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Zip - Compact RPG System



ZIP - Sistema Compacto de RPG (or, ZIP - Compact RPG System) was created in Brazil by 1998 and was always distributed as Freeware. About 5 pages long, it has being popular within all players looking for a "simple-and-universal-RPG-system" for fast play games or an introdutory game for beginners.

Now it became available in english language in order to attend players in non-portuguese speaking countries.

Please distribute it freely but without modifying it in any way, including the authorship of it.

And have fun!

Paulo Micchi - ZIP creator
e-mail :



    Many situations could be good for a RPG game: a rainy day on the beach or a traffic jam (if you are not driving, of course). However,  probably you will be without your character sheets, rulebook, dice and space for a “conventional" RPG play. You need something simpler and faster.

    Zip is a RPG system that does not require pencil, paper and dice (or the table to place all this). The rules are so simple that you can memorize them easily. Everything you need is a coin! Because of this simplicity it becomes indicated for beginners, an introduction for other systems.


Character creation

                 The character creation is very  simple and restricted to two aspects:

 - a Main Atribute
 - a Specialization

                 Main Atribute is the most distinghished innate characteristic of the character, amongst the following ones: Strength; Agility; Charisma; Vitality.

                Specialization is the "profession" of the character, indicating the group of abilities that were developed through her/his life.

                 Example of character creation: Tagor is a mercenary that was born in frozen nordic lands. His Main Atribute is the Strength, increasing the damage with hand weapons and increasing the probability of success in actions that demand physical strength. His Specialization is Warrior, turning him deadly in the use of medieval melee weapons.

                 Main Atribute: When a player chooses a characteristic as Main Atribute it means that the character really is distinguished in it (other characters will remember this aspect when they remember this character):
represents the character’s muscle and physical power. It increases the probability of success in any test that involves physical strengh , lowering by one the Difficulty Level of the action ( raising a heavy object, breaking through a door, etc). It also increases by one point the damage with hand melee weapons and in unarmed melee combat.
                Agility:  represents  the “
hand-eye coordination”, agility, reflexes,  balance and the capacity to perform physical feats like jump, climb, run or grab objects in movement.
represents the character’s persuasiveness and personal empathy, due to physical attractiveness and/or just carisma. Having Carisma as “main atribute” reduces by one the Difficult Level to create good impression to a stranger (the difficult level is determined by the Game Master, based on the circunstancies). It´s very usefull to get allies and escape from trouble!
               Vitality: represents the character’s health and stamina. By Having Vitality as “main atribute” the Difficult Level in tests against desease, poison, etc is reduced in one level. Also, the character can sustain one additional point of damage (see Physical Damage section)

                Specializations: normally created by the Game Master that determines which ones are avaliable and the special features of each one. In the Scenarios section you can find the most traditional specializations

Optional use of Races, can be done if the Game Master allows. In this case the Main Atribute will be determined by the Race. Examples:


 Playing the Game

                 As you have imagined, all the tests are made with coins instead of dice. All the Game Master must do is to determine the Difficult Level (or DL) of the character´s action. One or two coins will be used in three different Difficult Levels:      

 - Low : throw the coin twice. In case you achive at least one head the action is succesfuly executed.
- Average : throw one coin. In case you have one head the action is succesfuly executed. You have 50% chance of success and 50% chance of failure.
- High: throw the coin twice. You need to achive two heads to succesfuly execute the action.

                In this moment the special qualities of the character make the difference. If the Game Master determines that the Difficult Level of certain action is High and the character has a Main Atribute or a Specialization that provides any advantage in that situation, the Difficult Level is reduced in one level. The Difficult Level could be reduced from High to Average, for example, increasing the success changes of the character.
                Example: A character intends to move steatlhly in a certain moment of the adventure. In this case, the Game Master has defined the Difficult Level as High and if the character fails she will make noise and attract attention. But, as long the referred character has the Thief specialization, the Difficult Level is reduced to Average because this Specialization has an advantage on Stealth tests (a Thief is able to move more siltently than other people). On game terms, instead of having to achieve two successes in two coins, it will be necessary to achieve only one success with one coin.



                Tests for combat situations are similar to other situations with the player achieving a number of successes to perform the action. A character can only make one attack per turn. The definition of who attacks first can be made by the Game Master considering the circunstancies (surprise attacks, for example) or just flipping a coin.

                There are two types of combat: Melee Combat and Ranged Combat.

