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HALBERD

FANTASY ROLEPLAYING

BY SCOTT MALTHOUSE

HALBERD FANTASY ROLEPLAYING BY SCOTT MALTHOUSE 1 Wynther Knight (order #7349785)
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Wynther Knight (order #7349785)

Halberd Fantasy Roleplaying

Written by Scott Malthouse

Based on Unbelievably Simple Roleplaying by Scott Malthouse Cover art by David Revoy released under the Creative Commons licence Interior art by DoubleCompile and David Revoy released under the Creative Commons licence Trollish Delver logo design by Simon Lee Tranter

With thanks to Stuart Lloyd.

design by Simon Lee Tranter With thanks to Stuart Lloyd. This publication is copyright © 2013

This publication is copyright © 2013 by Trollish Delver Games. All rights reserved. No part of this work aside from the creative commons images may be reproduced in any fashion without the express written consent of Trollish Delver Games. Trollish Delver Games and the Trollish Delver logo are trademarks of Trollish Delver Games. Unbelievably Simple Roleplaying (USR) is copyright of Trollish Delver Games and Scott Malthouse.

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HALBERD

FANTASY ROLEPLAYING

Thanks so much for picking up Halberd Fantasy Roleplaying - you’ve made a wise decision (I hope). I’ve been working on Halberd for the last year through its various iterations, of which it’s gone through at least 14,536 and no doubt this won’t be the last one. Halberd’s system is built using the rules for my free roleplaying game USR (Unbelievably Simple Role-playing), which is a super-streamlined ruleset for any kind of genre, from sci-fi to murder mysteries set in quaint English villages (or as I like to call it: Marple-core). Since Halberd is using USR as its ‘engine’, you can probably deduce that this is an easy game to learn. That said, Halberd does contain a heap more rules than the 9-page USR book, making it a pretty robust fantasy system (at least, I hope it does - I’ll let you be the judge of that), and there’s more than enough for the veteran roleplayer to sink their polyhedron-loving teeth into, as well as it being simple for beginners to pick up and play. Halberd is pretty light-hearted in tone as it’s very much inspired by two amazing chaps, one of which I’m lucky to know and the other I hope I one day get to know. First off, the guy I know and admire greatly: Ken St Andre, whose roleplaying work really got me into writing RPGs for real. Secondly, Sir Terry Pratchett, whose books I adore and fingerprint you will likely see running through the heart of Halberd. Boring introduction over, now we can get to the good stuff! I hope you thoroughly enjoy playing Halberd and if you want to get in touch with me with questions about the game, or you just fancy a chat, then email me at scott@trollishdelver.com or hit me up on twitter @scottmalt. You can also join in the conversation on twitter using the #halberdRPG hashtag.

Scott Malthouse June 2013

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WHAT IS A ROLEPLAYING GAME? Imagine a world where knights still exist, where malicious goblins

WHAT IS A ROLEPLAYING GAME?

Imagine a world where knights still exist, where malicious goblins lay siege to towns and deep within the caverns of the earth there are untold treasures awaiting any intrepid adventurer brave enough to delve into the dangerous shadows. Fantasy role- playing allows you and your friends to act out stories in these magical realms, with the players becoming armoured warriors, spellcasting sorcerers, nature-loving druids and much more. Together they will travel across the land, fulfilling quests and earning great riches along the way. One player takes on the role of the Games Master (GM), who will create adventures for the players, often in the form of quests, taking them to strange locations such as towering emerald cities, country-spanning forests and even into the heart of roaring volcanoes. The GM acts as the referee in the game, enforcing the rules and also controlling monsters and non-playing characters (NPCs). In essence, roleplaying games are shared stores, like you used to play at school. It’s one part acting, one part board game and another part storytelling. You don't need much to get started playing a game of Halberd. Just grab one to six friends, some paper, pencils and some special dice: six-sided (d6), eight-sided (d8) and ten-sided (d10). You can purchase these dice from your local hobby store or over the internet. Some people like to use a gridded map, such as a wet-erase mat, and painted miniatures to help visualise and keep track of the action. By all means do this if you like, but it's not necessary to enjoy the game. So grab your shortsword, throw on your leather armour and march out into a world of magic and monsters with your friends. Also, grab some snacks while you're at it.

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THE WORLD OF HALBERD THE CITY OF HIGHBRIDGE Highbridge was voted number three in ‘cities

THE WORLD OF HALBERD

THE CITY OF HIGHBRIDGE

Highbridge was voted number three in ‘cities most likely to kill you when you’re visiting’ by Humans Monthly and it is often referred to as the ‘grim city’ by snooty southlanders. But what do they know? Welcome to Highbridge, the largest city in northern Tequendria – a melting pot of races, creeds and varying levels of IQ. It’s also quite literally a magical city, created after a duel between two sorcerers, both of which didn’t really know what they were doing. Magick oozes through its streets, not unlike the actual questionable ooze that oozes through the streets, creating a magically charged and somewhat unstable environment. In Highbridge you will find all kinds of characters – rogues, vagabonds, mercenaries, magical beings, beggars, warriors, and nobles – the list is endless. Elves rub shoulders with dwarves and halflings rub their heads against human thighs. Highbridge is truly the most multicultural city in all of Tequendria. The city is home to King Markus IV, an old man who is, shall we say, quite barmy. In fact, it is his daughter Princess Lilly that oversees courtly duties. Lilly is a savvy woman with a passion for Highbridge. She loves her city deeply and wishes that

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she could go and fight in the army – but alas she is not allowed, despite being an amazing warrior.

