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MERP: the simple rulez

Copyright ©2001 George Chatzipetros
Edited for The Guild Companion by Joe Mandala


PHYsique REFlexes DETermination
LITheness INTellect SENses
VITality INSight INFluence


(those noted with + can't be used untrained)
Blades (LIT) Swim (PHY) Farming (INT)
Bludgeon (LIT) Firstaid (INT) Stealth (LIT)
Polearms (LIT) Leechcraft
[general medicine]
(INT)+ Disguise (INT)
Exotic weapons (LIT) Herbalism (INT)+ Ride (LIT)
Archery (LIT) Lockpicking (LIT) Dodge (REF)
Throw (LIT) Trap lore (INT)+ Persuade (INF)
Climb (PHY or LIT) Foraging
[finding herbs]
(SEN) Leadership (INF)
Bargain (INF) Linguistics (INT)+ Politics (INT)
[military tactics]
(INT)+ Artillery
[catapults, ballistas]
(INT) Engineering (INT)+
Masonry (INT)+ Blacksmithing (PHY)+ Animal lore (INT)+
Sleight of hand (LIT) Survival (INT) Sailing (INT)
Intimidation (INF) Search (SEN) Conceal (INT)
Balance (LIT) Armor maneuvers (LIT) Awareness (SEN)
Brawl (LIT) Scholar (INT)+ Craft, specific (INT)+
Art, specific (INS)+ Shield (LIT)

Dice rolling

ATTRIBUTE CHECK: D6+attribute-difficulty (+bonus-penalty)
SKILLCHECK: D6+(average of skill and attribute)-difficulty (+bonus-penalty)
To succeed, you need a result of 4+. For every point over 3, you get a success point (SP). For every point below 4, you get a failure point(FP).
A 6 is re-rolled. If the new die is also a 6, add +1 to the resultof the roll and keep re-rolling.
A1 is also re-rolled. If the new die is also a 1, the task fails automatically and is a fumble.
CONTESTED ROLLS: Both opponents roll their attribute or skill checks. The one with the most SPs wins, but his SPs are reduced by those of the opponent.
EXTENDED ROLLS: The character rolls once per time phase dictated by the GM. His SPs are accumulated and he completes the task when he reaches the number of SPs required. FPs reduce the accumulated SPs.
Light 3
Medium 6
High 9
Amazing 12

Piece of cake +3
Easy +1
Average +0
Hard -1
Very hard -3
Nearly impossible -6
Absurd -9


INITIATIVE: A REF roll of average difficulty. The character's Encumbrance rating acts a s a penalty. On a failure, the character can only take one action at initiative factor 0. The initiative roll can't be fumbled.
ACTIONS: Every character can take one action at his initiative SPs. However, all characters may opt to take additional actions per turn, something that must be declared at the beginning of the turn, right after the initiative roll. Each additional action inflicts a 1 penal ty to al l acti ons atte mpte d i n thi s turn and happens at 1 lower initiative factor than the previous action. Of course, an action can't be performed at negative Initiative, so the maximum number of actions depends on someone's Initiative result.
ATTACKING: The attack roll is a roll of the appropriate weapon skill. Add as a bonus the Offense of the weapon used. The difficulty depends on whether it's close or ranged combat.
For close combat, the difficulty is the opponent's LIT+the defense of his weapon (or shield). If the opponent has a negative Size, use it as a penalty. For ranged combat, the difficulty is the range difficulty+the opponent's LIT+the defense bonus of his shield (weapons can't block shots)+the opponent's SIZ (a positive SIZ is a bonus, a negative is a penalty).
Point-blank +2
Short +0
Medium -1
Long -3
Over long (up to 2x long) -6

