Table of Contents
La Vida System
Note: Whenever taking half of something, always round up!
Ranks and Experience
A rank is a measure of experience, training and advancement in your chosen field. Within each rank for each class there is a collection of abilities, skills and techne to purchase using the experience you've earned. Once you've paid a set amount of experience for each rank you immediately advance to the next, allowing you to purchase new abilities from that list.
Rank 1: 50 XP, Rank 1 comes with your class's starting package.
Rank 2: 200 XP
Rank 3: 400 XP
Rank 4: 600 XP, Once you hit Rank 4 you choose your specialization for your class.
Rank 5: 800 XP
Rank 6: 1000 XP
Rank 7: 1200 XP
Rank 8: 1400 XP
Rank 9: 1600 XP
Rank 10: 1800 XP
Once you hit Rank 10 your entire rank-up list is open to you, but that isn't the end. There are far more advancements and abilities available to you than can be bought with 1800 XP. You can gain experience in order to continue to purchase new techne and traits and improve your skills and attributes.
Your attributes are a measure of your raw capability and natural talent. Not necessarily something that you're born with, your attribute level is also an indication of how much hard work you put into perfecting yourself. Someone with a low attribute is probably ill-talented and doesn't train or practice. Someone with a middle attribute most likely does just one of the two. High level attributes require a great amount of training, patience and diligence combined with aptitude to raise up so high.
Attributes are Rated from d4-2d6, giving you those dice to roll on tasks.
d4: Less than average ability, a rating of d4 in an attribute means you're very poorly developed in that area or perhaps handicapped in some way.
d6: Average ability, most people have a rating in d6 in their attributes, describing the ease that comes with casual use.
2d4: Above average development, this level describes an amount of training, perhaps informal or unknowing, in that level of personal ability.
d6+d4: Exceptional development, this level describes certainly focused training in an area, or perhaps a natural talent combined with constant use.
2d6: Heroic development, this level describes an incredible, almost (or definitely) supernatural aptitude in an area of personal ability, this level requires hard training, discipline, talent and heroic action to reach.
Might: Power, health and musculature. Might is your body's raw strength and durability, giving you the ability to withstand physical hardships such as wound and disease as well as the ability to use your build and get the most lifting power out of it possible.
d4: A weak, underdeveloped body whether spindly or flabby.
d6: An average form, not underdeveloped but not too fit either.
2d4: A strong healthy body from regular exercise or labor.
d6+d4: A powerful body from regular training or battle, hale and hearty.
2d6: A godlike physique many can only dream of achieving, capable of legendary feats of strength.
Celerity: Suppleness, adroitness and flexibility, Celerity is the dexterity of your fingers and the grace of your movement, the ability to finely control your body.
d4: A clumsy, stiff form, slow and ungainly.
d6: The usual amount of grace, dropping some things and catching others.
2d4: A greater level of flexibility and poise, more adroit than average.
d6+d4: A truly dextrous physique, careful, swift and silent.
2d6: A form of legends, flowing like blood with the precision of a blade.
Acumen: The power of the mind, Acumen is a measure of intellect and reasoning. It measures how quickly and completely you learn whatever you wish to.
d4: Slow, simple or just plain dense.
d6: Not especially difficult to teach, but not terribly interested in learning.
2d4: Curious and inquisitive, a fast learner.
d6+d4: Knowledgable and insatiable for more, a mind that seeks and holds great secrets.
2d6: Sagely wisdom, the legendary intellect carves a path of knowledge through the world, and no mystery is safe from it.
Intuition: The shadows of the mind, Intuition is a measure of your awareness and ability to pick up on and understand things that can't be measured with logic.
d4: A distracted and unaware mind, finding it difficult to grasp what isn't right in front of it.
d6: The everyday ability to sense a little extra.
2d4: A little more awareness than usual, keen eyes and heart.
d6+d4: A piercing gaze that doesn't miss a thing, backed by an almost eerie sense of other people's intentions.
2d6: Nothing escapes the legendary intuition, their eyes see all, their ears hear above the noise and they unnerve people with their ability to predict their actions.
Presence: Your force of personality and raw magnetism, Presence is a measure of how you project your personality to others, bringing the best out of yourself even if you are physically plain.
d4: Timid, bland and forgettable, unable to really express themselves.
d6: Not exactly striking, but able to get one's point across.
2d4: A certain sense of charisma that makes one easy to get to know.
d6+d4: A truly memorable presence, the sort of person that turns heads and sticks in the mind.
2d6: The legendary presence cows or seduces without realizing, masters the social scene and the people around them.
Concord: Concord is your self-confidence, assurance, composure and resolve. Those with great Concord are able liars, strong-minded and have great aplomb.
d4: A weak-willed and spineless lack of passion and solidarity.
d6: The ability to hold one's principles, but not to be immune to having one's mind changed… or invaded.
2d4: A strong sense of self and purpose.
d6+d4: Firm convictions and strong personal virtues, able to stand the test of time and other's opinions.
2d6: A mind and soul like an iron fortress, steadfast and unbreakable.
Health: Your maximum health is equal to the maximum number on your Might die + your class' health bonus. You can increase your health and fatigue by buying the Healthy trait later on.
Fatigue: Your fatigue cap is equal to the maximum number on your Concord die + your class' health bonus. You can increase your health and fatigue by buying the Healthy trait later on.
A skill is an area of influence in which you have practiced and studied in order to master a particular discipline. Each point that you invest in a skill adds a bonus to any attribute roll where possessing the skill would come in handy. For instance, you would roll Might + Labor to lift something heavy, this means you roll your might die and then add your labor skill level to it as a bonus. (Rolling 7 on your might die and then adding your level 2 Labor bonus would have a final result of 9, enough to succeed on a difficult task!)
The attribute listed after the skill is the default for rolling that skill and is used unless a techne or feature changes things or the GM decides otherwise based on circumstances. When a skill has an attached attribute you always roll that skill with that attribute barring GM decisions or the use of class features or techne. Usually this document will refer to certain rolls simply with the skill name, assuming you realize you roll with the corresponding attribute.
If you do not have a skill required for a roll then you may simply roll only the attribute, but you operate at a -1. Some skills cannot be rolled without points in it at all, these are skills where natural talent can't get you by, it relies on fundamentals that must be taught or picked up from somewhere.
The attribute used for an attack skill varies based on the weapon being used.
Heavy Melee: Axes, hammers, large swords and any other implement of war that takes muscle to heft and swing, focusing on dealing powerful slashing or crushing blows.
Martial Arts: Lashing fists, palms and legs and the ability to use one's own body and little else to inflict damage, grab and throw. Also used when you have to touch the enemy, touch attacks may always use Celerity.
Light Melee: Light blades, small weapons and other exotic instruments of precision and nimble death fall under this category, any weapon that benefits from careful handling rather than force and deals piercing strikes.
Ranged: Bows, shuriken, guns and other various weapons of ranged destruction that require steady hand and careful aim.
Kinetics: The mystic art of learning the patterns of energy in reality and using them for combat. Cannot be used untrained.
Imagics: The mystic art of forcing one's own mind on another in a jarring, shocking way. Ignores armor, but can only deal fatigue and is only defended against by Conviction or Sanctus. Cannot be used untrained.
Dodge (Celerity): The art of making sure you're not where the enemy wants you to be when they attack you through quick reflexes and precise motion. Dodge is at a -1 when defending against Area of Effect attacks but when you successfully dodge any attack you may move one meter in any direction without drawing retaliation, as if making a retreat action.
Parry (Might): The art of making sure something is between you and whatever is about to put you in a world of pain so that it doesn't. Gains an additional +1 bonus when blocking melee attacks. Operates at a -1 when attempting to block ranged attacks of any sort. No penalty when using a shield.
Avoidance (Acumen): The art of being a few steps ahead of your opponent, predicting their attack rather than acting on reflex. Works best when dealing with ranged attacks, imposing a -1 penalty against melee attacks but gaining +1 when dealing with an Area of Effect attack. This skill cannot be used untrained.
Sanctus (Concord): The mystic art of projecting your sense of self as a shield or barrier of energy to interpose between attacks. Sanctus can block Esoteric attacks at full potency and can be used to block attacks that have no physical presence such as attacks from incorporeal creatures or psychic strikes. Operates at a -1 to block non-esoteric attacks but at a +1 to block any sort of attack made by an Outsider. This skill cannot be used untrained.
Resistance skills are special defense skills that are useful against debuffs and negative effects rather than out and out attacks, instead of choosing a defense a certain effect is resisted by a certain resistance skill roll.
Composure (Concord): The skill of maintaining your social and mental graces even when under pressure such as torture, humiliation, or slander. Composure grants protection against emotion effecting magic and effects and twisting social attacks with wickedly sharp words.
Focus (Intuition): The ability to shore your spirit against the ravages of evil magic and cut through illusion. Focus provides defense against curses, hexes, illusions and other more esoteric hazards.
Endurance (Might): The hardening of the body through harsh training, controlled intake of toxins and just otherwise being built like a brick house. Grants protection from poisons, diseases, parasites and other maladies that attack the body.
Academics (Acumen): Reading, writing, arithmetic, history and the sciences, the fundamentals of education. Academics is a measure of how formally educated you are.
Animal Ken (Presence): Training, riding and empathising with animals. Ken helps you to both ride mount animals and bond with and train animals of any kind. Cannot be used untrained.
Athletics (Might): Climbing, jumping, swimming, running. Athletics is a measure of how the power of your muscles helps you to move.
Artistry (Intuition): Painting, singing, dancing, poetry. Artistry is a measure of your ability to express your creativity. Cannot be used untrained.
Awareness (Intuition): Spotting and noticing things. Awareness helps you to avoid being surprised and to notice details around you, it is also a measure of how acute your senses are in general.
Crafts (Celerity): Gemcutting, tinkering, glassblowing, forging, architecture and repairs. Crafts is a measure of your ability to manipulate materials for the creation of objects great and small. Many large works such as smithing and building structures also require Labor. Cannot be used untrained.
Empathy (Intuition): Understanding and predicting the moves and intentions of others. Empathy allows one to see past lies and posturing and into the heart of another.
Esoterics (Acumen): Magic, mystery and lost knowledge. Esoterics is the study of the supernatural world and the forces and creatures in it. It is also used in the casting of many esoteric techne. Cannot be used untrained.
Grace (Celerity): Balance, contortion, sprinting, acrobatics. Grace is a measure of how one moves with care, poise and precision.
Guile (Concord): Trickery, Skullduggery and bald-faced lying. Guile is the ability to keep a straight face as you bluff your way through things.
Healing (Acumen): Biology and the way to fix it. Healing is knowledge of life, how it works and how to help restore it, curing disease and wounds alike. It encompasses both modern medicine and more holistic methods. Cannot be used untrained.
Intimidation (Presence): Majesty, quiet menace or primal, brute scare. Intimidation is a way of forcing your will on others by overwhelming or frightening them.
Investigation (Acumen): Deduction, searching and examination. Investigation is the ability to track and trace, connect evidence and actions and case an area for hidden things.
Labor (Might): Brute muscle work like pushing, pulling, lifting, shaping and breaking. Labor is the ability to impose your will on the world with the power of your body.
Languages (Acumen): The abillity to learn and decipher the different tongues of the world. You know a different language for each level of this skill, and it can also be used to help you muddle through languages you don't know. Cannot be used untrained.
Legerdemain (Celerity): Sleight and subtlety of hand, Legerdemain allows one to palm items, pick pockets, hide things on their person and perform minor tricks and illusions. Cannot be used untrained.
Parley (Presence): Debate, discussion and diplomacy. Parley is the ability to speak through things and ensure that you come out with the most gains from the wager.
Pilot (Celerity): From airships to boats on the sea to futuristic whatchamacallits, Pilot is the ability to control vehicles of all sorts.
Security (Acumen): Lockpassing, codebreaking and forging information, Security is the larcenous art of getting in and out of places and societies. It is also knowing how to counter these same techniques. Cannot be used untrained.
Sense (Intuition): The unexplainable sixth Sense, this skill lets you locate and evaluate sources of supernatural power, such as spells that are being cast or have been cast or the presence of invisible spiritual entities, among other things. Cannot be used untrained.
Stealth (Celerity): Sneaking, hiding, moving silently, blending in. Stealth is the ability to not be seen when one doesn't want to be seen, sticking to the shadows, finding cover, moving with a crowd, this skill helps you to disappear.
Survival (Concord): Wilderness, urban and other, Survival allows one to pull through and provide for oneself no matter the hardship or environment. A very important skill to have in the ruined world.
Task Resolution, Rolls and Rules
Task resolution is done by rolling your attribute die, adding your skill bonus and any other applicable bonuses then subtracting any penalties and matching the final result to a target number, trying to exceed or meet it. Target numbers exist on a hierarchy of difficulty. The most basic tasks don't require rolls, the most complex ones almost surely need Heroism to succeed. Each level of difficulty increases the final TN by 2.
Performing a task is as such: You declare your intention for your action, either suggest a skill/attribute combo to the GM or use the roll the GM gives to you to use and then roll the dice, comparing the result to the task's target number (which the GM may keep a secret at their discretion!) If the result is higher than the target number then you have succeeded! On top of that, for every factor of 2 above the TN you succeed by you earn a degree of success. Degrees make the action more efficient and impressive. On a basic task, each degree can be spent to do one of the following: Reduce the amount of time the task would take by 10%, increase the TN to oppose or undo the task by 1, reduce the TN of a followup skill roll by yourself or an ally by 1, or otherwise improve the action or make it more impressive by a subjective factor of 10%.
Conversely, falling short of your target number causes a degree of difficulty for every factor of 2 you do not overcome the TN. One degree of difficulty means that you have succeeded at your task, but marginally. The task in some way gave you issues that negatively affected the outcome of the final product, causing it to be less efficient or rougher. 2 degrees of difficulty means that your success is punctuated by a minor complication: you unlock the door but your pick is broken. You perform a trick shot but your gun is jammed. You jump the gap but slip and waste time gripping the side of the building. 3 degrees of difficulty denotes a major complication. You pick the lock but the guards have arrived. Your trick shot shoots down a hanging prisoner but injures someone else. You jump between one building and another but crash through a window a floor below where you were aiming. If you fall below 3 degrees of difficulty then, and only then, have you actually failed in whatever you were attempting, generally coupled with a minor complication.
