So the game Merc, published by Fantasy Games Unlimited in 1981, was one of those games that I always saw advertised in different magazines. I never found it at my local gaming store or at conventions. It was through an online auction site that I acquired this game (a long with a few others in the lot) and I decided that I wanted to try it out in the 2022 Character Creation Challenge. Let’s make a mercenary.
The Corporation is the company that is hiring mercenaries to work trouble spots around the world. Some covert and some overt. There are three sections that need to be determined to create a character. Physical Appearance, Physical and Mental Attributes, and Character Specialties. The dice used to create the character is 3d6, 1d6 or a type of percentage using d6 that range from 11-66.
To start the Physical Appearance is the age. 3d6+20 is what you start with, I ended up with 33. Nationality and Name are selected by the player. I’m going with American named Mark Powell to keep it simple. A random dice roll determined that Mark is of average height between 5’7.5” to 5’10”. Going in the middle I’ll select 5’9”. It talks about Weight, but mentions it will be discussed later in the character creation process. Random roll for hair color makes Mark a redhead with Hazel eyes (quickly looks up what hazel looks like, looks kinda brown to me but I’m not a color connoisseur). You even roll for the skin complexion, which ended up with Fair or Light Skinned (apparently they keep track of sunburns in this game). We even roll for what type of voice the character has? I guess it factors into something called Command Control. Will Mark end up with a voice that sounds like Pee Wee Herman? The dice say his voice is average (no affect on Command Control). Oh all of these rolls on physical appearance can be adjusted depending upon your nationality. The last item in the Physical Appearance section was what hand Mark preferred, which resulted in Right.
Now we move to Physical/Mental Attributes. These are Strength, Agility, Intelligence, Knowledge, Intuition, and Prior Military Experience (listed as Past Military Experience on the character sheet). You roll the 11-66 results and then select the score to which attribute you wish to use to meet your specialty minimum requirements. I rolled two really good scores and one really bad score. I checked out the specialties to see which one I wanted Mark to have for Primary and Secondary. Out of the 15 options, I selected Sniper/Sharpshooter for the Primary and Driver/Pilot for the Secondary. I assigned the attribute rolls to match the requirements. This also allowed me to fill in Mark’s weight and carrying capability.
On the Modified Test Rolls, are the attribute scores the attribute modifiers? Oh there they are, under the individual attribute descriptions. There is a weapons list with weight, but no costs. There is also no equipment list (unless I’m missing a book, which is possible since there is only one in the boxed set along with some handouts). I noticed that there is no info on experience points, rank or cash on hand. (Rank and XP were found in the GMs section) I really wonder if I’ve got an incomplete set now? A quick trip to the Merc entry on Wikipedia states that I’ve got everything, so yea. I guess I’m done? The second sheet mostly deals with wounds and nothing was written on it, so I didn’t scan it.
I liked how quickly into the character creation the book took us. You want to shoot things, let’s get rolling. And the more I read, the more my eyebrow raised.
For the random rolls of physical appearances everything was pretty average. You had an equal chance to be a red-head vs a brunette. The only one that was not balanced was the hand preference.
While I was getting a “G.I. Joe” feel from some parts of the book, this system seemed off. 2d6 for some attacks while others were 3d6. Lot’s of info on movement, zero on equipment. No index to try to look things up. No background info on the Corporation or why they are hiring out mercenaries. Considering when Merc was released, this seems more like a wargame that tries to be a roleplaying game. I seriously doubt I’d play this game and I know I won’t be homebrewing for it. In fact I’m seriously considering adding this game to the trade pile.
There are plenty of other games that are fully fleshed out if you wanted to run a mercenary style campaign.
Besides creating a character for Merc, I also created a new character for Far Trek in the hopes of participating in an online game. The character was submitted today to the GM. I’ll let you know how the game goes.
I don’t think I have any more boxed sets scheduled for 2022, but if I use any in the future challenges I’ll have to make sure that they are complete before selecting them.
Coming Up Next:
Dungeon Crawl Classics