A Visitor’s Guide to Highbridge

There is plenty to see and do in Highbridge, but this is just a list of some of the famous people, organisations and facts about the great city.

The Ancient Forest On the outskirts of Highbridge lies the Ancient Forest, so-called because it was discovered by Henry Ancient, a well-known explorer. The forest is ruled by The Green Man, a cynical but fair nature spirit who holds immense power but is generally too lazy to use it. The forest is the natural home to creatures like pixies and brownies, but also the Elves.

Twilight Swamp A mere mile away from The Ancient Forest you will find the Twilight Swamp. This grim and dark locale is home to ghosts, demon dogs and will-o-wisps. Also the famous hermit, Geoffrey, makes a fantastic mushroom soup if you should ever visit him in his hollowed out tree mansion.

The Home for Reformed Werewolves Highbridge is home to many a creature of the night, including werewolves. The Home for Reformed Werewolves is a charity set up to take care of lycanthropes who want to stop brutally murdering people. Unsurprisingly the charity has a high staff turnover rate, so there are always plenty of positions available.

The Red Court

This is the name given to the Highbridge vampire aristocracy, whose motto is ‘bleed them dry’. Only the wealthiest vampires are accepted into The Red Court and they can often be found in Vlad the Immortal’s palacial house, drinking blood and chatting about current affairs.

The Not-Quite-Dead Poet’s Society Poets are an eccentric bunch and fortunately for them poetry goes for a lot of money in Highbridge. This society consists of a group of poets who pay adventurers to take them out on dangerous adventures so they can gain inspiration for their next poem.

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The Tunnels of Trolls Beneath Highbridge there is a vast underground troll kingdom overseen by Queen Rockrockwallwall. It is a prosperous place that has little to do with the ‘topland’, however occasionally a troll will get lost and surface, causing all kinds of hassle in Highbridge.

The Dragonflyers Every little boy and girl wants to be in the Dragonflyers. They are the rock stars of Highbridge, taking to the skies on the backs of screeching dragons during wartime. Many of them tend to be rather arrogant and rude. The most famous Dragonrider is Shining Rogers, who single-handedly took down the ice giant Shiverfoot.

The Pig Swill This is by far the grottiest pub in the land, but a fantastic place to find sellwords for hire. The bouncer turnover rate is high.

The League of Assassins If you’re rich and of high status then you may want to join the League of Assassins, an exclusive club located in Highbridge’s esteemed northern quarter. Members must wear masks to maintain anonymity and many put on funny voices. They meet to play games, drink wine and look for murderous opportunities. The joining fee is 2000gdr, with an annual fee of 1000gdr.

Highbridge City Guard Literally the worst police officers you will ever encounter. They often turn a blind eye to crime when bribed and many of the guard are too senile to realise what’s actually going on. Still, 10gdr a day isn’t bad. The City Guard is led by Halfling Sergeant Burrow, who is much more savvy than the others but as corrupt as they come.

Jimmy the Knife’s Rat Gang The Rat Gang is a group of humanoid rats that terrorise the streets with muggings, vandalism and general nastiness. Jimmy, their leader, is a mean customer – don’t you dare bring his mother into this! Their calling card is leaving a bit of cheese at the crime.

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Highbridge University Ah, the hopes and dreams of a generation. The university is full of scholars, sorcerers and the occasional student. It provides second-rate education at first rate prices for courses such as smell analysis and ham glazing.

education at first rate prices for courses such as smell analysis and ham glazing. Wynther Knight

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CREATING YOUR CHARACTER This section is presented by Erudite Brown, the University of Highbridge Master

CREATING YOUR CHARACTER

This section is presented by Erudite Brown, the University of Highbridge Master Librarian.

Ah, you must be the new scallywag they’ve roped in for adventure and frolicks, eh? What, you’re voluntarily becoming an adventurer? Each to his/her/its own, I suppose, wot wot! As the Master Librarian, I am the keeper of most of the world’s knowledge, and I daresay that’s quite the undertaking, but it does put me in the best position to tell you about all the different types of character in the game. I have been asked to tell you all about creating your very own character: will you be a sneaky thief? A brazen warrior? A worldly druid? Halberd gives you a great amount of choice when it comes to selecting what kind of character you want to play as. But enough of my yammering! Let’s get on with it.

Assigning Attributes

The first thing you want to do is think about what kind of character you would like to play. Your character will have a series of attributes that will reflect their strengths and weaknesses, which you can write down on a sheet of paper or a 3x5 cue card.

Attributes

Action – This attribute determines how well-versed in combat the character is as well as how quick and dexterous they are.

Wits – This attribute determines how intelligent and perceptive the character is.

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Ego – This attribute determines how the character acts socially. A high Ego means the character is a good leader and able to charm the pants off most people.

Hits – This determines how much punishment a character can take before she dies or is knocked unconscious. Hits are reduced when a character is hurt and can return to its initial score when the character heals.

After you've jotted each of these attributes down, you're going to need to assign dice to them. Each attribute apart from Hits can have one (and just one) type of die assigned to it from the following selection: d6, d8 and d10. Your Hits score is derived by rolling your Action and Wits dice – the total being the final Hits attribute score.

Next, you will assign dice to your attributes – Wits, Ego and Action. You have a primary attribute, which is determined by your archetype, or the role your character takes. This primary attribute must contain the highest value die – d10. The other dice can be assigned to any of your two remaining attributes.

