Praxis System

Last Updated: 2020-01-10

Table Of Contents

The Praxis storytelling system and tools provided below are for the purposes of running a role playing game online or in person. This is a living document with additional revisions, content, and balancing occurring regularly.

Introduction

The Praxis system was inspired by my experiences playing a variety of tabletop role playing games using multiple systems. It shares many concepts and conceits which will be familiar to any tabletop role-player.

Praxis is intended to facilitate an experience focused on character, narrative, and ‘theatre of the mind’ style gameplay. The focus of the game is on collaborative creation of a story with the associated mechanics designed to lend additional weight to character over luck, and facilitate a non-binary range of failure and success, and encourage quick resolution of actions.

Author’s Note: This system is generic enough to be used in any setting, but the rules below assume the use of the Aeldos setting and its specific mix of technology and the arcane. World specific content that would require consideration or modification for games run in settings other than Aeldos include Cultures, Species, Advanced Callings, and Technology.

Primer

What’s all this then? Game system? Narrative? Storytelling? If you’re not sure what any of this means here’s the short version: This document is meant to support a Storytelling Game; a game where a group of people tell a story, or more precisely, a story which uses game systems and rules to introduce chance, risk, complexity, and drama. In this form of collaborative story each player portrays a character with one player taking on the special role of Storyteller. Where most players represent only one character and their focus is on their character’s actions, the Storyteller provides everything else needed by the story. They provide additional structure by depicting the rest of the world, its characters, and its opportunities and by confronting the other players with challenges, secondary characters, and narrative elements. The Storyteller also adjudicates the rules, using the structure and tools provided in this document.

So a tabletop role-playing game then, like Dungeons and Dragons?
Yes and no. Dungeons and Dragons serves a specific style of gameplay; map-based, tactically combat oriented, and with a class and rule focus. Praxis uses similar concepts but consideration has been given to helping facilitate both a more streamlined narrative experience and a broader character creation system as well as the tools necessary for a Storyteller to facilitate this style of play.

What’s the Aeldos setting then?
Aeldos is a fictional world and Praxis is the system used to create stories in that world. This website is used for hosting content about both. Aeldos is a mixed genre setting using both science fiction and fantasy concepts with its own history, cultures, species, and technologies.

This document consists of the following sections:

  • Structure: This section describes the basic structure of the game and some key rules.
  • Character: This section describes the features of a Praxis character as well as the process for creating a character and links to resources relevant for the Aeldos game setting.
  • Rules and Tools: This section provides useful tools and rulings and meant to help create and adjudicate narrative challenges.
  • Storyteller Resources: This section provides resources to help a Storyteller run a Praxis game.

Structure

The Praxis system is built to serve a narrative game loop. This loop is the fundamental structure by which the game progresses and is as follows:

Scene > Response > Challenge > Scene > …

Scene

The Storyteller provides a rich description of a Scene including the environment, characters, and other details.

  • Scenes may include direct or indirect Challenges that the characters must overcome.
  • Challenges are things like searching a room, convincing a bartender to provide information, picking a lock, intimidating an enemy, or winning a fight.
  • Scenes with Challenges should advance the development of the characters or the story.
  • Scenes without Challenges are opportunities for the characters to rest, interact, pursue their interests, and for the players to introduce their own challenges.

Response

Once the Storyteller has provided the scene description the players Respond by asking Questions or describing Actions their characters would like to do.

Questions are used to flesh out the details of a scene which may have been forgotten or which are important to a specific character. Example questions might be general such as “What’s the weather like?” or “Do any of the patrons of the bar look particularly troublesome?”, or character specific such as “Do I see anything different with my low light vision?” or “Do any of the characters react differently to me being a quasihuman?”

Actions are things a character does. Example Actions might be specific such as “I climb the cliff face”, “I begin to make camp”, or “I throw a chair into the brawl.” or they might be broader such as “I want to find out who the snitch is” or “I want to help everyone else get up the cliff.”
It is important that Actions are not mechanical. The player does not say “I would like to use X skills”. Instead the player should specify what their character is doing or wants to achieve. The focus of the game should not be on the dice or the rules but the collective story you’re telling. Think of mechanics as a useful tool for resolving Challenges that occur as part of the narrative.

Challenge

A Challenge represents a character attempting to do something with the potential for meaningful failure. These might be prompted by the Storyteller for example when an adversary such as a creature or enemy attacks the characters or a non-player character takes actions in opposition to the characters, but they can also be prompted by Questions and Actions. For example:

  • The Question “Do I see anything out of place?” might prompt a Perception challenge
  • The Action of “Climbing a sheer cliff” might prompt a Climbing challenge
  • The Action of “Finding the snitch” might prompt an Investigation challenge.

To determine whether the character succeeds or fails the Challenge the player must make an Action Roll. This is called Resolving an challenge and this is where the Mechanics come in.

Mechanics

Praxis uses an additive dice mechanic for its resolution system. Players roll 2d10 and add the values of the dice plus additional values based on their character’s key traits. The result is compared against a challenge difficulty determined either by an opposed roll (OR) or a storyteller determined value (SDV)

Core Dice Mechanic
2d10 + Aspect + Broad Skill + Focus Skill

Why use 2d10? Character Skill should be a more important factor than pure luck. Using 2d10 reduces the randomness of results by creating a triangular probability graph rather than a flat one.

Action Roll

Whenever a character attempts to do something that has the potential for meaningful failure the Storyteller will request an Action Roll. An Action roll consists of a relevant combination of Aspects and Skills the characters action in regards to a challenge. Aspects are a characters innate capabilities and Skills represent experience, training, and knowledge, both of which are described below. This might be Power + Athletics for a Climbing challenge or Personality + Socialize for a Persuasion challenge

The player or Storyteller may also identify additional character features might modify the roll. These can include bonuses derived from Traits, Callings, Species Features, or Equipment and which add to the characters chance of success and/or penalties such as flaws, injuries, or other negative conditions. The Storyteller can also choose to assign additional modifiers to the roll due to creative or entertaining approaches to a problem or penalties due to environment or circumstance.

Alternate Approaches

There are usually multiple ways to complete an action and depending on the description the Storyteller may choose to provide options. For example, a character facing the Social challenge of trying to discern truth from lies might make an Intuition + Socialize to detect clues of dishonesty or they might make a Personality + Socialize instead, intending to prompt the target to reveal their dishonesty, or a character trying to parse an unfamiliar technological interface might make an Intellect + Technology to use their previous experience and understanding of such devices to understand it, or they might make an Intuition + Observation instead to try and interpret the design language of the interface. If a player believes they may have a specific or alternate approach they are encouraged to suggest how their action might use alternate Aspects and Skills to overcome the challenge. Creative problem solving should be rewarded but the final decision on what features are relevant to the roll is up to the Storyteller.

Once the modifiers are decided the player then rolls 2d10 and adds up the results.

The effect of the Action Roll and the outcome of the challenge are determined by the Storyteller based on the Difficulty.

Types of Action

There are three broad types of action:

Simple Action: Simple actions are where the outcome can or must be determined with a single roll of the dice (Short Climb, Lift Gate, Hit Enemy, Pick Lock under Threat). These are typically actions under an immediate time constraint.

Extended Action: At the Storyteller’s discretion a character can retry an action until they get it right. Examples include Picking a lockbox lock, Searching quiet area, or drawing a map for a long journey. This is called an extended action. Players can make multiple Action Rolls but each one represents at least ten minutes spent on the task. So long as they are not meaningfully interrupted the character gains a +1 for each subsequent Action roll to the task, up to a maximum of 5 until they are able to succeed, are interrupted by other events, or give up. Extended Actions are for when timing is a relevant consideration; where losing 10 minutes of time increases the risk of a negative consequence. Picking a lock on the route of a guard patrol, or trying to locate a hidden entrance before an ally is killed. If time isn’t an issue, 10 minutes won’t make a difference, and at least one of the player characters is skilled in a task it’s not necessary to trigger a roll.

Complex Action: Complex actions are where the outcome depends on a series of successful checks with different skills over a longer period of time. (Craft Armour, Research Lore, Investigate Gang, Follow Trail). Complex actions are extended and sequential activities that take several days or weeks to complete. These are typically unopposed but difficult and the ST determines the stages or elements and assigns a difficulty to each. The task is only complete once all of these are successfully passed. Complex actions can be broken up and tackled by a group with each group member proficient in the task contributing a +1 to the rolls of all other members.

Automatic Success and Actions

If a character is skilled at a task and there’s no risk for an action, don’t roll. It’s alright to assume simple actions by skilled characters with ample time succeed and unproductive to drag the pace of the game down with unnecessary rolls.

Difficulty

Difficulty is the target against which success or failure of Challenge is judged. Difficulty can be set in several ways:

  • By the storyteller directly where the difficulty is fixed and known. E.g. Picking a lock without distraction.
  • Against a roll defined by the storyteller where a challenge is highly random or defined by dynamic elements E.g. Running through a crowded square.
  • Against an opposing roll from another player or non-player character who is competing with or defending themselves against the character. E.g. Attempting to strike an opponent.

The more a player’s roll exceeds a target or opposing roll, the more successful the action. Conversely, the lower a roll in comparison to the target or opponent, the less successful.

The scale of success is provided below. This scale can be used to calibrate the difficulty of a Challenge.


Scales of Success and Failure

Non-Contested

TargetResult
2Critical Failure
3-7Failure
8-11Easy
12-15Moderate
16-19Hard
20-23Heroic
24+Epic

Contested

SpreadEffectBonus
1-3Narrow+1
4-5Moderate+2
6-7Considerable+3
8-9Substantial+4
10-11Massive+5, Free Action
12-13Heroic+6, Free Action
14-15Epic+7, Free Action

Critical Success and Failure

Rolls of 2 are always a Critical Failure with negative results for the character.
Rolls of 20 are always a Critical Success with positive results for the character.


Order of Operations

Action resolution works as follows.

  1. Player declares an Action that has some risk of failure,
  2. Storyteller requests an Action Roll and specifies the relevant character features,
  3. Player accepts the Action Roll as is, OR cites additional bonuses they want to use, OR specifies an alternate approach that uses alternate character features,
  4. Storyteller and Player agree on a roll and the Storyteller assigns any additional modifiers based on the players description of the action.
  5. Player rolls 2d10 and adds the bonuses from the specified features.
  6. Storyteller compares the result to the Difficulty for an unopposed roll or makes their own opposing roll and determines the degree of success or failure.
  7. Storyteller describes the outcome of the Action.

Example of Play

Zila, Fleet, Marcus, and Haevian are investigating a ruin that has been marked off limits by the Ossandrian Legion. They come across a blocked entrance filled with heavy Orick debris. Marcus wants to move the debris so they can continue. The Orick is heavy so moving it is a difficult physical Challenge (Target 18). The storyteller calls for an action roll using Power + Athletics. Marcus’ player rolls 2d10 (result 12) and adds their ranks in Power (3) and Athletics (3) to get the result +6. Marcus also has a Focus Skill of ‘Heavy Labour’ (1) and can add this for a final result of 12+7 = 19. Marcus easily shifts the debris.
Unfortunately, moving the debris was not quiet and has drawn the attention of a nearby Legion patrol and as the group tries to enter the building to avoid the patrol they find the door is locked. Zila wants to pick the lock before the patrol finds them. The lock is not conventional and uses old Urul technology and so is difficult (Target 17). The storyteller calls for an action roll using Grace + Technology but Zila’s player proposes using her Larceny, explaining that Zila’s focus is on circumventing the mechanical elements and weaknesses of the lock rather than the electronics. The storyteller agrees that this is possible and notes that the mechanism itself is quite old and worn reducing the difficulty (Target 16). Zila’s player rolls 2d10 (result 9) and adds their ranks in Grace (2) , Larceny (3) and their focus in Lockpicking (2) for a result of +7. Zila also has a masterwork set of lockpicking tools which grant a +1 to the roll for a total bonus of +8 and a final result of 9+8 = 17. The lock opens but because it is only 1 above the target not before the Legion patrol rounds the corner.
While Zila works on the lock, Haevian and Fleet prepare themselves for the approaching patrol, hiding in the shadowy rubble of the ruin. The Storyteller calls for a Grace + Stealth check from both to determine the difficulty for anyone trying to spot them.
Fleet rolls 17 and adds her Grace (+3) and Stealth (+3) for a result of 23. She is adept at finding a nook and melding into the shadows.
Haevian rolls a 10 and adds his Grace (+1) and Stealth (+2). His heavy armour also imposes a penalty of -2 to the roll, for a final result of 11. It’s hard to hide in full plate.
The patrol rounds the corner and rolls a Perception to spot the hiding characters. Fortunately they roll a critical failure. The Storyteller describes how the patrol is bickering about the quality of last nights meal and are entirely oblivious to the crew.
With the patrol gone and the door unlocked the group proceeds further into the ruin.

