5.3 Extended Contest

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

An extended 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 advantage points (AP) at that time. You take actions in turn, an exchange, losing and gaining the advantage, until either you or your opponent runs out of advantage points and is defeated.

5.3.1 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. Figure your starting advantage point (AP) total using the TN, including all modifiers and augments. The AP include +20 for each level of mastery, and can also be increased by followers.
  3. The GM determines the resistance. The GM opposes the PC with a resistance—the harder the task or tougher the opponent, the higher the resistance. The GM figures starting APs for the resistance from the resistance TN.
  4. Carry out one or more rounds, repeating as necessary.
    1. Each round consists of two exchanges: an action and immediate response.
      1. Describe your action towards the desired prize, what ability you use, and how much risk you take. “I want to climb straight up to that outcrop, taking chances if needed.” You can specify your AP bid; if you do not, your GM determines this based on the amount of risk you are taking. The size of the bid mirrors how bold and risky your character’s action is. Extreme or aggressive actions mean a high AP bid, and cautious actions require less.
      2. The ability used can be varied, but APs are always calculated on the first ability that you use in a contest. That ability must be used in the first round.
      3. You gamble a number of your APs in an attempt to reduce your opponent’s AP, but if you fail the attempt you lose the AP.
      4. Roll a die to determine your degree of victory or defeat, then apply any bumps. Your GM does the same.
      5. Compare the results of the two die rolls on the Extended Contest Table to determine who loses AP; only when you have a critical can you gain AP from your opponent. The AP bid is multiplied by this number before applying the results. Thus, if you bid 3 AP and the result is “Loser loses 2x bid,” the loser loses 3 x 2 = 6 AP. Round half points up.
      6. Determine outcome. Each contestant’s AP total rises or falls during the contest as they gain the upper hand or are driven back. Exchanges continue until one contestant reaches 0 advantage points or fewer. At that point, the contest is over (even if it is the middle of a round). The loser’s final AP total determines the outcome for the victor.
      7. The GM then hazards a number of APs for the resistance, in the same way.
  5. Advantage points are only relevant for the length of a particular contest. Your PC does not have any until the next extended contest begins, when you calculate them all over again

5.3.1.1 EXTENDED CONTEST TABLE

Critical Success Failure Fumble
Critical Worse roll transfers ½x bid, else tie** Loser transfers 1x bid** Loser transfers 2x bid** Loser transfers 3x bid**
Success Loser transfers 1x bid** Worse roll loses ½x bid, else tie Loser loses 1x bid Loser loses 2x bid**
Failure Loser transfers 2x bid** Loser loses 1x bid Worse roll loses ½x bid, else tie Loser loses 1x bid**
Failure Loser transfers 3x bid** Loser loses 2x bid Loser loses 1x bid** Tie*
  • In a group extended contest, the GM may declare that both contestants lose 1⁄2x bid to indicate that, although their results cancel out with respect to each other, their situation worsens compared to other contestants. ** If the loser has ability 6 less than their opponent or worse, do not transfer, loser just loses AP instead.

5.3.2 Advantage Points

5.3.2.1 Bidding Advantage Points

The size of your AP bid reflects the risk inherent in your actions. You describe your action and intent, and say how many APs you want to bid. If you describe an all-out offensive with your sword cutting vicious arcs, you need to bid a lot of APs; if you say that you are circling your foe cautiously, a low bid is in order. Your GM will look at the level of risk you are taking, and may suggest that you change your bid to better match your actions. If you do not declare a bid before rolling the die, your GM will decide how many points are bid (using 3 as a default), with riskier actions calling for higher AP bids.

5.3.2.3 Followers and Advantage Points

Followers can act in different ways during a contest, augmenting you with their abilities or allowing you to use one of your abilities as if it were your own. Alternatively, a follower with a relevant ability or keyword can simply add their APs to the PC’s at the beginning of the contest.

Remember to figure any modifiers into your follower’s ability before adding it to your starting AP total.

