K.A.B.A.L., or Knights and Berserkers and Legendermain was a fantasy RPG by Ernest T. Hams, that was published in 1980, with a second edition in 1982.
It wasn’t terribly successful, and is no longer in print. No legal PDF versions of this game were ever released. The few reviews that existed were quite poor. Here’s the only online, modern review I could find.
On the rare occasions when KABAL is spoken of, most note the poor organization of the rulebook, and the many complex calculations needed to create characters and run combat. It was the only RPG I’m aware of that requires you to calculate square roots.
For example, here’s the rule to find the characters weight:
Height in meters cubed, then times the Strength factor equals the first half. 20 1-6 rolls added and then squared are to be divided by the Endurance, then this is to be raised to the .75 (point 75) power for the second half. The two halves added will equal the weight in kilos.KABAL Players Guide – 2nd edition
Asking people to do square roots and .75 powers in 1980 was sort of a big ask. Many didn’t have access to home computers or scientific calculators.
All that being said, I don’t want to be too snarky or negative on this. This guy published a whole new RPG in 1980, pretty much on his own. This wasn’t like today, when everybody has access to desktop publishing software, DriveThruRPG, itch.io, and Lulu. He didn’t have decades of other games to draw from. Even if I don’t find the rules particularly to my taste, this guy put the work in and actually achieved something. He even put out a second edition.
So, in his honor, I’ve made my own fillable 2-page character sheet for KABAL. I tried to use similar fonts to match the original character sheets. It will automatically calculate some of the main square root values for you (Not the weight calculation – you’re on your own for that). You can also import an image in the upper right hand corner. This is yet another entry in my ever growing list of character sheets.
2 thoughts on “K.A.B.A.L – a character sheet for another long dead RPG”
i used to play KABAL with Ernie and a bunch of the locals who made this game, I even have a play test credit. I continued to play this game for years after and have tons of material Including Character sheets both the original and the stream lined ones we made as well as re-writes and essentially my own third edition where I kept as much of the good but organized things .. The game hold up on the concept “A strong skeleton” to build whatever type of fantasy game you would like. The argument is valid the layout is bad, but I would go to the writer often about rules etc. and dang it if he couldn’t find some sentence in one book that addressed the issue. the math wasn’t hard and it addressed thing paper pencil games still struggle with but, the “Referee” is really the only one who has to understand the math you just hand the player percentile dice and in 3 rolls tell if they hit, where they hit and how hard they hit. KABAL is a rough gem but Gordian in its layout.
That’s amazing. I’d love to see that third edition if you ever put it out into the world.