The Alexandrian

Posts tagged ‘cheat sheets’

Call of Cthulhu (5th Edition Revised) - System Cheat Sheet

(click here for PDF)

Although this cheat sheet has been specifically designed for the Revised 5th Edition of Call of Cthulhu (because that is the version which I use), it should serve just as well with the original 5th Edition and 6th Edition because the changes between those editions are essentially inconsequential. (The only reason I don’t use 6th Edition is because (a) I already own 5th Edition, (b) I like the cover painting for the revised 5th Edition better, and (c) I find the 6th Edition rulebook virtually illegible because of the fonts used.) It can also probably be used nigh-seamlessly with 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Editions, as the mechanical changes from those editions to 5th Edition are limited, if I recall correctly, to a very minor revision of the skill list and some changes to character creation mechanics (which don’t affect these cheat sheets). The change from 1st Edition (which I do not own) to 2nd Edition reputedly includes a rather major change to the magic system, so this cheat sheet will probably be of less worth to anyone still running a 1st Edition campaign.

It is quite likely that I will end up producing a version of this cheat sheet for 7th Edition (which contains a greater number of mechanical changes), especially as I have recently won a complete set of the 7th Edition rulebooks as a prize for a Novus Ordo Seclorum advancement event at Gen Con this year. However, I believe that this cheat sheet will nevertheless have an enduring value because I know that here are a great number of Keepers who are continuing their pre-7th Edition campaigns with no intention of shifting to the new edition.

If you’re not familiar with these system cheat sheets, you should know that the goal is to summarize all the rules of the game – from basic resolution to the spot rules for actions, combat, firearms, injury, and the like. It’s a great way to get a grip on a new system, introducing new players to the game, and providing a long-term resource for both GM and players. (For more information on the methods I use for prepping these sheets, click here.)

WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED

These cheat sheets are not designed to be a quick start packet: They’re designed to be a comprehensive reference for someone who has read the rulebook and will probably prove woefully inadequate if you try to learn the game from them. (On the other hand, they can definitely assist experienced players who are teaching the game to new players.)

The cheat sheets also don’t include what I refer to as “character option chunks” (for reasons discussed here). In other words, you won’t find the rules for character creation here.

HOW I USE THEM

I generally keep a copy of my system cheat sheets behind my GM screen for quick reference and I also place a half dozen copies in the center of the table for the players to grab as needed. The information included is meant to be as comprehensive as possible; although rulebooks are also available, my goal is to minimize the amount of time people spend referencing the rulebook: Finding something in 6 pages of cheat sheet is a much faster process than paging through a 400 page rulebook. And, once you’ve found it, processing the streamlined information on the cheat sheet will (hopefully) also be quicker.

The organization of information onto each page of the cheat sheet should, hopefully, be fairly intuitive. The actual sequencing of pages is mostly arbitrary.

Page 1 – Basic Mechanics: Because Call of Cthulhu is, at its heart, a pretty simplistic game (roll percentile dice and compare to a skill), this core reference sheet also includes the basic mechanics for Combat (including Injury).

Page 2 – Spot Rules for Combat: I find that a lot of Call of Cthulhu Keepers and players tend to forget that the system actually does have quite a few advanced options (which it refers to as spot rules, such as Spot Rules for Firearms). There’s a lot more gritty mechanical options that can be leveraged than you might realize if you’ve primarily experienced the game at the fairly ubiquitous tables which use a more casual approach to things.

Page 3 – Spot Rules for Skills: All the niggling little guidelines hidden away in the skill chapter are pulled out here for quick reference.

Page 4 – Sanity Rules: I find it interesting that these are always referred to as Sanity mechanics when it would seem more appropriate to refer to them as the Insanity mechanics.

Page 5 – Mythos Tomes and Magic: Pretty much what it says on the tin.

MAKING A GM SCREEN

These cheat sheets can also be used in conjunction with a modular, landscape-oriented GM screen (like the ones you can buy here or here).

I usually use a four-panel screen and use reverse-duplex printing in order to create sheets that I can tape together and “flip up” to reveal additional information behind them. In this case, however, I have not actually used these cheat sheets in conjunction with a GM screen (as the sessions I’ve been running have been conducive to a more intimate space), so I’ve only used the stapled packets. However, I’d recommend placing the Spot Rules for Skills behind the Spot Rules for Combat, as I feel they’re the rules least likely to be used frequently and also least likely to benefit from being taken in at a glance.

