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Ability Scores

Each of the four abilities are used in different circumstances (see saves, below).

Strength (STR): Used for saves requiring physical power, like lifting gates, bending bars, resisting poison, etc.

Dexterity (DEX): Used for saves requiring poise, speed, and reflexes like dodging, climbing, sneaking, balancing, etc.

Insight (INS): Used for saves requiring attention to the environment and people around you: Perception, detection of lies, investigation, interrogation, manipulation of unknown technology, etc.

Willpower (WIL): Used for saves requiring confidence and mental fortitude to persuade, deceive, intimidate, charm, manipulate hacks, etc.

Ability scores can be depleted in situations like combat.


A save is a roll to avoid bad outcomes from risky choices and circumstances. PCs roll a d20 for an appropriate ability score. If they roll equal to or under that ability score, they pass. Otherwise, they fail.

Advantage and Disadvantage

When a save is required, and the character has some sort of leverage or handicap (either because of a feat or any other reason at the discretion of the DM), they roll two d20: For an advantage, pick the best roll (the die with the lower number). For a disadvantage, pick the worst roll.

Example: ShadowCat encounters a group of heavily armed mercenaries standing guard before a tunnel entrance. Her player carefully plots a course, recognizing that she has a Stealthy feat, sneaking past the guards might be the best option. She has 13 DEX and rolls 2d20 - a 15 and a 10. Because of her advantage, she considers the 10 roll — a success!

Pushing Your Luck

A player can request to re-roll if they fail a save - this is called “pushing”. To push, the character WIL is depleted by two points (temporarily, check “Healing”), and the player must create a creative description of what they’re doing differently.

The DM might deny the request to re-roll: “I will try harder” is not a valid reason for a re-roll. The whole purpose is to get the players creative and add fun opportunities, hooks that the DM can use, and color to the story…

Example types of actions:

  • Channel my focus by screaming (like a karate fighter or a tennis player)
  • I will endure pain (and maybe take damage) - I will climb even if that means having my hands bleeding.

Additionally, there is always a risk in pushing your luck: If you fail (roll over your target number) after pushing your luck, the DM can use the reason you came up with against you: You screamed so hard that not only did you fail, but you also attracted the attention of other enemies. By enduring pain, you got yourself hurt.

Tip for the DM: Many RPG systems have the concept of “critical failure” - this is not the case here. The idea is not to punish the player but to have more creative and engaging moments. Failing means twisting their own ideas into something that isn’t the expected outcome - sometimes, it might mean a drastic negative impact, sometimes it’s just comical.


Characters have a total of 10 inventory slots. Most items take up one slot, and small items can be bundled together. Slots are abstract and can be rearranged at the DM’s discretion.

Bulky items take up two slots and are typically two-handed or awkward to carry.

Unwieldy items cannot be carried by one person or in your inventory. Additional means of transportation must be conceived.

A PC cannot carry more items than their inventory allows. Carriers (which must be controlled with both hands), vehicles, drones, or metalheads can increase inventory. Hired mercenaries can also be paid to carry equipment and also have 10 slots.

Deprivation & Fatigue

A PC deprived of a crucial need (such as food or rest) cannot recover HP or ability scores. Anyone deprived for more than a day adds Fatigue to their inventory, one for each day. Each Fatigue occupies one slot and lasts until they are able to recuperate (such as a full night’s rest in a safe spot).
PCs can also gain Fatigue by performing hacks or through events in the fiction.


Resting for a few moments and having a drink of water restores lost HP but leaves the party exposed. Ability score loss (see Critical Damage) can usually be restored by recuperating for a few days facilitated by a medic, doctor, or other appropriate source of expertise. Some of these services are cheap, while experts, unusual services, or more expedient means of recovery may come at a higher cost or favor.


Before calculating damage to HP, subtract the target’s Armor value from the result of damage rolls. Armor add-ons provide a bonus defense (e.g., +1 Armor).
No one can have more than 6 Armor.


When the PCs encounter an NPC whose reaction to the party is not obvious, the DM may roll 2d6 and consult the following table:


Freelancer & Mercenaries

PCs can hire freelancers and mercenaries to help on missions or with other work. To create a freelancer, roll 3D6 for each ability score, then give them 1D6 HP and a pistol (D6), then roll on the Finishing Touches tables to further flesh them out. Freelancers cost between $500—$1500 per day, or a share of whatever rewards the party obtains.

Combat Rules


At the start of combat, the DM describes the enemies and the Zones: Loosely defined areas that determine how characters can interact.

Zones aren’t measured in yards or inches --- they’re much more abstract than that. Roughly speaking, if another combatant is close enough that you could take a few steps and attack them with a hand-to-hand weapon, like a vibroblade, you’re both in the same zone.

Same Zone: Within reach.

One Zone Apart: Within throwing/shooting range.