Advanced Bonuses

Not all modifiers add or subtract to the result. Species features, Callings, Abilities, Traits, and Equipment can grant less straightforward bonuses or penalties through alternate dice mechanics.
Example of alternate dice mechanics:
3d10H: Roll 3d10 and take the two highest.
3d10L: Roll 3d10 and take the two lowest.

Ties

In combat, ties go to the defender. In all other scenarios ties should go to the player character but come with some minor complication.

Choosing Failure

Sometimes it’s more entertaining to fail than it is to succeed. Players who make the story more interesting by choosing to fail a roll of consequence they might otherwise succeed should be rewarded in some manner. Depending on the seriousness of the consequences of failure the Storyteller is encouraged to give out Plot Points, Experience, or a more temporary bonus to a subsequent roll.


Initiative

Initiative is the term used to determine a characters relative position in the ordered series of actions taken by multiple characters, creatures, or events. It’s only necessary to use initiative if it truly matters which order actions occur in such as chases, fights, and other high tension scenes.

When the Storyteller calls for Initiative they are indicating that there is a competition to act first that may have a meaningful impact on the narrative. When this happens the narrative slows down and each player and the Storyteller act in turn, with each turn representing 6 seconds of time.

To create an initiative order every player and the Storyteller must roll 1d10 and add the value to their character’s Reaction. A higher initiative represents a character able to act sooner than others, while a lower initiative represents acting later.

Simultaneous Initiative

If two characters land in the same slot in the Initiative order the one with the higher Reaction goes first. If both characters have the same Reaction reroll to determine who goes first within the turn.

Delayed Action

A character can choose to delay their reaction, seeking a more opportune time to act. To do so, on their turn the player must declare their intent to delay the action until a specific condition is met. This could be “I delay until Randulf draws his sword” or “I delay until I have a clear line of sight on the target”. Once the condition is met the character can act and is assumed to act after the condition has been met. The character assumes this new place in the Initiative order for the following round. If the condition is not met they lose their turn waiting. When declaring a condition the player does not have to specify an action.

Examples

  • If the condition were “I wait until Shenn starts moving” and Shenn intended to move and then attack the character would preempt her action.
  • If the condition were “I wait until Gota is occupied” and Gota attacks another character the character would go after.
  • If the condition were “I wait until Coran has moved into the doorway” and Coran intended to throw a bomb and then move through the doorway the character would go after.

Character

Features

Characters are composed of the following features:

  • Aspects: The fundamental features and attributes of a character.
  • Broad Skills: The general learned abilities of the character.
  • Focus Skills: Highly specific areas of skill.
  • Derived Features: Key character features derived from combining other features.
  • Traits: Singular or progressive character customization’s such as advantages, callings, and specializations.

Aspect and Skill Scale

Aspect value ranges are based on a human average of 0.

#Ability TermSkill Term
-5IncapableN/A
-4TerribleN/A
-3BadN/A
-2PoorN/A
-1HinderedN/A
0AverageAware but unpractised
1GoodTrained with limited practice
2ProficientTrained and practiced
3ExcellentWell versed and experienced
4AmazingExperienced master of subject
5PerfectApex of human skill / renowned
6SuperhumanBeyond natural human ability

Aspects

Each character has Aspects which define their fundamental physical, mental, and social capabilities. The human average for Aspects is zero but any specific person can have between -5 to +5 ranks in a given Aspect, representing the full range of human capacity. Each [[Culture]] values one Aspect in particular, granting members of that culture a 1 point bonus to that Aspect at character creation. Some Quasihuman species also gain bonuses or penalties to specific Aspects. See the Character Creation section for more information.

AspectApplication
PowerStrength, Stamina, Physical Resilience
GraceAgility, Dexterity, Physical Control
IntellectReasoning, Logic, Memory, Knowledge
IntuitionWits, Senses, Wisdom
PersonalityCharm, Charisma, Social Capability
AppearancePhysical Attractiveness
WillMental Fortitude, Spiritual Potency

Skills

There are two types of skills: Broad, and Focus. Characters can have between 0 and 5 ranks in a given Skill. The higher the rank, the better the character is at that particular skill. Each [[Culture]] values certain Skills in particular, granting members of that culture a 1 point bonus to that Broad Skill at character creation. Quasihuman characters do not get a bonus to a skill but they do find certain skills easier or harder to learn. See the [[Character Creation]] section for more information.

Broad Skills

Broad skills represent the general knowledge and experience of a character in common areas. These skills should be derived from the background and history of the character. A wandering soldier should have points in Combat and Travel, while a fast-talking thief should have points in Larceny and Socialize. Characters gain a bonus to a Broad Skill based on their culture.

Focus Skills

Focus skills are specific to the character and related to a Broad Skill. A warrior might have a Combat oriented focus with a particular weapon or maneuver like dodging or parrying while an artisan might have a focus in a particular field such as clothing or masonry, or a scholar in a particular subject.

Broad SkillDescriptionFocus AreaExample Focus Skills
Animal HandlingCommunication and care of animalsSpeciesFelines, Vulpines, Primates
AthleticsRunning, climbing, swimming, jumpingActionRun, Climb, Swim, Jump, Throw
CombatMartial and tactical competenceWeaponDagger, Sword, Bow, Hammer
CraftTinkering, engineering and general creative abilityFieldWeapons, Armour, Clothes, Scribing
ConcentrationTrained focus and ability to block out distraction
InvestigationIdentification of evidence, clues, and pursuit of leadsLocaleUrban, Rural
LarcenyAbility to defy locks, pick pockets, and commit crimesFieldLockpicking, Pickpocketing
LanguagesNumber and proficiency with languages (3,5,7,10,14) FamiliesCyphers, Dead Languages, Machine Code, Sign Language
LoreHistory, politics, mythology, geography, etcArea of StudyHistory, Politics, Mythology, Geography
MedicineAnatomy, healing, herbalism, first aidArea of StudyFirst aid, Herbalism, Surgery, Anatomy
MercantileIdentification of items and their valueFieldTrade goods, Equipment, Gems
ObservationPerception, listening, spotting
PerformancePublic oration or demonstrations of skill InstrumentOration, Lyre, Drum, Singing
SocializeSocial manipulation and interactionActionLying, Persuasion, Intimidation, Flattery
StealthAvoiding detectionEnvironmentCity, Forest, Plains, Mountain, Desert, Night
SurvivalHunting, foraging, avoiding hazards, finding shelterEnvironmentCity, Forest, Plains, Mountain, Desert
TechnologyUnderstanding of complex devices and constructionTechRepair, Luminar, Canna, Artilects, First Age Security
TravelRiding, driving, sailing, piloting, navigatingMethod, OtherRide, Drive, Sail, Pilot, Navigate, Secret Paths

Languages

Languages, like all other skills, take time and effort to learn. However, unlike other skills, languages are used pervasively, generally without the need to roll a skill check. As a result, the Language skill represents the characters multi-lingual capacity as much as their ability to interpret other languages.

Culture Languages and Common

All characters speak their Culture Language (the dominant language of their originating culture) as well as Common unless they take the [[Flaw]] ‘Isolate’. Common is an ancient and pervasive trade language that finds every day use in markets, taverns, and wayhouses across the world. These first two languages do not take up language slots and do not require a roll to understand as the character is assumed to be fluent in both.

Additional Languages

Learning additional languages requires intense study or tutelage under someone fluent in that language. For each point taken in Language Skill, the character gains additional ‘slots’ for the languages (See the Language Rank table for the number of slots available at each level). Languages aren’t learned in an instant; in general it takes at least two months to reach fluency in a language. The character must spend their XP to purchase the language. After doing so, and during the learning period the character is assumed to have a basic understanding of the language which permits them to make an Intellect or Intuition + Languages roll to understand other speakers. After the training period has passed the character is assumed to be fluent and no longer needs to make checks to understand the language.

Language RankSlots
11
23
36
49
5Unlimited
List of Languages
LanguageCultureDescription
ArgotAny‘Rogues common’, Argot takes from multiple languages and makes broad and significant phonological changes. It is used primarily by criminals.
ClatterAnyExtremely difficult language used by machines. Humans who can speak it are rare and often only know enough to trigger key functional responses.
CommonAnyDerived from Urul, this is the common language of Ossandria, Selene, and much of Victra and a trade language everywhere else.
EonoMujinCommon language spoken by most Mujinese.
High Ossandrian OssandriaFormal and political language of the ruling military class of Ossandria.
Iayath VictranAlternately, ‘Low Victran’, this is spoken by the lower classes of Victra.
ItanenEast SvertheimLanguage spoken in the east of Svertheim and parts of Lux.
KadathNoneSpecial and intentionally constructed language spoken by [[Kadesch]].
KogoMujinArchaic, formal, and typically ceremonial language spoken in Mujin.
NetilNehepDominant language spoken across Nehep, with minor regional variations.
ReuLuxDominant language spoken across southern and central Lux.
SvanWest SvertheimLanguage spoken in much of Vandar and western Svertheim.
UrulNoneAncient and largely lost language of the Urul Imperium, found in many ruins.
VaiarGrandenLanguage spoken in Granden and southern Vandar and which evolved out of Svan.
VoleeSubinLanguage spoken on the isle of Subin and in the south of Nehep.
VortTollamGuttural language spoken by the Tollam of the South.
WhistleshapeBellatorExtremely difficult vocal and physical language of the Bellatori. Humans who can speak it are rare and complex phrases are physically impossible for them to generate.
Sign Language

What universal sign language existed in Aeldos died with the fall of the Urul and though non-verbal communication through signing persists, it has become regional and heavily tied to the local languages. Fragments of a universal alphabet persist but have become intertwined with common cultural hand signals and ad hoc additions.

Mechanics: Sign Language is a Focus Skill and works alongside any language the character already has. To communicate in Sign to someone who is not fluent requires an Intuition or Intellect + Language + Sign Language for the speaker. No check is needed for communication between two individuals with the skill.

Derived Features

While other character features such as Aspects, Skills, and Traits are purchased, Derived Features are obtained by adding specific core features together.

General Derived Features Reference Table
FeatureFormula
AwarenessIntuition + Observation
ReactionGrace + Intuition
ImpressionPersonality + Appearance
SlotsFortitude + 12
Moves(Grace + Power + Athletics) / 3 + 1
Awareness

Awareness (Intuition + Observation) is used when the character is not paying attention to a particular situation, being immersed in conversation, combat, construction or some other focused or distracting task. A low Awareness means the character is easily distracted, while a high awareness means the character is extremely observant, even while undertaking other tasks. Awareness is used in active Perception checks (2d10 + Awareness) which represent a character actively observing their surroundings without distraction.

Reaction

Reaction (Grace + Intuition) is used when the character is not actively aware of a threat and represents a characters reflexes. A character uses their reaction against Traps and Area attacks. A low Reaction means a character is clumsy and slow to respond to danger. A high Reaction means the character has sharp reflexes and is unlikely to be caught off guard.

Impression

Impression (Personality + Appearance) represents the innate social charm and appeal of the character. This feature is used by the Storyteller to determine the initial disposition of NPCs toward’s the character. For more information on disposition please see the [[Storyteller]] section.

Slots

(Optional System)
Slots (Fortitude + 12) represent how much equipment or gear a character can carry. [[Inventory and Slots System is Work in Progress]]

Combat Features

Basic Attack: (Power or Grace + Combat + Weapon Focus)
Basic Defense: (Power or Grace + Combat + Parry or Dodge Focus)
Weapon Damage: (Weapon Damage + 1/2 the spread of contested attack/defense roll)

Moves

(Optional System)
Moves ((Grace + Power + Athletics)/3) represent how far a character can move in an action round. All characters have a minimum of 1 move. For more information on movement please see the [[Movement]] section.

Fortitude

Fortitude (Power + Will) represents a characters physical endurance and hardiness. It is used in determining how much damage a character can take and when resisting the physical effects of illness and poison.

Resilience (Intellect + Will) represents a characters mental endurance and determination. It is used to determine how much stress a character can endure and when resisting stress effects such as fear, panic, and domination.

Condition Pools

A characters physical and mental condition are represented as two Pools of Health and Stress points. The Health pool is depleted when a character takes Wounds and the Stress pool is depleted by the use of special abilities or when the character suffers fatigue, horror, violence, and pain. Health and Stress pools are refilled passively through rest or can be actively recovered with certain technologies or abilities.

Health Pool

Base: Fortitude + Species Value
Passive Recovery: Power per week + Traits (Minimum of 1)
Soak: Armour

Stress Pool

Base: Resilience + Species Value
Passive Recovery: Will per Day + Traits (Minimum of 1)
Soak: Will + Species Modifier

At 50% of Pool or Lower all characters suffer Penalty (Will – 4, with a Minimum penalty of -1). If both pools are below 50% the Penalty is increased by 1

Condition Pools Reference Table
HealthStress
Derived Fortitude (Power + Will)Resilience (Intellect + Will)
Condition PoolFortitude + Species ValueResilience + Species Value
RecoveryPower per Week (Minimum 1) + TraitsWill per Day

Plot Points

(Optional System) Plot Points are a form of player currency that can be used to influence the story in meaningful ways.
Players earn plot points by:

  • Complications: Players who do a particularly good job embodying not just the strengths but the weaknesses of their character should be rewarded. If a player voluntarily fails an important roll because it wouldn’t make sense for the character or playing a character’s weakness even though it has negative consequences but makes the story more interesting.
  • Callings: Players who embody their Calling through action or roleplay should earn a plot point for doing so.