Call of Cthulhu (5.6 Edition)

Tales from the Loop - System Cheat Sheet

(click for PDF)

I usually prep these cheat sheets for RPGs that I play or run, and I’ve shared many of them here on the Alexandrian in the past. For those who haven’t seen them before, they summarize all the rules from the game — from basic action resolution to advanced skill options. It’s a great way to get a grip on a new system and, of course, they’re extremely valuable during actual play and for introducing new players to a game.

This particular cheat sheet is for Tales from the Loop, a very interesting game in what I call the “nostalgia kids” subgenre of urban fantasy / supernatural horror. The players take on the roles of young children in an alternative version of the 1980’s based on the astonishingly beautiful artwork of Simon Stålenhag:

Tales from the Loop - Simon Stålenhag

The enigmatic Loop (some form of experimental particle accelerator) has been built around the kids’ hometown, which has subsequently become plagued by any number of fantastical oddities which will draw the children into all sorts of trouble as they investigate their mysteries.

HOW I USE THEM

As I’ve described in the past, I keep a copy of the system cheat sheet behind my GM screen for quick reference and also provide copies for all of the players. Of course, I also keep at least one copy of the rulebook available, too. But my goal with the cheat sheets is to consolidate information and eliminate book look-ups: Finding something in a couple of pages is a much faster process than paging through hundreds of pages in the rulebook.

The organization of information onto each page of the cheat sheet should, hopefully, be fairly intuitive. The division of pages is mostly arbitrary.

PAGE 1: A visual reference for the pieces of technology known to the public in the alternative history of the Loop – magnetrine vehicles, robots, and Loop surface stations.

PAGE 2: All the basic mechanical structure of the game. Some may be surprised by the inclusion of the Principles of the Loop and The Mystery in this position of primary importance, but although the game falls short in actually realizing the structured experience of Apocalypse World (something I will perhaps talk about at greater length at some future date), I think it is nevertheless true that following the Principles and the Mystery is essential for making Tales from the Loop work as a game.

PAGE 3: Primarily the advanced rules associated with specific skill uses. I’ve seen (both firsthand and through various secondary reports) a lot of these rules get glanced over by groups playing the game, but here, too, I think understanding and implementing the very specific structures the game offers here (particularly what I refer to as the “Question and Tinker” mechanics) are essential. (And if you’re not using bonus effects whenever possible – particularly in carrying their effects forward into the next beat of the scenario – you’re really fighting the system more often than not.)

WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED

These cheat sheets are not designed to be a quick start packet: They’re really useful as a tool for an experienced player teaching the game to new players, but you’ll find it really difficult to learn the game from scratch by just reading through them. (They are an adjunct to the core rulebook, not a replacement.)

You also won’t find character creation rules here.

MAKING A GM SCREEN

These cheat sheets can also be used in conjunction with a modular, landscape-oriented GM screen (like the ones you can buy here or here).

Personally, I use a four-panel screen and use reverse-duplex printing in order to create sheets that I can tape together and “flip up” to reveal additional information behind them. Since there’s really only two pages of mechanical information for Tales from the Loop, that’s not really necessary, of course. I’d suggest slipping a map of the kids’ hometown into your third panel. If you’ve got a fourth panel, you could even drop your scenario notes in there (which I’ve found can fit comfortably as a series of bulletpoints on a single sheet of paper).

Tales from the Loop

Technoir - System Cheat Sheet

(click for PDF)

I’ve done several of these cheat sheets now, but for those who haven’t seen them before: I frequently prep cheat sheets for the RPGs I run. These summarize all the rules for the game — from basic action resolution to advanced combat options. It’s a great way to get a grip on a new system and, of course, it also provides a valuable resource at the table for both the GMs and the players. (For more information on the procedure I follow when prepping these cheat sheets, click here.)

These cheat sheets for Technoir, a cyberpunk RPG with two incredibly clever mechanics:

First, instead of traditional ability scores, characters have Verbs. They use these Verbs to push Adjectives onto a target. So instead of making an attack roll and inflicting 15 points of damage, they’ll use Shoot to make their target Bloody. Or Winged. Or Lamed. Or Ruined. Or Shattered. Or…. well, anything that follows logically from the action they’re attempting. The beauty of the system is that it allows you to create very specific effects in the context of the game world, and it can do fluidly in any arena.

Second, an incredibly rich set of plot map mechanics which, when combined with the game’s Transmissions, allow an almost infinite amount of gameplay within a given setting with minimal or no prep.

