QuestWorlds SRD


    0.0 Credits & Legal Information

    0.1 Legal Information

    The QuestWorlds System Reference Document 0.97 (“QWSRD0.97”) describes the rules of QuestWorlds. You may incorporate the rules as they appear in QWSRD0.97, wholly or in part, into a derivative work, through the use of the QuestWorlds Open Game License, Version 1.0. You should read and understand the terms of that License before creating a derivative work from QWSRD0.97.

    Thanks to Wizards of the Coast, the Open Source Initiative, and Creative Commons for their work in creating the framework behind Open Source (and in this case Open Game) licenses. You should be aware that the QuestWorlds Open Game License for use of the QuestWorlds system differs from the Wizards Open Game License and has
    different terms and conditions.

    0.1.1 Using This License

    You should note that this is version of 0.97 of the QuestWorlds System Reference Document. We expect to release revised versions of this SRD, especially after development of Chaosium’s upcoming QuestWorlds Core Book. When we release the QuestWorlds Core Book we will update the version designation to 1.0, indicating that the SRD reflects the text published in that book. If you are developing materials for QuestWorlds projects you may want to bear this in mind. We will track any changes to the SRD at

    Once we release SRD version 1.0 we expect that to be stable for some time.

    If you have questions about this license, please reach out to Moon Design at

    0.1.2 QuestWorlds Open Game License, Version 1.0

    All Rights Reserved.

    1. Definitions:

    (a) “Contributors” means the copyright and/or trademark owners who have contributed Open Game Content;

    (b) “Derivative Material” means copyrighted material including derivative works and translations (including into computer languages), potation, modification, correction, addition, extension, upgrade, improvement, compilation, abridgment, or other forms in which an existing work may be recast, transformed, or adapted;

    (c) “Distribute” means to reproduce, license, rent, lease, sell, broadcast, publicly display, transmit, or otherwise distribute;

    (d) “Open Game Content” means the QuestWorlds game, including the game mechanics and the methods, procedures, processes, and routines to the extent such content does not embody Prohibited Content and is an enhancement over the prior art and any additional content clearly identified as Open Game Content by the Contributor, and means any work covered by this License, including translations and derivative works under copyright law, but specifically excludes Prohibited Content;

    (e) The following items are hereby identified as “Prohibited Content”: All trademarks, registered trademarks, proper names (characters, deities, place names, etc.), plots, story elements, locations, characters, artwork, or trade dress from any of the following: any releases from the product lines of Call of Cthulhu, Dragon Lords of Melniboné, ElfQuest, Elric!, Hawkmoon, HeroQuest, Hero Wars, King Arthur Pendragon, Magic World, Nephilim, Prince Valiant, Ringworld, RuneQuest, 7th Sea, Stormbringer, Superworld, Thieves’ World, Worlds of Wonder, and any related sublines; the world and mythology of Glorantha; all works related to the Cthulhu Mythos, including those that are otherwise public domain; and all works related to Le Morte d’Arthur. This list may be updated in future versions of the License.

    (f) “Trademark” means the logos, names, marks, signs, mottos, and designs that are used by a Contributor to identify itself or its products or the associated products contributed to the QuestWorlds Open Game License by the Contributor;

    (g) “Use,” “Used,” or “Using” means to use, distribute, copy, edit, format, modify, translate, and otherwise create Derivative Material of Open Game Content;

    (h) “You” or “Your” means the licensee in terms of this agreement.

    1. Grant: Except for material designated as Prohibited Content (see Section 1(e) above), the QuestWorlds System Reference Document is Open Game Content, as defined in the QuestWorlds Open Game License version 1.0, Section 1(d). No portion of this work other than the material designated as Open Game Content may be reproduced in any form without permission from Moon Design.
    2. The License: This License applies to any work Using QuestWorlds Open Game Content published by Moon Design. You must affix a complete copy of this License to any QuestWorlds Open Game Content that You Use and include the Copyright Notice detailed in Section 7 in all appropriate locations. No terms may be added to or subtracted from this License except as described by the License itself. No other terms or conditions may be applied to any QuestWorlds Open Game Content distributed Using this License.
    3. Offer and Acceptance: By Using the QuestWorlds Open Game Content You indicate Your acceptance of the terms of the QuestWorlds Open Game License.
    4. Grant of License: Subject to the terms and conditions of this License, the Contributors grant You a perpetual, worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive license to Use the Open Game Content.
    5. Representation of Authority to Contribute: If You are contributing original material as Open Game Content, You represent that Your contributions are Your original creation and/or You have sufficient rights to grant the rights conveyed by this License.
    6. Copyright Notice: You must update the Copyright Notice portion of this License to include the current version of the text of the Copyright Notice of any QuestWorlds Open Game Content You are copying, modifying, or distributing.

    This work created using the QuestWorlds Open Game License.

    QuestWorlds Open Game License v 1.0 © copyright 2020 Moon Design Publications LLC.

    QuestWorlds © copyright 2019–2021 Moon Design Publications LLC; Author, original rules: Robin D. Laws; developed by Greg Stafford, Ian Cooper, David Dunham, Mark Galeotti, Jeff Richard, Neil Robinson, Roderick Robinson, David Scott, and Lawrence Whitaker.

    QuestWorlds and the QuestWorlds logo are trademarks of Moon Design Publications LLC. Used with permission.

    1. Limitations on Grant: You agree not to Use any Prohibited Content, except as expressly licensed in another, independent Agreement with Moon Design. You agree not to indicate compatibility or co-adaptability with any Trademark or Registered Trademark in conjunction with a work containing QuestWorlds Open Game Content
      except as expressly licensed in another, independent Agreement with the owner of such Trademark or Registered Trademark.
    2. Identification: If you distribute Open Game Content You must clearly indicate which portions of the work that you are distributing are Open Game Content.
    3. Updating the License: Moon Design or its designated Agents may publish updated versions of the QuestWorlds Open Game License, including updates to the Prohibited Content list. Material published under any version of the License can continue to be published Using the terms of that version, but You agree to Use the most recent authorized version of this License for any new Open Game Content You publish or for revised or updated works with thirty percent (30%) or more revised or new content, by total word count.
    4. Use of Contributor Credits: You may not market or advertise the Open Game Content using the name of any Contributor unless You have written permission from the Contributor to do so.
    5. Reputation: You must not copy, modify, or distribute Open Game Content connected to this License in a way that would be prejudicial or harmful to the honor or reputation of the Contributors.
    6. Inability to Comply: If it is impossible for You to comply with any of the terms of this License with respect to some or all of the QuestWorlds Open Game Content due to statute, judicial order, or governmental regulation then You may not Use any Open Game Material so affected.
    7. Termination: This License will terminate automatically if You fail to comply with all terms herein and fail to cure such breach within thirty (30) days of becoming aware of the breach.
    8. Labeling: You must prominently display one of the following QuestWorlds logos on the front and back exterior and in the interior package, on the title page or its equivalent, of your Use of the Open Content. You are granted permission to reproduce the logo only for that purpose.

    1. Severability: If any provision of this License is held to be unenforceable, such provision shall be severed only to the extent necessary to make it enforceable.
    2. Governing Law and Venue: The governing law for any disputes arising under this License shall be the laws of the State of Michigan, without reference to its choice of laws provisions. Venue is exclusively vested in the United States Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

    0.2 Credits

    Original Rules: Robin D. Laws

    Lead System Development: Ian Cooper

    Development Assistance: David Scott

    Further Development Assistance: Paul Abertella, Shawn Carpenter, Ludovic Chabant, Rickard Elimää, Martin Helsdon, Jonathan Laufersweiler, James Lowder, Michael O’Brien, Jeff Richard, Adam RKitch

    A modified version of Chained Contests and Plot Edits from Mythic Russia © copyright 2006, 2010 Mark Galeotti; developed by Graham Robinson (for “Chained Contests”) appears in this game and is added as Open Game Content here with permission.

    Material in Section 1, Introduction and Section 2, Basic Mechanics © copyright 2018 Jonathan Laufersweiler and added as Open Game Content here with permission.

    Material in Section 2, Basic Mechanics © copyright 2020 Shawn Carpenter and added as Open Game Content here with permission.

    QuestWorlds SRD with annotations for individual contributions can be found at GitHub:

    1.0 Introduction

    QuestWorlds is a roleplaying rules engine suitable for you to play in any genre.

