Here's another automated character generator, this time for my FKR/Mercator remix from last post. Thanks again to Norbert for helping out with code stuff.
Inspired by this post, I decided to apply the same treatment to Paul Elliott's Mercator. If you don't know about it, it's a great supplement for Classic Traveller to play in pseudo-historical ancient Rome. And it turns out it's perfect for Sword & Sorcery. I plan on running a game based on the Savage Swords of Conan old black & white comics, because they are awesome.
Name your character. You get 12 HP. +2 HP each time you get the "Tough" trait.
If you don't use HP, characters have 4 Hits, +1 each time you get the "Tough" trait.
6 Roll twice, ignore and re-roll any more 6s
Career & Rank (d8 + d6) - Note: you are 18 + (4*Rank) y.o. Barbarians are 14 + (4*Rank) y.o.
6 Primus Pilum
1-2 4th Officer
3 3rd Officer
4 2nd Officer
5 1st Officer
6 Rogue (no ranks, though you still use that d6 for skills and age)
8 Other (no ranks, though you still use that d6 for skills and age)
Retirement Pay (Legion, Auxiliary, Navy and Noble Only, others get a flat 10 denarii)
(Your Rank times 10)+20 is the chance you get a yearly retirement pay. Pay is 1d10*10 denarii.
Nobles always get 1d10*100 denarii.
Roll as many skills as you have Rank. If you get a skill twice or more, it improves beyond the professional level. Rogues and Others roll a d6 to see how many skill rolls they get. If you don't know Traveller, skill-1 is professional, skill-2 and beyond is expert. It is also assumed that player-characters have skill-0 (no "untrained penalty", adventurers have some basic know-how) in any weapon and basic skills required for the campaign setting (probably survival-0 for our purposes). Blade Cbt should be whichever melee weapon you get (see next step), Bow Cbt can be Sling or Bow. If you get an attribute, make up a fitting superlative or added adjective (great strength, cat-like, etc.)
Legion (all Legionnaires get Sword-1)
5 Blade Cbt
11 Siege Cbt
15 Combat Eng
Auxiliary (all Auxiliaries get Spear-1)
5 Blade Cbt
9 Bow Cbt
11 Combat Eng
Navy (Navy Captains get Navigation-1)
4 Blade Cbt
5 Bow Cbt
6 Small Craft
11 Ship Tactics
Merchants (Merchant 1st Officers get Pilot-1, Captains get Navigation-1)
1 Blade Cbt
3 Small Craft
3 Bow Cbt
4 Blade Cbt
9 Small Craft
11 Combat Eng
Rogue (all Rogues get Streetwise-1)
3 Blade Cbt
Barbarian (all Barbarians get Blade Cbt-1, Barbarian Chiefs get Leader-1)
3 Blade Cbt
4 Bow Cbt
6 Small Craft
If your character is 34 or older, age might have started to take its toil on their body.
Roll once if 34, twice if 38, thrice if 42.
1-3 no change
4 get weaker*
5 get clumsier*
6 get sickier*
*: first you lose the bonus, then you get negative traits if you get below average.
All the following weapons deal 2d6 damage (with HP) or 2 Hits
Unarmed attacks or Improvised weapons deal 1d6 damage (with HP) or 1 Hit
Roll 1d6+Rank. If you roll 7 or more, you also start with armor.
1-2 Leather (7+ to Hit or grant an extra Hit)
3 Chainmail (8+ to Hit or grant 2 extra Hits)
4 Scale (8+ to Hit or grant 2 extra Hits)
5 Segmentata (9+ to Hit or grant 3 extra Hits)
6 Shield (harder to Hit by 1 pip or grant an extra Hit) & re-roll, on another 6 that's all you get
(Optional) Chance of Death
I can hear some of you in the back lamenting that it's not really Traveller if you can't die in CharGen. So here you go: roll 2d6 for every Rank/4 years Term. On a roll of 4 or less, you died.
