First Blood is a D&D-like RPG aimed at fast, tactical play.
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README.md

First Blood

First Blood is a fantasy tabletop RPG. It’s a free-as-in-freedom project, meaning that anyone can grab a copy of the source document and improve the rules, change the wording, add images, and then print it out, just like the original.

Parsimony

The most important part of the game is mechanics, and everything revolves around speed.

Abilities

The abilities are parsimonious, providing the standard inputs and outputs, but with fewer variables. For example, ‘Deceit’ is used for both intimidation and lies, depending upon what it’s paired with. This gives Player Characters different scores for intimidating and lying, but with fewer skills to keep track of:

Strength (2) Dexterity (-1) Speed (0) Intelligence (1) Wits (-1) Charisma (1)
Academics +1 giving a speech to a large crowd: 3 binding books: 0 sorting coins: 1 remembering facts: 2 outsmarting someone: 0 storytelling: 2
Deceit +3 intimidating an opponent: 5 sliding a knife up to someone’s neck unnoticed: 2 charging at someone to intimidate them: 3 crafting a clever ruse: 4 coming up with a quick lie: 2 making a false friend: 4
Vigilance +3 keeping watch all night: 5 finding a hidden door in the darkness: 2 racing through town to find a missing mage: 3 investigating a murder scene: 4 noticing an assassin lying in wait: 2 finding which gentleman at court has a problem with the Duke: 4

No Class

Players put their XP wherever they like, so there are no charts for what has to be bought next, and no levelling system. A fighter is just someone with a good Combat score, and a Paladin is just a fighter with a little devine magic.

Background as Stories

No backstory required, the game just starts.

…but then…

  • You can’t imagine where to hunt down those bandits. You spend 1 Story Point and declare that you know a local constable from your days in the King’s Army who might know where to look for them. Soon you’re journeying South.
  • Spying the bandit’s lair, you find they’re heavily armed and dangerous. You spend 2 Story Points and declare that one of the guards in another town is a war buddy, willing to join you in battle.
  • Two stories later, the party is destitute, and in dire need of food and weapons. Spending 3 Story Points, you declare that your old war buddies and you found some loot, burried it nearby, and promised each other nobody would touch it until the heat was off, and it could be evenly distributed.

Story Points allow players to craft a story in-play, once they know the world they’re in. It also means that nobody has a boring backstory, because everything in your past is directly relevant to what you’re doing in the current adventure. You can throw all your Story Points out there at the start, declaring you have friends in high places and fabulous wealth, or play the mysterious loner until the party really needs a deus ex machina to avoid certain death.

… and most importantly, crafting a detailed backstory no longer requires any time spent.

Character Creation

Players make randomly generated characters. This stops the indecision and long reading which threatens to prevaricate a good games night by removing those decisions and the catalogue-perusal of classes and races. Typically this can produce a full table of new characters in about fifteen minutes.

The book contains decision-based character creation as a set of alternative rules, rather than a default.

Tactics

Combat starts! You can put your combat-points into Strike to hit opponents better, or Evasion to stay safe. You decide to go for Strike as bandits spring from the bushes, then roll for Initiative.

The Count Health Actions
Initiative 9 8 HP, 10 FP You spend 2 Initiative to protect the priest from harm
Initiative 8 8 HP, 10 FP The bandits spend 2 Initiative to move towards you. The priest spends 6 Initiative to attack with a staff.
Initiative 7 8 HP, 10 FP You spend 6 Initiative to attack, and slash a bandit’s arm open.
Initiative 6 8 HP, 2 FP 2 bandits attack with knives, costing 4 Initiative. Another two attack with swords, costing 6 Initiative. You roll to defend against each one, but they hit, and you lose 8 Fate Points.
Initiative 5 8 HP, 2 FP Your companion spends 6 Initiative to attack with an axe, and finishes off the bandit you wounded.
Initiative 4 8 HP, 2 FP
Initiative 3 8 HP, 2 FP
Initiative 2 6 HP, 0 FP The two bandits with knives attack again. The priest spends 6 Initiative and knocks one over the head, but not before you get 4 Damage and a nasty wound on the arm.
Initiative 1 6 HP, 0 FP You throw down a final attack for 6 Initiative and kill another of the bandits.

The round ends, a new one starts, and this time you decide to go defensive. Once the battle’s over you get back 4 Fate Points, putting you on 6 HP, and 4 FP.

Multiprocessing

As you can see, players roll to defend attacks rather than a GM rolling to attack. This keep things moving fast, even when there are 6 attackers for every player.

Fatepoints

Nobody magically heals, so wounds stick around for the duration of the game. To level the dangers, players get a number of Fate points, which they can lose instead of hitpoints. Fate points heal quickly, while Hitpoints do not.

Healing Fate points after an encounter means players don’t constantly fear death after a single wound, but still have to carry that wound. It also provides a plausible fear-mechanic, as players with few Fate points have a good reason to fear for their characters.

Setting

Bog standard fantasy world. Sue me.

Magic

Spellcasters spend Mana to cast spells. They generally have 2-6 points of Mana and a few types of spells, so you can avoid extended book-keeping.

A caster with Aldaron 2 and Fate 3 would have the following spells to choose from. Level 1 spells cost 1 Mana Point, and level 2 spells cost 2 Mana Points.

Level Fate Aldaron
1 Curse an enemy or ask for divine guidance. Calm an animal.
2 Heal a companion’s Fate Points. Summon mist. Create blinding light. Freeze water.
3 Request minor devine intervention. Boost someone’s luck.

Larger World

Adventures in Fenestra contains a GM’s guide, Bestiary, a setting, and mini-adventures.

Project Notes

LaTeX

This thing’s written in LaTeX, a magical document format where you describe the layout to the computer, then the computer does the layout for you. Last time this was written the persistent revisions added up to months of formating and reformating. If you ever need to write a long work involving anything more than a series of words: do yourself a favour and learn LaTeX. The basics just take an afternoon.

Art

Did you know that git can diff svg images? Not only that, with a little feneggling, git can merge two different changes to art. I can’t envision artists getting terribly excited about this, but that’s not going to stop me getting excited about it.

Joining

Join me!

You can join by:

  • Emailing complaints to incoming+andonome-first-blood-12979042-issue-@incoming.gitlab.com.

  • Playtesting.

  • Feedback on the Latex code.

  • Contributing art (svg is preferred).

  • Writing to me, and if you like how the book’s going, join as a dev.

  • Or if you don’t like how I’m handling the book, fork it and make your own.