Chapter 1: EXP

Welcome to the inside of your heads.  EXP may just be another piece of evidence that obsessive personality traits can result in concrete objects.  Regardless, the game is here and all those people who waited so impatiently for it can now start in on all the errors that managed to slip through this version.  We actually left some errors in the production for marketing purposes, but we know that this excuse will only work so often.  Anyway, this is it; it is all here.  There will be no more ‘essential supplements’ since we have all gone on to real jobs, real families, etc. etc.  It will take all our spare time just to maintain the newsletter that we intend to offer.

There is easily enough original and interrelated material in EXP for about 2 to 3 years of play.  By that time you may have matured, found out about dating, or discovered some other game to play.  There are lots of companies that dribble out their ideas in glossy productions and we recommend that you support those people, if you can afford it.

Why did we do it?  Unlike the proverbial mountain, we did EXP because it wasn’t there.  The game is unlike anything that is on the market today.  It is a complete game system for one single purchase, it is packed with as much art as we could afford, and it is completely referenced to all relevant movies/books we could watch/read.  If it doesn’t appear in here, it is perverted, racist, sexist, or you should publish it yourself.

You are responsible for making up your own campaign.  This is one of the essential brain exercises that make gaming worthwhile.  If you have trouble being creative, then refer to the hundreds of science fiction scenarios that exist for the dozens of other science fiction role playing games.

EXP, the game of technological chaos, is primarily a game.  It is easily described as an interactive game where the players attempt to solve puzzles that involve simultaneously existing yet highly varied levels of technological advancement.

Any person reading a novel, or simply sitting in class daydreaming, can have vicarious thrills about high tech adventure.  These visions cannot be shared amongst friends or acquaintances with any great ease.  The rules of EXP allow a group to share any experience that can have as intricate a theme as a novel, or as personal an experience as a daydream.

EXP is also a reference book.  It could be considered a veritable tome of every imaginable speculative fiction theme that has, will, or could exist.  Thankfully the human imagination can still surpass the static nature of any book.  There is a system for creating personas that can imitate nearly any pulp fiction protagonist. The technology section is so complete that pretty near (How is that for an exact term?) any devious device or planet-saving contraption either exists ready made, or can be concocted through multi-equipment.

By now it is pretty obvious that this game has a science fiction bent.  However, players do not require any science skills whatsoever to enjoy this game. All the research and mathematical scut work has already been done.  Any of those gaming areas where the rules were becoming too complex, a dice roll has been substituted.  The most important skills for role playing in EXP include your ability to articulate what you are doing, visualize what others are trying to articulate, and the ability to work with others.  There is still room for hard science in EXP and, reflecting the flexibility of all role-playing games, if your group likes to calculate orbits, trajectories, or circuit designs then go to it!

More importantly, EXP is pseudo-science, science fantasy or even silly science.  The races, rules and technology are tongue in cheek and bordering on the ridiculous.  There is an element of randomness that is entrenched into all of the game’s systems, especially the technological object yield system (toys), and the persona generation system (aliens, robots, anthropomorphs).  This random factor ensures that EXP proudly crosses the border of ridiculous, and wallows in the pink and green light of the absurd.  While laughing at the nuclear powered toasters, or combat robots with welcome mats, the players also realize that it’s these satirical madcap mechanistic devices that are going to help them solve their gaming problems.  EXP is the game of technological chaos.

Structure of This Book

The sentence that first describes EXP is in many ways an understatement.  “It is most easily described as an interactive game where the players attempt to solve puzzles that involve simultaneously existing yet highly varied levels of technological advancement.”  Each component of the sentence represents many chapters in the book.  Always remember that these chapters are mostly for reference; the only essential ones are chapters 3, 4, 8, 14 and 27.  The remaining 54 chapters are really just embellishments.

