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Five by Five 2.5 (screen) .pdf



Original filename: Five by Five 2.5 (screen).pdf
Title: Five by Five (version 2.5) - Screen / Kindle
Author: Jeff Moore

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Five by Five (fīv-bī-fīv)
adj.
1. In radio communication on a scale of 1 to 5
measuring signal strength and clarity, "Five by
Five" indicates the best possible strength and
clarity of signal.
2. Condition or state of being the best it can
be; perfect. (slang)
3. An original game system and RPG Toolkit by
Jeff Moore.
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Table of Contents
Role-playing......................................................................3
Character Creation..........................................................4
Task Resolution................................................................7
Six is Trump!......................................................................7
The 5x5 Roll......................................................................8
Special Values (0 and –5)................................................9
Descriptor Values..........................................................10
Rank Shifts......................................................................12
Rolling Doubles..............................................................12
Experience and Advancement.....................................13
XP Awards.......................................................................14
Combat............................................................................15
Turn Order......................................................................15
Stealing Initiative...........................................................16
Making an Attack...........................................................16
Dodging an Attack.........................................................17
Taking Damage...............................................................17
Trump Damage..............................................................18
Healing.............................................................................18
Harming (failed heal checks)........................................19
Weapons and Armor.....................................................20
Exclusive Actions............................................................22
Running the Game.........................................................25
Optional Rule: Advanced Descriptors........................26
Rank Shift Table (Complete)........................................27
Magic Spells and Super Powers...................................28
Optional Rule: Aspects.................................................29

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Role-playing
The radio analogy is a good one when trying to
conceptualize a role-playing game. Roleplaying is a lot like the old time radio
adventure serials that people listened to in the
days before television. In a radio drama, all the
action was spoken or described and the
visualization of the action took place in the
imaginations of the actors and the audience.
In a role-playing game, the players are both
actors and audience. The acting is
improvisational, a player doesn't know what
they are going to say or do before it happens.
One special player called the Game Manager
(or GM) helps to control the flow of the
improvisations by providing impetus and
situations for the other players. By reacting to
the situations presented by the GM, the
players and the GM work together to forge an
adventure story.
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Character Creation
Each player (who is not the GM) will need to
create a character to represent their role in
the adventure story. This character is an
adventure hero appropriate to the setting and
the type of adventure story that your gaming
group wishes to experience.
Making a character is as easy as 1, 2, 3.
1) Discuss the setting and the story back-drop
with the GM as well as the kind of characters
that might live in such a world.
2) Decide what sort of character you want to
portray in this setting and define five things
about the character. These five things are
called “Descriptors”.
Descriptors are things like skills and talents
that detail what the character is good at doing
and help to define the character's role in the
upcoming adventure.
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Ordinary things … average skills that your
character does just as well as the next guy,
have no place on a Five by Five character
sheet. Everything average and ordinary is
given a default value of 0 (untrained) and
doesn't need to be further defined. It's only
the exceptional and important things that we
care about here.
In addition to the five descriptors that they
choose for their characters, every character is
assigned one additional descriptor: “Hit
Points” (HP).
HP is the amount of damage or life loss that a
character can suffer before being in danger of
dying.
3) Arrange your six Descriptors (including HP)
from the most important to the least
important for your character.
The Descriptor that you decide is most
important for your character has a value of 6.
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The next two Descriptors have a value of 4.
The next two Descriptors have a value of 2.
Your final Descriptor has a value of –5.
For your HP, add 10 to the value listed above.
(Setting HP as your least important descriptor
will give you only 5 HP and produce a very
fragile character.)
Completing Character Creation
Following the steps above you can create any
character for any adventure game setting in
minutes.
All that remains is to give your new character a
name, and outfit them with some starting
equipment and you are ready for adventure!

