Arpeegy Role Playing Game (ARPG)
Welcome to the official home of the Arpeegy Role Playing Game (ARPG) system. ARPG is a role playing game system dedicated to serious gamers and is "rule" and attribute based. This means that each character has its own unique "rule book", instead of a character sheet, and has skills that are reflections of its attributes. This also means that just about ANY existing role playing game (RPG) can be converted to the ARPG system without tedious mathematical formulas or checking charts.
ARPG's system allows this due to its unique rules writing and point distribution guidelines. Conversion of your favorite games to the ARPG system will only require imagination and a consensus between the players and game master (GM). This is one of the strongest advantages to the ARPG system because it allows you to still purchase products built for other RPG game systems and play them seamlessly with the ARPG rules. ARPG is not designed for any particular genre and can just as easily be used to play a fantasy based campaign as it can be used to play a science fiction based campaign. Finally, a game system that will not make your current RPG collection obsolete, and best of all, the ARPG system is free to use.
What is a Role Playing Game?
A role playing game could more accurately be described as a storytelling game where one player takes on the role of a narrator and the remaining players take on the roles of the main characters in the story. As the narrator tells the story, the players interact with the narrator to solve mysteries, defeat foes, vanquish evil, and generally just have a good time with their friends. A role playing game is social interaction with friends and family at its finest.
The hardest job of the game rests with the narrator, also referred to as the Game Master or GM, who must be able to prepare and weave a tale that will be captivating and fun for participating players. The GM acts as a referee within the game to describe the results of the players' chosen course of action, or to settle disputes about the rules and game mechanics among players.
By far the easiest job of the game is that of a player. A player's main job is to have fun while trying to overcome whatever obstacles the GM may place in his or her character's way. For the player's efforts, he or she will be rewarded with game points that can be used by the player to improve upon his or her character's skills. The longer a player successfully role-plays a character, the more proficient and skilled that character will become.
The term "game mechanics" refers to the rules system the players choose to use when playing a role playing game. There are many rules systems available for sale at your local game shop and a few rules systems are made available free of charge on the internet; such as the Arpeegy (ARPG) system detailed on this web site. Players generally choose a rules system that fits their style of play. Some systems are very reality based and need numerous charts and graphs to measure every possible action and reaction. Others are very casual in the application of the rules and focus more on the storytelling aspect of the game. Some game systems are based on characters acquiring new levels while others are completely skills based. Every rules system has something to offer for every kind of player. The rules system presented on this web site is one based on character attributes and rules creation. The ARPG system focuses more on playability and is designed to be simple to learn while maintaining a semblance of reality.
The thing to remember is that no game system is perfect, the Arpeegy (ARPG) system is not different in this regard, so embrace the rules that you like and change the rules you dislike until you come up with a system that works for you. Don't forget to share your changes with us as we may adopt them as official rules, or we may put up a section listing the optional rules you devised.
Many role playing games use special dice during game play to resolve certain events. ARPG is no different in this regard. The annotation used when talking about dice is "d" for die that is followed by a number. The number represents how many faces the die has on its surface. If a number comes before the "d" then that represents how many of that type of die should be rolled. Common dice used in role playing games include:
- d2 (Coin flip with heads being 1 and tails being 2) - optional in ARPG
- d4 - needed in ARPG
- d6 - needed in ARPG
- d8 - needed in ARPG
- d10 - needed in ARPG (2d10 can be used as a percentile generator with one die representing tens and one die representing ones)
- d12 - needed in ARPG
- d20 - needed in ARPG
- d34 - optional in ARPG
- d100 - useful in ARPG, but 2d10 does the same thing
To understand the ARPG system, you must first understand how important attributes are to character creation and the ARPG rules. Attributes represent the framework upon which all of the character's abilities (unique character rules) are based. There is no other game mechanism for resolving game situations. For those familiar with other role playing games, what this means is that there are no official written ARPG rules for things such as saving throws, hit points, character to hit numbers, or any other system you can think of that you may already know. The attributes do it all, sometimes in combination with unique character rules, using a system of mundane, ability, and opposed ability checks. All of these checks, and how to create abilities, will be explained later in these rules. For now, let's just say your character's attributes should not be taken lightly.