That's it. Here are some extra rules if you don't have you own and/or aren't familiar with Traveller.
Roll 2d6, with a target of 7+ if skilled, 9+ if not. Adjust TN as needed for special circumstances.
Surprise (this one is straight out of Traveller and I love it)
When an encounter occurs, roll 1d6 for each side. Add 1 if someone has the Leader/Recon/Tactics skill (cumulative). If one side beats the other by a margin of 3+, they can choose to evade the encounter altogether, or, if they attack, they do so with surprise. Which, unlike OD&D, lasts until it is lost, which I interpret as "until someone makes a mistake" like failing to cut someone's throat.
If you want to use HP and attack rolls, roll 2d6 to hurt someone with an appropriate TN (see above). Anyone who reaches 0 HP is dead. Most people or beasts who lost half or more HP are badly wounded and may die if their injuries are not taken care of. Player-characters can tough it out. NPCs should get between 1d6 and 3d6 HP, same for beasts. Anything beyond 12 HP won't die in one hit so keep that for very dangerous foes or big animals.
Or, you can go the Any Planet Is Earth way. Don't roll to-hit or damage. People can take about 4 Hits. Maybe less for nameless NPCs (especially non-fighters), maybe more for some particularly dangerous people. Attacks hit "automatically", describe it like you would a real fight, with fatigue, light wounds and a decisive final blow. I've explained why I enjoy this approach in this post.
Or, you can ditch HP and Hits altogether and only go with descriptive wounds and injuries. They did that in the 70s and some of the old guard as well as other gamers still do, it works out just fine.
Commerce, Sailing & Other Logistics Details
Mercator is a good starting point, though the wiser move would be to read up on how the stuff you want to use in game actually worked historically. The more you know, the more realistic a simulation of a world you can offer to your table. Otherwise, you can also just pretend you know just a bit more than they do and it should be fine.
Today I ran Tales of High Adventure, the 2nd Murdersoup mini-game I wrote, for three french friends of mine. It was a very fun session of about about three hours, mostly setting things up for later as we took our time and focused on social interactions and description. I decided to use dice again, and to call on them as an oracle somewhat regularly. It was satisfying. There was no combat, so I don't know yet how that will feel during violence sequences. Also I have no numpad on my new laptop, which makes it hard to use the little dot thingies. I'm open to suggestions.
- Chadwick Dunlow, the Swashbuckler (magnetic, seeks glory, tracker, has magic teeth)
- Ogden Nash, the Summoner (quick, seeks adventure for its own sake, contortionnist, has hag head)
- Rothary, the Gnome (clever, seeks vengeance, priest of Jah, has a lumberjack's cutting power)
- After days of wilderness, the party reached the end of the woods, somewhere in the Kingdom of Crozaine (think fantasy france in a warhammer-inspired setting, closer to the Empire than Bretonnia tho).
- They smelled, then heard, then saw a small troop of (a dozen) beastmen, and ran away. Using gnomish tricks and adventuring stealth, they eventually got rid of their pursuers and reach the walled town of Perdition (Keep on the Borderlands, which one of the players recognized from another adventure).
- Chadwick used his noble status to get past the guards, and at the Golden Duck inn, it came in handy again as they basically negotiated to not have to pay anything in exchange for entertaining the patrons in the evening with a bunch of cool performance, music and stuff. They also got somewhat well-known from that, being boisterous and charismatic about being adventurers. The company's name is "The Amazings".
- They met a minstrel called Blackmaine, as well as the Baron Bertram Barrow and his right-hand man, Captain Griffin. Both the minstrel and baron hinted at a job offer. Later that night, the party offered to help Blackmaine: he'd gift them a map to Hishep-Ratep's tomb which is said to hide his legendary lifestone, a massive diamond. In exchange, the man who revealed himself to be a veteran adventurer named Ellis required of them to seek the Baron's wife Cléopha and give a memento to her that he kept for decades as he planned to marry her in their youth, but lacked the fortune he deemed necessary to make her happy. They reluctantly accepted to help, and went to sleep (the gnome also went around picking some pockets).