Extended tasks are tasks that take a long time to perform, such as crafting items, making art, repairing lost technology or the like. Extended tasks have three statistics to track: TN like a normal task, Duration and Threshold. TN is as normal, a number you must meet or beat in order to succeed. Duration is the amount of time each roll takes, from a minute to an hour. Threshold is the number of successful tasks you need to complete all told in order to achieve your desired outcome. Succeeding on a task adds 1 to the Threshold of your extended task, with every 2 points you exceed the TN adding an additional 1 threshold for the total.
(Example: Duran the Prowler wants to sew himself a cloak that will give him a +1 equipment bonus to stealth checks in city ruins by offering camouflage in urban areas. The GM decides that sewing the cloak is an extended Crafts task at Average difficulty. Each roll is one day of work and he has a threshold of 6 to meet. He rolls Celerity + Crafts and rolls well, achieving a 10, giving him 2 to the total threshold. If he keeps this up his special cloak will be done in a matter of days!)
Contested tasks are tasks where you are directly competing with someone else for victory. Sometimes this can be resolved by all parties participating in a normal task and seeing who beats the TN with the highest number. Sometimes, however, it's better handled by a direct roll off with each party rolling with the highest number winning out in the end. Attacking and defending is considered a contested task.
Simple 3 (Climbing a knotted rope with Athletics, getting a domesticated dog to like you with Animal Ken. Simple tasks should seldom, if ever, actually be rolled.)
Basic 5 (Opening a badly maintained lock with Security, making a coward back down using Intimidation. Basic tasks should really only be rolled when doing so under duress.)
Average 7 (Forming a sculpture good enough to make money with using Artistry, Predicting an opponent's move in a board game using Empathy. Average and up difficulty tasks are when rolls are most appropriate.)
Challenging 9 (Climbing a craggy cliff face without pitons using Athletics, getting a wild wolf not to attack you with Animal Ken.)
Difficult 11 (Picking an exceptional lock using Security, making a hardened criminal back down using Intimidation.)
Heroic 13 (Painting something that makes you famous throughout your home country using Artistry. Using Empathy to understand the motives of an Outsider.)
Godly 15 (Jumping straight up 3 stories to land on a balcony jutting from the wizard's tower using Athletics. Getting an angry drake to like you with Animal Ken.)
Improbable 17 (Opening the door to an ancient vault with a handful of trickery and your Security knowhow. Making a starving demon back down using Intimidation.)
Impossible 19+ (Preparing a meal delicious enough to make a God cry using Artistry. Using Empathy to connect with the heart of a horrifically cruel demon.)
The complexity of the task at hand sets the base TN, at the judgment of the GM. The circumstances can also increase the TN of a roll as can interference from enemy NPCs. Several techne or pieces of equipment can lower the difficulty or raise the difficulty of others' rolls as well.
Some examples of circumstances are:
Under Pressure: +1-4 to TN in circumstances such as in combat or when pressed for time.
Plenty of Time: -2 to TN in situations where you can spend more time than necessary doing a task.
On the Move: +2 when trying to do something while moving that would be easier standing still.
Tough Environment: +1-4 when the environment is impeding you, such as running through snow or trying to pick a lock while the room fills with water.
Improper Equipment: +1-4 when you have to make do with something that would be easier with the proper equipment.
Exceptional Equipment: -1-4 to TN when performing a task with appropriate exceptional items.
Supported by allied Techne: -varies when an allied techne is giving you a bonus.
Hindered by enemy Techne or Hollow Song: +varies when an enemy is actively opposing you.
Spending Heroism: -Varies to TN based on how much Heroism you're willing to spend before the roll on a 1 for 1 basis. If the TN is 9 and you spend 2 Heroism you only have to roll against TN 7.
Being inflicted by Villainy: Powerful Outsiders and story-important enemy NPCs can sometimes have access to a Villainy pool that counteracts the effects of Heroism! Villainy increases the TN of any task or lowers the result of a hero's skill rolls.
Social situations, Pull and Intimacy
Unlike most mental and physical tasks that rely on the skill, ingenuity and prowess of the character, social situations have to deal with the sticky addition of other people. In most cases a simple skill task isn't quite comprehensive enough to tell you what a social roll has actually done in relation to another person. It's also hard to gauge how another player character would react to your character's social skills without things ending up getting pretty hairy between you! To simplify the complexity of social interaction without sacrificing depth, the Pull system is used.
When in a social situation the GM can decide whether they want to set a social roll against a TN appropriate to the character you're trying to interact with OR they can make the roll opposed. Generally the roll is your attribute + social skill opposed by their attribute + Empathy, Focus or Composure. In general, Parley and Intimidate are opposed by Composure and Guile by Empathy. If appropriate, you can even gain Pull with entire groups of people! In any of these cases, the Pull system basically works the same.
For each degree of success you earn on the task roll, you gain 1 point of Pull plus an additional point of Pull just for succeeding on the Task. Pull represents a casual bond, the sort of influence you can have on someone after only a short time knowing them either by blinding them with charm and wit or by intimidating and bullying them. Pull accumulates on a specific person or group and can only be used on them by the person that earned the Pull with them. Assume that Pull degrades at a rate of 1 per downtime week as separation from the subject causes them to slowly forget the impact of your words and actions on them. You can only perform a number of tasks in a single Event that can get you points of Pull equal to the level of the skill you're using.
Points of Pull can be spent in the following ways: Each point can be used to gain a single interesting bit of information from the subject, so long as it isn't anything that could put them in serious trouble for telling you. Each point can be used to ask for a small favor the subject wouldn't be opposed to doing anyway, 3 points can be spent to ask them to do something somewhat dangerous but something they would do anyway. Each point of Pull can be spent to make the target regard you more fondly, decreasing the TNs of later interactions with them on a one for one basis OR you can do the opposite and make them distrust someone else, increasing the TNs of their interactions with the subject. Pull can be used for other actions along these lines, but do keep in mind that Pull shouldn't have incredibly far-reaching consequences when used, spent Pull should wear off within a week after the Event it was spent in. However, there is something else you can use saved pull for: conversion into Intimacy.
You can spend 4 points of Pull to create one point of Intimacy. Intimacy represents a lasting, powerful bond of fear, trust or affection that can be taxed but is hard to forget once it's there. Intimacy doesn't degrade over time like Pull does, though it is spent in a similar fashion. Points of Intimacy can be spent in the following ways: One point lets you drastically change the subject's opinion on a specific thing such as an organization, threat, event or item. One point can force the subject to perform an action they would normally not do either on moral grounds or due to self-preservation. One point can force the subject to reveal something intimate and possibly threatening to their livelihood. One point can cause the subject to betray or abandon a cause or project they were otherwise devoted to. Each point of Intimacy can curry favor and perhaps cash equal to 50 RU. Each point of Intimacy can be folded back into Pull and spent accordingly. Finally, 4 points of Intimacy can be spent to create a point of Permanent Intimacy.
When you've spent enough time and raw personal magnetism to earn 4 points of Intimacy with someone, you can convert those points into a single point of Permanent Intimacy. Permanent Intimacy means you have a bond with that person that will last, they are now at the very least a loyal ally. Permanent Intimacy returns when it is spent, giving you a pool of Intimacy to tap into with that person each Event you are with them. In general Permanent Intimacy refreshes with each new Event with that subject, but at the GM's discretion it can take longer if the subject feels you've been using them too much. You can lose Permanent Intimacy only through acts of betrayal or by otherwise going back on what the relationship meant to the subject, losing one point of Permanent Intimacy with each Event something like that happens.
Heroism is that ineffable pool of conviction and strength that anyone can draw upon in times of dire need. Heroism is the strength that gives a 120 pound mother the power to lift a one ton car off of her child. Heroism is what allows a man to think past the possible to the impossible and make it happen. Heroism is what gives one the courage to defy social mores and rise up from where they're 'supposed' to be to where they are meant to be.
Simply put, Heroism is a pool of points that you can spend on a 1 for 1 basis to lower the target number of any Task you are undertaking.
At the beginning of each story you have a pool of and a maximum Heroism of your rank+3.
There are 2 vectors by which you refill your Heroism pool.
Your heroic virtues are the parts of you that drive you to do the best you can, they are what helps you to believe that what you're doing is best for the world and for yourself. Despite being called 'virtues' they are not necessarily selfless or altruistic things, but they are, generally, ways in which you want to better something, either yourself or your loved ones or the world in general.
You have two Heroic Virtues that can be fairly broad. Each time you work towards one of your virtues in a meaningful way you regain a point of Heroism.
Examples of heroic virtues follow but you should feel free to come up with your own, personalize your virtues to make your character more your own. The only real rule is that can't be something easy or that you cna do all the time without effort. If it seems like your virtue is triggering too often the GM can feel free to limit the amount of times you can benefit from your virtues!
Examples of Heroic Virtues: Charitable (Giving freely of your own wealth to the less fortunate), Ascetic (Giving up your own pleasure for the good of others), Glorious (Doing great deeds to get your name known), Revolutionary (Changing a system to improve things in your view), Steadfast (Withstanding great pain and hardship), Cunning (Seeking out inventive solutions to any problem), Loyal (Never leaving your friends in the lurch), Strong(Building a powerful body and having the wisdom to use your strength well), Superlative at (Skill) (Using a certain skill to get around problems one would normally attribute other skills to), Courageous (Never backing down in the face of frightful situations), Artistic (A need to bring beautiful things into the world), Protective (A willingness to protect the weak from the strong), etc.
Heroic virtues become far less prevalent without the background shadow of a great failing to highlight them. Just as there is no such thing as a perfect person, even the most shining hero has at least one thing that haunts them, whether they acknowledge it as a failing or not.
A Heroic Flaw isn't something that is an ongoing part of you that is best for you, whether you think it or not, it is destructive to yourself or to others. It is an escape, an often hollow justification for inexcusable behavior. It is also part of you and by acknowledging it, falling to it and rising again you display an even greater heroism than someone who is 'perfect.'
When falling to your Flaw the greatest rule is that it must cost you. You must lose something when you fall to it, it isn't a casual vice. It is falling to, learning from and rising back from your Flaw that gives you the bonuses you get from being victim to yourself.
When you are victim to your Heroic Flaw you regain all of your Heroism pool as you pick yourself back up and strengthen your resolve. However, this only happens when you have made reparations for your misdeeds to the satisfaction of the GM. Falling might involve set-up in one session then resolution in another.
You can only benefit from your Heroic Flaw once per storyline. Of course, you can feel free to fall to it as often as is dramatically appropriate.
Just as with the virtues here is a list of examples for flaws, but feel free to create your own.
Examples: Addicted (Whether alcohol or drugs, you have a problem), Angry (Your temper is legendary, as are its consequences), Hubristic (You are convinced of how right your decisions are, always), Obsessive (Something constantly occupies your mind, it can get out of hand), Prideful (You will never back down or compromise, your beliefs trump reason), Greedy (Always grasping for more, sometimes you overreach), Callous (Your reasons are your own, no one else's. Others aren't your concern), Slothful (You never do more than you have to, leaving some important things half finished), Cowardly (Call it caution, but your fearful nature gets in the way of yourself and others), Lustful (You have a great amount of desire, sometimes to the point of taboo)
Measures of Dramatic Time
When talking about measurement of time in a role playing game it's often less important to worry about hours and minutes and more important to worry about thematics. A "storyline" is generally about 10 sessions of play, but those 10 sessions can happen over weeks, days, or they can even all be in the span of a single night if that's the timing that works best, it's up to the gamemaster how much time passes in the game world when talking about dramatic time.
Turn: A turn is the amount of time it takes someone to use up all of their actions during a round.
Round: The time it takes everyone to use their turns. Generally each round can be assumed to last about 6 to 10 seconds.
Event: An Event is any major occurance such as a scene of social interaction or a battle. An Event can be a party, some time with your characters talking amongst themselves, the planning of another Event to come or fighting off raiders or monsters. Each Event that occurs can be assumed to take anywhere from half an hour to a couple of hours.
Session: A session is basically the length of time you and your friends sit down to play the game. A session can be as many Events long as you can manage!
Storyline: A storyline is however many sessions it takes for you to complete whatever major objective your group has motivating it. Whether it's discovering something, defeating an antagonist or protecting or seizing an area. The gamemaster is the main arbiter for when a storyline is really over.
Downtime: Downtime is any time you have between Events that your group doesn't want to portray. Pretty much anything can happen in downtime from shopping, training, crafting, foraging, everyday life, anything that you don't think would be interesting to portray but is still in some way important to your group or characters. When an action is given a length of time longer than an Event it usually occurs in downtime.
Encounters are split up into rounds and each round is split up into turns. Each person gets a turn in a round and during this turn they get 2 actions. These actions are called Move and Act.
Move allows you to take your movement but also is used by some skills that are slightly quicker than an Act.
Act allows you to use techne, attacks and skills.
Move actions are considered 'less weighty' than Act actions and so you can turn an Act into a Move but not the other way around. If something takes a Move action and you've already moved in the turn you can sacrifice that turns Act action to use a Move instead.
Any situation which would be time sensitive can use the turn system, whether in combat or not. Time and amount of actions can be just as important in social situations, after all. Can you get to the duke and convince him of the danger threatening his lands before the villain reaches him to try and keep him in the dark?
Trivial actions are a third class of action that cover anything quick or simple enough to either literally or dramatically be appropriate to not take any of your turn up. Trivial actions include speaking (especially for dramatic speeches and monologues), drawing weapons you have ready in holsters or sheaths on your person or making athletics rolls as part of a Move action.
What you are and what you do and have done are both parts of who you are and should be taken into account in both a narrative and mechanical way. To help customize your character before even dipping into a class, choose 2 General backgrounds and 2 Heritage backgrounds.