Just like in real life, the more important an attribute is to a person, or to a character for purposes of the ARPG system, then the more time he or she will devote to developing it. The more developed the attribute, then the easier it will be for that character to create, learn, and use abilities associated with that attribute.
The ARPG system uses eight attributes that will be described in detail.
Normal attributes can be used to create abilities that do not require an energy source to use. As such, the abilities associated with these attributes can be used repeatedly by the character without draining his or her energy. The limitation of these abilities is that they must fall within the normal realm of what a character could do if he or she were living in our real world. The normal attributes include.
- Aura (A) - All abilities that deal with the physical aspects of the character's world outside of his or her body are associated with this attribute. Abilities created using aura will describe how the character effects, interacts, notices, or changes his or her physical environment, to include other creatures and objects within it, not within the character's immediate grasp. Some examples would be charisma, beauty, verbal manipulation of others, diplomacy, using ranged weapons, throwing objects accurately, and perception abilities.
- Body (B) - All abilities that deal with the physical aspects of the character's body are associated with this attribute. Some examples of abilities created using body would be athletic ability, martial arts, melee weapon ability, dexterity, agility, strength, health, healing from damage, and resistance to disease to name just a few. These abilities cannot extend past what the character's physical body is capable of doing itself, within itself, or with something in its immediate grasp.
- Mind (M) - All abilities that deal with the mental aspects of the character's mind-body connection will be associated with this attribute. Some examples of abilities created using mind would be intellect, knowledge, wisdom, understanding, science, memory, and the ability to learn new things. These abilities cannot extend past what the character's mind is capable of doing within his or her physical body where the mind resides.
- Soul (S) - All abilities that deal with the non-physical aspects of the character's world will be associated with this attribute. It represents the character's mind-universe connection. Abilities created using soul may include things like inspiration, willpower, faith, beliefs, conversion, and philosophy. Soul abilities may be used to directly impact others that share the immediate vicinity of the character.
Meta attributes can be used to create abilities that require some kind of an energy source to work. As such, the abilities associated with these attributes can be used a limited number of times before they exhaust their energy source. Once the energy source is exhausted, the ability can no longer be used until the energy source is recharged.
- Meta Aura (MA) - All unnatural abilities that deal with the physical aspects of the character's world outside of his or her body are associated with this attribute. An example of an ability created using meta aura would be magic that effects other creatures or objects in the character's environment.
- Meta Body (MB) - All unnatural abilities that deal with the physical aspects of the character's own body are associated with this attribute. An example of a meta body ability would be a human character that is able to quickly regenerate a lost limb. Another example would be a character with the ability to change his or her shape.
- Meta Mind (MM) - All unnatural abilities that deal with the mental aspects of the character's mind, or any mind within the character's physical environment, to include extra-sensory perceptions will be associated with this attribute. An example of a meta mind ability would be telepathy.
- Meta Soul (MS) - All unnatural abilities that deal with the non-physical aspects of the character's universe will be associated with this attribute. An example of a meta soul ability would be exorcising or turning the non-material, or spiritual, component of an undead creature in order to repel or destroy it.
Prioritizing and Choosing Attribute Levels
Attributes are always listed on the character rule sheet in order of importance to that character. The player, using the character’s perceived background, determines the importance of each attribute to the character and decides what abilities the character will be most proficient at using. The player will assign a level to each attribute in order to ascertain its importance in relation to the character's other attributes. Attribute levels can be improved over time, but the general rule is the character's most important attributes should receive the higher levels. If an attribute listed lower on the list ever increases in level to pass an attribute listed higher on the list, then those attributes would exchange places on the list. This would effect the character's skill in learning new abilities, as will be explained later in these rules.
Players are given 700 experience points with which to purchase attribute levels when they first build their characters. All of these experience points must be spent on character attribute levels and cannot be saved for later use. The beginning, or normal, value of all attributes is zero. The maximum level for an attribute is eight (8). A player may also choose to reduce his or her character's other attributes to gain more experience points to spend on increasing another attribute. The minimum level allowed for an attribute is negative eight (-8).
The attribute level system is standardized in the ARPG rules. The player must spend 10 times the value of the new level in experience points for each positive attribute level increased over the normal starting value of zero. The player must spend 10 times the value of the old level, dropping the negative value from a negative attribute level, in experience points for each level he or she increases his or her character's attribute level. Don't worry, this is easier to do than it sounds. This means the amount of experience points a player must spend to increase an attribute at each level is shown below:
- To increase an attribute from –8 to –7 = 80 game points.
