By Marcus L. Rowland
Copyright © 2005, portions Copyright © 1993-2002

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This document is copyright, but you are encouraged to make copies and print-outs as needed. You may make modifications for your own use, but modified versions MUST NOT be distributed. If you find any of these files useful you are asked to register.

The first release of these rules was originally converted to HTML by Stefan Matthias Aust, to whom many thanks.

This document should be accompanied by several files including larger versions of the game tables, the full rules, and a version of the full rules split into several separate files for slower machines.

        Improving Skills
        Adding Skills
        Free Skills
        Skill list
        Medical Skills, Recovery, & Death
        Combat Round
        Resolving attacks
        Non-combat injuries
    Role Playing



THIS is a BRIEF synopsis of the Forgotten Futures rules for the use of players. Referees are STRONGLY advised to check out the full rules, which contain considerably more information.

What will the future be like? Every generation has its own set of ideas and predictions. At the turn of this century most pundits thought that the mighty power of steam and electricity would usher in a new age of peace and prosperity. In the fifties the future was mostly seen as doom, gloom, and nuclear destruction. In the nineties we are obsessed with computers, and convinced that the future will revolve around information technology. Each of the earlier views was valid for its era; each was at least partially wrong. By looking at earlier guesses we may be able to discover what is wrong with our own vision of the future - and make even worse mistakes when we try to correct it!

Forgotten Futures is a role playing game based on these discarded possibilities; the futures that could never have been, and the pasts that might have led to them, as they were imagined by the authors of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

About This Release
Since the game was originally published as shareware in 1993 there have been ten on-line releases, printed versions from two publishers, and conversions to pdf and html format. In all this the actual rules have stayed much the same. This release isn't going to change that; it's mainly tidying things up a little, adding in material originally written for one or another of the game settings which seems more generally useful, fixing some errors, improving layout, and generally making things more user-friendly. Most of the new material is in the full rules, but a few changes appear elsewhere. Where it's important the change is pointed out, one way or another. But you can still use any version of the rules to run anything written for the game.

Game Requirements

To use this system you'll need two six-sided dice (preferably two per player), copies of the character record form and a few tables, and some pens and paper. A calculator is occasionally useful. Lead or plastic figures can be used to represent characters, but they are not essential.

Game Terms

Most role playing games incorporate specialised terms. Forgotten Futures uses some, as well as a few abbreviations and contractions, as follows:
1D6Roll one dice (one die if you feel pedantic)
2D6Roll two dice and add the numbers
BODYA characteristic, often abbreviated as B.
MINDA characteristic, often abbreviated as M.
SOULA characteristic, often abbreviated as S.
EffectNumerical rating used to calculate the damage caused by weapons and other forms of attack.
Average of..Add two numbers (eg characteristics) and divide by two. Round UP if the result is a fraction. Usually abbreviated as Av, e.g.AvB&S
Half of..Divide a number (usually a characteristic) by two and round UP. Usually shown as /2, e.g.B/2, 1D6/2
Half average..Some skills are based on half the average of two characteristics. Add the characteristics, then divide by 4, then round up. e.g.AvB&S/2
+1Add 1 to a dice roll or other number.
+2Add 2 to a dice roll or other number.
-1Subtract 1 from a dice roll or other number.
-2Subtract 2 from a dice roll or other number.
2+, 3+, etc.2 or more, 3 or more, etc.
RoundA flexible period of time during which all PCs and NPCs can perform actions. In combat a round is a few seconds, in other situations it might be a few minutes or hours.
Optional RuleThis means exactly what it sounds like; something that can be tacked onto the game if you want to use it, but isn't essential for play. Usually optional rules add extra realism, but make life harder for players or the referee, or involve complexities which you may wish to avoid. Most of the appendices are optional rules.
FFForgotten Futures (what else?)
FF I, II, etc.Forgotten Futures I, II, etc.


Characters And Rules

Forgotten Futures Character Record

Player Name

Character Name







Age ____ Sex ____





[   ]

[   ]

[   ]

[   ]





Notes and Equipment

Weapon Mult?EffectA   B   CNotes

Wounds   B[   ]   F[   ]   I[   ]   I[   ]   C[   ]

Each player will need at least one character, whose details should be recorded. You can use the HTML record form provided, one of the rather pretty .pdf record forms that were originally part of the printed version of the game, a spreadsheet template, or just write everything down on scrap paper. The example to the right shows the format that's generally used.

Players should record their names and the name (including any title or rank), sex, and age of the character. They may wish to give their characters aristocratic or military names and rank, academic honours, and the like; the referee must decide if this will cause problems.

Age, sex (male or female, and [optionally] sexual orientation) may be important in some game settings. For "profession", write in something appropriate to the game setting; the referee should tell players if they have made unsuitable choices.

The next sections of the record are completed using character points.

Character Points

Your referee will give you some points (usually 21) which may be used as follows::
  1. Purchase characteristics

    Value 1  2  3  4  5 67*
      Cost (points)  02357 1014*
    * At the discretion of the referee ONLY.
    The table above shows the cost of characteristics. Average human characteristics are 3 or 4. 5 is above average, 6 is very good (for example, BODY [6] might be a professional athlete), 7 is extraordinarily unusual and is available only at the referee's discretion.

    BODY (B) covers physical strength, toughness, speed, and dexterity.

    MIND (M) covers all intellectual capabilities, reasoning, and observation.

    SOUL (S) covers emotions, charisma, and psychic ability.

    In some campaigns a fourth characteristic, MAGIC, may also be in use; details are in the full rules. See below for full details of the effect of the three main characteristics.

