Almost a year ago now, I found the freely available Warrior, Rogue & Mage game from Stargazer Games. In 41 pages, Michael Wolf (aka “Stargazer”) created a rules-light system that incorporated all the iconic elements of your standard fantasy roleplaying game. The system itself was easy to learn, while offering rules that could be easily adjusted or expanded to fit nearly any situation. It’s amazing what you can do when you boil down a rules system to its most basic bits – keeping it classless with three basic attributes, skills, and talents at your disposal.
WR&M was the first game to use what’s come to be known as the “Wyrm System” of rules. But it’s been adapted a few times, from pulp adventures, to cyberpunk, from a modern heroes to superheroes. It’s been amazing (even to Michael I think) just how far his simple rules system has gone over the last year. Most of these variants are still under development, but one made it out of the gate in January 2011 – Resolute, Adventure & Genius from Andrew Modro and Jason Cabral. It’s a collaboration between the guys at Blue Hex and Stargazer Games, so it was developed with Michael’s blessing from the beginning.
RAG as it’s come to be called enables adventuring in the “Pulp Action” era. What is “pulp” in this context? Well, it’s not Quentin Tarrantino’s Pulp Fiction, though I suppose it could probably be used along those lines. No, this is more about the “pulp” heroes of an earlier age – when stories about popular mobsters, dastardly Nazis, and stalwart adventurers were all vying for the same shelf space at drug stores and book stores. Everything from the adventures of Jules Verne’s characters to Indiana Jones, The Shadow and The Rocketeer can fall into this space – and much, much more.
RAG adapts the WR&M rules slightly, but keeps the same open, rules-light approach. Instead of the three main attributes being Warrior, Rogue, and Mage, you end up with your three attributes being Resolute, Adventurer, and Genius. Resolute describes a character’s physical capabilities. Adventurer captures a hero’s ability to think his or her out of a jam quickly and the ability to act on those thoughts. And Genius describes what the character knows and how creatively they can use that knowledge.
Then, you have a more technologically-minded Skills list, which includes things like Ranged Combat (pistols, rifles, machine guns as well as bows) and Vehicle (a group of skills that allow you to maneuver different types of vehicles – boats, cars, planes, etc.). Talents – like with WR&M are the special abilities that make heroes more heroic – now include the ability to wield both magic and technology in various ways in a modern world. Invention, mesmerism, and mystic abilities join more mundane abilities like Boundless Intellect and Devilish Charm.
Beyond that, RAG adds Initiative as a separate generated characteristic alongside Hit Points, Luck Points, and Defense. To finish off your character, you give them a name, purchase a few items, and you’re off to the races.
Task resolution is largely the same, with the addition of rules for vehicles in combat. Chase scenes seem to be a requirement in many “pulp” adventures, so I think this is a great addition. And the writers also include rules for minions (the “nameless, faceless thugs, goons and cronies” heroes encounter en masse when trying to get at the villain in charge of things). Honestly I think both of these could be back-ported to WR&M to cover horse and chariot chases as well as the inevitable minion problem in dungeons of yore.
And at the end, the writers include a few pages on the various “Eras of Pulp Adventure” you might want to give a try. Everything from the early 20th century and the amazing technological advancements and exploration of that era to the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression, the rise of Nazi Germany, and beyond. I would have liked to have seen a bit more in this area such as a sample adventure or setting to get a GM started, but if they’ve seen Indiana Jones or any number of other films,
they should already have a good base to create something to start from.
I think RAG will be just as much fun as WR&M for a one night adventure or longer. And having additional bits and pieces to play with for a more modern setting just offers more toys to a creative GM. Plus, you can’t beat the price. Just like WR&M, RAG is free and released under a Creative Commons license!
Andrew and Jason did a great job pulling this book together to expand on what Michael had done before. And I can hardly wait to see what else might appear on the horizon for the Wyrm System. Be sure to check out Resolute, Adventurer & Genius and Warrior, Rogue & Mage at RPGNow or DriveThruRPG today!
- Interview: Michael Wolf – Stargazer from Stargazer Games and Stargazer’s World (gameknightreviews.com)
- Pulp Fictions: Rocketeer Adventures from Age of Ravens (ageofravens.blogspot.com)
- Things Are Getting Dicey… from HeroPress (heropress.net)
- BADASS: The Roleplaying Game That Kicks Logic in the Face is Now Available on DrivethruRPG and RPGNow from Life and Times of a Philippine Gamer (philgamer.wordpress.com)