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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Dwarf in the Playground
    Join Date
    May 2019

    Default Rules based on narrative flow control

    Control, Consent, or Challenge
    These rules try to define a procedure for shifting narrative control among players and a lead, with frequent challenges for control being resolved by die rolls. The lead by default controls all of the actions of the lead characters and all events other than the actions of the players’ characters. However, any of the players can narrate an action by their character, or an event that affects any of the characters including lead characters. A challenge arises when someone disagrees with the existing narrative about how an action or event would affect its subjects.

    A narrative sequence begins when someone (often, but not always, the lead) presents a stimulus. This could be as simple as “A stranger arrives at your village.” Another party (sometimes you) then responds to the stimulus with additional narrative. Each player, including the lead, gets a chance to further the narrative, either by consent to what’s been said so far (“yes, and then”) or by a challenge (“no, instead”). Each player can narrate a single event, whether that’s an action of their own character or of a single lead character or an event that affects one of the characters. Everybody gets one turn to narrate, in any order, before anyone goes again – unless someone presents a challenge, in which case they might get an extra turn and reset the sequence.

    Consent is the narration of an event that is consistent with the previous events in the narrative. Consent does not require any rolls, and does not affect the flow of narrative control.

    Quote Originally Posted by Example: Consent
    Lawrence (your character) is patrolling the top of a castle wall. The lead tells you that just after Lawrence passes one of the crenellations, a ninja rolls over it onto the parapet.

    You narrate that Lawrence turns and threatens the ninja with his spear, saying, “Stop right there and lie down.”

    No die roll is required for this. It follows naturally from the preceding narrative and presents no contradictions.
    A challenge undoes, reverses, cancels, negates, or changes the outcome of the previous action or event.

    When someone presents a challenge by narrating something that negates or cancels out or otherwise refuses the preceding narrative, then whoever presented the challenge (one of the players or the lead) must determine who has control of the narrative by making a roll. A roll for challenge is modified by the relevant attributes of both parties to the challenge (sometimes there is just one party, for example when Lawrence might try to yank his speartip out of the wood of the parapet). If you are making the roll, you get bonus dice for relevant attributes of any character supporting the challenge, and penalty dice for relevant attributes of any character resisting the challenge.

    After a challenge has been resolved, control passes normally among the players and the lead. Everyone gets one turn, in any order, and then the sequence begins again with whoever won the challenge.

    Rolling for Success or Failure
    Roll one or more six sided die. Pick one. Result 5 or higher indicates success, 4 or less indicates failure.

    The default is to roll one die. However, bonus and penalty dice are awarded based on relevant attributes and relevant aspects of the situation. Each bonus die allows you to roll an additional die and discard the worst. Each penalty die requires you to roll an additional die and discard the best. Bonus and penalty dice cancel out, so if you had two bonus and one penalty you would roll a total of two six sided dice and discard the worst one.

    Penalty / bonus Die roll Chance of success
    Three penalty 4 dice, keep worst 1:81
    Two penalty 3 dice, keep worst 1:27
    One penalty 2 dice, keep worst 1:9
    Neutral 1 die 1:3
    One bonus 2 dice, keep best 5:9
    Two bonus 3 dice, keep best 19:27
    Three bonus 4 dice, keep best 65:81

    Attributes of the rolling party’s character grant bonus dice, whereas attributes of the opposing character inflict penalty dice. For example, if the lead says that a lead character with great Agility is outrunning your character (who has superior Agility), you could challenge that narrative by saying that your character catches up to the lead. You would need to succeed at a challenge roll in order for that to be true, and on that roll you would get one bonus die for your character’s attribute but two penalty dice for the lead character’s attribute.

