"Everyone should write a Heartbreaker."

Mike Holmes, as quoted by Ron Edwards in his article
More Fantasy Heartbreakers
 [in a dimension syncopatic with ours - a short tour of paul czege's fantasy heartbreaker]

There's no date on it, but there are enough clues for me to estimate closely that I wrote it in 1983 or 1984, when I was either a sophomore or junior in high school. I recall at least a couple of my friends generating characters, but we never played. It's 49 pages, lovingly hand-lettered in all caps, and seven pages of pencil illustrations by me, all on loose-leaf paper. Otherwise, if you've read Ron's essays you know what to expect, so enough chit-chat and on with the tour:


An Excerpt from the Introduction

[The game takes place] on the planet Orb, a planet geologically opposite Earth, in a dimension syncopatic with ours when certain celestial events take place. Orb is a world of magic and is populated by many races, eight of which are civilized (to a certain extent). The humans, first dwellers of Orb, were exiled to Orb as prisoners. The cyclops, one-eyed giants, silent, violent, and masters of weaponry. Gecko, lizardlike bipeds, a loud, ferocious, dim, warrior race. Darklings, four-armed, hairless humanoids, short of stature but nimble of finger. Chloi, sentient insects, intelligent, scholarly, and weak, but masters of the art of magic. Dwarves, bearded humanoids, short, brave, and boisterous Elves, slender, long-lived humanoids that are exceptionally skillful. Finally, the demon breed, half demon humans, evil, unpretty, three-fingered savages.


An Excerpt on the world of Orb

Orb was created at the same time as the universe it is contained in was created. Roughly 2000 yrs ago the universe of Manar imploded, all of its original matter was instantaneously converted to energy at the same time that an awesome amount of matter was ripped from neighboring universes and fused into the planet of Orb, its three moons, and a sun.

Many of the beings taken with matter from their universe survived the translation; a few hundred thousand humans were taken from our universe along with the continent of Atlantis and the planet Vulcan. These humans set up the first civilization on Orb. The orcs, dragons, and other monsters were also taken from their respective universes.

The original Manarins were converted to beings of pure Mana (the energy created by Manar's implosion, now used or magic) and now play the role of demons.

Beings from other universes are believed to be living on the moons, but no one has proven it.

Anyone born on Orb (or anywhere in its universe) is infused with a certain amount of Mana; this can be used for spellcasting if the character has the ability to control it. Only some races can make a vocation of magic use, although all races can use it avocationally.

It also seems that deities were forged in the implosion; they have different aspects for different races.


Definition of Roleplaying

Role playing is the practice of assuming the persona of another person (or object) for fun or insight. In this game the person takes on the characteristics, habits and mannerisms of a character he created for the purpose; the character is a denizen of Orb.


How To Use the Dice

Various shaped dice are used in the game. For the tetrahedral four-sided dice, read the number closest to the tabletop. The icosahedral 20-side, the decahedral 10-side, the cubic 6-side, the octahedral 8-side, the dodecahedral 12-side, and the abnormalhedral 30-side are all read from the number on top.


Generating Attributes

Roll 3d10, 9 times and arrange the scores among the following characteristics. NPCs use a 30 side; villains use 5d6.

Strength - multiply times twelve for the lbs you can lift
Endurance - ability to survive hardship
Willpower - determination and mental strength
Intelligence - the capacity for knowledge
Perception - attention to details
Faith - willingness to accept something as fact, without proof
Agility - body flexibility and muscle coordination
Dexterity - hand-eye coordination
Charisma - combination of good looks and charm


Humans

The humans on Orb are slightly superior to current Earth humans, they live in a physical environment, and are descendents of criminal stock; but they are considered average and their characteristics go unchanged. Any characteristic bonuses or penalties for other races is due to diverence from the human norm.


Cyclops

[cyclops]

The cyclops are weapon experts. They average 6'6" tall, have blue eye and brown hair. They were the third civilized race to come to Orb; they were brought from their universe to be servants to the demon breed sorcerers, they were liberated by humanity and will now attack a demon breed on recognition. They remain the most trusted nonhuman allies of humanity.


Gecko

[flesh icon]

The gecko are the most recent civilization on Orb; they are the product of an expert geneticist who became their first victim. They are a warrior race of lizards, and have swiftly assumed a position of equal power with the other seven races. their ferocious war cries have been known to win wars without spilling a drop of blood (to the disappointment of the gecko). They have retractable claws (like a cat) but keep this a secret, preferring to use them as a last resort. They have 60' infravision and can crawl across smooth ceilings and floors (but cannot use a weapon from such a position).

All gecko characters are male; they prefer copulating with humans, and can do so without risk of offspring. At least once a year the gecko must return to his birthvillage for mating with a female of his species. The female is only six inches long; they become pregnant by biting the male's scrotum (this is very painful, a gecko usually only visits his birthvillage once a year, because he is obligated to make a trip to the harem each time he enters).

Gecko prefer to wear furs.


Darkling

[darkling]

Darklings came to Orb of their own volition, and were the fifth race on Orb. They have had ample time to develop their thievery, which they practice insatiably; they have hideouts and lairs in every major city, trading post, border fort, and along most main roads.

Darklings average 4'6" tall and are totally hairless, they have large noses and are vulnerable to bright or intense light, they wear large heavy hooded cloaks. They have 60' infravision, and get two attacks per roundif using weapons 2ft long or shorter; they have four arms (two from each shoulder). They cannot use any weapon longer than 5ft. A darkling archer can use twin shortbows.


Chloi

[chloi]

The chloi were the fourth race to arrive on Orb after its creation; they came because it is absolutely seething with Mana. The chloi are very cult oriented; all chloi have a secondary limb sacrificed to their deity at birth, usually left, but if the chloi is destined for priesthood then the right limb will be sacrificed. Chloi are expert mages but poor fighters, they have a thick exoskeleton which gives them an armor class of 11 at the cost of having a poor agility.