- We had a short break there, with the players getting some price lists and buying gear autonomously while I went to get some food and drinks, two hours in.
- Picking back where we left off, the party went to talk to Captain Griffin, who, without the Baron around, revealed himself to be a gruff, loyal warrior, dismissive of adventurers, calling them cowards and parasites, but also a father-figure to his men, wishing to protect them as well as the people of the Keep, and fiercely loyal to the Baron. He told the party some basic stuff about beastmen.
- At the Keep, dinner with the Baron went well. He hired the party to go cleanse the Caves of Chaos of the newfound beastmen, which he believes to be scouts from the northern army that King Randall is campaigning against. After hearing a tall tale by Sir Chadwick, the Baron agreed to offer hospitality and let the party rest at the keep. The summoner then snuck out to the library to summon one his bound-spirits, Alexander the Wise. He also got some info out of Peter, the Baron's adviser and occultist, who was glad to see some actual magic being practiced in exchange for some info about the Baron's wife.
- Alexander the Wise knew the party was going to Hishep-Ratep's tomb soon, and asked that in six days and six nights, they would have to deliver to him the brains and viscera of the six prophets buried with the Prince Hishep-Ratep, for their decaying minds surely hold interesting knowledge. In exchange, he answered three questions: the beastmen's weakness is music which drives them away, or mad with bloodthirst if backed into a corner; the baron's wife spends her nights in the gardens; and the Caves of Chaos house an ancient temple to the Elder Gods which is still "blessed" with their influence, and that's what attracts monsters to that place, and explains why the beastmen decided to settle there.
- Next the party met again to go to the gardens and meet Cléopha. She is a sickly pale, boney and tall lady with dark braided hair and unnatural beauty. So much so that Ogden immediately fell in love, and worse, him and Rothary had to physically restrain Chadwick for a moment as he completely lost his sense and tried to embrace her. When Ellis's name was mentioned, she agreed not to call the guards immediately to have their heads cut off, and curiously grabbed the memento...before throwing it in the fountain with a puzzled look. Ogden then offered help regarding her condition, suggesting it may be a curse. She insisted she needed no help, taking for an instant a predatory and beastial aspect under the moonlight. They politely bowed out and made themselves scarce. We stopped there.
- Rolling dice is fun. Now that's a controversial statement if there's ever been one, am I right? I've been enjoying diceless FKR a lot lately, though there is something fascinating about letting the dice decide what happens next. I didn't use a system per say, only discussed openly the possible outcomes of certain actions and gave target numbers to the players, telegraphing the risk every time. As usual, high trust meant this went on with very little need to justify my rulings. The pacing did not suffer either, though the dicing feels like a "pause" moment where everyone focuses on the present situation. In its own way, it also makes the world come alive as an unfair and uncaring universe.
- No combat, so I'm not sure how that aspect will fare. Theoritically, I'm trying to harken back to hit rolls and damage. There was one very early one but it was just one attack throw and damage and then running off. It worked well though. I didn't use initiative, just went with whatever made sense next, which I'm hoping to keep. I could get rid of HP and damage entirely while keeping dicing, but I like the slight gamism of HP and damage. And with the oracular way I'm using the 2d6 rolls, it'd be weird to skip to-hit, so I'm going with that for now.
- Lots of NPCs interactions, the players said they enjoyed it, which is great. Not much to say about that bit, it's just cool as dungeoncrawls tend to not have as much talking in character.
Great thanks to Norbert over at Darkworm Colt for making these automated character generators for Murdersoup! Stay tuned today for a session report as I will be testing Tales of High Adventure in a bit.