Character Archetypes

Listed below are a number of 'character archetypes', pre-made templates on which to base a character. There's no reason why a player can't make up their own character archetype from scratch either with the GM's permission.

Each archetype has a list of suggested Archetype Specialisms to choose from when creating your character. Archetype Specialisms represent aspects that the character is proficient in, whether that's horse riding or knowledge of underground cultures.

Starting characters will select two Archetype Specialisms from the list provided for each archetype. Each Archetype Specialism provides a +2 bonus to the relevant attribute when using that Specialism.

A Note on Specialisms

Aside from the ones found in the archetypes and races, there are infinite specialisms to choose from – all you have to do is use a little imagination. An exhaustive list of specialisms has purposefully been left out of these rules, as it's up to the players and GM to determine how to interpret the use of specialisms in situations.

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Warrior

Warriors are born to fight. They have likely been part of a militia or even a major army before taking up adventuring. Warriors are usually adept with multiple weapons and are used to wearing heavy armour and using shields, so they are a vital part of any combat, wading into the front lines to hack and hew the enemy.

wading into the front lines to hack and hew the enemy. Primary attribute : Action Suggested

Primary attribute: Action

Suggested specialisms:

Action: Athletics, Combat Roll, Enhanced Strength, Two-Handed Heavy Melee Weapon Proficiency Wits: Military Strategy, City Lore, Orienteering, Battlefield Medic. Ego: Leadership, Intimidation, Interrogation, Bartering.

Archer

Eagle-eyed and steady of hand, archers are masters of long range killing. They often wait in the trees, camouflaged, and rain down arrows at their enemies. Archers are also great hunters, able to track down and kill their prey swiftly. On the battlefield they stay at the back, firing off shots with deadly accuracy.

Primary attribute: Action or Wits

Suggested specialisms:

Action: Move Silently, Climb, Hunting, Two-Handed Light Ranged Weapon Proficiency Wits: Create Trap, Wilderness Lore, Create Poison, Heightened Hearing, Long Sight Ego: Leadership, Friend of Nature

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Sorcerer

Students of ancient knowledge, sorcerers are masters of the magic arts. They dedicate their lives to honing their magickal prowess. While anyone is able to wield magick, the Sorcerer makes it her lifelong mission to uncover all the secrets magick holds.

Primary attribute: Wits

Suggested specialisms:

Action: Wood Crafting, Quick reflexes Wits: Create Potion,Transform Magick, History, Magick Lore, Quick Learner, Decipher Text Ego: Intimidate, Charming

Druid

Learner, Decipher Text Ego: Intimidate, Charming Druid Druids live outside of the hustle and bustle of

Druids live outside of the hustle and bustle of towns and cities, preferring to be at one with nature. They reside in groves where they study all things natural and speak with mother nature herself.

Druids are excellent potion-makers and healers, making them a critical part of any adventuring party.

Primary attribute: Wits

Suggested specialisms:

Action: Move silently, Climb, Swim, Wood Crafting Wits: Create potion, Natural Healing Knowledge, Wilderness Lore, Make Shelter, Restore Magick Ego: Commune with Nature, Calming Vibe, Friend of Nature

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Make Shelter, Restore Magick Ego: Commune with Nature, Calming Vibe, Friend of Nature Wynther Knight (order

Thief

Master of stealth and picker of pockets, the thief is silent and deadly. Often armed with daggers, the thief slips into buildings unnoticed and relieves them of their precious belongings. They are great at spotting and disarming traps as well as picking locks. Thieves are essential if you want to gain the element of surprise.

Primary attribute: Ego or Wits

Suggested specialisms:

Action: Move silently, Climb, Escape Artist, Dagger Proficiency Wits: Disarm Trap, Spot Trap, Pick Lock, Disguise, Gambling Ego: Bartering, Charming, Misdirection, Acting

Gambling Ego: Bartering, Charming, Misdirection, Acting Ninja Before you manage to lay eyes on a ninja,

Ninja

Before you manage to lay eyes on a ninja, you will most likely be dead. Ninja are to overcome their foes. If you want to slip in and out of places unnoticed and kill in stealthy assassins, using immensely sharp blades, poisons and their martial arts prowess the shadows, the ninja is for you.

Primary attribute: Action or Wits

Suggested specialisms:

Action: Move Silently, Climb, Quick Reflexes, Martial Arts, Hide, One-Handed Light Melee Weapon Proficiency Wits: Create Poison, Spot Trap, Disguise, Create Rudimentary Weapon, Awareness Ego: Intimidation

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Storyteller

The storyteller is a staple around the warm hearthfire of a local tavern, spinning yarns and playing music for money. The very best storytellers are the ones who have lived the very tales they tell, making them valuable adventurers.

Primary attribute: Ego

Suggested specialisms:

Action: Sprinter, Climbing Wits: Wilderness Survival, Historical Knowledge, Wilderness Lore, City Lore Ego: Musician, Storyteller, Charming, Persuasion, Leadership, Inspirational, Acting

Merchant

Travelling far and wide selling their wares, merchants are the lifeblood of the world's commerce, providing services and goods to those that need them. Merchants are naturally charismatic and will prove especially useful when the party needs to sell anything they find on their journeys.