- To increase an attribute from –7 to –6 = 70 game points.
- To increase an attribute from –6 to –5 = 60 game points.
- To increase an attribute from –5 to –4 = 50 game points.
- To increase an attribute from –4 to –3 = 40 game points.
- To increase an attribute from –3 to –2 = 30 game points.
- To increase an attribute from –2 to –1 = 20 game points.
- To increase an attribute from –1 to 0 = 10 game points.
- To increase an attribute from 0 to 1 = 10 game points.
- To increase an attribute from 1 to 2 = 20 game points.
- To increase an attribute from 2 to 3 = 30 game points.
- To increase an attribute from 3 to 4 = 40 game points.
- To increase an attribute from 4 to 5 = 50 game points.
- To increase an attribute from 5 to 6 = 60 game points.
- To increase an attribute from 6 to 7 = 70 game points.
- To increase an attribute from 7 to 8 = 80 game points.
As an example, to increase a character's Mind attribute to level 5, a player would need to spend 150 experience points (10 points for level 1, plus 20 points for level 2, plus 30 points for level 3, plus 40 points for level 4, plus 50 points for level 5 for a total cost of 150 experience points). Coincidentally, if a player chooses to drop an attribute in levels, to gain more experience points to spend on other attributes, he or she will acquire the same amount of experience points listed above for each negative rank in an attribute he or she chooses to take. Thus, to reduce an attribute from 0 to –1, the player would receive 10 more experience points to spend on his or her character's other attributes. If the attribute was dropped to –3, the character would receive 60 more experience points to spend (-1 = 10 points, -2 = 20 points, and -3 = 30 points for a total of 60 experience points).
As players earn experience points, from successfully completing adventures in the game, they may choose to spend them on raising their characters' attribute levels using the point system detailed above. The most expensive thing to level up in the ARPG system is character attributes. Given that a character many only earn a handful of experience points during each adventuring session, how a character is built at the beginning of a game will determine that character's ability development for a considerable amount of game time. Players should build their characters accordingly. No character can be a master over all abilities, and player teamwork will be necessary for character success during game play.
Once all of the experience points have been spent on increasing the character’s attribute levels, the player will arrange the attributes on his or her character sheet in order from the highest level to the lowest level. If some attributes have the same level, then the importance of these attributes in relation to each other is determined by the player, who will list the attributes in the order he or she desires. Once the attributes have been listed on the character sheet, and agreed upon by the player and GM, the attribute arrangement cannot be adjusted except through the increase or decrease of an attribute score as a result of game play.
This ranking of the character’s attributes will determine the multiplication factor of increasing an ability's level associated with that attribute. For every level of an ability purchased, a character must pay the associated experience point cost as calculated by multiplying the new ability level by the attribute multiplier. The attribute multipliers are shown below in order of attribute importance. The most important attribute is listed first with the least important listed last.
- Attribute #1: Multiplier = 1x
- Attribute #2: Multiplier = 2x
- Attribute #3 & #4: Multiplier = 3x
- Attribute #5 & #6: Multiplier = 4x
- Attribute #7 & #8: Multiplier = 5x
So, for example, if Body was a character’s most important attribute (highest level) then all levels for abilities associated with Body would be purchased at a 1x multiplier. To purchase a new Body ability, a player would pay one experience point for the ability's first level (1 x 1 = 1). To increase the ability's level to two, the player would need to pay an additional two experience points (1 x 2 = 2). To increase it to level three, the player would need to pay an additional three experience points (1 x 3 = 3), and so on.
Now, if the character’s #4 Attribute in rank (4th highest level) is Mind, all ability levels associated with the Mind attribute would need to be purchased at a 3x multiplier. To buy a new Mind based ability at the first level would cost the player three experience points (3 x 1 = 3). To increase the ability's level to two would cost the player six experience points (3 x 2 = 6). To increase the ability's level to three would cost the player nine experience points (3 x 3 = 9), and so on.
As mentioned earlier in the rules, how a player assigns his or her character’s attribute levels should not be taken lightly because an attribute’s level will effect the amount of experience points that must be spent to gain new abilities, and to increase ability levels, associated with that attribute.