Dwarves

[dwarf]

Dwarves were the last race to arrive on Orb, coming just shortly before the gecko were bred. They are short and stocky, averaging 4'2" and 180 lbs, and can take the most punishment of all the races of Orb. They cannot use any weapon longer than 5 1/2 ft; and regard bows and technological weapons as unsporting. They love gems, smithys, mining, ale, and axes.


Elf

The elves are by far the most skillful of all the races. They arrived on Orb just prior to the dwarves, and their secretive nature has given them a bad reputation. The average 5'6" tall, 130 lbs, and are silent and gentle by nature. Unfortunately when they came to Orb they brought their shadow brethren, the knurl, with them; while the elves are fair and gentle the knurl are squat, hairy, dark and cruel. Elven women are very beautiful and infrequently take a human husband, but no children of these couples are evident.


Demon Breed

[demon breed]

The demon breed are the half-demon half-human offspring of a mage's pact with a demon (the mage's mana is usually not enough to sate the demon, the mage often promises his firstborn daughter as a bride, or son for that matter--these things can be changed). They are cruel and ruthless and hated by everyone.

They possess a biting attack. A demon breed with at least a 15 charisma can pass for human for short periods of time; their inherent cruelty gives them away eventually. They have only three fingers, thus the low dexterity. They have 60' infravision.


Stuff You Don't Want to See in Detail

The character classes are called vocations, and include Warrior, Samurai, Thief, Mage, Padre, Archer, and Myrmidon. Character effectiveness increases with advancement in the vocation. A character can have a secondary avocation, which draws away 10% of earned experience into developing expertise with something like Magic Use, Karate, Judo, Kung Fu, Wrestling, Boxing, Sumo Wrestling, or Alchemy. There are four and a half pages of described skills, the values of which are derived by complex calculations based on multiple ability scores and the points that have been invested in the development of the skill:

[skill]

Arms Law and Claw Law are used to determine hits and damage in combat.


The Unique Weapons

[the unique weapons]

Three weapons unique to the setting appear in this illustration and in the game's equipment price list, but there's no description of them anywhere in the text. If I recall, the houri dagger is made of crystal, with an internal payload of poison that's delivered when the weapon shatters after a successful stabbing. The mangler is just good clean brutal fun; I think I had this notion of captured geckos being forced to fight like gladiators. And the photopistol was a technological weapon extradimensionally imported to Orb that delivered damaging bursts of light. I'm vaguely doubting if it was supposed to work on just anyone. I've a recollection it was intended for nighttime hunting of darklings. Imagine a frenetic, grisly game of flashlight tag.


Magic

There are 21 spells, each described individually. Every spell description has an open-ended percentile chart used for determining the effect of a given casting. Here are five, a somewhat skewed selection intended to expose the danger, treachery and predation that characterizes a life dedicated to magic on Orb:

Flamethrower - Causes a surreal flamethrower to manifest on the spell caster's back

10-13

Spellcaster is engulfed by flames, dies instantly

14-17

Spellcaster bursts into flames, burns for duration and damage of spell

18-25

Spellcaster's primary arm is burned and useless, 1d10 damage

26-39

Works at 50% effectiveness

40-49

Works, but random party member shot during first round of use

50-100

Works as specified

101-110

High intensity flames, +1d10/round

111-130

Blast of raw energy, +2d10/round

131+

Disintegrates first target, otherwise works as directed

5 pts to cast
+15% to die roll per level
+5% to die roll per extra point spent
+1 cost/5ft of range
+5 cost/d10 of damage
+2 cost/round of duration


Mana Count - The spellcaster can use this spell to determine the number of mana points an individual possesses

10-39

Failure

40+

Accurate count

1 point to cast
+10% to die roll per level
-5% to die roll per level of victim
+5% to die roll per extra point spent
+1 cost/5ft of distance


Absorb Mana - A spellcaster able to perform an action in the round of another individual's death, can absorb the mana that the individual had at the time of his demise

10-13

Spellcaster purges himself of mana

14-25

Failure

26-90

1pt/10pts taken

91-110

1pt for the whole shot

111+

No cost for the whole shot

5 points to cast
+10% to die roll per level
+5% to die roll per extra point spent
+1 cost/5ft of distance
-5% to die roll per level of victim


Steal Mana - Using this spell the spellcaster can tear mana away from unwilling individuals

10-25

Spellcaster transfers his mana to victim

26-50

1pt/4pts taken

51-70

1pt/5pts taken

71-91

1pt/6pts taken

91-100

1pt/7pts taken

101+

The whole shot for no cost

10 points to cast
+10% to die roll per level
+5% to die roll per extra point spent
+1 cost/5ft of distance
-5% to die roll per level of opponent


Ghost - A ghost is a collection of mana with a will of its own. It may act as a level 1 spellcaster but runs the risk of destroying itself if it does so. Most ghosts are left from strong willed people with at least 50 mana at their deaths; this spell attempts to create a ghost, the spellcaster searches the entire body of free mana in an attempt to find at least 50 pts from one source.

10-69

Failure

70+

Success

30 points to cast
+10% to die roll per level
+5% to die roll per extra point spent
+50 pts to raise a specific ghost

The ghost stays around until it uses up all of it's mana or someone steals all of it's mana


The End of the Tour

Well, there you have it, elves, dwarves, a few funky races, randomly generated attributes, character classes, and elaborate formulas for derived scores. I might have to fax the whole thing to Ron so he can suss out the "one good, possibly brilliant feature."

Copyright © 2002 by Paul Czege.