General Backgrounds are simply statements of where you live and what you do as well as flavorful and useful traits that you might have picked up along the way.
Heritage Backgrounds describe more how you were born and what you got out of that, it also describes supernatural bloodlines that may have awakened with the breaking of the Grand Seal.
Heroes are special. This is true and reflected in many ways, whether they are fantastic beings meant to do fantastic things or if they were regular people that rose to greater heights. Anyone can pick up a few skills here and there but when you pursue a path of knowledge, power, strength and technique to the exclusion of others with the intent to do great things you have earned the right and ability to pursue a Class. Classes seperate heroes from the common folk by allowing them to do what may seem impossible or legendary. Some have to work very hard for their class abilities, to others it's so natural it hardly seemed a choice to make.
Class is a reflection not so much of who you are but what you do. There can be taciturn healers and cheerful masters of dark magic just as easily as there are peaceful mendicants and gritty, scarred soldiers. Class is a combination of job and calling that gives you your edge in life. There is often also social consequence to your class as members of a class will often band together for various reasons. Most people take great pride in their class, happy with the choices they have made in pursuing it.
A class provides you with several things: Features that change how you interact with the world and the game rules, a list of specialty skills that are cheaper for you than other characters, a selection of a specialization that will give you a list of unique techne to purchase from as well as an additional class feature and finally whether you are Martial or Esoteric gives you your energy mechanic and your possible techne.
Martial classes have to build up Momentum in order to use their abilities, increasing their morale and adrenaline until they can unleash truly heroic maneuvers and feats of daring do. Each class starts with a small number of Momentum at the beginning of an encounter and must work up to use their most powerful techne from there.
Soldier The steadfast front linesman, the whirling barbarian, the heavily armored myrmidon. The soldier follows the archetype set forth by those who were the mighty and the skilled and the gritty. They resist the efforts of others to hurt them in any way better than any other class and wield a myriad of weapons to bring pain to their enemies. Soldiers gain momentum through the triumph of hitting their enemies in combat and the rage of being struck in return.
Soldiers are best when engaging multiple opponents at once. They are good at not being hit and when they are hit their heavy armor and high health mitigate damage that would weigh more heavily on their allies. Their skills include high damage strikes as well as techne to draw enemy attention and prevent enemy movement.
Specialty Skills: Athletics, Labor, Endurance, Heavy Melee, Light Melee, Martial Arts, Ranged, Parry, Dodge, Craft
Core Class Ability: Mighty Thews: Soldiers do not bend or break under rains of blows from their enemies, they only become more adamant in their destruction. Each time a Soldier takes a hit in battle whether it deals damage or not they gain a Strike. Each Strike increases the amount of damage they deal when they hit by one and the amount of damage they take when hit by one. You retain all Strikes in a round you've landed a blow or a blow was landed on you but you lose all Strikes at the end of a round you neither strike nor are hit.
Those on the path of the Soldier are also known for their prodigious strength and durability, receiving a +1 bonus to tasks involving Athletics, Labor and Endurance.
Warjack: Warjacks are battlefield terrors and weapon masters that love wading into combat and sweeping away their foes with powerful melee area attacks as well as feats of battlefield esoterics that make them effective at range or up close. Warjacks enjoy employing the best tool for the job they are given and have the skills to be able to use those tools to their fullest to bring down priority targets quickly or sweep away lesser foes to clear a path to the most dangerous enemy.
Myrmidon: Myrmidons enjoy laughing in the face of their enemies as their feeble attacks attempt to harm them. No class gets more health than the Myrmidon and they possess many retaliatory abilities as well as techne to increase the potency of their defenses. Myrmidons also get war cry techne that apply buffs and debuffs to the battlefield around them.
Hunter The skilled woodsman, the implacable bounty hunter and the cocky marksman. Hunters are masters of their domain whether urban or wilderness. None can escape their eye and none are better at tracking and patience than the Hunter. They move quickly, deftly and in ways that seem so natural they're more like forces of nature than people.
Hunters gain momentum for every action spent Aiming at their enemy.
Core Class Ability: Eagle Eye. Hunters may take Aim actions as Moves rather than Acts. Each Aim gives a +1 to the Hunter's next ranged attack roll, up to a +3 as normal. In addition each tier of Aim gives the Hunter the ability to fire into cover without penalty. At +1 the Hunter can ignore concealment and low light penalties. At +2 the Hunter can also ignore partial cover. At +3 the Hunter can ignore any cover other than total.
Outside of battle Eagle Eye gives the Hunter unparalleled tracking and investigation abilities, adding +1 to uses of the Survival and Investigation skills, as well as a +1 to Animal Ken.
Sniper: The Sniper is the last thing that happens to you that you never see coming. They are masters of ranged combat and have a longer attack range than any other class as well as many trick shots to their name and techne that make them elusive targets.
Ranger: Rangers are masters of the terrain around them and have a combination of short and long range techniques, able to quickly switch between them in order to dance in and out of combat. They also have some nature magic at their disposal, able to command beasts and plants.
Prowler The subtle footpad, the dynamic swashbuckler and the charming rogue. The Prowler is all of these things and more, master of the night and adept at stealth whether socially or in the dark. With silver tongue and flash of steel the Prowlers are the lords and ladies of deceit and skill, mastering a wide variety of things so that they can adapt to any situation.
Prowlers gain momentum every turn they attack while flanking an enemy, every turn they spend in stealth or using Soft Presence and every time they lay a condition on the enemy.
Core Class Ability: Soft Presence. Prowlers are the masters of subtlety and despite their ability to cripple and devastate the enemy they can become little more than a shadow on the periphery of their attention. By succeeding on a Legerdemain roll opposed by the enemy's Awareness, that enemy can not target the Prowler for any effects until the end of the Prowler's next turn. This is a free action but can only be used once a round and only once on each opponent in an encounter. The Prowler can still be subject to Area of Effect attacks from that opponent and attacking any opponent breaks the Soft Presence.
Prowlers enjoy a +1 bonus to uses of stealth, legerdemain and grace thanks to their impeccable control and quick wits.
Nightblade: The nightblade knows patience and the art of stalking their prey. They go unnoticed in crowds or alone in the dark and strike without warning. They make use of stealth to deal damage without being seen and come out of stealth to deal great amounts of damage as they reveal themselves. Their techne include toxic and shadow damage.
Ruffian: Abandoning the Prowler's usual subtlety for a street-grit bravado the Ruffian is great at attracting and diverting attention in equal measure, taking on the opponents they think they can while directing their enemy to attack the hardier members of the party. They often wield a one handed ranged and one handed melee weapon at the same time, quickly swapping between ranges as it suits them. Ruffians are dynamic and very mobile.
Pugilist The centered monk, the wrathful street warrior and the wandering martial artist. Pugilists specialize in dealing damage with nothing but their bodies, following the archetypes of spiritual warriors and barefisted thugs. Pugilists are capable of feats and techne that draw upon their will in ways that are more like Esoteric powers than not. Pugilists gain momentum in increasing factors each time they land a blow in combat, building up longer and stronger combination attacks. They also gain momentum for every turn they have an enemy grappled.
Core Class Ability: Deadly Impulse. Pugilists are famed for the sheer speed of their strikes, their limbs blurring in a dance of death. Each round that a Pugilist stands his ground and continues to fight only makes their combination stronger. By spending a Move they can make a simple attack that deals half damage after making the damage roll. These count as normal hits for gaining Momentum. These attacks cannot be modified by Techne that do not possess the Impulse tag.
Outside of combat the Deadly Impulse fades into a sort of constant state of relaxed readiness. Pugilists enjoy a +1 on Awareness, Conviction and Focus rolls.
Brawler: Who needs inner peace when you're the biggest, baddest thug around? Brawlers throw themselves into battle rages and smash up everything around them in the pursuit of the destruction of what vexes them, from the enemy to knocking down doors, walls and priceless vases. They gain access to some esoteric abilities that sheath themselves in the elements to deal more damage.
Mendicant: The mendicant practices a path of self-perfection, reacting seemingly without thought to counter and dodge enemy attacks. They are the old masters that invite attack only to punish the user double fold and can even counter and return ranged and esoteric strikes. They gain access to some esoteric abilities that give them the properties of the elements, increasing their defensive and offensive capabilities.
Esoteric classes have to draw from a pool of energy called their Charge in order to cast spells. This pool often starts full at the start of combat and is drained as they use abilities. When they get low they must reCharge in order to use more techne.
Arcanist The clever mage, the wise wizard and the wild elementalist. Arcanists are the energy masters of the esoteric world, drawing their power from the archetypes of those who wield fire and lightning, cold and earth. Arcanists can bring great damage to bear against their enemies by conjuring fire and calling down thunder, hinder them with ice and the tremblings of the earth and movement of the flora. Arcanists reCharge by using mana potions they prepare, they return a large amount of Charge and are a trivial action to use but can only be used a limited number of times before more mana potions must be made.
Core Class Ability: Esoteric Flexibility: When it comes to magic the Arcanist is the preeminent expert, able to quickly weave together old sheets of power into something new and amazing. This power becomes very useful whenever the Arcanist wants to take something they have observed and adapt it to their own paradigm, when an effect allures them so they want to master it themselves. When the Arcanist is the target of an Esoteric ability that they don't possess they may, whether they successfully defend or not, make it their own. By dedicating an amount of maximum Charge equal to the cost of the esoteric techne, lowering their maximum charge by that amount until they release their hold on the new techne, they may add it temporarily to their repertoire. They have access to it just like any ability they purchased with experience points. The Arcanist may only have one techne stored this way, but they may release their hold on it at any time and regain the lost maximum charge as a free action. They can, naturally, release their hold on their currently stored techne in order to replicate a different techne when they are targeted with it.
This Esoteric Flexibility comes by from careful study and talent at recalling many minute details about magic and the world. Arcanists enjoy a +1 on Sense tasks from their experience with magical phenomena and they also enjoy a +1 on Academics and Esoterics rolls from their wide breadth of knowledge.
Signkeeper: You are the master of runes and can mark both enemies and areas with signs that will burst with esoteric power under certain conditions. Your trap runes synergize well with the control powers of other classes and do not interfere with zones. Whether through glyphs or single target curses you can control the energy-type strengths and weaknesses of others, greatly enhancing the efforts of the rest of your party.
Etherist: The energies of the universe are yours to command, giving you access to many area of effect attacks as well as beams and walls that allow you more versatility in your style of attack. You can take advantage of more elemental weaknesses than anyone with your array of techne and your utility out of battle is equally helpful.
Convoker The gentle priest, the passionate leader and the fervent guardian of the people. Convokers sometimes have to be all of these things, their light beckoning to the lost. Convokers tend to gather people around them with their good social skills and supportive techne, becoming the heart and soul of a culture, group or cause. This isn't to say they're always the leader or the highest ranked, but their dedication to this path makes them naturally gravitate to positions of importance and support. Convokers often draw on some concept of faith for their power, but this isn't always a religious faith. Sometimes it's a faith in humanity, sometimes it's a faith in law, sometimes it's just faith in oneself.
ReCharge Method: Convokers regain charge by taking a moment to compose themselves and draw strength from the things and people they have the most faith in. For some this is prayer, for others it is merely a moment of reflection.
Core Class Ability: Impassioned Prayer. Convokers are radiant forces in the universe. The light itself is neutral but the intent of the bearer can make it do weal or woe at their behest. By spending both of their actions for the turn a Convoker can release a wave of soothing light that heals all allies within short range for 1d6 per 2 ranks. They may alternatively spend both actions for a turn to call down a Smite upon all enemies within short range for 1d6 light damage per 2 ranks. Neither of these powers cost any Charge to use.
Convokers are often leaders and diplomats, they KNOW people. They gain an additional known language and +1 to rolls using Languages, Parley and Empathy.
Lifesinger: Lifesingers use the light to heal and protect more aptly than other Convokers do and often more than one ally at a time. They can also place shields on their allies that punish the enemy for attacking and use their glorious presence as a way to influence friend and foe alike. They are highly reliable as most of their techne don't require rolls to succeed. Lifesingers are named such because they often focus their magic through hymns or music but they use very human music, not the Songs of the Hollow Gods.
Warden: Wardens are warriors full of conviction and valor, using both shadow and light to smite the enemies of their causes. They are better at fighting on the frontlines than Lifesingers and can unleash several Radiance techne that target all foes around them as well as providing some sort of support to their allies.
Alienist The master of death, the shadowy cabalist, the dedicated exorcist. Alienists are those with the talent and inclination for handling the energies of darkness and shadow and the power of Outsiders, even the Hollow Gods, safely and skillfully. They are often distrusted by those who have been terrorized by the Hollow Gods and the other invaders into our reality but the role of the Alienist is to understand, control and police these forces, not to serve them. A Fateless and an Alienist might both use Hollow Song-magic but the Alienist is not doing so to further the ends of the Hollow Gods. Alienists can be bad people just like anyone but they aren't servants of the Outside. Instead, they bind creatures of the outside to be their minions, channel the outer darkness to strike down their foes and delve into the darker, more unpleasant parts of magic. Alienists have the willpower and conviction not to fall to these corrupting, terrifying forces.
ReCharge Method: Alienists draw from their own life forces in order to marshal the energies required to command the forces from Outside. Alienists can, as a trivial action, either gain fatigue or lose health in order to put points back into their Charge pool.
Core Class Ability: Chaos Control. The deep knowledge of an Alienist into their own physical and spiritual state arises from their intuitive grasp of the life forces of others. Whenever they are within mid range of an enemy that takes damage they may lose 1d4 fatigue. If that enemy dies they instead regain 1d4 health.
Songmasters: Songmasters are versed in using and subverting the song-magic of the Outside, summoning and enhancing a mystic minion to do their bidding. Using powerful techne called Imperial Decrees they can empower their minion to use potent special attacks. Songmasters also have their own limited array of attack magic and a more robust array of support and debuff techne but they are significantly weakened if their minion is ever destroyed.