Neither you nor the GM makes rolls for followers. Instead, their actions are subsumed into yours. The follower’s relevant ability or keyword is used solely as a source of advantage points.

You can assign your followers to someone else, although you may have to succeed at a contest to persuade a reluctant follower to go along.

5.3.2.3 Advantage Point Knowledge

Once your opponent has won or lost APs during the current contest, you can ask the GM what the opposition’s AP total is. This is where the element of skill comes in. When choosing how many APs to stake, you must weigh the effect they want to gain if you succeed versus the risk you face if the action fails.

5.3.3 Extended Contest Outcomes

At the end of the contest the APs of the loser determine the benefits for the winner or consequences for the loser. As with all contests, if the contest involved a resistance, and not another PC, 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 deciding how to narrate the resolution of the contest.

5.3.3.1 EXTENDED CONTEST TABLE

Final AP Total Level of Defeat Consequence for Loser Benefit for Winner
0 to –10 AP Marginal Hurt Fresh
–11 to –20 AP Minor Impaired Pumped
–21 to –30 AP Major Injured Invigorated
–31 or fewer AP Complete Dying Heroic

5.3.3 Group Extended Contests

When an extended contest involves three or more contestants, it is a group extended contest. The conflict is often between two groups; each side wants to knock the other out of the contest by reducing all of its opponents to 0 or fewer APs.

Sometimes a contest will be a free-for-all involving three or more groups.

Rounds in a group extended contest differ in that the order of resolution is more complicated. At the start of the round, you state your action and AP bid and single out one or more opponents. Your GM then determines the order in which the contestants act. Taking surprise, withdrawals, and similar situations into effect, they have three options:

  • Contestants can go in order from most daring to least daring bid: a reckless bid goes before a daring bid, as defined in “Bidding Advantage Points” above. Thus, the most heroic actions take precedence, acting in order of decreasing boldness. (In case of a tie, the contestant whose actual bid is higher goes first.)

  • Contestants can go in order from highest bid to lowest: a bid of 20 APs goes before a bid of 5 APs. (In case of a tie, the contestant whose bid is the most daring goes first.)

  • Contestants can go in order from highest to lowest AP total. (In case of a tie, the highest or most daring bid goes first.)

During a standard extended contest an opponent immediately responds to your action with their own, but in a group extended contest this is not true—they cannot act (against you or anyone else) until their turn comes. You may want to change your declared action if another character attacks you first, and your GM will normally allow you to do so, usually to return an attack in kind.

The order in which contestants act is also important because a character (whether PC or resistance such as an NPC) can be knocked out of the contest before their turn comes. If your chosen opponent is knocked out before your PC acts, the GM decides if you can change your declared action.

You always have the option of delaying and allowing other contestants to act before you. You can jump back into the action at any time during the round, although again your GM determines if you can change your stated action.

When all characters still in the contest have completed their action the round ends and a new one begins.

5.3.2.5 Group Extended Contest Outcomes

In a group extended contest the side that has the last undefeated contestant gains the prize.

If the PCs won, determine the group’s overall outcome by using the second-best outcome obtained by the PCs, or if there is only one opponent, the outcome. If the PCs lost, determine the group’s overall outcome by using the second-worst outcome obtained by the PCs, or if there is only one PC, the outcome.

For example, your PC Lieutenant Jackson of the Royal Navy has led a shore-action against a French outpost. Lieutenant Jackson and two other PCs have victory outcomes at the end of the contest, so the Royal Navy wins the day. To determine how well the Royal Navy has done your GM looks at the three victorious outcomes for the Royal Navy, a major victory, a minor victory and a marginal victory. The second best outcome is a minor victory so your GM declares that the Royal Navy have a minor victory and have overrun the French outpost, but gained little else.

Later you lead your men in a spirited defense against a French boarding action of your ship. However, the French win the day, with Lieutenant Jackson and the other PCs suffering defeat outcomes at the end of the contest. Looking at your PCs outcomes there is a major defeat, two minor defeats and a marginal defeat. The French win the day with a minor defeat for your Royal Navy crew.