    A relevant attribute or situation grants the following bonus or penalty dice, according to its descriptor:

    Attribute descriptor Situation/task descriptor (optional) Dice
    Wretched Difficult Two
    Poor Challenging One
    Fair Tricky None
    Superior Simple One
    Great Easy Two
    Superb Routine Three

    Quote Originally Posted by Example: Physical challenge with player character
    The lead responds that the ninja springs backward and assumes a defensive posture. Again, no die roll is required for this. However, you then narrate that Lawrence strikes the ninja with his spear before she can get out of range. This is a contrary narrative that presents a physical challenge, and you will roll to find out whether Lawrence or the ninja wins. You will get bonus dice for Lawrence's Agility (fair, no dice) and Spear ability (superior, one die), and a situational modifier of one bonus die for Lawrence having a larger weapon. You will get penalty dice for the ninja's Agility (superior, one die) and Unarmed ability (great, two dice). You end up rolling three dice, discarding the two best ones. The result is a 3, which is a failure. You lose the challenge, so the lead gets to narrate further that after the ninja springs clear, Lawrence's spear strikes the wood of the parapet - and sticks in the wood.

    You now could consent to the spear being stuck, narrating that Lawrence's next action is to yank it free. Or you could contradict the lead, saying that Lawrence arrests the spear before it hits wood. If you succeeded on the roll for that challenge (which would be modified only by Lawrence's Agility and Spear ability), then you would gain control and could narrate further that Lawrence smoothly steps forward with his spear leveled toward the ninja.
    Quote Originally Posted by ”Example: physical challenge with lead character”
    The lead narrates that a second ninja clambers through the crenellation. You respond that, as the second ninja summits the wall, he slips and loses his grip, falling backwards the long flight to the ground. This is a challenge that you presented, so you make a roll modified by the ninja’s Agility (one penalty die). Dropping the best die, you get a 2, so the ninja successfully rolls over the edge onto the parapet. The lead also gets to narrate another event.
    Thus, when someone initiates a challenge and then wins the roll, they gain control and they get an extra turn. Their side of the story becomes true, and they also get to present a new step in the narrative. On the other hand, when someone loses a challenge roll, the challenged party’s narrative remains true and the challenged party gets to narrate another event or action.

    Narrative theme Relevant attributes
    Physical Strength or Agility and any one relevant ability
    Mental Guile and any one relevant ability
    Wound Strength and weapon/armor combination
    Survival Spirit and Strength

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Dwarf in the Playground
    Join Date
    May 2019

    Default Re: Rules based on narrative flow control

    Wound rolls
    A special type of challenge arises when you or the lead narrates an attempt to inflict a wound on a character. The player whose character would suffer the wound makes a “wound roll.” Their character avoids the injury only if they succeed.

    Physical Wounds
    Bonuses to wound roll: Target's Strength (e.g., two bonus dice for great Strength). Target has weapon or armor heavier than attacker’s weapon (one die).
    Penalties to wound roll: Attacker’s Strength (e.g., one penalty die for superior Strength). Target has weapon and armor lighter than attacker’s weapon (one die).

    When you fail on a wound roll against your character, one level of injury is inflicted. Each level of injury deducts one level from Strength and Agility.

    Failed wound rolls against sharp weapons "explode" - if you fail the roll, not only is a level of injury inflicted, but additionally you must make another wound roll with the reduced Strength descriptor from the initial wound.

    If a character's Strength or Agility is reduced below wretched by an injury, the player whose character inflicted that injury has an opportunity to narrate that the injured character is incapacitated by physical pain or mental distress. In order for the injured character’s player to successfully challenge this narrative, he or she must succeed on a Survival roll. A player who succeeds on a survival roll gets to narrate their character’s next action; then the narrative control shifts back to the player whose character inflicted the injury.

    Quote Originally Posted by Example: Physical wound
    The lead narrates that the ninja takes Lawrence's spear. You respond that Lawrence keeps the spear (challenge). You win the challenge roll, and narrate further that Lawrence stabs the ninja with the spear. The lead narrates that the ninja dodges the thrust. The lead fails this challenge roll, so Lawrence succeeds in stabbing the ninja. Before you narrate the next step in the action, the lead makes a wound roll for the ninja. Penalties are Lawrence's great Strength (two dice) and Lawrence's medium spear being heavier than the ninja's unarmored condition (one die); bonuses are nil (the ninja has fair Strength - if the ninja had poor Strength there would be another penalty die). The lead rolls four dice and takes the lowest, which is a 1. This means that the ninja suffers an injury that deducts one level from her Strength and Agility, and that the lead must roll again - this time with five dice because the ninja's Strength already is reduced to poor). If the lead fails on two more wound rolls (which seems likely), you get an opportunity to narrate that the ninja collapses curled in a ball on the parapet, clutching her wounded thigh. The lead will make a Survival roll to challenge your narrative. The roll has two penalty dice (for the ninja’s less-than-wretched Strength) and one bonus die (for the ninja’s superior Spirit). The lead rolls two dice, drops the best one, and the result is a 3, so your narrative is sustained and control remains with you – you get to narrate your character’s next action.
    Eventually, your character can recover from a wound. You can narrate recovery of a first wound level an hour after the injury was inflicted, a second wound level one day after the injury, a third wound level after a week, and further wound levels on a monthly basis. If your character was incapacitated by a wound, they remain incapacitated until they recover one wound level. The lead has the option to challenge your character’s recovery by making a Survival roll (which would be penalized by your character’s Strength and Spirit).