LEGENDS ARE MADE, NOT BORN
YOU MET IN A TAVERN YEARS AGO AND HAVE BEEN INSEPARABLE EVER SINCE
YOUR ONLY HOME IS THE COMPANIONS YOU JOURNEY WITH
YOUR ONLY DESTINATION IS ADVENTURE
MAKE AN ADVENTURER
Roll a d4, d6, d8, d10, d12 and d20 on the charts from pages 1 to 3, then name your character.
d4 ORIGINS (or pick HUMAN)
1 HUMAN - Your kin is everywhere and carved bastions of life into the wilderness
2 DWARF - Your skin like stone, you eat gold and gems and are driven to work always
3 ELF - You have animal and plant or fungi-like features, death is alien to your kin
4 GNOME - Cousins to dwarves, your hearts are full of whimsy and guile
1 STRONG - you can bend bars, lift gates and other exceptional feats
2 QUICK - you have excellent reflexes, hand-eye coordination and balance
3 TOUGH - you are hard-to-kill and may withstand adversity
4 CLEVER - you have quick wits and intuitively think outside the box
5 WISE - you are a scholar, with decades worth of knowledge to share
6 MAGNETIC - you have an intense and appealing personnality
1 VENGEANCE - who harmed you or your own?
2 GOLD - what nearly priceless thing do you seek to buy?
3 GLORY - what do you want to be remembered for?
4 POWER - what price are you willing to pay for power?
5 REDEMPTION - what made you decide to try and right the wrongs you had done?
6 KNOWLEDGE - what great secret would you die to uncover?
7 ADVENTURE - who inspired you to live a life of adventure?
8 DEATH - what great shame or sorrow do you hide?
d10 TRADE (ignore if not human)