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Task Resolution
Task resolution is done by rolling dice and
comparing the result to the value of a
descriptor that is most relevant to the task.
Roll 2 six sided dice. Multiply the two dice
together. Example: a roll of [2] and [5] on two
dice will produce a result of 10.
If this result is equal to or less than the value
of the descriptor related to the task, the task
is completed successfully.
Six is Trump!
6's (sixes) are trump! They override the value
of your roll and always indicate success! As you
roll 2 dice to attempt an action, if either one of
the dice rolled show a [6], don't bother to
multiply the dice together. The result of the
roll is trumped by the [6] and the action being
attempted is automatically successful.
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Example:
Larry is rolling to impress his date with his
cooking. He rolls against his “Amateur Chef”
descriptor which has a value of 4. Rolling he
gets a [2] and [6] which when multiplied
together equals 12.
12 is higher than Larry's descriptor value of 4
which would normally indicate a failed action
check, however, because one of the two dice
rolled shows a [6] the result of the roll is
trumped. This means that the result of the roll
is ignored and the action automatically
succeeds.
The 5x5 Roll
Hereafter task rolls are referred to as 5x5
(Five-by-five) rolls because the highest value
that you can roll (discounting “trumps”) is 5x5.

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Special Values
Five by Five Descriptors reference a few
special values. These values are significant
because it is not possible to produce their
value or less with a 5x5 task roll. The values
are 0 (untrained) and –5 (poor).
0 (untrained)
Anything that a character wants to do that
does not relate back to a descriptor on the
character's record sheet is considered
“untrained” and average. Every undefined task
is tested against a value of 0 (untrained).
It is not possible to roll 0 or less on a 5x5 task
roll. However, because of the trump rule,
success is still possible. To succeed at an
untrained task the player makes a 5x5 task roll
and must roll a [6] (trump) on at least one of
the dice.

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–5 (poor)
One of the character's descriptors has a value
of –5 (poor). A character's poor descriptor is
half as likely as an untrained task to succeed.
When considering the “–5” value in relation to
the 5x5 dice roll, read it as, “roll one less 5”.
That is, “roll one less die”.
To test an action with a –5 (poor) descriptor,
roll on only 1d6.
For the task to succeed, this die must come up
trump [6].
Descriptor Values
Descriptor values are –5, 0, 2, 4, 6, 9, 12 and
16. Starting characters will not have any value
higher than 6. But, values can be improved
though the course of play. Below is a closer
look at the chance of successfully performing
a task using a descriptor of a given value.
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–5 (poor) – roll a 6 on one die
1 in 6 chance 15% (16.67 actual)
0 (untrained) – roll a 6 on either of two dice
11 in 36 chance 30% (30.56 actual)
2 (novice)– roll a 2 or less (or trump) on 5x5
14 in 36 chance 40% (38.89 actual)
4 (competent)– a 4 or less (or trump) on 5x5
19 in 36 chance 50% (52.78 actual)
6 (skilled)– a 6 or less (or trump) on 5x5
23 in 36 chance 60% (63.89 actual)
9 (expert) – a 9 or less (or trump) on 5x5
26 in 36 chance 70% (72.22 actual)
12 (master) – a 12 or less (or trump) on 5x5
30 in 36 chance 80% (83.33 actual)
16 (legendary) – a 16 or less (or trump) on 5x5
33 in 36 chance 90% (91.67 actual)
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Rank Shifts
The GM should feel free to give a character a
temporary boost in a descriptor's value before
they attempt a task that's particularly easy, or
to penalize a character with a temporary
reduction of a descriptor's value for a task
that's especially difficult.
Improvements or reductions of this nature are
called “Rank Shifts.” The amount of each shift
needs to match the Descriptor value ranges
of: –5, 0, 2, 4, 6, 9, 12, and 16.
Rolling Doubles
Anyone who rolls doubles during a 5x5 check receives a
“Doubles Token”. (Use a coin or similar small object).
Before attempting any roll for which the trump rule can be
applied (5x5, damage or healing) the doubles token can be
exchanged to give that roll a double chance at trump!
This roll now receives the trump benefit on both [5] and [6]!
Each player (including the GM) can possess no more than one
Doubles token at a time.