To determine individual consequences or benefits, use the AP of last opponent you engaged to determine your individual outcome.

5.3.4 Parting Shot

When you defeat an opponent in an extended contest, you can act again immediately to try to make their consequences of defeat more severe. This is called a parting shot. You once again bid AP and use an appropriate ability against your opponent. If you succeed, their AP will decrease; their outcome may or may not change, but they cannot finish the round by taking an action against you.

Parting shots are risky; if you fail, an AP transfer might bring your opponent back into the contest. Your stumble can give them an opening that they can exploit in an effort to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

The consequences of defeat can remain after a parting shot, if the GM chooses. Thus, an opponent might keep a penalty from a defeat even if they are handed another chance by their opponent’s failed parting shot.

5.3.5 Final Action

If your PC falls to 0 or fewer advantage points in a standard extended contest, you are defeated. In a group extended contest, however, you can still try a final action to stay in the contest as long as you are not dying (which allows for no actions). A final action represents the knack to come back when your opponent turns away to gloat or deal with the other player characters. A character may only attempt one final action in any contest.

To attempt a final action, you must be free from attention by the opposition. You must spend a hero point. This does not provide a bump up on the roll to come; it is the cost of performing a final action. You can use a relevant ability in a simple contest against the number of APs your PC is below 0. Even if you succeed, the original consequences of defeat still apply: a hurt still takes a –3 to appropriate abilities until healed.

If you win the simple contest, you rejoin the contest with a positive AP total. Your new total is a fraction of your original AP total at the outset of the contest. If you fail the simple contest, your AP total drops even further, perhaps worsening your outcome.

Your GM should not use a final action for the resistance (and has no hero points which are required for this).

5.3.5.1 FINAL ACTION RESULTS TABLE

Result AP change
Marginal Victory Rejoin contest with 1/8 of your starting APs
Minor Victory Rejoin contest with 1/4 of your starting APs
Major Victory Rejoin contest with 1/2 of your starting APs
Complete Victory Rejoin contest with full starting APs
Marginal Defeat Lose APs equal to 1/8 of your starting value
Minor Defeat Lose APs equal to 1/4 of your starting value
Major Defeat Lose APs equal to 1/2 of your starting value
Complete Defeat Lose APs equal to your full starting value

5.3.6 Desperation Stake

You can stake more advantage points than you currently have, to a maximum of your starting AP total. This allows you to attempt a desperation stake even when you are within a single AP of defeat. Your GM can never stake more advantage points than they have.

5.3.7 Unrelated Action

If you are unengaged, you can forfeit your action to do something unrelated to the object of the contest. You might want to try to open a door, haul an important piece of equipment out of your saddlebags, heal yourself with magic, or augment an ability. Depending on the circumstances, you may have to engage in a simple contest to find out if you succeed at the unrelated action.

5.3.8 Asymmetrical Exchange

If you are engaged, you may choose to briefly suspend your attempt to best your opponent in an extended 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 exchange.

In an asymmetrical exchange, you do not score APs against your opponent if you win the exchange. Instead, you succeed at whatever else you were doing. You still lose AP 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 exchange to grant augments (see above) to yourself or others.

5.3.9 Switching Abilities

You can usually switch freely from one ability to another in the middle of an extended contest. It makes sense to do so if you think a different ability will yield an advantage. You may need to do an unrelated action to switch abilities—for example, when changing weapons or equipment.

Your AP total stays the same when you change your ability, so it makes sense to start the contest with your best ability (appropriate to your goal, of course). If this seems odd, remember that advantage points measure advantage—how well the character is doing in the contest at the current moment. They do not measure proficiency; that is what the target number is for.

When you switch abilities, your prize does not change, just the means by which you pursue it.

