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Sparks Primer Author: Patrick Lawinger Cover Design: Patrick Lawinger Original Cover Photograph: David Niblack,
Patrick Lawinger
Cover Design:
Patrick Lawinger
Original Cover Photograph:
David Niblack, released under the Creative Commons Li-
cence AND used with permission
Jeff Freels, Joseph Wigfield, Mark Huffman, Patrick
Lawinger, Rick Hershey, and V.Shane
Some artwork in this book is ©2006, 2007, Reality Deviant Publi-
cations, used with permission.
Some artwork ©2007, Rick Hershey, used with permission
Some artwork ©2008, Jeff Freels, used with permission
Some Artwork ©2005, 2008, V.Shane, used with permission
Patrick Lawinger
Production, Development, and Layout:
Patrick Lawinger
©2011 Generic Universe Publishing. All rights reserved. Reproduction without the written permission of
the publisher is expressly forbidden. Generic Universe, Generic Universe Publishing, Sparks and attending
logos are trademarks of Generic Universe Publishing. All characters, names, places, items, and text herein
are copyrighted by Generic Universe Publishing. With the exceptionof Public Domain Art, Artwork is Copy-
righted by Generic Universe Publishing or by the original Artist and used with permission. See the list of
artists and copyright information above for further information.
This book uses the supernatural for settings, characters and themes. All mystical and supernatural ele-
ments are fiction and intended for entertainment purposes only. Any similarity to real locations or indi-
viduals is unintended. Reader discretion is advised.

Demond Thompson (order #5498719)

Sparks Primer

Sparks Primer

written by Patrick Lawinger

Sparks Primer Sparks Primer written by Patrick Lawinger Introduction Sparks™ system independent products are designed to


Sparks™ system independent products are designed to ignite the creativity of the Game Master (GM). Generic Universe Publishing (GU) believes the fire you create with your imagination provides more lasting entertainment and more enjoyable games than a set formula or script created by someone else. As with everything in life, a generic role-playing game (RPG) product has both weaknesses and strengths. The greatest strength lies in its ability to be used in a wide variety of game systems. Of course, the greatest weakness is that the generic products require more work on the part of the Game Master (GM) than a product written for the specific game they are playing.

Generic RPG products contain no game statistics for the non-player characters (NPCs), animals, and monsters described within. Many RPG systems provide basic statistics for monsters and some NPCs and these can easily be used. In those other situations, perhaps when the player characters (PCs) decide to wantonly murder and/or rob a storekeeper, the GM might need to create statistics for some NPCs. Fortunately, NPCs are described in detail and GU provides a simple way to help the GM assess NPC abilities.


The detailed descriptions of the NPCs in our products should help immensely during those moments the PCs decide to take their interactions to a more physical level. While the descriptions alone assist the GM, sometimes a bit more help is required. We provide additional information as described below. Obviously, we encourage your own creative interpretation of any material provided and you are free to change anything you desire. In fact, we encourage making changes as they will make it easier for you to bring these locations to life.

Sparks Primer


Although the physical and mental attributes of NPCs should not often come into play, it is easy to see how the GM might need to know something about these attributes even in non-combat situations. Some interactions might see the PCs asking for help carrying a large item, or interpreting a difficult puzzle. The system we use for looking at physical and mental traits is fairly simple.

Physical Traits: how fast, strong, and hearty a character might be. Most NPCs are average with respect to physical traits but elderly characters or children might be slower or more frail.

Mental Traits: general intelligence, common sense, and problem solving ability. This also includes how well spoken an individual is and how convincing they are. Again, most people are considered average in this area.

Again, most people are considered average in this area. Sparks™ products use 5 ability levels to

Sparks™ products use 5 ability levels to translate into your game system.


the mental or physical abilities are weaker than average. Whether due to age or mental disability, this individual is simply not as capable as most.


just what it states, the average. While there is naturally variation among NPCs, the vast majority fall into a range considered “average” meaning they are not enough stronger, faster, or smarter be considered outside the range of normal. If no Mental or Physical Traits are listed, then the character is average for those traits.


possessing above average strength, stamina, or mental abilities that stand out above the crowd.


these characters are considerably smarter or stronger than most. Whether they are sought out for advice or physical assistance, they are widely known for their abilities. A small number of individuals have inspiring Mental or Physical Traits.


possessing legendary mental or physical powers discussed by others with awe. Only a mere fraction of a percentage of the population has heroic attributes. However, some types of monsters possess legendary abilities.

