FAST: Flexible Adventure System, Task-oriented — A Role-Playing Gamesystem
Section 1: Introduction
FAST (Flexible Adventure System, Task-oriented) is a simple role-playing game. In the early days of commercial role-playing games, game systems were relatively simple. Their rules did not fill multiple 100+ page volumes with rules and fine print. They depended on the gamemaster to interpret the rules in the manner that best fit the style of the group of players and the world he or she had created for those players to play in. Simple gamesystems had another advantage. The gamemaster and players could easily remember and understand the rules. This made it much easier for the gamemaster to modify and add to the rules when needed for the campaign world, without having to worry that the modified rules might interfere with a rule in a footnote in the second column of the 343rd page of the ninth volume of the rules. FAST has been designed to recapture the simplicity of those mid-1970 RPG rules, but with more modern (skill-oriented, build your own character) game systems.
FAST was designed for use by experienced roleplayers who desire a simple, clean system for use in a storytelling and/or roleplaying oriented campaign. While the examples used in this brief manual are fantasy oriented, FAST is usable in any genre.
Section 2: Character Creation
Each player must create a character. The Gamemaster (GM) can modify outrageous proposals, suggest appropriate changes, or ban the character from a particular adventure or campaign. Players create characters by first writing up a paragraph or two on their character and then assigning skills to their character based on that description. The GM sets a number of points that players have to buy skills in the campaign. The number of points a skill costs depends on the character’s ability level in a given skill:
[B] Basic Familiarity (16+ for success)..........1 skill point [T] Trained (13+ for success.....................2 skill points [S] Skilled (10+ for success)....................4 skill points [E] Expert (7+ for success)......................7 skill points [M] Master (4+ for success).....................10 skill points
A GM may rule that special skills (those that require special or rare abilities in the campaign world and therefore cannot be learned by just anyone) require twice as many skill points as listed. A GM may limit the maximum skill level a new character may start with.
The following example characters assume that 15 skill points are available, that magic-related skills cost twice the normal amount of skill points, and that the maximum starting skill level is Skilled.
Salome the Enchantress
Salome is a petite, dark-haired woman with severe features. Born to a disgraced noble house, she is haughty and looks down on just about everyone (unless they are one of her rare friends). She is constantly scheming to either restore her house to honor or to bring down those houses who she blames for the fall of her own house. She is quite skilled at Illusion magic and is trying to learn Necromancy so she can summon up the shades of those who destroyed her house and punish them. Skills: Illusion Magic [Skilled, 8 points], Necromancy [Basic Familiarity, 2 points], Courtly Graces [Trained, 2 points], Fast Talk [Trained, 2 points], Seduction [Basic Familiarity, 1 point].
Lyndon is a tall, handsome, and athletic gentleman. The unlanded son of a minor noble, he is suave and polished in his manner, and is skilled at witty repartee. He is proud, quick-tempered, and extremely loyal to the his class. He is fond of brawling in bars, carousing with friends, and courting lovely or powerful ladies. He hopes to marry well above his current station. His lack of useful knowledge and, sometimes, common sense can be appalling. He is an excellent swordsman. Skills: Sword [Skilled, 4 points], Brawling [Trained, 2 points], Thrown Dagger [Basic Familiarity, 1 point], Courtly Graces [Trained, 2 points], Witty Repartee [Trained, 2 points], Seduction [Trained, 2 points], Riding [Basic Familiarity, 1 point], Hunting [Basic Familiarity, 1 point].
Section 3: Skill Resolution
Skill Success Roll: When a player has his character attempt to use a skill in a situation in which he or she might fail, the GM will ask the player to roll 1d20 and tell the player any modifiers that must be applied to the result. The result of the die roll, as modified, determines whether or not the character succeeds in using the skill. For a skill known at the Basic Familiarity level, the final result must be 16 or greater. For a skill known at the Trained level, the final result must be 13 or greater. For a skill known at the Skilled level, the final result must be 10 or greater. For a skill known at the Expert level, the final result must be 7 or greater. For a skill known at the Master level, the final result must be 4 or greater.
