Thursday, April 30, 2009


So what's this Arcade ruleset? It's not a tabletop game, neither a wargame; it's a generic game system intended to be used in roleplaying games. I'm not going to bother to explain the differences of these three types of games, as I take for granted that anyone visiting a blog called Role 'n' Roll already knows that. Yet, even though Arcade is a rpg, it wouldn't be difficult to be used for some fast tabletop dungeoning, akin to Heroquest. After all, its combat system is indirectly derived from said game, and it would be dead easy just to focus on that part and not use the other roleplaying parts. Similarly it could be used for skirmish level wargames, but I'm not sure how well things would go.

And what do you need to play it? Nothing too fancy, just what you would expect from any rpg out there. Some paper for character sheets, pens and erasers. Some six-sided dice, too: some standard, and some special combat and skill dice (examples in forecoming articles). And minis. After years of roleplaying I've found minis are a great aid in rpgs. In the Arcade case, the rules have been created with the use of minis in mind. Yet, if you don't want to buy and store a load of minis, paper tokens are equally as useful, and infinitely cheaper, and you can print them "on demand". Anyway I recommend the use of minis at least for the Player Characters, because I honestly think they help players focus on their characters. And they are cool. Finally, an erasable battlemap and some tokens would be very useful; Em4miniatures sells both of them in their web store (combat mats and eldritch gems). And not, I don't get paid for saying this. :P

As you will soon see, Arcade has been developed with simplicity in mind. I like saying it's a fool-proof game system; with the biggest fool being myself. From the very beginning I've had this goal in mind: the Arcade rules should be explained and understood in 10-15 minutes, and mastered after one single game session. In fact, that's why I've chosen the name "Arcade", taken from videogames, and opposed to "simulator". You won't be able to recreate the subtle nuances of hundreds of different combat styles, or tune a monster to have the weirdest genealogy ever. Everything is kept to a minimun: for example, in the Ajsalium setting, there are just three types of armour: light, medium or heavy. Or in the Necronomicon setting, small firearms are reduced to revolver or gun. But with these rules you won't have to keep track of dozens of modifiers, and you'll have ready-made characters sheets; if you're the Game Master, preparing an adventure should take little more than writing down the complete plot and scenes, deciding some difficulties and copying some stats. The key idea is that time should be spent designing an interesting plot and playing it, not dwelling with rules.

That said, next we'll have a look at the character sheet, so that we begin to properly delve in the ruleset.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


First of all, and before I begin describing the basis of this ruleset, due credits where credits are due.

The game system I'm working on is actually an expansion of the sketch rules created by Andy Foster (Heresy Miniatures) for his "Netherhells" game (link for that embryo). These are based on Heroquest, and as that game they are intended for a boardgame. Yet I saw a lot of potential for true rpgs, just by adding some rules for skills, and different levels for heroes.

Then I came across Pelgrane Press' "Trail of Cthulhu" game, which was like a gust of fresh air in the modern investigative games, and just one step beyond the purely narrative games. That gave me a lot of food for thought regarding what simple rule systems could achieve.

I also put my hands on Margaret Weiss Productions' "Serenity" and "Battlestar Galactica", two rpgs that shared the same rules system, called "codex", which added yet another elegant simple rule system, this time for a science fiction setting, and not too dissimilar to what was already on my mind.

So I was left there, somewhat dazed and confused with so many inputs, wondering how could I turn all that into a single coherent system. Then I lost steam and got derailed by other things for some months. Finally I decided to take this project back on track, and it appears that my subconscious mind had been working on it all this time, as I promptly realized that it was pretty easy to merge the three systems I've mentioned.

What will follow is an hybrid, maybe abominable but hopefully fun.

Friday, April 10, 2009


It's the XXV century and human civilization has spread all over eight solar systems; but it's in turmoil. There are constant political and economical tensions, as the eight systems' resources are predated, far from enough to support a race as consuming as ours.

And you just can't go and claim more systems. Mankind is just the youngest race to have been accepted in the Pact of Major Races. Older ones already own any worthy system; it was hard enough to find those eight, and severely terraform planets for almost a century till they were habitable. The observance of said Pact is feeble, and any attempt to colonize an alien system, even if abandoned, could be used as an excuse for war.

And with Earth's totalitarian ways of directing the politics of the seven colonies independentism is growing strong. A tendency fueled by alien races that bear grudges on us, and conspirate to throw us into a devastating civil war.

Yet, despite all the problems, or maybe propitiated by them, there are plenty of opportunities for adventure. Those brave and audacious enough, will make a difference, either for the good of mankind or for their own wealth.

Monday, April 6, 2009


Here. Now. Rationality and science have finally triumphed over superstition and myth. The amazing advancements of science during the whole XX century has broaden our knowledge of the universe and its laws. And what we still don't know, we know that we'll know, as reason provides us with everything needed. All will be apprehended by these means.

If only it were true...

But it's not. There's more to reality that what can be measured. We may turn our backs ob the stuff of myths, but they won't turn theirs on us. In fact, somewhere, somewhen, some things look upon us and grin wildly. They have existed forever, they are older than time itself, and will outlive it. What transcend of them to our reality is what gave birth to horrid myths, the nightmares that fools wrote down in dark tomes of superstitious lore. And what was once, will be again, for they are not dead those who can eternal lie.

The more confident we are in our reason, the weaker we become to resist them. Only by accepting that the things that cannot be are, there's a small possibility to fight them back to wherever and whenever they belong, and free our world from their corrupting influence.


Ajsalium is a world with a hell of a problem. Literally.

Millennia ago, a divine clash created a vortex through which an immense horde of fiends entered Ajsalium, ready to conquer it. Elves, dwarves and men allied against them, but were unable to push back the infernal tide. Dragons joined the mortals centuries later, and only thanks to them could the balance of war be reversed, and victory be claimed. But the price was high, as ever since the end of the Long War elves, dwarves and dragons are headed towards extinction.

Only men thrived, and are now the proud and undisputed masters of the world. But maybe they are too proud, and maybed there's some dispute after all. Fiends had been defeated, but not vanquished, as they retreated to the inner bowels of the world, to hell. From there they have been tempting mortals to their cause, giving them power and eventually new immortal fiendish lives. What could not be conquered by strength is now being mined through stealth and corruption.

Everyday, with each corrupted man, the time for a new war is getting closer. It's up to lonely heroes to discover the machinations of darkness and battle their minions, for the fate of the world is at stake.