Primary attribute: Ego

Suggested specialisms:

Action: Horse Riding, Blacksmith Wits: City Lore, Merchant Law, Item Appraisal Ego: Barter, Charming, Selling Goods, Well-Connected

Other Archetype Suggestions

With the right combination of class specialisms, you can create any kind of archetype you desire. If you're looking for some inspiration, check out the list below:

Blacksmith

Hunter

Noble

Barbarian

Amazonian

Preacher

Witch Hunter

Pirate

City Guard

Astrologer

Scholar

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Character Races

Being a game of fantasy, not everyone is going to be human. There are all manner of different races that populate Halberd, from tree-dwelling elves to mountain- inhabiting dwarves and it's up to the player to choose one that suits the character that they want to play.

As with character archetypes, each race comes with a selection of suggested Specialisms to select from, called Racial Specialisms, of which you will choose one. Combined with your two Archetype Specialisms from your archetype, you will have the final three specialisms and your character will be almost complete.

At the GM's discretion, there is no reason why players can't create their own races. For instance, I might want to create a Panda Person, in which case I provide the GM with a bit of background about panda people and the GM can then provide some suggested specialisms for that race.

Human

Humans are industrious but wrathful, often declaring war on a whim. However, many are also compassionate, caring for others when they fall into the darkest of times. Human adventurers are cunning, clever and resourceful.

Suggested specialisms Action: Blacksmithing, Hunting Wits: Inventor, Geography, City Lore Ego: Persuade, Leadership, Compassionate

Elf

Elves live in great forest cities and are known for their peaceful nature. However, those who disturb or harm their sacred woodlands will quickly come to realise that elves are also masters of the bow.

Suggested specialisms Action: Wood Crafting, Climb, Move Silently Wits: Wilderness Lore, Natural Healing Knowledge, Mana Lore Ego: Intimidate, Calm Animal, Charismatic, Friend of Nature

Knowledge, Mana Lore Ego: Intimidate, Calm Animal, Charismatic, Friend of Nature Wynther Knight (order #7349785) 15

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Dwarf

Dwelling in the great mountains of the realm, dwarves are a hardy people who make their coin mining ore and precious stones. They are no strangers to war, their bulky frame and resilience making them excellent warriors.

Suggested specialisms Action: Mining, Resilient, Poison Immunity Wits: Mountain Lore, Underground Lore, History Ego: Intimidate, Leadership

Halfling

Halflings are, as their name suggests, short folk. They live in the rolling green plains and lead a happy existence of wine drinking, cake eating and pipe smoking. However, some halflings want more than this and head out on thrilling adventures. They are silent movers and make handy burglars to those who would hire them.

Suggested specialisms Action: Move Silently, Quick Footed, Hide Wits: History, Heightened Hearing Ego: Barter, Charm

Example Finished Character

Laura wants to play a stealthy character who can pick off her enemies from the shadows, so decides to use the Ninja archetype. She wants to be particularly deadly, so she assigns the d10 to Action, d8 to Wits and d6 to Ego. She rolls her Action and Wits scores, resulting in an 8, which she assigns to her Hits. Now Laura needs to select her class specialisms. She would prefer a sneaking- focused ninja, so opts for Move Silently and also selects Hide as she wants to kill from the shadows. Laura then must decide what race she wants her ninja to be. Halflings have the Quick Footed specialism which could help her ninja a lot, so she decided to choose that race. She then gives her a name and a short background.

Money

The currency used in Halberd is split up into denominations, just like real money. The main denomination is the dringot, which is used throughout the land of Gall.

Money is split into the following denominations:

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100

staves (st) = 1 dringot (dr)

100

dringots (dr) = 1 gold dringot (gdr)

100

gold dringots (gdr) = 1 platinum dringot (pdr)

A character begins with 3d6 gold dringots (dr)

Weapons & Armour

There are no specific weapon or armour types in Halberd. Instead, there are general weapons and armour that are the equivalent of a specific weapon. For example, a Light Two-Handed Melee Weapon could be a longsword, while a Heavy One-Handed Ranged Weapon could be a crossbow. It’s up to the player to decide what weapon they are using.

Weapon

Example

Die Bonus

Price

Light One-Handed Melee Weapon

Dagger, Small Club

+1

10gdr

Light Two-Handed Melee Weapon

Staff, Spear

+2

30gdr

Heavy One-Handed Melee Weapon

Katana, Shortsword

+3

60gdr

Heavy Two-Handed Melee Weapon

Greataxe, Halberd

+4

200gdr

Weapon

Example

Die Bonus

Range

Price

Light One-Handed Ranged Weapon

Sling, Shuriken

+1

20ft

10gdr

Light Two-Handed Ranged Weapon

Shortbow

+2

30ft

30gdr

Heavy One-

Throwing

+3

40ft

60gdr

Handed Ranged

Spear,

Weapon

Crossbow

Heavy Two-

Musket

+4

50ft

200gdr

Handed Ranged

Weapon

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Armour Type

Die Modifier

Price

Light Armour

-1

30gdr

Medium Armour

-2

60gdr

Heavy Armour

-3

120gdr

Ultimate Armour

-4

500gdr

Magical Weapons and Armour

Weapons and armour are not limited just to these modifiers above. There are magical weapons and armour in existence that are more powerful than any on the normal equipment lists. Suffice to say that you can’t buy these on the market, or when you can they are ridiculously expensive.

