One of God's own prototypes. A high-powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die.” -Hunter S. Thompson

Thursday, March 14, 2013

My New Nemesis

Published in 2006, NEMESIS is a generic horror RPG that uses a hybrid of the One Roll Engine (ORE) rules from Godlike, and the Madness Meter from Unknown Armies. Created by Greg Stolze and Dennis Detwiller this 52 page PDF can be Downloaded free of charge HERE.

The rules are an interesting twist on dice rolling mechanics. The One Roll Engine utilizes solely d10s and is designed to provide all the information needed in one roll. Task resolution is done by rolling a dice pool (maximum 10 dice). Dice pools are created by taking the skill you want to use (skills are rated in dice with human average of 1-5) and adding dice from from one of six associated ability scores (the 6 scores are rated in dice with human average of 1-5). Success is determined by making matches. The height and width of your roll determines how successful you are at an action. Width equals how many matching dice you have, hight equals how high those matches are. So for example if you rolled a pool of 8 dice (for example 4 for the Body ability, 4 for Martial Arts skill) and got a 4, 7, 8, 4, 6, 9, 4, 1, your roll would be noted as 3 x 4 or a width of 3 and a height of 4.

The other interesting mechanic is the Madness Meter. This was first seen in the Unknown Armies RPG and functions as a way of tracking a characters mental health. There are four gauges that track: Violence, the Unnatural, Self, and Helplessness. Characters can become hardened to sanity blasting effects or become unstable and descend into madness. I feel like this system helps emulate real life mental trauma better than say the Call of Cthulhu sanity system.

The core mechanic is relatively simple and with additional rules adding layers of complexity. The system itself seems to lend itself to tinkering and seems like they would be able to handle most if not all genres without a problem. While technically there seems to be enough here to run a game and its available free I personally feel like the NEMESIS document is incomplete. It feels like there should be a little more meat on this things bones. A minor thing but I feel it bears mentioning. Lastly these days I find myself more and more of the mind that RPGs should be setting specific as opposed to being generic. Again just an opinion. Lastly there is a Call of Cthulhu/Godlike Conversion Document available for download that would work well as a guide for converting the massive back catalog of Chaosium material out there.

Final thoughts. This seems like a very cool system. I feel like it captures that line between the crunch and rules light system I'm looking for. I defiantly wanna tinker around with the rules a bit and see what I can do with them. In particular I think they would make a great replacement in a Call of Cthulhu campaign.    

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