This is a sample of the very rough draft of the core rulebook. Hopefully it will give you a flavor of what the game will be like.

The first draft of the entire core rulebook is written, and soon we'll be sending it out to be play-tested.











Buffalo Wars



Created by J Alan Erwine





































Buffalo Wars














Copyright © 2012 Nomadic Delirium Press



All rights reserved.  No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the written consent of the publisher, except by a reviewer who wishes to quote brief passages in connection with a review written for inclusion in a magazine, newspaper, website, broadcast, etc.





Nomadic Delirium Press

Aurora, Colorado


Cover Image:


Cover Design by Laura Givens








For my wonderful and beautiful wife Rebecca, who makes me want to be more than I've ever been in life, and for our lovely daughters, Eryn, Juliah, and Alexis, who whether they like it or not, are probably doomed to be geeks.  Sorry girls.


-J Alan Erwine





Table of Contents



The Basics

Chapter one: Attributes

Chapter two: Indian Nations

Chapter three: Classes

Chapter four: Skills

Chapter five: Goods

Chapter six: Spells

Chapter seven: Gaming Basics

Chapter eight: Magic Items

Chapter nine: Mass Combat

Chapter ten: Creatures






Welcome to The Battle for Turtle Island: Buffalo Wars.  This rulebook is actually a two-in-one book.  It contains the core rules for the game The Battle for Turtle Island and it also contains the supplemental rules for Buffalo Wars.  This has been done because the core rules, although playable, don't offer as many options as including some actual historical elements.

Although The Battle for Turtle Island can be considered an historical RPG, it's also a fantasy RPG, with the basic premise being what would the "colonization" of America have been like if magic was real?  In this game, the Indians have "medicine" and the settlers have "faith."  This paired with the historical reality of the battles between settlers and Indians gives you the basic premise of the game.

As you read through the book, you'll find that the core rules and the actual Buffalo Wars rules have not been separated.  Instead, they are integrated into one whole.  As future supplements documenting other tribes are released, it will not be difficult to integrate those with the core rules in this book.

It should be noted that I have chosen to use the term Indians in this game.  The main reason for this is that the majority of "Native Americans" that I have known over the years have actually preferred the term Indians.  And I also chose to use it because it was the term that was commonly used during this historical time.  I apologize to anyone that this may offend.

The publishers and I would like to acknowledge that we know we are using a period of time in which tens of thousands of Indians were killed, and we don't want anyone to think we are trying to exploit what the Indians went through.  As we are all strong supporters of Native American rights in this country, we will be donating 10% of the annual profits to a Native American charity…and we will continue to do this for however long people are buying rulebooks and supplements from The Battle for Turtle Island.






Welcome to the historical fantasy game of The Battle for Turtle Island.  In this very brief section, we will give you an overview of what's contained in this book, and what you'll need (other than a vivid imagination) to play the game.

We are aware that Turtle Island was not a name used for the Americas by the plains Indians (the tribes mentioned in this book), but as we previously mentioned, this is also the core rulebook for a much larger game…and besides, we thought it was a really cool name…


The Contents of this Book

This book is broken down into several chapters, each of which will give you the information you need to run or play a game.

Attributes (Chapter One): An in-depth look at each of the seven attributes, including how they effect combat, character interaction, and every other aspect of the game.

Indian Nations (Chapter Two): A look at the Indian nations that will be used in the Buffalo Wars campaigns.  This chapter gives a bit of historical information about the various nations, and it also outlines the bonuses and possible penalties that a character from that nation would have.

Classes (Chapter Three): A look at the classes that are used in the game.  Players are able to choose from a variety of classes that are specific to either the settlers or the Indians.

Skills (Chapter Four): This chapter looks at the abilities that a player can add to their character to make them uniquely their own.

Goods (Chapter Five): This chapter looks at the items that a character can acquire as they make their way through the game.  Included are weapons, protective gear, survival items, etc.

Spells (Chapter Six): Here you'll find the spells that are available to certain character classes.  Settlers and Indians have different spells, with Indians usually having more access to magic.

Gaming Basics (Chapter Seven): This chapter will give you an overview of how to play the game, including combat rules, ceremonies, rewards, etc.

Magic Items (Chapter Eight): Here you'll find the various items that a character might find or create that will improve their chances of survival.

Mass Combat (Chapter Nine): This chapter gives you some quick and simple rules that you can use if your characters are engaged in mass combat, which of course was very common during this era.

Creatures (Chapter Ten): This chapter will give you a few creatures that you might encounter during your game.  They range from the very basic animals that roamed the plains to Indian spirits that may help or challenge the characters during the course of the game.


