TWIRPS

Totally Weird Interactive
Role Playing System

the TWIRPS role playing system was written and designed by
Peter Ryan and Christopher Reynolds

To play TWIRPS, you’ll need a character sheet

What is Role Playing?

Role playing is a lot like acting and improvisation. The general goal players come to a session with is not to win, but just to experience and have fun. The game sessions are generally led by one player who will henceforth be known as the Storyteller or GM (Games Master). The Storyteller, if he’s any good, will come to the game session with a good knowledge of the story he’s weaving and where the players are in that plot. What happens in the game session is ultimately dependant upon what the players’ characters decide to do, and their actions shift the plot that the Storyteller is creating.

The result is an interactive story. The ideal is that of the stories you might imagine Native American tribes telling around a bonfire, the shaman or chief acting out all the parts, singing, dancing, waving his hands in the air. The difference being that the “audience,” or people who are having the story told at them are also a main part of the plot, are interacting with the world and environment that the Storyteller is describing, and adding their own individual aspects and features to the existing story. Our goal is to create a role playing system that is easy to learn for beginners, to allow players ultimate choice in what type of character they’d like to play, and having a world that is totally dependant upon choices the players make, as well as showcasing role playing as a form of narrative.

Step One: Creating a Character

We made the character creation process as easy as humanly possible. However, this does not mean that your characters should be overly simplified. Rather, first take some time to imagine a world or environment different from your own, and the type of creatures that inhabit that world. This could be from something you’ve read, seen in a movie, or daydreamed about as a child. Anything from cyberpunk to Star Trek, high fantasy to historical fiction is acceptable, with one exception. DON’T PLAY YOURSELF. Not only is playing yourself a cop-out and generally lame, but it also makes for difficult situations when using special abilities or using any kind of skills that need to be rolled on or determined by the GM. For example, say there’s a player—we’ll call this person DelMonte—who decides he wants to base a character on himself. Let’s further say that DelMonte believes himself to have some degree of psychic abilities, and wants to incorporate that into the character he’s playing. Now, DelMonte’s character—let’s call him Red—is put in a situation where he wants to use said psychic abilities to communicate with another character. Without getting into too much tedious detail about dice rolls and difficulties, we’ll assume that this is pretty hard and Red fails. DelMonte is annoyed and frustrated. “No,” he says, “but I can do that!” Whether or not this is true, this type of situation is really annoying and detracts from game play. Best to play a character that is totally different from yourself, although this is not saying that you can’t have similar interests. You might be interested in Haitian voudun practices, and so you play a character who is a “witch doctor.” Let your imagination run wild. Write a brief description of this under Character Concept (e.g. Borg, Elf, Dragon, God, etc.)

Once you know what your character is, try to come up with some kind of story about him/her, about their past, where/how they grew up, etc. The things that made them the way they are. What’s their name? Are they or were they ever married or do they even have a concept/practice of marriage? What do they look like? Maybe your character is ten feet tall but incredibly skinny and feeds off of trees with high branches. Maybe your character is a diplomat flying on a galactic space cruiser to negotiate with the evil Emperor. You don’t necessarily need to write much more than a few notes on the actual character sheet, but have these things in your mind as a player. It will make it much easier to play your character, especially when moral dilemmas come up and you have to decide what your character (not you) would do in that situation.

After you have an idea of the type of person your character is, you can fill in the dots for Attributes. You have 10 points to allocate total. That’s it. There should be one area that is the primary focus of your character that you will allocate more points to, and that relates to the kind of person your character is. For example, the diplomat on the space cruiser would have a high social and mental rating but not necessarily be all that great physically. These categories are also gross generalizations, but they will serve to give an overview of what type of skills your character has. Zero points in any one Attribute means that the character has an inherent deficiency in that area (e.g. a zero rating in Physical could imply that the character has some kind of physical handicap, is quadriplegic, etc.), whereas a five assumes that this is something that the character has honed for years and years (e.g. 5 physical would be an Olympic Gold Medallist).

The last step in character creation is the Special Ability. This is what makes your character unique, that one skill that they can do better than anyone else. This could be from graphic artist, to sniper, to inherent leader, to having a plasma cannon affixed to their shoulder. These can be whatever you come up with, here are just a few examples/suggestions:

  • Magic user—spells, potions, and hexes are your schtick. Most of these either take time for preparation or require some object (like a magic wand, a bag of bones, runes, etc.) to focus your magical energy.Insectoid—What are the benefits of being a bug? Thick, near impenetrable exoskeleton, carrying up to 10 times your body weight, the potential ability to walk up walls, possibly even flying. Not to mention looking like Jeff Goldblum at the end of The Fly (and possibly having the ravaging sex drive his character had as well…).

    Cleric—Clerics are generally magic users that are also religious figures that require rituals. Blessings and curses are par for their course. Examples of clerics could include Jesus Christ, Krishna, the Pope, Peter Ryan, even those guys on evangelical TV shows that slap someone’s head and their paralysis is suddenly lifted.

    Robot/Android/Cyborg—Technologically adept by definition and really hard to kill, these part humanoid, mostly machine creatures play up every sci-fi myth you could imagine. The abilities that go along with these guys include an aptitude with guns or other nasty weapon-type things, incredible facility for intelligence—possibly with a specific area of expertise (C-3PO was a diplomacy droid, R2D2 had that little arm thing that could hack into big computers and open doors on other parts of the complex, etc.).

