Action! System Basics

Action! System RPG SRD

Core Rules

The Basics
Action Points
Rules of Play
Character Creation


Aesthetics, Kao, and Piety
Creating Items
Extended Distance Modifier Table
Extended Strength Table
Hit Locations
Improving Membership Rank
Optional Wealth Rules
Poison and Drugs
Quality of Items
Status in Feudal Japan
Tear Gas


Alternate Dice Mechanics
Detailed Language Rules
Military Rank
Optional Skill Lists
Readying Pool Mechanic

The Basics
In this section we present a quick overview of the most basic rules of the game.

The game rules use three six-sided dice. It's traditional to abbreviate "three six-sided dice" by writing "3d6." In this custom, the first number is the number of dice being used (in this case 3) and the second number represents the type of dice being used (specifically, number of sides they possess), so "d6" means "six-sided dice."

Six-sided dice are the common, square-shaped dice that can be found in many board games. They can also be purchased in many general department stores, but chances are you have at least three of these dice somewhere in your house, in other games.

There are options to use other numbers and kinds of dice, which are discussed later and in other optional rules. For now all you need to play the game using the core rules are 3d6 — three six-sided dice.

The GM
One member of the group assumes the role of moderator and controls the Non-Player Characters ("NPCs" for short). This player is known as the Game Master, or GM.

In situations when the rules are unclear or need to be applied in a new or unique way, the GM uses his or her best judgment. The GM also constructs the basics of the game. Basics include the setting, theme, NPCs and some goals for the players' group, normally called a Party, but also referred to as a Team, Troupe, Group, or Cabal. We'll talk more about what makes a good Game Master later in this book.

Players and Characters
Each player has a fictional character, called a Player Character (or "PC"), a made-up person that the player will use during the game. The player chooses what his character does and says during the game.

Players are in no way assumed to actually be their characters. Players are real people. Characters are pretend. Think of the player as an actor, and the PC as a role that the actor is playing in a movie or play, and you'll begin to get the idea.

Attributes & Skills
Each character has attributes and skills that represent the character's personal ability or aptitude in various areas or for performing certain tasks.

Each attribute and skill has a numerical score. This score tells you how strong or proficient the character is in that area. Most characters will have scores from 1 to 10, which represents the normal human range of ability.

There are six attributes, which are arranged in two groups: Body and Mind.

Each group contains a Power Attribute, an Aptitude Attribute and a Resistance Attribute.

New attribute groups can be added, providing more variety and additional attributes for characters, but the core rules use only these two.

Each character also has skills, which represent the character's general ability or aptitude in various tasks. There are skills for arts and crafts, using weapons, and even diplomacy. Skills reflect how good your character is at what he knows.

Skills are also arranged into groups. Each group contains from 5 to 8 related skills.

Each skill is associated with a specific Attribute Group. Persuasion, for example, is associated with the Mind Group, whereas the Swords skill is associated with the Body Group.

When a character attempts a simple task, such as walking or opening an unlocked door, the player doesn't need to roll dice. When a character attempts an action that has a chance of failure, however, such as attacking an opponent or maneuvering a car through an obstacle course, the player must make a skill roll.

Skill Rolls
Skill rolls are used to determine if a character is successful at some attempted action or task.

Players decide if they want their character to perform an action. An action can be as simple as walking through a door, which would not require a skill roll. Sometimes there is a level of skill involved in performing the action, however, so the player may need to make a skill roll for his character. The GM decides whether or not an action requires a skill roll.

Attribute + Skill
If the GM determines that a player's chosen action requires a skill roll, the GM determines which Skill and which Attribute (from the Attribute Group associated with the skill) apply to the task.

If a character attempts to shoot an opponent with a revolver, the player must make a Pistols skill roll. Because the Pistols skill is associated with the Body Group, the GM must choose Strength, Reflexes, or Health as the attribute that the player uses with the Pistols skill. The logical choice is Reflexes, the Aptitude Attribute for the Body Group.

Difficulty Levels and Target Numbers
The GM then determines the Difficulty Level (or "DL") of the action being attempted. Each Difficulty Level has an associated Target Number (abbreviated as "TN"; see the Difficulty and Target Number Chart). The more difficult the action being attempted is, the greater the Difficulty Level and the higher the Target Number.