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Experience and Advancement
As players portray the same characters from
game session to game session, the GM awards
the players with Experience Points (XP).
Players use XP like money to purchase
improvements for their characters.
To improve a Descriptor from its current value
to the value of the next higher rank costs a
number of XP equal to the value of the new
rank.
For example: to add a new Descriptor with a
value of 2 costs 2 XP; to improve a Descriptor
with a value of 2 to a value of 4 costs an
additional 4 XP; etc.
Master and legendary Descriptor ranks (12 and
16) should be rare. A character cannot have
more than 2 Descriptors with a value of 12 and
may have only 1 Descriptor with a value of 16.

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Players cannot improve their poor (–5)
Descriptor, but they can remove a poor
Descriptor from their character sheet by
trading it for a different poor Descriptor.
Role play should be involved in overcoming
one weakness and in gaining a new one. Such
an exchange needs to be approved by the GM
and costs 5 XP.
When improving HP remember that HP =
Descriptor value + 10, so reduce HP by 10
before determining the cost to improve it.
XP Awards
Each game session that a player attends and
plays their character is worth 1 XP for their
character.
Optionally the GM may award players an
additional XP for a particularly difficult game
session or for reaching the end of a long story
arch that spanned several game sessions.
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Combat
Participants in a combat are divided into sides.
All GM controlled characters comprise one
side, while the individual characters controlled
by the players comprise the other side.
Turn Order
Normally the players take their turns after all
characters on the GM's side have taken action.
Standard Turn Order is:
GM controlled characters go first.
Player Characters go second.
However, particularly skilled or lucky
characters can sometimes slip in front of the
GM and take their turn first. This is called
“stealing initiative”.

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Stealing Initiative
At the beginning of combat before the GM's
side takes a turn, each player rolls to “steal
initiative”. This is a5x5 task roll and its success
or failure is determined like any other test.
A player who successfully steals initiative acts
before the GM takes a turn.
The combat sequence becomes:
Player Characters that steal initiative go first.
GM controlled characters go second.
Remaining Player Characters go third.
Making an Attack
Attacking requires a roll “to Hit” the target.
This is a 5x5 task roll. If successful, the target is
hit, but may have the opportunity to Dodge.

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Dodging an Attack
Once per round a character can make a skill
test to try to Dodge a successful attack against
them. As this can only be tried once each
round of combat, a character who is outnumbered will be at a great disadvantage. If
the Dodge test is successful the attack is
negated, otherwise, the target of the attack
suffers damage.
Taking Damage
When hit by a successful attack, the target
suffers base damage of 1d6.
Weapons have a Damage Bonus (DB) that can
increase base damage and adds to the 1d6 die
roll, while armor has an Armor Value (AV)
which will reduce the total damage dealt.
Damage = 1d6 + DB of Attacking Weapon –
AV of Defending Armor.
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Damage and Trump
If the damage die comes up trump [6], roll the
die again and increase the damage bonus by
+5. Consecutive trump rolls are cumulative. So,
if the second roll is also trump, roll again, this
time adding +10 to the final roll result, etc.
Healing
A Wounded character can benefit from
healing skill checks. As many healing skill
checks can be made to restore a character to
health as needed, but each failed check
reduces a character's HP further.
On a successful Healing skill check the object
of the check recovers 1d6 lost HP. This roll is
subject to the trump rule like a Damage roll so,
if you roll trump [6] on the healing die, roll
again and add +5, etc.
All characters regain 1 HP a day through natural
recovery.
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Harming
Failed Healing Checks
If a Healing check fails, the target is “harmed”
instead, and looses 1d2 HP. (roll 1d6 : 1-3 = 1,
and 4-6 = 2.)
Harming is also subject to trump. If you roll a
[6] you must roll again. However, only increase
your result by +2 for each trump rolled rather
than the normal +5.
At 0 HP a character is unconscious but stable.
At -1 to -9 HP the character is dying. A dying
character looses 1 HP every (10 + current HP)
in minutes until they die or receive healing.
Example: A character with -1 HP will be at -2
HP in 9 minutes. At -9 HP the character has
only 1 minute left to live.
At -10 HP a character is dead.
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Weapons
Apply a Weapon's Damage Bonus (DB) each
time you inflict damage with the weapon.
DB 0 – No Weapon (untrained fist)
DB 1 – Improvised Weapons (bottle, barstool,
rock)
DB 2 – Light Weapons (knife, black jack, small
hand gun, trained fist)
DB 3 – Medium Weapons (short-sword, mace,
medium hand gun, light rifle)
DB 4 – Large Weapons (bastard sword, war
hammer, large hand gun, medium rifle)
DB 5 – Massive Weapons (claymore, battle
axe, heavy rifle)