1 MERCENARY - take a scimitar, bow & arrows, and a set of ragged leather armour
2 KNIGHT - take a longsword, shield and a set of heavy metal armour
3 THIEF - take a knife, lockpicks and an enchanted rope
4 ENGINEER - take a toolbox and two gadgets (you can make more with time and resources)
5 RAT-CATCHER - take a cudgel, crossbow, net and a small but vicious dog (of course)
6 NECROMANCER - take witchbags, a miséricorde and the summoning names of two ghosts
7 SUMMONER - take a crown of antlers, a decorated spear and three bound spirits
8 CULTIST - take a sacrificial dagger, large hooded robes and the favor of an Elder God
9 MONSTER-HUNTER - take javelins, a vial of monster scent and a short sword
10 SWASHBUCKLER - take a rapier, a sign of nobility and a wicked scar
ELVES get bow & arrow, rapier and a three pieces of elven bread
DWARVES get an axe, craftsman’s tools and a magnificent gemstone
GNOMES get a shiv, a cookbook and a pipe with wyrd herbs
d12 SECONDARY SKILL
1 TRACKING - take a spyglass
2 ARCHITECTURE - take mathematical tools
3 ARTISTIC EXPRESSION - take a writing or painting set, or costumes, or a powerful voice
4 COURTLY ETIQUETTE - take haute couture regalia and an air of nobility
5 HERALDRY & WAR - take a tabard with family arms and a horn
6 ANCIENT HISTORY - take massive tomes filled with half-truths and outright lies
7 RITES - take body paints, oils and incenses
8 ALCHEMY - take a crucible and a slingbagful of ingredients
9 CONTORTIONNISM - take manacles and a bag of marbles
10 BUSKING - take a harp, lyre or pan flute
11 SAILING - take a pet parrot and an old memento
12 ANIMAL HUSBANDRY - take a loyal beast companion
d20 TRINKETS & GIMMICKS
1 TELEPATHY - you can read surface thoughts when touching, probe deeper if intimate
2 CURSED SHADOW - your shadow is alive and mischievous but needs you alive
3 WOLF HEAD - you have the head of a wolf, and a bounty of a thousand crowns
4 PACK GOAT - you have a trusty pack goat, warm, loving and eerily lucky
5 TEMPEST IN A BAG - you have a small burlap sack filled with Neptune’s fury
6 BROKEN HOURGLASS - it can stop time for up to a minute before becoming worthless
7 BLACK SWORD - you are the owner of a bloodthirsty and powerful enchanted blade
8 HAG HEAD - the living head of a witch you killed. She will cackle and bite fingers at times.
9 GAUNTLET OF KORAD - whoever wears the other one is on their way to kill you.
10 DWARVEN INGOTS - can only be melted in a dwarven forge. Enough to make a blade.
11 MAP SKIN - A goat skin with a map of a location unheard of.
12 VAMPIRE SKIN - covering yourself in fresh blood restores your vitality.
13 LUMBER JACK - you can fell a tree as thick as your biceps with a single blade swip.
14 HANDS OF THE TREE FROG - your fingertips are flat and sticky, great grip strength.
15 DREAMS OF DOOM - every night, you see how you may die the following day.
16 DAVE - you are haunted by a depressed ghost named Dave. He just wants to hang out.
17 IDOL'S TEETH - you wear the dentures of a witch-dentist. You can chew through bones.
18 SHAPESHIFTER - your soul is mingled with an animal spirit which you can transform into.
19 DRAGON EGG - large as a hen and hard as a rock. Who knows when it will hatch?
20 BAG OF FAIRY DUST - anyone with fairy dust in their eyes see their innermost desire.
ADVENTURING RULES (for OSR-type play. For FKR, just do your thing, I trust you.)
It’s a conversation. The Dungeon Master describes a situation and environment and the Players ask questions and say what their characters say or do. When the outcome of an action is uncertain, the DM will ask for a saving throw (or attack roll). The target is usually 7+ or 9+.
In combat, which side surprises the other if at all is determined by an opposed 1d6 roll. The party with a difference of 3+ over the other may ambush or avoid the other side altogether. Afterwards, initiative is an opposed d6 roll, ties mean both sides act simultaneously. Roll 7+ to hit, 9+ against a heavily armoured (or extremely fast) opponent. STRONG characters add 1 to melee attacks, QUICK characters add 1 to ranged attacks, and anyone using a shield removes 1 from attacker’s attacks (and can sacrifice the shield to avoid a hit altogether). PCs begin with 12 HIT POINTS. NPCs and Monsters may have between 1d6 (average), 2d6 (fighter) or 3d6 (elite/monster) HIT POINTS, sometimes even more. Mundane foes deal 1d6 damage, although warriors and PCs with a fighting background using their trade weapons (DWARF, ELF, MERCENARY, KNIGHT, MONSTER-HUNTER, SWASHBUCKLER) deal 2d6 damage per hit. Monsters may deal 3d6 damage per hit or more if they are particularly fearsome. A natural roll of 12 means double damage, while a natural 2 means one’s opponent gets a hit through while counter-attacking. NPCs and most monsters reduced to 0HP are dead or dying. PCs must make a saving throw (+1 if you are TOUGH, +1 if you are a DWARF) when reduced to 0HP to be knocked out instead of killed. If they pass, their maximum HP increases by 1.
Slay a famous and powerful foe, collect the bounty, fund further expeditions, get laid, throw parties, invest in a side gig or business enterprise, raise an army, build a fort or castle, try to make the world a better place, or carve yourself a better spot in it. Marry or trick your way into nobility, befriend the King, become a knight or other official, do battles, win wars, rescue people, free slaves, research magic, learn new summoning names, make better weapons, name your stuff, explore and map a dungeon or the uncharted wilderness, make powerful or interesting friends, make enemies and rivals, find out about the world, die a worthy death or retire.
