Sie sind auf Seite 1von 9

PHASERIP

ISSUE ZERO

PRIMER
YOU'VE NEVER PLAYED AN RPG BEFORE
Phaserip is a role-playing game (henceforth RPG) wherein players take on the roles of
heroes in a world created by, described, and populated by a referee, judge, or "gamemaster" (henceforth GM). If you're reading this and have never played an RPG before, then I
encourage you to look up any number of the definitions offered online, as the elusive task of
describing this type of game in prose is something of a passtime of aficionados over the
years, many quite better than I could offer. I particularly recommend Greg Stoltze's "How to
Play Roleplaying Games".
Ultimately I concluded that learning to roleplay is very much like learning to ride a bicycle
(though easier). The most elaborate and well written instruction on how to ride a bike will
never compensate for the experience of actually getting on a bicycle the first time and
finding one's balance. It is the same with RPGs: they are something you just kinda have to
try.
Sound intimidating? Let me put you at ease: this game requires no special skills or acting
abilities. You need not be clever, a math whiz, nor a veteran of social interactions. The only
thing this game asks of you is creativity; and of that, not much more than your kindergarten
class expected. In other words, role-playing games are very, very easy to play; just
annoyingly hard to explain.
As such, these rules assume that the GM is experienced with RPGs, and will guide new
players along as necessary, whereas familiarity with roleplaying games is not necessary for
the players in any way. Though the page count may seem large, learning to play Phaserip
should take only a few minutes (if I've done my job right and the GM does their part). All the
players need worry about is considering the situations, environments, and dilemmas
presented by the GM, and deciding what their Hero will do in response.
YOU'VE PLAYED AN RPG BEFORE
Ours is a wonderfully diverse hobby. Many RPG systems are radically different from one
another, some aiming at specific methods of playing that might befuddle a player used to
the assumptions of another variety of RPG system. Thus, I've outlined the core assumptions
of this game in the section Under the Hood at the end of this issue. I urge you to read this
if any part of the forthcoming rules seem confusing, not what you expected, or significantly
unfamiliar.

SYSTEM PRIMER
Every player is responsible for the decisions of one Hero, also called a "player character"
(henceforth PC). The GM is responsible for all the other inhabitants of the universe where
the game takes place, collectively referred to as "non-player characters" (henceforth NPCs).
Each player begins the game with a Character Sheet describing their Hero in game terms.
The Character Sheet can be printed from the example on the last page of this issue, or
written on a scrap piece of paper or index card. Each player will also have a Playsheet for
each game. The Playsheet is discussed further on.

THE CHARACTER SHEET


If, for instance, one was playing the Hero Robin Hood in a game set in Merry Old England,
his character sheet would contain the following information:

ROBIN HOOD
Origin - Legend
Calling - Rebel
Stature - Dashing
Culture - Medieval Britain
Occupation - Outlaw Chief
DARING - Excellent
AGILITY - Legendary
MIGHT - Good
DURABILITY - Excellent
WITS - Excellent
INTELLIGENCE - Normal
COURAGE - Legendary
RESOURCES - Puny
TRAITS - Archery x2 Chicanery Daredevil Leader Marksman Ride Sherwood
As a whole, this information is referred to as a Hero's Characteristics. There are two
general types of Characteristics: Attributes and Traits. If at this point you're saying to
yourself "that all seems like English, but does not compute", not to worry. All will be
explained shortly.
I'm going to continue to use Robin as an example during the explanation of these rules mainly
because the character is known worldwide and weathered any number of modern media
interpretations while remaining as popular a folk hero in current times as he was during the Middle

Ages. So its an easy assumption most anyone reading this will be familiar with the character.