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Armor
Armor reduces the DAMAGE from attacks by
its Armor Value (AV).
AV 0 – Scant or no clothes (boxers, lingerie)
AV -1 – Light Clothes (short sleeved shirt and
slacks, a summer dress)
AV -2 – Medium clothes (3 piece suit, autumn
wear with light jacket)
AV -3 – Heavy clothes (winter wear with
heavy coat, soft leather)
AV -4 – Light Armor (studded or hard leather
armor)
AV -5 – Medium Armor (chain or light plate)
AV -6 – Heavy Armor (heavy plate)

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Shields and off-hand daggers don't improve a
character's AV, but grant the character one
additional “Dodge” attempt each round. This
allows the character to Dodge up to two
attacks per round instead of the usual one.
Exclusive Actions
Some Descriptors improve the chance of
success when dealing with game system
specific tasks. These tasks generally focus on
combat and are considered: Exclusive Actions.
A Descriptor cannot be defined that improves
the ability of more than one Exclusive
Action. For example, “Uncanny Reflexes” could
arguably be used to improve a character's
attack, their dodge, and their steal initiative.
That makes “Uncanny Reflexes” too powerful.
The GM should require the player to narrow
the Descriptor by specifically defining which
exclusive action “Uncanny Reflexes” is meant
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to improve. The player might then decide that
his “Uncanny Reflexes” ability specifically
improves his ability to Dodge.
“Uncanny Reflexes” can still be applied to a
great many non-exclusive tasks (tasks outside
of combat), but in combat, it is used to Dodge.
Exclusive Action List
Attack:
This is the action a player declares to have
their character “hit” an enemy in combat.
Descriptors to improve a character's attack
action could include: Brawler, Hand Gun, etc.
Dodge:
This is the action a player declares after being
the successful target of an attack to eliminate
the attack and avoid taking the damage.

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Descriptors to improve a character's dodge
action could include: Danger Sense, Uncanny
Reflexes, etc.
Healing:
This action is used to help a character to
recover lost health.
Descriptors to improve a character's healing
action could include: First Aid, Paramedic, etc.
Steal Initiative:
This action is used to steal initiative during
combat enabling characters to act before their
enemies.
Descriptors to improve a character's steal
initiative action could include: Alertness,
Combat Tactics, etc.