I’ve written about Technoir a number of times here on the Alexandrian. Whether you’re familiar with the game or not, you may enjoy checking some of them out:

Technoir: Sequences vs. Skill Challenges
Technoir and the Three Clue Rule
Technoir and Smart Prep
Technoir and PvP
Technoir: The Untouched Core
Untested Technoir: Fleeting Relationships
Technoir + Vornheim Contacts

HOW I USE THEM

I keep a copy of the system cheat sheet for quick reference and I also provide copies for all of my players. Of course, I also keep at least one copy of the rulebook available, too. But my goal with the cheat sheets is to summarize all of the rules for the game. This consolidation of information eliminates book look-ups: Finding something in a half dozen or so pages is a much faster process than paging through hundreds of pages in the rulebook.

The sheets for Technoir are fairly straightforward:

PAGE 1: This page contains the entire action resolution mechanic of the game, including rules for sequences and examples of common attacks. You’ll be looking at this page about 95% of the time that you’re playing.

PAGE 2: This page plays clean-up. It includes the Recovery rules. It also includes a quick reference for the equipment tags relating to the Interface and Links. And a Favors reference.

PAGE 3: A GM-only page summarizing the plot map mechanics.

Although this cheat sheet replaces some of the functionality of the Technoir Player’s Guide, that booklet can still be useful (particularly during character creation) by listing the Training Programs, equipment, and relationship adjectives used during character creation. Alternatively, you can print, in booklet format, multiple copies of the core equipment guide (pages 40-49 of the core rulebook). I’ll also print off a single sheet with a list of all the relationship adjectives in a large font (which can be passed around during character creation so that entries can be crossed off as they’re used).

I’ll also print out a reference to all the connections (and the favors they offer) in the current transmission on a single sheet of paper. This, again, facilitates quick and easy character creation without having to swap books around.

MAKING A GM SCREEN

I don’t actually use a GM screen when I’m running Technoir, but these cheat sheets have been designed with the same format of all my cheat sheets so that they can be used in conjunction with a modular, landscape-oriented GM screen (like the ones you can buy here or here).

Technoir

 

Eclipse Phase - System Cheat Sheet

(click for PDF)

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I frequently prep system cheat sheets for the RPGs I run. These summarize all the rules for the game — from basic action resolution to advanced combat options. It’s a great way to get a grip on a new system and, of course, it also provides a valuable resource at the game table for both the GM and the players. (For more information on the methods I use for prepping these sheets, click here.)

This particular set of cheat sheets was designed for Eclipse Phase. It should be noted that these cheat sheets aren’t designed to serve as a quick start packet: They’re designed to be a comprehensive reference for someone who has read the rulebook and will almost certainly prove wholly insufficient for teaching you the game. (Although they do serve as a valuable adjunct reference if you’re teaching someone the game.)

VERSION 2

A couple years ago I posted a system cheat sheet for Eclipse Phase. At the time, I was still designing my system cheat sheets primarily to serve as packets of reference material. As a result, the sheets were designed to be printed in portrait orientation. Shortly thereafter, I began experimenting with incorporating the sheets into my GM screen, using a restickable glue stick to create a Post-It-like bond for attaching the pages to the Eclipse Phase GM Screen.

As I discussed in On the Use of GM Screens, however, I prefer landscape screens and I now use a customizable screen. As a result, I started using landscape formatting for my cheat sheets, with an eye towards using them in the screen. This has proven to be a huge success, and I’ve also found that the landscape format is conducive to better, tighter organization of the material as well.

I’ve now revisited my Eclipse Phase sheets and converted them to a landscape formatting (along with several other improvements and corrections. If you still want a copy of the original, portrait-oriented sheets, you can find them here.

WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED

The most notable absence from these cheat sheets are what I refer to as “character option chunks” (for reasons discussed here). So you won’t find psi sleights or the effects of specific nanodrugs listed here.

HOW I USE THEM

I keep a copy of these cheat sheets behind my GM screen for quick reference and also place a half dozen copies in the center of the table for the players to grab as needed. The information included is meant to be as comprehensive as possible; although rulebooks are also available, my goal is to minimize the amount of time people spend referencing the rulebook: Finding something in the 14 pages of the cheat sheet is a much faster process than paging through a 400 page rulebook. And, once you’ve found it, processing the streamlined information on the cheat sheet will (hopefully) also be quicker.

The organization of information onto each page of the cheat sheet should, hopefully, be fairly intuitive. The actual sequencing of pages (combat before hacking, hacking before psi) is mostly arbitrary. The sheets as they currently exist have been tweaked several times based on actual play experience.