    Quote Originally Posted by Example of recovery from wounds
    Lawrence has been injured in a battle. He has three levels of physical wounds – his Strength is poor, his Agility is less than wretched (he succeeded on all of his Survival rolls and was not incapacitated, but he’s crippled and can only crawl), but his Guile and his Spirit remain superior. After one hour, you narrate that he recovers one wound level. The lead feels contrary and challenges your narrative, making a Survival roll with one bonus die for Lawrence’s poor Strength and one penalty die for his superior Spirit – thus, the lead rolls one die total. The result is a 4, so the lead’s challenge fails and Lawrence does recover to fair Strength and wretched Agility.
    Last edited by Tibbius; 2019-06-19 at 12:13 PM.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Dwarf in the Playground
    Join Date
    May 2019

    Default Re: Rules based on narrative flow control

    Determining attributes
    Characters start with four primary Attributes (Strength, Agility, Guile, and Spirit), with some number of secondary Attributes (Abilities, which are determined based on Guile, and Attachments, which are determined based on Spirit), and with the tertiary attributes of Wealth and Status.

    Primary attributes are essentially permanent. They can be temporarily diminished by injuries, but they eventually can be recovered to their original values. However, they cannot be increased above their original values.

    The primary attributes are established by rolling 3d6 several times and assigning some of the rolls to Strength, Agility, Guile, and Spirit. For a heroic game, roll six times and assign the four best rolls. For an over-powered heroic game, roll more than six times and assign the best four. For an ordinary-person game, roll six times and assign the four middle rolls.

    Now, translate the numbers into descriptive levels. Score of 3 or less indicates a wretched attribute (2 penalty). Score of 4-9 indicates a poor attribute (1 penalty). Score of 10-12 indicates a fair attribute (no modifier). Score of 13-14 indicates a superior attribute (1 bonus). Score of 15-17 indicates a great attribute (2 bonus). Score of 18 indicates a superb attribute (3 bonus). Generally, attribute scores cannot exceed 18 (superb; 3 bonus). Once the verbal descriptor has been identified, the initial roll for the attribute can be forgotten.

    “Wretched” (two penalty dice) is the default descriptor for anything that does not have an assigned attribute.

    Secondary attributes are changeable. They are not diminished by injuries, and they can be increased above their original values by training. You can narrate effort, which the lead can challenge. Challenges to effort are resolved by rolls that are modified by the relevant primary attribute. Generally, improving an attribute to a poor level requires one week, from a poor level to a fair level takes one month, from fair to superior requires one year, from superior to great takes two years, and improving from great to superb takes five years. Characters who start at a superb level are truly gifted.

    The secondary attributes of Abilities are established by rolling 3d6 six times and assigning the best rolls to as many as four abilities. Abilities are physical (e.g., athletics or fighting styles) or mental (e.g., professions or in some settings mystical or magical abilities). You get bonus or penalty dice based on Agility (the primary attribute for physical abilities) or on Guile (the primary attribute for mental abilities). Each bonus die means that you may roll an extra die and pick your highest three. Each penalty die means that you must roll an extra die and pick your lowest three. If you don’t like the result that you get for an ability, you can use another of your six rolls to try again.

    The secondary attributes of Attachments are established by rolling 3d6 six times. Your character can start with as many as four attachments. Exemplary attachments include “Family,” “Best Friend,” or “Chefs of the World.” You get bonus or penalty dice based on Spirit (the primary attribute for attachments). If you don’t like the result that you get for an attachment, you can use another of your six rolls to try again.