What will you need to play?

The book you hold in your hand, or that you're reading off of your computer or tablet screen, is the first thing you’ll need, and other than that, it’s pretty simple.  Each player will need a variety of dice.  These dice would be: a four, six, eight, ten, twelve, and twenty sided…having several of these would be good.  Each player will also need a pencil, a few sheets of paper, and a vivid imagination.

The Game Master will also need the adventure that they’ve created to challenge the players with, but most of that goes back to that vivid imagination.

It can be helpful to know a little about the Indian wars that took place on the Great Plains of America, but this is certainly not a necessity for the players.  The Game Master, however, should probably know at least a little…









Your characters’ attributes are his basic abilities, such as their strength or intelligence.  Almost everything that takes place is affected by your character’s attributes.  Much of your character’s success in The Battle for Turtle Island will be determined by dice rolls, and almost every one of those rolls will be affected by one or more of your character’s attributes.

There are seven basic attributes for each character.  Those attributes are: Intelligence, Common Sense, Charisma, Strength, Agility, Endurance, and Medicine/Faith.  The standard character will have ability scores that range between 4 and 24, although these basic numbers can be adjusted by magic, luck, a rise in levels, or several other factors.

The attribute Medicine/Faith is the same attribute, but the actual attribute that a character will use depends on whether or not they're a settler or an Indian.  Settlers use Faith, while Indians use Medicine.



This is a recommended method.  Game Masters should feel free to have players roll up their characters however they see fit.  Usually this will be determined by personal preference and exactly what a Game Master is going to challenge the players with.

During character creation, each player rolls 4 six-sided dice ten times.  The three lowest combined rolls are discarded, and the player then places the other 7 rolls into the abilities as they see fit.

Each character class has a prime attribute, and players must be aware of that before they assign scores.  Players must also consider whether or not they're going to have their characters gain levels in multiple classes.  If they're going to do this, it's important that they keep the prime attribute of the other classes they might want to use under consideration while they're assigning their rolls.



Every roll in the game, whether it’s a combat roll, a skill check, a reaction check, or some other check will usually be modified based on the character’s attributes.  Below is a table that shows what those modifiers are.  These modifiers need to be noted on the character sheet by each attribute score.











no modifier














It should be noted that the table goes past 24.  This is because there will be times when a character uses magic to alter their attributes, and it's important to know what those attribute modifiers will be.



Below are descriptions of each of the attributes.  Please keep in mind that each section explains what character class the attribute is a primary attribute for, but that part of the description is specific to the Buffalo Wars part of the game.  In other game supplements, new classes could use different primary attributes.



Intelligence is a measure of how well your character learns.  In a lot of ways, this can be thought of as a character’s book smarts.  A character’s Intelligence will determine how many skills they’re capable of knowing, and it will also modify their chance of success on some of those skills.

A low Intelligence can lead a character to make a bad decision because they don’t understand how the world really works…so a lot of thought should be put into making sure a character has a high Intelligence score.

Intelligence is the prime attribute for the Settler "Trapper" class, and for the Indian "Hunter" class.

Intelligence also determines the number of languages a character can speak.  All characters can speak their native language, although if their intelligence is below 12, they don't speak it as well as they should.  For each modifier, the character can pick an additional language.  For example, if an Indian Medicine Man has an Intelligence of 22, they could speak their native language, plus an additional three languages.  The languages that are available for The Battle for Turtle Island: Buffalo Wars are listed in Chapter Seven (Gaming Basics.)

The character's Intelligence modifier is used whenever a character uses one of the following skills: animal training, decipher, encryption, fletching, knowledge (all forms), search, and survival.



Common Sense is the measure of how logical your character is.  Another way of thinking of Common Sense is that it’s a character’s street smarts.  Common Sense is what will usually get your character out of trouble after intelligence fails.

A low Common Sense can lead to a character making a bad decision because they just don’t know any better.  Low Common Sense means that the character doesn’t understand what effect their actions can have on the world.

Common Sense is the primary attribute for both the settler and the Indian "Scout" classes.

The character's Common Sense modifier is used whenever a character uses one of the following skills: direction sense, gambling, herbalism, innuendo, listen, negotiation, sense motive, spot, tracking, and wilderness lore.



Charisma is the charm and personality of a character.  It's the attribute that's used most when your character is interacting with other characters.  Your character will often have to try to charm his way out of a situation or they may need to try and charm their way into a better trade deal.

The Charisma attribute modifier is the modifier that's used for reaction checks each time the characters enter a new encounter.

Charisma is not a primary attribute for any classes.