Plot points can be used to reverse bad fortune or exert additional control over the narrative. A player can have a maximum of 3 plot points at a time and plot points can be traded for one of the following.

InterventionDescriptionPoint Cost
Automatic Success, ModerateThe character can succeed on one non-contested action that is Moderate difficulty or below. 1
Downgraded DifficultyThe character can reduce the difficulty of a task by one degree (Epic > Heroic > Hard > Moderate > Easy).1
RerollThe character can reroll an action.1
Shake it OffReduce the wounds from an attack by 1/2.1
I Know a GuyThe player can describe a minor character who can help with a situation. The ST will play this character based on the description 1
Automatic Success, HardThe character can succeed on one non-contested action that is Hard difficulty or below. 2

Character Creation and Advancement

Character Sheet:

Tabula Rasa: All human characters are assumed to start with 0 in all Aspects and Skills. Since the scale is based on a human average of zero Quasi-humans have adjusted base Aspect values and caps to represent particular advantages and disadvantages of a given species. All base features have a maximum of 3 at character creation or 4 for quasi-human specializations.

Overview / Cheat Sheet

  1. Create Character Concept
  2. Select Human Culture OR Quashuman Species (Note Culture or Species Bonuses. If Quasihuman note Skill cost multiplier)
  3. Purchase Aspects (48xp, New Level ×6, Human Max. 3 at Creation) Aspects are the basic physical, mental, and social features of your character
  4. Optional Elements
    • Purchase Calling or Advanced Calling (25xp, New Level ×10, Ability Level ×5)
    • Purchase Traits (Remainder of 25xp above, New Level ×5)
    • Select Flaws (Gain 5 general XP or 200g per Flaw, Max. 2 Flaws at Creation)
  5. Purchase Broad Skills (60xp, New Level ×4 (Adjusted by Species/Calling Modifiers for Specific Skills) Max. 3 at Creation)
  6. Purchase Focus Skills (54xp, New Level x2, Max. 3 at Creation)
  7. Calculate Derived Features
    • Reaction: Grace + Intuition. Used for reflexive actions, added to 1d10 on Initiative checks.
    • Awareness: Intuition + Observation. Passive perception, added to 2d10 for active Perception checks.
    • Fortitude: Power + Will. Physical resistance to injury, illness, and intoxication.
    • Resilience: Intellect + Will. Mental resistance to stress, fear, and madness.
    • Impression: Personality + Appearance. The first impression the character conveys; impacts initial NPC disposition.
    • Health Pool: Fortitude + Species. The amount of damage the character can sustain before dying..
      • Species Values are Human(5), Bellatori(8), Heliar(NA), Kaeki(3), Oneiri(5), Tollam(10)
    • Stress Pool: Resilience + Species. The amount of stress the character can sustain before breaking.
      • Species Values are Human(10), Bellatori(8), Heliar(20), Kaeki(10), Oneiri(10), Tollam(20)
    • Stressed: Stress Pool / 2. The point at which an initial stress penalty is triggered.
    • Stress Soak: Will + Trait. The amount of stress which the character can ignore in any given round of action.
    • Stress Penalty: Will -4, Minimum Penalty -1: The penalty the character takes to actions when reaching Stressed state.
    • Pool Recovery
      • Health Pool: Power per Week, Minimum of 1. The speed the character heals from physical wounds at.
      • Stress Pool: Will per Day, Minimum of 1. The speed the character heals from stress at.
    • Basic Attack/Defense Bonus: Higher of Grace or Power + Combat. The characters basic combat proficiency.
  8. Determine Gelt and Carry Slots and Purchase Equipment
    • Gelt: Humans get 4d10 x10g, Quasihumans get 3d10 x10g. If the character has a Calling 10’s explode (Reroll 10’s and add)
    • Carry Slots: 12 + Fortitude. (Armour: Light(2), Medium(4), Heavy(6); Weapons: Small(1), Medium(2), Large(3), Huge(5); Horse +2)
  9. (Optional) Expand and Elaborate by answering Bonus Questions to build the character and their backstory. At Storyteller discretion this also grants additional XP to spend on character.

Character Creation XP Table

FeatureXP At CreationCost per New Level in XP
Aspect48×6
Trait, Calling, and Ability25×5 (Calling Levels are ×10 at Creation)
Broad Skill60×4 (Adjusted by Species or Calling Modifiers)
Focused Skill54×2
DerivedN/ADerived features are not purchased

Step-by-Step

Concept

1 The first step in making a character is to devise a concept. A character concept is a 1-2 sentence description of the character that provides some indication of their background and what makes them interesting. Examples:

  • Charming artist with a dangerous secret.
  • Retired soldier looking for purpose and a good death.
  • Disgraced noble’s servant turned scoundrel looking for a big score.
  • Brutal gang enforcer with political ambitions and a gift for blackmail .
  • Arrogant scholar’s son seeking lost wisdom to prove themselves.
  • Reclusive woodsman haunted by dark deeds and strange visions.
  • Skilled travelling musician pursued by obsessed noble fan.
  • Fugitive Tamaa searching for a family and a new start.
  • Monster hunting Bellator seeking the ultimate trophy.
  • Devious spy embedded among a foreign culture and forgotten by their own.
  • Jovial barroom brawler looking to protect their sibling and earn a few coins

Character Growth: A concept is a starting point, not the totality of the character. This concept may evolve or entirely change over time or through play. A disgraced noble might regain their honour, while a brutal gang enforcer might be driven into an oath of pacifism by the story. Don’t let the concept be a barrier to interesting character development.

Culture or Species

2 The second step in making a character is to select a Species. This may have been part of the concept or it can be secondary to the concept. If the character is Human you must also select a Culture which represents their origin. Your selection here will grant one or more bonuses to Aspects and Skills and/or adjust costs for skill purchases. Quasihumans also have different maximums for certain Aspects.

Human Cultures

  • Badlands: (+1 Grace, +1 Survival)
    The character hails from the brutal and shattered wasteland tribes beyond the Illspires.
  • Granden: (+1 Intellect, +1 Performance)
    The character hails from the mysterious Mirage Kingdom.
  • Lux: (+1 Grace, +1 Athletics)
    The character hails from the democratic nomads of the Riverlands.
  • Mujin: (+1 Intuition, +1 Observation)
    The character hails from the militant survivalist strongholds of the Jade Forest.
  • Nehep: (+1 Intuition, +1 Lore)
    The character hails from the clever and learned people of the Great Desert.
  • Ossandria: (+1 Personality, +1 Socialize)
    The character hails from the massive conquering Empire at the heart of the continent.
  • Selene: (+1 Intellect, +1 Technology)
    The character hails from the advanced and eternal Silver City
  • Subin: (+1 Appearance, +1 Medicine)
    The character hails from the hedonistic Intoxicating Isle in the Southwest.
  • Svertheim: (+1 Appearance, +1 Craft)
    The character hails from the hale and industrious Northern Kingdom.
  • Vandar: (+1 Power, +1 Travel)
    The character hails from the tough and chaotic clans of the Caern Forests.
  • Victra: (+1 Personality, +1 Mercantile)
    The character hails from the mercantile of the Southern Scythe
  • Other/Savage: (+1 Intuition, +1 Survival)
    The character hails from no specific culture. They were raised in the savage wilds, in a dangerous outpost, or in some other environment external to the dominant cultures.

Quasihuman Species

  • Bellatori: Lethal six-limbed repto-avian hunter-warriors from the wilds
    • Grace +2|7, Intuition +1|6, Appearance -2|3
    • +1 Multiplier for Tech, Mercantile, Medicine
    • -1 Multiplier for Combat, Stealth, Survival
    • +3 Health & Stress Pool, 2 Stress Soak, +2 Recovery
  • Heliar: Brilliant crystalline minds housed in construct bodies
    • Power, Grace & Intuition are based on [[Body]]
    • Intellect +2|7, Will -2|3
    • +1 Multiplier for Socialize, Stealth, Performance
    • -1 Multiplier for Technology, Lore, Craft
    • See [[Body Rules]] for how to Build Character
  • Kaeki: Rare Ayr-touched seers and manipulators
    • Will +2|7
    • +1 Multiplier for Athletics, Medicine, Technology
    • -1 Multiplier for Languages, Stealth, Observation, Investigation
    • -2 Health Pool, -1 Recovery
  • Oneiri: Distinctive and diminutive dreamwalkers hiding in plain sight.
    • Intuition +2|7, Intellect +1|6, Power -2|3
    • +1 Multiplier for Combat, Observation, Survival
    • -1 Multiplier for Craft, Medicine, Animal Handling
    • No special bonuses to Health or Stress
  • Tamaa: Striking genderfluid plant-people that can sustain themselves on human emotion
    • Appearance +2|7, Personality +1|6, Will -2|3
    • +1 Multiplier for Concentration, Technology, Craft
    • -1 Multiplier for Perform., Socialize, Mercantile
    • Recovery +2
  • Tollam: Powerful and frightening warrior giants
    • Power +2|7, Will +1|6, Intellect -1|4
    • +1 Multiplier for Lore, Animal Handling, Craft
    • -1 Multiplier for Combat, Athletics, Concentration
    • +5 Health Pool, +10 Stress Pool, +2 Awareness

Aspects

3 The third step in creating a character is to Purchase Aspects. Aspects are the basic physical, mental, and social features of your character and include Power, Grace, Intellect, Intuition, Personality, Appearance, and Will. Players get 48xp to spend at character creation. Purchasing higher ranks costs the new level ×6xp so if the player wants to raise a characters Power from 1 to 2 they must spend 12xp and if they wish to raise it again from 2 to 3, they must spend an additional 18xp, The maximum rank in any Aspect for Humans is 3 or 4 for Quasihuman Aspects with an increased Maximum value.

Negative Aspects: It is possible for a character to start out with negative ranks in Aspects due to flaws or Quasihuman disadvantages. The cost to buy out of a negative Aspect is the current penalty multiplied by 6 in experience points. For example, if a character has -2 in Power and wishes to buy ‘up’ to -1, they pay 12xp.
The exception is for characters who have taken a Flaw at character creation. The player must first spend 10xp to remove the trait and can then begin buying out of the penalty as stated.

  • Power
  • Grace
  • Intellect
  • Intuition
  • Personality
  • Appearance
  • Will
Negative AspectXP Cost
-530
-424
-318
-212
-16

Optional Elements

4 The fourth step in creating a character is to determine which, if any, optional elements the player wishes to take. These include Purchasing Callings, Purchasing Traits, or Selecting Flaws. These mechanisms for customizing the character within the context of Aeldos are selected here because they impact the cost to purchase certain Skills or impact Derived Features which are calculated later in character creation, or grant additional XP which can be spent on character customization. Players get 25xp to spend on Callings and Traits at character creation. If you can’t afford something you’d like for the character you can always take a Flaw to gain some additional XP or it can be purchased in play (1/2 the fun is a character that grows into their power anyhow.)

Purchase Calling

Callings represent specific vocations that the character pursues or is drawn to. Callings might represent a profession the character earns their living from, or they may simply be what they are good at, not what they are employed in. Either way, a character’s calling is a fundamental feature of their background and should provide additional ideas for expanding the character.

Ranks in a given Calling at Character Creation cost New Level ×10xp. This is because the first level of any calling reduces the multiplier cost of purchasing a Broad Skill. Note this for Step 5.
A list of Callings and the associated -1 XP Broad Skill Multiplier are included here:

  • Alchemist (Lore)
  • Aristocrat (Socialize)
  • Curate (Lore)
  • Dancer (Athletics)
  • Diplomat (Languages)
  • Drudge (Animal Handling)
  • Entertainer (Socialize)
  • Explorer (Survival)
  • Fighter (Athletics)
  • Gambler (Larceny)
  • Guard (Investigation)
  • Handler (Animal Handling)
  • Hunter (Stealth)
  • Lorekeeper (Concentration)
  • Mechanic (Lore)
  • Merchant (Mercantile)
  • Soldier (Combat)
  • Spy (Observation)
  • Surgeon (Medicine)
  • Thief (Stealth)
  • Tinker (Craft)
Purchase Advanced Callings

Advanced callings are Aeldos Specific callings which grant the character unusual or supernatural gifts called Abilities. For Advanced Callings your points can be spent towards Abilities within said Calling at a cost of New Ability Rank ×5. Please ensure you clear advanced calling character concepts with the Storyteller.