Darkweaver: Darkweavers master techne that allow them to attack with Shadow and, eventually, even wield Immaculate energy. They can cast curses that debuff multiple enemies at once and can animate dead creatures for limited periods of time as their servants. Their attunement to alien energies give them superior access to energy resistance and they possess techne that increase their survivability further, such as vampiric attacks that steal life from their targets.
Mentalist The mysterious seer, the mindbending illusionist and the canny psychic. Mentalists are masters of the plane of the mind, battling their enemies on a level entirely different from any other class. Their abilities are specialized but difficult to resist, having a low damage output but having a large toolbox of techne that allow them to support their allies and disable their enemies over a wide area. Mentalists do not reCharge in the same sense other esoteric classes do, instead they reclaim the full charge from their techne whenever the duration runs out or they end the effect voluntarily.
Core Class Ability: Psychic Interference. Befuddling and disorienting their enemy becomes so easy to the Mentalist that they can do it without much effort on their part. Mentalists may use Heroism to penalize the tasks of any target they can observe personally or with any sort of psychic senses, spending their own heroism to increase the TN of the target's task. When the enemy is successfully thwarted in their action they may regain half of the heroism they spent + 1. They can never regain more heroism than they spend in this way.
This interference also works passively, adjusting mood and implanting small illusions to smooth over implausibilities in their claims and social faux pas the Mentalist may make. They enjoy a +1 bonus to uses of Guile and Parley and never suffer penalties for being unfamiliar with a group or culture.
Mesmerist: Mesmerists hold all the strings in their lives, making sure others dance to their tune alone. Mesmerist techne are powerful illusions that can control their target's actions, confuse their perceptions and render their allies invisible or blurred to their enemy's vision. They can also fool their enemies into believing they are taking damage, causing their bodies to respond in kind.
Shatter: A Shatter would be pleased to inform you that all magic, especially Outsider magic, is nothing but fairy tale and nonsense. Shatters possess abilities that let them dispel the magic of their enemies and erase buffs as well as cancel the useful effects they dole out themselves in order to cause damage or inflict effects on their enemies.
Movement and the battlefield
Combat in La Vida is as abstract as you would like to account for cinematic flashiness or as hard as you like in order to keep careful track of everyone's movements for a tighter combat narrative. For purposes of using a battle map you may translate every meter of measurement into one square or hex. This book will not be using words like square or hex in order to allow flexibility in the sort of battles you and your gaming group would like to run.
The easiest way to deal with distance is to know what Range anything is from anything else. Techne often have a range included if applicable. For simulation purposes you can extrapolate range using the formula provided.
Ranges from closest to furthest possible are:
Personal Range (0 meters): The effect is centered on you, personally. Usually attached to areas of effect that emanate from you such as Radiances and some Cylinders.
Touch Range (0-1 meters): The range of melee weapons, fists, feet and anything else that you must be adjacent to your target to connect with.
Short Range (5 meters + 1 meter per rank): Short range attacks include such things as thrown attacks, close range techne and physical attacks made with such force they create shockwaves in their wake!
Mid Range (20 meters + 2 meters per rank): Mid range attacks are seen most often with weaker projectile magic and esoteric martial arts.
Long Range (50 meters + 5 meters per rank): Long range attacks are most often made with low to mid-power firearms, bows and projectile magic.
Extreme Range (100 Meters + 7 meters per rank): Extreme range attacks are the realm, primarily, of rifles and magic that relies on line of sight more than a projectile.
Incredible Range (300 meters + 10 meters per rank): Incredible range is most often the territory of artillery pieces or the most potent of techne and rituals.
From there range becomes increments of kilometers and is best handled abstractly. Combat will most definitely not take place at ranges longer than Incredible unless it is made into a skill challenge of sorts, for example.
Initiative and Turns
At the beginning of battle everyone involved rolls either Awareness or Sense to determine their place in the initiative scale. As a special rule anyone may roll Celerity for either of these skills instead of Intuition. Those with higher numbers go first and then it counts down from there. People with higher initiative may delay their action to any place in the initiative below them.
Attacking and Defending
Attacking is resolved through a simple contested task, with a few differences. The attacker rolls their attack combat skill and the defender rolls their defense combat skill, if the defender's result is higher than or equal to the attacker's then they are not hit, if the attacker's is higher then the attack or techne lands. For each degree of success on the attack roll you deal an additional point of damage.
Getting 3 degrees of success (6) or more over the defender's roll results in a critical hit where the attacker deals +50% more damage on the damage roll. (If the attacker rolls 8 damage and she critically hits, then she deals 12 damage total.)
Area of Effect attacks are resolved by using a single roll for the attacker that sets the TN for all of the defenders. Similarly there is only one damage roll for all targets.
The most common type of attack is a simple attack, which is an attack action using your equipped weapon and the associated Attribute + Skill roll and the weapon's damage roll. When something allows you to make an attack, assume it is a simple attack unless the effect states otherwise.
Ranged attacks are resolved in the same way as any other attack, however they have considerations that normal ranged attacks don't have.
First, in order to make a ranged attack you have to have line of effect to your target. This means an uninterrupted line from you to whatever or wherever you are trying to hit. Even if you can't see something you can try to hit it as though you were Blinded, as long as there is a chance of hitting thanks to a lack of obstacles. You CAN hit someone who is taking cover as long as hitting them isn't completely impossible, cover rules are discussed later on.
Second, ranged attacks have a maximum range. Trying to overcome this maximum range is possible but difficult. When a ranged attack has a range attached to it you may try to make an attack at a target beyond that range, but for each range category beyond the maximum you have a cumulative -4 penalty to your attack roll. You cannot try extended range attacks on any type of area of effect attack except for bursts.
Health, Fatigue and Damage
Health: Health tracks your progression towards a life-threatening injury. As points of damage accrue it describes receiving bruises, nicks, cuts and overextending yourself as you avoid the enemy by the skin of your teeth until you finally take a deadly wound by reaching the end of the track and having your Vital reduced to 0 or lower. Starting Vital health is equal to your Might die size + your class' health bonus.
Fatigue: Fatigue is damage that is non-life threatening. It counts up instead of down and if it ever matches or overtakes your fatigue cap you fall unconscious. All of your fatigue disappears after a 6 hour rest. Starting fatigue cap is equal to your concord die size + your class' health bonus.
You may you may freely deal fatigue damage instead of health damage on an attack. You may not, however, do the opposite. If an attack deals fatigue then you cannot automatically change the damage to health instead.
When you take damage you reduce your health pool and when you take fatigue you count up your fatigue pool. If your fatigue is ever higher than your current health you suffer from a condition called Stagger until either your health is restored, you lose fatigue or the condition is canceled with a techne. Stagger reduces all results from rolls by 2 and prevents you from taking advantage of bonus damage from degrees of success on attack rolls, including critical hits.
When your fatigue hits maximum you are considered to be unconscious and are helpless and cannot take any turns until your fatigue value is lowered. Any further Fatigue you take while unconscious immediately translates to Health loss. Any Fatigue loss will allow you to become conscious at the beginning of your following turn, though for that turn you are considered Staggered.
When your health is reduced to 0 you are prone and you enter the Danger state. Even if an attack would deal more damage than you would have to take to reduce you to 0 health you always drop only to 0 health when you enter the Danger state. When Endangered you cannot be healed by normal magical or mundane means without the use of a Techne that brings you out of the Danger state. The only actions you can take while Endangered are to crawl 1 meter, which invites retaliation from adjacent foes, take a defense action or use a techne with the Endangered tag. When the Danger state is removed you immediately gain a single point of health in your pool and lose a single fatigue.
The scariest part of the Danger state is that it is the state in which you may be killed. If you take damage again when Endangered you gain negative health. When you gain negative health that is 25% of your max health or more you die.
Charge and Momentum
Charge: Charge starts at its maximum value at the end of a rest and only refills through recharge actions or at the end of an encounter.
Momentum: Momentum remains at a minimum value after a rest and before combat until raised through actions that increase momentum. Momentum goes back down to the minimum after another rest. Momentum has no maximum value.
Rest is important for any hero, depriving someone of sleep, food, water and relaxation will make them useless in combat no matter how skilled and grand they are. A rest generally occurs as a 6 hour bout of sleep, but the GM may rule that any period of relaxation to light activity that is around 6 hours or longer in length may count as a rest period.
At the end of a rest anyone who is not at maximum health may roll their Might die and multiply the result by their rank and regain that much health. Everyone also loses all of their fatigue. Esoteric heroes recharge their entire charge pool by resting and martial heroes return to the minimum momentum they may have. Heroes should use healing techne before sleeping to maximize the benefits of a good rest!
Retaliation and Retreat
Attempting to move away from an opponent who knows you are there is a bad move, doing it without giving it the proper attention invites them to take advantage of your flight. Whenever a subject is attacked in melee both attacker and defender are considered to be Engaged in melee. Moving away from the enemy without making a Retreat action means they can retaliate against you, making a simple attack unless they have techne or other abilities that alter their retaliatory strikes. There are other actions that invite retaliations as well, such as making certain ranged attacks when Engaged in melee.
A Retreat action takes both your Act and Move but lets you move at your normal speed away from ANY enemies who have you Engaged.
If you are in stealth or invisible then you do not draw retaliation.
Cover is an important consideration in combat, especially when dealing with ranged weapons and direct spells. Cover happens when your body is being obscured by an obstacle such as a wall or a corner. Someone trying to fire into a corner when they do not have direct line of sight to you is firing into half cover, for instance. Here are some examples and levels of cover.
Partial cover: Around 25% of your body is covered, such as standing behind a low wall or crouching behind a flimsy barrier. Attacks against you are at a -1
Half cover: Around half of your body is covered, such as behind a waist-high wall, ducking behind a car or taking cover behind a corner when someone does not have direct line of sight to you. Attacks against your are at a -2
Superior cover: Most of your body is covered with only a small portion revealed, such as behind a large pillar, a thick but damaged wall or behind a van. Attacks against you are made at a -4.
Total cover: There is a complete obstacle such as a high wall between you and your attacker. You cannot be targeted directly at all.
Popping Out: In order to make attacks when you're in cover you must pop out of cover and attack before popping back in. Popping Out is a move action that includes retreating in cover after you use your Act. You take a penalty to any attack rolls you make when popping out, based on the level of cover you're enjoying. Partial cover has no penalty, half cover is a -1 penalty, superior cover takes a -2 penalty and total cover takes a -4 penalty to attack from as it requires the most work to move in and out of to acquire your target, attack and then move back into cover.
Areas of Effect
Some effects and attacks occur in an area rather than affecting a single target. These attacks have ranges just like any other effect, but within that range you designate a point in space, object or creature as the origin of the area, depending on the type of area you are working with. Some areas have a number following them and for each type of area effect the number will be explained. For any area of effect a range category may sometimes be applied instead, in which case the effect hits everyone within that range category, following the rules of the type of area.
Cover plays an important role in areas of effect. If someone is taking full cover in such a way that would block the effects of an area you are trying to place (I.E. ducking behind a wall to avoid a burst or beam) then you may not make an attack roll against them. If the cover is destructible and you manage to destroy the cover with your area attack, however, then your target becomes susceptible against the effect. You may still make attack rolls as normal against anyone in cover less than total. Many types of cover can be circumvented by targeting positions in space that make your target vulnerable to the area of effect where they would normally be immune to a direct assault!
Area effects that make an attack against the enemy resolve using a single attack and damage roll. The attack roll sets the TN for their defense as normal and the damage roll applies to any that failed their defense roll.
Note that rather than a number that tells you how many meters an AoE extends to you may see a range tag instead. The rules for resolving these AoEs do not otherwise change.
Cylinder: A cylinder area is one in which the effect is either rising or falling a certain distance, extending out from a targeted point in space, object or creature. In a cylinder tag the first number is the radius and the second is the height. For instance a Cylinder 5x3 is a circular area of 5 meters that is 3 meters high. Cylinders only take cover from above or below into account. (If someone is hiding in a house from your acid rain their cover comes into consideration, If they are off the ground on a scaffold to avoid your rising stone spikes their cover is taken into account, if someone is ducking behind a wall to get away from your falling icicles they do NOT gain any bonuses from cover.)
-Rise: A Rise is a cylinder that only takes cover from below into account, in order to benefit from cover for a rise there must be a very solid barrier beneath you. Floors flush with the ground do not count.
-Fall: A Fall is a cylinder that only takes cover from above into account. The cover must be substantial such as the roof of a sturdy building, the ground above a cave or cellar or a magical barrier.
Radiance: A radiance is a spherical area that extends from the user. A Radiance 4, then, is a sphere that extends out 4 meters in every direction from the caster.
Spread: A spread is a spherical area that extends from a point in space or from a targeted object or creature. A spread 5, for instance, is a spherical area 5 meters across.
Beam: A beam is an uninterrupted circular ray or line that originates from the user and hits all targets on that line up to a maximum range limit within a width indicated on the area tag. A short-range beam 3 hits all targets between the user and the limit of the user's short range limit in the beam's width of 3 meters. Only total solid cover can stop a beam, but even then you may attempt to break through it using your attack if it is breakable cover.
Wall: A wall is an uninterrupted line that extends for a limited distance from one point in space to another. A wall can be any shape as long as there is no more or less distance between the beginning and ending point than indicated in the tag. A wall 20 with height 2, for example, can have as much as 20 meters of a 2 meter high wall between the beginning point and the ending point. All segments of a wall must be within the range indicated on the techne. (IE You can't have the beginning point within the maximum range and the ending point outside of it or any segment extending out of the range.) Walls cannot extend through cover at all. They can, however, provide cover if solid.
Fan: A fan is a 180 degree arc extending out from the user. A Fan 5, therefore, hits all targets within 5 meters in any 180 degree arc around the caster.
Fields: A field is simply any area effect that is persistent. Generally these are spreads. A Spread Field 5 is a 5 meter radius spread that lasts as long as the field effect states it does.
