy has more rules than some games, but less than others, and an essential part of conflict resolution involves making decisions that your character would make under the circumstances. Maybe those decisions aren't the most tactically advantageous, but if they are true to what your character would do, and if you are having fun playing, then you are playing correctly, because that's what Priest Soldier Sorcerer Spy is all about.
If you would like to read more about who plays roleplaying games, and why and where they play them, check out The Escapist -- The Five Ws of RPGs.
In a roleplaying game, each player adopts a persona called a player character, or "PC". The player characters are imaginary people who inhabit the fictional world of Archaea.
In many ways, the player is like an actor who chooses their own part and writes their own lines as the play progresses. The game moderator sets the stage and introduces the characters to their world, but the story is driven by the player characters.
The Game Moderator
The game moderator, or "GM", creates the story and portrays everyone that the player characters encounter during their adventures. These are called non-player characters, or "NPCs". The players help create the adventure by responding to the challenges the GM presents and by pursuing the PCs' own goals. This dynamic creative process creates a story which neither the game moderator nor the players could have created alone.
A roleplaying game is fundamentally a cooperative activity. The players (one of whom is the Game Moderator) are not in competition. The goal is not to be the most powerful character, or to win every fight. The goal of a role-playing game is to create interesting stories and to entertain everyone at the table. We hope that you are the kind of player that creates interesting characters and enjoys creating stories with your friends.
Use Common Sense
The single most important piece of advice we can give you is that you should use your common sense. If something in the rules violates the way you think your game should work, then override it. If the rules permit something ridiculous, or would prevent something completely ordinary, then override them. Do not be one of those players who adheres to the letter of the rules in defiance of common sense.
In fact, if you can play a fun game session without referring to the written rules, you should. Saying "it works like this" is often a better solution than flipping through a rulebook for an answer.
Avoid Rule Arguments
It is in the nature of any human activity that differences of opinion will arise. We've tried to make the rules for Priest Soldier Sorcerer Spy as simple and clear as possible, but there's only so much we can do. Sooner or later, there will be a difference of opinion among the players regarding what a rule means, or how a rule should be implemented. There is nothing wrong with this: discussion and consensus are healthy. However, the time for rule discussions is between games, not during games. If a rule discussion takes longer than 60 seconds, the game moderator should make an executive decision and table additional discussion for later. If players balk, the GM should be civil but firm, and move on.
Respect Genre Conventions
Priest Soldier Sorcerer Spy is a fantasy game, and being a fantasy game, it has certain genre conventions. Robert McKee defines genre conventions as the "specific settings, roles, events, and values that define individual genres and their subgenres."
For example, the default setting, Archaea, is loosely based on medieval Europe, with little emphasis placed on how the presence of magic would make such a setting unrecognizable. Cliches and anachronisms abound. The dominant cultures have been in cultural and technological stasis for millennia. Iron, Bronze, and Stone-age weapons exist alongside Middle Age and early Renaissance weapons, and are just as useful. And no one worries too much about the everyday realities, such as who maintains ancient cities in remote places, or how massive armies of hideous monsters are fed.
Characters in Priest Soldier Sorcerer Spy almost never die, and only when it is for a dramatic reason. Nameless characters, on the other hand, often go down after a single hit (maybe they die, maybe they don't -- no one cares, because they are nameless characters).
Each character has six attributes which describe their basic physical and mental abilities.
- Agility: coordination, ranged combat fighting ability, and general flexibility
- Brawn: physical might, close combat fighting ability, and general hardiness
- Endurance: ability to shrug off physical and mental abuse
- Presence: determination, mental combat fighting ability, and understanding of the motivations of others
- Reason: ability to analyze data, draw conclusions from the facts at hand, and solve problems
- Power Level: supernatural might, magical potency, spiritual enlightenment
See the Attributes chapter for more information.
All dice rolls are skill rolls. When a character attempts a task, and the outcome is either contested or there is some random element involved, the player must roll dice to see if the character succeeds. The player rolls their dice, counts the dots, and adds the result to the character's relevant attribute. This roll is compared to their opponent's roll plus their relevant attribute. If the player's total equals or exceeds the target number, the character's attempt succeeds. There is no need to roll for routine tasks: characters automatically succeed at routine tasks.
|Action Total||Target Number|
See the Actions chapter for more information.
Each player begins each game session with one plot point. A player gains a plot point when they do something particularly entertaining or interesting, when one of their character's complications causes a serious problem for them during the game, or when the GM overrides a roll of the dice to make things more difficult for the characters. Plot points are spent to alter the game world, gain a bonus die, or gain an advantage in combat. See the Actions chapter for more information.
- coordination, ranged combat fighting ability, and general flexibility
- all-out move
- base move x 6
- attack bonus
- roll an additional die when attempting an attack (another name for "bonus die")
- attack penalty
- roll one less die when attempting an attack (another name for "penalty die")
- attack roll
- dice + attribute; the total is compared to a target number to determine success
- the six basic character traits: Agility, Brawn, Endurance, Presence, Reason, and Power Level
- base move
- normal ground movement based on the character's attributes or powers
- base value
- the numerical value of an attribute when the character is fully healed and not impaired in any way
- bonus die
- roll an additional die when attempting a task or in combat
- physical might, close combat fighting ability, and general hardiness
- character point
- spent to buy attributes, skills, and special abilities for a character
- combat roll
- dice + attribute; the total is compared to a target number to determine success (another name for "attack roll")
- defense bonus
- roll an additional die when attacked (another name for "bonus die")
- defense penalty
- roll one less die when attacked (another name for "penalty die")
- difficulty value (DV)
- moderate 3, remarkable 6, extreme 9, inconceivable 12; dice + difficulty value = target number
- double move
- base move x 2
- ability to shrug off physical and mental abuse
- extraordinary competence with a skill, allowing the player to re-roll any dice that roll less than 3
- game moderator (GM)
- the player who sets the story in motion, plays everyone and everything in the game other than the PCs, and arbitrates any disputes
- margin of success
- the amount by which a roll exceeds the target number
- non-player character (NPC)
- a fictional character belonging to and controlled by the game moderator
- penalty die
- roll one less die when attempting a task or in combat
- a living, breathing person playing the game
- player character (PC)
- a fictional character belonging to and controlled by a player
- plot point
- spent to alter the game world, gain a bonus die, or gain an advantage in combat
- Power Level
- supernatural might, magical potency, or spiritual enlightenment
- determination, mental combat fighting ability, and understanding of the motivations of others
- ability to analyze data, draw conclusions from the facts at hand, and solve problems
- base move x 2 (another name for "double move")
- skill roll
- dice + attribute; the total is compared to a target number to determine success
- special ability
- an exceptional ability that a normal person can have, but that most people do not have
- base move x 6 (another name for "all-out move")
- a roll that equals or exceeds the target number
- target number
- the number the player must match or exceed on a roll
- normal ground movement based on Agility (another name for "base move")