  2. Purchase skills.

    ActorAvM&SAny form of stage performance.
    ArtistAvM&SAny artistic endeavour.
    AthleteBSwimming, running, etc.
    Babbage Engine  MUse also for computers, golems, etc.
    BrawlingBBoxing, wrestling, & improvised weapons. Free at base value
    BusinessMAny financial or organisational work.
    DetectiveAvM&SGood at noticing small details.
    DoctorM/2Knowledge and licence to practice.
    DrivingAvB&MAny ground vehicle.
    First AidMEmergency treatment to stop bleeding etc.
    LinguistMLinguist/2 languages (round UP) are initially known.
    MarksmanMUse of directly aimed projectile weapons.
    Martial Arts  AvB&S/2Any martial art. Allows multiple attacks.
    MechanicMAny form of engineering etc.
    MediumS/2A genuine medium, not a fake.
    Melee WeaponAvB&MAll close range non-projectile weapons
    Military ArmsMUse of field guns, explosives, etc.
    Morse CodeMKnowledge of Morse and telegraphy.
    PilotAvB&M/2  Use for aircraft, submersibles, etc.
    PsychologyAvM&SUse to spot lies, calm people, etc.
    RidingAvB&SRiding all animals, and training them.
    ScholarMDetailed knowledge of Scholar/2 related fields (round UP)
    ScientistMUse of any science.
    StealthB/2Hiding, camouflage, sneaking, etc. Free at base value
    ThiefAvB&M/2Pick pockets, locksmith, forgery, etc.
    This game uses very general skills; for example, Scientist covers everything from Archaeology to Zoology, Pilot covers everything from Autogyros to Zeppelins. Players may spend up to three points per skill during character generation.

    Skills are based on one or more characteristics, to which at least one point must be added. For instance, Actor is based on the average of MIND and SOUL, plus at least one point. A character with MIND [3] and SOUL [3] would get Actor [4] for one point, Actor [5] for 2 points, or Actor [6] for 3 points.

    Brawling and Stealth are available at the values shown without spending points on them. Naturally they can be improved if points are spent.

    See later sections for full details of the purchasing system and use of skills, and a more detailed explanation of each skill.

  3. Save for use in play.
    Points can be used to improve skills at a later date, or optionally to improve the odds in emergencies. If points are saved for this purpose, double them and record them as bonus points.

OPTIONAL RULE: Buying Advantages

Players may be charged points to buy unusual backgrounds and equipment, such as incredible wealth or a personal airship. Your referee will explain if this rule applies.

Equipment And Notes, Weapons, etc.

These sections should be completed when characteristics, skills, and history have been decided. Say what you'd like to own, and describe any special status or background details; the referee will decide if they are reasonable.

The weapons section is used to record weapons that the character routinely carries. The columns list the weapon's name, whether it is capable of multiple attacks, the Effect number which determines how much damage it can cause, and the results of any damage caused. For now it isn't necessary to worry about the use of this system; it's explained in the section on combat below. Weapons are listed in section.

The section marked "Wounds" is left blank for use during play. Note that this is the wound chart for humans and animals of roughly human size and toughness; some animals use different charts.

The weapons section is used to record weapons that the character routinely carries. The columns list the weapon's name, whether it is capable of multiple attacks, the Effect number which determines how much damage it can cause, and the results of any damage caused. For now it isn't necessary to worry about the use of this system; it's explained in the section on combat below. Weapons are also listed below.



Characteristics are three numbers which are used to determine the general physical, mental, and spiritual nature of characters.

BODY represents general physique, well-being, stamina, and speed. If characters expect to spend a lot of time in combat, or performing manual labour, BODY should be high. Inanimate objects also have BODY. BODY is NOT necessarily indicative of size or weight; it's possible for something to be physically small or light and still have high BODY (e.g. a bantam weight boxer, a steel key), or big and have low BODY (e.g. a fat invalid, a greenhouse).

MIND covers all mental skills and traits including intelligence, reasoning ability, common sense, and the like. Anyone in a skilled job probably needs high MIND. MIND is also important in the use of most weapons.

SOUL covers artistic abilities, empathy, luck, and spiritual well-being. If SOUL is low the character should be played as aloof, insensitive, and unlikeable (as in the phrase "This man has no soul"); if high, the character does well in these areas. It is also used for other forms of human interaction, such as fast-talking, acting ("A very soulful performance"), and other arts (including martial arts). If your SOUL is low better not try to con anyone, and forget about learning baritsu or karate.

Normal human characteristics are in the range 1-6, with 1 exceptionally poor, 3 or 4 average, and 6 very good, the top percentile of normal human performance. Player characters may have characteristics of 7 at the discretion of the referee ONLY; this is freakishly good, far better than normal human performance. For example, a gold-medal Olympic athlete might have BODY [7], a Nobel Prize winner MIND [7].

Characteristics cannot normally be improved; they may sometimes be reduced as the result of crippling injury.

Using Characteristics

Depending on circumstances, characteristics may be used against other characteristics, against skills, or against an arbitrary "Difficulty". Skills give an edge in most of these situations, as explained in later sections, but it's occasionally necessary to use them directly. For this, and for all other use of characteristics and skills, roll 2D6 on the table below:

Skill, Effect, etc.
Defending Characteristic, Skill, or Difficulty

If the result is below 12 and less than or equal to the number indicated on the table, the attempt succeeds. A dash (-) indicates that there is NO chance of success, otherwise 2 is ALWAYS a success and 12 is ALWAYS a failure.