Glyph: A glyph is a special type of field that is always a cylinder. They ignore cover completely in the area they fill and always effect all applicable targets. A Glyph 5x5 for instance is a 5 meter wide, 5 meter high cylindrical area that is persistent and effects everyone within it regardless of cover as long as they are within the area.
Energy Types and Elemental Resistance
The universe is full of energy and when you add in the x factor of magic there are a dizzying amount of elemental ways to bring pain down on others. When worrying about how energy types interact with each other and with various entities it seems the metaphysical is sometimes more important than the physical so keep that in mind.
Kinetic: Kinetic damage comes from one thing striking another, the ages old, tried and true method of killing things. It can come from many sources, the most common being weapon damage, but can also come from magical sources such as telekinetic force or moving the earth to attack with. The simple physicality of it makes it rather difficult to craft resistances or vulnerabilities to.
Mental: Mental damage comes from psychic attacks primarily and results in massive headaches and damage that is so realistic to the mind the body believes it has happened. Targets without a consciousness of their own are Immune to mental damage.
Flame: Heat, friction and fire, flame is anything that burns.
Frost: Shards of ice, freezing liquid or leeching the heat out of an area.
Air: Primarily electricity but also damaging gales, Air damage could be lightning bolts, tazer shots or shearing winds. Air damage often wreaks havoc on anything mechanical.
Light: Shining metaphysical energy embodying life, daylight and order that overloads and blasts apart matter and energy. Light is not necessarily 'good' as it can also be harsh, oppressive and unyielding.
Shadow: Metaphysical power embodying death, darkness and entropy that withers, tears and diminishes matter and energy. Shadow is not necessarily 'evil' as it also represents night, repose and rebirth.
Toxic: Acids, venoms and solvents break down materials and seep into the bloodstream to poison organic victims.
Immaculate: A most mysterious force that seems to violate natural laws, simply erasing whatever it touches with no conservation or conversion of mass. Even those who manipulate Immaculate energy can only hypothesize what it is. Some say it is the will of the divine made manifest, some say it is a higher form of energy only scientifically plausible in a universe home to magic. There is no way to resist Immaculate energy and all targets are considered Weak to it.
Hybrid Damage Types: Some attacks deal more than one type of damage, such as flame/frost or air/light. In order to resist these attacks you must have resistance towards all applicable damage types. If a target is weak towards any of the damage types they take the extra damage based on the most severe weakness the attack exploits.
(Possible Sidebar: The dichotomy of Light and Shadow: It's easy to assume Light as the good guy energy and Shadow as the bad guy energy, but as presented in this system they are both meant to be neutral forces with both good and bad sides. On top of that they are supposed to exist together! The entropic forces of Shadow and the ordering forces of light on their own cannot do anything to better the universe. Shadow on its own breaks down systems but cannot create new ones, leaving a void. Light on its own stabilizes systems, but without room for anything new all it brings is stagnation. When in balance the two energies provide dynamism to the universe, forming the framework for the birth-death-rebirth cycle of all organic and inorganic matter.)
Weakness and Resistance
Most creatures have neutral elemental resistance to the elements, meaning they take the usual amount of damage mitigated by their armor where applicable. However some creatures have resistances or weaknesses either naturally, because of equipment or buffs or
debuffs. These have to be taken into account when they lose health or gain fatigue.
Weakness: Weaknesses increase the amount of damage that a target takes from an elemental attack.
Neutral: The default, neutral alignment towards an elemental energy type means you take no more or less damage than is rolled for any attack based on it.
Weak: Weak to an element means you take 50% more damage.
Vulnerable: Vulnerability to an element means you take double damage.
Resistance: Resistances decrease the amount of damage that a target takes from an elemental attack.
Resistant: Resistance to an element means you only take half damage from it.
Immune: Immunity prevents any damage whatsoever. It does not prevent any other effects from the attack.
Absorptive: Absorption means you take the damage as health. You do not suffer any effects from the attack.
Status Conditions and Debuffs
These are common conditions that can be inflicted on characters that hinder their effectiveness somehow.
Accursed: Curses are one of any of many, many debuffs that can be given out through magic or perhaps the bad luck being passed around by a Prowler. Curses are important to be marked as such because there are techne that remove them specifically or take advantage of the state of being Accursed.
Afraid: Under the effects of fear the target can't bring the full force of their attacks to bear. The target deals half damage with any attack they make while afraid.
Berserk: You are blinded with directionless fury. You attack the nearest being on each of your turns with the best melee attack you can muster and deal +50% damage with that melee attack. However you are at -1 with attack skills and -2 with defense skills.
Bind: The target cannot take Move actions.
Bleed: At the beginning of each of the subject's turn they lose 10% of their health. Nothing can prevent this damage but receiving any magical healing or a successful TN 9 Medicine task will cancel the bleed effect. Bleed counters and is countered by Regeneration.
Blind: The target cannot see, they automatically fail sight-based Awareness rolls and take a -5 on any attack roll made against a target. This penalty does not affect attacks with the Mental tag.
Charm: The target's loyalties are turned on their heads completely. Charmed subjects see their allies as enemies and their enemies as allies and act as such, often taking commands from whoever laid the Charm effect. Charmed targets can't be forced to harm themselves and each turn they are made to attack one of their allies the Charm effect is contested again.
Continual Damage: Continuous damage comes as an energy type such as kinetic or flame and deals damage at the beginning of each of the subject's turns as indicated by the effect. Continual Light 6 means you take 6 Light damage every turn at the beginning of your turn.
Confusion: The target's mind is muddled as they hallucinate and reel with a bombardment of sensation. Roll a d4. On a 1 the target does nothing. On a 2 they must move their full speed in any one direction. On a 3 they attack the nearest target with any attack they care to muster. On a 4 they hurt themselves, taking 10% of their health in damage.
Cripple: The target's Move actions are penalized and their normal speed is reduced to only 1 meter per round. They may not Retreat.
Danger: When Endangered you cannot be healed by normal magical or mundane means without the use of a Techne that brings you out of the Danger state. When the Danger state is removed you immediately gain a single point of health in your pool and lose a single fatigue. When Endangered you gain negative health each time you take damage, when this negative health overtakes 25% of your maximum health you die.
Disable: The target cannot Act.
Drain: The subject loses an amount of Charge or Momentum as indicated by the effect at the beginning of their turn. Drain Momentum 2 means they lose 2 momentum per turn. Drain Charge 12 means they lose that much charge per turn.
Enfeebled: The target can't use any Martial techne while enfeebled.
Engaged: The target is currently Engaged in melee
Exhaustion: Exhausted targets gain 20% of their fatigue cap every round until the effect ends or they fall unconscious. Exhaustion counters and is countered by Refresh.
Flanked: When a subject has two enemies on directly opposite sides of them their attention is divided sufficiently that they suffer from the flanked state. They take a -1 penalty to their defense rolls and some traits and techne can take advantage of the state.
Frozen/Petrified: The subject is encased in a solid material and cannot act, as if stunned. However they also gain Resistance towards all forms of attack except Immaculate.
Helpless: When unconscious or completely restrained you are made helpless. While helpless you cannot move or take any actions and you may not roll your defense against incoming attacks. Any attacks against you roll against a base TN of 3.
Hex: Hex happens to an attribute and lowers that attribute by 1 die step in strength to a minimum of d4. For example if a subject's Might die is a d6 and they are hit by a Might Hex effect they instead have a d4. Hex counters and is countered by Bless.
Prone: You are flat on your back or belly and can't defend yourself as effectively! Take a -1 to all attempts to defend against attacks from enemies adjacent to you. However ranged attacks can't hit your small profile as well. Enemies trying to hit you from more than 2 spaces away take a -1 to their attack. You may also only move by crawling.
Seal: The target can't use any Esoteric Techne while Sealed.
Sleep: The target has fallen into a slumber. Any damage or violent physical action such as hitting or slapping they take will wake them but other than that they will remain asleep and helpless for the duration of the effect.
Slow: The target can only take one of their two actions while Slowed. They also move to the end of the initiative order.
Stagger: Staggered subjects take a -2 to any skill rolls they make and cannot take advantage of critical hits. Any enemy whose fatigue score is higher than their health score is automatically always staggered.
Stun: The target cannot take any actions at all and lose their turn.
Positive Effects and Buffs
Here are some effects that increase a subject's capabilities.
Alert: The Alert status means one is especially ready for anything that might come their way. They immediately move to the top of the initiative and their skill rolls gain a +1.
Bless: Bless increases the strength of an attribute by one die step. Might Blessing for instance could increase a d8 Might into a d6+d4 Might. Bless counters and is countered by Hex.
Enchanted: Enchantments are one of any of many, many, many buffs that can be given out through magic or perhaps the focus of a Pugilist. Enchantments are important to be marked as such because there are techne that can destroy or dispel them. Unlike other positive effects, different Enchantments stack.
Fortify: While fortified the subject cannot gain negative conditions.
Haste: A Hasted subject gains an additional Move action every turn.
Invisible: An invisible subject can move around the battlefield with impunity, never drawing retaliation and attacking without being seen. When they attack a subject that subject may attack them as if they were obscured on their next turn, however, and knows where they move on that turn alone. They may also be the target of and take damage from AoE attacks as normal. If they are hit by AoE the telltale marks of damage reduce them to only being Obscured for the duration of the invisibility buff. Making loud noise or moving objects that were not on their person when the subject became invisible may prompt a Challenging Awareness test, success means the successful tester may treat them as Obscured for their next turn.
Obscured: The subject is somehow difficult to see, whether it is because of smoke or mist or because their outline is blurred with illusion magic. Opponents must roll twice to hit them and take the lower result. AoE attacks are unaffected by Obscured.
Palisade: Palisade is an effect that prevents an amount of damage based on the effect. Palisade 20 for instance would prevent 20 points of damage. Palisade doesn't affect fatigue. As you take damage it is deducted from Palisade until the effect is spent.
Rage: Righteous anger flows through you. You deal +50% damage with all of your attacks.
Refresh: The subject loses 20% of their maximum fatigue from their current pool the start of each turn. Refresh counters and is countered by exhaustion.
Regeneration: The subject gains 10% of their maximum health back at the start of each turn. It counters and is countered by Bleed.
Rush: A subject in a Rushed state gains twice as much Charge or Momentum as they normally would whenever they receive it.
Stealth: You have hidden yourself or are blending in with the environment with nigh-supernatural acuity. You may move around the battlefield and are not a valid target for enemies and do not draw retaliation. You are still attacked by Area of Effect attacks. Taking damage from AoE or attacking an enemy breaks Stealth.
Items and Equipment
Money in Vida is handled through units called Resource Units or RU that can represent money, materials, bartering goods or even social clout and reputation. RU can be used for anything that money or bartering might be used for such as receiving goods and making bribes. One way or another when making a purchase you expend RU and must get them back somehow, generally through work, theft or treasure hunting.
Each character can only have so much equipment actually ready to use at any time. Each character, if you imagine them as a 'paper doll' has one weapon slot for each hand, one body slot for armor, one back slot for capes/cloaks/longcoats, one head slot for a hat/helmet/headband and one 'foot slot' for a pair of footwear. There is also one 'accessory slot' each for eyewear, mouth, gloves, wrists, ears and one finger on each hand. Generally you will not be filling all of these slots with equipment of some kind, but it is possible. Just remember that equipment you wear also counts towards your Might-capped encumbrance capacity.
Vida uses a flexible and abstract weapon system rather than having a long list of singular weapons, each weapon can be tailored to fit the character who uses it and can have a backstory and character all its own.
Weapons are built with a simple set of weapon properties called tags. Tags are bought with 'tag points.' Weapons have a number of tag points based on the size and quality of the weapon. Lower die size weapons make up for it with more tag points to spend while larger, heavier weapons have the bigger die size but less tags. Large weapons are also often 2 handed, which afford them some more tag points.
By default, a weapon is a melee weapon that can only be used at melee range. Purchasing the Ranged tag changes this. Weapons automatically add their tags to martial techne that use them. You must purchase the Channeling tag to add them to esoteric techne. Weapons normally deal Kinetic damage unless you purchase the Elemental Touch tag.
To decide what to roll when attacking with a weapon take into account what tags it has.
Melee weapons use the Might or Celerity attributes and the Light Melee when small, Heavy Melee when large or medium or Martial Arts skills when small or medium and worn on fists or feet.
Ranged weapons always use the ranged skill but can use Might if it is muscle powered or a medium or large throwing weapon, Celerity if it is a gun or small throwing weapon, Acumen or Presence if it's a ranged Esoteric weapon.
Esoteric weapons always use either Acumen or Presence but can use any attack skill provided the size and range match up.
Using these rules you can build weapons as you see fit, but following the list of tags is a list of example weapons to use as well. Unless noted otherwise, each tag costs 1 point and tags that have a variable value to them cost 1 tag point per point of that value, unless otherwise stated.
Small Weapons: Small weapons are typically between 6 inches and 2 feet long and not particularly thick or wide. Small weapons deal d6 damage and have 5 tag points to spend. Small weapons cannot be 2 handed, Heavy or have Force.
Medium Weapons: Medium Weapons are typically between 2 and 4 feet long and can be somewhat bulky, wide or heavy but are no bigger than about half an adult human body. Medium weapons deal d8 damage and have 3 tag points to spend.
Large Weapons: Large weapons can be improbably big, generally at least as tall as the person wielding them and quite bulky, thick or wide. Large weapons deal 2d6 damage and have only 1 tag point to spend. Large weapons cannot be Concealable, or Integrated.
Weapons of multiple types of craftsmanship exist, with more skill and care and more rare and powerful materials put into the item making it more powerful. The better the craftsmanship, the more tag points the item possesses.
It is important to note that one should never feel pressured to have a higher quality weapon. Having a weapon of higher quality is a boon at any rank, but you don't NEED a higher quality weapon necessarily to keep up.
Common: No bonuses. Common items are, generally, not difficult to manufacture or find. They tend to not be a large drain on resources to produce or purchase in civilized places and can generally be scavenged from ruins fairly easily if you're in the right place.