[[Link to Adv. Callings List / Open in New Tab]]

Purchase Traits

Traits are advantages, gifts, feats, and abilities that set them apart. Players can use the remainder of the 25xp above to purchase traits. Each trait costs 5xp and mutli-tier traits cost New Rank ×5xp

Select Flaws

Flaws are a characters failings, disadvantages, and disabilities. These are features which hinder the character, and are difficult to remove. Players can take up to 2 flaws at character creation and chose to gain either 5xp or 200g per flaw.

Broad Skills

5 The fifth step in character creation is to Purchase Broad Skills. Broad skills represent the general skill that your character has such as Socializing, Larceny, Observation, or Combat. Players get 60xp to spend on Broad skills at character creation. Purchasing higher ranks costs the new level ×4xp so if the player wants to raise a character’s Combat skill from 1 to 2 they must spend 8xp and if they wish to raise it again from 2 to 3, they must spend an additional 12xp, The maximum rank in any Broad Skill for Humans is 3. Remember to add any Culture bonuses or species XP modifiers when determining the XP cost.

Focus Skills

6 The sixth step in character creation is to Purchase Focus Skills. Focus skills are a characters specialties. These subsets of broader skills are the things they are particularly good at. It’s suggested that the player start with Focus skills derived from highest Broad Skills but this is not mandatory. Players get 54xp to spend on Focus skills at character creation. Purchasing higher ranks costs the new level ×2xp so if the player wants to raise a character’s focus skill from 1 to 2 they must spend 4xp and if they wish to raise it again from 2 to 3, they must spend an additional 8xp, The maximum rank in any Focus Skill for Humans is 3.

Calculate Derived Features

7 The seventh step in character creation is to calculate the derived features of your character. you can do this by following the list below.

  • Reaction: Grace + Intuition. Used for reflexive actions, added to 1d10 on Initiative checks.
  • Awareness: Intuition + Observation. Passive perception, added to 2d10 for active Perception checks.
  • Fortitude: Power + Will. Physical resistance to injury, illness, and intoxication.
  • Resilience: Intellect + Will. Mental resistance to stress, fear, and madness.
  • Impression: Personality + Appearance. The first impression the character conveys; impacts initial NPC disposition.
  • Health Pool: Fortitude + Species. The amount of damage the character can sustain before dying..
    • Species Values are Human(5), Bellatori(8), Heliar(NA), Kaeki(3), Oneiri(5), Tollam(10)
  • Stress Pool: Resilience + Species. The amount of stress the character can sustain before breaking.
    • Species Values are Human(10), Bellatori(8), Heliar(20), Kaeki(10), Oneiri(10), Tollam(20)
  • Stressed: Stress Pool / 2. The point at which an initial stress penalty is triggered.
  • Stress Soak: Will + Trait. The amount of stress which the character can ignore in any given round of action.
  • Stress Penalty: Will -4, Minimum Penalty -1: The penalty the character takes to actions when reaching Stressed state.
  • Pool Recovery
    • Health Pool: Power per Week, Minimum of 1. The speed the character heals from physical wounds at.
    • Stress Pool: Will per Day, Minimum of 1. The speed the character heals from stress at.
  • Basic Attack/Defense Bonus: Higher of Grace or Power + Combat. The characters basic combat proficiency.

Determine Gelt and Carry Slots and Purchase Equipment

8 The eight step in character creation is to determine how much coin the character has to spend, how much they can carry on them, and then purchase equipment using that coin.

Gelt
Humans get 4d10 x 10g
Quasihumans get 3d10 x10g
If the character has a Calling 10’s explode (Reroll 10’s and add)

Carry Slots
12 + Fortitude
[Optional System Still Under Construction]

Equipment can be purchased via using the Inventory. Some pieces of equipment such as Canna, Folding Armour, and other advanced items may require a trait to purchase. If you wish to purchase any special or rare equipment please consult with your Storyteller first to get approval.

Expand and Elaborate

9 Characters are more than a collection of numbers on a page; they have motives, values, goals, and backgrounds that help define them. You don’t have to know everything about your character before the game starts (it’s often as much fun to find out in game as out) however the more you clarify before the game starts, the more opportunities you provide for the Storyteller to build encounters and challenges that fit your character. The questions below are provided to build the character and their backstory. At the Storyteller’s discretion answering these questions might also grants additional XP to spend on creation.

Advancement After Character Creation

After character creation advancement is related to in game activity. As a character progresses they may learn or improve their skills but increases are tied to the activities the character pursues in game. A character who has spent the majority of their time on a battlefield is unlikely to have learned Lore or Mercantile skills just as a library bound scholar is unlikely to be learning much about combat. The exception to this would be if the player specifies that the character has pursued training from a mentor or other character which would allow them to buy up their skills.

Playable Species Options

Bellatori

Aspect Ranges
Grace 2 to 7
Intuition 1 to 6
Appearance -2 to 3
+1 Skill Multiplier Cost
Tech, Mercantile, Medicine
-1 Skill Multiplier Cost
Combat, Stealth, Survival
Other Advantages
+3 Health and Stress
Mimicry
Additional Limbs
Other Limitations
-4 Extreme Climate Penalty
Madness prone
Outsiders
Death: Bellatori regenerative abilities allow them to automatically self-stabilize when Fallen or Dying even without medical intervention. Bellatori can stabilize by succeeding in a Fortitude check at difficulty 16 for Fallen or 16 + Excess Damage for Dying.

Heliar

Aspect Ranges
Intellect 2 to 7
Will -2 to 3
+1 Skill Multiplier Cost
Socialize, Stealth, Performance
-1 Skill Multiplier Cost
Tech, Lore, Craft
Other Advantages
Physical Aspects determined by Body
Other Limitations
Repairs
Property
Death: Heliar do not breath, eat, drink, bleed, or get hot or cold, making them by far the most durable sapients in all Aeldos. Indeed as minarelid entities housed in machine bodies the best most can hope for is to disable a Heliar’s frame, the mechanical body that conveys them, rendering the Heliar a seemingly inert chunk of crystal. Destroying a Heliar crystal requires dedicated effort and, given their value and the existence of bolts, is not the chosen option for most.
A Heliar’s core has a separate Health pool equal to its level x10 with a slashing and piercing armour soak equal to the heart level x2.
While the only true death for a Heliar is to have their core shattered or slagged in a sufficiently advanced blast furnace most Heliar are more afraid of the alternative; being left inert and insensate to the world as some bauble or worse, used to power some insensate piece of technology.

Kaeki

Aspect Range
Will 2 to 7
+1 Skill Multiplier Cost
Athletics, Medicine, Tech
-1 Skill Multiplier Cost
Languages, Stealth, Observation, Investigation
Other Advantages
Celestial Sight
Ayrskin
Anti-lingua bonus
Covert
Other Limitations
-2 Health
-1 Heal Rate
Failed perception triggers stress breaks
Death: In addition to being more fragile than other species, Kaeki are driven by iron wills that drive them to Persist, even in the face of death. Despite their fragility and persistence, Kaeki have an apparently tenacious hold on life and the difficulty of their Dying Fortitude check starts at 16.

Oneiri

Aspect Ranges
Intuition 2 to 7
Intellect 1 to 6
Power -2 to 3
+1 Skill Multiplier Cost
Combat, Observation, Survival
-1 Skill Multiplier Cost
Craft, Medicine, Animal Handling
Other Advantages
Dreamwalking
Old Dream
Sleep Toxin
Covert
Other Limitations
Diminutive
Dream afflictions
Death: Oneiri are less durable than other species and when Fallen can only remain so for their Fortitude in rounds. Both Fallen and Dying Oneiri require a successful Medicine check at difficulty 16 + Excess Damage to be stabilized.

Tamaa

Aspect Range
Appearance 2 to 7
Personality 1 to 6
Will -2 to 3
+1 Skill Multiplier Cost
Concentration, Technology, Craft
-1 Skill Multiplier Cost
Performance, Socialize, Mercantile
Other Advantages
Regeneration
Mutovore
Tentillium
Other Limitations
Addictions
Low Will
Death: Tamaa defy human mortality and only enter Dying status when on fire, submerged in acid, or when their arbour heart is attacked directly (A Tamaa’s arbour heart has a separate Health pool equal to its level x10 and short of truly epic damage typically requires conscious effort to destroy). Tamaa also do not require stabilization rolls as their strange bodies knit themselves together from even the most egregious wounds. Conversely, the Tamaa Will is weaker than most and they cannot take the Persist action.

Tollam

Aspect Ranges
Power 2 to 7
Will 1 to 6
Intellect -1 to 4
+1 Skill Multiplier Cost
Lore, Animal Handling, Craft
-1 Skill Multiplier Cost
Combat, Athletics, Concentration
Other Advantages
+5 Health Pool and +10 Stress Pool
+3 Perception
Other Limitations
Oversized
Fearful Aura
Death: Tollam cannot take the Fall action. Something in their hind-brain causes them Persist, even when terribly injured. The robust and redundant nature of Tollam physiology also lowers their Dying Fortitude check difficulty to 15 and they can add their level in Mountain Heart to this roll. Tollam are also immune to Massive Damage and are always placed in Dying status, even when taking truly staggering amounts of damage.

Rules and Tools

Stealth and Concealment

A standard opposed sneak check is Grace + Stealth + Focus vs. Intuition + Observation. Failure indicates the observer has seen something but this does not necessarily mean that they have full sight of the sneaking character. If the Observers success falls within the range of the characters stealth level the observer is alerted by the character is considered concealed. IE: If a sneaker with stealth 3 rolls 11 but the observer rolls 13 (Range between 11 and 13 is 2 which is less than the character Stealth level), the enemy is alerted to the sneakers presence but the character still has concealment and a brief opportunity to act without being fully detected.
Concealment offers the following:

  • Concealed attack where enemy can roll defense at penalty of -4
  • Concealed characters are considered Hidden against ranged attacks (+10 to attack difficulty)
  • Concealed characters can attempt to escape an area but must make a second stealth check at a penalty of -5

Awareness, Perception, and Investigation

Awareness = Intuition + Observation
Perception = 2d10 + Awareness
Sometimes asking for a roll reveals as much as the roll itself. Perception is one such roll. Asking for a perception implies there’s something there for character’s to perceive and can trigger intentional or inadvertent metagaming as a result.
Instead the system uses an Awareness trait which is calculated as.
A character’s Awareness represents their general attention to the world around them. The higher a character’s Awareness the more likely they are to passively observe detail and nuance. Conversely, the lower the Awareness, the more oblivious they are to even obvious events.
Awareness is what the storyteller uses to determine what a character sees when they’re not actively engaged with a situation. A character’s perception is their ability to muster a level of intentional awareness and observe the world, seeking something.
Perception is an active roll that is called for by *the player*, indicating the character’s active intention to observe the situation for details.
In addition to Awareness and Perception a character’s investigation represents their ability to actively investigate and piece together clues and evidence. Investigating is an active action and necessitates a roll of 2d10 + Intuition + Investigation. This roll is called for by the player, indicating the characters actions to investigate something.
Awareness and Perception are what you do with your senses. Investigation is what happens when you add your hands and some experience.

Lying

Lying is another instance where asking a player to roll to detect a lie implies more than a storyteller might like. To avoid this the storyteller can do one of the following:

  • Roll the lie *and* detect lie for the player and NPC (this puts the onus of tracking bonuses and results on the storyteller)
  • Determine a Lying and Detecting Lies baseline for a character

The player should not rely on the storyteller if they think they are being lied too and can request a detect lie check. When doing so they may wish to use an alternative to the standard Intuition + Socialize check, so long as they can justify it.

Health, Damage, and Injuries

Each character has a health pool that is based on a combination of their Fortitude [Power + Will] plus a base species value. This represents how resilient the character is to both wounds and injury.

  • Damage represents cuts, bruises, and other wounds to the body that do not impede the character’s general ability to act individually but can have a cumulative effect, wearing away the characters health pool.
  • Injuries represent a more serious sort of damage such as broken bones, concussions, and amputations that have long term or permanent consequences for the character.

When a character suffers damage through combat, environmental conditions, illness, or other means, deduct points form their health pool. The amount of health deducted is determined by the source such as combat, falls, heat, or cold minus any mitigating factors such as armour, relevant skill, or specialist gear. Some examples are provided below but are by no means complete or authoritative and alternate formulae may be useful or appropriate.

Combat

Damage sustained in combat is based on the weapon + 1/2 the difference between quality of attack and defense (spread) minus the soak value of any armour, worn or intrinsic to the character.

Bleeding

While most wounds inflict some superficial amount of bleeding, deep or particularly skillfully inflicted wounds are much more dangerous and inflict the Bleeding status. Characters who are Bleeding take 1 point of unsoakable damage per round until they are treated with a successful Medical check at difficulty 17. Such wounds can be reopened on critical failures or if a character is subsequently reduced below 1/2 of their health pool.

