Core Roleplaying System
© Postmortem Studios (James Desborough) 2008
All content by James ‘Grim’ Desborough


Intro Xpress System

your own. The Xpress system is freely available for use by anyone in personal or professional projects and this overwrites the previous permissions information in prior products. You may use the Xpress system for anything you wish provided that you mention Postmortem Studios by name and include a link to our website in your product.

The Xpress System is designed to be a modular set of ‘generic’ roleplaying rules with variable ‘plug and play’ options. Each rule is designed to be supplemented or swapped out by additional or replacement rules. While some of these will be stylistic alterations for different genres it will also allow you to build your own version of the rules suited to your own particular preference in gaming and depth of rules. For this reason permission is given to print out and mix pages from any Xpress products or, in the case of print purchase, to photocopy any rules pages for personal use or to supply players with streamlined copies of the rules for their own use. The basic Xpress rules presented in this document are desgned and scaled for a modern game with a strong level of lethality. These core rules are presented free of charge but supplementary rules packs will command a minimal fee. You can also supplement your rules by purchasing Xpress powered products such as @ctiv8 and ‘45: Psychobilly Retropocalypse - though almost all the rules presented in this core package can be found in one or the other. Suggested changes and additions, merits, flaws and other ideas can be sent to Postmortem Studios via: grim@postmort.demon. The Xpress System is designed, as much as possible, to be a one-roll game with a quick resolution mechanic providing for scalable levels of success. This assists GMs in describing the outcomes of rolls and events while also allowing for a relatively streamlined mode of play. Xpress uses dice pools because the number of dice you pick up creates an immediate indication and physical feel for how good a character is at something as well as providing a ‘horror’ factor in players once they see how many dice their opponents can use. Re-rolling is also an integral mechanic, backing up the physical number of dice with another ‘feel good’ factor in the play of the game. Specialisations, merits and flaws allow deeper character customisation and a greater feel for a character, something which can be lacking in ruleslight games. Rather than an exhaustive list of merits and flaws the core game provides rules for creating

Postmortem Studios is the ‘independent label’ imprint of Origin’s Award Winning RPG author James ‘Grim’ Desborough, author of The Munchkin’s Guide to Powergaming and numerous other titles for various gaming companies. Postmortem Studios has existed, unofficially, for some time but was formed into an official company in 2004 and has produced several successful PDF works in that time from the, much imitated 100 Adventure Seeds books to the controversial card game, Hentacle. Postmortem Studios goes from strength to strength and hopes to build on 2004’s success with more quality PDF products for role-players everywhere.

Postmortem Studios

Piracy Plea

I am not a large multinational software corporation; I am not even a ‘big player’ in terms of money in the RPG scene. I do not make a great deal of money producing PDFs and what I do make, I need. It is fairly likely that this book will turn up on file-sharing networks, hosted on web pages or available for download through a newsgroup. If you get the file and like what you read please consider buying a legitimate copy from and I promise to keep writing. Thank you.

Rule Zero

Whatever else you do, enjoy it.


Rule1 Rule 1 - Core Mechanic

The basic, core dice convention of the game, rolled to perform actions with a reasonable amount of challenge is as follows. Roll a number of dice, equal to the relevant statistic, trying to roll the same or greater than the target number determined by your skill. Re-roll any dice that succeed, once, and count these successes towards your total. If you have no skill in the task being attempted you do not re-roll your successes.

Hard Rules The rating in the appropriate statistic determines how many dice are rolled. Statistics for normal people are rated between one and five, three being the human average. Skill levels are also rated between one and five. The level of the skill determines the target number and re-roll threshold required on the dice rolled.
Skill 0 1 2 3 4 5 Target Number 6 6 5-6 4-6 3-6 2-6 Reroll? No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Straight statistic rolls are made as though the skill level were also equal to the stat. If you have a skill that reflects your ability to perform a ‘Straight’ roll but is lower than your statistic then it still affects your roll, but only by providing the re-roll threshold. Skill Roll Example Jemima is trying to outrun some guard dogs which are pursuing her. She has a strength of 2 and an athletics skill of 2. She rolls two dice against a target of 5-6 and may re-roll any successes she does get, once. She scores no successes and, unless the guard dogs similarly fail she may well end up getting bitten. Statistic Roll Example Duane has a strength of 3. He rolls 3 dice against a target of 4-6 but may not re-roll any successes he gets. He scores two successes and minorly strains himself bending back some fencing. Straight Roll with Skill Tony is trying to dodge a blow from an axe by rolling away from it. He has a speed of three and a dodge skill at one. Normally he would roll three dice against a target of 4-6 with no re-rolls, with his skill however he still rolls against 4-6 but can re-roll sixes.

When you score a number of successes these determine the results of what you are trying to achieve. Reference the number of successes to the following table to determine how well something was done.
Successes All ‘1’s’ 0 1 2 3 4 5 6+ Results Botch/irrecoverable failure Failure Marginal Success Poor Success Average Success Good Success Excellent Success Exceptional Success

Result Examples Botch: Snapping your lock pick in the lock, breaking the pick and the lock, you’d need to find another method of entry and can’t continue to try to pick the lock. Drilling it might be allowed. Marginal Success: You succeed, but with a setback of some kind. For example, you leap from roof to roof but slip and are now just barely holding onto the edge of the roof of the second building. Excellent/Exceptional Success: You succceed, but with an added bonus of some sort. You repair the engine in half the normal time, you shoot through a weak point in the armour, you duck down a side alley and get some extra distance from your pursuers.