Uncommon: +2 tag points. Uncommon items are a step above common items and generally are a product of better, more finessed manufacture rather than anything unusual.
Rare: +5 Tag Points. Items of this quality are true treasures to find and take remarkable, one of a kind talent to create. Rare items generally combine innovative or lost manufacturing secrets as well as rare, highly refined components.
Mythic: +7 Tag Points. It is nearly impossible to find a Mythic quality item and it is truly impossible to make one. Rather than merely products of high craft and rare materials, Mythic items are a product of their STORY. The history of a Mythic item is what gives it power, legend condensed with mana into an item capable of extraordinary feats in the hand of the right wielder. Example of Mythic items include Excalibur, Caladbolg, Bluebeard's Cutlass, Annie Oakley's .22, Vasily Zaytsev's Sniper Rifle, etc.
Accurate X: When attacking with this weapon, lower the target's Avoidance and Dodge rolls by X amount.
AP X: Armor Penetration. Ignore an amount of armor equal to X when landing a hit with this weapon.
Channeling: This weapon can be used as a focus, fetish, gris-gris or any other implement of magic. You may apply this weapon's Tags to esoteric attack techne that you use. Channeling costs 1 tag point.
Clip: This ranged weapon has a clip or a revolving chamber and only needs to take a Reload action after expending every shot of ammunition it can hold. A 6 shot clip costs no tag points, a 15 shot clip costs 1 and up to a 45 shot clip costs 2. Larger clips don't necessarily costs any more than 3 tag points unless the gm rules otherwise. A clip can be lowered to a single shot clip for 1 tag point.
Concealable: This weapon is collapsible, easy to hide or doesn't look like a weapon, giving you a +2 on any attempt to sneak it on your person.
Damaging X: Some weapons are especially hard-hitting and always deal X bonus damage on a hit.
Deadly: Deadly weapons are carefully crafted to make critical hits that much easier. Instead of needing 3 full degrees of success to score a critical hit, you only need to roll 5 above the enemy's defense roll. (So 2 and a half degrees of success.)
Defend X: Defending weapons are easily used to interpose between your opponent and yourself, giving you a bonus on Parry rolls equal to this quality.
Elemental Touch: This weapon can deal Kinetic damage or it can deal a type of elemental damage chosen from Mental, Fire, Frost, Light, Shadow, Air or Toxic. You may switch between elemental and kinetic as a trivial action. For one tag point you may choose one element and may buy as many elements to swap to as you like, for three tag points you may choose two different elements that can be active at the same time and have them act as a hybrid damage type.
Esoteric: This weapon is a weapon of magic and doesn't rely much on the body to strike. You may use Concord, Presence or Acumen when using this weapon (choose one when making the weapon). This tag costs nothing but prevents you from using any attribute other than the one you selected.
Explosive X: Weapons with this tag resolve as if they had areas of effect of spread X. Each 3 meters of spread radius is one tag point.
Follow Through: Weapons with this tag may attack both a single target and a single target directly behind that target in a direction away from the user. Unlike area of effect attacks the attack and damage rolls are carried out separately against each target. Unlike area of effect attacks the attack and damage rolls are carried out separately against each target.
Force X: Force weapons knock the enemy back X meters in any direction on a successful critical hit. It also optionally adds X meters in any direction to any knockback or knockdown techne or traits the wielder uses whenever they are used.
Heavy X: When attacking with this weapon, lower the target's Parry and Sanctus rolls by X amount.
Hybrid: This weapon is a ranged weapon with a melee weapon attachment or a melee weapon that can fire off ammunition of some sort. You may buy both ranged and melee weapon tags and use them with this weapon where appropriate. You must purchase the Ranged tag before you may buy this one.
Hypnotic X: The allure of this weapon is not to be underestimated. Lower the opponent's Composure rolls by X when wielding this weapon.
Improvised: This weapon was found in the field or is otherwise not suited to be used as a weapon either because of shoddy construction or because it has taken too much damage. When a weapon is damaged but usable, consider it Improvised. Improvised weapons are used at a -1 to the attack roll and a -1 to the damage roll (damage rolls always have a minimum of 1). The tag cannot be added to a weapon, it is applied or found on them during play.
Insidious X: This weapon has a devious way of skirting an opponent's magical defenses. Lower the enemy's Focus rolls by X when using a techne with this weapon equipped.
Integrated: This weapon is attached to you or otherwise doesn't require you to give up the use of your hands to wield. You may holster and unholster the weapon as a trivial action. An Integrated weapon must also have the Concealable tag.
Rapidfire X: Applied to a ranged weapon (most often a gun) this weapon can attack additional targets as long as they are no more than 1 meter apart from the last target you hit. Unlike area of effect attacks the attack and damage rolls are carried out separately against each target. Rapidfire costs 1 tag point per extra target you can hit. Rapidfire also consumes more ammunition than normal, however! Each target costs 3 bullets out of your clip to hit. You must have a large enough clip to hold the ammunition needed to make rapidfire attacks in order to make use of this tag at all.
Ranged: This weapon can be used at range and is now considered a Ranged weapon for all intents and purposes. It automatically gains the Reload and clip tags. For 1 tag point Ranged weapons start with a max range of Mid, each range category above Mid costs 2 tag points.
Reach: Applied to a melee weapon, this weapon now has a range of Short rather than melee.
Reload: This weapon requires time to reload or recharge after each shot. Ranged weapons require this tag. It starts at a Move action to reload and costs 1 tag point to reduce reload time to a trivial action. The weapon gains a tag point for raising reload to an Act instead.
Shield: Rather than taking the form of a weapon, this item is a shield. It lowers the penalty for using the Parry skill against ranged attacks by 1 and gives you an additional 1 PArm and EArm. It can still be used for attacking but at a -1 penalty, no matter the form the shield takes. Shield costs 2 tag points.
Sweep: This melee weapon may attack two targets that are adjacent to each other as long as both targets are side by side. Unlike area of effect attacks the attack and damage rolls are carried out separately against each target.
Thrown: This weapon can still be used in melee but is also considered to have a range of mid and can be used with the Ranged skill on top of the weapon's normal skill. However, a Thrown weapon cannot be used to target someone out of the normal maximum range like other ranged weapons, they simply fall short. Thrown costs 1 tag point.
Tueller: The Tueller Drill states that ranged weapons have a minimum effective range of about 5 meters. Any closer means the projectile can't reach it's maximum effectiveness and enemy combatants are too close for safety's sake. The Tueller tag on a weapon means it has a minimum effective range of 5 meters, any closer and the user suffers a -2 penalty to their attack. If an enemy is adjacent they get a free retaliation attack when being fired upon. Tueller gives a ranged weapon 1 tag point when given.
Two-handed: Wielding this weapon uses both hands when you attack, though you can hold it in one hand when not attacking. Two-handed weapons increase the number of tag points they possess by 2.
Versatile: Some weapons can be wielded with one of 2 different skills, these weapons are considered Versatile. These weapons generally are versatile because they can either be used in melee or at range or because they can be used as an Esoteric or Martial weapon.
Following is a list of various types of Common weapons and what they might have as their tag qualities. This list is not comprehensive, nor is it hard and fast! If you feel like something deserves different tags, please feel free to substitute.
Blade: Medium length sharp weapons, usually around 2-3 feet long, like swords, fireaxes and swordlike implements. Medium weapon. Might + Heavy Melee. Tags:
Bludgeon: Clubs, hammers, crowbars, lead pipes and other impactful one-handed weapons. Medium Weapon. Might + Heavy Melee attack. Tags: Heavy 2, AP 1
Bow: Bow and arrow weaponry of different makes and sizes. Medium weapon. Might or Celerity + Ranged. Tags: Two-handed, Versatile, Accurate 2, AP 2, Clip: 1, Reload: Trivial.
Fullblade: Large two-handed swords, axes or sharpened car bumpers or stop signs. Might + Heavy Melee. Tags: Two-handed, Heavy 1, Accurate 1, Sweep
Handaxe: Weapons with short hafts and edged chopping blades like butcher knives, hatchets and pickaxes. Medium. Might + Heavy Melee. Tags: AP 1, Damaging 1, Thrown
Knives: Combat knives, switchblades and other short, sturdy stabbing and slashing knives. Small. Celerity + Light Melee. Tags: Deadly, Concealable, Damaging 1, Thrown, Accurate 1
Pistol: Small, personal, one-handed firearms that are clip-fed and easy to use. Small. Celerity + Ranged. Tags: Concealable, Reload: trivial, Range: Mid, Clip: 15, Accurate 1, AP 1
Machine Pistol or SMG: Mid-sized firearms with rapid-fire capabilities. Tags:
Assault Rifle: Heavy, two-handed firearms with rapid-fire capabilities, large clips and high power.
High-powered Rifle: Cumbersome. powerful two-handed rifles with extremely long range and high power.
Revolver: Heavy pistols and hand cannons with high-caliber bullets and great penetration but generally small amounts of ammo.
Spear: One of a variety of polearms with a pointed stabbing end and a solid shaft for striking. Celerity + Heavy Melee.
Unarmed: Without a weapon of any kind.
War Bludgeon: Extremely large and heavy
Esoteric weapons generally use non-physical attributes in their attacks and have some odd advantages to them such as dealing different energy types in damage or being able to attack incorporeal enemies and deal full damage with them.
Beginning of the End
Around 6000 years ago an ancient Sumerian king created a 12 story tall clay tablet that we now call the Sundered Seal. The Sundered Seal essentially was a world-wide magic suppressant. The reason why magic was a subtle and mysterious force that people could afford not to believe in was because humanity was only dealing with the barest dregs of its true power. Even when people did magic right it only seldom worked and never in the presence of those who believed hard enough that it wouldn't. Such disbelief was so reflexive that past the dark ages it pretty much was impossible.
After building it, the nameless king sank the tablet in the dead sea, coated in a special waterproof lacquer, where it lay until 2032, when an enterprising young archaeologist tried to make a fast name for himself looking for more artifacts of pre-Semitic cultures, ending up stumbling on the great Seal. It was too large for easy transport so the idea was to break it up and reassemble it later, a common tactic when transporting such large finds. The cataclysm that followed could not have been forseen. Once the tablet was broken its power was permanently undone and magic flooded the world in a sudden, destructive torrent.
First came the storms. Like high and low pressure weather systems colliding, the sudden raw influx of magic into a nearly magic-dead world caused huge electrical storms, lances of mystic lightning that cut into the earth, stripping it wherever it struck. The storms whipped winds into frenzy, caused flash flooding and tidal waves, sudden hurricanes and tornadoes. Even the earth wasn't still, shaking and quaking as it was assaulted, tectonic plates shifting just enough to make the world rumble. Nature also went someone rampant, the magic flooding back into the planet caused nature spirits and gods of the land that had been asleep or so subtle they could barely be felt anymore to spring back to full life. Some were angry at first, or so confused they didn't understand what they were doing as they caused plant and beast alike to go mad and attack.
The Cataclysm eventually calmed. Over a period of weeks the destruction rose, then ebbed away leaving a wounded but intact world behind. It was the cities that fared best and were most prepared for what happened, those in rural areas were hit hard and there were many, many deaths. In all about 8 percent of the human population suffered death or injury that led to death. However, once the magic settled and the storms stopped and nature began to calm again humanity began to realize magic was back, like a limb they never knew they had was waking up and they could finally flex it. Rebuilding was slow, but magic was a suddenly helpful and familiar thing after a rather tempestuous reunion. Hope began to rise again, the world seemed bright and new, flush with mystical potential.
This was not the end.
It was not the Cataclysm that brought the end of the world. That came several months later.
The Hollow Gods
The nameless king had, it turned out, had a very good reason for sealing the magic from the world. The great sealing was meant to keep away a horrific clan of entities that traveled from reality to reality from emerging into our world. No longer prevented from walking across the Earth they appeared, projecting from odd angles and crevices at their whim. The world had never known horrors such as these. Seemingly influenced by our own tales and appearances they came in many forms, some very human, others more bestial, some squamous and squirming wretches, some patterns of color and light and some in shapes that were so hard for the eye to discern they drove you mad just trying. They were all unique and united only in their cruelty, their power and their hunger for human lives.
Despite their seemingly utterly disparate and in some cases incompatible demeanor and shape , mystical and scientific analyses concluded that the creatures shared a common source of some kind. Though they had different ways of doing so they all devoured the life force and soul of whatever they hungered for, even though they didn't require any sustenance at all. Some were like succubi draining the souls of those who came to desire and touch them, others were like infernal puzzles that claimed the minds of those who could not solve them, many had esoteric methods of extracting the souls from their victims and there were others still that simply picked up their prey in massive hands and took culinary glee in finding interesting ways to eat them, devouring more than simply flesh as they did. If one thing was common in their actual forms it is that they tended to be quite large, thrice as tall as the average man at the smallest, with the largest so big skyscrapers came to their waists.
Eventually the global community started to refer to them by a common name: Hollow Gods. They were like false deities in some ways, reminding humanity of the tales of capricious gods that demanded worship and needed to be appeased. Some traitors to the world even took to these ways, finding ways to feed and supplicate to the hollow gods and venerate them, surprisingly this attitude seemed to work for even the most bestial or alien intelligences among the Hollow ones. If you surrendered yourself, there was a chance (a slim chance) you would not be devoured. Each Hollow God was almost totally solitary, even if they traveled with or near others of their kind there was little cooperation or alliance and interaction between them was limited to boasting, casual conversation or threatening exchanges.
A Hollow God's way of thinking is basically such: "I am what is important in this galaxy, this universe, this multiverse, this time. There are other things that exist that are my equal in power but they are not as IMPORTANT as me. You are of no importance, you are a tone where I am a song. I will add your tone to my song by devouring you. You scream because you do not understand that being part of me is the greater good, that dying enriches me and therefore enriches the universe because I am all there is. Ever."
The Hollow Gods are completely self-absorbed to the point where they radiate what amounts to their own short universe in a radius around them. They literally believe in their own reality over all others, this leads to them being unable to understand the plights and emotions of others beyond what they wish to see and agree with. If the souls of every sapient being in fate is heard as a tone, then each God is a song unto themselves, both empowered and limited by their own boundaries. A tone could be in any song it can fit in, after all, a song will always just be that one song.
