I must create a system, or be enslaved by another man's. I will not reason and compare: my business is to create.

- William Blake

Monday, February 11, 2019

The TAGMAR universal table

Look at this beautiful thing (source):

It is an "universal" table (used for skills, combat, etc.) from the Brazilian RPG Tagmar (supposedly based on Star Frontiers, not FASERIP).

Looks nice, huh?

The skill part is really simple: you must roll red or higher for difficult tasks, yellow or higher for easy ones, etc.

But in combat, it really shines. You basically compare your opponents defense (and armor, I think) to your attack and check the corresponding column. Weapon damage s fixed, and each color corresponds to a fraction of total damage: 25%, 50%, 75%, 100% and 125%.

Here is another rendition (from another edition, I think):

So, even tough you have to look at a table, you save one roll (you do not roll for damage) and you don't even need math (damage is written in your sheet, something like "Sword +15 damage 3/6/9/12").

A natural 20 (grey) is always a crit and makes you roll again in the same table. Although the average damage is not necessarily that great, rolling 20 again means gruesome death (beheading, impaling, etc., depending on the weapon).

Talk about gritty!

And FUN!

This looks very cool IMO. It would be nice to make a D&D version at some point.

I guess I would fix a few things: some columns are identical, critical from inexperienced fighters shouldn't be so extreme (although the game make "minions" scary on purpose), experienced fighters shouldn't fumble on a natural 1 (although that is optional, I think), maybe three kinds of damage would be enough (33%, 66%, 100%, for example)  etc.

But I like the idea of having attack and damage in a single roll, and even having a big, fixed number for combat (say, you deal 32 damage with your axe), but seldom using your weapon's full potential.

It would be a great way of differentiating weapons and making them more unique without being too fiddly.

Of course, this means you'll ALWAYS be consulting a table... It'd better be printed in your character sheet!


  1. YES those charts are gorgeous. Much love.

    The old games prior to THAC0 were all like this. One table, no math.

    You can roll your hit and damage at the same time too.

    I had an elf one time in 3.5 who threw throwing hammers. He was level 6 and had the proper feats to throw/strike three in a round plus attacks of opportunity. So I would just roll three color-coded heterogeneous pairs of d20 and d6 to indicate the first second and third hammers and tell the DM what AC I hit for each.

    So there’s ways to reduce the table time rolls take.

    1. Yeah, rolling to-hit and damage at the same time is good. One single roll might be even better!

  2. This sort of table can work by having a 3x20 column table on the character sheet for each weapon.

    1st row: Number rolled.
    2nd row: AC hit
    3rd row: Damage done

    If you want a critical factor, I would say have brackets. So if you use +10 AC to crit, with a +5 to hit in total, and rolled a 13, your look up would be:

    D20: 13

    AC: 18 (8)

    Dam: x (crit)

    Any scaling can be based on adding 1/4 points over or what have you, if you want damage, or having a separate Wounds track, so the regular roll is HP, and the bracket roll is wounds. This may make certain weapons more popular for causing Wounding effects rather than wearing down opponent HP.

    ...as much as I like the feel of chucking around dice, there's a lot of merit to what I just wrote for my idea of Wounds and Vitality system I talk about. However it does suck that spell casters get all the dice chucking fun (unless you have the HP number be a bonus and you throw a single damage die. That might still scratch the itch with a multiple attack rolls and use Scott's system for resolution.)

    1. Expanding on this a bit:

      You have three types of attacks in D&D: STR, DEX, and SPELL. Any attack (weapon or spell) will say refer to X table when referring to To-Hit

      Weapon damage arrays are two number sets. You have a damage array that is associated with your to-hit array (so for example: a To hit of 15 is associated with a 6). This damage array runs from To Hit AC 5 (lowest possible AC) to the highest AC in the game (I want to say it's 30, but I could be wrong). This does mean that you do higher damage against higher AC opponents, but 1) they are harder to hit, which is a potential balance point, and 2) in order to hit them in the first place, you need to be more precise. If % of total HP is wanted to be constant, those numbers can be adjusted as well.