If you prefer to do without the table a little mental arithmetic can be used as follows:

To do anything roll 2D6:
  • Add the characteristic, skill or Difficulty to be overcome.
  • Subtract the skill or characteristic used.
  • If the modified result is 7 or less it's a success. However:
    • A roll of 2 always succeeds if the skill etc. to be overcome is 8 or less.
    • Any roll of 12 ALWAYS fails, regardless of modifiers, and may have additional unfortunate consequences.

Depending on circumstances, characteristics may be used against other characteristics, against skills, or against an arbitrary "difficulty number". Skills give an edge in most of these situations, as explained in later sections.

Raw BODY is mostly used for feats of strength, endurance, and dexterity which are not covered by other skills. For example, to dodge a thrown bottle you might have to use your BODY against the skill of the thrower.

Raw MIND is generally used to notice things (such as partially hidden objects), to have bright ideas, and to solve puzzles (if they aren't solvable by the player).

Raw SOUL is used mainly for luck and intuition ("I've got a bad feeling about this..."), also as a measure of personality and charm.

This system isn't perfect. For example, a man with BODY [3] theoretically has a 1 in 36 chance of lifting a BODY [10] elephant; in practice the referee may make this task much harder.

BIG Numbers

If attacking and defending values are both above twelve, the referee will divide both by a number which reduces them both below 12. For really large numbers (Godzilla versus New York, an H-Bomb versus the Rock of Gibraltar) division by 50 or 100 may be needed, but in most cases dividing by a smaller number (such as 2,3,4,5, or 10) should do the job. In any campaign with ships, spacecraft, land ironclads, or dirigibles this system may become important in combat.

Improving The Odds

At the discretion of the referee ONLY players may spend bonus points to temporarily modify an attacking or defending value as appropriate. Players must declare that they are doing this, and mark off the point(s) used, before the dice are rolled.

This rule does NOT mean that you can spend points to perform the physically impossible. No matter how many points are spent, a BODY [1] weakling will not lift an elephant single-handed. Regardless of points spent, a 12 is still a failure.



Anything that you want to do will probably relate to a skill. Driving a car is use of the Driving skill. Splitting the atom is use of the Scientist skill. Skills in this game are VERY broadly defined; for example, Acting covers light comedy, tragedy, juggling, singing, and human cannonball acts!

Skills are initially calculated from one or more characteristics, with the number of points spent added to the result. For instance, Marksman (the use of all forms of hand-held firearm and other hand-held projectile weapons) is based on MIND. Acting is based on an average of MIND and SOUL. Skills may be raised to a maximum value of 10.

Characters automatically have two skills at their basic values without spending points: Brawling and Stealth. Naturally points can be spent to improve them.

Using Skills

If you have a skill the referee will generally assume that you can use it automatically under all normal circumstances. You may need to roll dice if you are working under unusual or difficult conditions, under stress, or in immediate danger. They are always used in combat. Usually a skill is used against one of the following:

  1. An opponent's characteristics, e.g.MIND, BODY, SOUL
  2. An opponent's skills, e.g. Business, Martial Arts, Acting
  3. An arbitrary difficulty number set by the referee (usually when dealing with inanimate objects, puzzles, combination locks, and the like.

Bonus points can usually be spent to improve skill rolls, exactly as they are used to improve characteristic rolls.

Temporary Skills

Characters may occasionally want to use skills they don't possess. This is allowable, if it will keep characters alive or the game moving and there is some way to justify it. The character uses the skill at its lowest possible rating, but must roll for all actions including routine easy jobs, and the Difficulty of all actions is doubled.

Bonus points may not be used to help in this situation.


The skill rolls above are used to resolve short-term problems. Sometimes characters become involved in long projects, such as the creation of a work of art or development of a new invention, which should not be determined by a single roll of the dice. Usually the referee will call for a series of rolls with any failure prolonging the project, any success hastening it. Depending on the nature of the project, the rolls may become harder or easier as you progress. Usually the referee will warn you if you are attempting the impossible.

Improving Skills

Bonus points can be spent to attempt to improve skill ratings (to a maximum of 10, representing near-perfection). These improvements are assumed to have been acquired by experience or by training. Each improvement costs as much as the new value of the skill.

To try to improve a skill use the relevant characteristic(s) to attack the current skill rating:

Characters with the Linguist skill may add extra languages by practice during the campaign, or by spending one or more Bonus points per extra language for training between adventures (most will cost one point, something particularly obscure will cost more). Only one language may be added per adventure. Improving the Linguist skill itself costs the new value of the skill, e.g. 5 bonus points to raise Linguist [4] to Linguist [5], as above.

Characters with the Scholar skill may only add new areas of knowledge by improving the skill.

Adding Skills

New skills can be purchased, using the roll described above, but costs are increased.

The referee will decide if a new skill is appropriate for the character. The new skill is acquired at its lowest possible value.

An attempt to add a new skill costs DOUBLE its rating; eg, an attempt to add a skill with rating 5 costs 10 bonus points. This represents the considerable investment in time and money needed to learn a completely new skill.

To try to acquire a new skill use the relevant characteristic(s) against the first rating the skill will have:

The referee may make things easier for players if a new skill is a natural result of events in the game.

Free Skills

Referees may want to make some additional skills available to all characters without the normal points cost, on the assumption that they are so common that anyone can use them. For example, in a campaign set in real 1990s America it would be reasonable to assume that every adult can drive. If taken, these free skills are automatically received at the values shown below without spending any points. Your referee will tell you if this occurs.

Skill List

Skills are listed in the following format: Name, basic value (to which the points spent should be added), and explanation. The following abbreviations are used:
B = BODY, M = MIND, S = SOUL, Av = Average, / = Divided by
For example:
AvM&S= average of MIND and SOUL (round up)
M/2= MIND divided by 2 (round UP)
AvB&S/2= average of BODY and SOUL divided by 2 (round UP)
Skills marked with an asterisk are automatically acquired at their basic values.

