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Page history last edited by Clinton R. Nixon 14 years, 3 months ago

Characters, Dice, Masteries




Art: faith, reserve, calculation, skill, training, discipline, experience, knowledge, wisdom, cunning, practice, carefulness, education, lore, subtlety, level head.

Grace: style, wit, wits, humor, agility, flair, presence, composure, patience, ease, rhythm, manners, class, fashion, beauty, balance, graciousness.

Guts: passion, instincts, nerve, will, resolve, determination, doggedness, balls, recklessness, brashness, boldness, daring, cool.


Core Endeavors


Asserting myself: in words, in actions, in some artistic form; acting on your faith or with confidence, taking space in a room or a conversation.

Defending myself: physically, armed or unarmed; even attacking another, if she's capable of fighting you back.

Enduring duress: enduring pain, fear, injury, cold, tedium; staying still and silent, surviving torture or illness or the elements.

Exerting myself: physically again, or mentally; lifting, climbing, carrying, running, swimming, memorizing, yelling to be heard.

Influencing others: winning them to your point of view, bullying them into submission, deceiving them, seducing them.


Other Endeavors


Very notably: doing magic.


But also: doing productive labor, doing burglary, building houses and walls, surviving in the wilds, making a way on the road, holding a house, cooking meals, buying and selling goods, fighting dirty, praying to the gods, speaking prophesy, smithing swords, performing feats of strength, acting a part, reciting from the ancient books, doing thuggery; making poetry, making war, making love.


Character Sheet Procedure


1. Give your character a name. Copy down her description from your list of characters present.


2. Assign dice to your stats. Assign two dice to each stat. In total, assign a d12, a d10, a d8, two d6s, and a d4.


So you might assign thusly: Art d12 d10, Grace d8 d6, Guts d6 d4.


Or you might assign thusly: Art d8 d6, Grace d10 d6, Guts d12 d4.


Or whatever other arrangement you like.


When you roll a stat's dice, you'll roll both, but read only the higher.


So let's say that you assign Art d12 d10, and I assign Art d12 d4. If we roll Art against one another, I'm capable of rolling as high as you - a maximum of 12 - but it's likely you'll roll higher than I will anyway.


3. Assign one stat each to your five core endeavors. You must assign each stat at least once.

So you might assign thusly: Asserting myself - Art; Defending myself - Grace; Enduring duress - Guts; Exerting myself - Guts; Influencing others - Guts.

Or you might assign thusly: Asserting myself - Guts; Defending myself - Grace; Enduring duress - Art; Exerting myself - Guts; Influencing others - Grace.


4. List one or a few other endeavors. List at least one or two; you may list as many as five or six, if that's how many it takes to flesh out your character.


Assign them stats.


Here's one thing you can do: "Commiting burglary - Guts." If you don't list "committing burglary," which endeavor will it be? Exerting yourself, maybe? But by listing it, you assure that when you have your character do it, no one will scratch their heads.


Here's another thing you can do: "Defending myself - Grace; fighting dirty - Guts." Use your endeavors to say "usually I do it with this stat, but if I do it this way I use this stat instead."


Here's a third thing you can do: "Description: a poweful war-sorceress, slender but commanding, with golden hair -" but don't list "doing war-sorcery" as an endeavor. When you have your character do war-sorcery, what stat will you roll? It depends! If you're having her do war-sorcery to defend herself, roll that stat. If you're having her do war-sorcery to influence others, though, or if doing war-sorcery is exerting herself - roll those stats instead.


If you're the GM player, give your characters only one non-core endeavor: add "-ing," to their descriptions to make them into verbs. A warlord's sixth endeavor is "warlording," a priestess' sixth endeavor is "priestessing," a wind devil's sixth endeavor is "wind deviling." I find this easier and no less interesting than detailing their other endeavors out.


5. Sometimes you may add a mastery.


Non-GM players: when it's at least the third chapter of play and your character's new, or when your character's recurring from an earlier chapter and you've chosen to add a mastery to your character sheet, per setup.


GM player: whenever you like, but only for one or two characters per chapter.


You can create a whole new mastery, create a mastery sheet for a mastery someone has already named but not created, choose an applicable existing mastery, or upgrade a mastery you already have (see below).




Mastery sheets


  • Name
  • Significance
  • Plays into
  • Vulnerable to
  • Actions & Misactions


For the first chapter, create a mastery sheet only if you're the GM.


Pass the finished mastery sheet to the player of the appropriate character, or keep it for yourself if the appropriate character is one of your NPCs.


Masteries are an interesting part of the game: they're your opportunity to invest in the game and its world beyond this single chapter.




For the first chapter, create only one mastery. Choose something that grabs you from the elements.