The Song of a Hollow God is a very literal thing, it should be noted. The energy that makes up the forms and minds of these eldritch invaders is translated through many methods of measurement, both technological and magical, directly into sound for reasons that remain largely unknown. These Hollow Songs sound similar to what Humans think of as music but are seldom in languages we could recognize or translate. Hollow Songs can be mesmerizingly beautiful, or they can be horrific to the point of straining the sanity. Some Hollow Gods can attract mortal worshipers simply from the beauty or terror of their own personal rhythm.
In the end, we are what the Hollow Gods came for. The clamor of another world rife with the music of sapience called to them. They had a ravenous hunger for the lives of those who could come together to make such lovely noise to add to their own, who had such interesting magic and who were so eminently edible compared to their greatness. Only a scant few hundred of them emerged across the face of the world, but that was more than enough to push humanity to the brink, turning what was once a budding world of magic into a battleground for survival.
The Hollow Gods can be fought and killed. They wield awesome and incomprehensible powers and can often regenerate as fast as they can be hurt, making them truly daunting opponents even for armies. They each have something, though, a weakness unique to them as their song, as a fingerprint is to us. If brute force won't work, then trying to locate the weakness of one of these monsters can do the trick. The nuclear option worked to destroy some of them at truly unforgivable costs, so alternate methods had to be found. One Hollow God that manifested in Texas was truly unable to be fought because it had no physical body, it was instead a form of psychological meme that infected victims with an existential depression that led to a personalized and creative suicide. It was the purity and innocence of a little country girl that ended the monster. Unable to find any shameful thing in her to attack it was assaulted by her deep love for simply being alive, whereupon it was forced to project into a physical form where her father could bash its head in with a fireplace poker and end it.
What the Hollow Gods can't, or don't wish to, do for themselves is done by something else under their power instead. Some spawn terrible monsters or create mutants from the world around them that become extensions of their will. All have access to a large pool of assistance at any time: the fearful masses of humanity who can be terrorized into supplication.
As has been mentioned there were those who willingly went to serve the Hollow Gods once they appeared. The Hollow Gods are, ultimately, narcissistic and sociopathic creatures no matter the face they show to the world. Many feel they not only can make use of worship, but that it is only natural that creatures lesser than they supplicate and sacrifice themselves to them. Fear and madness drive those who seek out a Hollow God's religion and many who go to serve end up being devoured instead, it is the ones that survive that feel blessed by comparison and fuel a fanatic fire. By serving a greater monster they become smaller monsters and are, thus, scarier than other things that might threaten them. They point to the gods of human faiths and decry them for not saving their followers, defecting from their previous religions to sell their souls for imagined safety. They point to the gods and spirits of the wild and make example of how they die just like humans do under the power of their Hollow masters. They call upon forbidden arts and laugh as they warp and lose their minds in the face of things man was not meant to know.
Once you pledge yourself in service to a Hollow God, which requires a certain ritual unique to the master in question, their nature subtly begins to invade you, changing you. It's not something you can see and in many cases not even something you can sense. Those who worship the Hollow Masters refer to themselves as The Fateless, for the most prevalent change that comes upon them is that as long as they are in the service of their master they are cut off from the weave of destiny. They lose access to any natural, worldly magic they could have used and their actions become unforeseeable to all. They see this as a strength, but it is in fact an existential weakness. Your destiny is, after all, not dictated by anyone but your own flow of actions. By being Fateless the worshipers of the Hollow Gods close themselves to humanity and open themselves to utterly alien whims.
Though they lose access to true magic, the Fateless can instead use the alien power of their masters. By reciting and singing snippets of their masters personal melody they can use the eldritch force that is inherent in their natures and make use of Hollow Songs that emulate parts of their being. There is much power in Hollow Song and it is a quicker path to master than that of human techne, but it is also a path fraught with danger and with no bright endings for those who take it. The stronger a Fateless becomes in Hollow Songs, the more powerful they ultimately become, however the prince is dire indeed. For those who use techne and learn the magic of the world, growing powerful is a personal journey of growth and discovery. You become not only stronger, but stronger as a person. Wisdom comes to you with your power and it can be used as YOU see fit. The more powerful a Fateless' Hollow Songs become, the more of themselves they are surrendering to their vile master.
Eventually a Fateless One who craves too much power from their Hollow God will lose their soul in a way very different from being devoured. They will fuse with a shard of their master's power, attracted to them from the power of the Hollow Songs they have been wielding, and become an Agent. An Agent, or a Hollowed One, is not the person they once were. They are an unholy melange of their previous persona and an aspect of their Hollow God's personality, incredibly powerful and frightful and now beloved of their master for resembling them. They also, however, cease to truly be a person. They are from that point on merely an extension of the Hollow God's will, a deadly puppet.
Until the point of becoming an Agent there is always a path to redemption. A Fateless One can flee their master, find people who can take them in and help them to rehabilitate. They can look inward and reconnect with themselves and the world and find their places in destiny again, they can find their places in their own lives they left behind. Once you become an Agent, however, you have truly walked too far down the Hollow path and are, for all intents and purposes, dead to the world.
The world now is drastically different from how it once was, ravaged by nature and alien gods. Though barely a generation has passed since the Cataclysm, the surge of spiritual energy has caused many cities to start to be reclaimed by nature. People are picking through the rubble of the places they once called home for anything to help them to survive. Hiding places have become homes and intact skyscrapers can now make up whole cities. The Hollow Gods have their territories and roam within them seeking prey, supplication or both. Monsters and mutants, hungry and hostile, also roam the world either slipping in from other realities in the cracks that the Hollow Gods left behind, or transformed by the power of strange magic both alien and native.
The most common places for people to call home are places that are either so far away from civilization that the Hollow Gods showed little interest in being there, or were places that people could retreat to quickly to escape their often very large pursuers. Subway systems were a common place to run to as they were often sheltered from the storms of the Cataclysm and were away from the places the Hollow Gods would look, though incursions by their minions and monsters weren't uncommon and life was hard scrounging in these places that people were never meant to live in.
Trying to live in the wild had its own perils as well. Though often in places the Hollow Gods had little interest in as there wasn't enough food gathered there, contending with wild animals and the elements isn't easy even with magic, though it helps. The mutants and monsters roam free in the forests and mountains as well. These ancient, natural places are also home to the gods and spirits of the land, however. They have just as much to fear from the Hollow Gods and from the things that creep into our world from Outside, so it isn't uncommon to find spirit and human living together in symbiosis. The fairies of the woods can help to hide and provide for people, while heroes guard their lands using the well-honed human instinct for battle.
It is a sad fact that many governments and global powers started to break under their own weight with so much infrastructure lost so quickly. Military powers were faced with enemies they were unprepared for and in desperation the nuclear option was sometimes embraced to try and take out the Hollow Gods menacing their people, even with the sacrifices of more on their hands. The bombs didn't always destroy their targets, though it did the trick more often than not and where it didn't kill a Hollow God it left one wounded and mangled to pacification. The price every time was more dire than the world could really bear and trying to use the bomb on ALL of the Hollow Gods would be self destructive in the end. Where the bombs dropped and the masters died the earth is marked forever. These places now seethe with radiation, both mundane and infected with the lingering echoes of the self-song of the Hollow God the baneful weapon was used to destroy. Terrible things happen there, the fabric between realities worn thin and pliable. Creating more zones of Hollowness like these is simply inconceivable. One of the most tragic losses for the USA was the bombing of the Hollow God who had claimed Atlanta for itself, a 20 foot tall human-shaped monster that took simply swallowed people whole. The city is an irradiated wasteland now, truly uninhabitable but for the dark things that crawl from the corpse of the beast that was destroyed by the blast.
It can be easy to underestimate how difficult life could be with a simple loss of infrastructure, but one has to think about all of the little things that technologically advanced nations need to do to make anything come together. Suddenly the raw materials aren't going to the factories that make the parts that go to other factories to make your cars, trucks, planes, tankers and so on. No one is refilling gas stations so they go dry quickly because no one is making deliveries from derricks and oil fields to the refineries for the gasoline. Power plants stop working because no one is showing up to keep the generators running. Thankfully, magic is there now to help to fill in the blanks but it isn't a perfect situation and so perfect solutions are impossible to grasp.
Many governments, even split and diminished, still struggle to eke out existence and protect their people. They can't do it alone, though. Heroes are needed. Organizations are needed.
New states for a new world: The Mandala of America
Among the tattered remains of the United States government, scattered in pockets of inhabitable land, are those who want to bring the nation back together and push back the Hollow menace. The US is a big, big place, though, especially in a post-apocalyptic world where the easy travel we once took for granted is either not functional, too dangerous or too difficult and costly to upkeep. A young woman of Indian descent, Purnima Sharma, ended up giving a few disparate and growing groups the pushes they needed to come together, creating a new agency of the US government. Led by her oracular talents and adherence to the ideas of fate and dharma the agents of this budding group have come to call it The Mandala.
The Mandala is, primarily, a system of dispatch and response. It's a central hub for those who have a passion to reclaim the lost world from the Hollow Gods, to seek out solutions to unusual problems and to defeat the enemies of humanity by whatever means are necessary. Miss Sharma uses her unique insight into the weave of fate to find pockets of civilization and help to bring them into the fold. She can also find places that are infested with the Fateless or with Hollow monsters and mutants and have them quarantined and purged. Her growing network of esoteric experts are starting to make up for things that have been lost and many other members of the Mandala are there just so that they can go on expeditions into dangerous lands and the ruins of taken cities, braving beasts and evading the scrutiny of Hollow Gods to scavenge for necessities. As time goes on and groups of the Mandala head out to establish new bases, usually accompanied by remnants of the US military, the information network of the world is starting to slowly come back together. The internet is being reestablished and with that contact with other parts of the globe. The internet isn't exactly a thing that goes away, after all, it just lies damaged and dormant until people can reconnect.
The Mandala is made up of three separate houses that all have their own methods and focuses in dealing with the problems faced by the US. They are, strictly speaking, private entities, but they all answer to and unite in working under Purnima Sharma's leadership. The leaders of each house and Purnima herself, who has the title of Seer, all meet in a council periodically to oversee the actions of the Mandala as a whole, record its growth, take stock of available resources and where they can best be used and to debate out important internal matters.
The Executive House rose up from a set of people who were most strongly interested in reclaiming what was lost, finding and salvaging old tech, repurposing or rebuilding it. They uphold a lot of the American ideals that were best in the nation. They became quickly wealthy and powerful surviving off of the valuable tech they uncovered, building a sizable military force. As part of the Mandala they act as judiciaries and mediators for any domestic issues that arise. They also administrate the formal Mandala military, the largest fighting force of any of the houses. The military can request aid from the Witch-Knights and the Paladin Order any time they desire. The Executive House is lead by an elected president and cabinet.
The House of Witches is the magical soul of the Mandala, coming from a band of people who threw themselves in learning as much as they could about resurrected magic as possible. Both new research and ancient knowledge are preserved and heralded by the House of Witches and they administrate the Mandala's university, teaching not just magic but history and the sciences as well. The House of Witches is lead, naturally, by the Queen of all the Witches who is the oldest, wisest and most powerful magic user among them. They command the Witch-Knights, a group of agents of the state who are dispatched for a variety of specific missions, whether that be recovering magical artifacts or knowledge or sealing portals to Outside places.
The final house is the House of Bishops, the spiritual arm of the Mandala government. With the ruination of organized religion and the shaking of global faiths thanks to the revelations of the Hollow Gods people tended to either abandon the idea of religion entirely or grew into hyper-zealous conclaves as likely to cause trouble for anyone who disagreed with them as the Fateless. The House of Bishops is a pan-religious organization that helps to regulate and organize the remnants of world religion and maintain an absolute separation of church and state, and that means ANY church. In a world where strong faith can now give you superpowers it became important to regulate that sort of thing. The House of Bishops is led by a council of religious leaders of many different faiths who have agreed to keep their interactions with each other civil and secular, letting religion remain a deeply personal experience while still tending to their own spiritual needs and the needs of their followers. They administrate the Order of Paladins, essentially roving peace-keepers who tend to travel in pairs of a magic user and a physical fighter. They primarily exist to combat Outsiders, prevent violent conflict between states and curtail the rise of Hollow Cults. They are usually the first to fight Fateless terrorists when they rise up.
The Reclamation and Technology
The Reclamation is the term for the Mandala's scientists attempts at rediscovering old world tech and figuring out how to make it work with new world principles. A lot of infrastructure was lost in the wake of the cataclysm and increasingly magic is being used to close the gaps. Most alarmingly certain things like working guns and cars have become difficult to find and the means to manufacture them are still a ways off from being reliable. People have increasingly fallen back on melee weapons since guns are a rare commodity. Expansion is still limited as well since easy travel hasn't yet been established.
Magic is regarded as a science in the new world and the Reclamation does patch some of its efforts with esoteric aid when they must, especially when it comes to electricity.
Magic is… odd. It still flummoxes even people who study it day in and day out because Magic as a force reacts very strongly to the will, temperament and style of the user. When one puts their all into learning to use magic they often make it entirely their own, so while the power works similarly for two people in a mechanical way, their powers may look entirely different! As an energy field it seems to read the intent and effort of the user and draws off of their natural energies to work with itself and produce effects, or Techne as they have been called. (Some call them spells but many refuse to use such a 'silly' term. Techne that channel through the body for martial classes don't make sense as 'spells' anyway.)
As influenced by the will of a sapient mind as it is, it is a measurable and quantifiable force in the universe, just with a set of very complex rules that take into account multiple variables. It is most definitely affected, for instance, by certain patterns and frequencies of sound, color and shape. This is, what magic experts believe, makes magic runes, music and incantations effective. Two people might have different incantations for the same magical effect (or different martial arts stances for the same technique) but if you study them you'll find certain idiosyncrasies are shared by both such as the tone or pitch of the words or even the symbolism used.
