Full Text of the Game (surrendered to the public domain):
What is Roleplaying? All roleplaying games are about killing things and taking their stuff. Anyone who says differently is putting you on.
UGS (Unnamed Generic System) is an RPG that can be printed on two sheets of paper so as to fit on the inside of a manila folder as a GM screen. This is why I'm not bothering to put in a longwinded introduction.
Every character is rated in every skill by how thoroughly they succeed or fail. That is, for each skill they have a Success Mode and a Failure Mode. These may be any of the following:
- Partial: a Partial success or Partial failure means that the character accomplishes their goal, but not completely.
- Typical: a Typical success means that nothing out of the ordinary happens, but the action succeeds. A Typical failure means that nothing special happens but the action fails.
- Spectacular: a Spectacular success or failure means that the character succeeds or fails beyond any reasonable expectation.
When a skill is being tested, roll a ten-sided die. (This system could easily be adapted to any other die type at all.) If a one is rolled, the character fails in a way one step worse than their usual failure mode. If a two through five is rolled, the character fails in their normal failure mode for the skill. If a six through nine is rolled, the character succeeds their normal amount. If a ten is rolled, the character succeeds in a way one step better than normal.
- For more heroic gameplay: a five counts as a success.
- For less heroic gameplay: a six counts as a failure.
If both succeed or both fail, but neither (or both) do so Spectacularly, then the result is like a Partial success/failure for both, with no clear winner. If one succeeds or fails spectacularly or if one succeeds and one fails, the one with the better result triumphs.
Every character has a number of hit points appropriate to the genre. A round of combat consists of each character attacking another who is nearby and making an unopposed roll to injure them. On a Partial success or failure, they do a single point of damage. On a Typical success, they do three points of damage. On a Spectacular success, they do ten. On a Typical failure, nothing happens or the attack is blocked; on a Spectacular failure the character manages to do three points of damage to emself. Optionally, certain weapons might add more damage when used.
General: Just write up a character, without counting the success/failure modes of any sort. If the GM feels it's appropriate for the game e wants to run, e'll let you play the character. If not, e'll disallow it.
For Gritty Play: Use fairly specific skills such as "Firearms" or "Basket Weaving". Don't allow Spectacular as a standard success or failure mode. Require two skills with Typical failure modes plus one for each skill with Typical success mode. And don't count Typical failure modes in dumb skills like "Basket Weaving", either - that's a bit too twinkish.
For Cinematic Play: Use slightly more vague skills, such as "Badassness" or "Arts and Crafts". Allow a Spectacular or two, but require at least one Spectacular failure mode for every Spectacular success mode and at least one Typical failure mode for every Typical success mode.
IMPLEMENTING "KEWL POWERZ"
For Superheroes: Make each superhero take a "Use Super Power" skill with Typical success and failure modes. Make sure none of the super powers are too broken.
Magic, Psionics, and Similar Powers: make each sort of magic be a skill. Depending on the sort of game you're trying to run, this might just be a single "Magic" or "Psionics" skill, or it might be skills more like "Potion Making" or "Shape Changing". Requiring a specific skill for each spell is probably too specific, but maybe that fits your game.
NON-COPYRIGHT NOTICE: This game system is hereby surrendered to the public domain.