Two or Three Zones Apart: Within shooting range.

On their turn, players can engage in combat with opponents in the same zone or move from one zone to another.

Suggestion for the DM: Give each zone a descriptive name such as “Repair Workbench” or “Storage Racks”. If you have many players or many enemies, you might also find it helpful to write down zone names so everybody can see.

Also, assume characters move and act smartly. They will avoid obvious hazards or unneeded opportunity attacks. Don’t surprise the players with gotchas.


Each round starts with any PC that is able to act, followed by their opponents. The result of each side’s actions occurs simultaneously. During the first round of combat, each PC must make a DEX save in order to act. Exceptional circumstances or feats may negate this requirement. PCs that fail their save lose their turn for this round. Their opponents then take their turn, and the first round ends. The next round begins with the PCs taking their turn, followed by their opponents, and so on, until combat has ended with one side defeated or fled.


On their turn, a character may move up to 40ft and take up to one action. This may be_casting a spell, attacking, making a second move, or some other reasonable action.

Each round, the PCs declare what they are doing before dice are rolled. If a character attempts something risky, the DM calls for a save for appropriate players or NPCs.

Attacking & Damage

Attacks in combat automatically hit: The attacker rolls their weapon die, subtracts the target’s armor, and then deals the remaining total to their opponent’s HP. If the DM deems it appropriate, they might require a DEX save in extraordinary circumstances (Like trying to shoot while riding a motorcycle).

Multiple Attackers
If multiple attackers target the same foe, roll all damage dice and keep the single highest result. All actions are declared before being resolved.

Dual Weapons If attacking with two weapons at the same time, roll both damage dice and keep the single highest result.

Attacks with the blast quality affect all targets in the noted zone, rolling separately for each affected character. Blast refers to anything from explosions to huge cleaving onslaughts to the impact of a meteorite. If unsure how many targets can be affected, roll the related damage die for a result.

Attacking through Cover

When bullets start flying, your character will do well to seek cover. Taking cover counts as one move.

When shooting through cover, the player’s attacks still automatically hit, but when it’s the NPC’s turn to shoot, the player makes a DEX save to avoid being hit.

Example ShadowCat is in an office building shootout, taking cover behind a flipped table. In her turn, she rolls a 1D8 for her heavy pistol, dealing damage to the enemy. On the enemy’s turn, ShadowCat does a DEX save: Her DEX is 12, and she rolls a 10 - success; the enemy shoot misses, and it’s her turn again.

To keep the game dynamic and engaging for players, NPCs don’t make save rolls when taking cover. If the DM judges that the NPCs are taking cover in a specially good spot, they can use it as an armor modifier (+1, +2 or +3).

Critical Damage

Damage that reduces a target’s HP below zero is subtracted from their STR by the amount of damage remaining. The target must then immediately make a STR save to avoid taking Critical Damage, using their new STR score. Upon success, the target is still in the fight (albeit with a lower STR score) and must continue to make Critical Damage saves when incurring damage. Any PC that suffers Critical Damage cannot do anything but crawl weakly, grasping for life. If given aid (such as bandages), they will stabilize. If left untreated, they die within an hour. NPCs and metalheads that fail a Critical Damage save are considered dead, per the DM’s discretion. Additionally, some enemies will have special abilities or effects triggered when their target fails a Critical Damage save.

Attribute Loss

While STR may diminish through physical confrontations, the other attributes can also be depleted. For example, a PC’s DEX could be compromised by advanced neurotoxins or nanobots, their INS drained by AR illusions or sensory overload hacks, their WIL impacted through psychological warfare.

The results of attribute depletion can be devastating: If a PC’s STR is reduced to 0, they die. If their DEX is reduced to 0, they are paralyzed. If their INS is reduced to 0, they are unconscious. If their WIL is reduced to 0, they are delirious. Complete loss of DEX, INS, or WIL renders the character unable to act until they are restored through extended rest or by extraordinary means.

Character Death

When a character dies, the player can create a new character or take control of a freelancer/mercenary. They immediately join the party to reduce downtime.


Large groups of similar combatants fighting together are treated as a single Detachment. When a detachment takes Critical Damage, it is routed or significantly weakened. When it reaches 0 STR, it is destroyed. Attacks against detachments by individuals are impaired (excluding blast damage). Attacks against individuals by detachments are enhanced and deal blast damage.

Morale checks

Enemies must pass a WIL save to avoid fleeing when they take their first casualty and again when they lose half their number. Some groups may use their leader’s WIL in place of their own. Lone foes must save when they’re reduced to 0 HP. Morale does not affect PCs.


