Space Hostilities

Apropos of nothing at all, the following example characters from Zap!

Solitaire Jones

Template: Bad-ass
Drive: Get rich
Toughness: 3, Stamina: 2, Will: 3, Actions: 2
Gunslinger 5 – shoots first
Alertness 5 automatic defense
Hotshot Pilot 6
Maintenance 4
Knows a guy 4 – knows people everywhere
Charming Rogue 4
Smuggler 4
Major: Wanted by the law: Jones has outstanding arrest warrants on most of the central planets.
Minor: Bad at fast talk: If Jones attempts to talk his way out of a situation, he usually makes it worse.
Minor: Never tell me the odds: Jones is a lousy gambler.
New Powers begin @ 5 New Shticks begin @ 4

Vehicle: The Peregrine

Hull: 4, Toughness: 2, Power: 2, Crew: 0
Movement 5 (D) Power-up to 7 w/chance of Burn-Out
Deflector Shields 4 automatic defense
Gun Turrets 4
Cargo Bay A 5
Cargo Bay B 5
Power Plant 5
Sensor Dish 5
Restriction: Cranky. Each session roll a random system that has the Erratic Disadvantage for that session
Mortgaged; Jones has to keep working to pay off the ship, or it’ll be repossessed.
New Powers begin @ 5 New Shticks begin @ 4

Parsifal Farmer

Template: Bad-ass
Toughness: 3, Stamina: 2, Will: 3, Actions: 2
Photon Blade 5
Pilot 5
Star Knight Intuition 5
Star Knight Danger Sense 5 automatic defense
Dirt Farmer 4
Mechanic 4
Star Knight Traditions 4
Star Knight Psi 4 (D) Slow (requires 2 actions), (A) Flexible: telekinetically move small objects, telepathic communication, detect psi powers, mind shield
Photon Blade d8
Major: Easily swayed by a pretty face
Minor: Orphan
Minor: Sister issues
New Powers begin @ 5 New Shticks begin @ 4

Grr’onk, Trog Co-pilot

Template: Unique
Toughness: 4, Stamina: 2, Will: 3, Actions: 2

Big 6 Half again as big as a human, and strong to
Hairy 6 automatic defense thick hair is hard to penetrate, and even if  something does it’s hard to tell where the vital spots are in there
Pilot 4 Can operate most of the ships systems, but starship piloting isn’t typical of Trogs

Starship Maintenance 3 can fix systems that go wrong, sort of
Wilderness Survival 4 Trogs are at home in the jungles and forests
Major: human-sized gear doesn’t fit
Minor: Can’t speak Galactic, though he understands it; his voice box and lips aren’t shaped correctly.
Minor: Fastidious. Doesn’t like to do anything that will make him have to clean all that hair.
New Powers begin @ 6 (or 4 if they don’t fit the stereo-type) New Shticks begin @ 4 (or 3 if they don’t fit)

Zap! updated!

Zap! The Science Fiction RPG
Zap! The Science Fiction RPG

There’s a new version of Zap! on RPGNow.  A lot of work went into this one.  There are some rules clarifications, and significant new optional rules for things like speeding ship-to-ship combat, adding hit locations to regular combat, and pages and pages of new example equipment.  Many of the most useful tables have been added to a new Appendix for easy printing, and there’s a whole bunch of new art, mostly from public domain SF comics of yore.  Plus I’ve included a 5 page Quickstart PDF with just enough rules to generate a character and go.

Also, I’ve been running a lot of G+ Hangout games using Zap!  If you want to join in the fun, follow me or the SFX! RPGs community on G+.  We’re trying to set up an every-Tuesday-night SF RPG hangout, where I’ll be one of the rotating GMs, and I have pick-up games several other nights of the week.  If I can get interest, I’d love to run a longer term campaign instead of pick-up one-shots.  Drop on by!

Random E.L.F.s & Espers Character Generation

Start as Follows:

Attributes: Tough: 2 Will: 2 Stamina: 2 Actions: 2
(you may swap points in attributes 1 for 1)

You then get Powers and Shticks, based on what you roll on the following tables.  Don’t worry about the details, just record what you roll and the GM will help you with the rest.  You are free to choose from the table instead of roll (since you could just make up a character from scratch); the tables still provide a handy guide for how common you can expect the entries to be in the setting.

Powers: 3 Powers @ 6
Shticks: 2 Shticks @ 3, or 4 if they fit the stereotype

Restrictions: 1

If rolling on the tables grants you more than 3 Powers, you can change some of them to Shticks or accept more Restrictions.  If you get less than 3 Powers, you can increase an Attribute by 1 for each Power less than 3, or take 2 Shticks.


