Copyright 1992, 2002 by E. Chris Garrison (email@example.com)
The idea of SAGA is to not only provide a single game mechanic, but to eliminate the arbitrary nature of "points" in a skill-based role-playing game. This is done by assigning numbers of dice to Attributes, Skills, and Special Abilities. The SAGA system is not intended to be used by novices as a first game system, but for experienced role-players wanting an alternative to more bulky commerical games. This product may be copied and used for personal use only and may not be sold or reprinted in any other form without the permission of the author.
All Attributes and Skills are measured in six-sided dice of ability. When a character is generated, the player distributes dice from a point pool into Attributes, Skills, and Abilities, and continues to add dice as they are accrued at the end of each gaming session.
When dice are rolled to determine success or failure of any given action, the number of sixes that appear are counted up. This result is then compared either against the difficulty of an action or an opposing Skill. An unopposed roll with successes greater than or equal to the difficulty rating succeeds. In the case of a tie between two opposed actions, the tie is resolved by comparing the greatest number of dice each opponent is rolling, followed by the greater Skill. In the case of a tie between completely equal opponents, the result is a draw for that round.
The following are the base Attributes in SAGA:
If a character attempts an action for which he or she has no corresponding Skill, it falls to the base Attribute, representing raw ability or talent, for the roll to determine success.
Most skills in SAGA have a base Attribute, though not all. Each Skill stacks its dice on top of the related Attribute, if any, and all dice are rolled together to determine the number of successes.
Skills fall into trained, untrained and special categories. Trained skills may not default to a raw Attribute roll if no dice are spent on it, since the character must have some training to use the Skill. Untrained skills are things anyone can do, and default to the raw Attribute roll if the character has no dice in that Skill. Special skills are those that are associated only with a Special Ability and may not be purchased separately (such as Psi abilities).
When a Skill has reached at least six dice, three may be converted to an automatic success. This is not mandatory, a player may always opt to not condense dice into automatic successes. As an example, if a character has 10 dice in Stealth, the player may opt to condense this to 4d+2 or 7d+1 or simply leave it as 10d. No Skill may be condensed below three dice, and dice condensing only applies to Skills and may not be used for Attributes.
Profession Skills are special Skills which represent the character's primary focus. A player may apply any automatic plusses of Profession Skills to related Skills, and may also use related Skills untrained. For instance, a character whose Profession Skill is Pizza Delivery Driver @ 5d+2 may add those 2 automatic successes to any related Skill roll, such as Combat Driving. A character may declare only one Profession Skill initially. Additional Skills may be declared as Profession Skills only at the GM's discretion.
In addition to Skills and Attributes, a character may also convert dice into Special Abilities. Special Abilities have a cost, and although they may be tied to an Attribute or Skill, they are just possessed without any dice to roll for themselves. For instance, a character may possess the Special Ability of Telekinetic Flight. TK Flight might cost 20 dice to purchase, and may have related Skills such as Combat Flying, and Attribute checks might be required on Psyche in order to lift another character (plus a Strength check to hold on to the character).
Special Abilities may also have a minimum Attribute or Skill requirement before being available for purchase.
Combat is resolved as a series of opposed Skill checks. An attacker will use a weapon Skill to determine a number of successes. The defender reduces this number by rolling a base Dexterity check, subtracting any successes from the attacker's results. Defenders may also have a Dodge Skill to stack on top of Dexterity, or may have other applicable Skills to counter the attack. Any character has a base of one attack in a round. The attack may be divided into two or more attacks if a Special Ability like Ambidexterity is purchased. Armor is represented as automatic successes, with most simple armor being worth 1, with more complete armor being worth 2, and supernatural (superscience, magic, etc) armor rarely providing 3 points of protection.
A successful attack does damage equal to the number of successes greater than the defender can block plus the number of dice the weapon itself deals. Any damage that gets through is applied to the character's Strength, reducing it temporarily by one die per point of damage. Once a character reaches zero strength, he or she is rendered unconscious, losing a further die of Strength per round until -5 is reached, at which point the character is dead unless immediately healed. The character may roll a die per round to stabilize on a success.
SAGA is meant to be used in any genre, whether it's fantasy, science fiction, modern day, horror, etc. Each genre will have its own set of Skills and Special Abilites to choose from.