Most NPC descriptions provide no information about attributes. In such cases, always presume that the attributes are “average.”

attributes. In such cases, always presume that the attributes are “average.” 4 Demond Thompson (order #5498719)

Sparks Primer

Combat Ability

Magic Talent

Combat Ability is difficult to break down due to the wide variety of RPG systems for combat resolution. Additionally, some characters might be very skilled with one type of weapon but not with others. When a character description mentions a particular weapon, presume that the combat ability described refers to using that weapon (or weapons) and their ability with other weapons is somewhat reduced. Combat ability is divided into 6 categories:

Very few characters and creatures can use magic. Magic Talent refers to the ability to actively cast spells and wield magic powers as well as the ability to create potions or other magic items. The wide variety of RPG systems and magic systems make this area extremely difficult to break down. First, and most important, simply the ability to use magic makes one stand out. Second, various game systems use a different level of magic with some systems having magic extremely rare, so rare that any character with Magic Talent could be a force unto themselves, while in other systems even your average shopkeeper possesses some degree of Magic Talent. The GM is asked to adjust any Magic Talent to the base line of their game world whenever necessary. If a creature or character possesses Magic Talent, one of the following five categories is used:


possessing virtually no combat ability, an enraged housecat fills this character with fear.


includes brawlers, bar fighters, and minor thugs. While some have some sort of militia or similar training, they rely more on strength, speed, and numbers than on skill.


these people can cast minor spells, whether it is to light a room, or heal a minor cut.


characters with some formal training such as more experienced militia and patrol guards. Although they still rely somewhat on strength and speed, their skills help overcome much stronger opponents.




able to cast somewhat more powerful spells that can be used to damage or heal, and/or able to create potions and minor magic items.


these rare individuals have far more training than most and generally come out on top in a fight. They practice regularly, improving their skill to the point that skill is now more important than strength or speed.


able to cast powerful spells affecting multiple targets, heal diseases and major wounds, and/or the ability to create more powerful potions, and magic items.


feared and admired for their abilities, these individuals are sought after teachers or leaders and extremely dangerous opponents.


such weapon masters are extremely rare, and usually highly specialized. People travel great distances to actively seek training from such highly skilled individuals.



able to wield magic beyond the understanding of ordinary people. Time and reality are but passing concepts to such an individual, as they possess the ability to alter them at will.


these elite combat specialists possess such legendary skill that they are feared or admired throughout the land.



Characters with no Combat Ability listed are considered “Awful.”

The sixth ability level, none, is never listed. If Magic Talent is not listed, the character does not have any, unless you choose to add magical ability to the character for your own reasons.

Sparks Primer

Mental Powers

Special Mental Powers, such as telepathy or telekinetic powers, are used in some role-playing games. If your game does not include Mental Powers, use the character description to translate these characteristics into other abilities that fit your game system. Mental Powers follow the same track as Magic Talent with the default, none, never listed and the following five categories used for those creatures possessing special Mental Powers:


able to perform minor tricks of the mind, but nothing overly deadly or powerful


able to perform great feats by mental powers alone


this person’s mind is a potent weapon capable of harming multiple targets, or even healing or modifying reality on a small scale.


feared and admired for their incredible mental powers, these individuals can twist reality with their minds.


possessing mental powers so great that time and space are merely concepts that can be followed, or ignored at a whim. PCs foolish enough to attack someone this powerful are generally left with the mind of an infant, if they survive at all.

left with the mind of an infant, if they survive at all. Locks Different game systems
left with the mind of an infant, if they survive at all. Locks Different game systems


Different game systems handle locks and the picking or breaking of locks in different ways. When locks are described they are categorized as follows:


a child or a swift blow with a hammer can open this lock.


requires some tools and a small amount of skill.


requires skill, tools, and time to open.


requires extreme skill, special tools and lots of time to open.


really, it would be easier to find the key, no, really…

Many times locks are not described or even mentioned. The GM should presume that most shopkeepers and homeowners possess the average locks for their income level and station in life. While wealthy merchants might possess expensive locks, poorer citizens usually do little more than bar their doors at night.

locks, poorer citizens usually do little more than bar their doors at night. 6 Demond Thompson

Sparks Primer

Traps Poisons

Cautious NPCs may place traps on a particular vault, door, or chest. A general description of the type of trap and what it does includes the level of pain it can inflict using the following categories:


not terribly dangerous because it is easy to find or bypass or because the trap simply doesn’t inflict much damage.


these traps are either capable of inflicting a small amount of damage to multiple targets or a larger amount of damage to a single target. They are also more difficult to detect and disarm.


traps at this level are truly dangerous and are only identified by a trained professional and usually only disarmed or bypassed using specialized tools. They inflict massive amounts of damage to a single target or large amounts of damage to multiple targets.


The most extreme level of trap is particularly difficult to disarm and is often triggered just trying to foolishly bypass it. These traps are capable of inflicting instant and gruesome deaths upon their victims.

inflicting instant and gruesome deaths upon their victims. Poisons, when described in detail, follow the same

Poisons, when described in detail, follow the same guidelines for strength as traps listed above. The use of poisons in some RPGs can be very unbalancing so in most cases the exact strength of poisons is left to the GM. When providing PCs with poisons please always consider the possible consequences, uses and abuses, within your RPG system.

consider the possible consequences, uses and abuses, within your RPG system. 7 Demond Thompson (order #5498719)

Sparks Primer

Combat/Battle Encounters

Recognizing that no matter what GU does with a combat encounter the GM must do all the real preparation, Sparks™ products use a simple “Battle Encounter Rating” (BER) to help give a general guideline as to how difficult an encounter should be for the PCs. The GM is always free to set the encounters to whatever difficulty they wish.