    It is a traditional roleplaying game in that there is a GM and players. The players play characters, each guided by the internal thoughts of their character as to what decisions they make, and the GM plays the world, including non-player characters (NPCs) and abstract threats.

    It features an abstract, conflict-based, resolution method and scalable, customizable, character descriptions. Designed to emulate the way characters in fiction face and overcome challenges, it is suitable for a wide variety of genres and play styles. It is particularly suited to pulp genres (including their descendants comic books) and cinematic, larger-than-life, action.

    It is a rules-light system that facilitates beginning play easily, and resolving conflicts in play quickly.

    We refer to a rules-light but traditional roleplaying game as a storytelling game, after Greg Stafford’s definition in Prince Valiant.

    1.1 Why QuestWorlds?

    QuestWorlds is meant to facilitate your creativity, and then to get out of your way.

    It is well suited to a collaborative, friendly group with a high degree of trust in each other’s creativity. Characters in QuestWorlds are described more in terms of their place in your imagination and the game setting than by game mechanics.

    If your group are often at odds and rely on their chosen rules kit as an arbiter between competing visions of how the game ought to develop, or use mechanical options to decide “what action to take,” QuestWorlds is not a rules set that provides that structure. Make sure to discuss with your group whether you are collectively on board with trying a new play style dynamic, or if you would rather stick to more structured systems.

    1.2 Version

    The first version of these rules Hero Wars was published in 2000 (ISBN 978-1-929052-01-1)

    The second version HeroQuest was published in 2003 (ISBN 978-1-929052-12-7). We refer to this as HeroQuest 1e to disambiguate.

    The third version HeroQuest: Core Rules was published in 2009 (ISBN 978-0-977785-32-2). We refer to this as HeroQuest 2e.

    HeroQuest Glorantha was published in 2015 (ISBN 978-1-943223-01-5). It is the version of the rules in HeroQuest 2e, presented for playing in Glorantha. We refer to this as HeroQuest 2.1e.

    QuestWorlds was published as a System Reference Document (SRD) (this document) in 2020. The version of the rules here is slightly updated, mainly to clarify ambiguities, from the version presented in HeroQuest 2e and HeroQuest 2.1e. This makes this ruleset HeroQuest 2.2e, despite the name change. However, to simplify we identify this version as QuestWorlds 1e.

    An Appendix lists changes in this version. As the SRD is updated we will continue to track version changes there.

    1.3 Who Is This Document For

    The primary audience for this document is game-designers who wish to utilize the QuestWorlds rules framework to implement their own game.

    We also recognize that some people will use this document to learn about the QuestWorlds system before purchasing it, and some players in games where the GM has a rule book, may use this as a reference to help understand the rules.

    For that latter reason, we address the rules here to a player.

    However, this remains a technical document with few examples, advice, or other non-rules text to help you play your game, as such are beyond the scope of this System Reference Document.

    It is expected that the designers of games you play based on these rules will include such guidance and context as is relevant to their game’s particular genre or setting, presented in a format better suited for learning how to play.

    1.4 Numbering

    Sections within this document are numbered. This is for the benefit of game designers and reviewers.

    This does not imply that game designers need number the rules in their own games.

    Numbering however makes it easy to refer to rules in this document when page numbers may vary by presentation format for the purposes of error trapping or tracking changes. If you need to give us feedback about this document, that will assist us.

    1.5 Participants

    1.5.1 Players

    You and your fellow players each create a Player Character (PC) to be the “avatar” or “persona” whose role you will play in the game. The PCs pursue various goals in an imaginary world, using their abilities, motivations, connections, and more to solve problems and overcome story obstacles that stand in their way.

    When we say ‘you’ in this document we may mean either the player or their PC. Which of these we’re addressing should be clear from the context or explicitly noted.

    1.5.2 Game Master

    Your Game Master (GM) is the interface between your imagination and the game-world in which the PCs have their adventures; describing the people, places, creatures, objects, and events therein. Your GM also plays the role of any Non-Player Characters (NPCs) with whom your PC interacts in the course of your adventures.

    We generally refer to the GM as ‘your GM’ in this document’s player-facing language. However, if you are the GM for a given game, this naturally refers to you.

    2.0 Mechanics

    In a QuestWorlds game, stories develop dynamically as you and your GM work together to role-play the dramatic conflict between your group’s PCs in pursuit of their goals and the challenges, or threats that your GM presents to stand in your way. Stories advance by two methods: conflict, where your PC is prevented from achieving their goals because there is something that must be overcome, a story obstacle, to gain a desired person, thing, or even status: the prize; or there is something that must be understood, a story question, to learn a secret, the past, or comprehend: a different prize.

    Over the course of play, your GM will present various story obstacles and revelations as conflicts to the PCs, resulting in either victory or defeat for your character, which determines whether or not you gain the prize you sought. These conflicts can represent any sort of challenge you might face: fighting, a trial or debate, survival in a harsh environment, out-wooing rival suitors, and so on.

    Rather than mechanically addressing the individual tasks that make up these conflicts, QuestWorlds usually assesses your overall victory or defeat in a single contest where you and your GM make an opposed roll pitting your characters ability vs the resistance the story obstacle or story question presents to you achieving the prize.

    Whenever the GM presents a story obstacle or story question for you to overcome, you should frame the contest by describing what you are trying to accomplish, the prize, and which of your abilities (see below) you want to use to achieve that prize, and how.

    Based on that framing and other factors, your GM will assess what resistance the characters face.

    You roll a twenty-sided die (D20) against your PC’s ability, and your GM rolls a D20 against the resistance. Your GM will assess your overall victory or defeat in the contest based on the success or failure of both rolls, and narrates the results of your attempt to overcome the story obstacle or answer the story question and gain the prize accordingly. The direction of the story changes, in either a big or small way, depending on whether you gain the prize or not.

    We encourage your GM to work with your suggestions when narrating the victory or defeat, but the final decision rests with them.

    2.1 Abilities

    Characters in QuestWorlds are defined by the abilities they use to face the challenges that arise in the course of their story. Rather than having a standard list of attributes, skills, powers, etc. for all characters, anything that you can apply overcome a story obstacle or answer a story question could be one of your abilities. While your GM may provide some example abilities to choose from that connect your PC to a particular story or game world (whether created by your GM or by the designer of a particular game), you get to make up and describe most or all of your abilities.

    Some abilities might be broad descriptions of your background or expertise, like “Dwarf of the Chalk Hills” or “Private Detective” – implying a variety of related capabilities. Others might represent specific capabilities or assets such as “Lore of the Ancients,” “Captain of the Fencing Team,” or “The Jade Eye Medallion.”

    Ultimately, abilities are names for the interesting things your character can do.

    2.1.1 Keywords

    A keyword is a broad ability that often represents an occupation, a heritage, a belief system or participation in a community. The simplest way to use a keyword is as an ability that represents the competencies of an occupation, knowledge and attitudes passed down via a heritage, values of a belief system, or relationships from a community. In the kinds of fiction that QuestWorlds emulates it is usually enough to know that someone has a particular occupation or heritage to know what they can do.

    A keyword reduces the number of abilities your PC needs to track, and is a simplification to help you easily create archetypical characters for a genre without excessive bookkeeping.

    Your GM’s genre pack should have a text description, which hints at the credible uses of a keyword.

    Any broad concept you come up with for an ability, may be better presented as a keyword. Breakouts

    A breakout allows you to track a competency within the keyword individually, as an ability.

    If your character is renowned for a skill that credibly falls under one of your keywords, you create a breakout ability under the keyword at a bonus from the rating of the keyword. You write these specialized breakout abilities under the keyword, along with how much they’ve improved from the keyword:

    Detective 15

    • Deduction +5
    • Hard Drinking +5

    In this example, whilst the rating for most contests in which Detective was an appropriate tactic would be 15, for contests involving Deduction it would be 20.

    A breakout begins at +5 when purchased during character creation or improvement. A distinguishing characteristic (see §3.0) under a keyword begins at +10.

    The list of breakout abilities in a keyword is open-ended, but your GM’s genre pack description of the keyword will provide inspiration, and might include a list of suggested abilities for unfamiliar settings, where it is less clear what a keyword encompasses.

    Even if there is a suggested list, the potential uses of the keyword are always open-ended, provided they are credible. As the genre pack description tends to be assumed in the keyword, which is already treated as an ability, it can be more interesting to have them differentiate your PC from the archetype.