Rule 2

Rule 2 Rule 2 – Complications

Difficulty or ease of a task shifts your target up and down the skill/target number table. Difficulty or ease ranges +/- 5 though most tasks should remain at their normal level in most circumstances. Difficulty that takes the player off the top of the chart reduces the number of dice rolled, ease that takes it off the bottom of the chart adds additional dice to be rolled. You can be reduced to zero dice which renders you unable to make the attempt. Something must be done to mitigate the difficulty before you can even try to accomplish the action you are attempting. A general guideline is to affect the roll by a -1 penalty for each, individual problem that can affect the roll or to add +1 for each factor that can make it easier. Larger or more difficult tasks may incur larger penalties. Specialisations add an additional dice for each specialisation that applies (within the skill being used) to the situation. When two people are vying over something or one is trying to counteract the actions of another the designated ‘defender’ rolls first and their result is counted as a penalty against the ‘aggressor’. Penalty Example Rutger is attempting to pick a lock, it’s a Yale lock which is more difficult than a standard lock to pick, plus its raining really hard on him. The GM assigns him a -2 skill level difficulty. Rutger is an average lockpicker with a Dex of 3 and a lockpick skill of three, normally he rolls 3 dice with a target/reroll of 4-6. Now he’s reduced to a target of 6 but retains all three dice. Rutger manages a single success and picks the lock, but makes a lot of noise doing so…

Bonus Example Madge is going through the files at her office trying to find some discrepancies that she suspects she may have missed before on a more casual look. The GM decides that since this is her business and she has total file access and can spend as much time as she likes looking at it, she gets a +2 bonus. She has a Perception of 3 and a Business skill of 3, her normal target is 4-6 on 3 dice. With the +2 she only needs 2-6 but still only rolls 3 dice. She rolls and gets 6 successes, an exceptional roll. Not only does she find the discrepancies but the GM decides she finds out who has been falsifying records… Specialisation Example Jamie spent some time in the regular army and, as such, has a Dexterity of 3, a firearms of 3 and the focus ‘Rifle’. He is on the shooting range, trying to impress some people with his skill. Lining up on the target he rolls three dice, plus one for his specialisation making four dice, against a target of 4-6. He scores four successes, a good, solid hit near the centre of the target. Vying With Another Later Jamie finds himself in real combat. After a short scuffle with some robbers one of them tries to flee. Jamie takes up his rifle and aims at the fleeing figure, trying to bring him down. The robber is on the defensive and has a Speed of 3. Normally he would roll three dice against a target of 4-6 but the GM rules that open ground has no cover and that dodging bullets is at -2. Now he can only roll one dice needing a 6. The robber gets no successes. Jamie is free to fire without penalty. Jamie only scores one success regardless, winging the fleeing man but barely.

Rule 3

Rule 3 Rule 3 Character Creation

In order to play you will need a character. Characters in the core version of Xpress are relatively normal people, not superhumans, though they may be experts at a particularly useful or esoteric skill they should have a reasonably rounded portfolio of skills and abilities. Typical characters may fall into one of these categories… • Expert: The expert is really, really good at something. They may be someone who is consulted regularly or a field expert. Either way they are masters of their chosen craft and gifted with a rare talent as well as the willingness to use it to create change. Sponsor: Sponsors are characters who provide funding and, or political and social clout for a group. They may be simply rich, they may be illegal gun dealers, drug dealers or people with access to special materials, uniforms or any other thing that the group might need. They are often, however, not content with simply supplying funds and material and want to get involved on the ground. Soldier: Sooner or later things are going to degenerate into a dust up and the soldier, whether a gun wielding mobster, a martial arts expert or a nightclub bounder, is someone you want on your side. ‘Wizard’: The wizard has a specialist area of expertise that can seem like magic to ordinary people. They might be a hacker, a stage magician, a scientist or have exepertise in some other narrow, but very useful, field.

Criminal: Most adventures in RPGs lend themselves to a little criminality, a little bit of chancing, thieving or stealing and a character on the outside of the law can find themselves very much inside the needs of a group.

Rule 3a – Statistics

Rule 3a
is to get the notes from inside. She steels herself and tries to marshal the will to go in. She rolls her resolve straight to try and overcome her fear. Dexterity Dexterity represents your fine motor control. How good you are at performing fiddly and precise tasks with your hands, putting together components and placing things with accuracy. Dexterity relates to tasks such as shooting, picking locks or putting together technical items. Example: Kevin is trying to quickly enter a fast key combination into a computerised controller to shut down the system. He remembers the sequence but it is a long and complex sequence and he’s under great pressure and time constraints. He makes a straight dexterity roll to try and punch it in right. Intelligence Intelligence represents your mind’s ‘processing power’. A high intelligence allows you to remember and connect facts and to solve logical problems. Intelligence is used for reasoning, recollection and innovative thought. Example: Michelle is trying to quickly piece together some disparate and half finished pieces of code into a working encryption program that she hadn’t planned on getting into a working state for a year. She rolls her intelligence based on her computing skill. Perception Perception is the ability to pick out patterns, to spot when something is amiss and also somewhat measures the overall fidelity of a person’s senses. Perception may be used to pick up clues, spot a pattern in collected evidence or, somewhat, to pick up on subtle hints and clues that might otherwise be termed ‘6th sense’. Example: Xiang is trying to creep down a street in a warzone to get to some airdropped food supplies that have fallen in the wrong place. There is a sniper watching the streets in this area and Xiang may come under attack unless he spots them. A straight perception check is made to try and spot the hiding gunman.

