My Star Trek System

A lot of folks I know are Trekkies. My buddy Chris Colbath is nuts for it. Recently, another friend of mine (Dan Waskawatzibah) has started watching Star Trek on Netflix and has begun to get the fever. He asked me, "What kind of system would you use to run a Trek game?"

I thought about it for a moment, and then remembered that I already designed one. A long time ago, I sort-of-designed a semi-hard science fiction RPG I gave the playtest name The Fifth Stat. Each race in the game had four stats–something typical like Strength, Willpower, Education and Charm–but each race had a unique "fifth stat." That fifth state made each race unique.

As soon as Dan asked me, "What kind of system would you use?" I remembered The Fifth Stat and said, "Here's how you do it."

The Fifth Trait
For humans, the fifth stat is "Hope." Mr. Heinig once told me, "The theme of Trek is, 'We're gonna make it.'" And he said it with such conviction, such sincerity, I bought it. I even started watching Deep Space Nine just because of the way Jess said, "We're gonna make it." And thus, for humans, the fifth trait is "Hope."

For Vulcans, the fifth trait is, of course, "Logic."

For Klingons, it's "Pain." For Ferengi, it's "Greed."

For Romulans, it's "Passion."

For Bajorans, it's "Faith."

… and so on. I won't give you the rest–because I plan on making it a real game one day, except without the trademarked stuff that can get me sued–but that's the basics. 

And Jess & Chris, if you guys make it out to Phoenix, I'll run it. I love you guys. The best gift I can give for my friends is games.

This one's yours.

The Heel Turn

(A section from the forthcoming The Name of the Game is Wrestling. Part of The Big Book of Little Games, The Name of the Game is Wrestling is a professional wrestling roleplaying game (for smarks). Written by myself and Dan "The Polish Powerhouse" Waszkiewicz and will be released in September.)

(For those not in the know, in wrestling, "babyfaces" are the good wrestlers and "heels" are the evil wrestlers. This chapter deals with the psychology of "the turn," which is how you transform a fan favorite into someone the fans absolutely hate.)

* * *

Turning a babyface into a heel is a lot easier than turning a heel into a babyface. All you have to do is find another babyface in the company—someone the fans absolutely love—and have the guy you want to turn betray him and beat the crap out of him. Nobody likes a bully and nobody likes a traitor. That’s why you make our new heel betray his friends and bully the audience.

But if you really want to get a heel over with the crowd, you have to set it up right. If you spend months setting it up, if you treat the turn like a real story. Let me give you a couple of real examples.

Zbyszko vs. Samartino
Larry Zbyszko was a young babyface who was trained by “the living legend of wrestling,” Bruno Samartino. And that wasn’t any hype, either. Bruno was beloved by fans. He was a solid worker and keen on wrestling psychology. Zbyszko was promoted as “the only wrestler ever trained by Samartino,” but despite that, or perhaps because of it, Zbyszko could never get out of Samartino’s shadow. For months, he tried, but Samartino’s legend was too great. So, the pupil challenged the teacher to a match, going so far to even threaten to retire if his mentor did not accept the challenge. Samartino accepted and the match was on.

During the match, everything Zbyszco tried was countered by his mentor. And when Samartino got an advantage, he quit it. When he put Zbyszco into a armbar, he broke the hold. When he caught Zbyszco in a bear hug, he released it. When he met Zbyszco in a test of strength, he stepped back, breaking the grasp.

As the match progressed, Zbyszco became more and more frustrated. When he put Samartino in his finisher, the abdominal stretch, it looked like the student may beat the master… but Samartino broke the hold, frustrating his student even more.

Finally, Samartino broke a hold and Zbyszco fell through the ropes to the floor. Zbyszco was hot. And when Samartino held the ropes open for him, Zbyszco took a cheap shot and downed his mentor. Then, the punches started throwing. Cheap shot after cheap shot. That’s when Zbyszco got a chair…

Zbyszco left Samartino in the middle of the ring in a pool of his own blood. And Larry Zbyszco, in one match, became the hottest heel in the territory. Zbyszko was so hated by the territories fans, his car was vandalized multiple times, his taxis were overturned, he was assaulted by fans and, one night, was even stabbed.

The program went on to culminate in Madison Square Garden with a classic match that had the audience cheering and booing for a straight twenty minutes.

The Big Turn of 1980

The same year Bruno and Larry started their feud, a little further down south, another classic program was about to pay off. A year before, one of the hottest feuds in the Georgia territory was Ole Anderson (the heel) and Dusty Rhodes (the biggest face). The feud ended with a match that left Dusty bloody and beaten. He cut a promo promising, “This will never be over! It will never be over!”

Over the course of the year, Anderson made a face turn. He was such a hated villain that nobody trusted him, but he ran in to help faces in peril, fought old allies in brutal matches and did his best to prove that he had changed his ways. For a year, Anderson was a face.

A year into Anderson’s face turn, he and Rhodes became a tag team against the Masked Assassins. A special referee, Anderson’s old tag team partner Ivan Koloff, was put in place. It seemed the odds were against Ole and Dusty. But that’s exactly how Anderson and Rhodes wanted it. The match was in a cage—to keep any outside interference. And it was inside that cage that Anderson’s revenge finally came to fruition.

When the moment was right, when an injured Rhodes finally got the “hot tag,” and Anderson stepped into the ring… Anderson started stomping on Rhodes.

When the Masked Assassins and Koloff saw what was happening, they both stood back in shock. And then, they joined in. Wrestlers tried to run in to help Rhodes, climbing the cage, but the Assassins knocked them all back down to the floor while Koloff and Anderson worked over the American Dream. Eventually, the faces broke through the cage, but the damage had already been done.