5.3.10 Disengaging

To disengage from an extended contest when your opponent is actively trying to keep you in the conflict, take an unrelated action to make a simple contest roll against the resistance. You use an ability relevant to your attempt to disengage; the opponent counters with the resistance or, if a PC, an appropriate ability. If the GM attempts to disengage, they use the resistance to do so. These abilities may or may not be those used in the main contest.

On any victory, you are able to leave the contest. On any defeat, you must remain in the contest, and transfer a fraction of your current APs to your opponent.

If you withdraw from a group extended contest and later decide to rejoin it (or are forced to), you rejoin with the advantage point total you had when you left. If you can show how your leaving and returning substantially changes the situation, the GM may restore some of your AP—for example, if you leave a street fight to get your followers from a nearby tavern. Leaving a contest just to pick up a weapon or catch your breath is an unrelated action, and does not change your advantage points.

5.3.10.1 AP TRANSFER FROM FAILED DISENGAGEMENT TABLE

Level of Defeat AP transferred
Marginal 1/8 of your current total
Minor 1/4 of your current total
Major 1/2 of your current total
Complete Your current total – 1

5.3.11 AP Lending

AP lending is a common and important option in extended contests. You can transfer some or all of your advantage points to another PC engaged in a group extended contest on your side. With more advantage points, they can stay in the contest for longer, or make larger bids without driving themselves to defeat.

You cannot lend advantage points to yourself.

If a follower’s AP are already included in your AP total, the follower cannot lend them to you.

Use an unrelated action and describe what your character is trying to do to improve the position of the target. For example, your PC might throw them a weapon, jeer at an opponent, or simply shout words of encouragement. Then, state the number of AP you are trying to lend. (The GM may suggest a higher or lower bid based on the action you describe.) This determines the resistance you face in a simple contest, with outcomes as determined below. Beware: PCs trying to aid their comrades in this way risk worsening their friend’s position.

5.3.11.1 AP LENDING TABLE

Outcome AP Transferred
Complete Victory Target gains the attempted AP; lender does not lose AP
Major or Minor Victory Target gains the attempted AP; lender loses the AP
Marginal Victory Target gains ½ the attempted AP; lender loses ½ the attempted AP
Tie No Effect
Marginal Defeat Target gains nothing; lender loses ½ the attempted AP
Minor or Major Defeat Target gains nothing; lender loses the attempted AP
Complete Target and lender each deduct the attempted AP from their totals

5.3.12 AP Gifting

If you are uninvolved in the contest you can also increase a participant’s AP total. You bid a number of APs which may not exceed your target number. The resistance is twice the bid. The amount transferred depend on the outcome.

5.3.12.1 AP GIFTING TABLE

Outcome AP Transferred
Complete Victory Recipient gains 2x bid
Major or Minor Victory Recipient gains bid
Marginal Victory Recipient gains 1/2 of bid
Tie No Effect
Marginal Defeat Recipient’s opponent gains 1/2 bid
Minor or Major Defeat Recipient’s opponent gains bid
Complete Recipient’s opponent gains 2x bids

5.3.13 Edges and Handicaps

Your GM may want rules to represent opponents who strike rarely but with great effect or who strike often but with little impact per blow. The first quality can be represented with an edge; the second, with a handicap. Edges and handicaps are designated using ^ (^5, for example), handicaps with a minus sign (–^5).

Edges and handicaps affect only the advantage points bid in an extended contest. Your edge is added to your AP bid when your opponent must lose or transfer APs. Your handicap is subtracted from your bid when your opponent loses or transfers APs. A contestant’s edge or handicap never affects his AP when he defends, only when he is attacking.

Most GMs find edges and handicaps more trouble than they’re worth, and depict these phenomena with description alone. Earlier books made more extensive use of edges and handicaps to represent the quality of equipment carried by the PCs. For example, your suit for chainmail might be ^4 and your sword ^3. In games where restricted access to equipment is a significant part of the setting and your GM wants to use extended contests it may make sense to use them, otherwise we recommend ignoring them.

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