Rules

So sayeth the GM (copypasta from the forum, with minimal editing):

Mechanics

The system is based on a hybrid of Apocalypse World and FATE. Each character will have a set of keywords or phrases that describe their nature and abilities. For example, Sapient’s Soulforged might have something along the lines of “Body of wood and iron”, “Initiate of St. Martha”, “Childlike curiosity” and “Son of Forbidden Arts.” When you declare a course of action I’ll consider what effect – for good or ill – these features might have for the outcome and unless there’s an obvious reasonable and entertaining result, I’d roll 2d6 and add modifiers for relevant features and factors on a scale from -2 to 3. If the result is 6 or less the situation turns against you somehow; 7-9 implies you get pretty much what you wanted, but at a price; 10 or more gives you exactly what you wanted (at 12 I might well throw in something extra).

Here’s an example. A big-toothed monster is about to swoop back down on the party after having set them ablaze with its fiery breath, leaving only our brave Soulforged not writhing in pain, and he declares “I cover my friends with my body and appeal to St. Martha to douse the flames.” Being big and immune to pain helps when you’re trying to act as a shield, so he gets 2 for “Body of wood and iron”; easing the suffering of others is something the god of compassion supports wholeheartedly, but unfortunately our Soulforged is not very good at channelling her power yet so he gets only +1 for “Initiate of St. Martha”. Furthermore, he is himself burning, which makes it harder to concentrate and might endanger the others further, so that’s -1, for a total modifier of 21+-1=2. I roll 2d6+2 and consider the result, coming up with something like this:

6 or less: before he gets a chance to aid his friends, the charging beast rends the Soulforged so that he gets a gaping hole in his back, exposing more of him to the flames.

7-9: he manages to douse the flames on his friends before hearing his back plates crack as the beast drives him into the ground

10-11: he leans over his friends, their flames die out, and the beast’s teeth fail to find purchase on his steel shell.

12: St. Martha smiles upon such self-sacrifice and a nimbus of holy light envelops the party, putting out all the flames and blinding the beast long enough not to find its prey.

I don’t intend to track injuries numerically, but rather describe their nature and effects (including how close these brings you to death). If a character succumbs to their injuries, I’ll probably allow at least one more round of trying to keep them alive.

Conventions

Language
There is a trade pidgin that just about anyone can understand and use at a basic level just by knowing any non-secret language. This goes by many names, including Chatter, Common, and Trade Tongue. No one speaks this as their native language, though.

The occupants of Taikasaari speak Islish (also known as Saarikieli by the snobbish), a widely spread language spoken by most merchants, travelers, academics and diplomats. Its stature is similar to that of English in our world. It is a fairly old language derived from Kieli, the Ancient Tongue, to which it bears about as much similarity as English bears to Latin (i.e. many similar words but different grammar).

Player characters are assumed to be at least conversant in Islish. If their background would reasonably afford them competence with another language they encounter during the game, so be it. If you want to add languages to your character sheets beforehand, go right ahead, but it is by no means required.

Equipment
Your character will start the game with whatever gear makes sense for them to be carrying. I will not require a detailed inventory. As long as no character pulls out implausibly bulky or exotic items, I’m okay with it. I trust in your sense of drama and fair play.

Rounds, turns, and scheduling
We’ll do at least two rounds per week. A round consists of each player taking a turn by stating their character’s intent in the situation, and my response to these, which describes what ends up happening and how the situation has changed. You may elaborate on your character’s actions as much as you think appropriate, but it is important to remember that only with my response can the situation change. If you want to add detail to the resolution, you can describe that at the start of your next turn.

Here’s a sample of a good turn text:
“My face goes blank and freeze for a moment as I see my beloved fall to the ground, allowing the bodyguard the perfect opportunity to tackle me so. Enraged and heedless of pain, screaming my beloved’s name, I reach for my dagger to stab it into my enemy’s back as many times as it takes to kill him.” It starts with a reaction to the previous resolution and concludes with a clear objective for the round without stating an outcome.

I’ve set myself response deadlines for Wednesday and Sunday nights every week. On those nights, whether or not everyone has taken a turn for the round, I will write a response. If everyone has written their turns earlier I may of course respond ahead of schedule. If someone misses a turn, their character will be passive and focus on self-preservation; miss two turns and I’ll try to get in touch with you to see if your character should be written out temporarily; after the third missed turn I’ll probably write the character out of the story until I’m contacted. If you know beforehand that you won’t be able to participate for a time, let me know and we’ll figure out a way to write your character out for the while.

Note that this turn structure only applies in dynamic situations where you’re dealing with an immediate challenge. If your characters are in a situation where they can interact freely, go ahead and talk amongst yourselves as much as you want! :) I consider developing character relationships no less important to the story than any plot I may have in mind. When it comes to pacing dialogue, I liked what we developed in The Bards Ale Tavern thread.

Adding to the world
The neatest, most organic way of contributing to the world is by having your character bring something up in the game. For example, if your character succeeds at something, you can state what in their background allowed them to do so: “I parried the enemy’s swing with the Sweeping Snake maneuver a Carithian swordsman had taught me while traveling from Spikewall to Reekfort” would be perfectly appropriate, and would spawn wiki entries for ‘Carithia’, ‘Carithian swordsmanship’, ‘Spikewall’, and ‘Reekfort’. However, when writing wiki entries, do not go into too much detail – a sentence or two should be enough for a first mention.

I cannot stress enough the need to keep things intentionally a bit vague until they are encountered directly in the game. We need to leave each other room so they can add to things of our own creation. Of course, since everything characters bring up is necessarily down to their personal interpretations, this shouldn’t be a problem.

I expect it to take a while for us to find a common tune when it comes to this matter, but I’m sure we’ll figure out what works best.

If there’s something you’d like to see added to the world but don’t have a convenient way of introducing it through your character, go to the Suggestions page and present it there.

Rules

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