Roll 2d6

3-4 Evolved/Mutant
5-8 E.L.F.
9-10 Esper
11 Robot
12 Alien

Initiation  (optional)

Roll 1d6.   Choosing an Initiation changes your Template from Unique to either Bad-Ass or Crew, depending on whether you want to be more combat or skill oriented.

1 Technomancer (can operate pentacorders, all-purpose scientific devices; changes your Template to Scientist)
2 Robomancer (can build and control robots)
3 Biomancer (can design and repair E.L.F.s)
4 Roguechemist (can brew potions and fire them with their “casters”)
5 Trooper (can operated powered armor)
6 Archaeomancer (can read ancient scripts, and learn prehistoric languages; lower chance of Mishap when operating ancient tech)


Roll 1d8

1 H-E.M.A.N. (Hyper-Enhanced Male Android Newtype)
2 S.H.E.R.A. (Super Human Emergency Response Android)
3 D.A.T.A (Danger Adapted Terrestrial Android)
4 M.A.R.V.I.N. (Metallic Android Researching Various Induced Neuroses)
5 A.S.T.R.O. (Android System Terrestrial Remote Observation)
6 G.O.R.T. (General Operations Rescue & Training)
7 V.I.C.I. (Voice Input Child Identicant)
8 A.R.A.L.E. (Advanced Research Android Limited Edition)


Roll 1d6.  1-4 Base is human with 1d4 Mutations; 5-6 Base is animal (1d20 for type) with 1d3 Mutations + Enhanced Intelligence

Animal Type

1 Fish: Bass, Clownfish, Dolphin, Eel, Lionfish, Marlin, Puffer, Shark
2 Bird: Crow, Dove, Egret, Hummingbird, Ostrich, Parrot, Raven, Robin
3 Insect: Ant, Bee, Beetle, Butterfly, Centipede, Cricket, Flea, Fly, Moth, Wasp
4 Arachnid: Mite, Scorpion, Spider, Tick
5 Rodent: Bat, Capybara, Gopher, Mole, Mouse, Rat, Squirrel
6 Canine: Dingo, Dog, Fox, Hyena, Jackal, Wolf
7 Feline: Cat, Cougar, Leopard, Lion, Lynx, Ocelot, Puma, Tiger
8 Bovine: Antelope, Auroch, Bison, Bull, Buffalo, Gnu, Ox, Yak
9 Marsupial: Bandicoot, Kangaroo, Koala, Platypus, Possum, Tasmanian Devil
10 Pachyderm: Elephant, Hippo, Rhino
11 Raptor: Eagle, Falcon, Hawk, Owl, Osprey, Peregrine
12 Amphibian: Frog, Newt, Salamander, Toad, Turtle
13 Aquatic Mammal: Beaver, Manatee, Orca, Otter, Porpoise, Whale
14 Reptile: Alligator, Crocodile, Gecko, Gila Monster, Iguana, Komodo Dragon
15 Snake: Anaconda, Boa, Cobra, Coral Snake, Mamba, Viper
16 Dinosaur: T Rex, Ankylosaur, Triceratops, Allosaur, Pteranodon, Raptor
17 Extinct: Giant Sloth, Mammoth, Mastodon, Saber-tooth Tiger
18 Primate: Ape, Baboon, Chimp, Gibbon, Gorilla, Lemur, Monkey, Orangutan
19 Equine: Camel, Deer, Donkey, Horse, Reindeer, Zebra
20 Invertebrate: Jellyfish, Octopus, Sea Anemone, Sea Urchin, Squid, Starfish


Roll a d3 for number of powers: on a 3 you get 2 powers, but re-roll and add; keep doing that until you stop rolling 3’s. (aka 1d3p)  If you roll a power again, increase its Power Level by one.  You get one Defect, plus one more for each time you re-rolled because you rolled a 3.

For each power, roll 1d6 on a 1-5 it’s a physical mutation, on a 6 it’s a mental mutation (roll once on the Esper chart).  Having any Mental mutations automatically means you have an over-sized head, for whatever physical stock you come from.  Roll 2d6 to see what kid of mutation.

Realistic  (an actual mutation such as albinism, extra fingers or limbs, resistance to certain diseases)
3-4 Defect (roll again, except it’s bad; roll a d4, on a 1 the defect is Background, on a 2-3 it’s a Complication, on a 4 it’s a Restriction)
6-8  Plausible (roll on animal chart for some ability from another animal, e.g. a chameleon’s ability to blend in, cobra’s poison fangs, or an electric eel’s shock)
9-10 Science Fictional (immunity to disease in general, or poison, or radiation)
10-11 Magical (ability to use magic; consult the GM)
12 Absurd (comic-book style mutant superpower, e.g. phase through objects, or weather control)


Roll 1d6

1 D.W.A.R.F.   Deep Warren Adapted Rock Form
2 H.O.B.B.T. Habitat Optimized Biologically Based Technology
3 G-N.O.M.E. Genetic-Nonce Organism, Modified Experimental (roll 1d4 times on Evolved table for animal traits)
4 O.G.R.E. Organism Grossly Reinforced Experimental
5 M.A.G.E. Magically Adept Genetically Engineered + re-roll.
6 C.O.B.O.L.D.s Common Order Biologically Optimized Layered Design
7 Gray E.L.F.  Fungus-based E.L.F.
Green E.L.F. Plant-based E.L.F.


