5.1 Scored Contest

Scored contests are longer and more dramatic than simple contests. Your GM uses scored contests when the outcome of the struggle is important, to generate suspense for you, or when your GM want a back-and-forth struggle. It is something you and your GM should visualize and describe.

A scored contest consists of one or more rounds, in which you perform actions that are similar to simple contests. However, actions and rounds do not decide the outcome of the whole contest, only who gains or loses resolution points at that time. In a scored contest there is no distinction between aggressor and defender, each round represents attempts by both parties to overcome their opponent. Your GM should determine who has the initiative to describe what they are doing for any exchange, based on their interpretation of the flow of events. If in doubt your GM should defer to you over your opponent to describe what you do in the round, and describe the NPC reacting to that.

5.1.1 Procedure

  1. Your GM frames the contest.
  2. You choose a tactic, and figure your PC’s target number (TN) using the rating of your ability, plus or minus modifiers the GM may give you.
  3. Your GM determines the resistance. If two PCs contend, your opponent figures their TN as described in step 2.
  4. Carry out one or more rounds, repeating as necessary.
    1. A scored contest unfolds as a series of simple contests. At the end of each simple contest, the winner scores a number of resolution points (RPs) to their tally, which varies between 1 and 5, depending on the result. Tied results leave the score unchanged.
    2. Your GM decides which opponent has the initiative and describes what they are trying to do to achieve the prize, the ‘aggressor’. The ‘defender’ describes how they counter the aggressor’s attempt to seize the prize. If it is not obvious from the unfolding narrative, your GM should choose your PC as the ‘aggressor’.
    3. Conduct a simple contest as normal, but once the outcome has been determined, it becomes a number of resolution points scored by the winning side.
    4. The number of resolution points the winner garners at the end of each round depends on the degree of victory they scored. They get 1 point for a marginal victory, 2 for a minor victory, 3 for a major victory, and 5 for a complete victory.
    5. The first to accumulate a total of 5 points wins; their opponent is knocked out of the contest and loses the prize.
  5. Determine the scored contest outcome based on rising action or climax (below).
  6. Determine benefits of victory or consequences of defeat.
  7. Describe the outcome based on the story obstacle.

Unlike in an extended contest (see below), where you usually take part in two exchanges with your opponent per round (one in which you choose the AP bid, and one in which your opponent does), here you and your opponent engage in a single exchange per round (in which whoever the GM determines has initiative describes an action to seize the prize and their opponent how they intend to stop them).

Your resolution point score tells you how well you’re doing, relative to your opponent, in the ebb and flow of a fluid, suspenseful conflict. If you’re leading your opponent by 0–4, you’re giving them a thorough pasting. If you’re behind 4–0, you’re on your last legs, while your opponent has had an easy time of it. If you’re tied, you’ve each been getting in some good licks.

In a fight, scoring 1 RP might mean that you hit your opponent with a grazing blow, or knocked him into an awkward position.

Scoring 2 RPs might mean a palpable hit, most likely with bone-crunching sound effects.

A 3 RP hit sends them reeling, and, depending on the realism level of the genre, may be accompanied by a spray of blood.

However, the exact physical harm you’ve dished out to them remains unclear until the contest’s end. When that happens, the real effects of your various victories become suddenly apparent. Perhaps they stagger, merely dazed, up against a wall. Maybe they fall over dead.

In a debate, a 1 RP might occasion mild head nodding from spectators, or a frown on your opponent’s face.

2 RPs would occasion mild applause from onlookers, or send a flush to your opponent’s face.

On 3 RPs, your opponent might be thrown completely off-track, as audience members wince at the force of your devastating verbal jab.

In interpreting the individual simple contests within a scored contest, your GM is guided by two principles:

  1. No consequence is certain until the entire scored contest is over.
  2. When a character scores points, it can reflect any positive change in fortunes, not just the most obvious one. RESOURCE POINT TABLE

Critical Success Failure Fumble
Critical 1 2 3 5
Success 2 1 2 3
Failure 3 2 1 2
Fumble 5 3 2 n/a

5.1.2 Scored Contest Outcomes

As with all contests, if the contest involved a resistance we care about your outcome, win or lose, and the GM should feel free to narrate the outcome for the resistance depending on their interpretation of your outcome which may not be symmetrical. For example, if the benefit of victory for your PC is pumped the GM should feel free to interpret what this means for the resistance: in a melee they might be dead, in a social contest they might be exiled, or they might surrender in the melee or cede ground in a social contest. Your GM should focus on the prize that was agreed when determining how to narrate over the outcome for the resistance.