Modifiers: The GM may assign a modifier to the Skill Success Roll. A modifier may be of any appropriate amount, up or down, depending on the circumstances. For example, a magic sword may give a bonus in combat; scaling a cliff is harder without the right equipment; casting a powerful spell is much harder than casting a simple spell; being wounded might mean a penalty to most actions; etc. While the GM is free to assign modifiers as needed, here are some suggested modifiers:
TASK COMPLEXITY OTHER MODIFIERS Simple.......+4 Extra Time Taken..........................+2 Easy.........+2 Frequently Performed Task.................+2 Average.......0 Never Done This Before....................-1 Hard.........-2 Wounded (less than 75% hits remaining)....-2 Difficult....-4 Wounded (less than 50% hits remaining)....-4 Daunting.....-7 Wounded (less than 25% hits remaining)....-6 Nearly Ill.......................................-3 Impossible..-10 Very Ill..................................-6
Skill Versus Skill: If two characters pit their skills against each other (e.g. Sword attack vs Shield parry), the character who makes his/her skill roll by the greatest amount succeeds.
No Skill: Players will often have their characters attempt to do something for which they do not have a skill. If the GM determines that a Skill Success Roll is needed, the final result must be 18 or higher.
Section 4: Combat and Damage
Combat: Combat is handed in rounds. Each round lasts long enough to allow each participant to attempt one action. All actions are considered to be simultaneous even though they must be resolved one at a time. This means that any damage or other effects are not applied until the end of the round. Attacks on aware opponents are normally resolved “Skill versus Skill”: the skill the attacker is attacking with versus the skill the defender is using to defend with. If a character is attacked more than once in a single round, he must defend with the same skill each time and must suffer a -2 modifier for each additional attack. (i.e. defend against the second attack at -2, the third at -4, etc.)
Determining Damage: If a hit is made in combat, the character who was hit suffers damage at the end of the round. Damage is equal to the number of points by which the attacker made his/her skill roll (up to 5) times the damage class of the weapon, with a minimum of 1 point of damage. Damage class is only one for small hand-held melee weapons, two for large melee weapons or small firearms, three for rifles and explosives, and four (and higher at GM option) for extremely deadly weapons or attack forms. The protection value of any armor the character may be wearing is subtracted from this amount before it is applied to the character’s Body. Light armor subtracts 1-2 points of damage, medium armor subtracts 3-4 points of damage, and heavy armor subtracts 5-6 points of damage.
Effects of Damage: Each character has a fixed number of BODY points assigned by the GM. The suggested amount for a humanoid of near average mass is 2 points per full half-foot of height, giving a 5 foot person 20 points of Body. Damage is subtracted from that value. When it reaches 0, the character is unconscious or dead as the GM decrees. Generally, minor monsters and non-player characters will be dead while player characters and important non-player characters will be unconscious unless specifically killed by their attackers. Damage heals at one point per two days of total rest without proper medical care, one point per day of total rest with proper medical care.
Section 5: Character Development
Adventure Points: As characters participate in an ongoing campaign, they can learn from their experiences and improve. The GM should award each character from 0 to 5 Adventure Points for every session the character actively participates in, based on the complexity and danger level (to the character) of the session AND how well the player roleplayed the character and participated in the adventure. An average session should probably earn 2-3 points.
Adventure points can be spent for Fate Points and Skill purchase and advancement.
Fate Points: Before the start of any session, a player spent some of his/her characters earned adventure points for up to 5 Fate Points. Unused Fate Points carry over from session to session, but no character may have more than 10 Fate Points at any time. One Fate Point costs 1 Adventure point. Fate points may be used in the following ways, but once used a Fate Point is permanently lost.
- 1 Fate Point will modify any one die roll by plus or minus five (as the player wishes). Must be spent before the dice are rolled.
- 1 Fate Point will modify any one die roll by plus or minus two (as the player wishes) if spent after the dice are rolled.