    2.1.2 Flaws

    Your character may have one or more flaws. Unlike an ability, you do not use a flaw to accomplish something; instead the GM uses your flaw to hinder you from accomplishing something, or invokes your flaw to force you to act a certain way. Flaws are used to enrich your character and provide story obstacles to be overcome.

    Flaws may be psychological challenges such as “Addict”, fears or compulsive behaviors such as “Afraid of Snakes” or “Needs Lucky Rabbit’s Foot”, physical challenges such as “One-Eyed,” “Wheelchair-Bound” or “Asthmatic.” A flaw might also be a philosophy such as “Code Against Killing,” “Pacifist,” or “Radical Candor” that limit your freedom of action. A flaw might be a relationship that creates obligations such as a “Frail Aunt,” “Single Dad,” or “Blackmailed”.

    Many flaws describe attributes that can be viewed positively. By making it a flaw and not an ability you are inviting your GM to use it to make your life more difficult, not easier.

    You should not use your flaw to accomplish something; if you feel that is likely, use an ability and flag to your GM when you want them to treat it as a flaw at an appropriate moment.

    Ultimately, in QuestWorlds a flaw is simply something that you invite the GM to use to hinder or prevent your character doing something. In return for the GM exercising the flaw you gain experience points (see §8.1).

    In play your PC may work to overcome a flaw and you may reach the point that you agree with your GM that story events mean that it is no longer relevant. You can then drop that flaw from your character sheet when you receive an advance (see §8.2).

    You can add a new flaw if play suggests one might emerge, with discussion with the GM, when you receive an advance (see §8.2).

    2.1.3 Ratings and Masteries

    QuestWorlds abilities are scored on a rating of 1–20, representing the target number (TN) you need to roll or less to succeed in a contest (see §2.3 for more details).

    Once your ability passes 20, you would always be able to roll under it on a D20. So to allow abilities to scale over 20 we use tiers of capability we refer to as a masteries.

    We denote a rating with a mastery as TN + M, for example 7M represents a TN of 7 and one mastery. We represent abilities above 20M as TN + M2, for example 4M2 represents a TN of 4 and two masteries.

    The progression of ability ratings is: 1-20, 1M-20M, 1M2-20M2, 1M3-20M3 and so on.

    Specific QuestWorlds games or genre packs may use other symbols relevant to their setting or genre to denote mastery instead of M. If so, this should be clearly noted by their designers.

    For how masteries work in play, see §2.3.6.

    2.1.4 No Relevant Ability

    You may sometimes be faced with a story obstacle or story question for which you have no relevant ability whatsoever. In such cases, you may still enter into conflict with the story obstacle using a stretch or a rating of 5 for your contest roll.

    2.1.5 Understanding Ratings

    QuestWorlds treats ratings as a measure of how effective you are at solving problems with the ability, and does not limit what you can do with that ability, provided your actions are credible in genre.

    2.2 Possessions and Equipment

    Your character will generally be considered to have whatever equipment is reasonably implied by your abilities. Having an “Athenian Hoplite” ability will mean that your character possesses bronze armor, a shield, a spear, and a short-sword; while a “Country Doctor” would be expected to have a well-stocked medical-bag and possibly a horse & buggy in the right setting.

    However, if you wish your character to possess something that is particularly special, interesting, or unusual, you may also enumerate it as a rated ability in its own right, just like any other ability your character might use to solve a problem.

    In play, the degree to which you can overcome story obstacles with your possessions depends not on any qualities inherent to the objects themselves, but to the rating of your relevant ability. However the significance of various sorts of gear lies in the types of actions you can credibly propose, and what their impact might reasonably be. An “Invisibility Cloak” ability implies very different fictional capabilities than “Souped-up Muscle Car” does.

    Conversely, if in the course of play you find your character in a situation without equipment essential to utilize an ability effectively, or where your character’s gear is poorly suited to the task at hand, your GM may take into account in assessing credibility-based situational modifiers (see §2.5).

    2.2.1 Wealth

    In QuestWorlds, wealth is treated as just another way to overcome story obstacles. Many characters may not even have an explicit wealth ability, with their wealth or assets instead implied by abilities representing their background, profession, or status. Whether explicit or implied, the relevant rating is not an objective measure of the size of your fortune, but instead indicates how well you solve problems with money and resources.

    2.3 Contest Procedure

    You choose an ability relevant to the conflict at hand, describe exactly what you are trying to accomplish, and how. Your GM may modify these suggested actions to better fit the fictional circumstances, and describe the actions of the NPCs or forces on the other side of the conflict.

    2.3.1 Framing the Contest Contest Framing Overview

    When a conflict arises during the game, you and your GM start by clearly agreeing on:

    • What goal you are trying to achieve. We call this the prize.
    • What the story obstacle is you are trying to overcome or story question you are trying to answer.
    • What tactic you are using to and overcome it.

    This process is called framing the contest. Conflict: Goals vs Obstacles

    Contests in QuestWorlds don’t simply tell you how well you performed at a particular task: they tell you whether or not you overcame a story obstacle, or learned the answer to a story question which moves the story in a new direction. Unlike some other roleplaying games, a contest in QuestWorlds does not resolve a task, it resolves the whole story obstacle or provides a complete answer to the story question.

    If you need secret records which are stored in a vault within a government compound, your goal is to get the information to answer a story question. Answering that story question may involve many possible tasks, evading guards, lock-picking, forging credentials, etc. – but the contest doesn’t address those individually. The contest is framed around the entire conflict against the story question as a whole.

    In a fight, your story obstacle may be the opponents themselves, who you are fighting to capture or kill. Just as often you are seeking another goal and you might just as easily attain it by incapacitating or evading your foes. In this case, beating the enemy is a task, not the story obstacle. For example, if an ally has been accused of treason by the King, your goal could be to prove the ally’s innocence. The power of the King threatening your ally is a story obstacle to be overcome, and a trial by combat could be a contest to resolve the conflict with an ability like “Knight Errant.”

    In a court trial, your goal is likely a particular verdict, while the story obstacle might be the opposing lawyer, an unjust law, or even the justice system itself. In this case, jury selection, a closing argument, revelatory evidence, or legal procedural challenges are tasks, not the entire story obstacle. The overall conflict encompasses all those things.

    A conflict to overcome a story obstacle or story question moves the story forward when it is resolved. If it is merely a step toward resolving a story obstacle it is a task and not a conflict. While those component tasks may be interesting parts of narrating tactics and results, your GM should be sure to look for the story obstacle or story question in conflict when framing a contest.

    If there is no story obstacle or story question to your actions, your GM should not call for a contest but simply let you narrate what you do, provided that seems credible.

    For example, you are traveling from one star system to another. In the next star system you hope to confront the aged rebel who holds long-forgotten secrets that could bring freedom to the galaxy. Your GM feels there is no useful story obstacle for you to contest against, and so lets you describe heading down to the spaceport to secure a ship, meeting the captain and crew of your vessel, and traveling to the next world. Your GM encourages you to summarize what happens quickly so you can get to the meeting with the old rebel. Your GM knows their story question to convince the old rebel to part with their secrets is the real drama. No Repeat Attempts

    A contest represents all of your attempts to overcome a story obstacle or reveal the answer to the story question. If you lose it means that no matter how many times you tried to solve the problem, you finally had to give up. You can try again only if you use a new tactic to overcome the story obstacle or answer the story question. Tactics

    You either choose an ability that represents any ‘key moment’ in overcoming that story obstacle or answering that story question, or a broad ability that lets you overcome the whole story obstacle or solve the mystery of the story question. We call this choosing a tactic.

    Your tactic might describe your using an ability that helps you overcome a task within the story obstacle or story question: sneaking past the guards, picking the locks, choosing the right jury or skewering your opponent with your foil. Or, your tactics might describe using a broad ability like “Ninja”, “Lawyer”, or “Fencer” to overcome all those challenges that might form part of the story obstacle or story question.

    Either way, if you succeed at that roll, you overcome the whole story obstacle or learn the answer to the story question. Or by failing at that roll, you fail to overcome the story obstacle or reveal the answer to the story question, not just fail at one task.

    When deciding on your tactic, focus on how your unique abilities would help you overcome the story obstacle or reveal the answer to the story question. This as the “key moment” where we focus on your PC. Use this moment to reveal your PC’s strengths to the group.

    Your GM will determine if your tactic passes a credibility test. Credibility depends on the genre, as what is not credible in a gritty police procedural might be in pulp. If in dispute, your GM should discuss with the group whether they consider your tactic credible for the genre. If your action is not credible, your GM will ask you to choose a different tactic.

