I've been a role-playing game fan for many years, starting a long time ago with Dungeons & Dragons and working my way through many of the major systems up until 2010. As a group, we occasionally had evenings when someone was unavailable, and the scenario could not be continued without them. Around 1998 I had an idea to allow those present to get their RPG fix and over twelve years it was play-tested to a point where it can be let out unsupervised. My thanks to SimonJM for letting me use four pieces of his art in the title banner.

The concept is simple. Think of any film, usually an action film. The setting is sketchy with characters you can empathise with but know nothing of depth about. The plot is a simple 'do something' with variations of 'running battle', 'key problem', 'apparent defeat', 'sudden resolve/enlightenment' and 'big finale'.

So here's a tiny role playing system to handle just that. If you need a plot, borrow one from an old film you have seen but your players may not have. If you are a storyteller, wing it - it's fun. Just be consistent. Either let the players quickly put together characters (should take about 15 minutes), or do the character creation beforehand and give each player one (at random is more challenging). In addition each participant will need two six-sided dice, one pen and at least one sheet of paper.

Then go forth and have fun. This is under a Creative Commons license so providing you acknowledge me as the author in situations requiring it, go ahead and do copies for your friends. I'm also happy to answer questions,  provide clarifications or help with scenario creation.

You can cut & paste the rules from below, download the PDF from my deviantART gallery here, or email me and I'll reply with the PDF version attached. There is also a printed version, on heavyweight, laminated paper, which is free - but with £1 to cover post & packing costs. Email me for details.

• One six-sided die is noted as 1d6, two as 2d6 and so on. 1d2 is achieved by rolling 1d6 and dividing the result by three, rounding up. For 1d3, divide the result by two and round up.
The Director may decide that Power is inappropriate for the setting. If so, ignore Power and all references to said.
• Characters have 7 points to allot between Physical, Mental and Power (refer to Character Statistics for limits). Luck starts at 1.

• Physical and Mental have a minimum of 1 and a maximum of 7. Power has a minimum of 0 and a maximum of 5. Luck has no limit.
• A character will have (1d6 + Mental) skills that may be as detailed or as general as is appropriate to the character’s background and the setting. These should be discussed with the Director and inappropriate skills revised to an acceptable compromise.

Attributes:   HEALTH   ENERGY
• Health is equal to (2d6 + Physical). Energy is equal to (2d6 + Mental). Power is divided evenly between the two with any remainder being added to Health.

• All actions are rolled on 2d6 and a total equal to or greater than the target number is a success. This is a Task roll. If the character has an applicable skill, the roll has the relevant Statistic added to the dice total. Thus the Task roll becomes a Physical roll (2d6 + Physical), a Mental roll (2d6 + Mental) or a Power roll (2d6 + Power).
• Actions have a standard target number of 8, but can range from 4 to 15 depending on the difficulty of the action and the conditions it is being attempted under.
• Regardless of Luck use or target number, a roll of 2 (double 1) will always fail and a roll of 12 (double 6) will always succeed.
• Any character may attempt to avoid an action that is ‘aimed’ at them. They add their Physical or Mental (as appropriate) to the attacker’s target number.
• If two people are contesting (resisting) an action, both make task rolls modified for their skills if applicable. The highest wins; ties either go to the defender, or produce no change in the situation.

• 1 Luck is gained whenever a double, except double 1, is rolled on a Task, Physical, Mental or Power roll.
• 1 Luck can be used to convert a failure into a success. (Except for a roll of 2.)
• 1 Luck can be used to avoid a fatality. An event that would kill the character instead leaves the character unconscious with 1 Energy, 0 Health and 0 Luck. At the Director’s discretion, a character with no Luck to use may be saved by other characters in the group expending 2 Luck in total (i.e. One other character expending 2 or two others expending 1 apiece).

• This is the character’s supernatural capability, be it magic, psionics, etc. The character should define the general nature of the abilities, and the desired results from their use. The Director will then decide the amount of Energy expended and the target number for the Power roll, possibly varying them for each ability.
• Minor usages of a character’s capability may be done with no Energy cost at the Director’s discretion.
• Damage to Health or Energy may be done at the rate of 2 in any combination for each Energy spent (2 health, 2 Energy or 1 of each).
• The base range is touch. Being able to perform an effect at range costs 1 Energy per 10 metres and makes the Power roll an aimed action that may be avoided.
• If a character is out of Energy, they may draw from their Health at the rate of 2 Health for 1 Energy.

• This is always divided evenly between Health and Energy, with any remainder being subtracted from Health.
• A character with zero Energy is extremely tired. A character with zero Health is unconscious. When both attributes are zero, the character will die. If an attempt to revive the character is made, a single Luck roll (see below) with a target of 12 is permitted. If successful, the character is alive with 1 Energy, 0 Health and 0 Luck.
• Characters with a Physical of 4 or more add 1 damage per point over 4 when in unarmed or melee combat.
• Cutlery and related small items cause 1. Brawling actions cause 1d2.
Trained unarmed combat, small guns, short or hunting bows and daggers cause 1d3.
Automatic small guns, big guns, shotguns, crossbows, longbows and medieval melee weapons cause 1d6. Automatic big guns, grenades and medieval two-handed weapons cause 2d6.
Light artillery and similar weapons cause 3d6.
Bombs and other 'demolition class' destructive devices cause a minimum of 4d6.
• Furniture, vehicles and falling cause a minimum of 1d6, increasing with the weight and speed (which may also include distance travelled).
• Drowning, poisoning and similar forms of slow death reduce Health and Energy by 1 point of each per minute.
• Fires and related nastiness (acid, intense cold etc) depend on ferocity: 1d3 for a gas fire, up to 6d6 for escaping an inferno.
• All damage is cumulative.

• Characters heal at the rate of 1 attribute point per hour unless the Director deems the injury requiring a longer recovery time.
• Supernatural abilities can be used to restore Health (3 for each Energy used), Energy (1 for each Energy used) or any Statistic except Luck (1 for every 5 Energy used).

• To decide who goes first in a situation, use 1d6 + (Physical or Mental as appropriate).
• To determine if a character notices or realises something, a Perception roll (2d6 + Power + Luck) is used. Base target is 10.
• The Luck roll (2d6 + Luck) is used for those moments when only chance can decide a character’s fate.
• The lack of a structured turn/time base is deliberate. The only preferred one is a real time count to enhance tense situations.
• Characters have luck points. Only major opponents should have that privilege.
• If a roll that fails gains a luck point, the point gained can be used immediately to change that result to a success. As this is considered succeeding by ‘sheer luck’, the Director may be creative while granting a positive result.

Having dodge or a similar skill is dangerous. It turns the action from a raised target number into a contested roll.

Gallant RPG by Julian M. Miles is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available. To enquire, email jmm@lothp.co.uk