Statistics represent the raw physical, mental and social ability of a character without the refinement of skills. Each statistic ranges, in a normal human being, from one, to five, with three representing the adult human average in a statistic.

Statistic Descriptions
Statistic Level 1 2 3 4 5

Description Feeble Weak Average Strong Olympian

Charm Charm represents your ability to persuade others, it is your innate charisma, your magnetism, your charm and your presence. Charm is used for persuading others to your point of view, for seduction and winning people over smoothly. Example: Erin is trying to leave a good impression with the check in desk clerk at her hotel, in case she needs a favour later. She has a charm of four and is just trying to create a good impression, not force anything. She rolles her charm, with four as the skill level as well, unopposed. Control Control is ‘command presence’. It is the ability to control rather than to persuade others through the power of your voice and personality. Control is what a drill sergeant uses to bring new recruits into line, it is intimidation and natural authority all rolled into one. Example: Darren is trying to shout down an armed response officer from shooting at a suspect he knows is unarmed and not guilty of the crime. He rolls his control stat via his command skill, competing with the policeman’s commanding officer to affect his judgement. Resolve Resolve reflects your ability to set your mind to something, prepared resistance and the overcoming of things like pain. Resolve would be used to reach into a fire to pick something out or to carry on regardless of emotional pain or physical injury that would otherwise be incapacitating. Example: Justine knows that the seemingly harmless shed is full of dangerous radioactivity. The only way they can find out exactly what is going on though,

Rule 3a
Resilience Resilience is your physical toughness, resistance to harm and ability to withstand pain and shock on a purely physical level. Someone with a high resilience has good health, a strong immune system and good resistance to poison and toxins. Someone with high resilience will tend to resist or bounce back from illness without being as affected as others. Example: Adam is bitten by an adder, a not very poisonous snake. He must make a straight resilience check not to suffer too badly from the bite, though he’ll suffer a headache at least from the weak venom, if nothing more serious. Resistance Resistance represents inherent strength of character and mind. Rather than the active flexing of willpower represented by resolve, resistance provides for a strong sense of ‘self’ that enables a character to resist seduction, mind control, flattery and other actions that may make them act out of character. Example: Dmitri is trying to convince an office receptionist to knock off work early, ostensibly to go for a drink with him but also so that his compatriots can sneak into the building while she’s distracted. She resists with a straight resistance roll. Speed The speed statistic is a measure not of sprinting or movement speed but of reflexes and reaction times. Speed determines how quickly one can physically respond to a changing environment and circumstances. Speed might be used to determine who draws their gun first, to catch a fastball or to avoid a punch. Example: A knife is thrown at Jareb. Under the influence of drink and hazy recollections of Big Trouble in Little China he attempts to catch the knife. The GM determines that against Jareb’s Speed of four and his Athletics of 2 is counted the fact that the knife has been thrown pretty hard and is a pointed object, penalising his roll by 2. Jareb ends up with a pointy reminder not to believe everything he sees in films. Strength Strength is a measure of raw physical power, the muscle mass and exertion necessary to provide force with one’s body. Strength is a measure of general physical strength and so can apply equally to sprinters, weightlifters or other very fit people. A GM should consider the type of strength the character has and modify rolls accordingly as they see fit. Example: With no time to spare and a flat tyre, Eddy tries to lift the car long enough for a tyre change to be done. Considering the weight and time, even though it is a compact vehicle the GM applies a penalty of -2. Eddy rolls his strength and lifts the car, holding it in place with ease. Statistic Pairing Each statistic is part of a pair of related statistics. Very loosely, one of a pair can be considered active and the other passive. One requires an action to be exerted and the other is more reactive, used to respond to something happening to the character. When you are creating your character you must ensure that each pairing is within two points of each other. For example, you could have a strength of three and a resilience of five, but you could not have a dexterity of one and a speed of four.

Statistic Pairings
Active Statistic Strength Dexterity Intelligence Charm Resolve

Passive Statistic Resilience Speed Perception Control Resistance

Rule 3b – Skills and Focus

Rule 3b
You can also buy several foci under a single skill should you so wish. For example, someone with comprehensive British army training might have a firearms skill that would read on their sheet like so…
Skill Firearms Focus One Rifle Pistol Machinegun Focus Two SA80 SLR Browning HP GPMG Focus Two Loner Type Wheat Skyscrapers Impressionism Landscapes 100m sprint Key Lime Market trends Slapstick Graphics Cards Word Improvised Ergonomics Hostages Punches Formula One Stocks Colt .45 Ghost Stories Poker Bonsai Shelves Geriatrics Second Dynasty Funnies Shouting Rapier Satirical Games Java Hyundai Particular Breed Shibari Ornithology Particles English Tricks Sitcoms Science Fiction