- 1 Fate Point will cause a minor bit of non-combat luck to come the character’s way. (The GM decides exactly what this is.)
- 2 Fate Points will cause a major bit of non-combat luck to come the character’s way. (The GM decides exactly what this is.)
- 4 Fate Points will allow a player to change a character’s action immediately after seeing the results of that action.
Skill Purchase/Advancement: Players will probably want their characters to learn new skills and improve those they already have during the course of a campaign. Such things normally require GM approval as they are only possible if the character has been practicing or training in the desired skill in the game. Acquiring a new skill (at Basic Familiarity) costs 6 Adventure Points. Improving a skill from Basic Familiarity to Trained also costs 6 Adventure Points. Improving a skill from Trained to Skilled costs 12 Adventure Points. Improving a skill from Skilled to Expert costs 18 Adventure Points. Improving a skill from Expert to Master costs 24 Adventure Points. Improving a skill from Master to Legendary Master (the same 4+ roll as Master, but all negative modifiers for task complexity are reduced by 50%) costs 36 Adventure Points. These costs are doubled if the skill in question is one the GM has ruled special.
Section 6: Optional Rules
Character Creation: Disadvantages: Characters willing to take real disadvantages could earn a few extra points to build their characters. There would be three levels of disadvantages:
Minor (seriously inhibits character about 1 session in 3)...2 points Major (seriously inhibits character about 2 sessions in 3)..4 points Severe (seriously inhibits character about every session)...6 points
Design Note: Personally, I prefer just to give people enough points to build their characters to start with and keep character disadvantages to the character descriptions instead of the game rules. However, for those who prefer otherwise, this simple system should do. The GM must approve all disadvantages and ruthlessly use them in play, of course. The skill point bonus is based on the suggested 15 free starting skill points. If your campaign’s starting skill points are lower than 10 or greater than 20, you will probably want to adjust the number of extra skill points disadvantages give.
Character Creation: Reduced Body: Characters can reduce their starting Body up to 50% (e.g. down to 10 for character starting with 20) getting one additional skill point for every point of Body they give up. If the option Experience rule about increasing Body points is also used, the reduced Body value is the starting value. For example, if a Character started with a Body of 10 (getting ten additional skill points), the maximum the character’s Body could be increased to with adventure Points would be 15.
Design Note: This is a disadvantage, but it is a self-enforcing one — not one the GM has to constantly work to include in her game sessions. It’s also an excellent way to create older, more experienced characters or scholarly characters who have spent their life with their nose in a book. Again, the skill point bonus is based on the suggested 15 free starting skill points. If your campaign’s starting skill points are lower than 10 or greater than 20, you will probably want to adjust the number of extra skill points each point of reduced Body gives.
Skill Resolution: Automatic Success/Failure: The GM may rule that a natural roll of 1 always fails and a natural roll of 20 always succeeds, regardless of modifiers. However, this may not be used to accomplish truly impossible tasks. For example, even a natural roll of 20 would not allow a character to flap his arms and fly (at least in most universes) nor would it allow an unconscious character to dodge someone trying to slit his/her throat.
Character Development: Increasing Body Points: Characters may increase their Body points by as much as 50% over their starting value (e.g. to 30 for a character starting with 20) by spending adventure points: 5 Adventure Points per point of Body increase. This would represent toughening though training.
Design Notes: In some types of campaigns, some way to allow a limited increase in a character’s ability to take damage could be very useful. This rule, allow with the rule for reducing Body in starting characters also provides the variation in the amount of damage people of a similar size and mass can take which is seen in the real world.
Section 7: Copying and Expansion
FAST: The Flexible Adventure System, Task-oriented is copyright © 1997-2010 by Randall Stukey. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike License [cc by-sa]. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/legalcode or, (b) send a letter to Creative Commons, 171 2nd Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA.
Version 1.2 (May 30, 2010): Changed to Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike License
Version 1.1 (November 30, 1998)