Falls

Unexpected: Characters free falling onto a hard surface take 1 damage per meter fallen after the first 2 meters, minus the higher of the character’s Grace or Power (minimum 0). This represents a characters ability to soak the forces of the fall with their agility or endure them with their might. Characters with a 1 or higher in athletics can further mitigate the damage of the fall with a Grace + Athletics check vs. a difficulty of 16+1 per 5 meters fallen. Failure means the character takes normal damage minus soak but on a success the character can double their Grace or Power soak. Note that this mechanic is meant to apply to free falls from height, such as off a roof, horse, ledge, or airship. Trips or falls from a standing position such as in combat trigger their own wound mechanics.
Prepared: Characters intentionally jumping down or attempting an athletics check gain the benefit of preparation and can add their Athletics to their soak (e.g., higher of power or grace + athletics)
Soft: If the character is falling on a soft surface such as water or some other liquid all soak values are combined and doubled. (E.g. A character with Grace 3 and Power 1 can soak 4×2 or 8 meters (26ft) of fall damage base and 16 m with a successful Grace + Athletics. A character with Grace 3, Power 1, and Athletics 2 can soak 6×2 or 12 meters of fall damage base and 24m with a successful check.)
Breaking Bones: If the unmodified damage of a fall would exceed 1/2 the characters health pool roll 1d10. On a 1 or 10 the character gets a break injury.

Crushing

Characters caught under falling debris or heavy objects suffer damage determined by the storyteller based on the size, materials, and circumstances. Damage can range from 1d10 for small pliable objects to 10d10 for huge objects such as boulders or trames. If there’s sufficient room to manoeuvre and warning a character may be allowed to make a Reaction check (Grace + Intuition) to respond in time and a dodge check to avoid being crushed. Depending on the circumstances this either avoids or mitigates the amount of damage taken and armour soak can be applied but this is at storyteller discretion.

Heat

At apparent temperatures above 40C (105F) characters suffer 1 damage in Hyperthermia each day, minus any soak provided by protective gear or shelter, or other cooling. The amount of damage is increased by 1 for every 20 degrees above 40C.
Heat Exhaustion: Major exertion in heat such as combat, climbing, or running is difficult. At the beginning of each day in the heat make a Fortitude check vs 16+1 per 20 degrees C. If the character succeeds they endure the heat but if they fail they suffer a -3 penalty on all such activities for the day.

Cold

At apparent temperatures below 0C (32F) characters without sufficient garb suffer 1 damage in Hypothermia each day, minus any soak provided by protective gear, shelter, or other heating. The amount of damage is increased by 1 for every 10 degrees below 0C
Frostbite: Each day spent in cold temperature with exposed or wet skin brings the risk of frostbite. At the end of each day in the cold make a Fortitude check vs 16+1 per -10 degrees C. If the character succeeds then nothing happens but if they fail they have frostbite and suffer an additional point of damage. For each day spent without mitigation the character is at risk of tissue necrosis with cheeks, nose, fingers, toes, and ears most susceptible. Roll 1d10 and consul the chart to see what extremity is affected. If this issue is not treated with a Medical check at difficulty 16 the extremity becomes gangrenous and is now an injury that imposes a relevant penalty (e.g. Grace, Appearance, or Perception)
Extreme Cold: At temperatures below -30 characters without sufficient garb must do the above checks every hour.

ResultBody Part
1No effect
2Left hand fingers
3Left foot toes
4Left ear
5Nose
6Right ear
7Cheeks
8Right foot toes
9Right hand fingers
10No effect

Dehydration

Characters can go without water for a number of days equal to 1/2 their Fortitude. At the beginning of each day a character goes without water after this point they must roll a Fortitude check vs. 15+2 per additional day without water. If the character succeeds they endure but take 1 point of unsoakable damage. If the character fails they take 3 points of damage and suffer a -3 penalty to all activities for the day.

Starvation

At the end of a week without any food and every week thereafter a character must make a Fortitude check vs. difficulty 17. If the character succeeds they endure the hunger and suffer only a -1 penalty to actions, however if they fail they enter a progressive decline outlined in the following chart.
Each week the character eats sufficient food they ascend the chart.
Each week they eat insufficient food they remain in the current state.
Each week they do not eat any food they descend to the next phase.

StageEffect
Phase 1-3 to actions
Phase 2-5 to all actions, 1/2 health damage
Phase 3-10 to all actions, reduced to 1 health
Marasmus / DeathEvery day roll 1d10. On anything but a 10 the character dies of cardiac arrest

Note: Tamaa can survive without food by feeding on emotions. When starved of both they do not suffer the penalties above but instead progress towards a feral state.

Fire

Fire deals 1d10 stress and 1/2 that in damage per round and cannot be soaked but can be extinguished by dedicating a round to a Grace + Athletics or Survival check vs. a difficulty of 14 or by fully submerging oneself in water, dirt, or some other non-flammable substance. Alchemists fire deals 1d10 stress and damage and requires a check at difficulty 18 to put out as even submersion does not quell such a cruel substance.

Breathing

Characters can hold their breath for 1/2 of Fortitude squared and rounded in minutes (see Chart below). Characters take 3d10 dmg each round they spend submerged after this. Each time a character is wounded or engages in serious exertion while holding their breath the length of time is halved.

FortitudeDuration
12 minutes
25 minutes
310 minutes
415 minutes
520 minutes
635 minutes
750 minutes
865 minutes
980 minutes
10100 minutes

Acid

Acids do damage according to potency.

Illness or Poison

The damage value of the condition minus 1/2 of Fortitude.

Getting Hurt

Once a character has lost 1/2 their health pool they suffer a -3 penalty to all actions and the number of attacks they can make per round is halved.

Falling and Persisting

Once a character has lost all of their health pool they have a choice:
Fall: The character succumbs to their wounds and either falls unconscious or is otherwise unable to engage in actions. Fallen characters cannot fight, move, defend themselves, or speak at more than a whisper and remain in this state for 1d10+Fortitude rounds (Fortitude Clock). If a Fallen character is not stabilized by a character with at least 1 in Medicine in this time they enter the dying status. If the character takes additional damage in this state they immediately enter dying status. One benefit of falling is that most enemies will turn their attention away from a fallen foe to focus on more imminent threats… though not always.
Persist: The character can make a Power + Will check to remain conscious and continue acting. The base difficulty for this check is 18 and is not penalized by their -5 action penalty. On a success the character can act but suffers a -5 penalty and can only take 1 action per turn. A critical failure on this roll means the character falls unconscious, takes an additional point of damage, and immediately enters the dying status. A critical success on this roll means the character recovers 1 health; if this brings the character above zero they recover and can act normally. Each subsequent round spent with no health pool the character must roll again to Persist. The penalty to this roll increases by 1 each round until they finally succumb to their wounds or get a critical success. Each time a character sustains additional wounds during this period they can choose to Fall or Persist but the penalty to their Persist check increases by 1.

Dying

Characters enter Dying status after losing their entire health pool and either failing a Persist check, or choosing to Fall and running out their Fortitude clock. Characters who are dying must succeed in a Fortitude check each round at a difficulty of 18 until they are stabilized. If they fail this check the character has died. Dying characters are disabled and cannot typically self-stabilize.

Excess Damage / Below Zero

Characters can take more damage than they have available in their Health Pool and excess damage is expressed in negative values. Negative values need to be healed via technical or arcane intervention before a character can recover.

Massive Damage

Generally speaking, characters suffering their Health Pool in damage in a single round die immediately. Only extraordinary circumstances or abilities such as Tamaa regeneration can prevent such an outcome.

Death Blow

A character in Fallen or Dying status can be killed with a death blow. These are rolled attacks but only fail on a critical failure or if intercepted by other means as a dying character cannot defend themself.

Injuries

These can occur when a character badly misses during a defense or experiences a critical failure on a physical skill check. These are typically broken bones, concussions, dislocated joints and other serious but not terminal trauma. A character suffers an injury any time they roll a critical failure (a result of 2 on 2d10, 1% chance) and would take more than 1/2 their health capacity as a result. For example, a character with a health pool of 8 who rolled 2 and took 4 damage for any reason as a result would acquire an injury dependent on how they suffered that damage (e.g. a broken bone from a fall, a bleeding wound from a blade) Injuries take special care to heal; someone with at least 1 point in the medicine broad skill must roll an Intellect + Medicine (+ any relevant focus skills) and achieve a result of 15 or higher to allow the injury to start healing. This represents setting the bone, stitching the wound, or relocating the dislocated joint. The injury heals according to the chart below only after treatment has occurred.

Grievous injuries can also occur in the form of burns, amputation or internal bleeding. This more severe form of injury only occurs when the character both critically fails and suffers an amount of damage equal to their health pool in a single act. Grievous injuries require additional care to mend; Someone with at least 3 points in the medicine broad skill must roll an Intellect + Medicine (+ any relevant focus skills) and achieve a result of 18 or higher to allow the injury to start healing.

Status Conditions

There are several conditions with specific mechanical effects. A vicious wound that won’t stop bleeding, a blow to the head that numbs the senses,

StatusEffect
Bleeding-1 health per round until healed
Concussed-3 to all Intellect related rolls for 1d10 hours
DazedWill check vs. Target 11 to take multiple actions
DisabledAffected limb is unusable until healed
Out of the FightThe character requires immediate medical attention
PoisonedVaries according to poison
StunnedThe character loses their next action
WindedWill check vs. Target 11 to run

Stress

Just as Health represents a characters capacity to endure physical injury Stress represents their capacity to endure mental fatigue. Stress measures a character’s capacity to absorb and cope with disturbance originating from fatigue, horror, violence, and pain.
Each character has a maximum stress threshold based on their Will and Intellect. This represents both their ability to both rationalize their emotional states and endure them.
The formula for determining Stress threshold is as follows:
Base of 10 + Intellect + Will + Relevant Traits
For each point of damage a character takes they also take 1 point of stress, but stress also accumulates from other sources as well; witnessing horrific violence or its after effects, encountering inhuman foes, going without sleep or food for significant periods of time, dealing with the arcane, all can inflict stress. Many arcane abilities also require the wielder to take stress as they fight to bend reality to their will.
As a character’s stress increases this may impact their ability to fight and perform skills. The amount of stress a character can endure before taking penalties is determined by their Will. Their stress meter is broken up as follows.

Stress Bracket

All characters have three stress brackets. Normal, Stressed, and Overwhelmed.
Normal represents a character with 0-50% of their stress threshold.
Stressed represents a character with 50-100% of their stress threshold.
Overwhelmed represents a character with 100% of their stress threshold.

Stress Resistance

A character’s Will is their resistance (bonus) or vulnerability (penalty) to stress. The value of a character’s Will is subtracted from certain types of incoming stress damage the same as armour is for physical attacks. The difference is, if a character is particularly weak willed with a negative, they gain extra stress.

Stress Penalties

After a character has accumulated 50% or more of their stress threshold they become Stressed and begin to take penalties to their actions. The penalty a character suffers from stress is dependent on their Will. Characters with higher Wills suffer lower penalties than those with low or negative will. The formula for determining your Stressed penalty is as follows:
Will minus 4 with a minimum penalty of -1.
Example 1: Sarv has an average Intellect and slightly above average Will. Xyr stress threshold is 11 (10 + 0 + 1). From 0-5 points of stress xy is Normal. From 6-11 points of stress xy is Stressed and takes a penalty of -3 to all actions. When xy exceeds 11 points of stress xy must roll a Will save to continue to act.
Example 2: Intan has a high Intellect and Will. His stress threshold is 16 (10 + 3 + 3). From 0-8 points of stress he is Normal. From 8-16 points of stress he is Stressed and takes a penalty of -1 to all actions. When he exceeds 16 points of stress he must roll a Will save to continue to act.

Stress Break

Stress is essentially a measure of mental health, resilience, and sanity with the limits of that range defined by the characters Species, Will, and Intellect.
Everyone still has a breaking point though and hitting the stress limit is never a good thing. When a character exceeds their stress limit, also known as becoming overwhelmed, the character suffers some form of mental breakdown.
The first step is to determine how severe the breakdown is. Roll 2d10 + Will. If the value is above 12 the breakdown is minor. If the value is below 10 the breakdown is severe and the character gains a psychological flaw, phobia, addiction, or other negative feature.
The nature of this breakdown should be determined between the player and the storyteller and fit the situation in question.
Examples:

  • The character experiences a stress break due to exposure to arcane events causing them to acquire a phobia of mysticism and arcanistry. The character now suffers a general penalty of -5 to all actions in the presence of the arcane.
  • The character experiences a stress break due to injuries causing them to acquire a flaw of fugue. The character’s response the next time they hit the stress limit is to go into a non-responsive state.
  • The character experiences a stress break as a result of killing people causing them to acquire the blood thirsty flaw. They can now only regain stress when they are inflicting violence on others.

Healing and Recovery

Absent active healing characters heal their Power per week at a minimum of 1*. This is assuming any severe wounds have been properly tended too with an average Medicine check.
Example: Adam has a Power of 2 and heals 2 points of damage per week. Eve has a Power of 0 and heals only 1 point of damage per week.
[Variant Rule: Healing = % of Max per day/week, modified by character features]

Assisted Healing Table

There are several methods of assisting or accelerating a the natural healing process. Regular wound care is the most common, but first age technology such as Mendikits, the Lingua Arcana, or even certain quasi-human mutations are also known to help.