    Similar to the primary attributes, the raw numbers for secondary attributes should be translated to descriptors and then forgotten.

    Wealth and Status are very changeable. They can be increased or decreased in response to your character’s actions as well as other narrative events. Wealth is important for accessing resources. So is Status. For some characters, achieving high values for these attributes is a goal of the narrative arc.

    Wealth is established by rolling 3d6 one time. You get bonus dice for one ability that you select. Then you translate the roll to a descriptor.

    Status is determined by rolling 3d6 one time, with bonus dice for one attachment that you select. Translate the roll to a descriptor.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    May 2019

    Default Re: Rules based on narrative flow control

    Weapons and armor
    The details of weapons and armor are setting specific, but the following are some default ideas.
    Weapons can be used for melee or as missile weapons. Melee weapons come in a variety of weights (unarmed, light, medium, heavy, very heavy), and can be close weapons or reach weapons. Reach weapons give a bonus die to physical challenges when the opposing parties are far apart, but give a penalty die when the parties are close together. Melee weapons may be blunt (inflicting one level of injury) or sharp (inflicting two levels of injury). Weapon weight mainly affects how well a weapon can get past armor or a parrying weapon.

    Missile weapons also come in a variety of weights and have varying ranges. Some missile weapons are mechanical, which means they do more damage and have greater range than the user's strength could ordinarily achieve. A typical missile weapon inflicts two levels of injury, but a mechanical weapon could inflict three or even four levels of injury.

    Armor also comes in a variety of weights (unarmored, light, medium or heavy). Armor must be fitted in order to avoid interfering with a wearer's movement. Unfitted armor limits its wearer's Agility modifier: light armor to fair, medium armor to poor, heavy armor to wretched. Armor that exceeds its wearer’s Strength is considered to be unfitted. Light armor is ok for poor Strength, medium armor is ok for fair Strength, and heavy armor is ok for superior Strength.

    As mentioned above, weapon/armor combination affects physical wound rolls. If the attacker has a heavier weapon than the target’s weapon and armor, then the target takes a penalty die. On the other hand, if the attacker has a lighter weapon than the target’s weapon or armor, the target gets a bonus die.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Dwarf in the Playground
    Join Date
    May 2019

    Default Re: Rules based on narrative flow control

    Limits on resources
    It can be helpful to a narrative to limit the resources available to the characters. For example, we could limit how much your character can carry and what tools your character can use. Beyond the discussion of Strength and armor weights (above), your character’s Strength also determines how big a weapon you can wield without incurring penalty dice.

    Weapon weights work differently than armor weights. A too-heavy weapon does not limit Agility. Instead, it gives you a penalty die to any challenge rolls that involve that weapon. For example, a character with poor Strength can use light weapons without penalty, while a character with superior Strength can use heavy weapons without penalty. A character with fair Strength, however, would incur one penalty die for using a heavy or very heavy weapon. Reach weapons count as one weight heavier than normal weapons, so a light reach weapon would require fair Strength to avoid a penalty die.

    The number of items that can be carried is a narrative element that is subject to challenge by the lead. Common sense should limit challenges to situations when your character tries to pick up something heavy or without a free hand, or tries to carry a ridiculous amount of items on their body. The lead’s challenge to carrying something should get penalty dice for your character’s Strength and bonus dice for the total weight of the items being carried. A challenge to picking something up should get penalty dice for your character’s Agility and bonus dice for how unwieldy that item is. For example, the lead would get two penalty dice for a very light item and would get one bonus die for a character with poor Strength. If the lead succeeds at the challenge, your character can’t carry that item.

    Quote Originally Posted by Example of encumbrance
    Lawrence has great Strength, and can wear heavy armor and wield a very heavy weapon without any penalties. When he gets dressed, dons his heavy armor, and straps on his very heavy sword, you do not need to make any rolls. After that, the lead could make an encumbrance challenge whenever Lawrence tried to add something significant to his load. Generally, Lawrence can carry a large number of very light items as long as they all are in a convenient pack.
    We also can limit how many items your character can acquire. Again, this is based on common sense challenges to your narrative of your character getting the item. Your character can acquire items through Wealth (purchasing), a relevant mental ability (making), or Status or an attachment (borrowing). If the lead succeeds at the challenge, your character can’t get the item. If the lead fails, your character can get the item, but the lead might narrate that your character’s Wealth or Status temporarily is reduced.