Actor — Basic Value: AvM&S

Any form of stage performance. If more than one point is spent you are good enough to earn money from one specialised type of performance, such as Operatic Tenor, Conjuror, Ballerina. This skill is also useful for confidence tricks. E.g. Actor (Juggler)

Artist — Basic Value: AvM&S

Any artistic endeavour, also useful for forgery. For more than one point add a specialisation, such as Sculptor, Chef, Tattoo Artist, at professional level. E.g. Artist (oil painter)

Athlete — Basic Value: B

Swimming, running, etc. The advantage of training over brute strength. For more points mention a speciality such as Skiing, Surfing, Marathon, performed at championship level. E.g. Athlete (Rock climbing).

Babbage Engine — Basic Value: M

Use for control of any type of mechanical, pneumatic, hydraulic, or electric computer (including player pianos and card- or roll-controlled looms and organs), also for commanding androids, golems, zombies, etc. E.g. Babbage Engine (Navigation engines)

Brawling — Basic Value: B *

Any form of unarmed combat, apart from martial arts. See the combat rules below. E.g Brawling (Boxing).

Business — Basic Value: M

Any form of financial or organisational work, man-management, politics, etc. Also useful for preparing forged papers and the like. E.g. Business (Union politics)

Detective — Basic Value: AvM&S

Trained in the art of observation; good at spotting small details, noticing faint scents, little clues, unusual behaviour, etc. Can be used as an improvement over normal observation rolls, and sometimes in place of an Idea roll, or in place of the Psychology skill. Specialities might include forensics, interrogation, etc. E.g. Detective (Bertillon identification system)

Doctor — Basic Value: M/2

A detailed knowledge of medicines, minor surgery, etc., and a licence to practice. If more than one point is spent, the character has knowledge of a speciality (such as surgery) and the appropriate qualifications. See the rules on injuries below for use of this skill. This skill may NOT be acquired in the course of play, unless several years pass between adventures. E.g. Doctor (Dentist).

Driving — Basic Value: AvB&M

Any ground vehicle (car, land ironclad, railway engine, tractor, etc.). This skill does not apply to exotic vehicles (such as aircraft, Spacecraft, submersibles) whose operators require a high degree of training. Specialities might include horse-drawn wagons, steam cars, etc., e.g. Driving (Railway engine)

First Aid — Basic Value: M

Emergency treatment of wounds. See the rules on injuries below. Specialisations might include nursing, midwifery, etc. E.g. First Aid (Resuscitation)

Linguist — Basic Value: M

The ability to learn, read, speak, and write languages. Initially characters know Linguist/2 languages. More languages can be acquired very easily: see above. Characters automatically know their own native language, and need never roll to use it, without buying this skill. Specialisations are the languages known, e.g. Linguist (German, Russian)

Marksman — Basic Value: M

Use of directly aimed projectile weapons (e.g. gun, crossbow, throwing knives, spears, etc.) but not field guns or other specialised militaria. See the combat rules below. E.g. Marksman (Crossbow)

Martial Arts — Basic Value: AvB&S/2

Use for any Oriental martial art, also for Savate, quarterstaff combat, etc. See the combat rules below. Allows multiple hand-to-hand and melee weapon attacks in a single combat round, and can increase the Effect number of some attacks. E.g. Martial Arts (Ju-Jitsu)
The referee will tell you if this skill is available and explain any special restrictions that may reply.

Mechanic — Basic Value: M

All forms of mechanical and electrical work, engineering, building, plumbing, etc.; this covers work on existing machinery and the like, and the use of machine tools and other production equipment, but not innovative equipment design which is covered by the Scientist skill. E.g. Mechanic (Time machines)

Medium — Basic Value: S/2

A genuine medium, or otherwise psychically gifted, not a fake. Fake mediums use the Acting skill instead. This skill may not work in all campaigns; if it does, it can be used for contact with the spirit world, séances, and premonitions of impending doom: "I have a bad feeling about this..." E.g. Medium (precognitive).

Melee Weapon — Basic Value: AvB&M

Use of any non-projectile weapon, such as a dagger, sword, or axe. See the combat rules below. E.g. Melee Weapon (Machete)

Military Arms — Basic Value: M

Use of field guns, mortars, explosives, and other specialised military weapons, but not hand guns and other simple portable weapons. E.g. Military Arms (Explosives).

Morse Code — Basic Value: M

This skill is simply knowledge of Morse code and basic telegraphic and signalling techniques, including simple equipment repairs and adjustments. It also covers semaphore and other common codes. E.g. Morse Code (Heliograph operator).

Pilot — Basic Value: AvB&M/2

Use for aircraft, spacecraft, submersibles, digging machines, and other vehicles which require a high degree of skill and concentration. Includes the use of parachutes and systems such as radios, sonar, navigation, and meteorology. E.g. Pilot (Bathysphere)

Psychology — Basic Value: AvM&S

Use to spot lies, calm hysteria, notice tension, and so forth. This skill may also be used for hypnosis; use the skill level against the MIND of the target - if the roll is made successfully for a number of rounds equivalent to the MIND of the target, the victim is hypnotised. This can only be done if the psychologist and target are talking face to face in a non-hostile situation. Specialities might include a particular school of psychology or a specific application, e.g. Psychology (Mesmerism)

Riding — Basic Value: AvB&S

Riding any animal, from a pony to a diplodocus. Also used for training animals including lion taming, dog handling, or running a flea circus. E.g. Riding (Muleteer).

