Pulp, Superhero, and Dark Fantasy Gaming: Set in the Days of Noir
Rules For Solo Role Playing & Wargaming
But this amazingly unique Mythic games engine thing didn't quite work for me in the way I wanted – too many rules. But Oh golly yes... without having read this wonderfully imaginative innovation to the hobby, I still probably wouldn't have had a clue where to start my own solo system. I guess all pioneers get copied endlessly, and this is no exception. But what I have done is totally change the way the 'original' idea worked, altered the concept, made it my own; made the whole thing short and easy to learn - and came up with the In-Game Random Action Decision Indicative Calculator: IGRADIC for short.
Once I got started, I found my direction quickly; the rules fell into place and were written pretty much over night. Then by play testing I found the system works, and the rest was simply formatting everything into easy reading. Since that fateful day I set about working right through the night to create this system, I have been playing IGRADIC (successfully) for many years.
I have no idea whether anyone else will get along with my solo system. In truth, I often think I owe my somewhat warped, jaded, and free spirited thinking to the guys over at the Yahoo group “The Society of Daisy” for their lateral thinking and alternative approach to almost everything game related. Indeed, I only really wrote the game for myself to help me with my own table top games and semi-rpg`s; but somewhere along the way, I decided to let others share in the fun I was having (because, believe it or not, this simplistic little game as actually very user friendly, and highly enjoyable to play).
Plot Aid Campaign Card Deck (Normal Playing Cards)
Once every so often (perhaps an in-game week or so), shuffle a normal playing card deck and pull three cards. Or if you simply want scenario ideas, use the cards in the same way to generate a set of random event ideas to spice up your one off scenarios.
The first card drawn is called "Self" and is always drawn for the good guys... the solo gamers’ personal favourite 'side'.
The second card drawn is "Influence" goes to the left of the "Self" Card already drawn, and represents recent events (leading up to the present), plus indicates the growing schemes and machinations of the enemy.
The third card "Manoeuvres" also represents the enemy (or enemies); goes to the right of the central "Self" card and indicates current or very near future events. Combined with "Influence" and "Self" the three cards should suggest a current viable plot for the solo gamer to play out, either in his ongoing campaign journals, or on the games table.
- Ace: An important card, whose in game meaning is often affected by the environment of the previous or following (enemy) card. With another hearts card it implies new or rekindled love, friendship, and affection (maybe even the return of an absent character); with diamonds, money and news of distant friends; with festivities, and social or domestic rejoicing; with, spades or clubs it stands for disagreements, misunderstandings, contention, or misfortune. Individually, it stands for the home, appointed office, safe place, etc.
- King: The game is currently dominated by a well meaning man, with strong affections, possibly an emotional man, and given to rash judgments, possessing more zeal than discretion.
- Queen: The game sees a woman take centre stage: fair, loving and lovable, domesticated, prudent, and faithful; possibly overbearing and persuasive.
- Jack: Not endowed with any sex. Sometimes taken as the Cupid card. Represents information and good/bad judgement from a best friend, or as a fair person's thoughts. The enemy cards placed previously and directly after this card are indicative of the good or bad nature of the Ace card interpretation.
- Ten: A sign of good fortune. It implies a good heart, happiness, and the prospect of temporary security. It counteracts bad cards and confirms things in the vicinity.
- Nine: The wish card. It is the sign of riches, and of high social position accompanied by influence and esteem. It may be affected by the enemy bad cards.
- Eight: The pleasures of the table, convivial society. An important gathering. Another meaning implies love and the prospect of relationship or marriage between game characters.
- Seven: A faithless, inconstant friend who may prove an enemy.
- Six: A friend or contact with a confiding nature, liberal, open-handed, and quite possibly easy prey for swindlers; courtship, and being approached by devious enemies.
- Five: Causeless jealousy in a person of weak, unsettled character.
- Four: Lack of trust.
- Three: A dire warning card (perhaps a warning from a mysterious stranger, a scrawled manuscript thrust under a door, or a second hand witness to an overheard conversation).
- Two: Unlooked for (short term) prosperity... maybe a new benefactor, a lucrative payment, a newly appointed (and favourably looked upon) officer.
