An Introduction to Saga System 13

A long, long time ago, back in 1985, I began to tinker with the idea of role playing games. My introduction to such entertainment was the old-style Marvel Super Heroes Role Playing Game (or MSH RPG, for short). It was a pretty fun pastime, and me and a couple of friends would get together to stage adventures where everyone beat up on whatever imaginary villain had launched whatever ridiculous plot each week.

In the beginning, I was not very good at this sort of thing. I do believe our very first adventure involved Thor and Wolverine hanging out in a bar, seeing who could get drunk first, when a 'giant radioactive dinosaur' suddenly attacked the city. Of course, by this point both of them had managed to get rather tipsy through sheer volume, and chaos (and staggering property damage) would quickly ensue.

I eventually got better at the whole story telling thing, though, and we managed to keep our game going for a decade. After that, our gaming group drifted into other things, a lot of them succumbing to the 'Vampire' chain of games while I instead started running a PlaneScape campaign. I subsequently experimented with numerous other games, such as Cyberpunk and Rifts, but MSH always felt like 'home' to me.

It's just one of those things, I suppose.

Over the course of that decade of gaming, I believe I cooked up an inordinate amount of NPCs (numbering in the thousands), along with multitudes of customized rule systems. I was always tinkering with things, either streamlining the actual rules themselves, or vastly improving on the character generation options by making all new paths of power for players to walk their characters through.

Having since discovered the Internets, I thought that it would be great to share my original (and some not-so original) creations with the world, doing so mostly through an e mail list dedicated to the MSH RPG. It sort of died a horrible death when it got absorbed by topica.com (the jerks), and with the subsequent release of the Marvel Super Heroes Adventure Game (MSHAG), a role-playing game based on the Saga card system.

So I thought 'Why not put it all on my own site'? Thus, on April 9th, 1998, 'Technohol 13: the Atomic Drink' was born! I use the site to house the characters and rule sets I'd concocted over the years and put on-line, though there's still a lot of work to do in that regard. The ultimate goal of course is to 'rebuild' the MSH RPG on my own terms, and in my own way, a goal that continues to this very day.

But what about that whole Saga thing, you ask?

Well, in order to keep my site relevant when the new game came out, I thought it might behoove me to update my work, making it all compatible with the Saga system. And as this work proceeded, that game wound up being cancelled much like the original Marvel RPG was. So now I was in the same boat as before, save for the fact that I was now supporting two cancelled RPGs based on the same source material.

But the funny thing was that, the more I produced material for the Saga system, the more it grew on me. I found I liked the simple, fast-paced action that the game allows for, which resonated with the comics it drew its inspiration from. But once again, I found myself tinkering with bits and pieces of the rules, tweaking things here and there to make them fit with how I felt they should work. I'm weird like that.

Which ultimately led me to start work on System 13. This work is an expansion and modification of the original, Marvel-style Saga system, produced as a sort of 'plain label' variation of such, as has been done with many other game systems which have drifted into obscurity over the years. And though I could probably legally put some sort of copyright on my new take on this material, I'm not going to.

I hereby offer System 13 under the Creative Commons Attribution license.

What this means is that if you wish, you may use System 13 material in any way you see fit, whether copying, distributing, or displaying all or part of this text, as long as you credit my work in your own derivative texts or products. If you would like more information about me for attribution, you can contact me via e mail.

Other than that, I hope you enjoy System 13, and can make use of some (or all) of it!

The Big Idea Behind Saga System 13

Well now you know why System 13 exists, but in the event that you've never enjoyed a role playing game before, you may find yourself asking just what the heck you do with this thing. Simply put, the idea behind System 13 is to allow players to assume the identity of at least one character, and play out his or her (or its) activities in a setting decided upon by all the players involved.

Most players of System 13 will assume the role of just one character. This character is referred to as a Player Character (or PC). This is the player's 'avatar' in the setting, the means by which he or she participates in it. Keep in mind that a player character should talk and behave as that character would, not as the player managing them might (unless the player character is some version of their 'real life' self).

On the other hand, one player must assume the role of the Narrator. He or she adjudicates all of the rules during play, and handles the roles of every character encountered that is not managed by the other players. A Narrator's characters are hereby referred to as Non Player Characters (or NPCs). It is the Narrator's job to present a scenario for the other players to operate within, as well as to manage all of the action.

Therein lies the beauty of a role playing game: it is not mere inflexible fiction.

It is instead a collaborative effort, where the Narrator sets the stage for events, and the other players act out their roles, taking their characters wherever their personas would dictate - for good or ill. It is a truly active form of entertainment, one which draws all its participants into the limelight, and lets everyone influence the story. And the story can take place almost anywhere!

From ancient, lost lands where sorcery holds sway to distant planets in far-flung futures, System 13 allows its players to have adventures anywhere, in any time - the only limit is their imagination! Furthermore, these stories can take the form of solitary tales, a 'one shot' sort of thing, or instead expand into an entire campaign - a series of adventures that tell a much larger tale.

While the former can be good fun now and then, the latter allows a group to fully explore their characters and the setting presented to them by their Narrator. But either is an acceptable use of System 13, for both can be equally entertaining. This is just a choice that a group of players needs to make beforehand - though they can surely mix and match between the two as is desired!

But what is required to play System 13, you ask?

Not much, really. All that's essentially necessary are these rules - and a means with which to resolve actions as they are attempted. The original Adventure Game came with a special deck of cards, but barring that deck or an equivalent, one can make do with a few decks of cards or, if desired, a set of percentile dice. To this end, here is a simple d100 number generator, if you like.

Other than that, all you need is a tiny bit of creativity - and the desire to have fun!

Main | Next