Scholar — Basic Value: M

Expert knowledge of specific fields such as archaeology, history, philosophy. Scholar/2 related areas of knowledge are known; for example, Scholar [5] might include knowledge of Archaeology, Antiques, and Ancient Egypt. The skill cannot be taken twice to give mastery of two unrelated areas of knowledge, but the term "related" can be interpreted as loosely as the referee permits. For example, expert knowledge of Cats (but not veterinary skills) might be added to the list above because the Egyptians worshipped cats. e.g. Scholar (Antiques, Medieval Art, Medieval History).

Scientist — Basic Value: M

Use of all sciences. Most scientific romances make little or no distinction between sciences, but some specialisation may be useful. E.g. Scientist (Biochemist)

Stealth — Basic Value: B/2 *

Hiding, camouflage, sneaking, etc. e.g. Stealth (Disguise) might be an alternative to Actor (Disguise); an Actor tries to look like someone else, while the aim of the Stealth skill is to look inconspicuous and go unnoticed.

Thief — Basic Value: AvB&M/2

Picking pockets, locksmith, forgery, etc. E.g. Thief (Safebreaker).



Each character and NPC has a Wounds record, which indicates the general severity of wounds taken. It is possible (and sometimes easy) to go from "uninjured" to "dead" as the result of a single wound.

Wounds B[ ] F[ ] I[ ] I[ ] C[ ]
For humans and human-sized animals, humanoid aliens, etc. the Wounds record usually has five boxes, indicating the extent of damage:

WoundBODY  Recovery  
Bruised-1 Day2Purple marks etc.
Flesh Wound  -11 Week4A nasty cut etc.
Injury-21 Month6Broken bones etc.
2+ Injuries-41 Month8 per injury  Humans cannot fight or run, other species may
be less seriously affected
CriticalN/AN/A8Unconscious, dying.
Knocked out-6D6 min4May be additional to other wounds e.g. B + KO
Note that some weapons, and some other forms of damage, have two additional results possible. "KO" means knockout; the victim is knocked unconscious for a few minutes, but isn't necessarily permanently harmed. There is no need to record this since it is a temporary effect. Record bruises instead if appropriate. "K" means "Kill". For obvious reasons there isn't any need to have a tick box for this!

The table shows the effects of wounds. Temporarily reduce the value of BODY and BODY-related skills by the value shown, but not below a minimum of 1.

Medical Skills, Recovery, and Death

First Aid stabilises wounds and prevent them getting worse. On a successful roll against the recovery Difficulty of the wound, there is no possibility of deterioration. For example, this might involve splinting a broken leg, disinfecting and bandaging a wound, or putting cold tea (a common Victorian remedy) or ice onto a burn. Multiple wounds must be treated separately; for instance, someone with a Flesh Wound and an Injury, or with two Injuries, would need each treated separately.

Without first aid the wound may eventually deteriorate; roll the recovery Difficulty against the patient's BODY, if the result is a success the wound will get worse. Flesh wounds become Injuries and Injuries become Critical (usually as fevers and illnesses such as gangrene) if they get worse.

The Doctor skill acts like First Aid, and also speeds healing. If a successful roll is made recovery time is halved. Since the Doctor skill usually begins at a lower level than First Aid, devoted healers may wish to take both skills.

To recover from wounds without medical help, roll BODY against the recovery difficulty - AFTER the minimum recovery period. If the result is a success, the wound is healed. If the result is a failure, the illness drags on for another period before the roll can be made again.

Death is death, and is usually permanent. In some settings there may be some rationale for reanimation or resurrection, but in most games there is no recovery. The referee should explain if this applies.

Some examples of common forms of injury follow the combat rules below; they are clearer if you understand some details that are introduced in the combat rules.



The combat rules take up a large chunk of this file; this does NOT mean that they are the most important aspect of the game - it just means that they are a little more complicated than other sections. DON'T make the mistake of thinking that every adventure must involve several fire-fights!

These rules borrow an idea that is found in some war games. All the events in a combat round occur simultaneously. If ten people are firing guns, all of them fire BEFORE the results are assessed. You can shoot a gun out of someone's hand, but he will have a chance to shoot you before he loses it. Attacks are usually a use of skill against a defence; if the attack penetrates the defence, the damage is determined by use of the attack's Effect against the BODY of the target. All of these concepts are explained in more detail below.

Combat Rounds

A combat round is a period of approximately five seconds in which combat occurs. In this time punches might be exchanged, shots fired, and so forth.

The following things can be done in a combat round

  1. Movement.
    A normal human can walk about ten feet, or run twenty. On a Difficulty 6 BODY or Athlete roll, or on expenditure of a bonus point, this can be pushed to thirty feet.
  2. An action, such as ducking for cover or opening a door.
    Referees may OPTIONALLY allow two actions, or an action and a movement, in a round; for instance, opening a door and diving through.
  3. An attack, or several attacks with some weapons and skills.
  4. Wounds take effect.
If you don't want to move or perform any action apart from the attack itself there is a bonus on the attack, but you do NOT fire first.

Anyone taken completely by surprise CANNOT fight, move, or dodge in the first round of combat, but CAN perform a simple action. For example, intruders would have a round to attack someone who was standing a few feet from an alarm button; he would not have time to get to it first. They could not stop him pressing the button if he already had his hand on it. By definition, someone with a weapon in his hand pointed at an attacker is NOT taken by surprise!

Resolving Attacks

Attacks are resolved in the following stages:
  1. All players should state who or what they intend to attack; the referee should explain who NPCs are attacking. This should be done before any attacks are made.
  2. Each character and NPC attacks the chosen target. Roll the attacking skill or characteristic against a defending skill, or against a difficulty number of 6 if there is no better defence available. There are various modifiers for distance etc.
  3. If the roll to hit succeeds, the Effect of the attack is used to attack the BODY of the victim. Damage is calculated according to the success of this roll.