    Magical Creature—Things like dragons, faeries, possibly even elves fall into this category. Generally, they are magical by nature, and so have an inherent magical ability that is as normal to them as flushing the toilet is to most of us. Be careful with these, however, as they often reside primarily in alternate modes of reality, and their powers might not work the same on all levels, in all environments.

  • These are just examples, and are also more ideas for character concepts than abilities, but, hopefully, they can provide you with some ideas. Remember, you have an unlimited scope from which to choose your character in this game. No race is out of the question. You could feasibly be a mythological deity or a cabbage, the choice is yours. We promise to make it interesting no matter what you pick (even the cabbage).

    Damage Chart

    So, what’s this badly proportioned little man with holes in him mean?

    This is your damage chart. Say if you got shot by a laser, you would take physical damage which would have to be allocated on the damage chart. When you take a point of damage, you fill in the appropriate dot (the GM will tell you where you were hit, based on a dice roll he will make). In addition, there’s a 1 in x possibility for lethal damage that that wound is fatal. For example, your arm has 2 dots, therefore if it was hit by a plasma cannon or a light saber or something, you’ve got a 50% (1 in 2) chance that you may lose an arm, or that the wound would open up an important artery. Before you panic, allow me to describe the two types of damage in this game.

  • Bashing Damage—Bashing damage is what you do in a fist-fight. Generally the worst that can happen is some serious bruising or maybe light fractures and broken bones. Most of the damage is internal, and generally heals faster than lethal damage. If you receive the max points of bashing damage to any one area, that area is broken, and is incapacitated, will need to be set in a splint or whatever.Lethal Damage—This is what happens when you’re hit by a bullet, laser, knife, sword, light saber, etc. These things pierce flesh, rend limbs, and are generally nasty. This is what you need to be worried about. If you take the maximum points of damage on the damage chart and it’s lethal, you just lost a limb. If the points of damage exceed that number, they bleed over to the nearest body part, most likely the torso. If you take 3 points of lethal damage to your head, you’re dead. In addition, if you take even 1 point of lethal damage to your head, you have a 33.3% (1 in 3) chance of being dead. Each additional point to your head increases this factor. (e.g. if you take another point, your chances go up to 66.7%. Another and you’re dead) In addition, the same applies to your torso (1 in 5). If you lose a leg, well, it sucks to be you. Time to look into prosthetics.
  • If you have an additional limb (tail, wings, etc.), talk to the GM, and he will draw it onto the diagram and allocate points to it. Realize that this is a humanoid figure and your character might not be humanoid in shape. This is okay. It is assumed that your character has a head-like thing, a torso-like thing, and some limbs. If you’re playing a gelatinous goo, you’ve got less to lose, then, don’t you?

    What your characters know and where you are

    The game you will be playing starts off in a really weird place/time for you (totally weird, in fact…). You were previously living happily in the world that you envisioned your character to be in, as a member of a sort of intergalactic (or international, intertribal, etc. depending on your character’s background) Parliament. All of your friends were of the same or similar race as you until yesterday. More on that later. Heh.

    Since the beginning of time, there have been apocalypse stories. The one most widely known (whether or not it’s accepted or believed is an entirely different matter) is that at The End of Days, there will come an Hour of Reckoning, when the Darkness will surround the planet, engulfing all that exists, and leaving a barren and dead landscape upon which nothing can ever live again. Growing up, you never paid much attention to it—no one did. However, recently there have been certain cults, and actually, influential religious figures who are saying the End of Days is nearly upon us, and it is time to repent for our sins. (If the technology is available in your character’s background, many people leave the planet, hiding out on a moon resort until the whole thing blows over. Not that they believe any of this Darkness Reckoning mumbo jumbo. No. Not at all.)

    So yesterday, this weird guy dressed in whatever marginal, subculture garb appropriate to your society came into Parliament, calling himself Qurn (pronounced kern or curn), and saying upon his entrance only: “Everything you know is a lie.” He led you into the courtyard outside the main building, and assembled you all into a circle. He then did this strange, mystical dance in the middle of the circle, and as you watched him, you saw his form shift from the weird guy who walked into the building only a few minutes ago to a myriad of creatures and beasts known only in myth if they’re even known at all. He became horrible monsters the like of which you’ve never seen, and majestic angelic creatures, until slowly his skin gained an odd silver hue, his distinct physical features dissolved and what you were looking at was a silver, vaguely humanoid being, with no physical characteristics whatsoever outside of two eyes, a muted nose, and a mouth.

    As you look around you, you see your friends, the fellow members of the Parliament, and you recognize them, yet they don’t look like themselves. In fact, many of them look completely different, some terrifyingly so. As you look to your surroundings, you only see vague glimpses of the world you knew before. Suddenly, in one instant, your entire concept of reality turns to mush, and you are thrust in this foreign world with slight and obscured familiarities.

    You also notice a huge black spot in front of the sun that wasn’t there before, and you experience an intense feeling of dread…

    Good luck!

    Postscript

    I am aware of the fact that the actual system and other GM stuff is obscure and ambiguous. This was written more as a player’s guide. Rolls are 2d10 percentage rolls. If you want to actually run a TWIRPS game, and need setting info, or additional technical details, feel free to email me.

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