ResultUnaidedMendikit/TentilliarLinga, Self-HealingLingua, Heal-Other
2-10Fail: 1 Dmg00Fail: 1 Dmg
10-120010
13-150121
16-180232
19-201343
21-231454
23-252565
26-282676
29-313787
32-35N/A898
Natural 205Full -1Full -1Full -1

Injury Recovery Table

Recovering from injuries requires time and rest. The times below assume a character at relative ease. Characters who are traveling or in stressful circumstances may not be able to start healing until they are able to find some safety.

InjuryEffectRecovery Time
Concussion-1 Intuition, -1 Intellect1 Week
Broken Bone-1 Grace, -1 Power3 Weeks
Dislocated Joint-1 Grace, -1 Power1 Week
Sprain or Tear-1 Grace, -1 Power1 Week
Laceration or Puncture-1 Grace, -1 Power2 Weeks
Amputation-2 Power or Grace3 Weeks, -1 Permanent
Burn-3 Health Capacity3 Weeks
Internal Injury-2 Health Capacity2 Weeks

Stabilization

Fallen: Stabilizing a Fallen character requires at least 1 in Medicine and 2 uninterrupted rounds treating the Fallen. During this time the Fortitude Clock does not advance and no Medicine check is necessary. A character stabilized from Fallen in this manner is no longer at risk of dying but are still disabled and retain any excess damage. Once the Fallen is stabilized, on the subsequent round a normal Medicine check can be done. If successful enough to heal the stabilized character above zero the Fallen can get back in action.
Dying: Stabilizing the Dying is more difficult and requires that a character with at least 2 in Medicine spend 2 uninterrupted rounds treating the dying. On the second round the Medic can make a Medicine check at a difficulty of 16 + Excess Damage to stabilize them. Using an aid such as Lingua, Technology, or Tamaa medicine removes the Excess Damage from the difficulty. On a failure the stabilization fails and must be retried. On a success the Dying is stabilized. Attempts to stabilize the Dying can continue until the character fails their Fortitude check or the stabilization check succeeds, whichever comes first. A stabilized character is still out of the fight, retains any excess damage, and takes an injury related to the wound that brought them low. Once the Dying is stabilized, on the the subsequent round a normal Medicine check can be done. If successful enough to heal the stabilized character above zero the character can get back in the fight.

Note that in combat scenarios healing a stabilized character above zero requires an aided heal check via Lingua, Technology, or Tamaa medicine; unaided healing takes too long to work in combat.

Stress Recovery

Characters regain their Will + 2 Stress per day when Resting and their Will per day when traveling. Stress recovery can be enhanced by a variety of character specific features.
One example of this might be a religious character who recovers an additional point of stress through acts of worship. Another might be an alcoholic character recovering an additional point of stress by drinking (with the downside of taking additional stress when deprived of drink).

Combat

Combat Basics

Surprise Attack: Triggers an opposed Stealth vs. Perception. If target succeeds they get their defense. If not attacker rolls and gains bonus damage.
Initiative: All characters roll initiative to determine order of actions.
Action: On their initiative each character gets to attack and/or move. They can attempt anything that can reasonably be completed within 6 seconds. What counts as reasonable is determined by the storyteller.
Attack: Power or Grace + Combat + Focus.
Defense: All aware Melee opponents get an opportunity to defend themselves from an attack. This takes the form of an opposed roll. Power (Parry) or Grace (Dodge) + Combat + Focus.
Multi-Defense: There is a penalty for multiple identical defenses per round. This represents the difficulty of maintaining defense in the face of multiple attacks. The penalty is equal to the number of times a given defense has been used in a round -1. IE: A 2nd dodge is at -1.
Damage: Damage is determined by the quality of the hit and the quality of the weapon. Successful hits deal the base weapon damage +. For every 2 points the attack exceeds the defense the attack inflicts an additional damage. (2=1, 4=2, 6=3, 8=4, 10=5, 12=6) [Variant Rules: Damage = Weapon with bonus only for exceptional spread or via trait OR Damage = Aspect used + Weapon].
Critical Rolls: A critical success occurs when two tens are rolled. A third d10 can then be rolled and added to the value. A critical failure occurs when two ones are rolled.
Environmental Roll Modifiers: Environmental features of a battle can add bonuses or penalties. Environmental Roll Modifiers include things like high ground, outnumbered, sun position, snow, rain, fog, darkness, damaged gear, tight quarters, unsteady ground.
Armour Soak: Armour absorbs an amount of damage equal to the value indicated. An S1-B2-P3 armour soaks 1 slashing, 2 bludgeoning, or 3 piercing damage based on the attack.
Non-Lethal Combat: Unarmed attacks do 1D or 1/2 Combat + Focus. Characters can take non-lethal (NL) damage equal to their standard Health pool. NL damage regenerates at Power per round. Filling or exceeding Health pool indicates a knockout. Any NL damage over pool maximum is converted  to standard damage at 1/2 value.

Ranged Combat

Attacks made using a ranged weapon such as a Bow, Crossbow, or Canna are handled differently from melee. This is because it’s far more difficult to defend against these weapons. To determine how to treat a ranged attack, first determine the range at which the attack is occurring. For this purpose there are two types; Point Blank and At Range
Point Blank: If the target could make a melee attack against the attacker they are at Point Blank Range. Ranged attacks against Point Blank targets are treated as an opposed roll like any other. The target can attempt to either dodge the attack or parry the attacker’s weapon before they can get a proper shot off.
At Range: If the target of the attack could not make a melee attack against the attacker they are considered At Range. Characters At Range do not get a defense roll. Instead the attacker needs to make a successful check against a difficulty set by the circumstances of the shot.
An At Range attack consists of an Attack Roll (Grace + Combat + Ranged Weapon Focus) versus a difficulty determined by the Storyteller. The difficulty takes into consideration factors including the movement of the attacker and target, cover, visibility, range, weapon difficulty, method of attack, and any other penalties deemed appropriate. If the attack exceeds the difficulty it is a hit. If it ties with, or is lower than the difficulty it is a miss.

Setting the Difficulty

The following factors need to be considered to generate the difficulty of an At Range attack.
Movement: It is considerably more difficult to hit a moving target, and even more so when the attacker is moving as well. The faster both targets are moving the more difficult the shot.
Cover: Most trained combatants seek cover when arrows or bullets start flying. It is difficult to determine the exact position of a target behind good cover, particularly when the cover is substantial. Mechanically, cover both increases the difficulty to hit a target and offers a soak to any damage based on the coverage and the sturdiness of the cover. While it is difficult it is still possible to shoot through cover and the weaker the cover and the more powerful the weapon the less effective cover is as a defensive strategy. Each time a piece of cover takes more damage than its full soak the soak of the cover is reduced by one. Cover soak is in addition to any armour soak the character may already have and damage is absorbed first by the cover.
Visibility: Adverse conditions such as fog, rain, smoke, and technologies such as Light Cloaks increase the difficulty of a ranged attack.
Distance: Hitting a target at a distance other than close requires deflection or ‘leading the target’ by predicting their future location and the drift and drop of projectiles to match. The further away a target, the more skill is required to hit them. At Range targets are further broken down into Close, Medium, Long, and Extreme which are determined by the weapon being used. More powerful weapons such as Canna have longer ranges.
Skill: An unskilled shooter (a character with no relevant focus skill in the weapon) has a harder time hitting a target and the difficulty of all ranged attacks are doubled. Even a character with skill in a given weapon needs some time to become familiar with it and for the first three attacks the difficulty is increased by two.
Condition: Not all ranged weapons are made equal. Poor quality or needlessly complex weapons increase the difficulty of a shot by two.
Armour: Well designed armour is the key to surviving a ranged attack. If a shot hits the armour absorbs the amount in piercing soak.

Ranged Attack Difficulty Table
ConsiderationModifiers
Is the target moving?Stationary 5 / Normal 10 / Sprint 12
Is the attacker moving?Stationary 5 / Normal 10 / Sprint 12
Is the target in cover?Partial Cover 12 / Full Cover 15
Is the target visible?Visible 2 / Obscured 4 / Impaired 6 / Hidden 10
How far is the target?Point Blank (Defensible), Close 0, Medium 2, Long 4, Extreme 8
What is the weapon condition?Unfamiliar Weapon 2 / Poor Quality 2 / Complex 2
Is the attacker suffering other penalties?Stress, Injury, Status Effects
Cover SoakWeak(4), Adequate(6), Superior(8)

Example
Valen has trained his longbow Hartsbane on the Urpan running towards him. The beast sprints forth, spittle flying and an inhuman howl rising from its throat, but Valen is stationary, carefully drawing his breath and the arrow. The Urpan has no cover, is entirely visible, and Valen waits for him to enter medium range before firing. This makes the difficulty of the shot 21 (Valen Stationary 5 + Urpan Sprinting 12 + Visible 2 + Medium Range 2 = 21). Valen rolls a 16 + 7 (Grace 2 + Combat 3 + Archery 2) for an attack of 23. The arrow hits the target square in the chest. Hartsbane is a composite longbow and does 5 damage + 1 for the difference. The Urpan survives the blow but is gravely wounded and is now moving at a slower pace as it enters close range making the difficulty of the following shot 17. Valen rolls an 11 + 7 = 18, hitting the Urpan in the throat and it rolls to a heap at his feet. Unfortunately Valen did not see the other Urpan sneaking up from the side. He narrowly dodges a swipe and fires his bow at the new threat but it is at Point Blank and gains a defense. Valen rolls 7 + 7 to attack and the Urpan rolls a defense of 17, knocking the bow aside. Valen draws his short swords and prepares for a messy fight.

Disarm

The attacker declares they wish to disarm the target and makes a Disarm check using Grace or Power + Combat + Focus Skill: Disarm. The target of the disarm makes a normal defense check and one of the following outcomes occurs:

  • If the attacker beats the defense they disarm the target, knocking their weapon out of their hands and necessitating an action to retrieve it.
  • If the spread between disarm check and defense is greater than 3 the attacker has actually removed the weapon from the target and is now in possession of it.
  • If the defense is successful the target maintains their weapon.
  • If the spread between the disarm check and the defense is 10 or more points in the defenders favour they defend so skillfully that the attacker is disarmed, or if unarmed, they are knocked off balance (-3 to their own defense)

Note that some weapons are specially designed for disarming and add to the disarm roll while some equipment is designed to prevent disarming and can nullify this attack.

Grapple

The attacker character can make a Grapple check using 2d10 + Power. On each of the grappled character’s turns they repeat this check. The winner of this check can do one of the following:

  • Inflict +1 damage with a small weapon
  • Inflict 1/2 their Power in lethal damage
  • Use their opponent as Full Cover against ranged attacks

Multiple Attack Actions

An attacker with sufficient skill looking to overwhelm their opponents defenses with multiple attacks in a single turn can make a barrage or multi-attack. When making a barrage the player declares their intention as well as the number of attacks they’d like to make. The player then makes one attack roll at a penalty equal to the number of attacks being made. The maximum number of attacks that can be made in a turn is equal to 1/2 the characters Combat and the Focus skill being used. For example, if a player declares a barrage of 3 they must have a Combat + Focus of 6 and take a penalty to their roll of 3. The enemy makes a number of unpenalized defence rolls equal to the number of attacks. Any defence roll that falls under the attack is a hit but if no attacks land then the attacker suffers a penalty to both their defence and attack the next round equal to the number of rolls forced on the enemy.
Multi-attack can only be used against a single target unless the character also has the Dual or Multi-wielding fighting style.
If the target is killed during a multi-attack the attack action ends; the character cannot redirect their barrage at another opponent.

Example:
Jarvy and Goud are in a knock-down drag-out fight.
Jarvy throws a flurry of blows at Goud. Jarvy’s player Nat declares “I’m doing a multi-attack with 4 attacks”. This is possible because Jarvy’s Combat + Unarmed Striking is +8. Nat rolls the attack and gets an 18 but because she made 4 attacks this gets reduced to 14 (18-4). Eli must now determine if Goud was able to avoid the attacks and rolls Goud’s defence 5 times
Roll 1: 15 = No Hit
Roll 2: 17 = No Hit
Roll 3: 11 = Hit (weapon + 1 damage)
Roll 4: 15 = No hit
Roll 5: 12 = Hit (weapon damage)
Goud is hurt but not out so he returns with a flurry of his own but only 3 attacks. Eli rolls Goud’s attack and gets 14 and reduces it to 11 for the number of attacks. Nat rolls Jarvy’s defence 3 times
Roll 1: 15 = No Hit
Roll 2: 19 = No Hit
Roll 3: 21 = No Hit and Riposte
Not only has Goud earned himself a penalty of -3 to his next round of attack and defense, Jarvy sees an opening in his flurry and can take a shot.

Mounted Combat

-3 to attack roll against un-mounted enemy, +3 damage if successful. Multiple attacks add -3 for each attack. Mounted combat penalties can be eliminated with the Cavalry trait.