The most complex part of the ARPG system is ability creation, so these rules will save that discussion for last. Before delving into ability creation, let's first discuss how abilities are used to determine game outcomes. This understanding may assist players as they set about to create new abilities, choose from pre-written abilities, or in adapting pre-written abilities for their characters.
There are three ways to resolve the outcome of an action or an ability check using the ARPG system. They include checks made for mundane tasks (those abilities known to the character due to common sense and cultural immersion, thus they do not require a level in an ability to complete; such as walking, brushing teeth, washing, and so on), ability checks (those abilities where a certain amount of skill is required to complete a task, and thus at least one level in an ability is required for success), and opposed ability checks (checks made against an opponent such as those made during a combat sequence). All three of these checks are resolved using a d20 die and will be discussed below.
Mundane Ability Checks
Mundane ability checks are completed using the character's base attribute score most associated with the task, plus any modifier added by the GM based on the difficulty of the task being attempted. The player must roll the target number or under to be successful.
Attribute Level + GM Modifier = Target Number
For example: The character Brutus is trying to wash a set of dishes to pay for a meal he has eaten. The GM decides that this is a Body attribute check, and so Brutus will get to use his Body attribute level of 5 for the d20 roll. The GM also decides that this task is very easy to complete, and assigns it a GM modifier of 9 (he would have given it a 10, but the dish water is greasy and the GM wants a good laugh if the player fails and breaks a dish). Thus, the player must roll a 14 or under using a d20 to be successful (5 Body attribute level + 9 GM Modifier = 14 Target Number).
Mundane ability checks should not be used for every action the character takes. These checks should only be used if they would add to the enjoyment of a scenario. Generally, most mundane tasks can be resolved in the player's favor without making a mundane ability check, and taking up game time. However, mundane checks can add flavor to a campaign in the right situation.
Mundane ability checks may also be utilized to allow a character an attempt at using a non-Meta attribute based ability untrained (only Aura, Body, Mind, and Soul abilities). GMs should be weary of allowing this approach to be used too often, and should rarely give a positive modifier to the roll when a character tries to use an ability untrained (negative modifiers may be used to increase the difficulty of success). Common sense should also dictate to the GM when this kind of check would be acceptable.
For instance: Abilities that would require extensive professional training should not be allowed to be used untrained. These abilities could include computer hacking, piloting, or surgery to name just a few. A good rule of thumb is for the GM to ask him- or herself what a common citizen in the particular culture would have a basic knowledge of before allowing the check to occur.
For example: Returning to our character Brutus, he comes from a modern age similar to our present time. The game setting is one of the horror genre. Magic is present, but is unknown to the majority of people and technology is fairly abundant. Brutus would not be allowed to make any magic checks untrained since magic is very uncommon (and is based on the Meta Aura attribute). He would also not be allowed to make a computer hacking check untrained since this requires years of experience and training. But, the GM decides that Brutus can make a computer research check untrained since most everybody has access to the internet and computers. Brutus decides to research vampire cults on the internet, so the GM allows him to use his Mind attribute level of 7 (representing his basic knowledge of computers and internet use) for the mundane ability check with no GM modifiers. Thus, Brutus must roll a target number of 7 or under to be successful in finding the specific information he is seeking (7 Mind attribute level + 0 GM Modifier = 7 Target Number).
Ability checks are completed using the attribute score associated with the ability, plus the ability level, plus any GM modifier applied to the check based on its difficulty. For a character to be successful using the ability, the player must roll the target number or under (Attribute Level + Ability Level + GM Modifier = Target Number).
For example: Brutus wants to make an ability check to see if he can recall any information that might help him to defeat a vampire menace. Brutus has a Mind attribute level of 7 and the ability Knowledge: Vampire Lore with a level of 7. The GM decides this check is routine and applies no modifier to the roll. Brutus must roll the target number 14 or under to be successful (7 Mind attribute level + 7 Ability level + 0 GM Modifier = 14 Target Number).
Ability checks should be used whenever a character attempts to use one of his or her abilities to resolve an in-game scenario. Ability checks are used when no opponent can counter what the character is attempting. So, if Brutus is trying to lift a rock over his head, all he needs to do is make an ability roll using his Lifting ability. However, if Brutus was trying to lift the rock and a vampire was trying to stop Brutus, then an opposed ability check would need to be used.