Running away from a dire situation always requires a successful DEX save, as well as a safe destination to run to


When damage to a PC reduces their HP to exactly 0, they are changed irrevocably, marking a significant point in their narrative growth. Look up the result in the table below, based on the amount of HP lost in the attack. For example, if a PC went from 3 HP to 0 HP, they would look at entry #3 (Walloped). Such scars serve as both a reminder of past dangers and a testament to the character’s evolving journey.”

When damage to a PC reduces their HP to exactly 0, they are changed irrevocably. Look up the result in the table below, based on the amount of HP lost in the attack. For example, if a PC went from 3 HP to 0 HP, they would look at entry #3 (Walloped).

1Lasting Scar: Roll 1d6 | 1: Neck, 2: Hands, 3: Eye, 4: Chest, 5: Legs, 6: Ear. Roll 1d6. If the total is higher than your max HP, take the new result.
2Rattling Blow: You’re disoriented and shaken. After you take something to calm your nerves, choose either increasing your max HP to 1, or gaining a new hack slot.
3Walloped: You’re sent flying and land flat on your face, winded. You are deprived until you rest for a few hours. Then, roll 1d4 and add that amount to your max HP.
4Reorienting Head Wound: Gain a new hack slot
5Broken Bones: Roll 1d6 | 1-2: Leg, 3-4: Arm, 5: Rib, 6: Skull. Once mended, roll 2d6. If the total is higher than your max HP, take the new result.
6Bloody Mess: You are deprived until you see a specialist for a lot of stitches. Once you do, roll 2D6 and compare to your maximum HP. Keep the results if higher
7Hamstrung: You can barely move until you get serious help and rest. After recovery, increase your max DEX by 1.
8Deafened: You cannot hear anything until you find extraordinary aid. Regardless, make an INS save. If you pass, increase your max INS by 1.
9Re-brained: Some hidden part of your psyche is knocked loose. Gain a new hack slot
10Only Mostly Dead: That was harrowing. You are deprived until you get specialized treatment. Once healed, make a will save. If you pass, increase your max WIL by 1D4
11Mortal Wound: You are deprived and out of action. You die in one hour unless healed. Upon recovery, roll 2d6. Take the new result as your max HP.
12Doomed: Death seemed so close, but somehow you survived. If your next save against critical damage is a fail, you die horribly. If you pass, increase your max HP by 1D6 and gain a new hack slot.


Players may utilize the following procedures between game sessions to improve their character or perform a long-term hack. Only one Downtime Action is possible at a time, and some actions may require multiple steps and resources. These actions may only be taken if the PC is in a safe space and while healing or recovering. A character cannot perform an action if it would put their safety at risk.


Downtime Actions may require multiple steps to complete. In these cases, the DM provides 1-5 Milestones that the player can tick off as they progress towards their goal. Each Milestone represents a “zoomed-out” activity that is abstract and non-interactive. Most Milestones require a single Downtime Action to accomplish and potentially their own unique cost in resources. The DM may provide the player with multiple “paths” to achieving their goals, each with their own unique Milestones. Over time, the DM may add new Milestones or remove others entirely, depending on the events of the fiction.

Downtime Actions

Improving your character

In Perfect World, character progression comes from narrative growth: The scars they got on their battles, the rare technological artifacts they found… And, in a world where money buys everything, they can also buy themselves a new skill via training, genetic modification, or cybernetic implants.

In practical terms, this means adding a new feat to your character at a cost of $5,000. Feats that grant advantage or bonuses are not cumulative and cannot be acquired twice. Feats that give inventory or hack slots, as well as alternate identity, can be bought more than once. Feats that are binary (either you have it or you don’t, like charisma or Cunning Hands) are up to discussion between the player and DM - the player is free to propose in which ways buying that feat twice would increase the results. For example, a player might suggest that buying “contacts” one more time would grant him a high-profile contact (like a CEO) or a contact that owes them a debt and will go to more extensive lengths to help the PC.

Making Overrides

While hacks offer neuromancers immediate influence over their digital domain, Overrides are a deeper, more potent form of manipulation. These powerful hacks demand meticulous preparation and the expenditure of resources---specialized equipment and tools aren’t cheap nor easy to come by. Executing an Override is a deliberate process that not only costs time and money but also requires a neuromancer to commit to their chosen effect, as these alterations are not easily reversed.

AR hijack:

Make a permanent inclusion in the AR universe, either in a static location (like a hiding facade for a secret entrance or a billboard) or in the character’s position, wherever the character is (like a virtual accessory). This is a long-term hack that requires your time and the cost of a server plugged on a pirate signal to the Internet (around $10.000 for a year or a negotiated trade).

Reprogram drone or metalhead:

Making a new, simple program (like getting it to patrol a specific area) takes little time. Making a metalhead or drone companion (installing a more sophisticated UI, making it capable of independent decisions, multi-environment mobility, and following and protecting you) takes longer. A second-hand, half-beaten Spot costs $4.000. Otherwise, check the equipment section for drones.