Magic also definitely works through certain materials better, such as real stone, steel or gold being better conductors than concrete or plastic. Runic patterns (or even nonsense "magic language" strings) can get magical energy (or 'mana') flowing in certain ways to do certain things. Many re-established cities run off of a generator that is essentially a stone obelisk with the proper inscriptions on it hooked up to an electrical output of some kind.
There are things that magic absolutely cannot do. Magic, for instance, cannot do anything that directly subverts the weave of fate. What does this mean? It means that magic cannot raise the dead once they are dead, bringing someone back from the brink is possible but once someone is gone there is nothing one can do. You can still animate their corpse, sometimes with a semblance of who they used to be, but this is still not the same as having them back to life. Magic cannot allow one to travel forward or backwards in time, though this rule is bent in that magic can still influence time like slowing or speeding its passage in an area or for certain people but you can't turn the clock backward or forward to change the flow of events. Another thing that magic can't do is to mess around with people's souls. Hollow Song can do this but only to harm, devour or diminish them. The human soul cannot be directly attacked or tracked to where it goes after death. If someone remains as a ghost, however, this rule does not apply to them until they move on to wherever death calls us.
The personal and instinctive nature of how mana works for people has a major advantage. It means that though it is still barely understood it can create workable solutions for common problems such as growing crops in ruined cityscapes or finding sources of power where there are none. It also has given rise to many new and different weapons that help esoteric masters work their art for self-defense and war.
With the reawakening of magic, the beings that once were worshiped and entreated by shamans and priests and the most sensitive of ancient people have the power to more fully manifest once more. Before the Cataclysm it took a rare psychic talent to so much as see spirits, let alone interact with them, with the Great Seal broken these beings have become more than mere animistic myth, but a force in the world again.
Spirits exist in a strange twilight state between our physical world and a spiritual plane all their own. It can be said that we are surrounded always by spirits, but this is also not completely true. Spirits, generally, are in a state of discorporation called Torpor where they can interact with each other on the spirit plane and are aware of their personal embodiments on the physical plane but they are not aware of anything else. A spirit can manifest on the physical plane in both an ethereal or astral shape that lacks solidity and the ability to be easily noticed and communicated with and in a physical shape where they are just as real as you or I. Their intermittent, quasi-real state means that even with Magic returned Spirits aren't generally an everyday encounter except for those who make it a point to seek them out.
There are 5 distinct types of spirit in the world. Each type of spirit has lesser subtypes but it's the greater type that really makes the being in question.
1. Man. Spirits of man are one of the rarest type of spirit to encounter and take the forms of beings that are extremely specific to humanity, such as guides of the dead, demons or guardian spirits. Examples include Angels, Faeries, Valkyries, Imps, Raksha, Oni and other non-human entities that have a very direct tie to human existence. Many such spirits are directly tied to specific religions, but none are able to give a direct answer as to WHICH religion is 'correct' or not. Modern scholars actually separate the presence of Spirits of Man from any religious proof, citing that Spirits of Man may exist in the forms they do BECAUSE of our religions rather than FROM our religions. It isn't inconceivable that the collective will of humanity has given birth to classes of these spirits in reaction to our beliefs and that their existence isn't proof or dismissal of any exclusive spiritual philosophy. It has been determined that Spirits of Man inhabit spiritual planes slightly out of phase with most other spirits and so often associate only with each other.
2. Land. Spirits of the Land, also known as Old Gods, are the ephemeral embodiments of particularly old and significant natural formations such as mountains, stones, rivers, trees, and lakes. They are ancient and alien beings that exist when a landmark soaks up enough mana over time to form a consciousness of sorts, creating both a guardian and representative, a voice for the voiceless. Spirits of the Land tend to be very powerful beings with very long memories and much, much knowledge. They know all that happens on the land they govern and the greatest of them often lead courts of spirits of lesser power as their prominence earns them much respect with other spiritual beings. A rather young subset of Spirits of the Land (comparatively) are city spirits, Old Gods that evolve, grow and change with the cultural identity of the city they belong to. Only particularly large or old cities tend to have their own spirit. Spirits of the Land are irrevocably connected to whatever they originate from and if either the spirit or the place are damaged, then both are damaged as a result.
3. Element. Spirits of Element can be seen as lesser spirits of land and they often populate the spirit courts under Spirit of Land leadership. It takes less mana concentrating in a source to create elementals, they are weaker than Spirits of Land and there are more of them but they also are not immortal, they flicker in and out of existence over stretches of centuries, usually returning to the source that birthed them. There are many types of elementals, each influenced by the element that spawned them.
Water and Ice elementals are usually birthed from the body of an aquatic Spirit of Land, peeling off like waves lapping the shore. They are, as such, both some of the most loyal and most collective of spirits in a court. Water spirits tend to be compassionate and gentle while Ice spirits are more harsh but also more disciplined and confident.
Air elementals come from areas of high winds and high altitudes. Electricity elementals, on the other hand, are born from particularly charged storms that strike a lot of lightning bolts or more rarely from electric generators and highly ionized cloud formations. These elementals are flighty and free and tend to be least concerned with the goings-on of a spirit court. Their independence gives them a reputation as troublemakers among other spirits.
Light elementals are born in places where the sun shines much more than others such as plateaus, savannahs, plains and anywhere that lacks any shade. They are attentive and gentle spirits, encouraging life and progress and loving any sources of heat and illumination, especially the sun. They are valued in courts as their opinions tend to lack bias.
Shadow elementals are born in places where the sun barely reaches at all, such as caves and deep in rainforests and swamps. These reclusive elementals are quiet, curious and thoughtful. They carefully watch other beings and some like to imitate what they see, all have excellent memories. They are not terribly vocal forces at court but they make excellent security, information sources and spies.
Fire elementals are generally born from events such as forest fires but also drift up from magma flows and steam vents. They are dynamic and passionate, happy to die for whatever they fight for and believe in. Moody creatures, they can swing from fierce affection for one creature to burning hatred for another given even a slight reason.
Earth and Metal elementals spring up from mountains and mines and places where the earth is rich with minerals. Steadfast and predictable, they are creatures of order and pattern. They like what they like and they live their lives in a solid rut but never grow tired of it. They are cornerstones of court politics but seldom sway from their opinions once they've made them.
Wood elementals come from the mana that is shed from the trees in a forest governed by a Spirit of the Land. Each Wood Elemental, unlike other elementals, represent but a single tree and if either elemental or tree dies, both die. Like water elementals, wood elementals are highly loyal to Spirits of the Land and incredibly protective of their domain.
4. Animal. Spirits of Animal are curious and mysterious entities indeed. Some say they are born from the death of a particularly old and veteran creature of its species, others that they are concentrations of mana that gain sentience and mimic the first animal they see. Animal spirits are closer to humanity than elementals or old gods but still more separate from humans than Spirits of Man. Along with elementals, they populate spirit courts and represent the needs of living things within them. Animal spirits usually appear somewhere on the spectrum between animal or human, with some indistinguishable from humans save for some iconic animal features such as eyes, tail, ears or skin markings and on the other side as particularly large and magnificent examples of their species. The level of humanity an animal spirit displays is often directly proportionate with how much contact they desire with humans, as well as the amount of respect they have for them. Their actual thought processes are the least alien out of all types of spirits, even the spirits of the dead, and since the Cataclysm many animal spirits have come to mingle with humans freely. The demeanor and outlook of an animal spirit is heavily dependent on the temperament of the animal they represent.
5. Soul. Ghosts, wraiths, revenants and specters. Spirits of Soul are the spirits of the dead, dead humans who still have attachments to the world and emotions they can't resolve, connecting them to the living. Some ghosts do this on purpose, such as ancestor spirits that gather in undead choirs to protect and watch over their descendants and their families. The great majority of ghosts don't even realize they're dead, locked in repeating patterns of torment and sorrow that they act out again and again. Many of these ghosts, as the things that anchor them are destroyed or drift away, will resolve their own issues and fade away. Many more require help from mediums and the living to move on to whatever great mystery awaits after death. An unlucky minority are transformed by the spite and hatred and pain of their existence into horrible specters that prey on the energies and fear of the living.
It isn't just humans who can be Hollowed or even turned into Agents. Both normal animals and spirits of nature are susceptible to the process, often even more susceptible than humans, though the product is seldom as singularly terrifying.
Hollow Beasts are animals who have been transformed through alien processes into a shape that pleases a Hollow God. Animals lack sapience and so have little to no ability to protect themselves from the Hollow Song of a God, easily warped and molded body and mind. This leads to even accidental mutations that turn what would be a regular dog or rat or cat into a beast that could endanger even someone heavily armed. Imagine what an already dangerous creature subjected to such a treatment could become? Hollow Beasts are invariably under the complete control of the God who influenced its creation and its subordinates, but also act on their own when not given orders. The instincts of a Hollow Beast drive it to seek out sources of mana for sustenance, principally living things but they also gather in areas rife with magical potential or that house esoteric artifacts.
Hollow Spirits are spirits of nature (spirits of man, land, element, soul or animal), whose environment or embodiment have been twisted and Hollowed. This indirect transformation means that they are not necessarily under the direct control of the God that created it, but they are still twisted and malevolent entities that could become resources for that Hollow God if the horror has reason to direct its will towards doing so. Just as there are the five categories of spirit, each is twisted in its own way into one of five new horrible shapes.
1. Spirits of Man become Spirits of Inhumanity. Angels fall, devils rage out of control, faerie wings rot and their teeth grow sharp and hungry. Spirits of Inhumanity seek at all turns to hunt, poison and subvert humans and have a special love out of all dark entities for seeing them rent asunder and devoured. Spirits of Inhumanity are the Hollow Spirits most likely to seek out the Hollow God that poisoned them and serve them willingly.
2. Spirits of the Land become Spirits of Void. Spirits of Void are most likely the most inherently dangerous Hollow Spirits. Their poisoning does not stop with them, it translates through them into their entire domain. The roots of the tree god and the foundations of the mountain spirit pump the alien venom that Hollowed them all around them, exposing more spirits and animals to the Hollowing process. They become dark nexuses of corruption, pulsing like a fevered heart, their only wish to see their courts twisted like them, so they can all stay together just like they're supposed to.
3. Spirits of Element become Hollow Elementals. Hollow Elementals change the least out of all Hollow Spirits, at least externally. They are simply corrupted with a spark of nihilistic horror just like all Hollow things, they become more aggressive and their courts dissolve and they begin to hunger for mana, seeking it out so they can drain it instead of provide it. They always seek out mana of their own element, feeding from the source and poisoning the well behind them.
4. Spirits of Animal are effected not as normal animals are to become hollow beasts, but rather they become Hollowed and can eventually even become Agents just like humans do. Their inherent transformation abilities are usually twisted terribly by this process and they lose their normal animal traits, having them replaced with alien features or with overly, sometimes mockingly, pronounced versions of their normal shapes.
5. Spirits of Soul become Hungry Ghosts. It's hard to imagine how undead spirits that can become corrupted by their own hate can be even more twisted by the hunger of the Hollow Gods, but it's possible. Specters affected by the Hollowing become stronger and more twisted, less human and more undead alien soul-hunters. Other ghosts go through a terribly painful and confusing process where they are forced to fuse with their former body or have new ones made for them out of mana and Hollow song, becoming a ravaged and flesh-hungry ghoul known as a dessicate.
For practice, inspiration and testing before I try to hammer these out myself. Need a good template for these, current one feels too long.
Sniper Techne: Covering Fire
Long Range, Single Target
Effect: As long as this techne is active you may retaliate against anyone who attacks the target as long as they are within range of your weapon. It lasts until the beginning of your next turn unless you spend your next turn's Action to sustain it. You may do this as long as you like at no extra cost.
Signkeeper Techne: Flame Sign: Ignition
Mid Range, Single Target
Effect: The target of the sign immediately has their Flame resistance reduced by one step.
Myrmidon Techne: War Cry: Fearful Roar
Effect: Intimidation vs. Composure attack. Enemies within range that fail a Composure roll are Afraid until the next time you take damage, to a minimum of 1 full round.
Mesmerist Techne: Psychic Puppeteer
Mid Range, Single Target
Effect: Imagics vs. Focus contest. If the target loses the contest then the Mesmerist loses their current turn, instead gaining the ability to control the target's following turn. This ability can be sustained, paying the cost and repeating the contest on each of the Mesmerist's turns.
Alienist Techne: Desperate Whisper
Esoteric, Mental, Endangered
Short Range, Single Target
Effect: Esoterics attack. Deals Esoterics + Rank Mental damage.
Prowler Techne: Distraction Powder
Short Range, Spread 1
Effect: Ranged + 2 vs. Endurance. Effected enemies are inflicted with Stagger for 1 round.
Categories of Abilities
Features: Usually free, features come with leveling in a class, most prominently at level one and when entering a specialization.
Augments: Cheaper than full techne, augments add effects to basic skills or basic attacks.
Techne: Full special techniques, they are the core powers of the game and allow you to do things that you cannot do without them. Battle techne are usable in combat and cost momentum or charge to perform. World techne cost nothing but do not have any sort of combat focus, rather they are ways of interacting with the environment or other people.
Evolutions: The advancements of a techne to a more powerful form. Rather than building large lists of many redundant techne, most will simply advance in power.
Chains: Purchasable connections between two or more techne, allowing you to use them one after another as long as the previous techne hits. Usually includes some sort of charge/momentum refund. You must have all of the techne that resolve in the chain before you can buy the chain.
Current Character Generation Rules
1. Choose a name and design a concept, sum up your character as a descriptive title then come up with one or two sentences describing them.
2. Choose a class and backgrounds.
3. Set your attributes.
3. Calculate starting health and fatigue as well as your Charge and Momentum pools.
4. Purchase your skills. You have X experience points to spend on your skills at chargen, this experience does not count as spent experience.
5. Note down your class' starting package of traits, techne and equipment.
6. Spend 50 starting experience on whatever you might like to buy off of your class list at rank 1.