All Heroes in Phaserip share 7 Primary Attributes, essential faculties possessed to some
degree by every character in the game: Daring, Agility, Might, Durability, Wits, Intelligence,
and Courage.
DARING is a measure of a Hero's boldness, valour, and raw combat ability. A Hero with high
Daring is a great warrior, while a Hero with low Daring is probably a bit of a pushover. Daring
is used to punch, kick, jab, poke, throw, whack, or clobber an opponent, either with bare fists
or feet or wielding a handheld weapon.
AGILITY is an estimate of a Hero's nimbleness, flexibility, and coordination. A Hero with low
Agility is clumsy and uncoordinated; while a Hero with high Agility is capable of performing
astounding acrobatic feats. Agility is used to climb trees, dodge debris, leap buildings, and
win at a game of darts.
MIGHT is an evaluation of a Hero's strength and physical power. A Hero with high Might is
able to lift great amounts of weight and inflict devastating blows in combat, while a Hero
with low Might is weak and unable to lift heavy weights. Might is used to lift heavy objects,
break down doors, hold on to the edge of a cliff, or win arm-wrestling matches.
DURABILITY represents a Hero's constitution, endurance, and ability to recover from injury. A
Hero with high Durability is tough and tenacious, while a Hero with low Durability is frail and
tires easily. Durability is used to run long distances, fight off sickness, survive poisoning, and
hold one's breath.
WITS estimates a Hero's perceptiveness, intuition, and situational awareness. A Hero with
high Wits is observant and difficult to surprise, while a Hero with low Wits is easily distracted
and often caught off-guard. Wits is used to find clues, notice details, empathize with others,
and fool or entertain people.
INTELLIGENCE is an evaluation of a Hero's ingenuity, reason, and memory. High Intelligence
denotes creativity and diligence. A Hero with low Intelligence is not necessarily stupid so
much as banal, irrational, or uneducated. Intelligence is used to remember important details,
operate advanced machinery, learn new skills, solve puzzles, and appeal to reason.
COURAGE represents a Hero's willpower, bravery and resolve, A Hero with low Courage is
cowardly and easily influenced, while a Hero with high Courage is dedicated and steadfast.
Courage is used to conquer fear, resist temptation, endure stress, and intimidate punks.
Each Primary Attribute is qualified by a descriptor or adjective, called an Echelon. Echelons
reflect the character's competency in that Attribute, and other characters with the same
Echelon in an Attribute are of commensurate proficiency. Each Echelon is associated with a
numbered Rank on a scale of 1 to 10.
The ten standard Echelons and Echelon Ranks used in Phaserip are Puny (1), Normal (2),
Good (3), Excellent (4), Legendary (5), Uncanny (6), Fantastic (7), Amazing (8),
Incredible (9), and Unearthly (10). A completely average human being (if such a thing
exists) would possess an Echelon of Normal (2) in every Primary Attribute.
Looking back to Robin Hood's character sheet, we see that his two most significant Primary Attributes
are his Legendary Courage and Agility. Robin Hood was renowned for facing overwhelming odds and
his extraordinary accuracy with a bow. Robin's Daring, Durability, and Wits are all well above average
(Exceptional), and he possesses average Intelligence (Normal). Robin Hood's Might of Good indicates
that, while not the strongest of fellows, he can easily lift up to 200 lbs. His Resources are Puny, as he

for the most part lives off the land (or forest, as the case may be) and any excess wealth he tends to
donate to the hard-pressed peasant folk of the areas surrounding Sherwood.

When a player wishes their Hero to do something in the game, they describe their intentions
to the GM, and based on the Hero's Echelon in the Attribute most relevant to the action
attempted, the GM either describes the action to taking place as the player intends, declares
the action impossible, or calls for the player to make a GEST Roll.
GEST is an acronym for "Gauge of Extraordinary Skill or Talent". A GEST Roll is made
whenever a Hero is attempting an exceptional act or extraordinary feat. When attempting a
GEST, a Player rolls percentile dice (2d10, one die set as the "tens" and one die set as the
"ones"; a result of "00" equaling 100) and announces the result to the GM. The GM then
compares the result to the corresponding row on the ARG! (Action Resolution Graph). A
simplified version of the ARG! is given as an example below:
ECHELON
UNEARTHLY
INCREDIBLE
AMAZING
FANTASTIC
UNCANNY
LEGENDARY
EXCELLENT
GOOD
NORMAL
PUNY

RANK

PURPLE

YELLOW

GREEN

10
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1

01
01
01 - 05
01 - 05
01 - 09

01 - 15
01 - 19
01 - 25
01 - 29
01 - 35
02 - 39
02 - 45
06 - 49
06 - 55
10 - 59

16
20
26
30
36
40
46
50
56
60

45
49
55
59
65
69
75
79
85
89

BLUE

46
50
56
60
66
70
76
80
86
90

79
85
85
89
89
95
95
97
97
99

RED

80 - 00
86 - 00
86 - 00
90 - 00
90 - 00
96 - 00
96 - 00
98 - 00
98 - 00
00

The ARG! provides one of 5 Phase Results, each delineated by a colour, which determine if
and how well a character succeeds at the attempted GEST. A Green, Blue, or Red Phase
Result indicates success, while a Yellow or Purple Phase Result indicates failure. When a
player rolls the dice, the GM compares their result to the row that matches the Echelon of
the Attribute used for the GEST. Then they find the Phase Result column whose range of
numbers is analogous to the die result.
Imagine that Robin somehow gets trapped under a fallen tree trunk (that sort of thing can happen
when you spend all day in the forest; maybe he pissed-off a beaver). Robin must escape soon or Maid
Marian will fall prey to an ambush by the notorious Sheriff of Nottingham! The player asks the GM how
much the tree trunk weighs, and the GM calls for a Might GEST as Robin makes an initial attempt to lift
it to determine how much effort it will take to get the damned log off of himself. Robin's player rolls
the dice and ends up with a result of 63. Checking the row of ARG! corresponding to his Might Echelon
(Good), he sees this is a Green Phase Result.