    Quote Originally Posted by Example of acquiring an item
    You narrate that before going on watch, Lawrence gets a spear from the castle armory. No challenge should be made to this, it is part of Lawrence’s job. On the other hand, if Lawrence attempts to get the count’s fancy shield from the armory, a Status challenge would be totally appropriate – perhaps with a bonus die for the lead because the shield is a unique item with a known owner other than Lawrence.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Dwarf in the Playground
    Join Date
    May 2019

    Default Re: Rules based on narrative flow control

    Weapons and Armor for a Quasi-Modern Setting
    Weapon types and corresponding abilities include unarmed, short blades, sticks and long blades, or firearms.

    Unarmed fighting or sticks inflict one level of injury. Short or long blades inflict two levels of injury. Firearms inflict three levels of injury for short arms and four levels of injury for long arms.

    Short blades are cheap, as are sticks. Long blades are moderately priced. Firearms are expensive.

    Training in any weapon type is expensive.

    Armor types include light and medium armor and shields. Heavy armor and shields are not used.

    Light armor and all shields are inexpensive. Medium armor is expensive.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Dwarf in the Playground
    Join Date
    May 2019

    Default Re: Rules based on narrative flow control

    The Weird in RPGs
    Too often, weirdness overwhelms roleplaying games – usually in the form of “magic” that is limitless in its potential and can easily become a go to deus ex machina for resolving conflicts and plot points that otherwise might be interesting narrative challenges.

    Yet a little weirdness does make a story more interesting.

    This is a proposal for a little bit of weird.

    Specifically, the special mental abilities of “the Word” (telepathy activated by spoken words) and “the Sight” (clairvoyance and prognostication activated by telepathy). Characters can be created with these abilities, and can improve them, but can’t gain them during their careers.

    The Word
    A character can be born with the ability to interpret others’ verbal and nonverbal communications so accurately that it is like reading their mind. Further, the character can be born with the ability to verbally and nonverbally communicate their thoughts so effectively that they can instill perceptions, beliefs, and even memories into others’ minds. These two abilities are known as “the Word.”

    Thus, a character with the Word could with only a few words of speech – their own, or another character’s – gather all the information that a character involved in the conversation knew or believed about that topic. On the other hand, a character with the Word could with a little speech establish an illusion or delusion in their listeners. This latter type of action is successful only if it inflicts a mental wound on its unknowing targets, and endures in its targets until they recover from that wound.

    Examples of what a player can narrate if their character has the Word:
    - “As my character converses with the count, her true intentions toward my character become apparent.” The lead then can consent by divulging those intentions, or challenge by saying that the count’s mind is devious.
    - “While the merchant speaks about his journey through the mountains, my character realizes he is lying about how the guards were lost. They did not die in an avalanche – he left them to die of their injuries from a battle with bandits.”
    * “After a few words are spoken, the guard decides to let my character out of the dungeon.”
    * “As my [young male] character greets each of the villagers, each in turn perceives him as an old woman with long white hair and a warty nose.” The lead can challenge this: “A young child cries out, ‘Why is that young man shuffling along like that?’” Then the challenge can be resolved by a roll modified by your character’s Word.
    * “When my character seizes the pirate’s wrist, the pirate perceives that his muscles in that arm become limp and do not respond to his will.”
    * “My character says ‘It’s getting dark in here.’ The other characters perceive that all the candles are extinguished and the room becomes so dark they cannot see their own hands.”
    * “My character says, ‘Boil your blood and freeze your bones.’ The bandits feel intense pain in their bones and blood vessels, so intense that they feel they might die.”