Non-Lethal Combat

In less dire fights (e.g. bar brawls) every character can take an amount of non-lethal (NL) damage equal to their standard health score. Characters regenerate NL damage equal to their Power per round. A knock-out occurs when the excess successes of an attack meet or exceed the remaining NL damage. At the end of NL combat combatants convert any remaining NL damage to standard damage at ½ value.

Overwhelming Attacks and Flow

If a contested attack exceeds defense 10+ the character can make an additional attack. Additional attacks can be chained but each one must overwhelm the targets defense by 10+1 per additional attack (1st attack 10, 2nd 11, 3rd 12, and so on).

Overwhelming Defense and Riposte

If a contested defense exceeds the attack by 10+ there is the option to riposte or take an immediate action. Number of possible ripostes is the lower of Grace or Combat score.

Surprise Attack

Except in exceptional cases or where otherwise stated, attacking an unaware enemy always triggers an opposed Grace + Stealth vs. Perception check between the attacker and the target. If the target succeeds in their perception they are able to mount a defense, though they may be limited to dodging if they do not have a weapon in hand. If the target fails their perception check however, the attacker must still roll the attack. On a critical failure the attack both fails and the target gets a riposte. All other rolls are assumed to hit and bonus damage is applied as follows:

ResultBonus Damage
2Critical Failure
3-40
5-6+1
7-8+2
9-10+3
11-12+4
13-14+5
15-16+6
17-18+7
19-20+8
21-22+9
23++10

Trip

As a standard attack but if successful the enemy is knocked prone rather than injured and takes a penalty on their next action equal to the spread of the trip.

Fighting Styles

Fighting styles are an optional character customization which represents a preferred approach to combat. Their are potential advantages and pitfalls to each style and though any character can move between the various styles they know a combatant can only utilize one style at a time during a given round; they cannot, for example, attack one handed but switch to two handed for damage. Combatants have a default fighting style but can declare a change to their style at the beginning of a round (dropping their shield or weapons, or drawing a secondary weapon, etc). The effect lists provided for various styles are not meant to provide inspiration, not be comprehensive. Players and storytellers are encouraged to consider other possibilities that may make sense for a given scenario.

Unarmed

Striking

Prerequisites: Combat 1, Focus in Striking

The combatant uses their limbs to strike enemies. Examples include punching, kicking, head-butting, palm strikes, and use of knees and elbows.

Advantage: This style requires no additional equipment and maximizes flexibility, mobility, range of motion, and balance.
Disadvantage: The combatant is unable to parry weapon attacks without equipment or specialized focus skills/traits. They can still dodge attacks.

Mechanics: The characters attacks inflict bashing damage equal to the spread between attack and damage (without this style attacks only do a flat damage bonus of 1/2 Combat+Focus).

Grappling

Prerequisites: Combat 1, Focus in Grappling

The combatant uses close fighting techniques to clinch or gain leverage over an opponent, trapping, choking, or causing injury. Examples include joint locks, choke-holds, submission holds, throwing, and pinning.

Advantage: This style requires no additional equipment and can be used to effectively engage, restrain, gain compliance from or subdue a single target.
Disadvantage: The combatant is unable to parry weapon attacks without equipment or specialized focus skills. A combatant in a grapple is vulnerable to attacks by others and must choose between maintaining an effective grapple, using their captive as a shield, or actively defending themselves.

Mechanics: The character can make a Grapple check using 2d10 + Power + Combat + Grapple Focus. On each of the grappled characters turns they repeat this check. The winner of this check can do one of the following (note these differ from the options available for an unskilled Grapple):

  • Inflict +2 damage with a small weapon
  • Inflict their Power in damage (lethal or non-lethal at the grapplers choice) against unarmoured or lightly armoured targets.
  • Use their opponent to block one melee attack but release them from the grapple
  • Use their opponent as Full Cover against ranged attacks
  • Gain +2 to rolls to the next roll to maintain the grapple
  • Inflict a Broken Bone or Dislocated Joint injury on a human combatant
Reciprocal

Prerequisites: Combat 1, Focus in Reciprocal

The combatant uses their opponents attacks against them, pulling them off balance when they strike, pushing them when they retreat, and intercepting their attacks before they can land.

Advantage: This style requires no additional equipment and maximizes flexibility, mobility, range of motion, and balance. This style is highly defensive and useful against opponents who might be otherwise overwhelming.
Disadvantage: This style is highly defensive and does minimal damage.

Mechanics: The character must forgo their attack action during their turn to use this style. Whenever the character successfully defends in the following round they can do one of the following to an attacker:

  • Render the attacker prone
  • Disarm the attacker (On a spread of greater than 3 the defender takes possession of the attacker’s weapon)
  • Knock the attacker off-balance, inflicting a-3 penalty to defense for next round of actions
  • Inflict Grace in damage against

The combatant can only use each condition once per round; rendering only 1 enemy prone, 1 disarmed, 1 off-balance, and inflicting harm on another. While using this style the combatant does not suffer a penalty for defending against multiple attacks and this style can be used prior to the the first round of combat if the character is aware of their opponent.

Armed

One-Handed

Prerequisites: Combat 1, Focus in Relevant Weapon (e.g. Longsword, Dagger, etc)

The combatant uses one weapon wielded in one hand, using their other hand for balance. Examples of weapons that style can be used with everything from daggers and gladiii to rapiers and longswords.

Advantage: This style is considered default or standard style and leaves one hand open for other actions.
Disadvantage: This is considered the standard style and suffers no particular penalties.

Mechanics: The character wields a single weapon in one hand. This is considered the standard style and suffers no particular penalties or advantages.

Two-Handed

Prerequisites: Combat 1, Focus in Relevant Weapon (e.g. Spear, Claymore, Kleaver)

The combatant wields one large weapon using both hands. Examples of weapons that require the use of this style include staffs, spears, great swords, and some Tollam weapons; (Power of 4+ to wield such weapons one handed). Some weapons such as bastard swords can use either One-Handed or Two-Handed.

Advantage: This style adds additional control and power to attacks and makes disarming them harder.
Disadvantage: This style can limit the combatants range of motion, flexibility, and mobility and occupies both hands. The lack of an off-hand can reduce the stability of the combatant, making trips slightly easier.

Mechanics: On their turn the character can choose to do one of the following:

  • Gain a strong grip adding +1 to damage and +3 to defense against disarms.
  • Make a sweeping strike, attacking two enemies in one attack. The character rolls one attack and enemies roll separate defenses. This attack does 1/2 damage.
  • Gain momentum, adding a +1 bonus to their next attack. This can be repeated up to 3 times for a maximum bonus of +3. This cannot be combined with a sweeping strike.

A character using this style is at -1 against Trip attacks

Weapon and Shield

Prerequisites: Combat 1, Focus in Shield

The combatant pairs a weapon with a shield used to block and parry blows. Examples of paired weapons include longsword and shield, spear and shield, or axe and shield.

Advantage: This style offers the combatant additional protection from attacks and can be particularly deadly when used by a group to create a shield wall. This style also grants the bearer a stable center of gravity, adding stability, though this can be lost if overextended.
Disadvantage: This style can limit the combatants range of motion, flexibility and mobility and occupies both hands. The lack of an off-hand can reduce the stability of the combatant, making trips slightly easier.

Mechanics: In addition to the regular bonus to parry attacks based on the shield type used or cover provided against ranged attacks (based on shield type), a character using this style can also do the following:

  • Make a bonus shield bash attack, shoving an enemy or hitting them with the edge of the shield. This attack can either inflict damage equal to 1/2 the spread between attack and defense or knock an enemy off balance. This can only be done once every other round.
  • Extend cover or use a defense for one other person
  • Form a shield wall with at least two other individuals wielding large shields. This wall counts as full cover for the purposes of ranged attacks and melee attacks against the wall are made using 1d10.

Character’s with shields must sacrifice their shield bonus to defense to make a multi-attack. When extending the attack like this the combatant suffers a -1 against trips and disarms on the subsequent round.

Dual-Wielding

Prerequisites: Grace 2, Combat 2, Focus in Relevant Weapon, Ambidextrous

The combatant wields a pair of weapons, one in each hand. Examples of combinations of weapons which are effective with this style include daggers, short blades, hand axes, or gauntlet weapons. This is a particularly difficult style to master.

Advantage: This style allows the combatant to make multiple simultaneous attacks from different angles or parry attacks using either hand. It also becomes twice as difficult to fully disarm the combatant.
Disadvantage: This style reduces the power and control behind any given attack and necessitates a frequently unstable centre of gravity in order to facilitate attacks. It requires a high degree of awareness and exceptional coordination or training to use this style effectively.

Mechanics: The character gains the following bonuses to multiple attack actions and defenses:

  • When making a multi-attack the penalty is reduced by 1. For example. if the character makes 3 attacks the penalty is 2, 4 attacks at -3, and so on. Paired with the ambidextrous trait a character using this style can effectively make 3 attacks against a target each round without penalty.
  • Penalties for multiple defences in a round are also reduced to 0.
  • This style allows the character to make their multi-attack against multiple targets, rather than the normal single target.

The character suffers -1 against disarms and trips while using this style.

Multi-Wielding

Prerequisites: Grace 2, Combat 2, Focus in Relevant Weapon, Multidextrous

The combatant wields weapons in four or more limbs. This style is available exclusively to quasihumans such as Bellator, Tamaa, and select Heliar. Examples of weapons which are effective with this style include Bellator Ghollu, Tamaa Needles, and Heliar utilizing Raptor Reaper style bodies.

Advantage: This style allows the combatant to make multiple simultaneous attacks from different angles or parry attacks using any hand. It also becomes four times as difficult to fully disarm the combatant.
Disadvantage: This style reduces the power and control behind any given attack and necessitates a frequently unstable centre of gravity in order to facilitate attacks. It also requires a high degree of awareness and exceptional coordination or training to use this style effectively.

Mechanics: The character gains the following bonuses to multiple attack actions and defenses:

  • When making a multi-attack the penalty is reduced by 1. For example. if the character makes 3 attacks the penalty is -2, 4 attacks at -3, and so on. Paired with the multidextrous trait a character using this style can make 3 attacks without penalty.
  • Penalties for multiple defences in a round are reduced to 0.
  • This style also allows the character to make their multi-attack against multiple targets, rather than the normal single target.

The character suffers -1 against disarms and trips when using this style.

Archery

Prerequisites: Grace 1, Combat 1, Focus in Archery

The combatant uses a bow to attack their enemies. Examples include long, short, composite, and recurve bows but does not include crossbows.

Advantage: Dedicated archers may lack the range and stopping power of a Canna but they make up for this in reload speed and indirect fire.
Disadvantage: Archers are at a disadvantage to defend themselves against melee attacks and attempts to disarm them.

Mechanics: The character can make indirect attacks, arcing shots over cover with an appropriate increase in difficulty. The character is vulnerable to melee attacks and suffers a -3 to defense in melee and -2 to Disarm.

Armour Degradation

Armour protects by soaking up the damage that would normally injure or kill the wearer. As any soldier can attest though, this damage can quickly accumulate, leading to structural weakness that need to be addressed by a skilled craftsmen. Armour condition is tracked via a trait called Armour State. This state decreases with each battle where the armour was struck by an enemy blow.

  • Armour type determines how many uses a given piece of armour can survive without maintenance before it is considered broken and requires repair
  • Each battle an armour sees *use* in adds a step to its degradation.
  • Once armour reaches full degradation it is considered broken, providing 1/2 soak and double penalties for athletics until it is repaired.
  • Ticks can be removed with regular maintenance checks. Some craft focused callings can perform group checks.
  • The Self-Repairing/Enduring special trait for exotic and tech armour removes amour state as the armour is designed to endure more abuse than any individual adventurer can hope to survive.
Armour TypeBase Armour State
Light4
Medium6
Tech7
Heavy8

Inventory

Currency

Coin TypeAbbreviationConversionDescription
CopperC10C to 1S
SilverS10S to 1G
GeltG100G to 1RGelt are light, gold coloured metal coins composed of an extremely resilient First Age material that is almost impossible to damage and difficult to counterfeit. This has made Gelt the accepted trade currency across Aeldos. Most cultures also have their own internally minted variants but recovered Urul coins are also widely used and though the origin of a coin can raise questions or suspicion, no trader would turn Gelt down.
RickaRRicka are considered the most valuable type of coin, composed of a lustrous black metal similar to Orick, the material used to construct the enduring walls and buildings of the Urul. The precise value of a coin varies, but is generally accepted at around 100 gelt to 1 Ricka. The difficulty of minting Gelt is significant, but minting Ricka is considered impossible and all coins are recovered from Urul ruins.

