System Reference Document (SRD), v.3.0
The Rapture Roleplay System was originally designed to be something completely different from its current rendition. In fact, it was meant to be a percentile dice (d%) system, but it never came to fruition as such. Rapture Roleplay System has since grown into a large-scale Breathless-based RPG, with plenty of rules-light philosophical underpinnings and an emphasis on playing worlds, not rules. Much of what you find here is the culmination of about three years’ worth of game design, setbacks, indie TTRPG inspirations, and a need to create something that suited the needs of newer players looking to break into TTRPGs.
This SRD, if you will, serves as a living document, a running snapshot of the Rapture Roleplay System, powering The Adventurer’s Guide to Belleruta (forthcoming RPG), Dragontown: A City of a Billion Lost Souls, and No One Owns the Sky produced and published by G. Michael Rapp (Free Radicals Press) and Tyler McAlister (Softcore Anarchy).
This System Reference Document (SRD) for the Rapture Roleplay System is Copyright © 2022–2023 by G. Michael Rapp (Free Radicals Press) and Tyler McAlister (Softcore Anarchy). All content found within this SRD is licensed, for anyone’s use, under CC-BY-SA 4.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/).
The Rapture Roleplay System (v. 3.0), which powers this game, is an open-license roleplaying game system. As such, it is licensed under CC-BY-SA 4.0, covering all text and tables pertaining to the rules. Rapture Roleplay System is based on Breathless, a product by Fari RPGs (https://farirpgs.com/), developed and authored by René-Pier Deshaies-Gélinas, and licensed for our use under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License. Other parts of this game system are based on Cairn (licensed for our use under CC-BY-SA 4.0) by Yochai Gal, Jim Parkin’s Ultralight Star Wars Roleplaying Game (also licensed under CC-BY-SA 4.0 for our uses), and Fate Core System and Fate Accelerated Edition (found athttp://www.faterpg.com/) , products of Evil Hat Productions, LLC, developed, authored, and edited by Leonard Balsera, Brian Engard, Jeremy Keller, Ryan Macklin, Mike Olson, Clark Valentine, Amanda Valentine, Fred Hicks, and Rob Donoghue, and licensed for our use under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/). This work is also based on the Fate System Toolkit (found at http://www.faterpg.com/), a product of Evil Hat Productions, LLC, developed, authored, and edited by Robert Donoghue, Brian Engard, Brennan Taylor, Mike Olson, Mark Diaz Truman, Fred Hicks,and Matthew Gandy, and licensed for our use under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/). This work also includes material taken from the System Reference Document 5.1 (“SRD 5.1”) by Wizards of the Coast LLC and available at https://dnd.wizards.com/resources/systems-reference-document. The SRD 5.1 is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License available at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/legalcode.
An Open Gaming Project Statement (v. 1.0a, Public Domain/CC0). The project before you is con-sidered an open gaming product, meaning the rules and other designated materials can be “freely copied, modified and distributed” (per the Open Gaming Foundation, 2023) under a largely unre-stricted (think: copyleft or permissive) license.This product uses unrestricted licenses to allow the project’s mechanics (and other material designated as open content) to remain open indefinitely. The open-licensed material cannot be closed off once contributed to the larger public (in digital, print, hybrid, etc. formats). Open gaming-friendly licenses might include, but are not limited to, the fol-lowing: CC-BY (3.0 or higher), CC-BY-SA (3.0 or higher), Open Publication License, and the GNU General Public License and the Free Documentation License (Free Software Foundation). This statement is meant to be an affirmation of open game philosophies found in game design and game development, as well as a mark of public accountability to be seen within the product in question. This statement does not constitute a license, nor should it be construed as legal advice.
If you’re new to roleplaying games, this could be a daunting concept to understand.
Roleplaying games are, at their very heart, easy to understand.
Roleplaying games are those games in which a group of players shares a collective narrative, with numerous challenges, character development, and exciting, pulse-pounding action. These collective narratives are guided by the referee (REF), who interprets dice rolls, applies rulings, and uses the inner storytelling genius we all possess toward specific milestones. The REF is not God. The other players should assist the REF in creating an exciting, enriching, and worthwhile gaming experience, which the REF should be willing to be part of from the get-go.
Roleplaying games require most individual players to take on a persona, who players have tailored for the game story they are playing within. For example, Pedyro “Quick Fingers” Wintson, a former bodyguard turned bandit leader, who loves good drinks and exquisite, exotic foods, might be the character you are playing within your Rapture Roleplay System campaign.
Playing Quick Fingers, we’ll use his nickname, for now, you will interact with your fellow players and their in-game personae, along with the REF and her non-player characters (NPCs). You might also interact with the story world, using dice rolls to determine the results of certain confrontations and work with your REF in how you will likely roleplay a given situation, progress forward, and accomplish what your character has set out to do in this collective world. In all, you are indistinguishable from Quick Fingers. Everything Quick Fingers wants, you want. Everything Quick Fingers does, you have a hand in from the get-go. When the referee interacts with you, it is usually on the basis that you are acting in the interests of your character, in-game, Pedyro “Quick Fingers” Wintson.
Treat the setting of any Rapture Roleplay System game as if it were real. Lean into what you know from similar settings and situations. The Referee (REF) is the neutral arbiter, who plays and acts as non-player characters (NPCs), and the REF also plays to see what happens as much as their fellow players do. Reasonable action happens as described by the REF, with help from their fellow players. Risks and consequences are adjudicated by the REF, with plenty of input from their fellow players. Trust in each other to be fair and respectful. Act in good faith with one another.
