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Head Count as a generic set of rules!

Started by reptile2k1, March 16, 2002, 07:34:52 PM

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I really love the simplicity of UWs Head Count system, so I post the following stuff again:

Generally I think the rules are pretty cool! I wrote a boiled down, generic version yesterday to use it as a 'hey, wanna do a spontaneous rpg session'-thing for me and my folks. I made some changes, but unfortunately I wrote it in German and I am too lazy to translate it... maybe later.
So here is an excerpt of what I did in my boiled down version:

Generic rules
Making a 'generic version' of the rules(charGen, head-count mechanics, combat), so they can be used for other stuff as well. Graft the stuff that is important to the setting onto that system (magic, breeds, guilds, radiance) later.

Generic characters and charGen
1. Simple names for stats: Traits, Skills, Hobbies, Feats and Flaws
+Traits: well, as they currently are; anything goes, as long as the GM says it is ok!
+Skills: the stuff you get 2 coins for (guild skills)
+Hobbies(or Interests, whatever you like): the stuff you only get 1 coin for (non-guild skills)
+Feats: special abilities, like ambidexterity, undying and stuff
+Flaws: negative Traits or Feats, like 'weak' or 'drug addiction'
2. Point based charGen to allow more diversity in characters
+ every character starts with 1 Trait, 1 Skill, 1 Hobby, 1 Feat and 1 Flaw
+ the player can spend 8 more character points (CP): Trait 3CP, Skill 2CP, Hobby 1CP, Feat 4CP, Flaw gives 2 additional CP (limited to 1 additional Flaw).

Combat, healing, etc.
To me, those topics are pretty well done, so no changes needed!

Maybe I am blind, but I flipped through the book several times and couldn't find a chapter about experience... I did not read the book as a whole, but picked out interesting chapters, so maybe I just missed it.
If not, then I would suggest implementing a system for experience, that has two main factors: Luck and Advancement!
Advancing a character should be rather tough, to avoid character inflation, but it should still be possible. The main emphasis should be on Luck, giving players the opportunity to manipulate tests: re-flip a coin, buy an automatic success, re-flip all coins, etc.
The Conductor/GM can award 0 to 4 XP to a player character per adventure...
01XP re-flip one coin
02XP buy an automatic success (but the total number of successes may not exceed the total number of coins flipped)
04XP re-flip all coins
08XP buy new Hobby
16XP upgrade one Hobby to Skill
32XP buy one new Trait or buy off one Flaw
64XP buy one new Feat

I incorporated all that above (except for the background-specific stuff, LARP rules and abstract combat) and it all fits to a single A4 page... okay, I used a size 9 Arial font without examples, but I had enough space for sample weapons and armor. So I think it will be rather easy...

Using cards instead of coins
Cards can as easily be used as coins: take a simple poker deck, put the jokers aside, shuffle, cut the deck in half and make 2 seperate 'half-decks'. Instead of flipping coins a player draws the appropriate number of cards; a black card (spades and clubs) is a success, a red card (diamonds and hearts) is no success. To keep the probability of drawing a black or a red card roughly equal, only draw from one half-deck. If that half-deck is used up, re-shuffle ALL cards and create 2 half-decks again. Okay... it's not 'really' equal to flipping a coin, buzt roughly... and cards are easier to handle, since flipping can be rather dangerous ;).

What do you guys think?
A good set of rules fits on less than 4 pages!


An interesting extrapolation of the rules system.  Hope it works for your needs.

Personally, I'm not a big fan of generic systems, and so it seems odd to me to use a system created specifically for a setting as a generic tool for any setting.  But to each his own.

For further detail on my opinion regarding generic rules, check out , an entry in the original design columns that I wrote about UnderWorld.

Gareth-Michael Skarka
Adamant Entertainment


Thanks for yor answer!

You don't like generic systems... that is ok!

Whenever I read a new rpg book, the thing that interests me most is
a) is it simple and does it make sense?
b) if 'yes', can I use it for other stuff as well?

I have bookshelves packed with rule systems that each fill up to 500 pages and that really annoys me! DnD 3e looks cool (with all the artwork and design), but as a 'creative gamer' ;), the sheer mass of rules and complexity repells me. Therefore I don't like the GURPS rules either, even though I think they are the best commercially available generic rules (hey, and the sourcebooks really rock!).
I am looking for rules, that can be applied to any genre, look interesting and don't fill more than 4 pages (hence my signature).
I grab all those 'freeware systems' from the net that I can find (I already burned a CD-ROM full of them) but most are still way too big for my taste.

The rules and mechanics found in UnderWorld fulfill all my preferences and that's why I made the proposal! I really like them and would be happy to see a freeware boiled-down version... even some sort of OGL thing comes to my mind. Hehehe!

Underworld itself doesn't need to have 'generic rules', but re-using those rules would be a cool thing IMO.

And by the way: You should take all this as a compliment... you made easy rules that can be applied to nearly everything! Well done! *bows his head*

Rock on!
A good set of rules fits on less than 4 pages!