DAMAGE: If the attack is successful, the Resistance roll follows. The Resistance roll is a VIT roll with the armor's protection rating as a bonus . The difficulty is the attack's damage rating + the attack roll's SPs.
More than 3 FPs (or a fumble) means that the character dies. For 1-3 FPs, the character receives an equal number of wounds. Each wound inflicts a 1 penalty to all actions, Initiative and Resistance rolls. If the character accumulates more wounds than his SIZ+VIT+3, he passes out until his wound total drops below this threshold. If he accumulates more wounds than his SIZ+VIT+6, he dies.
BASHING DAMAGE: Some attacks cause Bashing (non-lethal) damage. These attacks can't kill someone outright, but they do cause wounds and will kill someone who receives too many wounds.
WORSENING: Someone unconscious as a result of lethal (non-bashing wounds) needs to make a VIT check every hour (with only half the normal penalty for his wounds). If the check succeeds, there is no change in his condition. If the check fails by 1-2 FPs, he gets an extra wound. If the check fails by 3-4 FPs, he gets two extra wounds. If the check fails by 5+ FPs, he dies.
RECOVERING WOUNDS: If the character rests, one wound vanishes at the end of each 3-day period. If the character is active, it takes 5 days for a wound to vanish. Treatment with the leechcraft skill speeds up the healing rate (2 days for a resting, 4 days for an active character). The application of the first aid skill may restore one wound but can't help a character furthermore.
DEFENSIVE ACTIONS: If an attack succeeds, the defendant can declare a defensive action. By doing that, he wastes his next action for that turn (he needs to have at least one available action).
The SPs of the defensive action decrease the SPs of the attack roll. If they're reduced below 1, the attack fails. There are 2 possible defensive actions:

  1. DODGE: Primarily used against ranged attacks (-1 penalty against melee attacks). It's a roll using the dodge skill, penalized by the character's Encumbrance. Of average difficulty.
  2. PARRY: Parry is only used against close combat attacks. It's a roll using the skill of the weapon the defendant is holding (or the Shield skill for a shield). If the defendant is unarmed, he may use the Brawl skill with 2 penalty. Difficulty is the attacker's weapon skill. Parrying with a shield gives a +1 bonus.
HITS TO THE HEAD, ARMS OR LEGS: armor protects only the torso (except from natural armor) . A hit to the head, arms or legs ignores armor but suffers a 2 penalty. To protect these spots, someone must use helmets or greaves. A hit to the arms or legs won't kill someone outright.
GRAPPLES: Grapples are performed with the brawling skill and do PHY (B) damage. If the grapple is successful, the target is immobilized and the attacker does PHY (B) damage on every turn. The target may only attempt to get free once per action of his. If he wins in a contested PHY roll, he breaks free.
KNOCKBACK: Anyone who suffers damage from an attack may be knocked back and down. If the PHY of the attack+the number of wounds caused exceeds the PHY+SIZ of the target, the defender is knocked back 1 meter per point of difference. If the difference is more than 2 points , the target is also knocked down and must waste his next action to stand up. The attacker gains a +1 bonus in his subsequent attack against a knocked-back target and a +2 bonus ( not cumulative with the previous one) for attacking a target that tries to get back on his feet. Creatures with four or more legs increase their SIZ by +1 for the purpose of determining knockback. A shield-punch is especially effective for knocking back opponents, adding +1 to the PHY+wounds total or +2 if the attack roll yields 3+ SPs.
Battle axe +2 +1 PHY+4 Blades
Bite +1 +0 PHY+2 Brawling
Broad sword +2 +2 PHY+4 Blades
Claw +1 +0 PHY+1 Brawling
Dagger +1 +1 PHY+2 Blades
Fist +0 +0 PHY (B) Brawling
Flail +3 +1 PHY+4 Bludgeon
Great axe +3 +1 PHY+5 Blades
Great sword +3 +2 PHY+5 Blades
Halberd +2 +0 PHY+5 Polearms
Hand axe +1 +1 PHY+2 Blades
Horn +1 +0 PHY+2 Brawling
Lance +3 +0 PHY+4 (of the mount) Polearms
Mace +1 +1 PHY+2 Bludgeon
Pike +2 +0 PHY+3 Polearms
Ram +0 +0 PHY+1 (B) Brawling
Short sword +1 +2 PHY+3 Blades
Spear +2 +0 PHY+3 Polearms
War mattock +2 +1 PHY+4 Exotic
Warhammer +2 +1 PHY+3 Bludgeon