The GM should feel free to create her own magical weapons and armour to put in her game. A good rule of thumb to stop things from getting too overpowered is to have the maximum modifier of any weapon on armour be +7 or -9. However, don't be afraid to give them other interesting properties too, such as summoning a demon or causing the enemy to turn to ice. Also remember that these magical items are very rare, so it's likely that they will only own a few in their adventuring careers.

Special Rules for Weapons & Armour

Two-handed – The weapon is wielded with both hands. A character may not wield any other weapon if they are already holding a 2-handed weapon.

Heavy/Ultimate – A character may not run in heavy or ultimate armour.

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PLAYING THE GAME This section deals with rules on playing the game, such as combat

PLAYING THE GAME

This section deals with rules on playing the game, such as combat and attribute tests. The rules are straightforward to enable the players to go out and have fun without being bogged down.

Contested Attribute Tests

There will come a time in every game when a player is put in direct conflict with someone or something. This could be a foot chase, arm wrestle or a baking contest, whatever it is there's a really simple way of working out who comes out on top.

When someone is actively competing against someone else the player makes an attribute test. Both the player and the GM (or another player if it involves another character) rolls a die corresponding to the relevant attribute. If the player was locked in an arm wrestle with a street tough, both would roll their Action attributes and add any relevant modifiers. For example, the street tough has a magical bracelet on his arm, so gains a +1. The highest roll wins the contest. On a tie the test is re-rolled until there is a clear winner.

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Non-Contested Attribute Tests

Sometimes the player won't be in direct competition with anyone else. Perhaps they're trying to climb up a gorge or silently move towards their target. Here they must roll their relevant attribute plus any modifiers on a difficulty table to see whether they succeed. For example, Liss the Halfling druid is tied up in the back of a cart. She must first break her bonds and then escape the car safely. Her player tells the GM that Liss will try and escape from her bonds. The GM asks for a medium Action roll (the bonds aren't particularly tight). The player rolls a 5, which is a success. Liss escapes from her bonds and now must get out of the car. She opens the door and flings herself onto the pavement. This is a dangerous move, so the GM asks for a medium Wit roll, on the count of having to angle herself right for the fall. She rolls a 3 – she is unsuccessful! Liss bounces hard off the pavement and injures herself. The GM rules that Liss deducts 3 from her Hits score for her wound.

Difficulty Table

Target Number

Difficulty

Example

2

Easy

Jumping a fence

4

Medium

Riding a horse at speed

7

Hard

Breaking into a magically sealed vault

10

Very Hard

Hitting a coin with an arrow 20ft away

14

Impossible

Opening a fissure in reality

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Combat

There’s no doubt that players will get themselves in a tussle more than once, whether that’s a bar brawl or something more serious and with lots of crossbows. This section will explain combat.

Fighting is handled in the same way as contested attribute tests but with a little extra added on. All contested rolls use the Action attribute during combat, but in this instance one participant is the attacker and the other is the defender. If the attacker rolls higher than the defender then the attacker has scored a hit and the defender's Hits score is reduced by the difference between the winning and losing rolls. When Hits reach 0 the character is dead. Alternatively the GM may rule that the character is merely unconscious. Hits may be regained through healing, but may never go above the initial score.

Weapons can give bonuses in combat, giving one side the edge over the other. Weapons gives a bonus to the Action roll when attacking. Weapon Proficiencies can offer combat bonuses. A character only gets a weapon bonus from weapons and proficiencies when attacking, not defending. Paralysed players or opponents cannot attack, however they do get a defence roll.

Similarly, armour can be used to negate the effects of being hurt. Each armour type reduces the number of Hits taken in combat, noted by a -X on the armour table.

Liss is facing down a goblin who has just caused a scene at The Pig Swill. She is attacking with her shortsword, which is +2. She rolls her Action die and gets a 6. She adds the 2 from her weapon to get 8, but she also has Heavy One-Handed Melee Weapon Proficiency +1, so her total attack is 9. The goblin rolls its defence roll and gets a 5. This would mean that Liss does 4 damage, but the goblin is wearing light armour which gives a -1 to damage inflicted against it, so instead takes 3 damage.

Combat can also be modified by the environment. If the character were in cover, such as half hidden behind a wall or a barrel the GM may adjudicate that the character gets an armour bonus of -2, depending on how well-covered they are.

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How Combat Flows

It's up to you how you want combat to play out. You could play it fast and loose, going round the table clockwise to determine the order players act in, or you could assign each player an initiative score based on their Wits roll + their Action roll, the acting order going from highest to lowest.

During combat a player may take two different actions: including but not limited to moving and attacking. Halberd keeps movement fairly abstract, so it's up to the GM to determine how far a character can move. 20ft per action is generally a good guideline when on foot.

Actions in Combat

Halberd plays things fast and loose. There are two actions that a player can take per round during combat, but they can be a number of things to constitute those action such as:

Move

Attack

Try to distract an opponent

Pick an object up

Use a Specialism to your advantage

Do something cool!

There isn’t a strict list of combat actions and it’s up to the GM as to whether she will allow a player to carry out an action in the time that they have. Combat is carried out in rounds that last around 6 seconds, so anything that a character could fit into this 6 second timeframe is feasible.

Weapon Proficiencies

A weapon proficiency can be chosen as a Specialism during character creation and

when advancing your character. Unlike a normal specialism, a weapon proficiency gives you a +1 bonus when attacking with the preferred weapon. For example, if you

choose the One-Handed Light Weapon Proficiency, you will +1 to any attack including

a one-handed light weapon.