Rolling To Attack

SituationModifier  Notes
Attacker hasn't moved+1 
Target is immobile/inanimate+1
Target is twice man sized or more+1
Target is very close+1Projectiles only
Using a fully automatic weapon+1Machine guns
Firing both barrels of a shotgun+1
Target is TOO close-1NOT brawling
Target is running/moving fast-1
Target is half man sized or less-1
Target is distant-1Projectiles only
Target partially hidden / camouflaged  -1
Attacking two or more targets-2
Attacker is ducking or dodging-1
Target is ducking or dodging-2
Attacking for limited damage-1See below
Attacking for minimal damage-2See below
The bonuses and penalties shown on the right are available, and should be added to the attacking skill if appropriate (to a maximum of 10) or subtracted (to a minimum of 1).

One modifier may need explaining, since it is frequently misunderstood; machine guns are a little less accurate than other firearms, but more than make up for it by firing LOTS of bullets, increasing the chance of a hit over that for a normal gun. This is the main reason why automatic weapons are used. The idea that machine guns rarely hit and do less damage than other firearms is a myth. Even when used for single shots they are no less accurate than other weapons of similar size.

Some attacks can be used via two or more skills; for example, a longbow might be used via the Marksman or Martial Arts skill, a club via the Brawling or Melee Weapons skill. Use whichever skill is best. If all else fails weapons may be used via characteristic rolls; these are usually poorer than skills.

Defences may also be based on skills or characteristics; for example, someone might try to avoid an arrow by ducking (BODY versus the attacking skill), by hiding (Stealth skill), or by use of the Martial Arts skill to catch it! If no better skill is available, the basic defending value is 6.

If the result of any attack is a success, some damage occurs. Roll for damage as described below.


Roll NeededColumn A
if result
Column B
if result
Column C
if result
Roll to cause damage, using the Effect of the attack (see below) against the victim's BODY.

All attacks have an Effect number. For hand-to-hand weapons, martial arts, and other unarmed combat skills it is either the skill level or the user's BODY plus a bonus; for example, a club gains most of its power from the user's strength, and has an Effect equal to the user's BODY +1. A fencing foil, like all swords and daggers, has an Effect equal to Melee Weapon skill. For firearms the Effect number is usually intrinsic to the weapon, and thus independent of the user's skill or BODY.

Damage is determined by using the Effect number to attack the target's BODY. The result of this roll will sometimes be a failure; this is interpreted as minimal damage for the weapon, from column A of the weapons table. While this is always preferable (for the victim!), many weapons have a flesh wound or worse as their minimal damage.

If the result is a success, but more than half of the result needed for a success, check column B of the weapon table.

If the result is a success, and the dice roll is less than or equal to half the result needed for a success (round DOWN), check column C of the weapon table. If in doubt, use the table to the right to calculate which damage column is used.

Machine guns use a special rule for Effect. If they are used on more than one target, the Effect is reduced by 2. The attacker must roll separately to hit each target, and to damage the victim if the attack is successful. It's easy to abuse machine guns; players often say that they are trying to shoot at victims in two or three different areas, which should not be allowed. Shooting at several targets in one direction (such as a group of men running along a corridor) is acceptable, but the targets in front will conceal those behind, or at least reduce the Effect. They are powerful weapons, but not all-powerful.

Pulling Punches & Aiming To Wound

Sometimes players may want to do less than the maximum amount of damage with an attack. They should say what they are trying to do BEFORE rolling to hit, and adjust the attacking skill as follows: In other words, there is an increased chance of missing if you are pulling your punches or aiming to wound, because the attack is trickier.

It isn't possible to limit damage with shotguns, machine guns, or area effect weapons such as explosives or flame throwers, or with ANY attack on multiple targets.

OPTIONAL RULE: Hit Locations

Arms-1-13 Right, 4 Left
Players may sometimes wish to aim at a specific part of the body. To do so, modify the attacking skill and the damage Effect as on the table to the right. This makes it harder to hit if you are aiming at someone's limbs or head, but increases the likelihood of serious damage from a head injury.

If it is used, someone who rolls to hit a target without trying to hit a specific area should roll 2D6 for a random hit location as indicated above, and modify the Effect accordingly.

It is not possible to attack a specific hit location with machine guns or area effect weapons such as grenades, or while performing any form of multiple attack. Damage from these weapons should attack random hit locations.


Bulletproof vest-4projectile and blade attacks
Kevlar Body Armour-6projectile and blade attacks
Bullet Proof Glass-4projectile attacks
Medieval Plate Mail-4melee weapon attacks
Medieval Chain Mail-2melee weapon attacks
Motorbike Leathers-2impact weapons (eg clubs)
WW1 Steel Helmet-3attacks to head ONLY
Crash Helmet-2impact damage to head ONLY

Armour isn't often worn in the stories on which this game is based, but may occasionally become important. It can reduce the Effect of weapons, but doesn't modify the roll to hit; in fact, someone wearing heavy armour should theoretically be slower and easier to hit.

The list to the right includes some modern armour as well as equipment that might be available in the late 19th century. The level of protection depends on the type of armour. Naturally only the area covered by the armour is protected; for example, motorbike leathers cover the torso, arms, and legs, but don't protect the head. A full-face crash helmet protects the head only. Similarly, body armour doesn't protect limbs or the head.


FFlesh Wound
M.Arts  Martial Arts
Use the tables below to determine the capabilities and effects of combat skills and weapons. Where damage results are shown (eg C/K), roll the effect against BODY again; if this roll fails the first result is used, otherwise the second result is used.