The next episode of Georgia Championship Wrestling was devoted entirely to the turn. Anderson sold it like prime real estate. Whenever a wrestler entered the interview area (with the legendary Gordon Solie), they had something to say about it.

The turn was one of the most memorable wrestling moments in my memory. I remember going to school on Monday and every single boy in the sixth grade was talking about it. We talked about it all week. We couldn’t wait until Saturday to find out what would happen next.

As a side note, I have to admit, I was bullied a lot while I was in Georgia. I was small. I was from a state above the Mason Dixon line. I was incredibly shy. And watching someone from my own home state, Ole Anderson, the leader of “the Minnesota Wrecking Crew,” get the better of the Southern hero, Dusty Rhodes, was more than a little cathartic. While the other kids talked about how Anderson was going to get what he deserved, I was secretly cheering for him. It was the first time I ever found myself rooting for a heel. It was an important part of my childhood that stuck with me for the rest of my life.

Sheldon’s Game about Angels and Demons

My friend Sheldon asked me (via Facebook) to make a game about angels and demons in the modern world. Upon asking, the mechanics for the game popped into my head. Here they are.

Character Creation
Players take the roles of angels and demons. Specifically, each player makes two characters: one angel and one demon.

The stats are simple. Each celestial (let’s use that term for both angels and demons, since they are the same thing) has two sides to each character sheet. On one side are the seven deadly sins. On the other side of the sheet, we have the seven saintly virtues. Both oppose each other.

Wrath vs. Patience
Greed vs Charity
Sloth vs Diligence
Pride vs Humility
Lust vs Chastity
Envy vs. Kindness
Gluttony vs Temperance

The virtues and vices each have their own rank in points, but the total points of each pair must add up to ten.

For example, my character, an angel, has the following set of sins and virtues:

4 Wrath vs Patience 6
3 Greed vs Charity 7
2 Sloth vs Diligence 8
4 Pride vs Humility 6
2 Lust vs Chastity 8
4 Envy vs Kindness 6
2 Gluttony vs Temperance 8

Each set adds up to 10.

Do determine the rank of each virtue and vice, roll 2d4. Then, assign the number you rolled to either a virtue or a vice, thus assigning the corresponding number to the other side.

For example, for Wrath vs Patience, I rolled a 6. Because I’m an angel, I decide to assign that 4 to Wrath, giving my Patience a 6.

Whenever your character takes an action, consult the sins and virtues. You get a number of dice to roll equal to the appropriate sin or virtue. Each even numbered die represents one story element the player can narrate and each odd number represents one story element the GM can narrate.

Falling from Grace
Whenever an angel takes an action that uses his vices, he risks falling from grace. Make a roll on a d10. If the number is greater than or equal to the virtue, mark that virtue. It is in risk of falling. If he makes another action that calls on the same sin, perform the same procedure. If the roll is greater than or equal to the virtue, it goes down by one rank and the corresponding sin goes up by one rank.

If an angel’s sins are ever greater than his virtues, he is danger of falling. JHVH is a rather unforgiving fellow, so one more action that increases a sin by one rank means the angel becomes a demon.

Demons can never again become angels.

Kewl Powerz

As for kewl powerz, angels and demons exhibit all kinds of fantastic abilities throughout literature. You get three kewl powerz that you’ve seen or read angels do. Consult your GM about the kewl powerz you want and get his or her approval. If they approve, you get the kewl powerz. If they don’t, ask why, talk it out and come to a compromise that makes both of you happy.

Angels and demons never need to roll to use Kewl Powerz. Kewl Powerz trump all other mechanics; the celestial gets to narrate the outcome of the action. The only time celestials should roll when using Kewl Powerz is when someone else is using their own Kewl Powerz against them. This includes other celestials, vampires, werewolves, wizards, witches or whatever else you see fit to co-exist in your angel/demon world.

Hearts and Wings
Based on what I’ve seen and read, the only way to truly kill an angel is to destroy his heart. If you can remove an angel’s heart, you own him. You can command him to do whatever you like. If you destroy his heart, he dies.

If a celestial eats the heart of another celestial, he gains that celestial’s Kewl Powerz.

If an angel’s wings are ever removed (voluntarily or involuntarily), he ceases being an angel (or demon) and becomes mortal.


There’s your game, Sheldon. I could write more, add more fluff, etc. And maybe I will for the Big Book of Little Games. Hope you like it. 🙂

Gods & Alignments

(from a bit of writing for Secret Project…)

I’m going to steal a line from the wonderful folks at Paradigm Concepts. (If you dig fantasy rpgs, you should check them out.

Here’s the line: “Gods don’t have alignments; men do.”

I like that sentiment. Coupled with the fact that I usually ditch alignment (as I said in Chapter 1), the gods here do not have alignments. Gods should be above such petty and mundane definitions. They’re gods, after all. But, if you feel it necessary to pin alignments on such entities, please feel free to do so.

Oh, and the next time we meet, just let me know what Odin’s alignment is. Or Zeus. Or even Quetzalcoatl. Heck, I’m really curious to see what alignment you’d slap on the God of the Old Testament. I’m sure any such discussion would be a hootenanny.

Sexcraft: A Little Game with a Lot of Sex

The April release for the Big Book of Little Games is here!

There is a kind of magic in the world that no one speaks about. It can sway the hearts of men and women, control their every thought and deed.

It has mastered kings and brought down nations. And yet, it is so subtle, its power is nearly invisible.

And the magic is sex.

Sexcraft is a Little Game with a Lot of Sex. It is a meta-game (much like The Flux) that you can place over any other roleplaying game.

It is a game for consenting adults.

Also includes the d20 Prestige Class: The Sexcraft Witch!

File includes PDF and ePub formats.

Available Now at the JWP Webstore and DriveThruRPG!