    Examples of what a player cannot narrate, even if their character has the Word:
    - “My character says ‘Let there be light!’ and the true features of the cavern become apparent to her and to the other characters.” (The character can influence the perceptions of others with her Word, but cannot instill knowledge of reality external to her own thoughts and perceptions. If she had previously seen the cavern by torchlight, then at best she could replicate that memory for herself and for others – but her memory might no longer match the true features.)
    - “By a simple touch, my character restores sensation to the pirate’s paralyzed arm.” (This can work only if the arm was paralyzed by the Word; it will not work on paralysis caused by physical injury.)
    - “With a word and a gesture, my character causes stones to fly at his enemies.” (Nope. This isn’t any form of communication. However, the character could cause the enemies to perceive that they were being pelted with stones.)

    Thus, many of the effects that can be achieved with the Word also can be achieved by other, less weird abilities such as ordinary fast talking or disguise.

    * Effects marked with an asterisk take effect only if they inflict a mental wound on their targets, with the accompanying roll to challenge the wound. Once the target recovers from the wound, the effect is over. The target is unaware that they have suffered a mental wound – unless they fail their Survival roll, in which case they become incapacitated (dazed and distressed) until they recover from the mental wound.

    Mental wound roll
    Bonuses: Rolling party's Spirit and ability.
    Penalties: Other party’s Spirit and ability

    Quote Originally Posted by Example: Mental wound
    Sonia is a lead character. She attempts to enthrall Lawrence using her great Word and superior Guile. You narrate that Lawrence (no special mental abilities, and superior Guile) resists Sonia's psychic attack. You roll for the challenge, with three penalty dice for Sonia's Guile and ability and one bonus die for Lawrence’s Guile. You roll three dice, dropping the best two, and the result is 3, which means that Sonia succeeds in enthralling Lawrence. The lead narrates that in addition to gaining some control over Lawrence's actions, Sonia also inflicts a mental wound. You automatically challenge this, as you would for a physical wound. Sonia has superior Spirit, as does Lawrence – but Sonia has great ability in the Word, so you again have three penalty dice and one bonus die. You roll three dice and get a 2. Lawrence loses one level of Guile and Spirit. He now has only fair Guile and Spirit. Once he recovers from the mental wound, Sonia no longer will be able to control his actions.
    Recovery from mental wounds works just the same as recovery from physical wounds. You can narrate recovery of one wound level after the first hour, and the lead may challenge your narration by making a Survival roll with your character’s attributes as penalties to the roll.

    The Sight
    A character who has the Word also may have the unusual additional gift of extremely accurate inference (“the Sight”). Given this ability, the character may be able to glean from another character’s inward knowledge and intentions a fair estimate of their future, or of current events involving third parties with whom the other character has interacted. The Sight works only for topics on which the character has acquired knowledge through the Word.

    Examples of what a player can narrate if their character has the Sight:
    - “After speaking with the count about her attendance at the king’s conference last month, my character sees that the king presently is engaged in a fierce battle with the invaders.” The lead then could narrate “In the battle, the crown prince [who also was at the conference, and spoke with the count] intends to betray the king and make a peace with the invaders in order to resolve the debts of the crown and subdue the restive local nobility.” Alternatively, the lead could challenge this: “The king is not in a battle, but feasting with the invaders at a peace conference.” Depending who won the challenge, your character’s vision would be true or not.
    - “A few words with the guard about the food in the dungeon, and my character sees what is planned for her tomorrow...” The lead then can narrate what will come.
    - “After talking briefly with the merchant about his profits, my character sees the hidden chest where the merchant keeps his gold and sees the key to that chest on a thin golden chain around the merchant’s neck.”
    - “Expressing sympathy for the crippled pirate, my character sees that the withered arm came about when an angry young woman grabbed the pirate’s wrist after he groped her.” The lead could challenge this: “No, the injury was from a sword stroke at the boarding of a merchant quarry.” Then a roll modified by your character’s Guile and Sight would resolve the challenge.
    - “After interrogating the pilloried bandit, my character has a clear vision of where the bandit camp is situated in the mountain forest.”

    Examples of what a player cannot narrate, even if their character has the Sight:
    - “Looking from the eyes of a soaring eagle, my character sees where the bandits have their hidden camp on the mountainside.” (The Sight relies on the Word, which can’t work on animals with which your character can’t converse.)
    - “Staring into the flames of the campfire, my character sees how the king will die.” (Again, the Sight relies on inferences from the Word – the campfire neither knows nor communicates anything about the king.)

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