5 Game Mechanics

Syndicate is a simple RPG system, with most rules concerning various material things, which could be hard to invent quickly. There are no exact rules available, and this chapter concentrates on general guidelines for gamemastering Syndicate.

Syndicate is an expert-GM system (or a very trusted one), because there are no exact rolls or modifiers nor combat phases, and all results are determined by the GM with his intuition and experience. If this feels difficult or the players do not accept it, find another game system or generate exact rules for all actions.

5.1 Die Rolls

Die rolls in Syndicate are not essential, but the GM may use them to help him choose a result of some action. And if needed to, even the players can be allowed to roll dice, but they must understand, that there is no exact number to be rolled; at least not in the rules.

The GM can roll a die every time he needs to make a decision about success or situation. All modifiers are given as for a standard six-sided die (d6), but the GM is completely free to roll any dice he chooses to. There is only one basic rule about all rolls:

Bigger is Better

OF course, the roll just made can be ignored, as usually, but sometimes it might give new ideas.

Example of die rolls: A player character is sneaking throught a corridor, trying to be very silent. The GM can roll a die, and if it turns to 1, the PC has probably caused some noise. I said probably, because it all depends on the PCs skills, situation etc., and perhaps the GM should then roll die again, and make his decision according to that second roll.

With initial roll of 2 or greater, no extra action is done, because sneaking like that is quite easy.

Another example: PC has just climbed to roof of the building, and the GM rolls a die (secretly, of course) to test, if he spots the video camera. The die roll is 3, so the GM chooses, according to PCs attributes and skills, that PC will spot the camera after a while, unless he does something special.

If the player had already said, that his character is looking for cameras, the die roll of 2 or more should have been automatic success in this case, and 1 for further consideration.

5.2 General Tips

5.3 Experience points

The players should be given experience points for what their characters endure. A typical amount is 1 point for each major session. Do not give too much but give something.

The experience points can be used to improve old skill and ability levels, and to buy new skills. It can also be used, in some cases, to remove disadvantages, but this must be approved by the GM. The experience points cannot be used to buy cyberware or equipment - use your money instead.

To make things a bit more realistic, the experience points can be linked to time: in order to improve, the character must use the experience points, and the improvement is gained after an equal number of weeks. This way, the character cannot improve his skills instantly, but must train for it.

Example: Bud has 5 experience points. He uses 3 to raise his combat skill from 1 to 2, and 2 to get two new skills. After a week, these 2 new skills are gained. Bud must still train 2 weeks more to get that combat level.

If the GM allows, the characters may train during campaigns even without experience. In such a case, each 2 month period is worth 1 point of experience to the trained skill or attribute.

5.4 The Damage System

Being damaged in Syndicate is a serious threat. Even a small weapon can easily kill a man if it hits the right place. The characters should always wear some kind of armor. There are some general rules about damage in Syndicate.

5.4.1 Attack Strength

Each attack has some kind of basic Trauma and Pen (penetration) values. Trauma describes the general destructivity of the weapon while pen is its direct capability to penetrate armor.

If the target has any kind of armor, it has some ballistic and concussion protection.

5.4.2 Determining the Inflicted Damage

Firearms Concussion (blast waves, blunt objects) Cut (knives, blades) General Notes:

5.4.3 Definitions of Damage Terms:

5.4.4 Other effects of Damage


In addition to the immediate effects, most hits cause bleeding that will eventually lead to unconsciousness and death unless halted. Bleeding levels depend on the character's endurance value, and each is 3+possible modification from good or poor endurance. Total bleeding has the following effects:

	Bleeding	Effect
	(3)		-1 to all actions, 1 extra bleeding point each 15 minutes
	2 x(3)		-2 to all actions, 1 extra bleeding point each 10 minutes
	3 x(3)		unconscious, 1 extra bleeding point each 5 minutes
	4 x(3)		bled to death
Extra bleeding can be stopped by successful first aid. Otherwise, the wounded character's condition becomes worse and worse, but bleeding rate does not increase unless damaged again. Furthermore, the character can lose consciousness because of bleeding.

Internal Bleeding

Dangerous hits to the torso vitals or head area cause internal bleeding. This internal bleeding will kill the character in a day or two unless stopped, which requires a surgical operation. One extra bleeding point is taken in 1-6 hours.


When the character is hit with great force, he can lose his consciousness because of a sudden nervous overload. Also, a hit to the head can cause unconsciousness.

Typical results are:

The GM should roll a die, and small number results in some kind of knockout.

5.4.5 Healing

In field conditions, bleeding can be stopped by successful first aid. Bandaged wounds may reopen later unless surgically bound.

Bleeding points are regained at the rate of 3+endurance points each week if in bed rest. Blood transfer can be used for faster recovery, as can be Instant Blood(tm).

A damaged location heals in 2 weeks in bed rest. Crippled locations need 4 weeks to heal, while disabled and blasted parts cannot heal naturally. Surgical methods are required, or cybernetics installed. Disabled status is healed in hospital in 16 weeks.

Healing drugs can be used to quicken the healing. Divide the time by 4.

Light activity doubles the time needed. During heavy activity the character does not heal, and all previous healing time can be lost.

Syndicate - The Dark Era (c) Kalle Marjola 1996. All rights reserved.