- Ace: Treasure. Missing item. A clue.
- King: Fresh reliable news.
- Queen: Flirtatious woman... one used to having admirers. A loved one may wander in this direction.
- Jack: A near friend or contact will put his/her own interests first.
- Ten: The potential threat of kidnap, innocent victims known to the card drawer.
- Nine: Lack of strength, loss of faith, loss of belief in self. Low ebb. Disappointment.
- Eight: Chequered Past surfacing. The past surfacing to cause potential harm.
- Seven: Bad Gossip and slander. A Set up.
- Six: Former Lover or partner suddenly surfacing, making things uncomfortable.
- Five: Unexpected news. Business success, a lucky break.
- Four: Breach of confidence. Troubles caused by inconstant friends, vexations and disagreements.
- Three: Legal and domestic quarrels. Temper or fight.
- Two: An unsatisfactory love affair, awakening opposition from relatives or friends.
- Ace: Wealth, a peaceful home, industry, and general prosperity.
- King: A dark, shadowy, mysterious man enters play.
- Queen: A dark, exotic, beautiful and mysterious woman enters play.
- Jack: A New friend or ally.
- Ten: Stolen Riches.
- Nine: Friction through opposition to the wishes of friends, colleagues, or associates.
- Eight: Love of money, and a weak passion for speculating or gambling.
- Seven: Great happiness and momentary good fortune (short term goal achieved) - but with a price to pay.
- Six: Loss of income, blackmail, unpaid gambling debts, swindlers.
- Five: An advantageous proposition.
- Four: Falsehood and double-dealing.
- Three: Real trust. Leap of faith.
- Two: Care is needed to avert disappointment, and to avoid opposition.
- Ace: Ill-chosen friend(s).
- King: An attack against a friend, friends, or self.
- Queen: Bribery.
- Jack: Weak, and unwillingness of others to help do the right thing.
- Ten: An evil omen; grief or imprisonment. Has power to detract from the good signified by the "Self" card.
- Nine: An ill-fated card, meaning sickness, losses, troubles, and dissensions.
- Eight: A warning with regard to any enterprise in hand, this card means evil; also opposition from friends. Bad choices; walking into a trap.
- Seven: Sorrow caused by the loss of a dear friend.
- Six: Rest after toil. Respite. Going into hiding.
- Five: Temporary happiness, and a choice between personal desire and doing what's right.
- Four: Illness, recovering from a wound. Temporarily out of action.
- Three: A journey. New adventure.
- Two: A removal, or possibly death.
Uses the same normal pack of playing cards: every 5 figures from the same unit draw 2 cards. Fractions below five also draw 2 cards (except Multi-Shot figures, which draw 4 cards as normal). Heroes, leaders, etc draw 3 cards: example, a single figure would still draw 2 cards; so would 2, or 3, or 4 men. A 6 man unit plus a hero would thus draw 7 cards: 2 for the first five figures and another 2 for the additional sixth figure, and 3 more for the hero.
- Musket/Rifle: Range: 16 inches.
- Bow/Sling: Range: 12 inches.
- Pistol/Revolver: Range 8 inches.
- Multi-shot Weapon (Machine Gun etc): 14 inches; Draw the top 4 cards from the deck for each Multi-Shot armed figure firing.
- Artillery: Range: 40 inches; Draw the top 3 cards from the deck per gun firing. The target and all adjacent miniatures take the same hits as the 3 card initial draw. If a picture card is drawn, the gun is out of ammunition (any remaining cards for the weapon still to be drawn are lost this turn). The weapon is resupplied on the subsequent turn.
- Thrown Explosives (per unit): Draw 1 card (ignore picture cards and draw again), the number drawn must be between 1 and 6 to land on target: anything over this represents shot deviation or a failure to explode (1d6, 1,2 left: 3,4 right: 5,6 overshoot). Pull a card from the deck and divide by 2 (round down) for the distance of deviation; a picture card drawn means the shot fails to go off at all. Anyone within 3 inches of the explosion must draw 2 cards (unless behind substantial cover) to see whether they take any hits.
