Saga Machine is the flexible roleplaying game engine used by our Against the Dark Yogi, Shadows Over Sol and Dime Adventures game lines, as well as by many of our upcoming games. It’s a rules-medium system with an emphasis on both ease of play and clever character options.
At its heart, Saga Machine consists of eight basic stats and two central mechanics, appropriately called the action mechanic and the consequence mechanic.
From there, the core is supported by numerous subsystems, each tailored to the specific genre and themes of the game in question. For example, Shadows Over Sol comes with both engineering and hacking systems, as befits as science fiction game, while Against the Dark Yogi has a system for channeling cosmic energies and Dime Adventures has an exciting chase system.
“Love the Saga Machine system... Going to adapt the system to other RPGs!” James C., DriveThruRPG
There are eight central stats in Saga Machine, four physical and four mental. Each stat ranges from 1 to 10 for human characters, with a 4 or 5 representing human average. Titanic monsters can have values reaching as high as to 20. The stats are as follows:
In addition to these eight stats, most Saga Machine games feature a skill list, with somewhere in the range of 20 - 25 skills. The individual skills vary with the genre and setting.
Game: Shadows Over Sol
Geneline: Athlete Deluxe
Skills: Athletics 3, Awareness 3, Conspiracy 2, Crafts 2, Medic 1, Melee 2, Naturalist 3, Stealth 2
Game: Against the Dark Yogi
Paths: Archer / Raja
Skills: Animals 1, Archery 3, Awareness 2, Crafts 1, Lore 3, Socialize 1
The first central system in Saga Machine is the action mechanic. By default this uses a standard deck of poker cards, although an alternative d10-based mechanic is available in Against the Dark Yogi: Campaign Options and in both Shadows Over Sol and Dime Adventures as an appendix.
The mechanic is simple: Add the character’s stat, plus a relevant skill, plus the value of the card flip, and compare this total to a target number. Higher is better. Sometimes how much a player succeeded or failed by is important. This is known as the magnitude of success or failure (Mag).
Every Saga Machine game features some sort of “luck” trait, variously called Karma, Edge, Moxie or Luck, as best fits the genre. This trait determines how many cards the player gets to hold in her hand. Cards can be played from hand to influence actions in different ways. Otherwise, a player making an action may always choose to play from the top of the deck.
All of the numbered cards, ace though 10 (aces are low) are worth the value printed on the card. Face cards - jack, queen and king - are worth +1, +2 and +3, respectively. When a face card is played, flip over the top card of the deck and add its value to the face card to get the flip’s total. Finally, when a joker comes up, the action in question is a critical failure, but the player gets to refresh her hand!
Finally, every stat has an associated suit. If the player plays a card with the associated suit, that action is said to be trump! It gains a bonus, usually in the form os playing a second card from the top of the deck and taking whichever value is higher. Card suits may have other effects as well, including triggering different options or helping to determine damage in combat.
The second central system in Saga Machine is the consequence mechanic. Consequences are Saga Machine's way of representing lasting effects in the system. These effects can be placed on either characters, objects or the scene itself. For example, tripping another character may result in a “prone” consequence for the target, setting a forest on fire results in an “on fire” consequence for that forest, etc.
Consequences come in three parts: an effect, a duration and a severity. This tells what the consequence does, how long it lasts and how severe the effect is, respectively. All consequences have the same hierarchy of severities: light, moderate, severe and critical. Consequences may apply modifiers to actions or have other indicated effects.
The Against the Dark Yogi, Shadows Over Sol and Dime Adventures versions of Saga Machine are available for use by third parties under the Open Game License (OGL 1.0a). If you have any questions about this, please feel free to reach out to us using our contact form.
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Saga Machine™ is a trademark of Tab Creations, LLC. The Powered by Saga Machine logo is © Tab Creations, LLC and is used with permission.
Below is a quick look at the Saga Machine games released by Tab Creations, as well as several upcoming games that we still have in the works.
Against the Dark Yogi is a game heavily inspired by Vedic, and later Indian, myths. Taking place in the fantasy world of Bhurloka, the great Subcontinent stands at the precipice of disaster. In the east a sinister figure—the Dark Yogi—has risen to power. It is whispered that his forbidden sutra gives him the power to directly attack dharma, the very order of the universe, itself.
Tales of countless adventures in Bhurloka await the telling. Befriend the monkey-people, the vanaras. Face down the cruel rakshasa Ravema in his island fortress. Climb Mount Niru and visit the gods themselves. Treat with the naga tribes deep in the underworld, Patala. And much, much more!
Shadows Over Sol is a science fiction horror game, taking place in a hard sci-fi vision of our own solar system.
Two hundred years from now what should be the shining beacon of the future is instead cloaked in conspiracy and horror. Humankind has expanded throughout the solar system, and there discovered mysteries older than humanity. The culture has shattered into myriad subcultures; nation-states are the hollow shells of what they once were. Corporations and other groups wage small-scale wars in the streets or in space. Bioengineered horrors left over from these conflicts stalk the hulls of ruined stations and abandoned colonies. But for an enterprising team willing to brave the horrors, there’s always a profit to be made.
Dime Adventures is a pulp alternate history roleplaying game with over-the-top action and paranormal strangeness!
The year is 1904, but in a world that never was! Dinosaurs still roam forgotten corners of the land. Alien influences operate from the skies. Mystics wield ancient powers, while strange new sciences promise to change the world. The dead rise from the grave. All the while, modern movements sweep the globe, and bold explorers venture deep into the unknown or delve into forgotten ruins. The world is ripe for adventure!
Age of Ambition is a fantasy game set on a world rapidly leaving behind the traditional fantasy milieu, and entering a new era of industry and enlightenment.
Somewhere a wizard stalks through the tall plains, musket at the ready, hunting the magical creature from which he will extract his power. Elsewhere city guards huddle on foggy streets, making their plans to capture the new assassin in town, or at least extort from her enough money not to do so. Elsewhere still, the world Trystell's sister moons are aligning in the sky, an omen seen by a crusading missionary in foreign lands.
Masked Metropolis is a game of superheroic action in a world recovering from the aftermath of superhuman confrontation.
Several years ago the Showdown resulted in a climactic battle between numerous superheroes and supervillains, leaving many established names missing or out of commission. But crime never stops and time moves on. The world is in need of new heroes to step up, take back the streets and protect the Earth.
Nexus Endtime is an apocalyptic game set across numerous worlds, rife with conspiracies and the struggle to save reality as we know it.
The end of the world has passed. The world you knew was consumed by the Devourer. It was not just your world, but countless others. And you are your world's last lingering hope. Welcome to the End of All Worlds. From here the Retributers wage their ongoing struggle against the Devourer, its agents and its spawn, jumping between timelines and worlds. But another shadowy organization, the Preventers, stand in way, blaming the Retributers for the apocalypse. Can you avoid Oblivion?