It is not an exaggeration to say that the remaining chapters are embellishments.  This does not mean that they are not useful; it just means that they are not essential to the game.  EXP is, above all, designed to be a fun method to demonstrate the follies of technological disparity.  The interactive part is described in chapters 12 through 59 where the outlines for players attempting to do out-of-the-ordinary things are given (fly space vehicles or repair robots).  The first 11 chapters are devoted to the creation of a player’s persona (a playing piece so to speak).  Chapters 12 through 39 detail the weird mechanisms by which the personas get things done.  The remaining chapters 40 through 59 of the book are devoted to the random generation of technology, which can present itself in many weird and wonderful ways.

The solutions (if there really are solutions) arise from the synergy of all the parts and the skill of the players involved.  The fun of EXP is in the adventure that the puzzles represent and arises between the players of the game and it is above and beyond the rules of the book itself.

There will be several kinds of people reading this introduction:  The uninitiated (neophytes), concerned parents, and the experienced players; all of whom are after separate kinds of information that is hidden in this introductory chapter.

Neophytes

For the uninitiated, this chapter will not teach you how to play EXP or any other role-playing game for that matter.  You certainly can learn how to role-play with EXP.  The game lends itself to considerable fun even in the face of extreme ignorance.  The rules are written in a fashion that assumes each new concept is a new concept and not something that is intrinsically obvious to experienced gamers.  Experienced gamers may occasionally find this form of rule introduction irritating.  Experienced gamers already know how to hone in on the important information, and probably aren’t reading this chapter anyhow.

Newcomers to role-playing must be complimented on picking up such a voluminous tome as this and expect to have fun with it.  The book looks and feels very much like a textbook, a feature that would turn away many people.  You must be complimented for getting this far.  Enough compliments; it’s time for some information.

EXP is large because it is a reference manual for a fantasy world that its players create.  No one, least of all the author, has this game committed to memory.  The rules are mere guidelines giving direction to the possible outcome of situations that cannot be prepared for.

For instance, in most science fiction movies when the protagonist (Tagon is a benevolent emperor) fires her laser pistol at the antagonist, the antagonist invariably falls down dead.  In EXP, or any decent role-playing game, the dice will decide whether or not the antagonist will fall down dead.  Better yet, the protagonist could talk to the antagonist instead!  If you will forgive the sentence fragment, “The limitations aren’t.”

By now, you are several paragraphs into the neophyte section and know absolutely nothing about how to play this game.  It is not going to get any easier.  Role-playing games are always self taught.  As a neophyte, you are part of a recreational revolution that you are creating.   You are creating the adventures; it all depends on your interpersonal skills and your creativity.

If you find that EXP’s version of silly science doesn’t work for you, try another role-playing game (there are hundreds out there).  Some devote themselves to very hard science, pure fantasy, horror or real life (how dull).

Concerned Parents

If you are a parent that is bothering to read this, you are the kind of parent that is conscientious enough to find out what your kids are really up to.  For your kids’ sake this is probably a good thing.  The unfortunate thing is that you can’t really tell what your kids are up to by reading this paragraph.  It would be like reading the rules of basketball and not knowing your child is on steroids or reading the television schedule and not monitoring what your child watches.  You are actually going to have to join in and play a game or two with them (Ah dad, do you have to?) to be sure that your child is playing in a healthy fashion.

EXP is a role-playing game and role-playing games go wherever the players’ imaginations go.  There is no way of knowing what your children are thinking about or what they are role-playing unless you are involved with your kids in general.

Parents can also become concerned with the amount of time that their child is devoting to playing role-playing games.  Role-playing games shouldn’t be played 8 hours a day, seven days a week.  However, no kids should do anything with that level of intensity, whether it’s basketball, piano, television, homework or employment.  Children need diversity and the reason that they can play role-playing games for such long periods of time is because role-playing games are in themselves extremely diverse.  Random dice rolls make each new puzzle, or encounter, a relative unknown and as exciting as the one 15 minutes earlier.

