The Wintertree RPG

Wintertree has a RPG!

No, you can’t play it.

Okay, let me explain: For many tables, it’s been necessary to refer to game stats of some sort, spells, effects, and so on. Given that I want the results to be usable with whatever game the user is running, and I don’t want to get sued by one of the more litigious companies (this was a particularly big hazard 20 years ago when some of them were first written) I’ve always just made something up asĀ  I went along. Whatever stats a given table referred to might not be the same as what I made up for a different one the next time I was writing one.

While this solved the second problem — that of not looking enough like anyone’s game to attract a lawsuit — it made the first problem worse: it became harder, not easier, to use the table for whatever game system you were using because you couldn’t convert consistently; the next table you used might do something totally different.

Now that the legal environment has settled down a lot, and there are things like the OGL and various Standard Reference Documents out there, I considered setting up tables to refer to one specific game — which one to be determined. That, however, started getting into fairly complex territory. I’m not writing a table for D&D, or Pathfinder, or Traveller, or any other specific game, even though the fact that I’ve run some of those games certainly colors the tables. They’re still meant to be generic, and reference to specific attributes, character stats, spells, and so on, are more placeholders than anything else: this potion adds to a character’s strength, that trap launches a lightning bolt spell, etc., without specifying any details.

The solution was TGR: The Generic Rules. TGR is a set of game rules … of a sort. It isn’t actually playable. It’s just a standard set of characteristics, monsters, spells, etc., that TableMaster tables can refer to, so that it’s easier for the user to convert them to whatever system he or she actually runs. Essentially, TGR is a framework that creates some consistency among the various TableMaster tables.

In grammatical terms, TGR has mostly nouns. There are names for things like stats, monsters, spells, and so on. There aren’t many verbs, though: very little about how those things actually interact with each other or the world. So, just as a language that has a word for “cookie” and one for “milk” wouldn’t much of a language if it didn’t also have “eat” and “drink”, TGR isn’t much of an RPG ruleset. It’s just enough of one so that I can have some consistency among the tables I write, and you can look at them and say that this TGR stat should be doubled to equate to that stat in your game system, or whatever works for you.

The monster and spell lists are very similar. The monsters are all very generic: dragons, harpies, that sort of thing. They’re mostly drawn from Greek/Roman mythology, with bits of Persian, Egyptian, Arabian, and a few others, wandering in, along with a couple of my own. Also, just about any real creature could exist in natural, giant, or prehistoric forms: hippopotami, for instance, or giant ants, or dire wolves. Again, these monsters don’t have much to them except names and sometimes particular abilities, such as a basilisk being able to turn enemies to stone or a dragon breathing fire.

Spells, since they’re primarily the effects of traps or powers of magic items, are primarily very utilitarian. A spell for throwing lightning bolts — or at least the name of such a spell — would be listed in the TGR rules. How much damage those lightning bolts do would be up to the user; again, TGR isn’t a playable rule set, it’s a framework to keep some consistency between tables so you can use the results with your rule set, whatever it may be. In most cases, spells with non-combat effects will just be described in terms of effect: this item provides light like a lantern, that one creates an illusion of a dancer, etc. How far a lantern’s light extends or whether someone is likely to believe the illusion or not is up to the user’s actual game rules.

Tomorrow’s post (written today, actually, just scheduled to post later) will cover the character statistics for TGR. Friday’s will list the monsters. Saturday’s will have the spells and other abilities.

So, no, you can’t play the Wintertree RPG. But it will help you use the TableMaster tables with whatever RPG you really do play.


Note: I did once write and sell a playable RPG, back in the day — notable for fitting in your pocket — but even I don’t have that anymore. If you’re one of the small handful of people who owns a copy of Legends & Loot, please get in touch!