Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Lunch time with: Unbelievably Simple Role-playing (USR)

Well, I wasn't intending on making this a series or anything, but I squeezed in another solo RPG adventure yesterday on my lunch break. This time, I used Unbelievably Simple Role-playing (USR for short).

I had started the day planning to start my much anticipated (by me anyway) solo D&D game with characters I rolled up back in September or October. Alas, I could not find their character sheets when I was packing my bag for work. And, although I had my rulebooks with me, rolling up a character, properly at least, seemed daunting. With my time limited, I pulled out my copy of USR.

Character generation took but a few minutes - assign a d6, d8 and d10 each to one of 3 traits/stats, choose specialisms (up to 3) which are special skills/knowledge , roll hit points (Action die + Wits die), equip your character and go. I was feeling mage-y and so I created:

Faltroth Rizenbiter: Action d6, Wits d10, Ego d8. Specialisms: Magical Research( +2), Phantasms(+2), Magic Missile (+2) (because how can you be a magic-user and not have magic missile?). HP: Here I was hopeful. After all, d6+d10 beats the standard magic-user's d4 in D&D right? 

I rolled 6. Yep. a 6. Well, it's still better than a 4.

The plot: In the library of the ruins at Fenias Keep, it is rumoured that there is a copy of Ye Olde Tyme Booke ov Demonyk Summoning. Being one who covets books and likes spells and such, a trek up to the ruins is a no-brainer (probably should have taken some hirelings, in retrospect).

Sadly, I left my Story Cubes at home too, along with my dice. Remember kids, pack your stuff the night before! for the die rolls it would be. Mythic (hey I remembered it this time!) provided GM related functions, along with the Moldvay D&D basic rule book. Tables generated on the fly once again handled the creation of the dungeon (you'd think I'd just develop my own system for this and write it up).

My first encounter (generated with the room content table from the basic rule book) was with a talking statue. I was not prepared for this, so the exchange went exactly like this:

Statue: "Halt! Who goes there!"
Faltroth: "I do"
Statue: "And, who are you?"
Faltroth: "I am me!"

Hmm. This could go on for a long time and I only had 20 minutes to play.

I turned to Mythic to find out if this would satisfy the statue, I figured it was unlikely, and amazingly it did and it let me pass.

A brief stroll down the hallway into another chamber and there, gnawing on bones and sucking out the marrow, was a single ghoul, startled by my entrance - but not enough to merit full blown surprise in my favor.

Faltroth immediately sets to casting magic missile, while the ghoul attempts to close the gap between them.

I stat-ed out the ghoul as follows :Action d10, Wits d6 Ego d8. Specialisms? I suppose I could have given it some, but instead decided that being undead was like having magic armor and ruled that undead gets bonus against magic attacks of -1 damage. Ghouls in the Basic rules paralyze their opponents if they score a hit and Save vs Paralysis is failed. I translate as a roll of a non-contested Action die of very hard difficulty to avoid paralysis (2d8 turns). It ends up with HP 5 (at least I roll badly for both sides) - and then rolled initiative.

Initiative in USR is suggested in the rules as either clockwise around the table or Action die + Wits die, high score acting first. That's the method I went with since it feels comforting and familiar.

Zaltroth, thinking fast, or at least faster than the ghoul, blasted the ghoul with magic missile fire first, causing a whopping 2 points of damage, The ghouls rolls a 1 for its attack so Faltroth manages to evade the somewhat clumsy ghoul and

 (roll initiative)

He runs to the opposite side of the room and fires another magic missile, missing completely and blowing up the door from which he entered. Ignoring the splinters of wood showering down on it, the ghoul charges Faltroth again.

This time it lands a blow (The ghoul rolled a 2, I rolled a 1! 1 point of damage) and Faltroth (rolling his Action against "Very Hard", can't pass) is paralyzed!

The ghoul gets to make an uncontested attack I decide, and rolls his Action die vs Easy difficulty - had Faltroth had armor, it may have absorbed some of the impact of the ghoul's claws and bite, but, that was not the case, and he died mercifully quickly.
All told: 2 rooms and a short bit of hallway and a total play time of 20 minutes (single low level characters just don't last long in a dungeon crawl. At least not one I'm running!)

I definitely enjoyed playing USR - it was easy to create a low level magic-user type, and I could just as easily have created a fighter or a cleric or a space cowboy. Although there are a limited number of combinations the attribute dice can be ordered in, the specialisms, armor and weapons bonuses help to differentiate and define a character. The system was also flexible enough to handle the ghoul's bonuses just by thinking about the creature in USR terms.

And, as I've also discovered, it works pretty well for a miniatures game too. A report on that to follow soon.


  1. Hey, it's great to see a USR game report, especially a solo one since that's one of the reasons I kept the rules simple. Really glad you enjoyed it and I'd love to see a group report ;)

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  3. @Scott sadly, I probably won't get to run a game with even one player other than me until my vacation later this summer. You can bet that USR will be among the rules being played though!
    @SAROE i don't know what happened to your comment but i probably need to study up on better spell choices!