    Incredible abilities in some genres give you the capability to do the incredible. For example in a superhero genre you might fly or be invulnerable to bullets, in a fantasy genre hurl magical lightning bolts. A genre pack for the game should help define what incredible tactics are allowed for that game as part of an Incredible Powers Framework.

    The GM can narrate the remaining tasks that make sense of the story depending on your success with that roll, or have them occur ‘off-stage’ for speed. Think of the way TV or Cinema often cuts to the key moment of drama in a break-in, over showing us the whole heist from beginning to end.

    2.3.2 Target Number, Bonuses and Penalties

    Your ability’s rating may be modified by a number of factors. Your target number—the number you must roll under or equal to on a D20 to succeed—is your rating with any applicable modifiers. Positive modifiers are bonuses; negative modifiers are penalties.

    Bonuses, may raise your target number high enough to gain a mastery. Penalties, may lower an target number to the point where it loses one or more masteries.

    The following rules sections describe sources of modifiers: augments (see §2.6), hindrances (see §2.7), stretches and situational modifiers (see §2.5), consequences and benefits (see §2.8).

    Modifiers apply to PC’s target numbers only (see §2.3.3). The GM applies a bonus or penalty to the resistance to reflect the needs of the story, but after that it is not further modified.

    If penalties reduce your target number to 0 or less, any attempt to use it automatically results in failure. You must find another way to achieve your aim.

    2.3.3 Resistance

    Your GM chooses a resistance to represent the difficulty of the story obstacle or story question. By default, the base resistance starts at 10.

    When setting resistances it is important to understand that whilst traditional roleplaying games simulate an imaginary reality, QuestWorlds emulates the techniques of fictional storytelling.

    Understanding this distinction will help you to play the game in a natural, seamless manner.

    For example, let’s say that your GM is playing a game inspired by fast-paced, non-fantastic, martial arts movies in a contemporary setting. You are running along a bridge, pacing a hovercraft, piloted by the main bad guy. You want your character, Joey Chun, to jump onto the hovercraft and punch the villain’s lights out.

    Your GM starts with the proposed action’s position in the storyline. They consider a range of narrative factors, from how entertaining it would be for you to have a succeed, how much failure would slow the pacing of the current sequence, and how long it has been since you last scored a thrilling victory. If, after this, they need further reference points, your GM can draw inspiration more from martial arts movies than the physics of real-life jumps from bridges onto moving hovercraft. Having decided how difficult the task ought to be dramatically,your GM will then supply the physical details as color, to justify their choice and create suspension of disbelief, the illusion of authenticity that makes us accept fictional incidents as credible on their own terms. If they want Joey to have a high chance of success, your GM describes the distance between bridge and vehicle as impressive (so it feels exciting if you make it) but not insurmountable (so it seems believable if you make it).

    In QuestWorlds your GM will pick a resistance based on dramatic needs and then justify it by adding details into the story.

    Your GM determines the resistance from a base resistance. If your GM feels that it is hard then they will increase the resistance by a modifier depending on their view of how difficult the obstacle is for you (see Modifiers in §2.4). Increasing modifiers make it harder to succeed, and decreasing modifiers easier.

    The modifier never reduces the resistance value below 0. If the GM assesses a modifier for the resistance that would take the target number below 0, it becomes an assured contest (see below).

    All contests use the base resistance + optional modifier, except for contests to determine augments. Augmenting always faces the base resistance. RESISTANCES TABLE


    Although a TN of 0 is treated as an assured contest (see below), further modifiers (see §2.4) may adjust that value so that there is a TN above 0.

    We show the target number for the base resistance of 10, and the modifier value to use if you are using Resistance Progression (see §2.13) to figure this from the new base resistance.

    2.3.4 Resolution Methods

    The basic resolution methods are as follows: Contest

    The contest is QuestWorlds‘ primary resolution mechanic for overcoming story obstacles, and is used the most often where the outcome is uncertain. It also provides the foundation for other types of uncertain contest, including several sequences (see §5.0). As such, it receives both an overview of key concepts here as well as a more detailed treatment in §4.

    A contest can be summarized as follows:

    1. You and your GM agree upon the terms of the contest.
    2. Your target number (TN) is your rating, adding any augments (see §2.6), hindrances (see §2.7), stretches and situational modifiers (see §2.5), consequences and benefits (see §2.8).
    3. You roll a D20 vs your relevant target number, while your GM rolls a D20 vs the resistance.
    4. Your GM determines the difference in the successes between the two rolls to assesses the outcome (see §2.3.6).
    5. Your GM then narrates the outcome of the conflict as appropriate and assesses any benefits or consequences that arose (see §2.8).

    If you enter into conflict with another player rather than a story obstacle or story question presented by your GM, you both roll your relevant abilities for the contest instead of against a GM-set resistance, and your GM interprets the results, as described above. Assured Contest

    Some obstacles don’t require a roll to overcome. You’ll just do it and keep going, much as you get dressed in the morning or drive your car to work. We call these kinds of contests assured contests because your victory is assured. Your GM may want to describe your victory as a sweat inducing challenge for you, even though there is no risk of defeat, to highlight the heroic struggle of your PC to beat the obstacle, nonetheless.

    As your character advances, the challenges that qualify for assured contests will become more complex. If you face a driving challenge, the bar for assured will be much lower for a champion Formula 1 racer than a typical commuter.

    Assured contests are the GM’s primary tool to establish your character’s competence. This makes them one of the most powerful and frequently used tools in a GM’s tool chest. Remember, your GM doesn’t have to, and usually shouldn’t advise you you’re involved in an assured contest, so it’s best to treat all contests as if your skin is on the line.

    Your GM may also use an assured contest when there is no interesting story branch from defeat. If failing to open the derelict spaceship’s hatch means that the story of your exploration of the ancient space hulk would end abruptly, your GM may choose to make it an assured contest. Assured contests may be used to find clues when your GM is running a mystery and correct application of one of your abilities should reveal the information and allow the story to continue, over becoming mired due to a missed roll and missing clue.

    Sometimes your GM will decide potential complications could arise in overcoming an story obstacle or answering a story question. Or they may want to give you a boost if you do particularly well. If so, they will call for you to make a die roll even though your victory is not in question. Your GM will use your die roll outcome (see §2.3.7) to decide if any unforeseen consequences or benefits arose from your actions, but still gives you a victory.

    An assured contest can be summarized as follows:

    1. You and your GM agree upon the terms of the contest.
    2. The GM may decide that you simply gain the victory and there are no consequences or benefits beyond that.
    3. If not the GM conducts a contest.
    4. Your target number (TN) is your rating, adding any augments (see §2.6), hindrances (see §2.7), stretches and situational modifiers (see §2.5), consequences and benefits (see §2.8).
    5. You roll a D20 vs your relevant target number, while your GM rolls a D20 vs the resistance.
    6. Your GM compares the difference successes between the two rolls to assesses the outcome (see §2.3.7).
    7. Your GM then narrates how you obtained your victory and any benefits or consequences that arose.

    2.3.5 Die Rolls

    To determine how well you use an ability, roll a 20-sided die (D20). At the same time, your GM rolls for the resistance.

    Compare your rolled number with your target number (TN) to determine the result. Remember that bonuses and penalties may mean your TN gains or loses a mastery.

    • Big Success: If the die roll is equal to the TN, you succeed brilliantly, and gain two successes. This is the best result possible.
    • Success: If the die roll is less than the TN, you succeed, but there is nothing remarkable about the success. You gain one success.
    • Failure: If the die roll is greater than the TN, you fail. Things do not happen as hoped. You gain zero successes

    2.3.6 Additional Successes

    You can gain additional successes beyond the dice roll. An additional success comes from one of two sources.

    • Each mastery you have gives you an additional success.
    • You can spend a story point (see §7.0) to receive an additional success.

    If you have multiple masteries you receive additional successes for each of them.

    The additional successes add to any success obtained on the die roll.

    If a PC with a mastery rolls a big success they receive an additional success for the mastery and two successes for the big success, making a total of three successes.

    2.3.7 Outcome

    Your successes and the resistance’s successes are compared to determine your overall outcome which will be either victory or defeat for the contest as a whole.

    For a contest:

    • If you have a more successes than the GM, then you have a victory and you gain the prize.
    • If you have a fewer successes than the GM, then you are defeated and do not gain the prize.
    • If you both have the same number successes, including if you both have zero successes, then the higher roll has a victory and gains the prize. If your rolls tie, then there is a standoff with neither side able to take control of the prize.