GEST rolls are sometimes modified by the Difficulty of the action attempted, designated by
an Echelon (determined by the GM). If the Difficulty of a GEST is below the Echelon used for
the GEST, a Green Phase result is all that is needed to succeed. To succeed at a GEST where
the Difficulty is equal to the Echelon used, the player must roll a Blue Phase Result to
succeed. If the Difficulty is above the Hero's relevant Echelon, the player would need a Red
Phase Result to succeed.
To continue with our previous scenario, Robin Hood is trapped beneath an overturned tree trunk. The
GM determines the trunk weighs close to 400 lbs. Rather than letting Robin's player know the exact
amount, he indicates that the Difficulty to lift the log is Excellent. As this is one Echelon higher than
Robin's Might Echelon, he will need a Red Phase Result on his GEST to succeed in lifting the log up just
enough so that Robin can squeeze out. Rolling the dice, Robin Hood's player gets lucky and manages
to roll a 98. Comparing the die result to the ARG! shows this is a Red Phase Result, just what he
needed (whew!), and Robin succeeds in escaping.

If Robin's player had rolled a number that yielded another Phase Result, he would have failed in his
attempt. Does this mean Robin is stuck under the tree trunk indefinitely, doomed to be food for moss?
Not at all! Failure can mean a number of things, depending on the GM's judgement. It may simply
mean Robin eventually frees himself, but not in time to prevent Maid Marian's kidnapping and must
now stage a daring rescue from the Sheriff's dungeon. Or perhaps Robin must adopt a different tactic
to solve his problem besides brute strength, such as using an arrow with a red strip of cloth tied to it to
"call for help" from his nearby Merry Men. Maybe Robin can escape but in order to do so must accept
an injury to his person, such as dislocating his shoulder. A good GM won't let the game grind to a halt
because of a single bad roll.

An Opposed Roll occurs when a Hero is attempting a GEST and another character is
actively attempting to resist or otherwise prevent them from succeeding. For an Opposed
Roll, the Difficulty of the GEST is determined by the relevant Attribute of the opponent.
Robin Hood, managing to escape from underneath the fallen tree, must now race to Maid Marian's
location before the Sheriff arrives. Unfortunately, to reach Marian, Robin must make his way past a
group of King's Guardsmen posted on the main road. Wanting to avoid a fight (so he can save his
energy for the inevitable clash with the Sheriff), Robin decides to try and trick the Guards into letting
him pass. Taking a moment to disguise himself beneath a peasant's cloak, Robin attempts to convince
the Guardsman that he is merely a villager passing through on his way home. The GM decides this will
require a Wits GEST, with the guards' Intelligence setting the Difficulty. In this case, the guards are all
of Normal Intelligence, meaning that Robin only needs a Green Phase result to succeed.

Occasionally a GM may request a roll without the Hero initiating an action, in response to
something happening in the gameworld. This is a Reaction Roll, and follows the same
procedure as a GEST.
For example, Robin Hood makes to enter a tavern owned by one of the poor villagers he recently
saved from the cruelty of Guy of Guisborne, unaware that the Sheriff has laid a trap for him. The GM
asks Robin's player to make a Wits GEST before Robin enters the building to see if Robin notices that
the tavern is suspiciously dark, quiet, and seemingly unpopulated. Robin's player rolls a 36, and
comparing it to the Excellent Row of The ARG!, the GM determines that this is a Yellow Phase Result,
indicating failure! Robin is blissfully unaware of the dangers lurking inside, and strolls into the tavern
with not a care in his feathered cap.

A GEST, Opposed, or Reaction roll is further affected by a Hero's TRAITS, characteristics


that define a Hero's unique skills, aptitudes, and quirks.
Looking at Robin Hood's character sheet, one can see several Traits listed including Archery,
Chicanery, Marksman, Ride and Sherwood.