Torches and lanterns light 30’ ahead, candles light 10’ ahead. Candles and torches last an hour, a flask of lantern oil lasts four hours. The party can explore about 240’ per (10 minutes) turn, half if heavily armoured or carrying a heavy load (like treasure). Every (hour) six turns, the party has to rest for a turn or suffer a penalty (-1) to every future roll. Characters can carry twelve significant items, +2 if TOUGH, +2 if DWARF. Significant means stuff like a sword or chainmail. Stack fist-sized stuff by 6 and arm-length stuff by 3. A sack with 100 gold is significant.
A wilderness turn lasts a day, during which you can cross 24 miles (4x6 miles hexes) or find out the hidden features of a given hex (sometimes more, sometimes less depending on terrain). At the end of each day every party member must consume a ration and drink a waterskin’s worth or become HUNGRY (-1). The next day they are FAMISHED (-2) then STARVED (-3), then die.
A short post to promote a little two-page OSR / FKR game I just wrote.
Really simple stuff inspired by Korgoth of Barbaria and Heavy Metal.
You can have it for free on this page or throw some coin my way on itch.io if you feel like it.
MURDERSOUP - HEAVY METAL ADVENTURES
YOU ARE BRUTAL WARRIORS FROM THE NORTHERN WASTES!
YOUR LANDS WERE OBLITERATED BY THE MIGHTY SORCERER ARGAKAAAN!
WITHOUT A PLACE TO CALL HOME, YOU BECAME REAVERS, ENEMIES OF ALL MAGIC-USERS!
STRIKE THE EARTH, FOR BLOOD AND WINE, FOR GOLD AND GLORY, OR SWEET REVENGE!
MAKE A BARBARIAN
ROLL 1D6 FOR YOUR STRONGEST ATTRIBUTE
1 - COOL Cool-headed, nerves of steel, good under pressure
2 - HARD Hardcore, ultra-violent, hard-to-kill
3 - SHARP Precise, a sharpshooter, quick-thinking
4 - HOT Strong-willed, a natural leader, seductive
5 - WEIRD Crazy, touched by the Gods, sixth sense
6 - Roll twice You get TWO TRAITS (if you get duplicates, pick the second trait instead of rolling)
Your attributes and skills inform the difficulty of what you attempt to do (2d6, typical TN is 7 to 9+).
Being barbarians, you’re all skilled at tracking, survival, intimidation, caring for weapons, etc.
ROLL 1D6 FOR YOUR SECONDARY SKILL
1 - BASKET-WEAVING
2 - THROAT SINGING
3 - EXTREME CUISINE
4 - BATTLE POETRY
5 - GHOST WHISPERING
6 - COWARD STUFF (tactics & strategy)
ROLL 1D6 FOR YOUR FAVORED WEAPON
1 - BIG FUCKING SWORD
2 - TWIN DAGGERS
3 - BOW & ARROWS
4 - AXE & SHIELD
5 - WARHAMMER
6 - SOMETHING WEIRD
IF YOUR BARBARIAN NAME SUCKS, USE THIS ONE INSTEAD
1 - GORNIK THE OBLITERATOR
2 - SHALASHAK THE COLOSSUS
3 - KORRRN THE EXTERMINATOR
4 - RAVEKS THE SUPERLATIVE
5 - THORNAG WHO BATHES IN THE BLOOD OF HIS FOES
6 - FEYDNAHR THE SHAMEFUL, mocked for his pretty relaxed, even quiet attitude
Initiative is simultaneous, though ranged attackers usually get a shot from afar before melee fighters.
Being warriors, you need a roll 7+ to hit most targets. Those wearing HEAVY METAL ARMOUR are at 9+.
+1 in melee if you’re HARD, +1 at range if you’re SHARP. -1 to the attacker’s roll if target uses a shield.
Normal men have 1d6 HP, warriors have 2d6 HP, monsters can have up to 30 HP.
Most attacks deal 1d6 damage, though trained warriors like yourself roll 2d6. Monsters can do more.
Against lesser men (1d6 HP), your attacks can cleave through multiple foes.
NPCs and Monsters die at 0HP. You get to make a SAVING THROW.