PAGE 1 – BASIC MECHANICS: Most of the stuff on this page should become irrelevant fairly quickly because players are going to rapidly memorize it through play. The information in “Your Muse and You” is more verbose and advisory than the sort of material I normally include in a system cheat sheet, but after a few sessions I found that new players were routinely under-utilizing their muses. Adding this chunk of material significantly improved this. The Common AI stat blocks also facilitate muse usage,but are generally a useful reference for a world filled with AI agents.

PAGE 2 – APTITUDES / SKILLS: A generally useful reference for any system (particularly one with this many different, overlapping skills). I use the Learned Skill Ranges reference for quick-generating NPC stat blocks (using a method I’ll probably end up sharing here at the Alexandrian at some point in the near future).

PAGE 3-4 – COMBAT REFERENCE: For new players, you can skip over the advanced options on the second page easily enough. (This is also a great example of the advantages of the landscape layout over the portrait layout: This same information took 3 pages in the original version of the cheat sheet and was considerably less user friendly.)

PAGE 5 – HEALING: I wrote in my notes for the original version of the cheat sheets that I wanted to include information for medichines, nano-bandages, and repair spray (the ubiquitous equipment used for healing), but didn’t want to spill the information onto multiple pages. All that information now fits on a single page.

PAGE 6 – MESH / BOTS / SYNTHS / VEHICLES: The new layout allowed for a major consolidation of material here. (The AI stat block for bots/vehicles has been moved to the Common AI stat blocks on the first page.)

PAGE 7 – HACKING / SECURITY: Three pages of information reduced to two pages, plus I was able to add a Software reference.

PAGE 8 – REPUTATION / SOCIAL NETWORK: I think this page may have actually worked better in the portrait layout.

PAGE 9 – RESLEEVING:

PAGE 10 – PSI / STRESSFUL SITUATIONS: One of the major oversights on the original sheets were the guidelines for Stressful Situations. (Which meant that my early EP players were getting off very lightly when confronted with horrific things!)

PAGE 11 – MISCELLANEOUS: What it says on the tin.

A SIMPLER SET

If you’re looking for a quick introduction to the system for new players, here’s what I recommend:

  • Page 1: Basic Mechanics (tell them to report test results as “# out of #”, for example “I rolled 32 out of 65”)
  • Page 3: Basic Combat (emphasize how valuable combat modifiers are)
  • Page 5: Health and Healing (make sure they understand wound/trauma thresholds; you can’t trust players with their own bookkeeping until they do)
  • Page 6: Basic Mesh usage (emphasize how valuable Research tests are)
  • Page 8: Reputation / Social Networks (grokking this is like half the battle in understanding how the Eclipse Phase universe fundamentally works)

For this approach to work, you’ll want to avoid PCs that are focused on jamming, hacking, or psi. That’ll be very limiting in a long-term campaign, unfortunately, so you might want to start with a couple of one-shots to build up system familiarity. Or, alternatively, set aside time with the specific players interested in those areas to review those rules.

There is also, of course, setting information that you’ll want to pass on. I recommend 10 Things You Should Know About Eclipse Phase as a good way for accomplishing that.

MAKING A GM SCREEN

As mentioned, these cheat sheets can also be used in conjunction iwth a modular, landscape-oriented GM screen (like the ones you can buy here or here).

Personally, I use a four-panel screen and use reverse-duplex printing in order to create sheets that I can tape together and “flip up” to reveal additional information behind them.

The Eclipse Phase: System Cheat Sheet is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Star Wars: Force and Destiny - Cheat Sheet

(click here for PDF)

I routinely prep these cheat sheets for RPGs that I run or play and share them here on the Alexandrian. But for those who haven’t seen them before: These summarize all the rules for the game — from basic action resolution to advanced combat mechanics. It’s a great way to get a grip on a new system and, of course, it also provides a valuable resource at the table for both the GM and the players. (For more information on the procedure I follow when prepping these cheat sheets, click here.)

This particular set of cheat sheets has been prepared for Fantasy Flight Games’ Star Wars: Force and Destiny roleplaying game. Force and Destiny is the third game in a trilogy of Star Wars games that FFG has produced — the others being Edge of Empire and Age of Rebellion. There are a few minor differences between the games, but they’re 99% identical and you should find that these cheat sheets prove valuable regardless of which system you’re running with only a few minor changes.