Opposed Ability Checks
Opposed ability checks are completed exactly like an ability check except that two or more characters are competing to see who "wins" in the match-up. This generally occurs during combat, or when a character is trying to stop another character from completing an action using one of his or her known abilities or by using a mundane ability. The result is determined by both characters making an ability check, using appropriate abilities, with the winner being the character who rolls higher than his or her opponent without exceeding his or her own Target Number. Tie rolls are resolved in favor of the character that is acting, not reacting, to the action.
For example: Brutus wants to hit a vampire with a wooden stake. Brutus has a Body attribute level of 5, the ability Melee Weapon: Wooden Stake with a level of 9, and the GM gives no modifier. Thus, Brutus has a Target Number of 14. The vampire has a Body attribute level of 8, the ability Melee Dodge with a level of 6, and the GM gives no modifier. Thus, the vampire has a target number of 14. The outcomes of several possible dice roll scenarios are described below.
- #1. Brutus rolls a 12.
- The vampire rolls an 11.
- Result: Brutus is successful in sticking the stake into the vampire's chest because he rolled the higher number without exceeding his Target Number of 14. If the vampire is not wearing armor to absorb some or all of the potential damage, or does not have a health or healing related ability, then it is in some serious trouble.
- The vampire rolls an 11.
- #2. Brutus rolls a 12.
- The vampire rolls a 14.
- Result: The vampire successfully dodges the attack since he rolled the higher number without exceeding his Target Number of 14.
- The vampire rolls a 14.
- #3. Brutus rolls a 16.
- The vampire rolls a 14.
- Result: The vampire successfully dodges the attack because Brutus failed in his roll by exceeding his Target Number of 14.
- The vampire rolls a 14.
- #4. Brutus rolls a 14.
- The vampire rolls an 18.
- Result: Brutus succeeds in hitting the vampire with the wooden stake because the vampire failed to react in time as determined by his failed roll, which exceeded his Target Number of 14.
- The vampire rolls an 18.
- #5. Brutus rolls a 10.
- The vampire rolls a 10.
- Result: Brutus succeeds in hitting the vampire with the wooden stake because opposed ability check ties are always resolved in favor of the character that initiated the action. The vampire fails in this tied scenario because he was dodging in reaction to the attack.
- The vampire rolls a 10.
- #6. Brutus rolls a 20.
- The vampire rolls a 19.
- Result: Both characters fail because they both exceeded their Target Numbers of 14. Brutus misses with his wooden stake and the vampire failed his dodge roll (not that it matters since Brutus stumbled in his attack).
- The vampire rolls a 19.
Game Master Modifiers
Many role playing game systems use various charts to determine the difficulty, or GM, modifiers for such things as hitting an opponent behind cover, determining range penalties, weather penalties, terrain modifiers, and many more. One argument for having all of these charts is to maintain consistency between GMs. The problem with having all of these charts is that it requires the GM to flip through a book to reference them. If the GM is lucky, the game manufacturer will produce a GM screen that will compile all of the most useful charts for the GM to use and have at his or her immediate disposal.
The ARPG system uses ZERO charts. This system rejects the argument that charts help to maintain consistency between GMs since all GMs are different and choose to use these various charts in numerous ways. Many end up disregarding them all together for ease of game play. Knowing this, it is fair to say that the only consistency the players can truly expect is from a single GM at a time. Every GM is going to do it his or her way, and most use common sense for these basic GM modifier calculations. As such, all of those charts are tedious at their best, and useless at their worst. The ARPG system recognizes this and instead uses a scaled modifier system for all aspects of the game. It is simple, easy to learn, and leaves a good amount of discretion available for the GM.
The simple premise behind this GM modifier system is that all in game situations are different and the best judge of each situation's difficulty is the GM. This system allows the GM to set his or her own precedents and then adjust them for each situation. The system is also flexible enough to allow the GM to adjust modifiers with individual characters based on the characters' prior experiences and skills in the abilities being checked. Thus, a player with a character that has a maximum level in an ability can still show improvement as the GM adjusts the modifiers applied to difficult situations familiar to the experienced character.
Using this system, the GM can choose to add a modifier to an ability check that will factor into the target number needed for success. The GM modifier scale ranges from a near impossible -10, to an insanely easy +10, with 0 being a routine or standard modifier. Any number between this range is an acceptable modifier, as determined by the GM, according to the GM's perception of an ability's difficulty to complete in any given situation. Below are a few examples to illustrate how this GM modifier concept works.