Skills are also described in a rating between one and five with a level three skill representing the ability level of someone who does that skill for a living, albeit unremarkably. Skill levels combine with a statistic, appropriate to the task in hand, for rolls made to perform tasks as described in Rule 1. Skills in @ctiv8 are, at their base definition, quite broad in scope and players should be allowed to choose their own skills and definitions as they wish, with GM discretion. A short list of suggested skills, and potential focus levels, appears at the end of this section. Skills have an additional factor called ‘focus’. Focus represents a tighter level of expertise and familiarity with a task, beyond or tightened down from that area described by the greater skill. Someone who has a skill as an athlete might have a focus of running. Each focus can also have a second level of focus, representing an even tighter concentration of that skill. In the athlete example this might be ‘One hundred metre sprint’. On the character sheet this might be expressed as… Athlete/Running/100m Sprint: 3 Each level of focus provides an additional dice to be rolled when performing a task related precisely to that focus. Assuming our athlete has a strength of 3 she would make the following rolls… Climbing a wall: Strength 3, Skill 3, 3 dice with a target of 4-6. Running away from pursuing dogs: Strength 3, Skill 3, Focus ‘Running’, 4 dice with a target of 4-6. Running a 100m sprint race: Strength 3, Skill 3, Focus ‘Running’ and ‘100m sprint’, 5 dice with a target of 4-6. Buying focus is cheaper than buying additional skill levels and so allows for focussed expertise without necessarily being all-round competent at everything.

Example Skills
Skill Acting Agriculture Architect Art Art Athletics Baking Business Comedy Comp. Hardware Computer Use Demolitions Design Diplomacy Dodge Driving Finance Firearms Folklore Gambling Gardening Handyman Healthcare History Illustration Intimidation Melee Poetry Programming Programming Repair Riding Rope Tying Science Science Teaching Train Animals Trivia Writing

Focus One Method Acting Farming Commercial Painting Watercolour Running Pies Investment Physical Installation Windows Bomb Making Gadgets Negotiation Hand to hand Cars Investment Pistol Britain Cards Trees Carpentry Physio Egyptian Comics Authoritarian Swords Comedic Java Web Based Cars Horse Riding Bondage Biology Physics Secondary Level Dogs Television Short Stories

Rule 3c Rule 3c Stat/Skill/Focus costs

When creating your character you have sixty points to spend on statistics and seventy points to spend on skills. You should spend as close to your total as you possibly can though any leftover points can be spent on the other category. You can also spend points gained from flaws on statistics or skills, should you have enough. The costs are, however, not straightforward. There is an ascending cost level associated with purchasing higher level abilities, reflecting the devotion and neglect of other areas required to excel in a particular field. The costs are as follows… Statistic/Skill
1 2 3 4 5 First Level of Focus Second Level of Focus

Skill Purchasing Example Dylan is determined to have been a former Royal Marine and as such his skill spending needs to reflect that training. Dylan ends up with the following skills… 2 Observation 3 Athletics 3 Drive/Cars/Landrover 3 Firearms /Rifle/SA80 /Machinegun/Browning HMG 3 Heavy Weapons 3 Close Combat/Knife 3 Survival/Mountains This costs him 72 points in total, he will need to pick up at least one extra point from flaws.

1 3 6 10 15 3 6

Statistic Purchasing Example Dylan is going to be a fairly athletic and rugged person and so his player decides he is going to emphasise the physical over the mental attributes. He gives Dylan… Strength 4/Resilience 4 Dexterity 3/Speed 3 Intelligence 2/Perception 3 Charm 2/Control 3 Resolve 3/Resistance 2 This costs a total of 59 points, leaving him one to carry over to skills.

Rule 3d - Merits & Flaws

Rule 3d
A pool activation gives a pool of points, between one and three, that can be spent during the game to provide bonuses or applied by the GM to cause penalties. Rare/Pool activation – x1 cost Frequent activation – x2 cost Common activation – x3 cost Constant activation – x4 cost Example Flaw Bill is terribly short-sighted without his glasses. He has a medium drawback with rare activation. He gets 2 points back to spend on other things. Example Merit Mary is very Intuitive, this will give her +2 ease for feeling out people’s emotions and influence her choice in ‘guesses’ during the game. The GM determines that this is a medium bonus with common activation. This will cost her 9 points out of her stat or skill pool, or some flaws.

A merit is a quirk or exceptional characteristic of a person that puts them a cut above the rest in some aspect of their being. They might have particularly acute sight, be especially lucky or have a precocious amount of natural talent in some form or another. A flaw is an inherent drawback or weakness of mind, body or personality that afflicts the character and prevents them acting to their full potential in certain circumstances. Xpress does not contain a comprehensive list of merits and flaws, though some are suggested at the end of this section. Instead you will find guidelines for creating your own, allowing you a greater degree of flexibility in creating your characters. The points gained by flaws should, generally, go on a compensating or complimentary merit or set of skills. For example, someone suffering from short-sightedness may have become shortsighted from peering and squinting at fine print or reading a great deal. Thusly the points they gain may well end up in some sort of literacy or language based skill. Merits and flaws exist at three levels of strength, minor, medium and major. A minor drawback/bonus is +/- 1 level of ease or difficulty, or is a non-mechanical bonus or drawback determined by the GM. It is worth 1 point. A medium drawback/bonus is +/- 2 levels of ease or difficulty, or is a non-mechanical bonus or drawback determined by the GM. It is worth 2 points. A major drawback/bonus is +/- 3 levels of ease or difficulty, or is a non-mechanical bonus or drawback determined by the GM. It is worth 3 points. The cost of the merit or the extra points granted by the flaw are modified by how frequently that merit or flaw will come into play.

