Enchanted Realms Rulebook

 Game Starter 


What is a fantasy role-playing game? Essentially, it is a game where each player assumes the role of a fictitious character who interacts within the game's imaginary world - in this case a world of heroes, sorcerers, lizard people and much more. Players create a character, a term commonly called a PC (which means Player Character). There can be as many players as desired, so long as the game remains manageable -- the exact number depends on the experience and skill of one special player called the Game-Master (GM). This person is an arbiter of sorts who describes the environment and world in which the PCs live.

The game is played for a few hours at a time. This game time is often referred to as a game session. During the session, the players describe what they want to do based on the adventure presented. As the players interact with the imaginary world, the GM narrates the results of their actions. Often that result leads to another decision point where the players must against explain what they want to do. This continues as the story unfolds.

If this is the reader’s first time reading this material -- or perhaps more daunting, playing an RPG for the very first time, then the size of the rules may seem overwhelming. However, just as the story evolves the longer the game is played, the rules will evolve too. Many of them will be unnecessary at the beginning of play, don’t try to eat the elephant all at once. Follow the steps of the book, starting with simple character creation, learn the basic concepts, pick those starting skills, then let the GM help you along your way becoming involved in fun and fanciful stories of glory and treachery.

Gaming Exposure

If you as the reader are daunted because this is your first RPG, then let us be very honest and claim this might not be the easiest documentation for the first-time player. Even if you have played RPGs before but your experience has been limited, you might consider other game mechanics first. Can one start with this game? Yes, but in writing these rules, there is an expectation of the reader to understand common terms like “rounds,” “armor points,” what a “save” is, and how to read a dice formula. That said, these will get defined in the documentation of the rules, and also there is a glossary in the Charts & Tables book.

We don’t want to discourage people from player, as we believe we have a wonderfully well-designed fantasy game. However, we believe it is fair to help those reading this have the proper expectations set.

Design History

This is a quick bit of history of the game design and the premises which were catalysts for it coming into existence. Like many other players of fantasy RPGs, the designers had grown up on some of the classics of the 1980s. Without listing them, several will come to mind for those already immersed in the genre. (Hat tip to Gary Gygax, Dave Arneson, Steve Jackson, Steve Perrin, and Coleman Charlton.) Yet -- as fun as all of these were, they all seemed to suffer some stigmas, complications, and inconsistencies. Much of this was due to it being very difficult to box playing-pretend into a set of regulations. When doing so, many of the early pioneers of these games were originally war-gamers, which are like chess but with a great deal more realism. Often historic battles are re-enacted and commanded with different strategies. However, when playing war games, there are a lot of measurements to scale plus complicated math to ensure fairness and accuracy of terrain, weapon range, the speed of a charge, etc.

As a result, many of those early games were played by people who went into engineering or by others persons with high math skills. This is from where some of that “nerd stigma” came. However, as fantasy games did not require the same degree of precision, often war-gaming rules were used as a reference to translate those early editions. Further, as war-games were designed for historical accuracy, this created inconsistencies when using some of the controls and calculations when magic entered the fictitious world. Further, since magic breaks the normal rules of physics, this compounded some of those issues.

To help alleviate some of that, those early games defined the role of the character into professions, often called classes. The advantage of this is if a player wanted to be a cavalier or a thief, then the player did not have to worry about all the rules but rather just the rules that applied to the desired class. There were several rules used to maintain game balance, so that one class would not have a better advantage over another -- or if having a bit of one, it would even out the other way as the game went on. However, in hindsight, the restrictions of classes in an RPG started to raise questions about those game-balance rules. For example, in many games, the godly-divine hero who prayed for the ability to perform miraculous feats often had a restriction of certain weapons which could be used. In comes, the second generation of RPG players who start asking realism-based questions: “So… my cleric cannot wield a longsword by the restrictions of his class, but can he carry one on his person? And if he's carrying it and there is nothing else available, of course he would use it if his life was threatened… so, do I roll my attack with penalties or does my god smite my character if he uses it -- and how does that make sense?”

Hours could be spent telling stories of how frustrated second-generation GMs became trying to maintain the enforcement of game balance while allowing the verisimilitude of the story to have continuity. All sorts of custom rules starting popping up from table to table. The same game, but different tables might have radically different sets of home-brewed statutes of the game. As a result, every serious hobbyist started designing the next RPG game system.