I’m a fairly lazy fellow, though, so I’m not going to be making those adjustments for the other games. In order to make it easier to customize these sheets if you’re playing one of the other games, I’m also making the original Microsoft Word document available:

Force and Destiny – System Cheat Sheet (Word)

You’ll also need these fonts:

Fantasy Flight Games - Star Wars Fonts

(FFG Star Wars Fonts)

(Without the fonts, the Word file is just going to look really, really weird.)

Over the next couple days I’ll also be posting a review of FFG’s Star Wars games and possibly a short scenario I designed for Force and Destiny.

HOW I USE THEM

I keep a copy of the system cheat sheet behind my GM screen for quick reference and I also provide copies for all of my players. Of course, I also keep at least one copy of the rulebook available, too. But my goal with the cheat sheets is to summarize all of the rules for the game. This consolidation of information eliminates book look-ups: Finding something in a half dozen or so pages is a much faster process than paging through hundreds of pages in the rulebook.

The organization of information onto each page of the cheat sheet is designed to be fairly intuitive. The actual sequencing of the pages is mostly arbitrary (although topics are obviously grouped together if they require multiple pages):

PAGE 1: Fantasy Flight’s Star Wars RPGs use a lot of symbols. A lot of symbols. So those are all summarize here, along with the basic difficulty tables, and the core check mechanics. Heart of the system, basically. New players will need to know all of this.

PAGE 2: The core of the combat mechanics. New players will need the left column and the right column. For the maneuvers listed in the middle column, you’ll also need to discuss Move. I also recommend discussing Aim and Taking Cover (without which, PCs are going to have a really rough time of it in combat).

PAGE 3: Advanced combat options and the Recovery rules. You’ll want to include a brief coverage of the Medicine skill in your initial system briefing. (Players always want to know how they can get their hit points back.)

PAGE 4: This page has all of the effects you can purchase using advantage, triumph, threat, and despair for both personal combat and vehicle combat. This is an oft-referenced page and you’ll probably find yourself using it more than anything else in the cheat sheets.

PAGE 5: All the disparate Force mechanics brought together in one place. This can be thought of largely as the Force and Destiny specific page. It’s the one you’ll want to swap out if you’re playing one of the other games (or supplement if you’re combining all of them together).

PAGE 6: Equipment & Environment. ‘Nuff said.

PAGES 7-8: All of the rules for Vehicle Combat. Took a lot of experimentation to figure out how to organize this information so that (a) it would all fit on two pages and (b) players could instinctively know where to look for something without a lot of practice. (For the most part, players can mostly focus on the first page, while the GM will need to more frequently reference the second. The exception are the damage and repair rules.)

PAGES 9-10: Critical Injury and Vehicle Critical Hit tables. Also ’nuff said.

PAGE 11: Skill Guide. This collects all of the guidelines given for using skills and resolving skill checks (except for skill uses that are summarized elsewhere in the cheat sheet, like using Medicine to treat injuries). Incredibly useful when adjudicating actions.

PAGE 12: Item Qualities & Skill List. Kind of a final catch-all. I kept trying to get the Skill List onto the first couple of pages, but it just wouldn’t fit. No system cheat sheet would be complete without a complete skill list, though: When I’m running a system for the first time, the biggest struggle is figuring out what the skills are so that I can call for the right skill checks. Much easier to just take ’em all in at a glance.

MAKING A GM SCREEN

These cheat sheets can also be used in conjunction with a modular, landscape-oriented GM screen (like the ones you can buy here or here).

Personally, I use a four-panel screen and use reverse-duplex printing in order to create sheets that I can tape together and “flip up” to reveal additional information behind them.

  • Panel 1: Basic Mechanics (with Skill Guide and Skill List behind it)
  • Panel 2: Combat (with Combat Options/Recovery and Attack Effects behind it)
  • Panel 3: The Force (with Starships and Vehicles and Vehicle Combat Checks behind it)
  • Panel 4: Equipment & Environment (with Critical Injuries and Critical Hits behind it)

Your mileage may vary here. I’ve also experimented with:

  • Panel 3: Starships and Vehicles (with Vehicle Combat Checks and Equipment/Environment behind it)
  • Panel 4: The Force (with Critical Injuries and Critical Hits behind it)

Star Wars: Force and Destiny - Fantasy Flight Games

FFG STAR WARS – FURTHER READING
Review of Force and Destiny
Force and Destiny: System Cheat Sheet
FFG Star Wars: The Big Fix
Star Wars: Red Peace

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