To begin playing, players simply need to have some paper, pencils or pens, these rules (or the SRD), copies of the (generic) character sheet, and some dice; four-sided (d4) dice; six-sided (d6) dice; eight-sided (d8) dice; ten-sided (d10) dice; twelve-sided (d12) dice; and twenty-sided (d20) dice.
Roleplaying games are about productive collaboration between multiple players, including the Referee. Competition is usually at the heart of many games—the many exceptions including roleplaying games, where collaboration is favored over competition. It is best to think of collaboration as a form of entertainment and a way to produce exciting outcomes and not boring, uneventful gaming. Quite the opposite. Collaboration between players is the best way to develop each player character (PC), explore the game’s world, and craft wonderful stories and experiences that will stick with each player.
One of the many issues facing traditional (and often crunchy) roleplaying games is the overemphasis on rolling dice. Some games, they shall go unnamed here, have players and their REFs roll for everything that takes place within the game. Dice don’t need to be rolled every time a character does something in-game, especially within the Rapture Roleplay System. Dice should be rolled at important moments, when it is pivotal to determine the success of a given round of combat, an application of a particular skill, or even in tense social conflicts that require a chancy bit of finesse to succeed. With that said, the Rapture Roleplay System encourages roleplaying over roll-playing. Dice have their place, yes, but they shouldn’t suck the fun out of each gaming session. When in doubt, roleplay, and then add dice in to complicate things.
Rolling dice for every action and adding or subtracting modifiers along the way isn’t a recommended approach to playing a Rapture Roleplay System-powered roleplaying game. Instead, the narrative, along with discovery, should be led by roleplaying, problem-solving, creative thinking, and meaningful player-player interactions. The dice rolls should only follow when complications arise and meaningful failure is a very real possibility. In other words, dice shouldn’t be consulted at every turn in-game.
The Rapture Roleplay System moves away from the seriously overwhelming mathematical crunch that is often associated with some newer (and many legacy) roleplaying systems. Narrative is balanced with dice rolling and specific (streamlined) modifiers (i.e., where the mathematics comes into this roleplaying game). The job of the referee (and even of the group at large) is to balance these two in a way that suits the needs of the group and its roleplaying needs.
A common set of problems in many roleplaying games (and, really, any game for that matter) is the deadly combination of rules and rules-lawyering. In any Rapture Roleplay System-powered game, rules should not be hard and fast. There should be a good deal of room for negotiation, especially if an outcome can be made more exciting and satisfying. Instead of fighting over the rules, players should negotiate with their referee and one another when it comes to what can and cannot be accomplished in-game This means rulings should be made by the group, allowing for the game to be organic in its flow and less cumbersome if the rules presented have serious flaws or are inhibiting meaningful gameplay and experiences.
The following SRD emphasizes sourcebooks over rulebooks.
The tabletop roleplaying hobby is notorious for its multi-hundred-page rulebooks, strict rules, and bloat. The Rapture Roleplay System was inspired by the Free Kriegsspiel Revolution (FKR) and its drive to make rulebooks less about rules and more about offering source material to gaming groups, so they can spend more time playing worlds or universes over memorizing and learning rules.
Yes, rules exist within this SRD, this living document, but they aren’t hard and fast (see below for a discussion on this). Much of this SRD, this living sourcebook, is about offering roleplaying fodder for groups that need it for their upcoming or existing games. The rules are light enough to allow groups modify them as needed and incorporate outside material (and material from this SRD) into their roleplaying games.
Player skill is a must for playing a Rapture Roleplay System-powered game. Players will rely on their critical and creative thinking, their problem-solving, and their roleplaying abilities to overcome challenges facing their PCs in-game. While each PC has a character sheet, with skills and abilities, these character sheets should not be viewed as religious texts written in stone, to be held high and venerated for their words and phrases. These character sheets are living documents meant to assist players in navigating the game’s setting, all the while offering up some ways in which to tackle problems and score some much-needed experience points and loot. While dice can complicate matters, and the character sheets can help players navigate the game space, referees will want to offer up challenges that can be resolved with critical and creative thinking, problem-solving, and roleplaying. This triumvirate of abilities is going to make for meaningful gameplay and experiences for all players.
There exists a Golden Rule. This rule is simple, but it is often ignored by players who wish to be overly technical or wish to be rules lawyers, or even realism fanatics. This is a game. As such, one should have fun. Players should remember the final arbiter for rulings, realism, and boundaries, is the Referee, who is interested in making the game a continually enjoyed and collective endeavor for everyone, meaning they are trying to keep the game from stalling due to rules-lawyering, realism fetishes, and player-player antagonisms. The Golden Rule is simple here: Don’t be an asshole and have fun. This is a game after all.
Also, Remember This, Folks: When dealing with any roleplaying game product, the Referee and her fellow players are the final arbiters as to what should happen in-game. In other words, this is merely a sourcebook, with some rules attached, and not some sacred text to be held up high and venerated for what is written on its pages. Feel free to tweak, bend, break, and rewrite what you don’t like, what doesn’t work, and what doesn’t flow with your current understanding of your gaming world.
For those who are playing as player characters (PCs), and even those acting as referees, there is a secondary role all players must fulfill. Make this an enjoyable (and collective) experience. A Rapture Roleplay System-powered game is best experienced and enjoyed as a collaborative storytelling endeavor, with everyone, not just the Referee, sharing ideas and seeking out new opportunities to make game sessions exciting, entertaining, and a collective endeavor worth pursuing.