To Play Or Not To Play: TimeLords
TimeLords: where you can design yourself. Thrust through time and space by an artifact you don't understand. To go home, you must survive long enough to learn to control the awesome forces at your disposal. But by then, would you want to go back? (A word of warning: TimeLords is a game that strives to be as realistic as possible.)
TimeLords is by far the hardest, most complicated, and most entertaining game I have ever played. Created by Greg Porter, distributed by the Blacksburg Tactical Research Center, and play tested at Virginia Tech, it has the most complicated combat system I have ever seen. As combat is such a major part of storytelling and roleplaying, this poses some problems. A word of warning: TimeLords is a game that strives to be as realistic as possible. Simplicity of play in this game is often sacrificed for realism. For a leaner, simpler, or more fantastic game of the same line try Hero or GURPS.
Body Points are a function of mass and are roughly the square root of mass in kilograms * 3.3(u).
Combat damage or wounds in TimeLords doesn't rely on Hit Points. Instead it relies on Body Points (actual damage) and Bruise Points (damage that fades quickly like a bruise).
Body Points (BP) are a measure of how much damage your body can absorb. You do not lose Body Points when you take damage, instead damage is given as an effect and the severity of the effect is based on the percentage of your Body Points done in a hit. Body Points are a function of mass and are roughly the square root of mass in kilograms*3.3(u).
For example: If a character with 30BP were hit for 10 points of damage, the effects would be at the 33% level, but a character with 40BP would take effects on the 25% level.
Bruise Points (BR) on the other hand are a measure of how much non-lethal damage your character can take before becoming dazed, knocked unconscious, et cetera. Bruise Points are equal to Body Points, but the effects of the damage are recovered much more quickly.
Skills, combat related or otherwise, are number based. Modifiers to skills are percentage based. This is a little confusing at first but works well once you get used to it. In addition and subtraction systems like D&D, GURPS, and Rifts (to name a few), a character with a skill of 10 who received a -10 to their roll would never succeed, whereas a character with a skill of 20 would still have a 50% chance of success. This means the first character has been dropped 100% and the second character only 50%.
In TimeLords this doesn't happen, as TimeLords uses a percentage-based modifier. Thus the character with a skill of 10 would have received a -50% and would have ended up with a 5 while the character with the skill of 20 would also have their skill lowered by 50% and would have ended up with a skill of 10. This way, both characters are affected equally.
This is where it gets really confusing. Here is an example of combat in the TimeLords book; I think it clarifies things a lot better than I could:
"Jasper 'Dogslayer' Merendino and party are being attacked by Stone Age savages. He has a 12mm muzzle loading pistol with an IA (Inherent Accuracy) of 1 and an INIT (Initiative) of +3. On his phase he steadies his gun and holds action until his target is 7 meters away. On the next phase, that savage charges him and will get to within two meters of Jasper unless he is stopped. Praying that his one shot will be enough, he pulls the trigger.
Jasper's Modern Pistol Skill (MPST) is a 7 at this point in time, and is applicable in this case. The IA of 1 effectively makes his skill an 8. The positive modifiers are: Weapon Steadied +8 and range of 7 meters, +3. The negative modifiers are: Target running -8. The sum of the modifiers is +8+3-8=+3. Looking at the UMC (Universal Modifier Chart), a skill of 8 with a +3 gives Jasper a 8+1=9 to hit.
Rolling 1D20, a 7 comes up. A hit! Jasper did not try any sort of called shot at the running target, so the hit location could be anywhere. Rolling 1D%, he gets a 29, which is a center chest hit.
The savage eats the screaming lead and takes 14 points of (average) damage to the chest. All but the first two are doubled, so the total damage is 2+(12*2)+26 Body Points. The savage has a total of 30BP, so looking at the UMC, he has taken Damage Level 16 on the torso table. Ouch!
Speeding things up, the GM says that he takes average damage. This is a 4 (remember that he is an NPC). The result is B14, U13, E8. The B result is shifted one column to the right and is still a B, the U result remains where it is, and the E result is shifted three columns to the right and becomes an E5. The end result is B14, U13, E5. The savage must make a Willpower roll with a negative 13 to stay conscious. If he had a Willpower of 14, the UMC shows that he would have to roll a 14-9=5 or less to achieve this. Rolling 1D20, he gets a 9, and will be out a while. He missed the roll by 4, and this is multiplied by 2D6 to get the minutes that he is out. The important thing is that he is out of the combat.
After the combat, the GM sees how long the savage would have lived. Using average rolls for NPC's (4 on 1D10, 2 on 1D6), we see that he would have died in 32 turns, or a little more than 5 minutes. In this case, the cause of death was probably severe bleeding."
I'm not going to go further into the combat aspect of the game in this article. What I've shown you so far only gets more complicated as you read the book. Instead, I'll tell you what makes the game so much fun... you play yourself. The premise of TimeLords is that YOU are the characters in a time traveling, dimension hopping adventure. The players take tests and answer questions with the group to make their character.
There is no place that you cannot go. Adventure into forever. Be a TimeLord.
The characters have 10 attributes: Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Willpower, Bravado, Perception, Appearance, Stamina, and Power. The characters/players start with a 10 and add or subtract as appropriate to get their final score. Warning: It is highly recommended this game be played with people you know well and trust. A lot of these questions can either get you in trouble (how often do you get away with lying) or are the group's decision (is the player voted below average for any reason) which may lead to hurt feelings and arguments.
Most of the attributes are self-explanatory, but bravado is my personal favorite. Bravado is a measure of your self image and is a mixture of courage, ego, and lack of wisdom. Also known as your gut or your balls. This attribute governs how well you can lie, bluff, intimidate, or hit on someone. Power refers to mental powers, commonly known as Psionics. While the characters probably wouldn't start with any Powers, they may develop them through the course of the campaign.
TimeLords is not a game to pick up for a session or two. This game requires a lot of time to learn and even more time to run. The players are incredibly invested in their characters (they are playing themselves after all) and so the characters will need to be handled delicately. The game runs smoothly once combat is figured out and it's a blast making up your characters.