We all know that children need love and attention.  If they get both and they are lucky, they will probably survive childhood and grow up to be concerned parents like yourselves; however, they will probably be happy to see their children playing role-playing games instead of staring at the new-fangled interactive storybooks or whatever.  Each new generation of parents encounters some new thing that they will have difficulty understanding while they watch their children charge into it headlong.

Experienced Gamers

What can be said to experienced gamers?  Get playing you dolt.  Don’t sit around being coddled by a sales pitch disguised as a sappy introduction.  Grab your dice, your trusty gang of gamers, roll up your personas and find out if this game is for you.  The only way you are going to find out is if you play it for a while.

All candor aside, there are some (not many) questions that gamers may want answered in the game’s introduction.  The answers are going to be brief and candid because, in reality, the proof’s in the pudding and if you don’t have fund playing EXP, then I have almost wasted my time.

What is EXP really?  EXP is the game of technological chaos.  Any tech level device can appear simultaneously with any other tech level device.  In fact, it is not uncommon to find two different tech levels’ examples of the same device coexisting!  It is a generic game that has very extensive, completely integrated rules.  The rules of persona creation (organics and in-organics) are combined with mutation tables and technological devices.  All systems and equipment are portable amongst each other.  For instance, you can chase a space vehicle (anything hardened to the vacuum of space) with a school bus.  Personas onboard the school bus could fire their personal weapons at the space vehicle and it could use its onboard weapons to return fire.  Personas on either side could use their mutations.  The idea of having to referee such a situation gives me the shudders.  I can assure you that the space vehicle would win, usually.

Persona generation is reasonably random:  The player can choose amongst anthropomorphic forms, alien forms and robotic forms.  There are many non-redundant attributes that apply to all personas and are comparable between races or species.  All mutations improve with experience level.

EXP has a class system where skills can be performed on a performance table.  The table compares experience level and degree of difficulty of the maneuver to determine likelihood of success.  Any persona class can attempt any maneuver through a general performance table.  Experience points are earned for combat, earning equipment, class maneuvers and role-playing.

Combat classes have combat skills as well as technical skills.  Combat involves to-hit rolls versus armour rating with successful rolls reducing target hit points.  Certain amounts of damage can immediately incapacitate a target without killing it.  The to-hit rolls are made on a very easy to use d1000, allowing for very fine to-hit roll and armour rating adjustments.  It is assumed that player personas are hardier, more durable and luckier (much, much luckier) than dribble drabble like you and me.

Why is it so silly?  Role-playing is supposed to be fun.  If you are not laughing at least 3 times an hour when you are gaming, you should give your head a shake.

Why should I play something else?  You are a gamer, not a soap opera junkie.  You’re game to try new things, why not try new game things?  No one can referee two campaigns at once but people can easily play in two campaigns at once.  The only real fear about trying something new is that all the money you spent building your last game system might be threatened.  Well it certainly is.  You are holding a complete game system.  There won’t be an expensive and continuous flow of source books that you ‘simply must have’.

We think it’s a tragedy that in the last few years, we have met more ex-gamers than active gamers.  Most often (actually, almost exclusively), they have retired because they can’t afford the reams of glossy-schlop that is ‘essential’ to play the new game systems.  We respect that game corporations must do this in order to profit (and survive); however, EXP is not our livelihood and we are for gaming and not marketing.

That doesn’t mean there won’t be support.  You can expect an EXP newsletter with articles such as Ref’s Own Table or Other Lists.  This should allow you to contact other like-minded gamers and see what other things Merv Engineering decides to produce.

Was this really ready to play in 1983?  Yes.  We were actually playing a version of EXP in 1980.  The first completion was done on a Commodore 64 in 1983 and nothing but typo corrections and grammatical embellishments have occurred since (well maybe the odd toy was added here and there).  It took so long because what you are holding is very expensive to produce and it took a lot of telemarketing, pasta delivery and track scholarships to save enough money to do this.  Go play and enjoy.

Introductory Glossary

The following terms and abbreviations will assist the reader in deciphering the arcane language that most gaming systems represent.  Remember that there are more detailed glossaries in the appendices of EXP.