Whenever you pass a save vs death, increase your max total HP by 1.
Recover half the HP you lost after a fight, then 1 per meal and 1 per night.
EDIT : PCs start with 12 HP.
Referee determines your chances based on situation, plan, tools, special circumstances. Typically 7+/9+.
Snake-eyes means some great misfortune befalls you. Boxcars means some incredible stroke of luck.
Make souvenirs out of the body parts of your fallen enemies. Become an officer in some army.
Kill a powerful monster and let everyone know about it. Marry some King or Queen’s children.
Die a glorious death in a great carnage. Have a badass viking funeral with other PCs doing your eulogy.
1 a stormy night, a seedy tavern, rough knaves eyeing up your already light purse
2 wake up in the dark, tied up and upside down, in some damp cellar
3 the arena’s doors open, a massive beast charges at you (or other gladiators smile wickedly)
4 lustful women surround an obese merchant offering an easy job in exchange for gold, or else
5 on the battlefield, two armies scream, instants before crashing into one another, with you in the middle
6 at the entrance of a dark cave leading into some eerie underground dungeon
II. GREAT FOE
1 Argakaan himself, disguised as a (1 maiden in distress, 2 old hag, 3 proud knight, 4 young scoundrel)
2 The Ungod of Spiders and its death-cult assassins, who you have wronged unbeknownst to you
3 General Thool Magnicus and his Invincible Legion, whose brother you have slain in combat
4 Nadiilene the Irresistible, who once broke the heart of one (or more) of you
5 Sezz the Scholar, a disciple of Argakaan and his undying servitors
6 One of the many spawns of The Dark Goat of the Woods, a horrible monster from the Depths below
III. WORTHY REWARD
1 An Enchanted Weapon with a Powerful Boon & Terrible Curse
2 A Set of Sacred Heavy Metal Armour, Granting Magical Protection
3 A Map to a Massive Hoard Guarded by some Terrible Monster
4 Ancient Technology Lying Dormant and its Activation Codes
5 A Powerful Companion or Pet’s Loyalty (III-D)
6 A Strange Mutation or God’s Boon Changing Your Very Being
Ran some OD&D-inspired FKR dungeon crawl tonight with three players, it was a blast. I kept things moving quickly and the PCs were decisive, which led them to explore a considerable amount (three levels, and they even "cleared" the second one) of dungeon space all the while keeping track of time, light and distances accurately. In three hours!
Rules Stuff - I keep telling y'all, just make up the game when you need it:
Roll 3d6 in order for STR, INT, WIS, CON, DEX, CHA. Only record adjectives for noteworthy stats.
Pick a class (fighter, magic-user, cleric, thief, elf, dwarf, hobbit, other).
I kept weapon/armour restrictions as well as any descriptive stuff like dwarven stonesense abilities or known languages. You get 4 HP, Heavy Metal Armour or a Shield can reduce damage taken by 1. If you're using both that's a DR of 1 and a bonus HP. Leather armour or a helmet grant extra HP each. Unarmed/improvised does 1 hit, melee weapons do 2 hits, two-handers and bows do 3 hits, a crossbow or longbow do 4 hits. DR 2 could be magical super-armour or a dragon's scales. PCs get 4 HP.
After the game we implemented the following rule for advancement: you can spend your treasure (gold!) to acquire customized cool things (tm). The Necromancer will research a new spell for 1,000gp.
For magic, I went with Wonders & Wickedness + Marvels & Mallisons, assuming the necromancer can cast as if he were third level (he starts with three spells and can cast each one per adventure. He got Death Ray, Soul Transfer and Transmigration).
Combat rounds have simultaneous initiative unless it makes sense to give initiative to someone situationally, which happened a lot, organically. There are no to hit or damage rolls, although we did use saves for "gambles" like the Dwarf trying to bum-rush a zombie and hack another at the same time. Made a lot of use of ad hoc saving throws, calling a target number for something to happen or to avoid something bad, and rolling 2d6 or having a player roll. With that said, onwards to the game.