Truth be told, Enchanted Realms was born from that OSR chaos. There were early renditions of it thirty years ago. However, long ago it quit being a “modified version” of other games to plug those holes. Today, there are some core truths used in this system and its design:

• Any PC has the potential to perform the same action as any other
• All beings have an aura called a “lifesong” that defines who they are
• Abilities, emotions, thoughts, motivations, magical enhancements are all housed in one’s lifesong
• The lifesong is defined in three parts: Body, Mind, and Spirit

To accomplish those things, Enchanted Realms does not use class restrictions. Instead, the diktat from the designers was this would be a fully skills-based game. The counter-issue to such a design is that players will want to know about every skill and every technique far earlier than is necessarily. However, this problem goes away with more experience playing the game and eventually ceases to be a concern. Now… choosing the proper skill and the proper time will forever be a challenge -- and a challenge by design.

One of the other game issues that attempted to be mitigated was that complicated math so often found in those early games. Granted, more modern games have found techniques and discreet math to simplify many aspects of the game. Further, many systems openly state to ignore certain factors of geometry and reality for smooth flow of the game. Thus, modern players tend not to get overly concerned about the minutia of realism.

During its design, Enchanted Realms used as many of those simplified techniques that made sense and did not violate the core truths of the system. The hope was to speed up resolving combat quickly. To take it one step further, modern RPGs are played online using some sort of VTT (virtual table-top). Thus, the designers capitalized on the technology and chose to push many of those mathematical processes only the computers used to play. The original thought was this would allow combat to be settled even quicker.

However, as letting true-random virtual dice be rolled with macros and entire feats pushed into an API designed for Roll20, combats did not actually end sooner. What happened was this allowed players to start asking new forms of realism-based questions. Back when battle maps were rare and the game was played as the ever-popular phrase “in the theater of the mind,” essentially what happened was fighters would run up to a monster and pound on it until its points for counting the numbers of hits or wounds it could endure dwindled away. Now, with a visual aid of the map, hexes representing movement, and the VTT handling the math, the player had changed the approach to combat. Instead of running to a fighter line, combat is more fluid, using strategy to place opponents at a disadvantage. There developed the gamified equivalent of “holding the higher ground.” As the desire to use polearms to strike an opponent while standing behind a close-combat fighter, a whole new set of combat skills were developed to accommodate the new strategies used in combat. While combat is still a slower aspect of the game, it has ceased to be a numbers-calculation of which character can take more damage.

Although the goal of quicker combat did not happen in the design, what Enchanted Realms offers is the ability to worry less about the math-portion of the rules and instead focus on the strategy and effects of a character’s skills. This unexpected change has been a welcomed one among the test players. And of course, the table can always choose to play a more simplified combat if the group agrees.

One additional thought about all this techno-play, we find this as an advantage for ignoring the math, playing with people in other states and other such benefits. However, as the game has had new and different rules and perspectives grafted into it, the question is always asked “Is this still playable as a table-top version and with no computer tablets or visual aids?” We earnest believe that it is, but some details may have to become more reliant on the GM.

How To Read These Rules

There were core truths listed above. Those were mentioned to explain the precepts of the design. However, there are a few other truths which players should bear in mind. The layout of these rules are written to explain generalized common practices and then delve into the details. Here are the truths for players:

• General rules will be described in each section.
• Specific rules (for species, skills, items or other conditions) will override the general rule. If there is ever a question: specific beats general.
• In general for any math, always round-down. This isn’t just at the half-way mark, but it is a “floor” method; thus, even 1.9 results to a value of 1.
• Games dice used are typically d20s; however, there are occasional need for d4s, d6s, d10s and d12s.
• Success of a skill is usually determined on the roll of a d20 compared against a difficulty value.
• The more skills that can be used, the more d20s that can be rolled. Instead of a yes/no ascertainment of success, a variable degree of accomplishment occurs.
• Circumstances will exist during game play when a character or monster will gain an advantage or conversely will be put at a disadvantage.
• When rolling with advantage an extra d20 is gained to the pool of dice used -- or the better of two rolls in some circumstances.
• When rolling with disadvantage a d20 is lost from the pool. If the number of dice becomes zero, then the lesser of two rolls are used.
• Monsters have attribute scores, have skills and use the same rules as the players.

At this point, there is only one thing to do: read on, follow the steps of the book, starting with simple character creation, learn the basic concepts, pick those starting skills, then let the GM help you along your way becoming involved in fun and fanciful stories of glory and treachery.