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Death and Dying

When you reach 0 Hits you are usually considered dead. However, this is not always

the end for an intrepid adventurer. Once a character is reduced to 0 Hits roll 1d6. On

a roll of 1-3 the character is alive but unconscious at 0 Hits. They must get medical attention within 6 hours or have to roll again On a 4-6 the character is dead.

A character heals 1 Hit per hour when resting.

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ADVENTURING During sessions of Halberd, characters will be undertaking adventures for gold, glory or simply

ADVENTURING

During sessions of Halberd, characters will be undertaking adventures for gold, glory or simply to help someone out. There are lots of ways to find yourself at the pointy end of a dagger in Highbridge and beyond. The usual fantasy trope is to have some breathless noble seek out adventurers in a tavern to give them a quest. Usually there are dungeons involved and dragons to slay. This is a solid start, but don’t be afraid to shake things up a bit. While you can certainly go dungeon delving in Halberd, you may find that the more unusual adventures set in Highbridge can be the most fun.

Here are some ideas to get the players on the road to adventure:

A poet pays them to experience an adventure

There is a murder in The Red Court and the players are entangled in it

Zombies are petitioning for equal rights by eating brains

The Pig Swill needs some new bouncers on ‘Chug Night’

A lawyer needs guarding while on a particularly notorious court case involving an assassin

The Duke of Farstonia arrives and begins snacking on the gentry

A sorcerer accidentally kills everyone in Highbridge, with only ghosts left

Some halflings introduce coffee shops where they use magical hypnosis beans

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Of course, it doesn’t always have to be about solving and/or committing bloody murder. Here are some ideas for how characters can earn money on the side.

Get a book deal (spend 30 days minimum writing, roll a medium Wits test for writer’s block. Every point over the target adds a star to the review)

Sell your story to the press

Get a job in the military or City Guard (1 week)

Set up a professional adventuring business

Set up a shop

Rent out property

Become a university lecturer

Dungeon Flipping

One other way for characters to make money is through ‘dungeon flipping’, which is when they entirely clear a dungeon, temple, cave, labyrinth or whatever, and opt to notify the Highbridge authorities to have it ‘flipped’. The authorities will then renovate the dungeon as a tourist attraction and the characters will gain 20% of the revenue (usually between 50 and 100gdr per month). However, any magick or rare item found must be handed over to the authorities.

Bad Guys

It’s inevitable that the players are going to come across people or things who they are at odds with, whether that’s a band of brigands, a stealthy assassin or a group of goblins. There is no complete list of adversaries in this book. The Unbelievably Simple Roleplaying system makes it super easy to create enemies on the fly. You can make them as simple or complex as your heart desires. Like characters, enemies also have levels. Their level determines how capable they are at fighting, having an attack bonus for each level they have. On the table below you can see what maximum Action attribute, Specialism bonus, Hits and attack bonus you can expect a certain level enemy to possess.

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Level

Action

Attack

Defence

No. of

Maximum

Average

Example Enemies

Attribute Die

Bonus

Mod

Specialisms

Specialism Bonus

Hits

1 D6

 

0

0

0

-

5

Orc, Goblin

2 D6

 

+1

-1

1

+2

10

Lizardman,

Wolf

3 D6

 

+2

-1

1

+2

15

Elf, Roc

4 D8

 

+3

-2

2

+3

20

Half-Troll,

Guard

5 D8

 

+4

-2

2

+3

25

Medusa, Griffin

6 D8

 

+5

-3

3

+4

30

Dire Bear,

Drake

7 D10

 

+6

-4

3

+4

35

Assassin, Hydra

8 D10

 

+7

-5

4

+5

40

Chimera, Young Dragon

9 D10

 

+8

-6

4

+5

45

Ninja,

Werewolf

10 D10

 

+9

-7

5

+5

50

Adult Dragon, Master Vampire

Generally you will want to pit enemies of the same level as the players against the group, but feel free to throw in some a couple of levels higher to keep things interesting in combat. Wits and Ego dice are not included in the table, but feel free to mix these up depending on what enemy you have created.

You can also see that enemies also have Specialisms, just like characters. Again, it’s up to the GM to think up suitable specialisms for her enemies, using the maximum bonus listed in the table.

So you can see that, using this chart, it’s really easy to make up enemies on the fly, whether you want a squad of bandits or a hulking hydra. However, don’t feel like you have to stick with the numbers in the chart. This is only a guide – there is no reason a 2 nd level wolf can’t have a D8 Action attribute or only a +1 attack bonus. As long as it presents a challenge to the players, that’s all that counts.

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EXAMPLE OF PLAY Here's an example of how a typical game of Halberd might play

EXAMPLE OF PLAY

Here's an example of how a typical game of Halberd might play out. We join GM Joan along with Steve as Burrow the halfling thief, Pete as Lucan the elven druid, James as Kronk the dwarf warrior and Dave as Wenlock the human archer. The players have been sent on a quest to find a cure for the plague that has hit Highbridge. They have delved deep into a network of caves beneath a mountain where it is said the cure can be found

GM: You enter a rocky man-made tunnel. There is moss growing on the walls and you can see tiny insects scuttling around the floor. There is a foul stench coming from the north, straight ahead of you but as you're using a torch you can only see so far.

Steve: Burrow's feeling pretty cautious. He tells the others that he has a bad feeling about this and is going to check the area for any traps. He carefully inspects the walls, floor and ceiling ahead of him for any out of place crack or hole.

