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Monday, August 6, 2012

PDQ Week, Part 1: Truth and Justice

So it's been a while since I've managed to make regular posts here. I moved last month and with the amount of junk me and my wife have we've needed a month just to get mostly unpacked. There's still lots of work to do before things are actually done but we've also reached the point where we're fine just shoving lots of things into our spare room and dealing with them when we need to. So, I'm looking to get back into a pattern of regular postings here. That brings me to the PDQ system, readers of the blog know I'm a fan of the system and a recent thread over at RPG.net made me realize that I haven't given it much attention recently, certainly not as much as it deserves. 

Attentive readers may also remember that I'm working on an RPG of my own: Battle Royale. Well...I'm working on several actually (DICE and the Drive System are still alive somewhere in the back of my brain) but Battle Royale is going to be my first, serious publication. It's also going to be a PDQ-licensed product, using my own special blend of various PDQ versions to create something that will hopefully be quite a lot of fun. I haven't actually talked much about Battle Royale here in the past mostly because it's been quite hard to find the time to actually give the project the attention it deserves so it's moved on and off the backburner for a couple of years now. 

This has changed recently though. A combination of a new job and a fresh dose of inspiration has spurred things forward significantly in the past several months and now the game is well and truly approaching completion. Well...approaching the final stages of completion at least. We've still got some editing phases to go and we'll see how much reworking it needs. Here's hoping it's not too riddled with flaws. 

So, in the interest of picking up the posting pace here at Zombie Toast, showing some love to the PDQ system and providing some extra info on my upcoming book Battle Royale I'm declaring it PDQ Week here at Zombie Toast. I'm going to provide some info on the different PDQ games out there and help share what the system has to offer. These aren't exactly reviews, you can go ahead and assume that I'm recommending all of these products, they're more just info dumps to help pimp a relatively obscure system (on an extremely obscure blog...but that's a different issue). In addition I'm going to provide some of my own house rules, tweaks and concepts for each of the system. 

So, for our first entry in PDQ week.
EDIT: I realized that I neglected to provide some important info. Readers unfamiliar with PDQ may not realize that the "core" rules are freely available online so anyone intrigued by anything they're reading here during PDQ week can check out the basic rules HERE

This is where it all started for me, Truth and Justice was the first PDQ game I picked up and in fact it was the first RPG that has ever gotten me really excited about the super-hero genre. Although I'm certainly a fan of certain super-heroes comics are not the primary focus of my nerd-dom and my previous experiences with superhero level games has always left me rather unimpressed. Truth and Justice not only impressed me, it made me want to actually play in a genre that was always near the low end of my interest scale. 

I ran into Truth and Justice through an ad on the webcomic Something Positive, as Randy Milholland is one of the primary artists for the game. Truth and Justice definitely belongs in the "crazy pajamas" (to use the game's own term) subset of superheroes. It's system is designed to encourage the many, glorious cliches that fill the genre and it's not ashamed to leap from rooftop to rooftop in skintight spandex. 

The PDQ system is what really sets Truth and Justice apart from many other superhero RPGs. Although T&J provides an impressive list of "example" powers it is still very much a "DIY" system where characters create their own powers to their liking rather than choosing from a set list (which inevitably doesn't include many of the powers you might be looking for). The sample powers and the Truth and Justice Master Chart provides a solid, mechanical "skeleton" to let you build your powers without being intrusive or limiting. Powers aren't the only place where PDQ's DIY aesthetic really shines, you've also got your "mundane" Qualities which are completely player-determined. PDQ's Qualities are more than just a set of skills or attributes, they can provide history and relationships that affect the game in a variety of ways. Why just be a "Martial Artist" when you can be a "Ex-Scorpion Clan Assassin"? 

T&J also shows off PDQ's flexibility by featuring some mechanics which are perfectly suited to the superhero genre. Namely you've got the Hero Point system which serves as both the "luck/fate" system and also the experience point system. This allows heroes to advance (by increasing their store of hero points) without actually buying or increasing new powers (since most superheroes have a relatively static set of powers). There's also the Stunt mechanic, which allows heroes to use their powers in new, spontaneously creative ways. Use your fire-bolt as a crude rocket to jet through the sky or your ice powers to "see" by sensing body heat and so on. 

So...yeah, I really like Truth and Justice. You should check it out. 

Truth and Justice, Sharp Edition

So, I know I was just gushing over T&J but that doesn't mean I don't use some house-rules when I play it. Truth and Justice is great but it is one of the earliest PDQ games out there and there have been a lot of really great ideas introduced to the system since it was first created. A lot of those ideas are present in PDQ# (also known as PDQ Sharp) so here's my unofficial conversion of Truth and Justice to PDQ#. 

Character Creation
  • Name: Of course you've got your name and any alias or codenames you'll use. 
  • Core Elements: Each hero has 4 Core Elements which are their most important traits. 
    • Past: A Good [+2] Quality related to your hero's background or origin. 
    • Motivation: A Good [+2] Quality which serves as your hero's primary drive and which keeps them going in the face of adversity. Motivations act as a kind of "inverted" weakness. If you attempt to go against your Motivation you must overcome it's TN in a mental Challenge. However, if you choose to immediately spring into action you not only can use your Motivation's MOD but you also gain a Hero Die. 
    • Defining Quality: A Good [+2] Quality which is what your hero considers his most important trait (not necessarily his highest or most impressive trait however). 
    • Weakness: An unranked trait which represents some interesting flaw or foible of your hero. When faced with your Weakness your hero receives a Hero Die.
  • Additional Qualities: Each character receives 4 Quality Ranks. One rank can be exchanged for a Good [+2] Quality or used to increase an existing Quality by one rank, up to Master [+6]. A Quality Rank can also be "broken down" into 2 Technique Points (see below).
  • Powers: The "super" bit of the Super Hero. Each character gets 6 Power Points to purchase Powers. A Power costs a number of points equal to it's MOD (so an Expert [+4] Power costs 4 points). Average [0] Powers are worth 1 point each. Alternatively a Power Point can be exchanged for two Quality Ranks that can be spent normally (see above). 
  •  Techniques: Each hero receives 5 Technique Points. These points can be used as follows: A Technique chained to a Quality or Power (2 points), a Technique chained to your Defining Quality (1 Point) or an unchained Technique (3 points).
  • Hero Dice: Each character starts with 5 Hero Dice and 10 MAX (see below for rules on Hero Dice). 
  • Miscellaneous: Everything else. D'ya jump around in spandex, skulk about in a trench coat or just sport a pair of indestructible shorts? Provide any important information on your origin, background and life that isn't already covered by your Qualities.
Hero Dice
The standard Truth and Justice rules use Hero Points for providing players control over their own fortune and helping them influence the setting and use their MAXimum Hero Points to buy new abilities. I won't be reprinting those rules here (that's why you go buy the book), but in T&J# Hero Points are replaced with Hero Dice. These function just like Style Dice from PDQ#, however they can also be used to power Stunts. There is no Box or Bowl, a player can simply hold a number of Hero Dice at once equal to their MAX.

Expanded Intensity Chart 
PDQ# expanded the PDQ Master Chart, so here is an equally expanded Truth and Justice Intensity chart.


  1. I've seen PDQ mentioned here and there on a couple of blogs, but never with enough stuff about it to make me want to dive in. You'll be pleased to know, I don't mean this in a sycophantic way, you've just got me to search it out and download it. Cheers man, looking forward to the rest of the week.

  2. Excellent, I'm glad I managed to make a convert. Working on the next post now, let's see if I can keep up the momentum.