An Introduction to the 4C System: Edition 13

Edition 13 of the 4C System is a role-playing game (RPG) based primarily upon a classic, heroic system first released back in 1984. While long, long out of print, its last official product having been published almost a decade after the first, this venerable RPG nonetheless has countless fans who still utilize it to this very day. Fans who yet hunger for new content. And that's where the 4C System comes in.

The 4C System is a retro-clone, that being a rewritten compendium of rules that strips the ingrained intellectual property from the original text so it may present those rules anew. Some retro-clones hew very, very close to the original source material, while others drift far apart from it. The first 4C System is a retro-clone, which occupies a middle ground between these two extremes.

Edition 13 of the 4C System, on the other hand, is a massive expansion of the original retro-clone, once again rewriting the previous text so that the core rules of the system line up more closely with the original game it was based upon. However, the character creation portion of the rules have been expanded to a staggering degree, giving players countless new options with which to play the game.

Edition 13 was built this way with customization in mind. Itself the result of considerable alterations to an existing, albeit abandoned rule set, Edition 13 can readily be altered to suit the needs of whoever uses it at their gaming table. This way, players may utilize Edition 13 as-is, borrow select parts from it for use in the original system, or seize bits and pieces of Edition 13 to forge their very own RPG.

The product of intermittent development over the years, Edition 13 is a perpetual work in progress. It has been rigorously tested by especially clever players, a merciless band of insidious rules lawyers who did their level best to exploit each and every crack in the System to bust it wide open. The best (worst?) of these include Christopher Acers, William Lockwood, Aaron Ortiz, Corey Poulsen, and Darrin Freeman.

Similarly, the primary authors of the original system that Edition 13 is based upon must be acknowledged as well, for without their dilligent work there would be no 4C System. Those who primarily influenced what would become Edition 13include Jeff Grubb, Steve Winter, Kim Eastland, David E Martin, and Allen Varney, while Bruce Nesmith, Tony Herring, Scott Davis, and Steven Schend also contributed somewhat.

Last, but not least, the author of 4C System: Edition 13 would like to thank everyone that has given feedback and/or suggestions about the implementation of its various components. There are simply too many of these folks to name, some of which are no longer among us, but let it never be said that constructive criticism isn't appreciated - whether by myself or by authors around the world!

The Big Idea Behind 4C System: Edition 13

Now you know what Edition 13 of the 4C System is, but in the event that you've never enjoyed a role-playing game before, you may find yourself asking what the heck you do with this thing. Simply put, the idea behind Edition 13 is to allow players to assume the identity of at least one character, and play out his, her, or their activities in a setting decided upon by all the players involved.

Most Edition 13 players assume the role of just one character. This character is referred to as a player character (PC). This is the player's avatar in the setting, the means by which they interact with everything within. Keep in mind that a player should talk and behave as that character would, not as the player themselves might... unless the player's character is some variation on their 'real' self.

On the other hand, one player must assume the role of the Gamemaster. They adjudicate the rules during play, and handle the roles of every character encountered that is not managed by the other players. A Gamemaster's characters are hereby referred to as non-player characters (NPCs). It is the Gamemaster's job to present a scenario for the other players to operate within, as well as to manage all of the action.

Therein lies the beauty of a role-playing game: it is not inflexible fiction, but instead a collaborative effort. The Gamemaster sets the stage for events, and the other players act out their roles, taking their characters wherever their personas and circumstances dictate - for good or ill. It is a truly active form of entertainment, one which draws all its participants into the limelight, and lets everyone influence the story.

And that story can take place almost anywhere! From ancient realms lost to legend to distant planets in the deepest reaches of space, Edition 13 allows its players to adventure wherever they wish, limited only by their imagination! Furthermore, these stories can take the form of solitary tales, a one-shot sort of thing, or instead expand into an entire campaign, a series of adventures that tells a much larger tale.

While the former can be good fun, the latter allows a group to fully explore their characters and the setting presented to them by their Gamemaster. But either is an acceptable use of Edition 13 of the 4C System, for both can be equally entertaining. This is just a choice that a group of players needs to make beforehand - though that group can surely mix and match between the two as is desired!

But what is required to utilize Edition 13, you ask? Not much, really. All that's essentially necessary are these rules - and a set of percentile dice. Percentile dice are two ten-sided dice, which can be used to generate a number ranging from one to one hundred, though these dice can be hard to come by outside of professional gaming stores. To this end, here is a simple d100 number generator, if you need it.

Other than that, all you need is a tiny bit of creativity - and the desire to have fun!

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Questions or comments? Contact the author at your convenience!