                In Melee combat the opponents use melee weapons (swords, clubs, etc) or their unarmed attacks (punch, kicks, etc). Three different situations may occur:

·       A Specialist attacks an Non-Specialist. In this case, the attacker has an advantage and the Difficult Level is Low.
A Specialist, in melee combat situations, is a character that has a Specialization that give her advantage in melee combat (Warrior or Unarmed Fighter, for example)

·       an Non-Specialist attacks a Specialist. It is the opposite situation, when a character with no combat experience tries to attack a skilled melee fighter. In this case, the Difficult Level is High..

·       an Non-Specialist attacks another Non-Specialist OR A Specialist attacks another Specialist. In these cases, the abilities of each one (or lack of) are equal.  In this case, the Difficult Level is Average.

                 In combat situations involving Ranged Combat (using bows, fireguns, throwing objects, etc) the Game Master determines if the attack is possible and the Difficult Level (based on the weapon used, range, size, movement of the target, etc). If the character has any Specialization that gives him any advantage in Ranged Combat the Difficult Level is reduced in one level.

Shields can be used improving the defense chances of the character that is using it. In Melee Combat whenever the character is successfuly attached, he has the opportunity to make a test to avoid been hit. The character must succeed in a test of Difficult Level High to block the enemy attack. If the character has any Specialization that gives advantage in using shields, the Difficult Level is reduced to Average.

A successful Ranged Combat attack cannot be actively blocked but there is always the chance that the projectile or weapon hits the shield instead of the character. If the character is successfuly attached with a ranged weapon, make a test of Difficult Level High and in case of success the shield is hit instead of the character. Specializations does not affect this situation.


Physical Damage

                Physical damage (or simply, damage) is result of different sources (fire, weapons, etc).For an easy control of the physical condition of the character a Points of Damage system is used. These points of damage are added each time the character takes damage or reduzed in case the character is healed (by resting or by medical/magical assistance).
                Most of characters can sustain up to 3 points of damage and when receives a total of 4 points of damage fell unconsious until the total points of damage is reduced. In case it does not happen, the character will die in a period of time determined by the Game Master.

                The character automatically DIES if receives 5 or more points of damage.
                Exception: characters with a Main Atribute in Vitality are more resistent to physical damage and will only fell unconsious if receive 5 points of damage and die with a total of 6 or more points of damage

                See bellow a table of different weapons and the points of damage they can cause in the hands of an ordinnary person. The damage caused by other sources (fire, improvised weapons, falls, etc) is determined by the Game Master.

                Armor can be used to reduce the damage from most of weapons. Reduces one or two points of damage from the weapon, depending on the armor used. The different types of armor are described in the same section dedicated to weapons.   

                The damage caused by unarmed attacks is ZERO (i.e., not enough to incapacitate the oponent, unless it receives many blows) but, if the character has a Specialization dedicated to unarmed combat the damage is raised to 1 point of damage. Notice that a Main Atribute in Strength also increase the damage in 1 point and if the character has the Main Atribute in Strenght and a Specialization dedicated to unarmed combat the damage dealt increases to 2 points.

                A character with a Specialization dedicated to heal other people (Medic, for example) is capable to reduce 1 point of damage of another character if succeeeds in a test of Difficult Level Average. For complete recovery and reduction of any additional points of damage is necessary a longer period of rest and treatment, at Game Master discretion. Any other character can help a wounded character with bandagings but it does not reduce damage: it only prevents the wounded character from dying due to the bleeding.



                To maintain the simplicity of the game, the players do not need to worry about how many golden coins their characters have, nor if their characters have a car or a house. The Game Master defines the possessions of the characters and if they are able to purchase something in each situation, considering their Specializations and other circunstancies. Notice that this is simple but requires the commitment of the players in accepting the Game Master decisions.


Weapons and Armor



(in points)

·       Small:


      (knifes, arrows, clubs, etc.)


·       Medium:


      (one-handed swords and axes, pistol or submachinegun bullets)


·       Large:


      (two-handed swords and axes, rifle or shotgun bullets)







(in points)

Reinforeced leather clothes


Chain Mail or bulltet-proof vest




                 These are two of the most common scenarios for RPG and their Specializations:


                 It is normally based on medieval tales and was the first scenario for RPG. Wizards, warriors and fantastic races are common place in fantasy games:         

          - Melee weapons and shields

              - Stealth (move silently, hide)
             - Climbing
             - Open Locks (without keys, of course)
             - Find and Disarm traps
             - Pick pockets

                - Ranged weapons (Bows and Crossbows, only)
                - Tracking
                 - Survival (choose one type of enviroment: Forest, for example)
                 - Stealth (move silently, hide) 

-  Arcane Magic (see bellow)

                -   Divine Magic (see bellow)

 Note: consider that all characters are illiterated, except wizards and clerics.