The character's Charisma modifier is used whenever a character uses one of the following skills: diplomacy, gather information, interrogation, and intimidate.



Strength is a character’s physical prowess.  It affects their ability to lift and carry objects, the success and damage of their physical attacks, and is a modifier for several skills. 

For every point of Strength, the character can carry 10 kilograms of weight.

In combat, the Strength bonus is added to any attack dice rolled by a character when they’re using a handheld weapon.  It would not apply to a bow, but if the character were using a club, hatchet, or some other non-projectile weapong, they would add their Strength bonus to their attack dice roll. (More information about combat will be given in Chapter 7: Gaming Basics.)

Strength is the primary attribute for the Indian "Warrior" class.

The character's Strength modifier is used whenever a character uses one of the following skills: climb, hand to hand combat, jump, swim, and some weapons skills.



Agility is the measure of a character’s reflexes.  Agility modifies a character’s defense dice, some of their attack dice, and it also affects their initiative.  Agility is also a modifier for several skills. 

In a combat, a character adds their Agility bonus to any defense dice rolls they might make.  In addition, a character also adds their Agility modifier to any attacks that are done at a distance, such as with bow and arrows, rifles, pistols, and other such weapons.  (More information about combat will be given in Chapter 7: Gaming Basics.)

Agility is the primary attribute for the settler "Cavalry" class.

The character's Agility modifier is used whenever a character uses one of the following skills: balance, dance, hide, move silently, riding, rope use, stealth, survival, and some weapons skills.



Endurance is a measure of a character’s stamina and their ability to incur damage.  Endurance is used to modify a character’s health, and is also used to modify several character skills.

Each time a character advances in levels, they roll a specific number of dice (depending on their class) to determine how many health points they can add.  They also add their Endurance bonus to the dice total each time they gain a level.  Please keep in mind that no matter how bad a character’s Endurance penalty might be, they always gain at least one health point each time they gain a level.

Endurance is not a primary attribute for any classes.

The Endurance modifier is only used to modify the concentration skill, but given that an Endurance bonus will increase your character’s overall health, it’s easy to see how important a high Endurance attribute is.



Medicine is the power that Indian Medicine Men use to cast spells.  Faith is the power that settler Priests use to cast spells.  Medicine and Faith can also be used by non-spell casters to increase their luck.  For the most part, Medicine and Faith are the same thing, but they have different names depending on which side of the war you're on.

Every spell in the game uses a different amount of Medicine or Faith, and the spell caster uses their Medicine or Faith attribute score to determine how many spells they can cast.  This will be completely described in Chapter Three (Classes).

Non-spell casters can use their Medicine/Faith to improve their luck.  They can choose to use five Medicine/Faith points before they make a dice roll.  They then add a +1 luck bonus to the roll.  The character's Medicine/Faith score is then temporarily reduced by five points, and these points are not regained until the next morning.  So, a character with 15 attribute points in Medicine/Faith could use their luck bonus three times, or they could choose to use all 15 points to get a +3 bonus, or they could get a +2 bonus by using ten points, and then get another +1 bonus on a later roll as they use their final five points.  Again, once the points are used, they can not be regained until sunrise.

Medicine/Faith is the primary attribute for the settler "Priest" class and the Indian "Medicine Man" class.

The Medicine/Faith skill is used to modify the defense and story telling skills, but given what Medicine/Faith can do for a character, players should consider this as an important attribute.


Raising Attribute Scores

At 5th level, and every five levels after that, a character may raise any one attribute score by one point.  It’s assumed that as characters gain experience, they will get better at what they do.  The one exception to this is that a character can not raise their Faith/Medicine score.  This attribute goes up with every level as is detailed in the next section of this chapter.

Characters can also have their attributes increased with the use of spells.  This is normally only a temporary increase, but there could be ways to make it permanent.

Finally, characters can find magical items throughout the course of the game that will allow them to increase their attributes.  Again, this will normally be a temporary increase, or the increase will only last while the character is carrying the magical item.



Faith/Medicine Increases

When a non-Medicine Man or non-Priest gains a new level, they add one more point of Faith/Medicine.  When a Medicine Man or Priest gains a new level, they add five more points of Faith/Medicine.

It's important to note that the actual modifier that a character gets from the Faith/Medicine attribute can never exceed six, except in regards to the story telling skill.  Thus even if a character has 40 points in Faith/Medicine, they can only use a +6 modifier for any other rolls that require a Faith/Medicine modifier, like the defense skill.  Even without the additional modifiers, it should be obvious that a high Faith/Medicine score can give the character a lot of additional benefits.