That's by the end of the session, I think. I have since removed mentions of HP altogether. I'm still using the same system but it's more in the background. They all know each others and are being mercenaries/murderhobos together, and are looking for a secret entrance to the Great Underground Empire, which is rumored to be somewhere down below the Caves of Doom, somewhere on level 11.
The entrance was at the bottom of a cliff, a cave entrance shaped like a large predatory maw, like that of a crocodile or gator. I set the scene, the players described their characters, and we established that the boundary between player and character would be so thin this game that their PCs could actually respond directly to the narrator (me) if they so desired.
On level 1, Goblinus Peticus picked up a goblin skull and found mice and some coins stashed in it. Listening to noises, the party went for the quietest path (north and south had two varieties of squeaking and clicking noises), then whichever was large enough for the STALWART dwarf. Down the stairs they went.
On level 2, they found some mangled rat corpses. A saving throw (2d6=5+, 10) allowed the Necromancer to guess that a ghoul's claws had done that. I proceeded to read the description of the ghoul to the newbie players. They decided it'd be wise not to mess with it later on.
Going NW, they saw an alcove with a parchment-skinned corpse in a pharaoh-like posture, wearing fine clothings and jewelry. Obviously a ghoul laying in ambush. The goblin went to tear off the corpse's arm and got surprised by the monster. It jumped and started choking Peticus with razor-sharp claws. Cue cracking neckbone noise (in retrospect, that move was really bad and dangerous, the Ghoul should have just killed Peticus). The dwarf kept it in a corner while the others stabbed and shot it to death.
Next, they checked the SW room - noticing many pairs of red eyes in the dark, they decided to throw a torch inside, which caused the many giant rats inside to grow angry and scared, and swarm towards them. The stalwart dwarf stood his ground while the others took care verming going past him. McDwarf got dealt 5 out of 7 hits this fight, and decided to stay in the back most of the time after this. Again, in retrospect, I got tricked into a gamist mindset here and let the Hits mechanics be prescriptive rather than descriptive. One giant rat is dog-sized, I don't think it should have been this easy and even fighting them might have been a deadly idea considering the size and numbers.
Back to the NW, they noticed the stairs and searched a room full of bones (victims of the ghoul) to no avail. They went downstairs.
[I'm not home so I don't have the third level map at hand]
The dwarf quickly noticed that the area looked unsafe, and after some debating, the party decided to hit the walls with a hammer until the "trap" triggered: packed stones and a weak ceiling caused some debris to fall harmlessly in a passage going north. Peticus scouted ahead, followed closely by McDwarf the Troll Slayer. Zombies! Probably stuck inside the rock for decades or more, the mossy corpses shambled forward...only to get jumped by the Dorf. Third mistake on my end - zombies are slow, which is fine; but to be threatening here they should have been maybe a dozen of them instead of 4-5, cause they weren't a real threat and got dispatched quickly. It'd be easy to say that's caused by the lack of RNG (to hit, damage), but in practice it really just means I should run combat better, thinking more about the tactical possibilities even for brainless monsters. They could have been packed together and numerous, or try to isolate one by ganging up.
After that fight, they found a cleaner set of stairs going down and another passage to the east. They went further down, explored some crypts and got chased by a pack of ghouls (they ran this time). They slammed a door on them and prepared molotov cocktails using the lantern oil (yes, lantern oil is flaming oil in my D&D world). This sent the monsters running away yelping in fear, and the group went back up and out without anymore trouble.
Changes for Next Session
I'm still going to use Hits ala APIE but I don't want them to be prescriptive in my mind, so I'm removing the numbers from the character sheets and will do things in a more loose, ad-hoc fashion. Should help thinking more about the fiction. Eventually I should feel comfortable getting rid of Hits entirely...