Adjusted:  Adjusted Mstr’, ‘adjusted Pstr’ or any other ‘adjusted’ attributes means that the persona’s level is added to the attribute.

Anthropomorph:  These are bipedal upright phenotypically humanoid versions of creatures from the animal world.  They possess no natural abilities of the creature they resemble.

Area of effect:  The number of hexes in which targets are subjected to damage or special effects.  The value usually gives a radius for a spherical area of effect.

Amour Rating (AR):  The amour rating of the persona indicates how well she is protected from damage in combat.  The higher the armour rating value the less likely she is to be damaged.

Attributes:  These are the imaginary divisions of a persona’s physical abilities.  They are also called statistics.

Bonus non-proficient (BNP):  This is the to-hit roll bonus used when the persona is attacking with an unfamiliar weapon.  This value is less than the regular to-hit roll bonus used.  Each weapon type has its own bonus non-proficient.

Bonus proficient (BP):  This value is added to the player’s to-hit roll if her persona is using a weapon she is skilled in.  Each weapon type has its own bonus proficient.

Bot: This is a shortening of the word robot.  A bot is a robot that is out of control and capable of thinking on its own.  Only a crazed bot can be run by a player.

Class:  A class represents the innate abilities of the persona turned into an almost professional pursuit.

Campaign: This is the story generated by the referee and the players over many nights of role playing. A campaign can last for months or years of play and can involve many personas and different locations. A campaign is built from many scenarios.

Dice:  Here are several dice abbreviations:

Table 1.1 Gravity Dependent Random Integer Generators

Let shape give shape to your story.
Die NameSymbolImage (not to scale)
Die NameSymbolImage (not to scale)
Three Sidedd3
Four Sidedd4
Six Sidedd6
Eight Sidedd8
Ten Sidedd10
Twelve Sidedd12
Twenty Sidedd20
Thirty Sidedd30
Fifty Sidedd50 or
Fid-die
100 Sidedd100 or
Deci-die
1000 Sidedd1000 or
Kilo-die

Damage:  Whenever a hit is scored in combat, the persona loses hit points.  The amount of hit points lost is the damage.  The more lethal an attack, the more damage it inflicts.

Damage Adjustor (DA):  This value is added to the damage roll for certain weapon types.  The stronger the persona is, the more damage she will inflict.

Die roll:  A die roll indicates that a random number must be generated.  Because the numbers are generated by dice, it is called a die roll.

Exatmo:  Anything that takes place in the vacuum of outer space.  Short for exterior to atmosphere.

Experience (Exps):  Experience is a quantifiable value of the persona’s increase in knowledge from one scenario to the next.  The persona earns experience points for being played and the point total represents the persona’s overall experience.

h/u Hexes per Unit:  This is the scale movement rate for EXP.  It is equivalent to m/s.

Hex:  A hex, short for hexagon, is a six sided perfect polygon.  The hex is also the game scale for measurement.  A hex equals 2 metres.  Movement of figures is usually carried out on hex paper: a page of interconnected hexes.

HIG:  High gravity.

Hit Points (HPS):  The persona’s hit points indicate how much damage she can take.  A persona with many hit points can sustain more damage than a persona with few hit points,.  A persona loses hit points when she is hurt.  If a persona loses too many hit points, she dies.

Hit:  A hit is a combat term that indicates a target has been damaged.  When a hit is scored, the target usually loses hit points.

Hite:  An environmentally correct spelling of the word height.  Their meanings are interchangeable.

Inatmo:  Anything that takes place in normal atmosphere.  Short for in atmosphere.

Initiative:  Initiative is a way of determining the order of play between the players.  Initiative can include the speed of the personas involved.

Intensity:  Intensity represents how dangerous a poison or psionic attack is.  The higher the intensity, the more dangerous the attack.

Kilodie:  A Kilodie indicates that a random number between 1 and 1000 must be generated.  The kilodie is composed of three ten sided dice where one die is the hundreds place, another is the tens place and another is the units place.  A roll of 0, 0, 0, would indicate 1000. Often abbreviated d1000.