GM: Cool, roll your Wits and add any Specialism that could help you. [There is a dart trap, so the GM decides it's going to be a hard difficulty of 7 on the attribute test]. Steve: I have Spot Traps! Ok, so I roll 1d10 and add 2 for my Specialism. [Rolls] I rolled a total of 8.

GM: Well done, you spot three suspect holes in the wall that you immediately recognise as a dart trap. These are triggered by stepping on a pressure pad a couple of feet ahead of you. However, you can hear someone coming!

James: Kronk draws his axe and waits to see what's coming.

Dave: Wenlock will knock and arrow and point it down the tunnel.

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GM: Ahead of you appears three ugly orcs, their crude black swords drawn. They roar and charge at you. What are you going to do.

Pete: Let's retreat back a little and hopefully they'll be stupid enough to trip the dart trap.

Steve: Good plan!

[The group retreats a few metres and watches the frontmost orcs step on the pressure pad, much to the enjoyment of the group].

GM: The leading orc is peppered with darts and takes 1d6 damage [she rolls a 5]. The orcs receives one straight in the eye and collapses in a heap on the ground. The other two are running at you. Can everyone roll to see what order they fight in?

[Each player rolls the Wits die + their Action die, the highest going first and continuing to the next highest and so on]

Dave: Right, Wenlock looses an arrow at the closest orc [he rolls his Action die, which is a d8 and gets a 6 and then adds 2 for his short bow giving him a total of 8].

GM: [Rolls the orc's Action die, d6, for his defence, resulting in a 4]. Your arrow flies true and lands with a thunk in the creature's chest for 4 damage. He's not looking peachy. The other orc, however, is within stabbing distance of you. He slashes at your abdomen. [The GM rolls the orc's Action die of d6, getting a 3 and then adds 1 for his short sword, resulting in 4].

Dave: Wenlock defends with all his might! [He rolls a 2 on a d8, meaning he takes 2 damage from the attack]. Arrgh!

James: Kronk runs up to the orc attacking Wenlock and attempts to hew him in two with his axe. [He rolls a total of 10 with his Action die]. Oh yes!

GM: [Rolls a 2 for the orc's defence, meaning he takes 8 damage!] The orc's torso is separated from his legs in a red haze. The final orc drops his blade and pleads for his life.

Steve: Go on, orc, beg for mercy! Hahahaha!

Pete: Lucan raises an eyebrow at Burrow. How's about you tell us where the elixir of Avarice is, orc!

GM: The orc's not going to give the information up that easily, but I'm sure there's some way to get it out of him.

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Pete: Elves are naturally charismatic, so I could use my specialism to persuade him to show us the way.

James: Or Kronk could just intimidate him until he soils himself.

Steve: Let's try Lucan's way first. If it comes to it we threaten the bugger.

Pete: We won't hurt you, orc. In fact, you probably don't like it down here what with all the death and having to poo in the corner of a cave. If you shows us the way to the elixir then we can make sure you get out of here and live a new life in a nice place.

GM: Cunning. Ok, this is going to be a hard attribute test, requiring a 7 on an Ego roll.

Pete: [Rolls his Ego of d8 plus his Charismatic Specialism, which is another 2, resulting in 5]. Dammit!

GM: The orc laughs and tells you he actually likes it down here and he's not going to tell you where the elixir is.

Steve: Alright Kronk, you're up.

James: Kronk marches over to the orc and pins it against the wall that's covered in his kin's blood. He hold the blade at its throat and growls, “Tell us where it is or I'll turn yer gizzard into a nice fountain.”

GM: Ok, roll Ego plus any Specialism.

James: [Rolls d6 plus his Intimidate Specialism of 2, resulting in 7]. Only just!

GM: The orc whimpers and tells you to let him go and he'll give you the description of the room the elixir is in.

The story continues as the party make their way further into the mountain, fight new hideous creatures, overcome traps and find some excellent loot.

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MAGICK RULES The land of Tequendia is an inherently magical place, where all creatures and

MAGICK RULES

The land of Tequendia is an inherently magical place, where all creatures and races were created by the great sorcerer Xin at the beginning of the universe. Unlike many games, any character in Halberd is able to wield magick, although some are better at it than others.

Magick can allow characters to throw fireballs, freeze water, put people to sleep and teleport to new locations. In fact, with the right amount of training character can do almost anything with magick – including cheating death. However, there is a price to pay for casting spells. Magick drains a character’s life force, harming them every time they cast a spell. This means that the caster must choose wisely when to cast a spell.

Magick uses the character’s Wits attribute to cast a spell. Spells are created by the player, taking effects, number of targets and other factors and incorporating them into a single spell. Each of these building blocks are called Aspects and they are used to form scale spells depending on ability level.

Below you will find three tables. These tables are used to create your spell. There are six basic magick effects that you can use and interpret in your own way. See the examples below.

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Reveal: Examples - uncover information, give the player some direction, create a light in the darkness or find someone who is invisible.

Paralyse: Examples – freezing, putting to sleep, putting into suspended animation

Damage: Examples – fireball, magic arrows, telekinetic attack

Restore: Examples – healing, fixing an item, restoring eyesight

Transform: Examples – turn into another person, change an item, turn day to night.

Travel: Examples – summon a magick steed, teleport, send a message.