Espers are big-headed human-stock descendants, though mutants will also sometimes have Esper powers.

Roll a d4 for number of powers: on a 4 you get 3 powers, but re-roll and add; keep doing that until you stop rolling 4’s. (aka 1d4p)  If you roll a power again, increase its Power Level by one.

1 Apportation – Materialization, disappearance, or teleportation of an object.
2 Aura reading – Perception of the energy fields surrounding people, places, and things.
3 Autonomic Nervous System Control – Conscious control over ANS (heart rate, perspiration, pupil dilation, etc.)
4 Astral projection – An out-of-body experience in which an “astral body” becomes separate from the physical body.
5 Bilocation – Being in multiple places at the same time.
6 Clairvoyance – Perception outside the known human senses.
7 Death-warning – A vision of a living person prior to their death.
8 Divination – Gaining insight into a situation via a ritual.
9 Dowsing – Ability to locate objects.
10 Healing – Diagnosing and curing disease
11 Levitation – Bodily levitation or flying.
12 Mental Domination – Controlling somebody else’s mind.
13 Precognition – Perception of future events before they happen.
14 Psychic blast – Causing damage with psi power
15 Psychokinesis – Manipulation of matter or energy by the power of the mind.
16 Psychometry – Obtaining information about a person or object.
17 Remote viewing – Gathering of information at a distance.
18 Retrocognition – Perception of past events.
19 Superior Intellect – genius level intellect
20 Telepathy – Transfer of thoughts or emotions.


Roll 1d10.

1-3 General Purpose (1-4: Humaniform, 5-6 Functional)
4-5 Industrial
6-7 Heavy Duty Industrial
8-9  Vehicle
10 Military


Roll 1d6

1 Time Traveler (roll on Temporal Origin)
2-4 Extra-Planetary (1-10 Habitats, 11 Mercury, 12 Venus, 13 Moon, 14 Mars, 15 Asteroid Belt, 16 Jupiter, 17 Saturn, 18 Uranus, 19 Neptune, 20 Pluto)
5-7 Extra-Solar
8 Interdimensional

Temporal Origin

1 Classical (Ancient Greece or Rome)
2 Medieval European
3 Ancient Norse/Viking
4 Feudal Japan or China
5 Ancient Egypt
6 Ancient Africa
7 Biblical Middle East
8 Renaissance European (e.g. Musketeers, Cavaliers)
9 American Old West/Civil War
10 Napoleonic European/American Revolution
11 Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica/South America (Inca, Aztec, Maya, etc)
12 World War I
13 World War II
14 Roaring Twenties America
15 18th Century Pirate
16 Cold War
17 Alternate Dimension
18 Alternate Time-line Earth
19 Pre-Apocalypse Future (compared to now)
20 Far Future

A Brief E.L.F.s & Espers Glossary

E.L.F.  Engineered Life Form

D.W.A.R.F.   Deep Warren Adapted Rock Form
Habitat Optimized Biologically Based Technology
Genetic-Nonce Organism, Modified Experimental
Organism Grossly Reinforced Experimental
Magically Adept Genetically Engineered
Organism for Relentless Killing
Hyper-Enhanced Male Android Newtype
Super Human Emergency Response Android
Common Order Biologically Optimized Layered Design

Zounds! Recommended Viewing

Appendix O

Recommended Viewing

The Adventures of Robin Hood Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland
The Adventures of Baron Munchausen John Neville, Eric Idle
Conan the Barbarian Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Earl Jones
Dragonslayer Peter MacNicol, Caitlin Clarke
Excalibur Nigel Terry, Helen Mirren
Hercules: The Legendary Journeys Kevin Sorbo, Michael Hurst
How to Train Your Dragon Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler
Jason and the Argonauts Todd Armstrong, Nancy Kovack
John Carter Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins
Labyrinth David Bowie, Jennifer Connelly
Legend Tom Cruise, Mia Sara, Tim Curry
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe Richard Dempsey, Sophie Cook
The Lord of the Rings Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen and Orlando Bloom
Pirates of the Caribbean Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley
The Princess Bride Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin
The 7th Voyage of Sinbad Kerwin Mathews, Kathryn Grant
Slayers Megumi Hayashibara, Yasunori Matsumoto
The 13th Warrior Antonio Banderas, Diane Venora
Time Bandits Sean Connery, Shelley Duvall
Willow Val Kilmer, Joanne Whalley and Warwick Davis
Wizards Jesse Welles, Bob Holt
Xena: Warrior Princess Lucy Lawless, Renée O’Connor and Ted Raimi

Zounds! Appendix N

Recommended Reading
Many of these are among my favorites, and all of them had an influence on Zounds!, if only to consider whether they would present any problems if you wanted to play something like them using the system.