Some of the weapons shown have very high effect numbers, which go well off the "attack versus defence" table. This usually indicates an attack which will do maximum damage unless a 12 is rolled, or the effect number is somehow reduced; for example by distance (e.g. explosives), by the damage being spread to cover several targets (mini gun), or by armour.

Note that most unarmed attacks and some weapon attacks don't show death as a possible outcome; it simply isn't very likely in the course of a fast-moving fight. Referees should feel free to ignore the suggested result in unusual conditions; for example, if someone is attacked by a mob, while unable to resist, or is completely outmatched by his attacker.

Melee Weapons
Effect is based on BODY or skill.
FistNo [1]BODY [2]BBKOSee above
KickNo [1]BODY [2]BBFSee above
WrestlingNoBODY [2]BKOKO / ISee above
Animal BiteNoBODY+2FICSee above
Animal ClawNoBODY+1FICSee above
Animal HornsNoBODY+2FIC/KSee above
[1]Using the Martial Arts skill it is possible to perform one fist and one kick attack in a single round against one target, or against two targets that are close together. Against two targets the attacks are at -2 Effect.
[2]Users of the Martial Arts skill can use BODY or Martial Arts for Effect in these attacks, whichever is better.
ClubMax 2 [3]BODY+1FFKO/KEg. Cricket Bat
SpearNoMeleeFIC/Ke.g. bayonet on rifle.
SwordMax 2 [3]Melee+1FIC/K
DaggerNoMelee+1FII/KEg. flick knife
Broken bottleNoBrawling+1FFI
NunchuksMax 2 [3]M. ArtsBFKO/KMartial arts skill ONLY
StaffMax 3 [3]Melee+2FIKO/C
[3]Targets must be within 5ft. Multiple attacks are at -2 Effect. Multiple attacks are available with the Martial Artist skill ONLY.
RangeFor all melee weapons, targets are TOO CLOSE if they block effective use of the weapon; within a couple of feet for swords and axes, within 6 ft for whips (a lousy weapon, despite Indiana Jones), and so forth. If unsure, give players the benefit of the doubt.

Projectile Weapons
Effect is usually based on skill (for thrown weapons), on BODY (for longbows and thrown axes), or on the weapon rather than the user for firearms etc.
ShurikenMax 3M.Arts ONLYBFFThrown
Cricket BallNoMarksmanBFKO/IThrown
LongbowNo [4]BODY+1FIC/KHunting bow
CrossbowNo7FIC/KMilitary bow
[4]Maximum 2 targets if attacking with Martial Arts skill.
Small handgunMax 2 [5]6FIC/Ke.g. .22 revolver
Big handgunMax 2 [5]6IIC/Ke.g. .38 revolver
Huge handgunMax 2 [5]8IIC/Ke.g. .45 revolver
Small rifleNo5FIC/Ke.g. .22 rifle
Big rifleNo7FIC/Ke.g. Winchester
Huge rifleNo9ICKe.g. Elephant gun.
Small ShotgunMax 2 [5]4FIIOne barrel
Small ShotgunNo [5]8* / 4
* short range ONLY
IICBoth barrels
Large ShotgunMax 2 [5]7FIC/KOne barrel
Large ShotgunNo [5]14* / 7
* Short range ONLY
ICKBoth barrels
Machine pistolYes [6]7FIC/Ke.g. Schmeisser
Submachine gunYes [6]9FIC/Ke.g. Tommy Gun
Machine gunYes [6]11FIC/Ke.g. Gatling / Maxim Gun
HarpoonNo15ICC/KNon-explosive whaling
HarpoonNo25CCKExplosive whaling
[5]Hand guns can be used to fire at two targets, or twice at one target. If firing at two separate targets each attack is at -2 to hit. If firing two shots at one target there is no modifier. Each attack is resolved separately. Shotguns can fire twice at one target (no modifier to hit, small effect), fire at two different targets (modifier -2 to hit, small effect), or fire both barrels at once (+1 modifier to hit, big effect at SHORT range ONLY). In all but the last case the two shots are resolved separately. The doubled Effect of firing two barrels simultaneously is felt at short range ONLY!
[6]Reduce Effect by 2 if fired at additional targets
AmmunitionAs a rule of thumb assume six shots for all rifles and handguns, and three bursts or twenty single shots for machine guns. The referee should say if more detail is required. Gatling guns (including chain guns, rotary cannon, and mini-guns) cannot fire single shots, but the referee may allow many more bursts to be fired.
RangeNormal range for all hand-thrown weapons, handguns, machine pistols, and submachine guns is 10-20 ft; normal range for bows, rifles, machine guns, and mini guns is 50-100 ft. Anything closer is at short range, anything further away at long range. Targets are too close if they are closer than the end of the weapon!

Area Effect Weapons
All explosives damage everything at full effect inside the radius shown, at effect -1D6 to double that radius, at effect -2D6 to three times the radius, and so forth. The effect of these weapons is not reduced if there are multiple targets.
Stun Grenade6 ft8BKOI+KO
Hand Grenade10ft10FIC/K
Dynamite10ft10FIC/K+2 Effect per additional stick.
Mortar Shell10ft12ICK
Howitzer Shell10ft15ICK
Anti-tank mine10ft20ICK
Car Bomb20ft15ICK
Truck Bomb20ft20ICK
Flame Thrower10ft10ICKNo damage outside 20ft radius.

