I’ve been playing with the OneDice Pulp system by Cakebread & Walton
OneDice is a light, simple system in which everything that happens is resolved by a single roll of one six-sided die. (hence the name). There are a couple of OneDice books available for various genres.
I won’t go into too much detail on the rules, but they’re pretty light and can probably be picked up quickly.
Characters have 3 Abilities – Strong, Clever, and Quick (Weird is an additional choice for super-powered characters). You get 7 points to assign to each item.
Health, Defense, and Move are all calculated from the Abilities
There’s a list of skills. Players can assign 6 points to various skills.
There’s a list of talents – exceptional abilities – that the players can choose from.
Running the game is pretty simple – when undertaking the action, you roll a single six sided die and adds his appropriate ability score and skill level. If you equal or exceed the difficulty level of the task, you succeed. If you’re competing against someone else, your opponent will make a similar roll. The high value is the winner.
The GM’s section starts off with the standard “What is Pulp?” intro. It’s short, just a few pages, but does hit all of the high points of the pulp genre. It’s probably not great for people new to pulp, but it’s a decent overview.
The rest of the section contains more practical GM material, discussing how to set up hazards, assign experience, run chases, and a few other optional rules. There’s also a list of monsters and other opponents, and a list of 1930’s style vehicles.
The Pulp Earth chapter is list of possible settings for pulp games. Essentially it’s just a list of possible places and locations for adventures. All of the usual suspects are here – the South Seas, Antarctica, Lost Worlds, Hollow Earth, etc. Each location has a few sentences describing possible scenario ideas for each, none of it in any great detail. If you know pulp, nothing here is new, but it’s probably a good resource for newer GMs.
Most of the book is geared towards a 1930’s Hero Pulp style of game, but they do provide a few alternate worlds (“skins”, as the book put it). Each has a list of creatures, equipment, and some alternate rules. Note that all of these are short, only a few pages each.
There’s a Horror section with detailed Sanity Rules and a list of monsters.
There’s a Science Fiction section with some new skills and creatures. It aims to replicate Buck Rodgers\Flash Gordon style science fiction.
The Sword & Sorcery section – essentially just a list of monsters. It briefly names a few fictional kingdoms, but it’s nothing you couldn’t make up on the spot.
Basically, I’m favor of this book. It’s clearly written, and the rules, though very light, are pretty logical and easy to remember. Though none of the setting information is detailed in any way, there are a lot of stats for monsters, characters, and vehicles ready to go. I wouldn’t run a long term campaign with OneDice, but I think it’s great for quick games and one-shots.
One other plus for me – the book is small (6 x9″), and only 100 pages. It’s easy to throw it in a a bag and run it as a one shot. It’s also nice not to need any special dice.