Heavy crossbow +2 30/70/150 +6 3 actions Archery
Javelin +2 15/30/45 PHY+3 -- Throw
Light crossbow +2 30/60/120 +4 2 actions Archery
Long bow +1 30/70/150 PHY+3 1 action Archery
Short bow +1 30/70/150 PHY+3 1 action Archery
Short bow +1 20/50/100 PHY+2 1 action Archery
Sling +1 20/40/60 PHY+1 (B) 1 action Throw

Chain greaves +2 -1
Chain helmet +2 --
Chain mail +3 -3
Hide +1 -1
Leather +2 -1
Leather greaves +1 --
Leather helmet +1 --
Meal greaves +3 -1
Metal helmet +3 --
Plate mail +4 -5
Helmets and greaves only protect the head and the arms or legs respectively, but they add to the total Encumbrance.
Encumbrance acts as a penalty for Initiative rolls, all LIT- and REF-based skills and rolls and for swimming rolls. The total Encumbrance is reduced by the character's armor maneuvers skill (down to 0).

Buckler +2/+0 PHY+1(B)
Medium shield +3/+2 PHY+2(B)
Small shield +2/+1 PHY+2(B)
Wall shield +3/+3 PHY+2(B)
Damage refers to a shield punch (made with the shield skill). Spiked shields do 1 damage, but they cause lethal, not bashing damage.

Combining strength

In some cases, several persons combine their muscle power towards a common purpose (like opening a jammed door or holding someone down) . To calculate the total effective PHY of a crowd, first select the individual with the greatest PHY. Other with PHY within 2 points of his add +0.5. Those with PHY within 4 points add +0.1 . Those with PHY that is lesser than 4 points only add +0.01.
Round up any result of .5 or more.

Carrying and lifting weights

A person can easily carry a weight that is 10% of his own weight. For every 5% increase (or fraction thereof) in the carried weight, that person gets 1 point of Encumbrance.
Someone with PHY +0 can lift up to 50 kgr for very small amounts of time. PHY +1 lets someone lift 100 kgr, PHY +2 200 kgr, PHY +3 400 kgr, PHY +4 800 kgr, and so on.


IMPROVE ATTRIBUTE: |current rating| x2 ( the symbol | means that the attribute's absolute value is used [ eg 2 becomes 2 ])
IMPROVE SKILL: current rating
IMPROVE SPELL: current rating x1.5
NEW SKILL: 3 points
NEW SKILL: 6 points

Experience awards



Poisons can be categorised according to their mode of acting (ingested, injected, contact etc) or according to their specific action.
Each poison also has a strength. This is the penalty inflicted on the VIT check judging the outcome.
Lethal poisons cause damage. As with the damage check, a result of more than 3 FPs kills the victim, while a result of 3 or less FPs inflicts an equal number of wounds.
Debilitating poisons inhibit the victim by causing dizziness, convulsions, hallucinations etc. The victim receives a 1 penalty on all actions and initiative checks for the duration of the action ( typically 1 hour per FP).
Paralysing poisons paralyse most of the voluntary muscles or knock a victim unconscious. The typical duration of such a poison is 10 minutes per FP. If there are more than 4 FPs, the paralysis also affects the respiratory muscles, causing the victims to die from asphyxiation.
Poison may be a natural attack of many animals, commonly injected via their bite. In this case, a simple successful attack is enough for the poison to be injected in an unarmored target. In the case of an armoured target, the attack must bypass the armor, that is cause some damage, to be effective. Note however, that most snakes are rather small and attack a target's legs . So, in normal situations , someone needs to wear greaves to be protected from poison attacks.


Every disease has some common characteristics. The first is Contamination. If the disease is transmittable, this is the modifier to the VIT roll someone has to make to avoid catching it. The second is its Onset time, the period between contamination and the appearance of the first effects. The third if Effect, which is a penalty applied to all actions made by the character while he's ill. The fourth is the disease's duration. The final is Lethality. At the end of the disease's cycle, a VIT roll is made using the Lethality modifier to avoid the final effect (usually death). If the ill person isn't treated under proper conditions or doesn't rest, he may receive a penalty to the Lethality roll.

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