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Chimera Basic Revisions

What to expect in the 5th printing

I just picked up my proof copy of the Chimera Basic 5th Printing at Staples. It’s shiny and nice: Colour, double-sided, spiral bound, 32 pages, separate front and back covers (also double-sided), plus 7 pages of templates, clear plastic front and blue backing.

Best part: I found only 1 typo, which I’ve already fixed in the PDF. Unless the editors come back with glaring issues or major inconsistencies, I’m about to put a fork in this and call it done.

Barring any catastrophes, it’ll be ready for distribution...wait, on second thought, let’s not tempt the Fates. Jebus knows I’ve been down that road before. What I will say is this: Chimera Basic will be a free download. This will be the last revision before I start working on my next project (which may or may not be the Core Rules...more on that later). Also, you will find Chimera Basic to be an enticing blend of rules-lite simplicity in the old-school tradition, with the subtle garnish of consistent mechanics and near-infinite flexibility.

Changes Wonderful to See

The first thing you’ll notice is a revised layout, all done in the Gentium typeface. It’s more compact, easier to read, and a refreshing alternative to the Souvenir font so common to “old-school” content. Thanks to Greg MacKenzie for the suggestion (He’s a lich, you know...)

Here’s a roster of what else is new and different in the 5th printing:

Target Number Assignment
In previous versions, an Action’s TN was the character’s skill in that action (e.g., Athlethics/15 means TN 15 in Athletics). Now, TNs are determined by the action’s inherent difficulty, on a 4-28 scale in increments of 4. This makes TN assignment more flexible and listing character Abilities more intuitive (i.e., Athlethics +1 makes more sense than Athletics/15).

Resistance Rolls
In keeping with this trend, Resistance Rolls are proper Action Rolls now, with Target Numbers and everything. Characters get a bonus of +1/level, as well as their AR modifier in a related Ability (e.g., add your Athletics AR when Resisting burns).

New Character Sheet


Character Advancement
No longer bothering with XP, which I don’t like keeping track of. Instead, when you’re done with an adventure, you make an Advancement Roll and subtract your level. If the result exceeds your Advancement Cost, you get a number of Improvement Points equal to your current level. You can use these points to increase your Ability modifiers, get Perks, learn new Powers, or “level-up” (which gives you some broad benefits). It’s possible to earn Advancement Roll bonuses by doing special things during an adventure.

Also, just to keep the divide between class and non-class Abilities straight, non-class Abilities start at AR +0 (instead of AR +1 like class Abilities) and you can increase each non-class Ability only once per level.

Attacking Foes
Changing the TN assignment (above) meant that I needed a new way to figure out when Fight and Shoot rolls succeeded. Originally, I went with a size-based TN, using the logic that bigger things are easier to hit. Then I decided that, while sensible, this was boring. Instead, I went with the target’s adjusted Movement Rate (MR) as the Target Number (adjusted by encumbrance and wound penalty).

So if your MR is 12”, it takes a roll of 12 or more to hit you. If you’re encumbered with a bunch of stuff so that your MR is 9”, now it takes a 9 or more to hit you. A welcome by-product: lightly armoured folks get hit less, but take more damage when they do. Vice-versa for people in heavy armour. Also good: as you suffer wounds, you become easier to hit.

Parry and Cover
Speaking of getting hit, now you can block blows with a weapon or a shield, or you can hide behind stuff during a fight. Your Parry or Cover bonus is added to the TN required to hit you (e.g., if your MR is 12” and you carry a shield (parry +1), attackers need a 13 or better to hit you). Cover and parry are optional; if you don’t want to use them, apply the bonus to the target’s Defence.

Crouch and Prone
Let’s hear it for combat positions. When you crouch, you get a cover bonus of +1 vs. missiles and blast attacks, but can move only at creeping speed. When you go prone, your cover bonus is +2, but you can only creep or Shoot, and if you get up, it costs your Encumbrance in MR.

British Commando Raid

I would've taken off my pack

Movement Die
Used to be that you’d determine running or creeping speed by doubling or halving your Movement Rate (i.e., MR 10” meant you ran at MR 20” or crept at MR 5”). I decided that it would be more fun to reflect running and creeping with a Movement Die. So now your movement might be 12”±1d6, but the Movement Die is independent of your base MR, which is subject to Encumbrance.

So when you run, you add the die to your MR; when you creep, you subtract it. This means that you run at different speeds (tension, yeah?—now going on a raid carrying only weapons and ammo means something). It also means that if you have a low MR (because of Encumbrance), your creep rate might actually be 0" or less (meaning that sometimes you gotta take off that armour if you wanna sneak about). Movement die has no bearing on getting hit in a fight (unless you're a prick GM, which I don't wholly discourage).

Coerce and Perform
Added these as Abilities. Coerce is like Diplomacy, except that you act like an overbearing jerk. Perform is just what you think, except you can also use it to disguise yourself and lie your way past the checkpoint. Bonus: now there are exactly 20 Abilities, which is my gift to players who like to make random rolls.

Wielding Powers
Evened out the Wield Roll results when using a power (details here). Each power has its own TN (which can vary according to special effects you want to produce, whether you’re modulating the power’s range, duration, or damage, or how much mana you spend on the Wield attempt). The power’s TN to Wield is also the target’s TN to Resist (and, speaking of, each power has its own related Ability to adjust Resistance Rolls).