Bad Guys and Monsters hit when Clubs are drawn from the pack but picture cards are discarded.
Every time a hit card is drawn (numbered and picture cards apply), the target unit may attempt to negate the hit by drawing a card and placing it half over the hit card. If the save card (any suit) equals or exceeds the hit card, the attack for that hit card is ignored.
Targets that are in cover against ranged weapons draw 2 save cards at a time against each attack. Targets over half range also draw 1 additional save card.
At the beginning of each turn, the sides involved each draw 1 card (the side representing "self" may draw 2 cards and use the highest one shown). Highest number goes first that turn. Draw fresh cards if the numbers are tied.
Next: both sides draw 1 card for every 5 figures (or/and fractions) in play. If only picture cards are drawn; no actions may be made by that side on this turn. The cards represent the number of actions (card points) that side may use during the turn Actions include movement: making ranged attacks: moving and making ranged attacks: melee: or Other Actions.
Beyond this, accurate sequence of play is left pretty open.
Human movement is usually 4 inches per turn (3 inches if slow). Very fast humans may move 5 inches per turn. Mounted figures, large animals move 10 inches per turn. Vehicles can move up to 20 inches a turn, and can accelerate/ decelerate 5 inches a turn. If a vehicle wants to make an immediate stop, it will skid 1 inch for every 4 inches of its current speed that turn. Passengers in a vehicle may place an additional save card against ranged attacks (counts as cover). A vehicle has 1 to 10 hit points (car 3: lorry 5: armoured car 10 etc). Ranged attacks against a vehicle must be nominated at the passengers or the vehicle - and declared before taking the shoot.
A side may move one of his/her own figures at a cost of 1 card point. A side may move and make ranged attacks with a figure for 2 card points. A side may make a melee attack with a figure by adding 1 card point. Moving a figure over difficult terrain (opening a door and entering a room, moving over a wall or debris, swimming or wading through water, moving through trees, moving uphill, etc) costs 2 card points. To move over difficult terrain and make a ranged attack costs 3 card points.... and so on: from this you can work out the card cost of any action.
Other ACTIONS: represents a figure attempting something outside the rules. Attempting to pick a lock on a door, disabling a trap, climbing a ladder, tying up a prisoner, starting an engine, saddling a horse, getting dressed, writing a letter, jumping safely across a wide gap, etc etc etc. For sake of argument, assume all Other Actions cost 1 card point. Some Other Actions may need to be resolved (to determine success) using the IGRADIC table as well.
Units of men must try to stay within 5 inches of at least one other member of the same unit at all times. The Games Host must keep an eye open to ensure this discipline is always maintained where humanly possible. Single (or very small) figure units also exist: e.g. a single gangster armed with a multi shot tommy gun. A henchman guard patrolling alone at night, etc. These small or single man units do not need to obey the 5 inch rule mentioned above.
This is similar to drawing cards for ranged attacks. The exact weapon type used is not important... the number of cards a figure or group of figures represents is what counts. When large close combat fights take place (with multiple base to base combatants), pool all the attack cards together... and lay them out in a line.
- Every 5 Cavalry draw 3 cards in melee.
- Every 5 Infantry or Artillery Crew draw 1 card in melee.
- Every 5 Veteran Infantry draw 2 cards in melee.
- Every 5 Weak Monsters draws 1 card in Melee
- Every 5 Monsters draw 2 cards in Melee
- Every 1 Tough Monster draws 3 cards in Melee
- Every 1 Elite Monster draws 4 cards in Melee
- Every 1 Huge Monsters draws 5 cards in Melee
Combat Classing Your Collection
Weak Monsters might include: Goblins/Native Tribesmen/Gangsters/Zombies. Monsters might include Hobgoblins/Chaotic Fanatics/Gorillas/ Hungry Wolves/ Horrifying Living Skeletons/Lost Dwarf Nation/Mythical Atlantis Elves. Tough Monsters might include Ogres/Living Trees/Raptors/Cthulhu Monstrosities. Elite Monsters might include Trolls/Elephants/Giants <-- Clubs & Spades to hit
Huge monsters might include T-Rex/King Kong/Demons <-- clubs & spades to hit
"Self " side hit when Hearts and Diamonds are drawn. Bad guys & Monsters hit when Clubs (Clubs & Spades if elite or huge) are drawn from the pack but picture cards are discarded.