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Running the Game
Descriptors are the bread and butter of this
game system: decide what Descriptor is best
suited to an action. Roll the value of that
Descriptor or less to succeed.
It's a simple system, but it's one that can be
easily abused. Descriptors that are too general
and might be applied to many types of tasks
are to be discouraged.
The GM should nix descriptors like: “Jack of all
trades,” or “Omniscient.” If a player picks
something like this, the GM should try to offer
alternatives that narrow things down a bit ...
perhaps “Handy-man” instead of “Jack of all
Trades,” or “Scholar” in place of “Omniscient.”
Feel free to experiment and don't be afraid to
make mistakes. If you decide after play has
commenced that a Trait is too powerful, talk it
over as a group.
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The point of this game is to facilitate
everyone's enjoyment, but not to make things
too easy. Part of being heroic and in telling
heroic stories is being able to solve problems
bigger than yourself.
Also, if a player has chosen a trait that is simply
too specific, or never gets brought into play,
allow them to exchange it for something that
they will be able to use more often.
Optional Rule: Advanced Descriptors
So far the Descriptors discussed in the rules
should be considered “Basic Descriptors.” The
rules specify that anything not defined on your
character sheet has a value of 0 (untrained)
and should be considered average. Average
(untrained) things can be accomplished with
about the same degree of success for
everyone. Roll 2d6 and if you get a trump, you
succeed. This is used for everything from
climbing a tree or driving a car to firing a gun.
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What about something that the average
person has no chance to do successfully, such
as brain surgery?
Under these optional rules, “brain surgeon”
would be an Advanced Descriptor.
Advanced Descriptors have a mandatory –2
Rank shift applied to their use.
Rank Shift Table (complete)
-

–5

0

2

4

6

9

12

16

20

25

0%

15%

30%

40%

50%

60%

70%

80%

90%

95%

100%

A rank 2 (novice) brain surgeon would have to
roll to successfully perform surgery as if he
had the Descriptor at rank –5 poor.
A rank 0 (untrained) average man off the
street has no chance to perform brain surgery
at all.
Advanced Descriptors do not cap at rank 16
and can be advanced with XP up to rank 25.
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Even with a rank 25 in Brain Surgery, the
player still rolls a 16 or less for success.
Regardless of Descriptor Rank, any task for
which the GM requests a 5x5 roll has a
maximum chance of success of 16 or less.
Magic Spells and Super Powers
If the world setting and the GM allow them,
descriptors that define special abilities, like
super powers or the ability to cast magical
spells, should be defined as Advanced
Descriptors. (Unless the world setting is such
that everyone can cast spells or has super
powers).

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Optional Rule: ASPECTS
Aspects are “Super Descriptors” that effect
everything a character does. These are broad
strokes like how smart, strong or agile a
character is. Aspects serve to compliment
existing descriptors as well as help to create
distinctions between untrained descriptors so
that every character won't approach every
untrained task in exactly the same way.
The four Aspects are:
AGILITY
The ability to control ones own body. A
character's manual dexterity, coordination,
and grace are all defined by this aspect.
BRAWN
The ability to exert force on and impact
material things. A character's strength,
muscle, and girth are all defined by this aspect.

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COGNITION
Perception and the ability to process that
which is perceived. A character's alertness,
intelligence, and memory are all defined by
this aspect.
DETERMINATION
Mental and emotional control. A character's
willpower, discipline, and confidence are all
defined by this aspect.
By default each of the four Aspects have a
rating of AVERAGE.
Like Untrained, an Aspect that is AVERAGE
defines something that is normal and has no
impact on game play.
If playing Five by Five without the Aspects
option, one could assume that all characters
possessed a rating of AVERAGE in all Aspects.

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At character creation, a player can choose to
reduce the rating of one or more Aspects to
improve the rating of another Aspect. Aspect
Ratings are:
INFERIOR
(an AVERAGE Aspect reduced one step)
AVERAGE
(beginning value of all Aspects)
SUPERIOR
(an AVERAGE Aspect increased one step)
… a player must reduce the rating of one
Aspect to INFERIOR in order to increase
another Aspect to SUPERIOR.
In addition to associating an action to a
Descriptor, all actions will also be associated
to one of the four Aspects.

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Action resolution becomes:
Decide which Descriptor applies to the action
at hand.
Use this to determine the character's base
chance of success.
Now decide which of the four Aspects the
action is based on.
If this Aspect has a rating of AVERAGE,
complete the task normally.
If this Aspect has a rating of SUPERIOR, apply
a positive rank shift bonus to the Descriptor
value before resolving the action.
If this Aspect has a rating of INFERIOR, apply a
negative rank shift penalty to the Descriptor
value before resolving the action.

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