Alexander, Lloyd The Prydain Chronicles
Anthony, Piers A Spell for Chameleon
Aragones, Sergio and Evanier, Mark Groo
Ariosto, Ludovico Orlando Furioso
Asprin, Robert Myth Adventures
Bramah, Ernest Kai Lung’s Golden Hour
Bujold, Lois McMaster The Curse of Chalion
Byfield, Barbara N. The Book of Weird
Clamp Magic Knight Rayearth
Cook, Glen The Black Company; Garrett, P.I.
Cook, Rick The Wizardry series
de Camp, L. Sprague and Pratt, Fletcher Complete Enchanter
Dickson, Gordon The Dragon and the George
Eddison, Eric The Worm Oroborus
Friesner, Esther (ed.) Chicks in Chainmail anthologies
Goldman, William The Princess Bride
Hodgell, P.C. God Stalker Chronicles
Howard, Robert E. Conan; Kull
Hughart, Barry The Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox
Jones, Diana Wynne Howl’s Moving Castle; Dark Lord of Derkholm
Koike, Kazuo and Kojima, Goseki Lone Wolf and Cub
Kuttner, Henry The Dark World; Elak of Atlantis
Le Guin, Ursula Chronicles of Earthsea
Leiber, Fritz Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser
Levine, Gail Carson The Two Princesses of Bamarre
Lewis, C.S. The Chronicles of Narnia
Lovecraft, H.P. The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath
Mahabharata Indian traditional epic
Malory, Thomas Le Morte d’Arthur
Martinez, A. Lee Too Many Curses; Company of Ogres; A Nameless Witch
Moon, Elizabeth The Deed of Paksenarrion, etc.
Moorcock, Michael Elric; The Chronicles of Corum
Moore, C.L. The Black God’s Kiss
Moore, John Heroics for Beginners
Novik, Naomi Temeraire series
Pierce, Tamora The Protector of the Small, etc.
Pratchett, Terry Discworld
Rosenberg, Joel The Guardians of the Flame
Sakai, Stan Usagi Yojimbo
Scott, Martin Thraxas
Smith, Clark Ashton Collected Works
Spencer, Wen A Brother’s Price
Stasheff, Christopher A Wizard in Rhyme
Tepper, Sheri The True Game
Tolkien, J.R.R. The Lord of the Rings; The Hobbit
van Gulik, Robert Judge Dee series
Vance, Jack The Dying Earth
Wagner, Karl Edward The Kane series
White, T.H. The Once and Future King
Wu, Cheng-En Journey to the West
Zelazny, Roger The Chronicles of Amber; The Lord of Light; Creatures of Light and Darkness

Zounds! is here!

Zounds! Cover

I’m thrilled to announce that Zounds! the Fantasy RPG is now available from RPGNow!  I feel like this is the best SFX! game yet.  It’s certainly the biggest in terms of content.

It’s also the first to have illustrations other than the computer graphics ones that I do… swiped from dead people the world over! (All public domain, that is.)

Check it out!

D&D to Zounds! conversion

D&D to Zounds! conversionStats (min 1)
Toughness 2 +/- CON bonus
Will 2 +/- WIS bonus
Stamina 2
Actions 2 +/- INT bonus (positive only)

If not spell-casting class, or if Cleric:
Name of your Class 4 + (Level)
If spell-casting class (including Cleric):
Combat Spells 4 + Highest Level Spell you can cast. Advantage: Flexible (choose number of spells equal to your score in spells) Disadvantage: Shots (number of shots = power level)
All classes:
Ruggedness 4 + (HP / 6, round nearest)
Reflexes 4 +/- DEX bonus

Charisma 4 +/- CHA bonus
Languages 4 +/- INT bonus
If Melee combat class (Fighter, Paladin, Ranger, etc):
Brawn 4 +/- STR bonus
If Missile combat class (Fighter, Ranger, Thief, etc):
Aim 4 +/- DEX bonus
If spell-casting class:
Knowledge 4 +/- INT bonus (WIS bonus for Clerics)

If Cleric:
Must obey tenets of the church

Small weapon d4 Thrown d4 Leather Armor d4
Medium weapon/staff d6 Bow d6 Chainmail d6
2H Weapon d8 Crossbow d8 Plate Armor d8
Cheap equipment d4
Medium equipment d6
Expensive equipment d8