Rule 3e Rule 3e – Character Improvement

At the end of every session the characters are given an Improvement Point (IP). Improvement points may be spent to improve a character and can be traded in between sessions, in appropriate in character time to represent training or honed skill or knowledge. In order to improve a Statistic or Skill you must consult the character creation charts and the cost in Improvement Points to advance your character is the same as during character creation. Example The singer, Chantalle, has five Improvement Points saved up and wishes to improve her singing skill from four, to five. This costs her all five of her Improvement Points.

Rule 4

Rule 4 Rule 4 - Combat

Conflict is a great source of dramatic tension and an involving arena of roleplay when a character’s survival or plan is on the line in a genuine life-or-death struggle. Even peaceful protestors get charged by riot police and combat need not always be about killing, it can equally be simply about defending oneself or escaping.

Combat in Xpress Core is fast and extremely deadly. Guns and knives kill and a solid punch in the nose can knock you out of the running through shock and trauma fairly easily. If you are an average person then you are going to be vulnerable to harm and tactics and caution are watchwords to live by when playing.

Rule 4a - Turn Order

Rule 4a

Initiative is the gaming term that refers to reaction time, how quickly and effectively a character can react to developments going on around them at a fast pace. Initiative is usually only relevant during combat. Your initiative score is determined by adding together your speed and perception statistics. This number should be noted down on your character sheet though you should bear in mind that it is affected by any injuries you suffer, reducing the initiative score by the wound penalty. Actions in combat are performed from the highest initiative score to the lowest, though those with higher numbers can wait to perform their actions rather than doing them immediately. This means they can interrupt the actions of others as they go to perform their own actions. If two characters have the same initiative score then the highest speed goes first. If both parties have the same speed score then the highest perception goes first. If both parties have the same perception you can toss a coin or simply allow the players to determine amongst themselves who goes first. It can be a good idea if the tie is between a non-player character and a player character to allow the player to choose first. Initiative Example David and two thugs are facing off. David has an initiative of 6, the first thug has 6 as well and the second thug 5. David and the first thug compare speed scores and the thug has a higher speed. The thug swings a punch at David but fails to connect as he dodges. David holds his action to see what the second thug will do. The second thug moves forward and swings his fist as well. David decides to interrupt, using his action to punch the exposed thug in the armpit.

Rule 4b Rule 4b Actions & Reactions

You always get an action and a reaction. An action is an attack or action that you initiate yourself, a reaction is performed in reaction to something done to you or the action of another participant. You get one, single action but you can always react to an action against or around you. Each reaction after the first is considered to be at a cumulative -1 penalty however. If you are surprised or ambushed you may not react. Typical reactions might include dodging or parrying an attack. Dodging is accomplished by making a speed check, though certain combat skills may apply. Parrying is accomplished by making the appropriate combat check. Dodging is counted against the attackers attack check. Parrying is counted against the attackers attack check unless you are parrying, unarmed, against an armed opponent, in which case it reduces damage dealt, not successes. Attempting to dodge arrows or similar projectiles is at -3, bullets at -4 and energy weapons or attacks at -5. You may only attempt to dodge such if you are aware of the person or weapon making the attack. Another possible reaction is to dive for cover. Cover inhibits attacks made against you from -1 to -5 depending how much of your body is covered. Some cover will protect against any attack while others have an armour value which will simply reduce damage dealt to you.

Rule 4bi – Attacks

Rule 4b

An attack is made against anther person by checking your appropriate combat skill against their appropriate defensive skill. If you score more successes than they do then you strike and you can determine how much damage you do by checking the damage chart later in the book. Example Malcolm and Jerome are both military trained and are facing off in a brawl using their professional knowledge of hand to hand combat techniques. Malcolm gains initiative and decides to press the attack with a vicious punch at Jerome. Malcolm scores two successes. Jerome counters with a block but only scores one success. Malcolm retains a single success, not a knock out punch but it still delivers a level of non-lethal damage to Jerome.

Rule 4b Rule 4bii – Automatic Weapons

Automatic weapons can unleash a large number of bullets in a very short space of time either delivering a devastating attack against a single opponent or spraying across several people at once. Fully automatic fire is not, however, especially accurate and is most often used for area denial, ‘spray and pray’ or attacking large groups of people. There are two types of autofire in @ctiv8, short, controlled bursts and full auto. A short burst is fired at a single target and gains both a +1 to hit and +2 to the damage dealt by the weapon. A full auto burst consumes half the typical magazine in a standard assault weapon (15 rounds or so) and can be used in one of two ways. • • It can be directed at a single target with a -1 penalty to hit but +6 damage. It can be directed at up to three targets who must each attempt to dodge separately.

Full auto fire should receive a bonus of between +1 and +3 if fired into a packed or confined group of people or a large target.

Rule 4biii – Aimed Attacks

Rule 4b

To get past armour protection or to wing and disarm without killing, or to apply crippling injuries of some description it is possible to aim for a specific body part. • • • • • • Aiming for the chest confers no penalty. Aiming for the legs confers a penalty of -1. Aiming for the head or arms confers a penalty of -2. Aiming for the hand or foot confers a penalty of -3. Aiming for a joint or the throat confers a penalty of -4. Aiming for the eye, or a similarly small area, confers a penalty of -5.