In Melee, every 5 men get the number of cards indicated above. Fractions below five draw card like 5 men units do. In addition, Heroes draw 3 cards in melee. Side Kicks, Generals, Leaders (NCO`s), and Bad Guy Bosses draw 2 cards in melee.
Every time a hit card is drawn (numbered or picture cards apply), the target unit may attempt to negate the melee hit by drawing a card and placing it half over the hit card. If the save card (any suit) equals or exceeds the hit card, the attack for that hit card is ignored. Hits always remove 1 figure or one artillery crew... when all artillery crew are removed as casualties, the gun is inoperable. Should you need to give an artillery piece a hit rating during a scenario: give a gun 3 hit points.
Once hits and saves have been calculated, the good guys ("Self") always get to choose which enemy or enemies receive hits. When it is a bad guy dealing out the hits (i.e. the enemy the solo player is trying to win against) then the good guys ("Self") always chooses which own figures receive hits... in any combination he/she likes. Shuffle the pack of cards often.
Get into the habit of doing this, to keep the game interesting. Every 5 men and of course fractions (or 1 artillery and crew) in cover get 1 extra card in melee.
In Addition: targets of melee attacks that are in cover occupying a building, or who are uphill of the enemy; and on the first turn of a melee if they are defending a wall, hedge, or in trees, etc. draw an additional save card each melee.
Five of Diamonds & Jokers
A Five of Diamonds always represents a fumble. It represents an automatic failure. A Joker always represents a glorious success. Only good guys get to use the joker card.
Hit Points for Leaders & Monsters
I suggest "Self " main characters start a game with 4 hits: officers and side-kicks 2 each.
Bad Guy main characters 3.
I suggest the following for Monsters:
Weak Monsters 1 hit point each Monsters 2 hit points each
Tough Monsters 3 hit points each
Elite Monsters 5 hit points each
Huge monsters 6 hit points each
When an individual figure is hit due to ranged attacks or melee the owning player should mark the figure in some way to show it has been damaged. When hits take a figure to `0` the piece is removed from play.
In-Game Random Action Decision Indicative Calculator (IGRADIC - for short)
The IGRADIC table is your friend, and will (if treated right) make all those awkward decisions for you without disrupting the flow of the game in any way. Once you decide an action you need to resolve: quickly determine the difficulty level you wish to apply, throw a couple of dice, and read off the result (there are only ever four outcomes so it's not confusing). Determining what happens using the result of the IGRADIC table - well that's up to you to decide using your imagination and how you think the game should go.
The following table is a catch all to cover any situation the solo player wishes to resolve quickly and smoothly. Use it wisely, use it often... but also know when not to use it and simply apply common sense instead.
Select Difficulty, Roll 2D6 Perfect Okay Fail Massive Fail
Impossible - but you just never know N/A 2-3 4-5 6-12
Very Unlikely - but this is Pulp 2 3-4 5-7 8-12
Below Average - go for it 2-3 4-5 6-8 9-12
Average - fifty-fifty 2-4 5-7 8-10 11-12
Above Average – easy 2-5 6-8 9-11 12
A Dead Certainty - in your sleep 2-6 7-9 10-11 12
Impossible To Fail - no contest 2-7 8-10 11-12 N/A
- Perfect: The action has succeeded so well the game character gets a positive bonus to the result. If the action being rolled is to entangle a dangerous animal in a net, a "Perfect" result not only achieve this but would also bring the beast crashing to the ground in stunned confusion. Maybe the action was to listen in secretly to a conversation. A "Perfect" roll not only means the conversation was successfully overheard, but the listener also hears something unexpected and highly valuable the scenario... perhaps a vital clue to the main campaign plot itself.
- Okay: The action succeeds - no more, no less.
- Fail: There are no adverse effects to a fail result other than the failed action itself.