- #1. Brutus is trying to escape from a jail cell by physically bending the bars. Brutus has a Body attribute level of 5 and a Bend ability level of 6. The GM decides that the iron bars are fairly hard, and since the game setting is a realistic horror genre, she assigns a near impossible modifier of -10 to the ability's chance to succeed. Brutus has to roll a 1 on a d20 to succeed in bending the bars (5 Body attribute level + 6 Bend ability level -10 GM Modifier = 1 Target Number).
- If, however, Brutus was a superhero in a comic book style game genre, the GM might decide that bending bars is well within reason and give only a -2 GM modifier to the Target Number since bending the bars would only represent a slightly difficult task for a superhero character. Brutus would need to roll a 9 or less on a d20 to succeed (5 Body attribute level + 6 Bend ability level -2 GM Modifier = 9 Target Number).
- #2. Brutus is a renowned sniper and is trying to shoot a ghoul from his rifle's maximum distance. The GM decides this task is almost impossible and assigns a -9 GM modifier to the target number. Brutus has an Aura attribute level of 5 and a Ranged Weapon: Sniper Rifle ability level of 8. Brutus will need to roll a 4 or less on a d20 to make this shot at his rifle's maximum range (5 Aura attribute level + 8 Ranged Weapon: Sniper Rifle ability level - 9 GM Modifier = 4 Target Number).
- Brutus decides he does not want to take a chance of missing at this range, so he waits until the ghoul gets to mid range. The GM decides that the task is still difficult and reduces the modifier to -4. This has improved Brutus' chance of success. He now needs to roll a 9 or less on a d20 to hit the ghoul. He decides to take the shot and hits the ghoul.
- Now, five game years, and many sniped ghouls later, Brutus is once again faced with sniping a ghoul at his rifle's maximum range. Brutus is now very familiar with his own abilities and the quirks of his rifle. The GM decides that making these maximum range shots is no longer almost impossible for Brutus. They are now just difficult. The GM assigns a modifier of -5 to the roll.
- To carry this example further, now it is 15 game years and hundreds of sniped ghouls later. Brutus is now the most sought after specialist when it comes to long range sniping. He spots a ghoul at the maximum range of his rifle and decides to take the shot. The GM now decides to give Brutus a +2 modifier due to his many years of experience.
- #3. A group of adventurers needs to cross a narrow, but stable, stone bridge. The GM decides that this is a +10 GM modifier. Most characters will be able to cross this bridge with little effort.
- The bridge is now a narrow rope bridge. The GM gives this situation a +7 modifier because crossing the rope bridge would not be as easy.
- The bridge is now a narrow rope bridge and there is a slight breeze causing the bridge to sway gently. The GM gives this situation a modifier of +4.
- Now, instead of a slight breeze, a moderate wind is blowing causing the bridge to sway chaotically. The GM gives this situation a 0 modifier.
- Now, add a little rain to the situation, and the GM decides that the situation requires a -2 modifier.
- Forget the rain, a real storm is brewing and the rain has turned into snow and ice. That little bridge is now getting fairly dangerous with a -6 modifier to cross.
- The situation has went from bad to worse. Now, the wind has reached storm levels, the bridge is swaying violently back and forth, and the snow has turned to hail. This situation quickly became near impossible with a -10 GM modifier. Only the most bold and skilled characters could cross this bridge, or the most foolish.
If a GM modifier increases the target number to 20 or greater, then the characters cannot fail in their effort unless they are doing an opposed ability check and they roll lower than their opponent. This is an important point because it can help to establish good role playing instead of roll playing. This concept can be extremely helpful in situations where a character becomes entirely proficient in an area, and random dice rolls become a hindrance to the game because the odds are that the character will succeed 99.9% of the time anyway. In these situations, the GM can automatically rule in favor for the character and keep the game narration going for the entertainment of all the players.
As you can see, this simplified GM modifier system leaves a lot of operating room for both GMs and players to improve the game with good role playing and common sense. Once you have tried it, I feel confident that you will never go back to a game system that uses charts.
Arpeegy and ARPG are © and ™ 1996 - Present to Leonard K. Dunn.
All Rights Reserved.