    For an assured contest:

    • You have a victory and you gain the prize set out when the contest was framed. Degrees of Victory

    Your degree is the difference between your successes and the resistance’s successes. It is a degree of victory if you win and a degree of defeat if you lose.

    If you have two successes and the resistance has zero successes you have two degrees of victory. If you have zero successes and the resistance has one success you have one degree of defeat. If you have one success and the resistance has one success you have zero degrees and victory belongs to the high roll.

    A lot of the time your GM won’t need to figure out the degrees as knowing you won or lost is enough. Narrating Outcomes

    Your GM narrates the contest outcome. Their narration should take into account the prize and the tactics used by each side. Your GM may invite you to contribute more detail on your actions as part of that narration, if they wish. But the GM is the final arbiter of how the story progresses as a result of the rolls – provided they respect the outcome in which you win or lose the prize.

    Your GM should bear in mind your result when describing the outcome. The degree is a guide for the GM when narrating the outcome as to how convincing a victory was. If you have zero degrees, the GM should describe your actions as successful, but the resistance as competent. If you have two degrees, your GM should describe a convincing victory in which your adversary is clearly outclassed.

    The GM is narrating a car chase through the busy streets of New Los Angeles. The PCs are trying to catch the demon-worshipper Ath’Zul who has stolen The Eye of Lorus from a museum. Some examples of how the GM might interpret outcomes as follows:

    • PC one success vs. Ath’Zul one success, the PC has the higher roll, zero successes difference, and zero degrees of victory: Ath’Zul tries to shake the PCs, his hover bike, weaving in and out of traffic, but the PCs are always on his tail, and catch him at the lights on Bradbury Junction.
    • PC one success vs. Ath’Zul zero successes, the PC has one success difference and one degree of victory: Ath’Zul tries to shake the PCs, his hover bike, weaving in and out of traffic, but the PCs force him off the road, where his bike loses repulsor lift and halts.
    • PC two successes vs. Ath’Zul zero successes, the PC has two successes difference two degrees of victory : Ath’Zul tries to shake the PCs, his hover bike, weaving in and out of traffic, but he crashes into a parked car, spilling Ath’Zul and the stolen artefact over the road.

    Your GM should avoid robbing your PC of competence by describing your defeat as due to your incompetence when you may have rolled a success.

    The degrees may be more directly used when considering consequences and benefits (see §2.8) Confusing Ties

    Your GM will describe most tied outcomes as inconclusive standoffs, in which neither of you gets what you wanted.

    In some situations, ties become difficult to visualize. Chief among these are contests with binary outcomes, where only two possible results are conceivable.

    Your GM can either change the situation on such a tie, introducing a new element that likely renders the original prize irrelevant to both participants, or they can resolve the ties in your favor as a victory. Victory at a Price

    Your GM may treat zero degrees of victory as ‘victory at a price’ and zero degree of defeat as ‘defeat with a boon’. The ‘price’ is a cost that the victor pays for obtaining the prize, a ‘boon’ is something positive the loser takes away. Your GM may ignore this option, and simply award you or deny you the prize, if they cannot think of a dramatically interesting reason to provide a ‘price’ or ‘boon’. Your GM may use consequences to represent a ‘price’ and benefits to represent a ‘boon’, see §2.8. Your GM may also decide that the ‘price’ or ‘boon’ is represented by the narration.

    • PC one success vs. Ath’Zul one success, the PC has the higher roll, zero successes difference, and zero degree of victory: Ath’Zul tries to shake the PCs, his hover bike, weaving in and out of traffic, but the PCs are always on his tail, and catch him at the lights on Bradbury Junction, by ramming their pursuit car into Ath’Zul’s bike, damaging both vehicles. The GM may award a consequence (see §2.8) to represent the damage to the PC’s car, injuries from the crash, or displeasure from their commander for damaging more police property. One Outcome, For the PC

    There is one outcome to a contest and it always applies to the PC. Your GM does not consider a separate outcome for the resistance, instead they narrate the outcome based on whether the your PC obtains the prize and describe how the story branches for the resistance based on their interpretation of that. Rules on benefits and consequences in §2.8 and narration considerations such as ‘victory at a price’, only apply to your PC, not to the resistance.

    The only exception to this is a PC vs. PC contest, where each sides outcome needs to be determined.

    2.4 Modifiers

    Your GM uses modifiers throughout the game. Modifiers increment by 5. See Table 2.4.1, Modifiers, for details of the scale.

    A positive modifier is a bonus and a negative modifier is a penalty.

    Modifiers represent:

    • The modifier to apply to the base resistance when determining the resistance’s TN; harder challenges have a bonus added to the base resistance; easier challenges have penalty subtracted from the base resistance (see $2.3.3).
    • A stretch based on a lack of credible abilities to overcome an obstacle (see §2.5)
    • A situational modifier based on the tactics chosen by a PC (see §2.5)
    • The outcome of an augment (see §2.6) or hindrance (see §2.7)
    • The bonus of a benefit or penalty of consequences (see §2.8).



    2.5 Bonuses and Penalties from Tactics

    Your GM can give you bonuses and penalties to alter your target number due to unusual circumstances you helped to create, or have some control over. Commonly, your GM gives you a bonus or penalty because the tactic that you chose seems likely to give you an advantage, or a penalty. This will be a stretch or a situational modifier. If an unusual situation applies to a resistance, the GM should choose a resistance that reflects that.

    2.5.1 Stretches

    When you propose an action using an ability that seems completely inappropriate, your GM rules it impossible. If you went ahead and tried it anyway, you’d automatically fail—but you won’t, because that would be silly.

    In some cases, though, your proposed match-up of action and ability is only somewhat implausible. A successful attempt with it wouldn’t completely break the illusion of fictional reality—just stretch it a bit.

    Using a somewhat implausible ability is known as a stretch. If your GM deems an attempt to be a stretch, the PC suffers a -5 or –10 penalty to their target number, depending on how incredible the stretch seems to the GM and other players. Your GM should penalize players who try to create a ‘do anything’ ability that they then stretch to gain from raising fewer abilities in advancement to ensure balance with other PCs.

    The definition of stretch is elastic, depending on genre.

    Your GM should not impose stretch penalties on action descriptions that add flavor and variety to a scene, but do not fundamentally change what you can do with your ability. These make the scene more fun but don’t really gain any advantage.

    2.5.2 Situational Modifiers

    Your GM may also impose situational modifiers when, given the description of the current situation, believability demands that you should face a notable bonus or penalty. Your GM should use the scale in §2.3 Modifiers when determining a bonus or penalty; most modifiers should +/5 or +/-10.. Bonuses and penalties of less than 5 don’t exert enough effect to be worth the bother. Those higher than 10 give the situational modifier a disproportionate role in determining outcomes.

    During a sequence (see §5.0), they should typically last for a single round, and reflect clever or foolish choices.

    2.6 Augments

    You may sometimes face contests where more than one ability may be applicable to the conflict at hand. In such cases, you may attempt to use one ability to give a supporting bonus to the main ability you are using to frame the contest. This is called an augment. It results in a bonus to your target number. For example, if your character has the abilities “The Queen’s Intelligencer” and “Master of Disguise”, you might use the latter to augment the former when infiltrating a rival nation’s capitol. Similarly, a character with “Knight Errant” and “My Word is my Bond” abilities might use one to augment the other when in conflict with a story obstacle the character has sworn to overcome.

    Abilities that represent special items, weapons, armor, or other noteworthy equipment can be a common source of augments. However, this grows tired if over-used and you should try and restrict repeated use of equipment in this way to contests where they are particularly interesting or apropos.

    Augments can also come from other characters’ abilities if one character uses an ability to support another’s efforts rather than directly engaging in the contest. Augments can even come from outside resources like support from a community, see §8, or other circumstantial help.

    If you have a good idea for an augment, propose it to your GM while the contest is being framed. When making your proposal, describe how the augmenting ability supports the main one in a way that is both entertaining and memorable. Don’t just hunt for mechanical advantage, show your group more about your PC when you augment, their attitudes, passions, or lesser known abilities. If you are augmenting with a broad ability like “Fool’s Luck”, be prepared to describe the unlikely events that tilt the scales in your favor. Your GM will decide whether the augment is justified and can refuse boring and uninspired attempts to augment, where you are just looking for a bonus to your roll and not adding to the story.