Name it from its entry, adapting it as you like.


Let's say that the warrior cult grabs me. I write "initiation into the warrior cult."




By default, every mastery is worth 1d6 to one endeavor.


For the first chapter, the mastery must be of modest significance. This means that you choose one of the following options:


  • It's potent. It's worth a die one size larger - in this case, a d8 instead of a d6.
  • It's broadly applicable. It contributes its die to an additional endeavor - in this case, two endeavors instead of one.
  • It's innate. Whoever has it can't casually lose it, drop it, undo it, or have it revoked.
  • It's unique. Whoever has it, no one else can have it too.
  • It's far-reaching. Whoever has it, it allows them to take actions beyond their normal human reach.


(Great significance, by the way, means that you choose two options, and extreme significance means that you choose three.)


So initiation into the warrior cult is of modest significance: it's worth its default 1d6 to one endeavor, and I choose that it's innate. Once an initiate into the warrior cult, always an initiate into the warrior cult.


Plays into


Name the endeavor or endeavors that the mastery contributes its die to. It's easiest, but not necessary, to stick to the five core endeavors.


I could choose "making war" for initiation into the warrior cult, but let's say I have a slightly different, more personal vision of what the mastery means, so I choose "defending myself." An initiate is a brother to lions even off the battlefield.


Vulnerable to


Every mastery is vulnerable to one other mastery. Name it. For chapters after the first, you can choose a mastery that already exists, if one's suitable, but for the first chapter you're naming an altogether new mastery.


Whenever you go up against someone who has the other mastery, you gain no benefit at all from this mastery. That's what "vulnerable to" means.


Notice that a mastery's vulnerability is another mastery, not to an action (like "vulnerable to being stolen"), not to a circumstance (like "vulnerable to the full moon"), not to a class of person (like "vulnerable to ghosts"). It must be a mastery, something that players could legitimately write on their character sheets and get dice for.


Let's say that for initiation into the warrior cult, I choose "vulnerable to: animalism." I don't know yet what animalism means, as a mastery, but I'm imagining someone calling upon their own wild instincts to out-lion the lion. Maybe for some future chapter I'll create a mastery sheet for animalism, or maybe one of the other players will - who knows?


Actions & Misactions


List at least three things that you have the right to say when your character actively uses the mastery and has the upper hand. Start these with "I," and refer to the character's opponent as "you."


For broadly applicable masteries, list at least two for each endeavor.


For far-reaching masteries, establish their reach here. "I summon lightnings and fire down upon you," "I raise an army of swaying wheat-men from the field," "I peer in as though I were a bird on your windowsill."


List at least one thing that your opponent has the right to say when your character actively uses the mastery but her character has the upper hand. Start these with "you" - it's your opponent speaking for your character.


For initiation into the warrior cult, let's say that I choose, for actions, "I tear into you without fear or hesitation," "I move faster than any person ought to," and "I smash you aside like nothing."


Let's say that I choose, for a misaction, "you're berserk and panicked; all you can think about is escape."


Masteries in conflict


Roll a mastery's die whenever you do that endeavor. You can choose to not use the mastery if it makes sense; the mastery's die counts when you're determining who's rolling bigger dice.


When your opponent wins the advantage but not a total victory, she gets to choose one of:


  • Go forward into the next round with an advantage die, a d6 with pips.
  • Cut you off from your mastery for the rest of the conflict. You lose the associated die. She has to say how. She can't choose this if your mastery is innate.
  • If you have other characters rolling on your side of the conflict, she can put one of them out for the rest of the conflict. She has to say how.


Masteries after the first chapter


Players of recurring characters choose one:


  • Write an existing mastery on your character sheet. Don't choose one that's both unique and already written on someone else's.
  • Write a new mastery on your character sheet. Create a mastery sheet to go with it.
  • Bump up by one the significance of a mastery already on your character sheet.
  • Reassign your character's dice and stats from fresh. Keep any masteries you've written on your character sheet from previous chapters, but divvy a fresh set of dice among your stats, and write out your endeavors and assign stats to them anew. Notice that choosing this option lets you recover any dice you've lost as the consequences of actions in earlier chapters.
  • Create a one-time character sheet for your character specific to this chapter. For instance, you might create your character as a young person, or your character transformed into a leopard, or your character's immaterial presence, as the chapter calls for.


Starting with the third chapter:

When you make a new character, you can start with one mastery (of modest significance) on your character sheet. Choose one that already exists or make up a new one and create a sheet for it.


As GM, you should make a new mastery or two - maybe writing up one already named - pretty much every chapter.


Characters can have masteries without writing them on their character sheets. Writing it on your character sheet secures it for purposes of still having it at the beginning of the next chapter.


Example Characters



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