Freedom Fighters (1986)
Publisher: Fantasy Games Unlimited
Copyright: (c) 1986 J. Andrew Keith, cover and interior art (c) 1986 William H. Keith Jr.
Advancement: Skills, percentile-based
Features: hundreds of defined skills, trait and motivation scores, verbal interaction resolution system
Freedom Fighters is another Fantasy Games Unlimited title from the mid-80s that has a lot of interesting ideas and concepts to explore. It was sold as a typical boxed set with rule books, dice, and a sample adventure.
While nearly all FGU games featured highly detailed and relatively complex rule systems, this one definitely stands out even in that crowd. The sheer volume of detail packed into the two books that make up the rules, a total of about 180 pages, rivals that of systems with 2 to 3 times the page count… in part because only a handful of pages (maybe a dozen total) are dedicated to setting and plot options. This was intentional: the setting was left to the GM to design.
As might be expected, the character sheet is as detailed as the system itself. Certain sections could have been streamlined on the official character sheet (for example, allowing skills to be recorded as they were developed, instead of listing almost all of them on the sheet.) The pages presented here don’t even represent the entirety of the sheets provided in the rules: there is also a character creation worksheet, a two-page “combat sheet”, and a separate page to track possessions and wealth. This system is all about the details.
The game incorporates a larger than normal number of base attributes, in keeping with the basic design philosophy. 13 attributes with a normal range of 0-25 (generated with a 2d10 roll, then potentially modified by randomly-generated Talents later in the process) define the basic capabilities of each character.
In addition, there are 10 personality traits that a 2-20 score is also generated for, based on adding a d10 roll to a player chosen value between 1 and 10. These scores are meant to represent the basic personality of the character: the traits include such concepts as Ego, Greed, Integrity, and Sophistication. These scores mainly come into play in the Verbal Interaction section of the rules, of course.
Additionally, a character may have 1 or more Motivations. These are a bit like specialized Personality traits: a score is generated detailing the level of favor/disdain. Phobias are a subset of Motivation for which no score is generated, but the effect is obvious. Normal motivations run a wide range of possibilities: religion, children, eating, animals, and curiosity are all on the provided list, and players are encouraged to create their own as well. These scores can significantly impact the character: for example, a low motivation/tolerance score related to religion, for example, locks the character out of selecting a religious career as part of his background, while a high score forces a Will check to avoid selecting a religious career at that time.
The character creation process is another example of the concept of generating the character by determining past experience. Players select from a dozen or so careers, each with it’s own set of skills, possible equipment and wealth, ranks and promotion opportunities, and so on. The number of years spent in each career is determined semi-randomly, with the process continuing until the character has been brought up to his initially selected/determined starting age.
Freedom Fighters has a fairly detailed combat system, of course, to go along with the level of detail provided for the rest of the game. Rounds are 3 seconds long, and broken into 10 phases (declaration, melee, movement, random firing, reaction firing, and so on). The system does use a basic hit point concept, but each hit is also tested on a wound/injury chart for the hit location to see if additional effects are suffered. There are also rules for morale checks and panic, suppression fire, and so on.
Verbal Resolution System
The Verbal Resolution system is one of the most unique elements of the Freedom Fighters design. Many other games have met or even exceeded the level of detail of this system in the arena of combat and skills, but in terms of attempting to provide an objective system for resolving social interactions of various types, this game stands apart. The game details 21 different interaction types that a character might use in a social situation, ranging from threaten and blackmail to flatter and seduce, and provides a basic resolution system for each of those types of interactions, each tied to various skills, traits, and attributes, as well as a base “attitude” value determined for each character.
It is quite simply the most complete attempt to quantify social interaction in a game system that I’ve ever run across. It was probably overkill for a pen-and-paper RPG, but as inspiration for a MMORPG, it could have some significant value.
Obviously this is just a brief overview of the game, and I haven’t even really gone into much detail on the resolution system (usually d100+modifiers, looking for values less than skill percentage) or similar core mechanics. It’d take days to fully describe all the little details and subsystems, to be honest.
There is precious little information out on the Web about the game, but it can still be obtained through a few hobby shops and used game resellers, and a couple of the RPG indexes on the web have a little detail as well. I did find a couple of places that apparently offer an e-book version (pdf format, usually) of the rules for sale, as well, but I hesitate to make any assumptions as to the legality of any specific site, so I leave that to the interested browser to pursue at their leisure.