Exotic Weapons
Things that might conceivably come into play in a campaign, in no specific order.
Radium gunNo8FIC/KBurrough's Mars
DisintegratorYes [6]15ICKMost SF
Mini gunYes [6]8ICKTerminator II
Stun Gun3ft8BKOKOMost SF
Heat Ray75ft30CKKWar of the Worlds
Black Smoke500yd10CKKWar of the Worlds
Hydrogen Bomb1 mile40CKKNot recommended!

Non-Combat Injuries

Cause of
Car crash (inside car) 1+1/10MPHFIC/K
Run over2+2/10MPHFIC/K
"Micky Finn"8KOKOC/Kknock-out drops.
A small amount of strychnine6ICK
A lot of cyanide10CKK
A tiny amount of arsenic3-IC/KSee below
A lot of arsenic6ICKSee below
It is possible to build up an immunity to some forms of arsenic with repeated small doses, reducing the Effect of large doses. It is also possible to kill yourself trying this stunt.
Cobra venom8ICKBite must hit first.
Chloroform or ether6+1/roundKOKOC/K
Martian Gas5+1/roundFCKSee FF II
Chlorine (WW1 poison gas)7+1/minuteICK
Coal gas filled room3+1/roundFCKNot natural gas.
Electric Cattle fence4-BF
110 V6FIC/KUS mains
220-240 V8FIC/KEuropean mains
Electric fence (5000 Volts)15CKK
Drowning / suffocation1+1/30 secIIC/KSee main text
Exposure to Vacuum6+1/5 secFIC/KSee main text
Candle flame2+1/roundFFF
Petrol bomb7+3/roundICC/K
Blast furnace10+10/roundCKK
Volcano20+10/round CKK
Combat is the main cause of wounds, but characters occasionally run into other problems that can cause damage. For instance:


Role Playing

SO far these rules have said a lot about rolling dice, but little about the real meat of a role playing game; the opportunity to take on a completely different personality in a world of the imagination. Since most scientific romances were written by Victorians and Edwardians, characters have a tendency to fall into stereotyped behaviour which isn't necessarily changed if they are set in the future. Here are a few of the principal elements of this behaviour:

I Know My Place...

People in inferior positions accept that they are underlings. They are happy to be employed; the idea of bettering their position, over and above promotion within their workplace, is somehow abhorrent. This attitude is especially prevalent amongst servants and others in intimate contact with their social "superiors". For examples see the roles played by Eric Sykes in "Monte Carlo Or Bust", Peter Falk in "The Great Race", and Gordon Jackson in "Upstairs, Downstairs".

Get Up And Go...

In contradiction to the above, the Protestant Work Ethic is also very popular. This says that if you work hard, study, and save money you'll eventually reach the top. This is primarily an American ideal, but also very popular with the British middle classes and anyone else who wants to better himself. Unfortunately middle-class Britons know that however successful they may be, they will never be gentlemen...

You're A Toff, Guv...

Aristocrats are the cream of society; stern but caring, almost always wealthy and learned, always polite (especially to women and other inferiors), they are genuinely superior men, and even savages know them as such. Even if an aristocrat goes bad he remains a gentleman; if his crimes are discovered he will commit suicide rather than dishonour his family by standing trial.

A Woman's Place Is In The Home...

Women unfortunately tend to be treated as inferiors, second class citizens who must be protected from physical and moral danger. An adventurous woman is VERY unusual, a cause for sensation and scandal. A woman exerting real authority is almost unheard of, despite the example of Queen Victoria, and suffragettes and other campaigners for women's rights are treated with great suspicion.

I Say, He's A Bally Foreigner...

Chauvinism, in its original meaning, is rampant. People don't necessarily hate foreigners, but they do treat them as mental and moral inferiors. To quote a satirical treatment of this attitude, from H.M.S. Pinafore:

For he might have been a Roosian,
A French, or Turk, or Proosian,
Or perhaps Itali-an,
But in spite of all temptations,
To belong to other nations,
He remains an Englishman!
For the true born Englishman!
This disrespect for foreigners was true of most nations, especially Britain, while harsh treatment and exploitation of "savages" was typical wherever "civilised" nations were expanding into "primitive" lands; in India and Africa, the Middle East, North and South America, Australia, and the Pacific.

Under A Gooseberry Bush, My Dear...

Some things just aren't done. Chief amongst these is any detailed discussion of sex. Courtship is almost invariably chaperoned, any more intimate contact takes place as in this example:

....he brushed off the confetti, and swept her into his arms.

* * * * *

The next morning there were kippers for breakfast....

The row of stars is the nearest these stories come to a lurid sex scene. All indelicacies, whatever their nature, should occur well off-stage.

Arr, We Talks Loike This....

Speech is usually fairly formal, and is of course always polite. Accents are stereotyped; in Britain members of the working classes always have lovable Cockney accents, or impenetrable country dialects, while the upper classes all have Oxford accents. Scotsmen say "Och aye", "The noo", and "Hoots mon", Welshmen "Look you" and "Boyo", Irish "Begorrah" and "Saints preserve us". America has its own stereotypes; Harvard accents for the upper classes, Brooklyn for the dregs. Only criminals and drunkards swear.

Finally, here are three examples of good and bad roleplaying in the context of these rules. Can you tell them apart?

"I say, old chap, can you direct me to the station?"
"Yo dude, where do I catch the iron horse?"

"Excuse me, my Lord, a gentleman from the police is at the door."
"Hey boss, it's the pigs."

"I'm afraid we're in a bit of a hurry. May we get by, please?"
"Out of the way, you ***ing scumbags, we're on a mission from God!"


APPENDIX - Sources

Ten especially useful books, five films, and five comics.

For details and many more sources see the main rules

Revised and converted to HTML 23/4/98, Revised and updated 1/2005 - If you have any queries or comments on these rules please contact the author.