Core Mechanics

Core Mechanics #

Rolling Dice #

When attempting to do anything that has a chance of a variable outcome, roll 3 six-sided dice. The total of all dice added together is used for a broad range of general outcomes and is styled as Total. The individual dice used are styled as Effect

Total #

For specific abilities, Total has a slightly different value based on the ability being used and is situationally increased by Escalation. Things that trigger or change based on Total are noted as such:

  • X+: Triggers if the Total is X or higher.
  • X-: Triggers if the Total is X or lower.
  • X-Y: Triggers if the Total is greater than or equal to X and less than or equal to Y.

For any given ability, the Total determines the range of outcomes. Any outcomes that overlap (for instance, 9+ and 13+ for a Total of 14) both apply.

Advantage and Disadvantage #

If something is giving you an edge when you would roll, or it’s an easier task than expected, this is referred to as Advantage (sometimes abbreviated to Adv). When you gain Advantage, roll 1 extra die and use the highest 3.

If something is holding you back on an attempt or it’s harder than expected, this is referred to as Disadvantage (sometimes abbreviated to Disadv). When you have Disadvantage, roll 1 extra die and use the lowest 3.

You may have multiple instances of Advantage or Disadvantage, up to 3 (in which case, you’d be rolling 3 extra dice, for a total of 6, and taking the highest or lowest 3). In each case, roll 1 extra die for each instance and take the highest or lowest (so if you have 2 Advantage, roll 2 extra dice and use the highest 3). If you have both Advantage and Disadvantage, they cancel each other out (so if you have 2 Advantage and 1 Disadvantage, you have 1 Advantage after canceling out.)

Escalation #

Escalation is something that represents an overall indication of tension, warming up, alertness, or some similar situation. It ranges from 0 to 6. When it’s present, it typically adds to certain kinds of rolls that PCs make (typically ones that would further increase the quality that escalation is currently representing). In most cases, escalation doesn’t get added to GM rolls. It increases when that narrative quality increases, and decreases when the situation de-escalates.

Sometimes, Escalation can be used in conjunction with die results, such as setting a minimum or maximum for dice equal to the value.

Some examples:

  • In combat, Escalation increases every round, and applies to all rolls PCs make to trigger combat abilities.
  • When trying to sneak around with the location, it increases with the alert level of the location, and applies to rolls to do anything overt that might further increase the alert level.
  • In a high society party, it increases as various guests trade barbs and insults and more people are visibly offended, and applies to rolls made to provoke someone else.

Effect #

In addition to the Effect, each individual die of the roll is used for relative numerical effects based on its relative numerical value. High Die, Middle/Mid Die, and Low Die refer to the values rolled: for a roll of [4, 1, 6], 6 is the High Die, 4 is the Mid Die, and 1 is the Low Die.

Halved Die Values #

Whenever something calls to halve the value of a die, round down to a minimum of 1. (1-3 becomes 1, 4-5 becomes 2, and 6 becomes 3.)

Step Up and Step Down #

When an ability steps up the die used in a roll, use a higher die than originally indicated (Low to Mid to High, add +1 to the die value per step from there). For example, if you would use the Mid die of [4, 1, 6] for 4 but the die is stepped up, use the High Die instead for 6. If it were to be stepped up again, you would add 1 to that to get 7.

When an ability steps down the die used in a roll, use a lower die than originally indicated (High to Mid to Low, take -1 from the die value per step from there, minimum 0). For example, if you would use the Mid die of [4, 1, 6] for 4 but the die stepped down, you would instead use the Low Die for 1. If it were to be stepped down again, you would subtract 1 from that to get 0.

If steps up or down are applied to flat values, increase or decrease the flat value by number of steps up or down.

General Resolution #

In most cases, if a character is trying to accomplish something, the character doing so should roll as above and determine a result based on the Total:

  • 8-: PC’s choice: either the attempt fails with a minor consequence/twist or the attempt succeeds with a major consequence/twist.
  • 9-12: The attempt succeeds with a minor consequence/twist.
  • 13+: The attempt succeeds without consequence.

A consequence here is defined as an outcome that’s a result of the action in question, while a twist is some wrinkle to the situation that wasn’t apparent earlier or becomes apparent through the action. The GM can also feel free to use die values for any numerical outcomes, sometimes through a counter-roll. (More on specifics in each section.)

  • When navigating an area, a success might indicate forward progress equal to the High Die (either in a unit of measurement or ticks on a generic progress clock). A minor consequence might be that navigation weighs on you in some manner (supplies start dwindling, fatigue sets in, etc) or that there’s a roadblock preventing further travel. A major consequence might be an ambush or stumbling into a hazardous area while traveling.
  • When looking for information, a success might get a number of answers equal to half the Mid Die. A minor twist might be that the answers are incomplete, while a major twist might be that one answer is definitely incorrect or someone notices you asking.

Level, Tier, and Advancement #

Every game in this is assumed to have the concepts of Level and Tier.

A character’s Level represents experience, level of proficiency, degree of mastery, etc. At each level, characters gain extra active or passive abilities. Levels typically range from 1 to 9. Depending on the game, there might also be a level 0 (representing characters in a sort of “prologue” who haven’t yet risen to greatness) or 10 (representing characters at the absolute theoretical apotheosis for the setting).

A Tier is a relative category that indicates whether a location, task, or enemy is operating in the same scope as a character: characters interacting with situations of a lower Tier are at a great advantage, while characters interacting in situations where a higher Tier is present will find themselves having more trouble. (Mechanically, you gain 1 Advantage if rolling for something below your character’s Tier, and gain Disadvantage if rolling for something above your character’s Tier.) Typically there are 3 Tiers representing Level 1-3, Level 4-6, and Level 7-9. Each Tier should have a name as well.

Relative to your concept, try to think about how advancement might work.

Examples #

Valiant Horizon #

1-3 is Fledgling Tier, 4-6 is Famous Tier, 7-9 is Renowned Tier. There’s also a Level 10, representing Heroic Tier: this is where characters do the things that engrave their legend on the world forever. Levels are gained by doing deeds heroic enough to gain recognition.

Liminal Void #

1-3 is Green Tier, 4-6 is Seasoned Tier, Level 7-9 is Elite Tier. There’s also a Level 0, representing the moments in which fairly mundane people have their lives changed forever. Levels are gained by gaining enough money, influence, and favors to pay off or clear debts, carve out more tenable situations for yourselves, and be able to maintain more and better gear.

Machinations of Court and Frame #

Level 1-3 is Exceptional Tier, Level 4-6 is Important Tier, Level 7-9 is Prominent Tier. Levels are gained by becoming more integral to conflicts through both combat prowess and intrigue.