    You may only use one of your own abilities to augment the ability you are using in the contest, and you may not use an ability to augment itself. You may not use a breakout to augment it’s parent keyword (see §2.1.1), or another breakout from the parent keyword. Another player character may also augment you, however, augments from other player characters supporting you, only give you one bonus to add to your target number, regardless of the number of supporters you have.

    Your GM should bear in mind the credibility of more than one PC helping you. When persuading someone a cacophony of voices may not help, unless you are trying to intimidate; when fighting someone, only so much backup helps you take your opponent down; when flying a starship into the cave on the asteroid, only some crew activities provide credible help. The GM may thus decide to limit the number of augments from other PCs. Consider a group contest (see §4.2) instead if many PCs want to act against the resistance.

    If your GM accepts your augment proposal, it will be resolved by the method below. The main contest then proceeds as normal, with any bonus from the augment added onto the rating of the ability chosen when framing the contest. The augment remains in effect for the duration of the contest.

    2.6.1 Augment Procedure

    Your GM treats an augment as an assured contest.

    If the use of the ability to augment seems unlikely to fail, your GM simply awards you a bonus, or +5. If your description of how you were using the augmenting ability was dramatic or entertaining, your GM may increase this to a bonus of +10.

    As with any assured contest GM might still ask you to roll if there is a risk that the augment results in a penalty to other abilities such as resources or relationships (see §6.0), which become stressed in providing the augment, or that more variation in bonuses is possible (such as the augmenting ability having several masteries).

    On a victory base the bonus of the augment off the degree of the victory (see §2.3). So zero degrees of victory yields +5 bonus. On a defeat still award a +5 bonus, but apply a penalty related to degree of the defeat to the tactic used to augment, as described above.

    2.7 Triggering Flaws

    During play, either you, or your GM, may decide that your flaw has been triggered. A flaw might apply to the tactic you are using in upcoming contest, when it is called a hindrance (see §2.7.1). Alternatively a flaw might simply come into play when you want to describe your PC acting in a certain way, and you or your GM feels that one of your flaws could prevent this, or you, or your GM, feel that a situation raises a challenge that means one of your flaws would lead to you responding in a certain way.

    2.7.1 Hindrance

    If you describe a tactic that is in conflict with a flaw, your GM may decide to impose a penalty called a hindrance against you in the upcoming contest. You should choose to remind your GM when you feel a flaw might be triggered. Your GM may also use an ability on your character sheet against you in this way too, if appropriate. This may be the case for relationships you have, philosophies you espouse, or groups you belong to.

    Your GM should follow a similar approach to augments when applying a hindrance. They should ask themselves if it is fresh, interesting or illuminates character. In a movie of book would your flaw be prominent here?

    If your GM feels that there is no uncertainty as to whether the flaw applies to your tactic in the contest they apply a penalty of -5 or a penalty of -10 depending on how serious a handicap the flaw is. (In effect an assured contest for the flaw).

    If your GM feels that it is uncertain as to whether the flaw hinders you, or you are able to overcome it, and you agree that you wish to try, treat it as a contest. Roll the rating of your flaw against the base resistance. On a victory, you receive a penalty from the degree of your victory (see §2.3). For example, if you get zero successes use a penalty of -5, on one success, use a penalty of -10 and so on. On a defeat, you overcome the flaw.

    When you experience a penalty due to a flaw, you gain an experience point (see §8.1).

    2.7.2 Act according to your flaw

    At times the direction of the story you are all telling may place your PC in situations when it seems likely they would act according to their flaw. The addict may reach for drink or drugs following an emotional setback, a lust for vengeance may come between your PC and showing mercy, prejudices or bigotry may prevent you from seeing others positively.

    If you chose to act according to your flaw there is no contest, simply describe your character behaving as the flaw dictates. This might result in a hindrance to further actions (see §2.6.1)

    If you wish to act against your flaw, your tactic must pass a credibility test as to how you try overcome your flaw in this instance. In effect, pick an ability to resist the flaw with. Then you must obtain a victory in a contest against your flaw. On a victory you may act in a way that contradicts your flaw.

    If you submit to your flaw, your GM might impose a hindrance on further actions (see §2.6.1). You should not contest this hindrance unless the situation is not related to the one which triggered your flaw in this instance, or significant time has now passed.

    Your GM may impose a penalty against an ability if you gain the victory against your flaw representing your struggle against your inner nature, violating dearly held principles, or letting down dependents. This is often true where the GM invokes a flaw from a keyword. For example, if you had they keyword “Gangster” and decide to inform on a fellow mobster, your GM might invoke the flaw of “Code of Silence” even if it is not a breakout under you keyword; this is particularly appropriate where facts such as the “Code of Silence” have been established in game. Even if you overcome your flaw, and inform on your fellow mobster, the GM might still impose a penalty on use of the keyword to interact with your crime family for having breached the “Code of Silence.”

    Similarly, your GM might give you a bonus for acting according to your flaw, representing the sacrifices you have made for dependents or a temporary boost from satisfying your inner demons. For example, if your superhero “Speedster” goes to see the premiere of his partner’s new play, instead of heading to the docks to stop Dr. Squid’s shipment of Vibrium, your GM might award you a bonus to your relationship to your partner.

    If you choose to, or your GM compels you to, act according to a flaw, you gain an experience point (see §8.1).

    2.8 Benefits and Consequences

    Contests, in addition to deciding whether you overcome a story obstacle or answer a story question, gaining the prize, may carry additional consequences or benefits related to the PC’s outcome.

    Your GM may simply determine narrative consequences and benefits from what makes fictional sense, given the agreed prize for the contest, as described above. Optionally, your GM may assign you ongoing bonuses and penalties that may affect related future contests, related to the outcome of this contest. Your GM should always respond to the flow of the story, if narrative consequences are enough, they should not reach for additional mechanical bonuses or penalties. Your GM should use mechanical bonuses or penalties where it strains credibility that there is no ongoing consequence or benefit from the outcome of the contest.

    In a fight, it may strain credibility that a defeat does not leave you impaired for further physical activity. In a display or oratory before the assembled townsfolk, it may strain credibility if they would not later act according to your rousing words. In a romance, it may strain credibility if the wonderful date night does not improve your chances of taking your relationship to the next level.

    2.8.1 Consequences

    After a contest, you may suffer consequences: literal or metaphorical injuries.

    • In a fight or test of physical mettle, you wind up literally wounded.
    • In a social contest, you suffer damage to your reputation.
    • If commanding a war, you lose battalions, equipment, or territories.
    • In an economic struggle, you lose money, other resources, or opportunities.
    • In a morale crisis, you may suffer bouts of crippling self-doubt.

    Your GM may assign a penalty to reflect this consequence. The penalty will depend on how severe they feel the consequences are. If your opponent defeats you, your GM can use the degree of the outcome as the penalty(see §2.3). Whilst this is a good ‘rule of thumb’ a GM can use their discretion as to the story needs and assign a different penalty.

    If you defeat your opponent, your GM may still decide that you suffer a consequence, representing fatigue, exhaustion, disapproval or other expenditure of resources on earning the prize.

    • In a fight, you are left bruised and battered.
    • In a social contest, you sacrifice the trust of a marginalized group.
    • If commanding a war, you must sacrifice some of your forces for victory.
    • In an economic struggle, you take significant losses to win market share.
    • In a morale crisis, your resolve alienates the cowardly.

    If you have zero degrees of victory your GM might assign a penalty of -5 or -10 to represent effort expended in the victory. If you have one degree of victory, your GM might assign a penalty of -5 , for similar reasons, if it makes dramatic sense. Ending a PC’s story

    Your GM should not impose a narrative consequence on your PC that takes them permanently out of the game, such as by death, without discussion. Some games allow characters to be taken out of the story by the result of a dice roll, but QuestWorlds is a co-operative storytelling game where a failed dice roll should not automatically remove a character from play. However, you, or the GM, might feel that your PC’s story has come to an end with this failure, and you can consent to that outcome. Usually, your GM should refrain from suggesting this option unless the story itself suggests it.

    A story-ending outcome may not just be death. It can include anything that takes the PC out of play, such as exile, dismissal from the secret agency, a broken heart. In some cases the ending to your PCs story could be ambiguous, allowing the PC to return at a future point when the story makes their salvation possible.