In a PC vs. PC contest however, your GM should treat the results as symmetrical when determining the outcome. Rising Action

Rising action refers to all of the many plot events and complications that occur between the beginning and the climax of a story. During this phase of your GM’s story, they will use the rising action consequence table to assess outcomes.

Find the difference between you and your opponent’s resolution point scores at the contest’s conclusion. Your GM then determines your outcome by cross-referencing with the following table to find your benefits of victory or consequences of defeat.

Note, you may suffer a state of adversity, even if you win the prize. RISING ACTION CONTEST TABLE

Difference Between RPs Negative Consequences for Loser Consequences/Benefit for Winner Victory/Defeat Level
1 Hurt Hurt Marginal
2 Hurt Fresh Marginal
3 Impaired Pumped Minor
4 Impaired Pumped Minor
5 Injured Invigorated Major
6 Injured Invigorated Major
7 Dying Heroic Complete
8 Dead Heroic Complete
9 Dead Heroic Complete Climax

For the final, climactic confrontation that wraps up your GM’s story, you may suffer a state of adversity, even if the outcome shows that you won the prize. This represents that at the climax you may triumph, but be laid low by the effort.

First, determine your outcome for the contest as for rising action, but in addition, if the outcome show that you gained the prize your GM now cross-references the resolution points scored against you by your opponent on the climactic state of adversity table to determine the state of adversity you suffered in winning that victory. If you lost the prize use the RPs scored against you to determine your outcome as per the rising action table above. CLIMACTIC STATE OF ADVERSITY TABLE

Total Resolution Points Scored Against PC State of Adversity
0 Unharmed
1 Dazed
2 Hurt
3 Hurt
4 Impaired
5 Impaired
6 Injured
7 Injured
8 Dying
9 Dead

5.1.3 Parting Shot

In the round immediately after you take an opponent out of the contest, you may attempt to increase the severity of the consequences your opponent suffers by engaging in a parting shot. This is an attempt (metaphoric or otherwise) to kick your opponent while he’s down:

• Striking an incapacitated enemy • Attacking a retreating army • Attaching one more punitive rider to a legal settlement • Demanding additional money from a business partner • Delivering one last humiliating insult

Your GM should not use a parting shot.

If you succeed in your parting shot roll, you add the result from your roll to the final number of resolution points scored against your opponent in the round that removed them from the contest.

However, if your opponent succeeds, they take the number of resolution points they would, in a standard round, score against you, and instead subtracts them from the number of resolution points scored against them in the round that removed them from the contest. If the revised total is now less than 5 RPs, they return to the contest, and may re-engage you. Your GM describes this as a dramatic turnaround, in which your overreaching has somehow granted them an advantage allowing them to recover from their previous misfortune. The provisional consequences they suffered now go away, and are treated as a momentary or seeming disadvantage.

The ability you use must relate to the consequences the opposition will suffer, but needn’t be the same one you used to win the contest. If the loser is a PC they use a suitable ability to resist; otherwise the GM rolls a suitable resistance value.

Where it makes sense, unengaged PCs may attempt parting shots against opponents taken out of the contest by someone else. You may not revive your teammates by using your lamest abilities to make parting shots on them; this, by definition, does not pass a credibility test.

5.1.4 Asymmetrical Round

You may choose to briefly suspend your attempt to best your opponent in a scored contest, in order to do something else. An instance where you are trying to do something else and your opponent is trying to win the contest is called an asymmetrical round.

In an asymmetrical round, you do not score RPs against your opponent if you win the round. Instead, you succeed at whatever else you were doing. You still lose RPs if you fail. Often you will be using an ability other than the one you’ve been waging the contest with, one better suited to the task at hand. This becomes additionally dangerous when the rating associated with your substitute ability is significantly lower than the one used for the rest of the contest.

In addition to secondary objectives, as in the above example, you may engage in asymmetrical round to grant augments (see above) to yourself or others.

5.1.5 Disengaging

You can always abandon a contest, but, in addition to failing at the story obstacle, you may also suffer negative consequences. In a contest where your opponent intends to harm you, you will always suffer negative consequences if you withdraw, unless you successfully disengage.

To disengage, you make an asymmetrical round, using the ability relevant to the contest you’re trying to wriggle out of.

If you fail, your effort is wasted and the score against you increases, as it would have during a normal round. If you succeed, you escape the clutches, literal or metaphorical, of your opponent, without further harm from a contest during the rising action. In a climactic scene, however, RPs scored during contests you disengaged from are still taken into account when determining consequences. In the case of a group contest, consequences against you are determined as soon as you disengage.


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