- Massive Fail: The opposite of a "Perfect" roll. The failure is so catastrophic that an additional penalty is incurred by the character's attempted action. Catching his whip onto a tree branch above the deep pit, "Inuit Jones" attempts to swing safely across to the other side of the fiery chasm... but he gets unlucky and fumbles the attempt. With a loud *snap* the branch breaks off the tree, and suddenly the character finds himself plummeting - falling right towards the lava filled pit of destruction!
The IGRADIC table can also be used to `ask the game` simple questions. Maybe the solo gamer needs to know a straight yes or no question you can`t simply decide arbitrarily. Or maybe you need to know the answer to a question for which you have no easy ready-made decision. If in doubt, use the table below by simply asking a “yes” or “no” question and then letting the table decide for you.
Select Difficulty, Roll 2D6 Yes No
Impossible - but you just never know 2 3+
Very Unlikely - but this is Fantasy 2-3 4+
Below Average - go for it 2-5 6+
Average - fifty-fifty 2-7 8+
Above Average – easy 2-8 9+
A Dead Certainty - in your sleep 2-10 11+
Impossible To Fail - no contest 2-11 12
As I have grown older and perhaps wiser I don`t use much magic in my games anymore. I prefer games with little or no hocus pocus in them. I have seen the use of magic unbalance too many games and turn its usage into mere “Get Out of Jail Free” cards; reducing its inevitable inclusion as an excuse not to play well… simply allowing the players to achieve the impossible to give themselves a winning edge. However, you can easily work a bit of tastefully done `low magic` into IGRADIC if you so choose. If so, I advise you to do so subtly and carefully.
I will write some additional pages for optional Hero Character development and Monster Special Abilities (Vampires, Werewolves, Ghouls, Ghosts, Mummies, Doppelgangers Cthulhu, etc...and of course super powers) at some later date. Probably when I come to needing more precise rules for these myself... for my own campaign games.
© 2017, Stephen A Gilbert
The Undiscovered Wilderness:
Additional Plot Aid Card Deck
For Pulp or Victorian Gothic Style Gaming
with rapidly unfolding events) shuffle and pull three cards. Or if you simply want scenario ideas, use the cards in the same way to generate a set of random event ideas to spice up your one off scenarios.
The first card drawn is called “Self”, and is always drawn for the good guys... the solo gamer`s personal favourite `side`.
The second card drawn is “Influence” goes to the left of the “Self” Card already Drawn, and represents recent events (leading up to the present), and indicates the activities of
relevant enemies and creatures.
The third card “Manoeuvres” represents the growing threats; goes to the right of the central “Self” card and indicates current or very near future events. Combined with “Influence” and “Self”, the three cards should suggest a current viable plot for the solo gamer to play out, either in his/her ongoing campaign or on the games table.
Ace.—An important card, whose in game meaning is often greatly affected by the environment of the previous or following Influence and Manoeuvres card. With another hearts card it implies new or rekindled love, friendship, and affection (maybe even the return of an absent character); with diamonds, money and news of distant friends; with clubs, festivities, and social or domestic rejoicing; with, spades, disagreements, misunderstandings, contention, or misfortune; individually, the card stands for the home, safe camp, sojourn at a peaceful settlement, etc.
King.—The game is currently dominated by a (intrinsically) good-hearted man, with strong
affections, possibly an emotional man, and given to rash judgments, great bravery, occasional
cruelty due to lack of understanding or stubborn denial to face the truth, possessing more zeal
Queen.— The game sees a woman take center stage: fair, loving and lovable, domesticated, prudent, and faithful.
Jack.— Represents information and good judgement from a best friend, or as a fair person's
thoughts. The enemy cards placed previously and directly after this card are indicative of the good or bad nature of the Jack`s interpretation.
Ten.—A sign of good fortune. It implies a good heart, happiness, and the prospect of temporary security. It counteracts bad cards and confirms things in the vicinity.
Nine.—Earth-quake, volcano eruption, flash flood, land slide, animal stampede, or some
other natural disaster.
Eight.—The pleasures of the table, a pleasant social encounter. An important gathering.
Another meaning implies love and the prospect of relationship or marriage between game characters.