    Your GM must declare that the stakes of a particular contest place a PC at risk of this being a story ending moment, before the dice are rolled. This may be important for credibility in the story that the group is telling. In this case there should be an option for the PC to avoid, or backdown from a contest, that has a risk of ending their story. You should usually use a sequence for any conflict where a PC’s continuation in the story is at stake. This should be a dramatic moment, truly worth focusing at a task level on, not rolled up into conflict resolution by a contest.

    2.8.2 Benefits

    Just as when you can experience ongoing ill effects from a contest, you can gain ongoing benefits from a contest.

    • In a fight or test of physical mettle, surging adrenaline leaves you sharp for the next encounter.
    • In a social contest, you gain confidence and admiration from your triumph.
    • If commanding a war, you gain strategic advantage over your enemy.
    • In an economic struggle, your profits can be re-invested, or you drive competitors into the ground.
    • In a morale crisis, you are buoyed up by success, nothing can stop you now.

    Remember that the benefit does not have to be directly related to the ability used. Look to the goal of the contest. The abilities or situation should reflect the story obstacle that was overcome, story question that was answered, or the tactic used to overcome it.

    • In a fight or test of physical mettle, your triumph has everyone rallying to your cause.
    • In a social contest, you win powerful allies who will strengthen you in your fight against your enemies.
    • If commanding a war, you pillage the enemy city and enrich your army.
    • In an economic struggle, you gain status as one of the wealthy elite.
    • In a morale crisis, your rallied troops strengthen your army.

    Your GM may assign a bonus to reflect this benefit. If you win the prize, your GM may choose to use the degree of your outcome to determine the bonus (see §2.3). Whilst this is a good ‘rule of thumb’ a GM can use their discretion as to the story needs and assign a different bonus.

    If you lost the prize, your GM may still decide that you gain a benefit, representing learning, gratitude, or resolve developed from losing the prize.

    • In a fight or test of physical mettle, you learn your opponent’s weaknesses.
    • In a social contest, many feel sympathy for you though they cannot support you.
    • If commanding a war, you win the trust of your soldiers through shared suffering.
    • In an economic struggle, your organization becomes leaner and fitter.
    • In a morale crisis, you reflect on your failure and gain new inner strength.

    On zero degrees of defeat your GM might assign a bonus of +5 or +10 to represent a glimmer of hope for the PC despite the defeat, such as gaining an insight into the resistance’s weakness. If you have one degree of defeat your GM may assign a bonus of +10, for similar reasons, if it makes dramatic sense.

    2.8.3 Recovery

    Consequences lapse on their own with the passage of time. Your GM will determine when the consequences have faded, and you should ask about whether they still apply at each new game session. The worse the consequence, the longer it may last, though the GM may reduce the penalty in increments of -5 as you recover, reflecting the passage of time. However, you’ll often want to remove them ahead of schedule, with the use of abilities. Recovery Abilities

    When deciding the tactic to use for recovery, the ability used to bring about recovery from a consequence must relate to the type of consequence.

    • You can aid recovery from physical injuries with medical abilities or incredible healing abilities such as magic, regenerative powers, or super-science.
    • You can remove mental traumas, including those of confidence and morale, with mundane psychology abilities or through incredible abilities such as telepathy. You might also remove them through a dramatic confrontation between the victim and the source of the psychic injury.
    • You can remove social injury through social abilities or incredible social abilities such as charm spells, love potions, or mind control. You probably have to make a public apology of some sort, often including a negotiation with the offended parties and the payment of compensation, either in disposable wealth or something more symbolic.
    • You can fix damage to items and equipment with some sort of repair ability. If you want to fix an incredible item, you may require genre-specific expertise: a broken magic ring may require a ritual to reforge. Recovery Resistances

    The resistances to remove a states of adversity is the base resistance modified by the bonus equal and opposite to the penalty. So if you were suffering from a penalty of -10, you modify the base resistance +10. Recovery Contests and Sequences

    Your GM should almost always resolve healing attempts as contests. An exception might be a medical drama, in which surgeries would comprise the suspenseful set-piece sequences of the game, and your GM might chose a sequence. If the source of recovery is an NPC, the contest should always relate to the tactic used to obtain the services of the NPC.

    Any victory on a recovery attempt, clears the consequence (and so remove any penalty). On a zero degree victory your GM might choose to apply a consequence to the ability used to recover representing exhaustion (of supplies, energy, etc.).

    2.8.4 Waning Benefits

    Just as you recover from consequences with time, or through recovery, so benefits fade with time.

    At the beginning of a session, especially when a significant period of game-world time passes between the conclusion of one session and the beginning of the next, the GM may declare that all benefits have expired or waned. A waning benefit may reduce its bonus with time, as the effect fades. You are no longer charged with the confidence of your recent victory, the fans have forgotten your last concert, or the people of the village have started to think once again about the day-to-day struggle of their lives not how the stranger helped them. Benefits always decline in increments of 5 (§ see 2.3).

    An expired benefit no longer gives you a bonus, your past victories no longer bring you solace, your fickle fans have moved on to the latest sensation.

    2.8.5 Multiple Benefits And Consequences

    A PC may apply bonuses from multiple benefits to a single contest, or apply penalties from multiple consequences to a single contest. Benefits and consequences may cancel each other out.

    Because it is confusing to track both benefits and consequences against the same ability your GM may simply rule that one cancels the other out. This is particularly true of social contests where a moment of shame can erase your previous triumphs, or your confidence eroded by a failure. Physical benefits may cancel out, flushed with victory you may be able to ignore pain, but it may defy credibility for wounds to be healed by an athletic performance.

    Your GM may simply rule that benefits and consequences cancel out, or they may take the difference between the two benefits and create a new one. For example if you have a +10 benefit from impressing the crowd with your previous performance in the dance contest, but then suffer an injured ankle with a consequence of -5, your GM may rule that your twisted ankle cancels out your energy from the last performance, or your GM might rule that your success sees you through the pain, but you are now only +5 benefit to impress the crowd.


    Degree of VictoryDegree of DefeatPenaltyBonus

    Although your GM is at liberty to assign any bonus or penalty they believe is credible, this table offers suggested modifiers for different degrees of victory and defeat.

    2.9 Mismatched and Graduated Goals

    Sometimes, the two sides in a contest may have goals that do not directly conflict one another. A huntsman pursues a nurse, who is trying to escape through the forest with two small children. The huntsman wants to capture the nurse. The nurse wants to save the children.

    When encountering mismatched goals, your GM should determine whether the mismatch is complete, or partial.

    In a complete mismatch, neither side is at all interested in preventing the other’s goal. A complete mismatch does not end in a contest; your GM asks what you are doing, and then describes each participant succeeding at their goals.

    In most instances, the contest goals are not actually mismatched, but graduated. You have both a primary and a secondary goal. In this case, your GM frames the contest, identifying which goal is which. It is possible to have tertiary goals and so on, but avoid needless sub-division.

    On a victory you choose one more graduated goals than you have degrees. On zero degrees of victory you choose one; on one degree of victory you choose two, and so on. Normally, the GM should give the player the choice of which goals they wish to choose. This goes to the heart of character – what is more important to you?

    On a defeat you normally get nothing, but when there are graduated goals on zero degrees of defeat, your GM may choose to pick one of your goals to give you. The GM may choose to go against the PC’s likely preference here – the PC doesn’t get the choice they would have made given they had to sacrifice something.

    The nurse has graduated goals: escape the huntsman and save the children. On a zero degree of victory she will have to decide between capture and the safety of the children. On one degrees of victory, she can have both.

    2.10 Mobs, Gangs, and Hordes

    Sometimes you will be outnumbered by your opponents. Your GM can treat many as one. Your GM treats a crowd as a single resistance with one rating. When selecting a resistance your GM should factor their numbers into the rating. Numbers are not always an advantage. Whilst in a fight, numbers give you a significant advantage – provided the mob has room to maneuver – in an attempt to win ‘hearts and minds’ too many voices can be counterproductive, unless you are trying to intimidate. The final decision on the amount of help provided by numerical advantage rests with your GM.

    In a sequence, when the mob loses an exchange, your GM describes individuals within it as being hurt or falling away. When it wins, they describe them overwhelming you.

    2.11 Ganging Up

    Sometimes you may outnumber your opponent. As above, the GM should alter the resistance depending on how significantly you outnumber them and depending on whether numbers provide advantage.