Level:  The level of a persona represents how skilled they are in their respective class.  Experience point totals will indicate a persona’s level which will allow her to succeed at more difficult class skills.

Maximum Roll (MR):  This is the highest possible to-hit roll that the player can roll.  This only applies to her to-hit roll.  If she rolls higher than this value, she may only announce her maximum roll.  Each weapon type has a different maximum roll.

Miss:  The miss is a combat term to indicate that a to-hit roll did not score any damage.  A miss may contact a target but it cannot cause loss of hit points.

Movement:  Movement is the changing of position of personas during combat.  Each persona has a movement rate which indicates how may hexes the persona can move each unit.  This is the speed of the persona.

Movement Rate: How many hexes per unit that the persona can move per unit of combat.

Mutation:  Mutations are changes in the genetic make-up of a persona which yield imaginary abilities built into the body (physical mutation) or controlled by the mind (mental mutation).

Persona:  The persona is the embodiment of all playing features:  attributes, race and class.  The players (you) manipulate personas like playing pieces to engage in scenarios.  Anything that acts in the game is a persona.  Personas are also run by referees; however, the player persona is the most detailed and important.  Personas can also be called ‘player characters’.

Player:  You, the reader.  The real world persona that controls the fantasy world character called a persona.

Race:  The race is the biological representation of the persona.  The race is usually a humanoid one; however, bots and aliens can be personas and are categorized as special races.

Ref/Referee:  The player that is responsible for preparing the game for a group of players.  The referee is responsible for running all those personas that are not run by players.

Referee Persona(RP):  A persona that is generated and run by the referee.  It includes aliens, anthropomorphs and robots.

Ref’s Own Table: This comment is found when a player rolls the maximum on a table. It indicates that pure imagination or campaign discretion will prevail. Some tables will say Other, Ref’s Imagination. Regardless it indicates that something NOT on that table should be tried.

Save vs.: Save vs. indicates that a save must be made versus either poison or psionic attacks.

Saves:  When the persona’s mind or body must defend against an attack, she will get a chance to save from the attack.  A save is made by having the player roll a twenty sided die.  The higher the roll, the more likely the persona is going to save.  If the persona doesn’t save, she will be damaged, or affected, by the attack.

Scenarios: These are smaller stories or challenges that players must face with their personas. An evening of role playing may involve several scenarios. A collection of scenarios may build to create an entire world and story arc called a campaign.

To-Hit roll:  A to-hit roll is a combat term indicating that an attacker is trying to damage her opponent.  The higher the to-hit roll, the better because the attacker must generate a number greater than her opponent’s amour rating in order to hit.

Toys/TOYS:  Toys are special high tech equipment created on the Technological Object Yield System in the technology book; hence the abbreviation TOYS.

Type A:  This is a classification of weapons.  Type A weapons are non-powered thrusting and striking weapons.  Examples are swords, clubs, daggers and axes.

Type B:  This is a classification of weapons.  Type B weapons are non-powered missile weapons.  These weapons have a ranged attack but the attacking forces are generated by the persona.  Some examples are bows, rocks, darts and bolos.

Type C:  This is a classification of weapons.  Type C weapons are powered weapons of any sort.  Powered weapons require no extensive physical effort by the persona to cause damage.  Examples are lasers, rifles, crossbows or aerosols.  Weapons listed as type D, E and so o are type C weapons which attack more than once a unit.

Unit:  The unit is the smallest component of combat time.  All actions made by the persona during combat are broken down into two second intervals.  A unit may take ten minutes or an hour to play.

Wate:  An environmentally correct spelling of the word weight.  In EXP, wate also includes an indication of how difficult something is to move.  An object with a heavier wate would be more difficult to move in ZOG than a lesser wate object.

Weapon type:  All weapons are classed into different types depending on their combat properties.  See also type A, type B and type C weapons.

ZOG:  Zero gravity.