Rule 4c Rule 4c - Armour

Armour directly reduces the damage dealt by attacks. When an attack hits it will do a number of ‘levels’ of damage determined by how successful the attack was. Armour directly reduces that damage. For example a gunshot doing eight levels of damage and striking a bullet-proof vest with an armour rating of eight ends up doing no damage at all. Sometimes a character will take cover behind something that is good cover but that can be penetrated by the attacking force. Here are some typical values for cover armour…
Cover Type Wood (per inch) Brick (per layer) Concrete (per inch) Glass Double Glazing Bullet Resistant Glass Car bodywork Sheet metal A human body Armour Value 2 6 6 1 2 6 3 4 8

Every character has a ‘health bar’. The health bar shows how fit, well and whole your character is and it is eroded by such things as illness, poison or gross physical trauma from environmental damage or the attacks of another person. The health track consist of two axis’, from top to bottom is one track and from left to right is the other. You can be subjected to two kinds of damage, non-lethal and lethal. Non-lethal damage is tracked from top to bottom, filling up a track for each of your lethal health levels that span left to right. As each non-lethal set of boxes is filled up a lethal box is also filled and you shift to the next column on the right. Lethal damage tracks directly on the lethal track from left to right and fills in all the non-lethal levels above it.

Rule 4d - Health

Rule 4d

Rule 4d Rule 4di - Health Track
Your basic health track looks like this… [-1][-2][-3][-4][-5][Dead] Once the final ‘dead’ box is filled, your character is deceased and while they may, in some circumstances be revived or resuscitated in most instances they will be irrecoverably deceased. The numbers within the boxes relate to an automatic penalty incurred to all actions and initiative while at that level of wounds. Pain and physical incapacity make it harder to act, harder to concentrate and harder, in general, to perform even normal day to day tasks. In addition to these basic levels you get a number of additional no penalty health boxes equal to your resilience. An average person with a resilience of three will, therefore, have a health track like this… [ ][ ][ ][-1][-2][-3][-4][-5][Dead] This is just the lethal health track however. Nonlethal damage is expressed in boxes above each of these health boxes, a number of boxes equal to your resilience. A complete wound track for a normal person will, therefore, look like this…
[] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [-1] [] [] [] [-2] [] [] [] [-3] [] [] [] [-4] [] [] [] [-5] [] [] [] Dead

He is then kidney punched for another 2 nonlethal damage. His wound track now looks like this…
[X] [X] [X] [X] [X] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [-1] [] [] [] [-2] [] [] [] [-3] [] [] [] [-4] [] [] [] [-5] [] [] [] Dead

He is then shot with a 9mm pistol, taking 5 wound levels. Now his wound track looks like this…
[X] [X] [X] [X] [X] [X] [X] [X] [X] [X] [X] [X] [X] [X] [X] [X-1] [X] [X] [X] [X-2] [X] [X] [X] [X-3] [] [] [] [-4] [] [] [] [-5] [] [] [] Dead

Damage boxes are filled into the track in the manner shown in the following example… Example: Tommy is punched in the face for three non lethal damage. His wound track now looks like this…
[X] [X] [X] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [-1] [] [] [] [-2] [] [] [] [-3] [] [] [] [-4] [] [] [] [-5] [] [] [] Dead

Rule 4dii - Stun/Shock/Ko

Rule 4d

As well as the debilitating effects of physical damage there are also the effects of shock and the stunning effects of sudden harm to be considered. Whenever a character suffers damage from a sudden source there is a chance of them being stunned, shocked, knocked out or even dying. Whenever a character takes more damage in a single strike than their resilience score they must make a resilience check at a penalty of -1 for each additional level of damage over their resilience score. If they fail this check they are, in the case of lethal damage, out of the fight with shock or unconsciousness. With non-lethal damage they are considered stunned and unable to act or react for a single turn. If they botch the check against lethal damage they suffer cardiac arrest and will die unless resuscitated. If they botch the check against non-lethal damage they are rendered unconscious. Example Juliet is struck from behind, over the head, with a cosh. She takes five levels of non-lethal damage which is two more than her resilience. She checks her resilience (3) at a penalty of -2. Because resilience is being rolled as a skill in this case she still rolls three dice, but as though she had a skill of one, she therefore requires 6’s. She manages a single success and is not even stunned by the blow, even though it has hurt considerably. Jason is shot in the chest with a magnum. He takes seven levels of damage which nearly kills him outright. This is four more than his resilience (3) which means he rolls at a penalty of -4. In effect this only gives him two dice against a difficulty of 6. He scores no successes and falls to the ground in shock.

Rule 4e Rule 4e - Damage

Damage is expressed as levels which are marked against your health track as you suffer them and are removed from the track as you heal. The amount of levels of damage done to you by a damaging force is determined by two factors; firstly the success of the attack and secondly the strength of the attack. When an attack gets past your defences to hit you it will score a number of successes. Under normal circumstances this will be a range of successes from one to ten (in exceptional circumstances). Every weapon or damaging force has a strength level associated with it and either does lethal or non-lethal damage. Cross referencing the strength against the number of successes gives you the number of damage levels done.