The Target Number is the number that the player must meet or beat when making a dice roll in order for the task to be successful. A Target Number of 18 would be shown as "(TN 18)."

Making the Roll
To make a skill roll, a player rolls 3d6 and adds his character's attribute and skill scores to the number rolled on the dice. If this new total is equal to or more than the Target Number, the attempted action is successful. If the total is lower than the Target Number, the attempt fails.

Attribute Rolls
Attribute rolls are made much the same as skill rolls, with the GM determining a Difficulty Level and assigning a Target Number. The difference is that instead of adding an attribute score to a skill score, the player simply doubles the character's attribute score and then adds that number to the dice roll.

John's character has a Reflexes score of 4. The GM tells John to make an Difficult attribute roll (TN 21) using his character's Reflexes. John doubles his character's Reflexes score (4) for a total of 8. He then rolls 3d6, and gets 13. Because 13 plus 8 equals 21, John's character's attribute roll is successful.

If a character suffers injury, such as from being hit by a weapon or falling into a pit, the injury is represented by damage points. Damage points are subtracted from the character's Life Points. When a character's Life Points are reduced to 0, the character is dying.

Campaign Level
The game rules are versatile enough to handle games simulating adventures of average, everyday heroes, cinematic action heroes from fiction (novels, television and movies), high-powered, epic or supernatural heroes, and even giant monsters! To reflect the type of heroes being portrayed in the game, the game uses Campaign Levels.

The three Campaign Levels are Realistic, Cinematic, and Extreme.

Realistic games are those in which the player characters are life-like, everyday heroes. For example, the characters may be street cops, investigators of the occult or otherworldly horrors, or soldiers in World War II.

Realistic games typically involve real-world situations (and their aftereffects) faced by everyday heroes. Because characters are not as capable of physically handling devastating encounters and traumatic events as cinematic or heroic characters, Realistic games tend to involve more roleplaying than combat and action, though this needn't be the case for all games. If elements of the fantastic are present in the game setting, they are usually obscure and mysterious and beyond the grasp of the PCs. For example, while many people may believe that magic and miracles are real, there is generally no way to scientifically prove so.

Cinematic games are those in which the player characters are larger-than-life action heroes such as those found in fantasy, science fiction and action stories. The characters may be maverick cops (such as the characters portrayed in many police-oriented dramatic and action films and television programs), unlikely but capable heroes, avenging do-gooders and battlers of evil, Japanese chanbara (sword fight film) heroes, or heroes in a science fiction setting or fantasy setting.

Cinematic games typically involve lots of high-action and plausible, albeit unlikely, situations. The heroes tend to be highly capable, as do the major antagonists. Minor enemies (henchmen, flunkies, goons, mooks, etc.) are dangerous and numerous, but not as skilled as the heroes. Cinematic games tend to involve as much roleplaying as they do combat and action. If elements of the fantastic are present in the game setting, they are usually accessible to the characters if not altogether common. For example, magic spells or advanced technology, such as blasters and starships, may be available in the setting.

Extreme games are those in which the player characters are heroes of epic or supernatural power or abilities (or both), such as those found in superhero comic books, many animé films and cartoons, and even some video games. The characters may be superheroes, seemingly normal but powerful heroes, heroes with access to incredibly powerful abilities, devices, or supernatural creatures or themselves beings of incredible power or ability, Japanese sentai fighters or even giant monsters (such as those in the Japanese kaiju genre films)!

Extreme level games typically involve lots of high-action and implausible, if not impossible (in the real world), situations. Entire city blocks (and sometimes entire worlds!) may be destroyed in the wake of powerful battles between entities. The heroes are often among an elite group of super-powered beings, often called upon to save their locale from one threat or another. Minor enemies are an annoyance, though typically many in number and not nearly as skilled as the heroes. Extreme games tend to involve more combat and action than roleplaying. Elements of the fantastic are a staple of this level of game play, though they are usually accessible only to a limited group of people. For example, super-powers may be present but the vast majority of people are "normals" rather than "supers."

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