Seven.—A faithless, inconstant friend who may one day prove to be an enemy.
Six.—A friend with a confiding nature, liberal, open-handed, and quite possibly easy prey for stronger minded people to exploit; courtship, and being approached by devious enemies.
Five.—Causeless jealousy in a person of weak, unsettled character, possible dangerous twist.
Four.— Lack of trust. due to being in the wrong place and the wrong time. Possibly a set up.
Three.—A dire warning card (perhaps a warning in a mysterious message), or a second hand
witness to an overheard conversation. Dangerous beast rumoured to be roaming close by.
Two.—Unlooked for (short term) success... maybe a new venture, a lucrative pay packet, the
discovery of an ancient and previously unknown site.
Ace.—Treasure. Missing item. A clue.
King.—Fresh reliable news. Possibly a sigh of being on the right path.
Queen.—Flirtatious woman... one used to having admirers. A loved one may wander in this direction.
Jack.—A near friend or associate will put his/her own interests first.
Ten.—The potential threat of kidnap, possibly innocent victims known to the card drawer.
Nine.—Lack of strength, loss of faith, loss of belief in self. Low ebb. Disappointment.
Eight.—Chequered Past surfacing. The past surfacing, potentially able to cause harm.
Seven.—Bad Gossip and slander. Ambush. Fierce encounter in the wilds.
Six.— Former Lover or partner suddenly surfacing, making things uncomfortable.
Five.— Unexpected news, a lucky break.
Four.—Breach of confidence. Troubles caused by inconstant friends. Vexations and disagreements.
Three.—Legal and domestic quarrels. Temper, fight, or unexpected wilderness skirmish.
Two.—An unsatisfactory love affair, awakening opposition from relatives, friends, or jealous
Ace.—Ignorant and with wealth and power and enters the game, causing disharmony and
King.—A dark, shadowy, mysterious new enemy of enters play. Possible archaeological dig
involved, or search for something ancient and lost.
Queen.—A dark minded, exotically beautiful and mysterious woman enters play. A sadistic
beauty who is utterly ruthless; possibly with a soft spot (weakness) for one of the good guys or girls.
Jack.—A New friend or ally.
Ten.—Stolen Riches. Beaten to the post by an enemy. Dangerous lurking beasts.
Nine.—Friction through opposition to the wishes of friends, colleagues, or associates. Dire warning and threat of curse.
Eight.—Love of money, weakness surfacing. Cowardice in the face of adversity.
Seven.—Encounter with vengeful beast.... enraged mother or carnivorous bull.
Six.—Snake in the grass. Blackmail. Betrayal with devastating consequences.
Five.—A secret path or trail, possibly guarded by ancient evil or wild beasts/creatures; often
accompanied by native superstition and vague rumour.
Four.— Falsehood and double-dealing. Deception and deliberate false lead.
Three.— Real trust. Leap of faith. Or surprising animal friendship.
Two.—Care is needed to avert opposition and disappointment from close friend or loved one.
Ace.— Ill-chosen friend(s). Smiling fair, but foul intent barely concealed. Often the target of such a person`s dangerous desires is blind to the true extent of their danger or the masked intent of the bad person influence.
King.—A dangerous motive driven attack against a friend, friends, or self.
Queen.— Ancient Evil surfacing unexpectedly, having been disturbed, summoned, or ritually
risen from the grave/tomb.
Jack.—Weak from Military allies, and general unwillingness to help do the right thing.
Ten.— Cursed Tomb or Burial Site.
Nine.—An ill-fated card, meaning sickness, losses, troubles, dissension, plague, famine, etc
Eight.—A warning with regard to any enterprise in hand; this card implies evil: also opposition from friends. Bad choices; walking into a trap.
Seven.—Sorrow caused by the loss of a dear friend.
Six.—Rest after toil. Safe House. Going into hiding. Maybe accompanied by monsoon
weather, sand/dust storm, or flooding.
Five.—Temporary happiness, and a choice between personal desire and doing what`s right.
Four.—Illness, recovering from a wound. Temporarily out of action.
Three.—A journey. New adventure.
Two.—A removal, or possibly even death, accidental or otherwise.