Rule 4ei - Damage Table
Successes Attack Strength 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 1 0 1 1 1 2 2 2 3 3 3 4 4 4 5 5 5 6 6 6 7 2 1 1 2 3 3 4 5 5 6 7 7 8 9 9 10 11 11 12 13 13 3 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 4 1 3 4 5 7 8 9 11 12 13 15 16 17 19 20 21 23 24 25 27 5 2 3 5 7 8 10 12 13 15 17 18 20 21 23 25 27 28 30 31 33

Rule 4e

Rule 4e Rule 4eii Gauging Damage

Something that will instantly kill an average person on a typical hit will have a damage value of around 8. Close combat weapons add their bonuses to a person’s strength. A small weapon may add +3, a medium weapon may add +5 and a large weapon may add +7. Something exceptional, like a chainsaw, may add +9. For some of these weapons, bats and clubs most especially, they will do non-lethal damage.

Rule 4eiii Sources of Damage

Rule 4e

There are other sources of damage besides being struck by a weapon but all use the same damage method. Here are some typical sources of damage… Home mains electric: 5 Being set on fire: 4 per turn (After the initial attack assume the fire to have a statistic and skill of four in making its attacks). Falling: Assume a Strength and Skill level equal to the stories fallen. Each storey is equivalent to two metres of fall and terminal velocity is reached in approximately a kilometre. So, someone falling 3 storeys rolls 3 dice at a skill level of 3. Someone falling 6 storeys rolls seven dice at a skill level of 5. The Flu: The flu attacks initially with a strength and skill of three, with re-rolls. You defend with your resilience. The flu afflicts you for a number of days equal to the flu’s successes multiplied by two. Each day you have the flu you suffer a statistic and skill attack of two, resisted by your resilience, taking non-lethal damage from a strength of three. You cannot heal any of the damage until you shake off the flu.

Rule 4f Rule 4f - Healing

Just as you can be hurt so the human body attempts to heal itself. While there may be scarring or other problems associated with that healing it is generally possible, given enough time and treatment, for the human body to recover to something close to its original level of health and capability. Healing is always applied to the sub-boxes of your health levels on the non-lethal axis except in specific instances where it is applied to the lethal boxes.

Rule 4fi - Natural healing
Dead boxes at the rate of one per year. -5 boxes at one every 6 months. -4 boxes at one every 3 months. -3 boxes at one a month -2 boxes at one a week -1 boxes at one a day Healthy boxes at one an hour.

Rule 4f

You heal levels of damage you have suffered at the following rates…

Rule 4f Rule 4fii - First Aid

First aid is on-the-scene aid aimed at stabilising someone enough to get them to hospital or resuscitating them. On the scene first aid, penalised by the wound level of the victim, to a maximum of -5, allows for resuscitation and also heals a number of non-lethal boxes equal to the number of successes rolled.

Rule 4fiii - Hospital Care

Rule 4f

Hospital care allows for much better treatment and, when admitted to hospital a character receives treatment that, in effect, heals whole lethal levels. The physician in charge makes a skill check with a penalty equal to the wounded person’s wound penalty and heals a number of lethal levels, and all sub-boxes, equal to the number of successes rolled. People are then kept in hospital for observation and further healing, at the normal rate. You are generally discharged from hospital once you heal back up to the -2 health level.

Rule 5

Rule 5 - Vehicles

Rule 5

Vehicles are more resilient than people, able to take more damage and with an inherent level of ‘armour’ formed by their chassis, even if they, themselves, are considered unarmoured. Vehicles can be viewed in one of three ways. • • • As cover for the occupants. As a gross physical object. As a complex device.

@ctiv8 tries to allow for a vehicle to be all of these things while remaining relatively simple in the rules. In each instance the vehicle can be regarded as any, or all, of the above. Vehicles are, by their most basic definition, simply tools for moving from one location to another. It is the speed and efficiency with which they do so, as well as other factors such as armour, security and so on that makes a vehicle more valued and effective.

Rule 5a Rule 5a - Vehicle Damage

Vehicles absorb damage in two ways, through their armour and through their physical capacity to absorb damage before becoming a wreck. In practice these two qualities combine to produce the overall toughness of a vehicle and resistance to damage. Any vehicle is, to a large percentage, empty space and non-critical areas, allowing the vehicle to sustain a reasonable amount of trauma while continuing to operate. Vehicles, as standard, have ten damage levels with sub levels equal to their armour, but none of these incur a penalty. Standard attacks against a vehicle directly attack its structure rather than any subsystems and vehicles do not suffer any penalties this way until completely destroyed. Even then, this represents an inoperative wreck, not necessarily that the vehicle has been completely destroyed. Vehicles also have an additional three health levels for each passenger past the pilot that they are capable of carrying. This accounts for additional size and empty space in a vehicle, two factors that increase a vehicle’s survivability.

Vehicle subsystems can be individually targeted by an attacker with a penalty to their skill of between -1 and -5, depending what they are aiming at. A large part of a car such as a windscreen, engine area or similar will only impose a penalty of -1, while a smaller structure such as a headlight warrants a 5 penalty. These penalties assume that the vehicle is moving and is not a stationary and easy target. A strike against a subsystem doing more damage than double the vehicle’s armour damages that subsystem as well as doing normal damage to the vehicle. To destroy the subsystem it needs to do between one and three levels of damage, depending on the hardiness, and size, of that subsystem. Weapons that are not explicitly designed for an anti-vehicle role only do sub-box damage rather than killing damage to vehicles.