It’s up to the GM and the players to interpret how a spell works. You can be looser with your definition of these, for examples, if a meteor was hurtling down towards you, you could cast Paralyse to stop it in mid-air. However, the GM should use common sense when allowing certain spells and be able to raise their difficulty level if appropriate. For example, if a player wanted to transform themselves into a dragon that would probably add an extra 10 points to the difficulty because it would be a more difficult task that transforming themselves into a humanoid creature.

How to Create a Spell

To create your spell, follow these steps:

Decide which effect you want to use

Looking on the first table, decide which difficulty level you want your spell to be. The higher the difficulty, the more effective the spell.

Looking at the second table, see how many Hits you need to spend in order to cast the spell of a specific difficulty.

How to Cast a Spell

Casting a spell takes one action in combat, or 6 seconds. Once you have created your spell you must roll on your Wits attribute to try and match or beat the difficulty you have been set. If you succeed, your Hits reduce by the Hits cost of the spell before the spell has the desired effect. Note that a spell can still have an effect even if you fall unconscious or die as a result of it. If you fail the spell has no effect and you do not reduce your Hits.

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1. DIFFICULTY OF SPECIFIC EFFECTS

Difficulty

Amount

Paralysis

Damage

Restored

Transform

Distance

Roll

Revealed

(rounds)

Done

(Hits)

(minutes)

Travelled

(Hits)

Easy

Tiny

1

2

2

1

3ft

Medium

Small

3

5

5

10

10ft

Hard

Medium

5

8

8

20

30ft

Very Hard

Large

10

16

16

60

100ft

Impossible

Huge

20

32

32

1 day

1 mile

2.

DIFFICULTY COSTS

 

Difficulty Roll

 

Hits Cost

 

Easy (2)

2

Medium (4)

5

Hard (7)

8

Very Hard (10)

 

16

Impossible (14+)

 

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For example, Liss wants to heal one of her fallen comrades, who has taken a considerable amount of damage. She decides that she will use a Restore effect and that she wants to heal each 5 Hits. She looks on the table and finds that to Restore 5 Hits will be a medium difficulty roll. She looks on the difficulty costs table and finds that this will cost 5 Hits. If she isn’t successful then she doesn’t lose the Hits.

Casting on Multiple Targets

Sometimes you will want to cast a spell that affects multiple targets, whether it's a group of marauding bandits or a group of objects. You can do this by paying the Hit cost for every extra target. However, for every extra target the difficulty roll increases by 3. So in the above example, Liss could cast the Restore spell on another character for an extra 5 Hits – a total of 10 Hits. This still only counts as a single spell and only requires one Wits roll to cast, however she would need to roll a 7 rather than a 4.

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Magick Specialisms

During character creation players have the option to give their character a magick- based Archetype Specialism. These specialisms relate to the six basic magick effects, giving starting characters a +1 in any that they choose to select. For instance, you could begin with Restore Magick +1, which would give you a +1 bonus when you are casting a spell using the Restore effect.

which would give you a +1 bonus when you are casting a spell using the Restore
which would give you a +1 bonus when you are casting a spell using the Restore

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CHARACTER ADVANCEMENT As characters undertake more adventures they gain experience and eventually advance in their

CHARACTER ADVANCEMENT

As characters undertake more adventures they gain experience and eventually advance in their knowledge and ability.

At the end of each session of playing, the GM will deal out experience points (XP) to each player for anything good that they did during the session. Generally they will receive 1 or even 2 points per session. This could be for any of the following reasons:

Excellent roleplay

Using cunning to get out of a sticky situation

Going out of their way to help a fellow character

Once they have racked up a certain amount of XP they can advance a level, giving the character a new archetype specialism or giving them an extra +1 to a current racial or archetype specialism. A single specialism can have a maximum of +5.

For example, Liss has enough experience points to progress to 2nd level. She can either choose to give one of her current 3 specialisms a +1 bonus, making it +3, or learning a new specialism, like 'Horse Riding'.

When choosing a new specialism, you can either select from any on your archetype or race list; the GM could give you several options for your character; or you can gain a

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specialism depending on something that you did in the sessions leading up to your advancement. For example, Liss the Halfling Druid used a staff quite a lot in the previous sessions, so she could gain the Two-Handed Light Melee Weapon proficiency specialism if she wanted. It’s a good idea to keep track of anything that your character does especially well so that you can create a specialism out of it when you advance.

As well as gaining a specialism, the character also adds 5 to her total Hits score. This becomes the character's new initial Hits total.

Experience Points

Level

0

1

5

2

10

3

15

4

20

5

25

6

30

7

35

8

40

9

45

10

At 10 th level the character is considered to be a master of their discipline and a formidable opponent to anyone who might stand in their way.

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HALBERD

FANTASY ROLEPLAYING

Magick is rife within Tequendria, flowing through all living things – human, elves, trees, naked molerats. The most infamous city in Tequendria, Highbridge, is also its most magical, so there’s never a dull moment if you’re an adventurer. Halberd Fantasy Roleplaying uses the Unbelievably Simple Roleplaying rules to create a simple yet dynamic roleplaying game for beginners or veterans. Become anything you can imagine – a worldly druid, a brave warrior, a stealthy ninja, or one of an infinite number of characters. Wield incredible magick with a flexible system that allows players to create their own spells on the fly, no matter what the situation is.

So step into the city of Highbridge, meet the Red Court, join the League of Assassins or help out the Not-Quite-Dead Poet's Society.

Halberd Fantasy Roleplaying is a tabletop roleplaying game for 2 or more players.

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