Missile Ranges
Let’s just say that weapon range is a hard number to pin down. Sources vary as to how far a given weapon can shoot with accuracy. To simplify, effective range in Chimera is based on weapon size. Done. The real issue is modifying for distance: take the target’s range in scale inches, divide by the weapon’s effective range, drop your fractions, and there’s your Shoot penalty. Let’s say a terrorist is 6” away: with a pistol (Rng 2”), my Shoot roll is -3, but with my sub-machine gun (Rng 4”), my Shoot roll is only -1.

Land Wars in Asia?

Land Wars in Asia?

Ability Specialisation
You may not know this, but you can specialise in a particular aspect of an Ability (e.g., Fight (axe) or Survival (tundra) or Academics (land wars in Asia)). Basically, every Improvement Point you spend to specialise gives you AR +2 in that specific area instead of AR +1 in the whole Ability. Unlike previous versions, the specialisation AR no longer stacks on the parent Ability's AR. More importantly, if the parent Ability’s AR ever exceeds that of the specialisation AR, you lose the specialisation. Gotta stay sharp...

Clutch Situations
Each Clutch Situation spent lets you toss an additional die on any roll, and you can take the best result. You get one Clutch Situation per level and they “re-charge” when you level up during advancement.

However, when you use a Clutch Situation, you’re eligible for a Session Reward, based on the roll’s outcome:

  • Critical Failure: reward of +1 Improvement Point you can spend at any time
  • Normal Failure: you get nothing and like it
  • Normal Success: reward of 1 additional Clutch Situation
  • Critical Success: reward of +1 to your next Advancement Roll

Got rid of monster classes—they’re better suited as Adaptations (e.g., why have an undead “class” when you can just make a Undead Adaptation?).

Also added Surprise and Morale to the monster stat block. It’s just easier. Surprise is the Sneak TN to meet or beat when you try to surprise the monster; it’s usually (8 + Observe AR + monster level). Morale is the TN the monster has to meet or beat to stay in a fight; typically (16 - Mettle AR - monster’s level).

Minor Updates
Updated the Backstab, Dead Eye, Enemy Mine, First Responder, Holy Roller, Mighty Blow Sperks; how to train for new powers; the Survival Ability; Marksman and Nimble Perks; how to Resist Powers (make a Resistance Roll vs. the power’s TN); damage options for power modulation; Blast, Control, Entangle, Familiar, Illusion, Obscure, Servant, Shock, Summon power descriptions; Armour table; Ammunition; Equipment Quality; Adventuring Hazards (used to be “Special Hazards”); Breaking Objects (now based on object’s condition and Encumbrance); Surprise, Initiative, Damage, Morale, and Ending Combat; Unarmed Fighting (now based on Athletics Ability instead of Fight); NPC types and creating Non-classed NPCs; Customising Monsters; Campaign Creation; Creating Encounters; Character Sheet; and the Adventure Template.

Final Words

So, coming up in few weeks. Hope you’re excited. I am.

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  1. Jeff Jones
    May 4th, 2011 at 18:38 | #1

    Will it be available on the website? I hope so, because I’m looking forward to it.

  2. May 4th, 2011 at 21:18 | #2

    @Jeff Jones : It will indeed. I’ll post an announcement here and to the newsletter subscribers.

  3. May 5th, 2011 at 01:05 | #3

    I am very excited about this. Recently when I have been thinking about game designs of my own, I realized that Chimera basically is pretty close to what I wanted to write myself, especially after you dropped attributes. By the way, are you planning to release a “full”version of Chimera in the future again?

  4. Anarkeith
    May 5th, 2011 at 10:01 | #4

    Looking forward to it. I really like the design direction you’ve taken. Seems like simple mechanics extendable enough to add richness without a lot of pointless rules-niggling.

  5. May 5th, 2011 at 18:53 | #5

    @Stargazer : The short answer is yes, though the exact form is still under consideration–I’ve a few options that I want to present for feedback, and I’d love your input.

  6. May 5th, 2011 at 18:54 | #6

    @Anarkeith : That’s the idea, and I’m glad I continued to plug away at Chimera Basic before committing everything to the Core Rules. First, it helped to stabilise the Basic foundation and second, it will influence the next steps in the game’s overall development (see my response to Stargazer, above).

  7. Greg MacKenzie
    May 6th, 2011 at 16:48 | #7

    Having had the privilege of a sneak peek as an editor, I can say with authority the fifth printing is pretty neat! Well worth the wait for the official unveiling!


  8. May 7th, 2011 at 09:51 | #8

    So wait… what is it that’s keeping it from being released this instant? I’m no author, editor nor publisher, but I don’t exactly see how one typo can postpone the release by more than a minute.

  9. May 7th, 2011 at 13:35 | #9

    @Daniel : what is it that’s keeping it from being released this instant?

    My OCD. Measure twice, cut once sort of thing. ;)

    It’s more about my roll-out plan than the game itself. Gotta get all my channels aligned.

  10. May 8th, 2011 at 13:36 | #10

    Blarghi-blargh-blargh to you then. Happy measuring!

  11. Greg Mackenzie
    May 12th, 2011 at 07:10 | #11

    It’s not entirely Erin’s fault, I keep bugging him with editorial commentary and questions…

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