Traits modify GEST Rolls in two ways: ECHELON SHIFTS (ES) and PHASE SHIFTS (PS).
An Echelon Shift is applied before a roll, and alters the Echelon of the Attribute used for
the GEST. For example, a character with Typical (1) Agility who receives a +1ES would
compare the results of their roll to the Good (2) Echelon row of the ARG!
A Phase Shift, on the other hand, is applied after the GEST is rolled, and alters the Phase
Result. As such, a character who scored a Green Phase Result on a GEST with a +1PS would
read it as a Blue Phase Result.
In short, an Echelon Shift increases the chance of a GEST succeeding, while a Phase Shift
increases the degree of success. A listed Trait provides a default +1 ES or PS modifier,
though Traits may be doubled (marked as 'x2') or, in rare circumstances, tripled (marked
as 'x3'), providing modifiers of +2 ES/PS or +3 ES/PS, respectively.
Robin Hood is famed worldwide for his Archery skills, which border on the inhuman. As such, his
Archery Trait is noted as x2, indicating that the modifier to GESTs utilizing that Trait is doubled.

Whether a Trait provides an ES or PS modifier to a GEST depends on whether they are


applied actively or passively. If a Hero is attempting a task that specifically employs one of

their Traits (such as a character with the Trait Science! attempting to mix a chemical
compound), they are actively using that Trait, receiving a PS modifier to the GEST. On the
other hand, a passive use of a Trait provides an ES bonus in situations where the Trait does
not directly apply; such as when the Trait is used to supplement an action primarily
employing another characteristic.
Additionally, under normal circumstances, the use of a Trait is considered passive if applied
to a Reaction Roll or Opposed Roll. Though some exceptions to this rule may occur, in
general any time a Hero is opposed in succeeding by an opponent or is reacting rather than
taking action, Traits provide an ES modifier only.
Robin Hood possesses the Trait Ride. If he were to attempt a complicated horseback maneuver, such
as riding down a sheer cliff-face, the GM may call for an Agility GEST, and as this is an active use of his
Trait, Robin's player could then increase the result of the GEST by one Phase. If the aforementioned
horse were to become spooked by a phantom and Robin attempts to calm it down before he's thrown
from the saddle, the GM may call for a Courage GEST and allow Robin's player a +1ES to their roll to
represent how the Ride Trait implies experience dealing with the moods of horses. Thus, Robin rolls
the GEST as if he possessed Fantastic Courage.

A Hero cannot apply both Echelon Shifts and Phase Shifts to the same GEST; they must
chose one or the other before rolling. However, the other major difference between using a
Trait actively or passively is that a Phase Shift bonus from only one Trait is allowed per GEST,
but the Echelon Shift modifiers from numerous Traits that apply may be "stacked", or added
together to provide a cumulative ES to a roll.
Robin Hood possesses the Traits Archery x2 and Marksman, providing a cumulative bonus of +3 ES to
any GEST related to hitting a target with his bow and arrow. If the target is inanimate, and the roll is
not Opposed, Robin could instead apply a PS bonus from his Archery Trait, but could not also add the
PS bonus from his Marksman Trait.

A GM may also occasionally assign an ES modifier to a GEST based on the situation. These
are referred to as Circumstantial Modifiers, and are not subject to the rule that Traits
cannot provide an ES and a PS to the same roll. Circumstantial Modifiers are possibly
negative or positive, and "stack" (or subtract from) ES modifiers from Traits.
As you may have guessed from Robin Hood's list of Traits, in general Traits represent a
character's proficiencies, talents, and special skills. In addition, every Hero possesses a
number of Standard Traits describing their background and current status. Standard Traits
includes a Hero's Origin, Calling, Stature, Culture, and Occupation.
A Hero's ORIGIN indicates the source of a Hero's powers or how they came to be a Hero.
CALLING defines a Hero's primary motivation for devoting their life to battling evil.
STATURE is an assessment of a Hero's physical build, size, and demeanour. CULTURE
describes a Hero's social background, and OCCUPATION is what the Hero does for a living.
Looking again to Robin Hood's character sheet, we see his Origin is Legend as a hero of folklore and
myth. An outlaw fighting the tyranny of Prince John and his corrupt officials, Robin's Calling is The
Rebel. Robin's Stature is Dashing, indicating he is a dynamic and good-looking fellow, not overly
bulky or muscle-bound. Robin Hood's Culture is Medieval English and his Occupation is noted as
Outlaw Chief.