Carry / Slots

While it’s possible for characters to accumulate a great amount of items, they can generally only Carry so much with them before collapsing under the burden of treasure, tools, rations, weapons, and armour. The amount of equipment a character can Carry is abstracted into a number of slots representing space on the character.
A Character has a Carry equal to 12 + Fortitude (Power + Will) or 17 + Fortitude for Tollam characters. These Carry slots are represented as the various satchels, pouches, sheathes, slings, and other containers on the character and it’s up to the player to decide how the gear is actually distributed.

|=Container Type |=Example |=Carry Slots |
|Small | Pouch, Small Sheath, Quiver | 2 |
|Medium | Bandolier, Sheath, Sling | 3|
|Large | Satchel, Backpack | 6 |

Gear takes up a number of slots determined by its size.

|=Gear Size |=Carry Slots Taken |=Example |
|Small | 1 | Dagger, Brass Knuckles, Flask, Phials, Locks, Spectacles, 100g |
|Medium | 2 | Lantern, Hand Crossbow, Bedroll, Short Sword, Gladius, x25 Ammunition, Rope, Buckler|
|Large | 3 | Broadsword, Longsword, To, Longbow, Crossbow, Light or Medium Shield |
|Huge | 4 | Heavy Shield, Scutum, Great Sword, Battleblade, Polearm, |

Traits such as Packrat and equipment such as Masterwork Backpacks and Webbing can increase the amount of gear a character can support load by better securing and distributing it.

Armour takes up slots at a rate of 2 for Light armour, 4 for Medium, and 6 for Heavy.
Folding Armour does not take up any slots.
Folding Gear and Weaponry take up 1 slot.
Horses equipped with saddlebags can Carry up to 20 slots of gear.
Horses equipped with a pack saddle and not bearing a rider can Carry up to 40 slots of gear.
Vehicles such as carts, carriages, and Road Engines are typically constructed to carry more gear than any party would use in a given engagement and do not need to use the slot system.

Equipment

Equipment listings include the following information:
Item: This is the most common item name.
Cost: All prices are listed in Gelt, often simply called gold. For more detail on currency see currency section. Costs are typically given in ranges. Actual value depends on local availability, demand, and skill in negotiating a price.
Traits: D = Damage. Thrown and ranged weapons range is in Meters
Description: A general description of the item in question and any pertinent notes.

Equipment Tags

  • Region Specific (RS): Item is available only in the regions listed in the notes.
  • Priceless: The item is not typically available for sale. It is simply too valuable to sell without some sort of story to go along with it.
  • Prohibited: The item is prohibited by some cultures and government and possessing it is grounds for arrest or punishment.
  • Reach: Weapon has a long reach and can be used to keep an opponent at a distance, inflicting a -2 to their attacks.
  • Brutal: Weapon inflicts grievous wounds when it connects. Weapons designed to lop off limbs for example, inflict injuries when used.
  • Difficult: Weapon requires some training or background to use properly. Unskilled use is at a -2 to attack roll.
  • Melee Thrown: Weapon is designed to be thrown but can be used in melee as well. See rules for throwing for clarification.
  • Thrown: Weapon is designed specifically for throwing and receives a -2 penalty when used in melee.
  • Tripping: Weapon is particularly useful for tripping enemies. +2 to trip attempts.
  • Disarming: Weapon is particularly useful for disarming enemies. +2 to disarm.
  • Entangle: Weapon can be used to entangle enemy. Successful attack inflicts no damage but costs enemy next action.
  • Stun/Stunning Blow: The weapon can be used on an unaware opponent to knock them unconscious. A successful sneak attack inflicts no damage but renders an un-armoured target stunned or unconscious for minutes equal to the successes.
  • Distracting: The weapon can be used to direct the attention of an unaware opponent
  • Piercing: This weapon is designed to penetrate even the thickest armours with only a few exceptions. It ignores between 2-6 points of armour.
  • Explosive: The weapon causes an explosion which deals damage to all creatures within the blast radius. One attack and roll for multiple targets.
  • Durable: Weapon is alloyed with self-healing metals. It is difficult to break and does not require standard maintenance.
  • Hidden: wielder can make a grace + stealth roll against a targets perception to make a surprise attack
  • Armour Traits: B=Blunt Soak, S=Slashing Soak, P=Piercing Soak, P=Parry.

Modifications

Modifications can be made to a piece of gear to add new features or tags to it. Below are a list of example modifications.

|=Modification|=Effect|=Description|=Restrictions|=Cost Multiplier|=Craft Check|
|Reweight, Custom|+1 to hit for wielder, -1 for all others|A smith or tinker reweights the weapon for the wielder, making it easier to guide strikes to a target but harder for those unfamilar with the weighting to wield.|Only 1 weighting can apply to a weapon|x2|19+ |
|Reweight, Heavy|+1 damage, -1 to hit|A smith or tinker reweights the weapon making it better at transmiting force but harder to wield. |Only 1 weighting can apply to a weapon |x2|19+ |
|Reweight, Perfect Balance|+1 to parry|A smith or tinker reweights the weapon to make parrying more predictable.|Only 1 weighting can apply to a weapon |x2|19+ |
|Selenian Edge|Maintenance checks not required|A smith or tinker reforges the weapon or applies a layer of materials which is self-healing, making the weapon much easier to maintain.| – |x4|20+ (Material needed) |
|Engraved|None or variable for Lingua|A smith or tinker engraves a phrase or symbol on the weapon. This does not normally have a physical effect on the weapon but some Shapers have been known to imbue weapons with power using Shaping symbols.| – |3-5g|10+ |
|Ceremonial|-1 to traits, +3 to social rolls with relevant faction|The item is crafted to demonstrate a level of prestige, authority, or fear|Armour and weapons only||19+ |
|Catchhook|+1 to disarm, -1 to parry|A smith or tinker adds a hook or trapping edge to the weapon, on the crossguard or parrying edge if present. This aids the user in disarming enemies but the uneven surface makes parrying less predictable. |Weapons only|10-20g |15+ |
|Trick Weapon|Once per combat, against an unaware opponent the wielder can make a surprise attack|This varies but can be a hidden dagger in the hilt, a chain linkage that snaps out, or any other sort of nastiness| – |x2|19+ |
|Sawback| – | The addition of a serrated edge to a blade to enable it to be used for cutting wood. Once this modification has been applied it cannot be removed. | Bladed Weapons Only |5g|10+|

Storyteller Tools

In this section you will find some tips, tricks, and tools for the Storyteller.

Character Advancement and Rewards

There are many types of reward for players and their characters, including Experience, Plot Points, Wealth and Gear, Titles and Reputation, and Property

Experience

Experience allows players to advance their characters. The recommended award is a base 2 XP per session plus 1-3 XP for the following:

  • Learning something previously unknown or exploring a new location
  • Making an Ally or escaping or defeating a Foe
  • Completing a quest or mission or resolving a plot-line
  • Independently starting a plot

I suggest providing higher initial rewards during the first 3-4 sessions to help players remove any gaps in the characters build, and using this period to calibrate the relationship between XP and relationship. The goal should be a balance between player advancement and difficulty, and this will be determined by your particular story, the antagonists, and the challenges you face your players with. A story without risk of failure can grow stale quickly.

Plot Points

If a player does something awesome, for example by engaging in excellent RP, coming up with a brilliant way around an obstacle, or otherwise making the session more enjoyable, Plot Points can be an excellent reward. It’s a reward best reserved for surprising, interesting, or particularly novel contributions.

Wealth and Gear

Wealth such as coins are obvious but also, gems, art, dyes, spices, rare materials are all things a typical adventurer might acquire through their travels. Artefacts, special gear, and first age technology are also excellent rewards, particularly when they provide new abilities or options that can come with their own stories and hooks

Titles and Reputation

A title can be officially granted or a rising rumour that the characters hear about and is a way to acknowledge the rising status and notoriety of characters and help them understand the role they’ve played in shaping the world. Official titles can come with additional privileges such as preferential treatment from guards and vendors, but they can also come with responsibilities such as expectations of service. Unofficial titles can come with their own weight and titles can always be lost based on the behaviour of the character.

Property

Chambers, houses, settlements, outposts, even Keeps can be an amazing reward and the start of a storyline or nexus for new plot hooks. This sort of reward should come at the end of a major story arc or at least during a period of downtime that will enable the characters to explore their new acquisition.

Creating Challenges

One way to conceive of your game is as a series of challenges for your players and their characters to overcome. A challenge can be anything from climbing an icy cliff to unlocking a gate, to taming a dangerous animal. This section provides some structure that may help or provide inspiration when designing challenges using this rule set.

Challenge Types

Core

  • Physical: A challenge of Power or Grace (running, climbing, swimming, muscle or fighting)
  • Mental: A challenge of Intellect, Intuition (locating, deciphering, understanding, or crafting something)
  • Social: A challenge of Personality or Appearance (charming, interrogating, coercing, or distracting something)
  • Determination: A challenge of Will (resisting or persisting)

Skill

  • Animal Handling: Communication and care of animals
  • Athletics: Running, climbing, swimming, jumping
  • Combat: Martial and tactical competence
  • Craft: Tinkering, engineering and general creative ability
  • Concentration: Trained focus and ability to block out distraction
  • Investigation: Identification of evidence, clues, and pursuit of leads
  • Larceny: Ability to defy locks, pick pockets, and commit crimes
  • Languages: Proficiency with languages
  • Lore: History, politics, mythology, geography, etc
  • Medicine: Anatomy, healing, herbalism, first aid
  • Mercantile: Identification of items and their value
  • Observation: Perception, listening, spotting
  • Performance: Public oration or demonstrations of skill
  • Socialize: Diplomacy, lying, manipulation, persuasion, deception
  • Stealth: Avoiding detection
  • Survival: Hunting, foraging, avoiding hazards, finding shelter
  • Technology: Understanding of complex devices and construction
  • Travel: Riding, driving, sailing, piloting, navigating

Other

  • Focus: A challenge that requires or encourages the use of a specific focus skill.
  • Trait: A challenge that requires or encourages the use of a character specific trait
  • Gear: A challenge that can be overcome with a specific piece of gear
  • Calling: A challenge that requires or encourages use of a specific Calling feature
  • Background: Any challenge that derives from or works through a specific character background (can be combined)

Complications

  • The character is injured by accident, environment, or foe
  • The character is distracted by another character or the environment
  • The character is missing a key tool, resource, or maguffin and must improvise
  • The character is facing a time constraint and must complete the challenge before time runs out
  • The character is attacked by a creature or enemy

Outlining

One way to organize your thoughts on this is to create a table with the following headings:

Challenge TypeSubtypeCharactersDetailsSolutionsPotential ComplicationsRewards

Quickly outline 2-3 challenges you can envision for each character for a session. Start with the descriptions by creating a challenge statement of the format “Doing X requires Y” or “Due to X the character must Y”. Keep the details loose and general and don’t be too self-censoring at first as the goal is just to get some basic ideas out. Once you’ve got a good set (10 for a group of 5) you can then start filling out details such as rolls and more detailed descriptions. If you create a game script you can insert these into the flow, or if you’re running off the cuff you can just keep the list handy for the game and integrate them as you go.

Thoughts

  • Each challenge should have 2-3+ solutions to ensure you aren’t boxing the players in. Ideally, the storyteller should be open to a wide variety of solutions rather than expecting the players to think exactly like you do or relying on them to understand all hints.
  • Challenges aimed at a single character can be great for giving a specific PC a chance to shine, but they can also put a lot of pressure on them and create bottlenecks. Ensuring their are multiple ways to solve a challenge helps reduce this risk.
  • Complications are a mechanism for increasing the difficulty of a challenge, but shouldn’t be used to make challenges insurmountable. The goal isn’t to prevent the player from succeeding, just raising the stakes and heightening the challenge.
  • Don’t be a dick. If a player comes up with a novel or surprising solution don’t dismiss it because you didn’t think of it. If it makes sense, or even if it’s just fun or interesting, and as long as it isn’t breaking immersion or narrative (if you’re concerned about those things) then go with it. You may be playing the adversaries in the campaign but the Storyteller is not the Adversary to the Players.
  • When outlining you may wish to include any combat encounters, even if just as a stub, to ensure you are accounting for all the major challenges the players are facing during a session.

Campaign Rules

Here are some rules I use for my own campaign:

  • No characters directly from other settings. Taking inspiration from your favourite game, movie, or book is fine, but characters should be distinct and personal, built using the resources provided for this setting. If you need help developing a character I am glad to help.
  • Characters start as average or slightly above average in skill and gain power by pursuing their goals and overcoming challenges in the course of play. A character can be called heroic in nature from the start, but becoming heroic in capability will take some time. It’s not that I’m against power fantasies or even self-insertion… it’s just not particularly interesting to read about an invincible genius supermodel single-handedly vanquishing every challenge they come across without a sweat.
  • I don’t tolerate intolerance. Any out of game discussion that even hints at sexism, racism, homopobia, transphobia or other forms of discrimination is out. Only villains indulge in it. The main exception here is Ossandria; that place sort of sucks.
  • Players must be mature and considerate of other players. I don’t really care what year you were born in since I’ve met plenty of 50 year old juveniles, but please show respect and courtesy to others and behave.