I saw a Matrix quote on the Internet a little while back where the poster drew attention to the rabbit hole metaphor used in it, and that inspired me to create a light tabletop roleplaying game system for playing games in a Matrix-like world populated by bunnies! In order to play, you will need a GM, several players, lots of 6-sided dice, and a mission to carry out in a world overrun by machines. Without further ado, here are the rules:
“You take the blue pill—the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill—you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.” – Morpheus, The Matrix
The machines have taken over the world!
Only a few warrens like yours still stand against the bots. Most bunnies have been taken and integrated into a virtual reality (VR) made to keep captured bunnies docile. You have left the safety of your warren on a dangerous mission; the nature of that mission is up to you.
Anybunny on a mission needs 3 stats:
- Brawn: Ability to overcome physical obstacles; also affects health and damage
- Agility: Ability to evade obstacles and use ranged weapons
- Smarts: Ability to interact with bots, programs, and VR
There’s also health. You start with 3 health.
For each point you have in a stat, you get to choose a perk that depends on the stat.
Your score in each of these stats will improve over the course of a game. Whenever you overcome an obstacle you gain a point of Brawn. Whenever you evade an obstacle you gain a point of Agility. Whenever you learn something new you gain a point of Smarts. When you gain a point with any of these options, you may not do so again until your troop completes one of their mission objectives.
Your starting stats are determined by your choice of class below. Each class also grants a special class ability.
So many cybernetic enhancements that you’re basically a walking tank. That’s it; you’re the tank.
Brawn 4, Agility 0, Smarts 0
Class Ability: Auto-repair: After exiting combat, restore 1 health.
The heavy weapons specialist of the rabbit world. Bazooka go boom.
Brawn 2, Agility 2, Smarts 0
Class Ability: Heavy Weapons: Add your strength ranks to your successes on heavy weapons attack rolls that you achieve at least one success on. Heavy weapons are things like bazookas, grenade launchers, and miniguns.
Super badass bot fighter in and out of VR. Round sunglasses, long trench coat, you know the type.
Brawn 0, Agility 2, Smarts 2
Class Ability: Bypass Code: Roll an extra die when evading an obstacle (stacks with Evasion).
Master of the machines. Not much good in the real world, but adept at manipulating VR.
Brawn 0, Agility 0, Smarts 4
Class Ability: Radio Interference: Use this action in combat to interrupt the actions of a machine. Target a bot and roll Smarts; they subtract your successes from their successes on their next roll.
You are special. Unique. The One chosen for… something. Maybe extra helpings of carrot cake? We’re not sure.
Brawn *, Agility *, Smarts *
Class Ability: Allocate 4 points among the stats as you choose.
On your mission you will encounter many obstacles. Obstacles can be evaded or overcome. Physical obstacles require Agility or Brawn respectively while technical obstacles require Smarts. When you evade an obstacle, your entire troop does so as well but the obstacle remains in place and could interfere with you or others in the future. When you overcome an obstacle, the obstacle is completely removed. When you encounter an obstacle, the GM will tell you the number of successes required on an ability roll to evade or overcome it.
Roll a number of 6-sided dice equal to the value of the stat used. Count the number of 5s and 6s, which are successes. Everything else is a failure. It’s tough to be a rabbit.
Overcoming an obstacle usually, but not always, requires one more success than evading it. There may also be consequences if you fail to evade or overcome an obstacle, as determined by the GM.
Bots and programs will try to stop you in your mission and capture you for VR and the time may come where you need to fight for your lives. During combat, everybunny acts in turns with the order determined by Agility scores highest to lowest. On each turn, you can fight, flee, or use a special action from a class ability, perk, or piece of tech.
Make a Brawn roll if making a melee attack or an Agility roll if making a ranged attack. The target loses health equal to the number of successes rolled.
Make an Agility roll. If the number of successes exceeds the number of opponents you are facing, you escape, no strings attached. Rabbits are fast.
When a bunny or other entity drops to zero health, they are out of the fight. This does not necessarily mean they die, but they can no longer contribute to combat and may be captured or suffer other consequences. Decide with your table what zero health means for you.
A typical bot might have stats like this:
Health 1, Brawn 1, Agility 1, Smarts 1
Advanced bots should have stats similar to the bunny troop. Programs usually have all Smarts and nothing else.
For each point you have in a stat, you get a perk from the appropriate list below. Unless otherwise stated, each perk can only be taken once.
Health: You can take this perk multiple times. For each rank of this perk, your health is increased by one.
Strength: You can take this perk multiple times. For each rank of this perk, add one success to Brawn rolls that you achieve at least one success on.
Precision: Add +2 to your highest die on Agility rolls.
Dodge: Attacks against you use one fewer die.
Explosive rounds: For each 6 you roll on ranged attack rolls, roll an additional die.
Zoomies: Double your Agility for fleeing.
Rabbit’s Foot: Reroll all failed dice on one roll per game session.
Evasion: Roll an extra die when evading an obstacle.
Scientific Method: 4s are successes on Smarts rolls.
Certainty Principle: 3s are successes on Smarts rolls. Prereq: Scientific Method.
Research Replication: Once per Smarts roll, reroll all 2s. Prereq: Certainty Principle.
Loss Aversion: Also reroll 1s when using Research Replication. Prereq: Research Replication.
Contingencies: Optionally reroll all dice other than 1s anytime you roll a 1. Cannot be combined with Research Replication. Prereq: Research Replication.
Jack In: You can jack into VR with an appropriate connection and help others do so.
Spawn Item: When in VR, you can roll Smarts to spawn an item. Number of successes required is determined by the GM based on the size and complexity of the item. Prereq: Jack In.
Delete Item: When in VR, you can roll Smarts to delete items to overcome obstacles or aid in combat. If deleting an item held by an enemy, your successes must exceed their Smarts. Prereq: Spawn Item.
Spawn Terrain: Required successes for spawning are no longer dependent on size of item. Prereq: Spawn Item.
Super Speed: When in VR, you can use Smarts in place of Agility. Prereq: Jack In.
Super Strength: When in VR, you can use Smarts in place of Strength. Prereq: Super Speed.
Bend Bullets: You can take a turn in combat in VR to subtract your Smarts from the number of dice rolled in attacks against you until your next turn. Prereq: Super Speed.
Scan for Vulnerabilities: You can take a turn in combat to identify a bot’s or program’s weaknesses. Until the end of your next turn, 4s are successes in attacks against the target.
Bot Linguist: You can reason with the bots. They definitely won’t trick you into betraying your friends. You can use Smarts to ‘flee’ a fight and engage in parley with the enemy. Parley may devolve into a fight once again. Prereq: Scan for Vulnerabilities.
Exploit: You can use Smarts to attack programs. Prereq: Scan for Vulnerabilities.
Wireless Hacking: You can use Smarts to attack bots within 15’. Prereq: Exploit.
Null Terminator: Successes in attacks against programs are doubled. Prereq: Wireless Hacking.
Kill Switch: Once per combat, you can take a turn to attempt a Smarts roll against the Smarts of a bot within 15’. If you succeed, the bot shuts down. Prereq: Wireless Hacking.
Machine Lord: Take control of bots you shut down with Kill Switch instead. Prereq: Kill Switch and Bot Linguist.