Standard Traits may function as any other Trait during play, providing ES/PS modifiers to
situations that apply. However, with the possible exception of Occupation, Standard Traits
are utilized far less often for GESTs, instead primarily serving as aids for role-playing the
character.
Many Heroes possess additional Special Attributes, denoting a Hero's unique advantages
and disadvantages, also defined by an Echelon. This may include anything from superhuman
powers, gadgets & equipment, and weaknesses and limitations, or even new Attributes

tailored to a GM's setting. Not every Hero possesses the same (or any) Special Attributes. In
this case Robin possesses the Special Attribute Resources.
REASOURCES are an abstract measure of a character's wealth and finanancial security, used
to purchase items and determine a Hero's standard of living. When a Hero wishes to buy a
piece of equipment, purchase tickets to a Broadway show, or take a cab home after an
exhausting battle, their Resources Echelon indicates if this expenditure is chump change for
the Hero or simply too rich for thier blood. In fringe cases the GM may call for a Resources
GEST with the desired item or service's Cost Echelon setting the Difficulty.
Every Hero's Character Sheet is composed of the same aforementioned elements. The
Characteristics of a Hero change very rarely during a game, and interpreted correctly should
provide a comprehensive overview of the Hero's abilities and weaknesses. A player's job is
essentially to bring these aspects to life as they assume the role of their Hero.

INTERLUDE or DON'T PANIC!


Well, that was a big chunk of information in a short space, so if you're feeling a bit woozy
now with all the acronyms and fancy words flying about, worry not. Notice that way back
when I started talking about GESTs, I mentioned that the GM is the one who compares the
die results to The ARG!? Actually, the GM takes care of all that rules nonsense for you, so all
you have to do is focus on playing your character. It's good to know why your dice rolls get
translated into colours and what those odd word-pairings on your Character Sheet mean, but
only so far as it helps you communicate your intentions to the GM. The intricacies of the
system you can pick up along the way (or not, if you prefer). For now, all a player really
needs to understand is the following three basic premises:
1) Attributes are rated by Echelons ranked 1 to 10, which determine the row of the Action
Resolution Graph (ARG!) to compare to a roll of the dice.
2) The dice result compared to the Echelon's row of the ARG! yields 1 of 5 colour (phase)
results:
Purple
Yellow
Green
Blue
Red -

- Disastrous Failure
- Failure
- Success
- Great Success
Perfect Success

3) Traits either modify the Echelon row of the ARG! to which the dice roll is compared
(Echelon Shift) or modify the colour (Phase Result) indicated by the dice result (Phase
Shift).

So pretty simple despite all those long-winded explanations, eh? As long as you've got a
handle on those key concepts, everything else is just bells & whistles. I'd also recommend
the following advice to players new and experienced:
1) Describe your intentions to the GM in as much detail as possible. The more detail a player
adds into his description, the better understanding the GM has of how to resolve events (and
potentially the more bonuses that can be applied). In other words, it's to your advantage as
a player to describe your Hero's intended deeds with dramatic flourish.
2) If the GM asks you to roll the dice, he'll specify the Attribute used, e.g. "make a Courage
GEST" or "roll your Wits". This lets you know, in general, how likely you are to succeed,
based on how high the Echelon for that Attribute is (a Hero with an Echelon of Puny in the
Attribute utilized is probably sweating it, while a Hero with an Echelon of Amazing is excused
a slight feeling of smugness). Again, description is your friend here, as how you describe
accomplishing a task is the basis on which the GM determines what Attribute is used for the
GEST. A clever Hero will play to their strengths, even if that means coming up with unusual
approaches to solving a problem.
3) The GM will also let you know if any Traits apply, but if your Hero possesses a Trait you
think should apply that the GM doesn't mention, feel free to bring it to their attention. The
GM may disagree with you, and in the end the GM's judgement takes precedence, but an
entertaining description, a well-reasoned rational, or a bribe of candied sweets, generally
goes a long way.

THE PLAYSHEET
Okay, so now that you know how to read and interpret the Character Sheet, let's talk about
the Playsheet. Essentially the Playsheet is simply an extension of the Character sheet, but
whereas a Hero's Attributes and Traits rarely change during the course of a game, the
Playsheet's Aspects may alter frequently throughout play.
Renown is an approximation of how well-known and popular a Hero is, and their general
reputation for honesty and fair play. Renown is represented by an Echelon that may increase
or decrease during play depending on a Hero's actions. Renown influences the reactions of
other characters to the Hero.
Robin Hood's Renown is Legendary as his name is known across England, already the subject of folk
ballads and manhunts. This will only increase as time goes on and his stories make their way across
the globe.

Contacts rates a Hero's social network and useful associates. A Hero's contacts may be
defined specifically before or during play, and a player has the option of establishing a
permanent Contact by reducing this Attribute by 1 Echelon.
Robin Hood can always rely on the Merry Men of Sherwood to have his back, providing aid when
necessary (and the occasional rescue when the proverbial excrement hits the fan).