Arcane Magic

                 Arcane Magic is only made by Wizards that can make only one spell per hour and cannot repeat the same spell in a period of 24 hours otherwise the wizard takes one point of damage after making the spell. Physical damage from any source does not affect the wizard ability to cast spells as long he is consious (and alive!).Casting a spell takes a few seconds (the same as melee or ranged attack) and, unless specified in the spell, is automatically successful:

·       Detect magic: detect if one object is magic or not (but does not identify the spell involved).

·       Read Languagess: allows the wizards to read anything in one specific unknown language for one minute.

·       Create fire: burns inflammable objects, like torchs or fabric.

·       Magic missile: a small magic energy ball that automatically hits and causes 2 points of damage in any visible target, not smaller than 30inches3, up to 30 feet.

·       Sleep: falls asleep any visible creature up to 30 feet for one hour. Make a test with Difficult Level Average. If the creature is non intelligent (like an animal) the Difficult Level is Low.

·       Levitate: allows the wizard to fly slowly (and only vertically) for one minute.

·       Illusion: creates a three-dimensional image up to 30 feet from the wizard, with 50% of change to fool another creature. It does not have smell and sometimes is uneffective against animals that relies on their scent. The image disappers when is touched.


Divine Magic

                Divine Magic is based on the conjuration of extraplannar gods that act in benefit of the cleric. The cleric, in fact, is a warrior-priest of his deity and is only capable to conjure that specific deity (Kron – the god of war, for example). The cleric can only make one conjuration in any danger situation (in his benefit or of his companions). The Game Master defines if the Deity will interfere or not in each situation. The conjurations made by the cleric takes a few seconds (the same as melee or ranged attack) and, unless specified in the spell, is automatically successful:

·       Cure wounds: reduces up to 2 points of damage taken by another character that must be touched by the cleric (the cleric cannot use it in himself).

·       Globe of light: creates a globe of light, as potent as a modern lantern.

·       Turn undead: repel undeads (zumbies, vampires, etc). It is not enough to repel too powerful beings or a big number of weak ones (an elder vampire or 200 zumbies, for example), at Game Master discretion.

·       Bless : reduces in one level the Difficult Level of one action (combat or not)  of any designed character (including the cleric). For example, it allows the cleric to make one single attack as a warrior.

·       Curse: the opposite of Bless, increases in one level the Difficult Level of one action.



                In a future not far from our present time (30-40 years), big corporations have taken the power and rule the world in a fake democracy. Most of the population is “out of the system”. Drugs and criminality spread out in overpopulated cities. The science evolved but not in benefit of all...


                Cop: specialist in pistols or shotguns (choose one). Moreover, the main advantage of this specialization is the authority and access to information provided by the police man status.

                Corporate: no specialization, compensated by the access to Corparate´s restrict information and a wealth far above average.

                Mercenary:  Specialist in all kinds of weapons (melee or ranged).

                Criminal: a modern thief that has many contacts in the underworld. Specialist in Stealth, Pick Pocket and Security Systems. Has no specialization with weapons but will be armed most of the time.

                Hacker: capable of access to the computer networks, specially the restricted access ones. Utilize a brain datalink to a much faster connection with the “Net”. Difficult Levels at Game Master discretion.


Specializations applicable for many scenarios:

                Medic: Able to make tests to reduce Physical Damage (see Physical Damage section).

                Unarmed Fighter: specialist in unarmed melee combat. This Specialization also increases the damage dealt in unarmed melee combat in one point. In case the Game Master allows this type of specialization the adventures normally became a kind of kung-fu movie...


Playing without coins

                In case coins are not avaliable it is always possible to take “even or odd” with the Game Master (by the way, faster than flipping coins). Another option is to use dice. In this case, odd numbers are considered successes.         

 The End

That´s it and only this!
           Now is up to the Game Master, using the above rules, define a scenario and applicable specializations,  create an adventure and have fun! If you prefer, you can adapt your favorite RPG system to define Specializations based on the more common types of characters (or classes, if it is the case) and create the adventures.