Thus an ordinary, five-seat hatchback car would have around twenty two health levels. Larger or tougher cars that do not carry any more additional passengers may have more health levels or robustness at the Games Master’s discretion. Family vehicles, minivans, trucks and four wheel drive vehicles will tend to have both more armour and more health levels by one or two. For cargo vehicles, estimate how many people could fit into the cargo area in comfort and use that to estimate the health levels of the vehicle.

Rule 5b - Vehicle Chases

Rule 5b

The aim of a vehicle chase is, generally, to shake off or destroy any pursuers and then to escape. In order to accomplish this it is normally required for the escaping vehicle to accumulate ten successes over and above those of any pursuers in order to get away. This can be done through better driving skills, accompanied by a better speed or class of vehicle, by destroying any pursuing vehicles or drivers or by shaking them off by performing stunts and other feats of driving that any pursuers might not be able to replicate. Outrunning someone, regardless of the method, is dependent on your driving skill and the vehicle itself. Being in a faster vehicle provides a bonus of +1 and the manoeuvrability of a vehicle will, generally, provide a bonus or penalty in the +1-2 or -1-2 range. Destroying vehicles depends upon firepower or ramming, both of which are covered elsewhere. Stunts are entirely at the control of the Games Master but a failure to replicate the stunt of the lead car will generally lead to them either accruing more successes to increase their lead or the pursuing vehicles crashing or otherwise having problems.

Rule 5c Rule 5c - Collisions

A vehicle is in a collision whenever it strikes a stationary object or another vehicle at speed. Collisions affect both the passengers within the vehicle and the vehicle itself, causing both of them damage. Collision damage depends on several factors, the vehicle itself, the speed of impact and the skill of the drivers, if they are under power.

The base damage of a crash is the combined speed of the two vehicles divided by five. Thus, if the collision speed was eighty miles an hour, the damage would be sixteen. The attack, if necessary, is rolled with the offending driver’s skill Vs the defending driver. If the crash is as a result of inevitability or a failed roll of some kind then assume a static object to have a skill and statistic of three with a minimum success of 1. The offending driver, anticipating the crash better and, to an extent in control of it, can reduce the damage dealt to their vehicle by an amount equal to their skill. Larger vehicles take less damage, smaller vehicles take more. Both vehicles in a crash take damage but the vehicles takes damage proportionate to the size difference. A small motorcycle, for example, will take four times as much damage as the car that strikes it, which will take one-quarter damage. The speed of a collision depends on how the cars collide… • • • • A head on ram combines the speed of the two vehicles. A rear end takes the lead cars speed away from the ramming car’s speed. A sideswipe uses half the speed of the attacking car. A t-bone just uses the speed of the attacking car.

Example Car Chase From a standing start two cars are involved in a chase, each with two people inside, a driver and a passenger. The fleeing car rolls two successes to pull away, going for flat out speed. The pursuing car also rolls two, so they are neck and neck to start with. The passenger in the fleeing car takes a shot out of the window at the pursuing car with his pistol. He scores three successes doing eight damage to the vehicle, minus its armour, five. Since the pistol is not an anti vehicle weapon this is applied to the vehicle’s sub boxes. The car loses the first of its twenty two wound levels and has suffered some damage to the second. The passenger in the pursuing car returns fire, his aim is directed at the tyres of the first car though. The Games Master rules that hitting that target is a -3 difficulty action, so he requires a six to hit, with no re-rolls. He scores one success doing three damage. This would normally be absorbed by the armour of the car but the GM rules that the tyres are unarmoured. The vehicle takes no other damage but does blow out a tyre, making it more difficult for the pursued car to escape. On the second turn, with a blown tyre and a -1 penalty to driving checks, the pursued car only scores a single success. The chase car scores three and this time, attempts to ram. Discussing the scene the GM rules that there is a 20mph difference between the speeds of the two cars at the collision, giving a damage of 4. They compare driving rolls. The defender gets none, the attacker two causing three levels of damage which are absorbed by the bodywork and bumper.

Rule 5c

Appendix Modern Equipment (Basic)
Very Light Handgun: Damage 6 Light Handgun: Damage 8 Powerful Handgun: Damage 10 Very Light Submachinegun: Damage 6 Light Submachinegun: Damage 8 (Autofire) Light Assault Rifle: Damage 10 (Autofire) Heavy Assault Rifle: Damage 12 (Autofire) Light Machinegun: Damage 12 (Autofire) Heavy Machinegun: Damage 14 (Autofire) Fragmentation Grenade: Damage 10 (-1 per yard distance). Explosive Grenade: Damage 14 (-2 per yard distance) Concussion Grenade: Damage 8 (Non-lethal) Light Antitank Weapon: Damage 20 Punch/Kick: Strength Damage Dagger/Knife: Strength +3 Damage Club: Strength +4 Damage (Non-lethal) Sword: Strength +5 Damage. Fire Axe: Strength +7 Damage Concealed Vest: Armour 8 Flak Vest: Armour 10 Full Assault Armour: Armour 12 Sports Car: Health 13, Armour 2 Compact Car: Health 19, Armour 3 Sedans: Health 22, Armour 3 Minivan/Station wagon: Health 28, Armour 3 SUV/Pickup: Health 28, Armour 4 Haulage Truck: Health 31, Armour 5 Light Army Vehicle: Health 28, Armour 6 Armoured Personnel Carrier: Health 40, Armour 8 Main Battle Tank: Health 30, Armour 12


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