Although most Sparks™ products do not include encounters designed specifically to challenge the PCs combat abilities, the possibility of battle must be included. Combat encounters put a heavy burden on the GM even when they have a full array of game statistics in front of them. System independent products put an even heavier burden on the GM because those statistics need to be created or modified and various elements of the game system being used must be taken into account. Special abilities of NPCs or monsters must also be modified appropriately.




This is a relatively easy encounter. The


PCs might work up a slight sweat but are unlikely to receive more than minor injuries unless they are terribly unlucky.

Some RPG systems effectively challenge a party of PCs with a single assailant or a small number of attackers while other systems require a larger number of combatants to effectively challenge the PCs. Combat encounters in Sparks™ products include one or several main attackers and include the possibilities of additional attackers if required by the game system you are using. GU suggests taking statistics from creatures or NPCs the GM already has in their possession and “rubbing the names off” in order to reuse them and make game preparation as simple as possible.


If the PCs are organized and keep their heads, they should come through with only


minor injuries, but they might need to use a few potions or other resources to insure success. There will be some injuries, but the PCs still outmatch their opponents.


Even match for the PCs. The assailants are


approximately equal in strength to the PCs making for a very challenging encounter.


The attackers are somewhat stronger than the PCs. Luck and those potions and

Combat encounters are the most difficult element of an RPG for a system independent product to approach. Conversion to a particular game system requires far more work by the GM than a system specific game module or encounter leaving system independent modules and adventures in the hands of only the most experienced GMs.


magic items saved up for a truly dangerous encounter might save the day. Serious injuries and party losses are almost certain.


Overpowering encounter. Only brilliant tactics, lots of luck, and everything the PCs


have left in their “bag of tricks” could allow them to survive. Honestly, the PCs should run away to fight another day.

could allow them to survive. Honestly, the PCs should run away to fight another day. 8

Demond Thompson (order #5498719)

Sparks Primer

Sparks Primer Items Items possessed or sold by NPCs are the standard for the game world


Items possessed or sold by NPCs are the standard for the game world or system the GM is using unless described differently. Sometimes a character possesses a rare or special item, or an item that is named. Such items can be considered magic, or particularly well made or designed, depending upon the game world and game system being used. The exact power(s) of such items is left to the GM to determine thus insuring nothing unbalancing is brought into the game.


Prices for all items should be considered standard for the game system being used. Store prices are described in relative terms such as “reasonable” or “expensive” rather than giving specific guidelines. Again, only the GM can determine what prices fit best with their game world. Fantasy prices, when listed, use a gold standard (1 gp = 10 sp = 100 cp). Modern prices use US dollars as a standard and Future prices use “credits” as a standard.

Other Details

A wide variety of other factors may require game statistics during gameplay. The GM is trusted to derive appropriate statistics for poisons, potions, and other items based on the descriptions provided. This insures such items are appropriate to the particular style of game being played. All GU products are designed simply as tools in the hands of the GM. If something does not work or fit into your particular game please take the time to modify it.

GU recognizes that simply purchasing a generic product automatically signals more work for the GM and appreciates the fact that customers are automatically going to be doing more work with Sparks™ products than with products purchased for their specific RPG. Sparks™ products are meant simply to provide a spark of inspiration to help you plan games in a busy world. GU wants you to create the fire.

Generic Universe Publishing (GU) is dedicated to encouraging imagination and creativity in an increasingly generic

Generic Universe Publishing (GU) is dedicated to encouraging imagination and creativity in an increasingly generic world. We provide inexpensive, simple game supplements to meet your fantasy role-playing needs. Most of our products use simple black and white art and hand drawn maps as a tribute to the earliest RPGs. All of our RPG products are created with the philosophy that it is what YOU do with a book that makes it truly memorable.

is what YOU do with a book that makes it truly memorable. The Sparks™ line of

The Sparks™ line of system independent products designed for use in any fanasy role-playing game. Sparks™ products are designed under the philoso- phy that it is the GM and players that create the best games and are built to ignite your own creativity.

Sparks™, we provide the spark, you create the fire.

Sparks™, we provide the spark, you create the fire. The City Streets books provide highly detailed

The City Streets books provide highly detailed city and village locations for your fantasy role-playing needs. Detailed NPCs and adventure hooks help fill a city with possibilities that go beyond making a simple purchase. You can find a full list of our City Streets releases at our website. Download a free copy of Gior’s Glassworks here.

e . Download a free copy of Gior’s Glassworks here. Throughout centuries taverns have been places

Throughout centuries taverns have been places to meet, relax, and talk. In the past, some large taverns have even doubled as spot for town meetings. The first book in the series is Tavern Denizens Book I: The Dives.

Book I: The Dives looks at the seedy, dirty, dingy taverns in the darkest, poorest area of town. While dimly lit confines certainly attract crooks and criminals avoid- ing the light, most of the patrons are simple laborers or peasants drinking away shattered dreams or soothing recent sorrows. These are people generally so poor that they aren’t worth robbing; even the thieves of the city leave them alone.

Check the GU Website for further developments in the Tavern Denizens line.

You can find all of our products at RPGNow and related OneBookShelf sites.

Visit the GU website and forums and make your desires and opinions known.


Demond Thompson (order #5498719)