      The critical damage array starts at To-Hit 15 as +10 the lowest AC, and continues up to the highest possible critical factor (low 20s). Natural 20 should always crit, even if a 19 would not. This crit score damage is either a spike in HP damage, a separate track like Wounds, or status/lingering injuries.

      Because I still like throwing dice, I also suggest that light weapons deal an additional 1d4 damage, medium weapons 1d6, and Heavy weapons 1d8. This can be folded into critical rules by either maximising dice (4,6,and 8), doing the damage to HP on top of Wounds damage, or something else. This could probably be made an easy enough rule variant by having a static array adding 2,3,or 4 to the relevant damage matrix.

    2. How is this applied in practise: Give a +2 prof. +3 Str, +2 Dex, +1 INT Eldritch Fighter

      D20: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 ..
      STR: 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 ..
      DEX: 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 ..
      SPELL: - 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 ..

      Formatting doesn't work well to align weapon arrays underneath this neatly, but you would then write the static damage for each weapon, plus a bracket for critical damage if applicable beside. I like the idea that you always do a small die of damage to HP (basically stamina in a Vitality vs Wounds system), but that will all depend on exact implementation desired.

    3. That is interesting stuff Sean! The reason I might want to avoid the 3x20 column you mention is to avoid a situation where hitting high AC causes necessarily more damage (for example, I need a 19 to hit, but this causes a lot of damage, so the guy with high armor always takes lots of damage).

      OTOH a 3x20 would be pretty much perfect in terms of simplicity, and merging it with a Str/Dex/Spell table is perfect.

      I dunno, I am more and more convinced that the 3e method of having a x2/x3/x4 critical column is the easiest one. Or something like having a completely different range for crits, for example "Dagger 1d4+3/2d6+6".

    4. Interestingly enough, Tagmar does have a Wounds and Vitality system (i.e., "meat points" are separated from "stamina/heroism"), although I'm not sure about how it works.

    5. Agreed with your point about High AC could take Higher damage. However, keep in mind that hit chances are also a balancing factor here. You could probably get a fairly flat overall damage done based entirely on Hit chance and static damage done. Having the 1 die roll means that you have some fluctuations in the system to speed things along, as well as a critical system that may cut things short.

      If you only have a 10% chance to hit someone, doing proportionally more damage than someone you hit 60% of the time works well. Plus it looks good on the player matrix (Roll high = hit hard).

    6. Ah, yes, mathematically it makes sense. It could work, specially if the results aren't TOO different, in comparison to criticals, which would be the real outliers.

    7. Personally, I'm OK with the damage difference being 1 off of the "true" damage potential to make a flat matrix, even if you just extend the low end (where it's only 1-2 damage) up by an increment or two to balance out the larger damage rolls that may cut down lower HP opponents. But it does get rid of the observation you had in an older article where you roll Natural 20!...and 2+mod damage.

      In this case, if you used a Wounds & Vitality system matrix like the one I wrote up, I would say that bleed over between vitality and wounds (where you hit someone for more than their remaining vitality), I would just treat the roll as if the player had rolled the equivilent roll that would exactly reduce them to 0 VP, and apply that Wounds score to the opponent as well. It does mean one may do less damage than they may otherwise, but the trade off is that subsequent attacks on the opponent are all critical hits (so any hit below 15 is just 1 wound), so the opponent is probably going to die soon after.

  3. Zebulon's Guide to Frontier Space was pretty nearly a total revamp of the Star Frontiers rules. The FASERIP style to-hit/damage table was only one of the interesting new details added.

    1. Ha, I didn't know that! So I guess it was FASERIP that inspired the Star Frontiers table!

  4. Tagmar is the first RPG made in Brasil. It is an amazing game. And its true, its a real good game


  5. Hello, me and my friend Ygor created this table in 1989. There's a lot of math in it. The main point is that they are not straight, they are curves, so the probability distribution is not linear. It also contains a way of making it infinite.

    if anyone has any questions about it just ask.

    1. Congratulations man, I'd love to hear more about the math behind this table!