    2.12 Mass Effort

    Clashes of massive forces resolve like any other contest or sequence. These include:

    • Military engagements
    • Corporate struggles for market share
    • Building competitions
    • Efforts to spread a faith or ideology
    • Dance competitions

    If you are not participating in the contest and have no stake in its outcome, then your GM doesn’t bother to run a contest. The GM just chooses an outcome for dramatic purposes.

    Otherwise, your GM will start by determining your degree of influence over the outcome. They are either:

    • Directing: The success of the effort depends mostly on your leadership. For example, you might be a military leader facing a force of roughly equal potency. As all else is equal, the better general will win the day. In this instance, if you are in command, your tactic should be a relevant leadership ability.
    • Contributors: The outcome of the battle hangs in the balance and your efforts may tip the balance in favor of your side. You roll against a resistance determined by the GM, either in a contest (see §4.0) or sequence (see §5.0) representing the odds of your shifting the odds in your favor. If a PC leads the effort your GM should award them a bonus or penalty reflecting the outcome of the contest. They should then roll as described in Directing above. If an NPC leads the effort the outcome is that of the contest or sequence, and the PCs effort is assumed to tip the scale either way.
    • Participants: You have little influence over the outcome, but must struggle to prosper within the conflict. The GM predetermines the outcome of the overall competition on dramatic grounds. To determine your fate in the battle, you roll against a resistance determined by the GM from the overall battle outcome, in a contest (see §4.0) or sequence (see §5.0).

    2.13 Resistance Progression

    Your GM may decide that resistance to your actions gets harder, as the campaign progresses. This reflects the trope of the type of challenges you face getting tougher as you improve.

    Your GM should adopt a strategy that mimics a TV show where the resistance does not increase during a season of the show, allowing our protagonists to get more competent as the show progresses towards its climax. In the next season though the resistance usually goes up, and the writers reflect this with more challenging opposition in the new season of the show. At the same time, the opposition that was tough in the first season, now become mooks that can be easily dispatched to show the increased competence of the protagonists.

    In that case your GM should increment the base resistance by +5 to +10 for the next campaign you play with the same characters. The size of the change should reflect the increase in your previous abilities in the last campaign. For example, if in the last season you increased your occupation keyword by +10, your GM may decide to increase the resistance by +5 or +10 to reflect the more challenging opposition in the new campaign. The GM should consider triggering resistance progression when your PCs find it difficult to earn experience points because they too regularly outclass even the climatic encounters (the boss monsters) of their game.

    Your GM should also take into account that the opposition you were improving with respect to the previous season should now be considered more-easily defeated mooks, and use lower ratings for them when they appear in the story or even allow them to be taken out with an assured contest.

    2.13.1 No Progression

    Your GM may also decide that the resistances do not get harder as the campaign progresses, reflecting the PCs ability to disregard minor challenges, and simply choose harder resistances to challenge the players and allow them to earn experience points.

    3.0 Character Creation

    The first step in creating your character is to come up with a concept that fits in with the genre of the game that your GM intends to run. With that, you can assign abilities, ratings for those abilities, and if required flaws.

    In addition, you will want to give your character a name, and provide a physical description. We recommend focusing on three physical things about your PC that others would immediately notice, over anything more detailed.

    Your GM should not use this method for creating NPCs. NPCs do not require definition via abilities and keywords. Instead, your GM simply describes the NPC, and picks an appropriate resistance in any contest with them, based on their feeling for what would be credible for that NPC. If in doubt the GM just uses the base resistance for a mook, with a suitably higher resistance for a boss. The design intent is to remove the need for the GM to prepare stat blocks, making improvisation of NPCs easier, and shifting focus to the NPCs personality or role in the story instead.

    3.1 As-You-Go Method

    1. Choose a concept. Your concept is a brief phrase, often just a couple of words that tells the GM and other players what you do and how you act. Start with a noun or phrase indicating your occupation keyword or area of expertise, and modify it with an adjective suggesting a distinguishing characteristic, a personality trait that defines you in broad strokes:


    Distinguishing CharacteristicOccupation
    1. Provide your character with a name.
    2. You have 12 ability slots and up to three slots for flaws.
    3. Your character concept uses two slots: one for their occupational keyword and one for their distinguishing characteristic.
    4. The first time you use an ability (including your distinguishing characteristic and occupational keyword), assign a rating to it (see §3.4).
    5. If the series uses other keywords, such as those for culture or religion, you will need to spend an ability slots on those.
    6. When events in the story put you in a situation where you want to overcome a story obstacle, or discover the answer to a story question, make up an applicable ability on the spot. This may be a breakout ability from a keyword. You are restricted to only one sidekick.
    7. If you want, describe any flaws.
    8. When you have used all your ability slots, you must use experience points to buy more. Once you have used all of your flaw slots, you must buy off an existing flaw with experience points to gain more.

    3.2 Keywords

    We recommend that you build your PC around one or more keywords (see §2.1.1).

    Keywords are best suited for use as the PC’s occupation, heritage, beliefs, or memberships of a community.

    In certain genres, your GM may require that your PC has multiple keywords: for example, one for occupation, another for species or culture, and perhaps a third for religious affiliation.

    3.2.2 Doubling Up

    In some settings, an ability may be listed in more than one of a PC’s keywords. You should choose only one to list it under.

    If your distinguishing characteristic is an ability that fits under a keyword then you can make it a breakout there.

    3.3 Flaws

    You may assign up to three flaws to their PC. Common flaws include:

    • Personality traits: surly, petty, compulsive.
    • Physical challenges: blindness, lameness, diabetes.
    • Social hurdles: outcast, ill-mannered, hated by United supporters.

    Certain keywords include flaws. Flaws gained through keywords do not count against the limit of three chosen flaws.

    3.4 Assigning Ability Ratings

    You have now defined your abilities and flaws. These tell everyone what you can do.

    Now assign numbers to each ability, called ratings, which determine how well you can do these things.

    Assign a starting rating of 15 to the ability you find most important or defining. Although most players consider it wisest to assign this rating to their occupational keyword, you don’t have to do this. Assign a rating of 15 to your distinguishing characteristic.

    All other abilities start at a rating of 10.

    A breakout from a keyword starts at +5. In some cases, you may treat your distinguishing characteristic as a breakout ability from a keyword in this case, treat it as a +10.

    Flaws are assigned a rating equivalent to your abilities. The first flaw is rated at the highest ability, the second shares the same rating as the second-highest ability, and the third equals the lowest ability. As abilities improve, so the rating of your flaw changes to reflect those changes.

    Flaws should include breakouts when figuring the PC’s highest ability.

    All flaws after the third are given the same rating as the lowest ability. You may designate flaws from keywords as your first or second-ranked flaw.

    Now, you get 20 improvement points to spend to improve your abilities. Each improvement point increases an ability by +1. You cannot increase a breakout with improvement points. The maximum starting ability rating is 5M; the maximum starting breakout rating is +5, or +10 for a distinguishing characteristic (see §3.0) agreed with your GM to be under a keyword.

    You can modify an ability using improvement points after a roll. This may allow you to succeed and not fail.

    Some genre packs may require you to have additional keywords that reflect the setting. These additional keywords come from the 12 abilities allowance, so in many genres you will have fewer wildcard abilities but better fit the setting.

    3.5 Prose Method

    3.5.1 Alternative Character Creation

    This is the an alternative character creation method in which you write a piece of prose and then pull abilities from that. Its intent is to emulate a character description in fiction, and indeed PCs can be built by copying text from a story and then identifying keywords. It is the least ‘fair’ of the character creation options.

    Your GM should choose either “As You Go” or “Prose Method” not both. Choose the “Prose Method” only if your players are comfortable writing a short biography for their character.

    3.5.2 The Prose Method

    You write a paragraph of text like you would see in a story outline, describing the most essential elements of your character. Include keywords, personality traits, important possessions, relationships, and anything else that suggests what you can do and why. The paragraph should be about 100 words long.

    Compose the description in complete, grammatical sentences. No lists of abilities; no sentence fragments. Your GM may choose to allow sentences like the previous one for emphasis or rhythmic effect, but not simply to squeeze in more cool things you can do.

    Once your narrative is finished, convert the description into a set of abilities and flaws. Mark any keywords with double underlines. Mark any other word or phrase that could be an ability or flaw with a single underline. Then write these keywords, abilities or flaws on your character sheet. Remember that some abilities and flaws may be a breakout from a keyword.

    There is no limit to the number of abilities you can gain from a single sentence, as long as the sentence is not just a list of abilities. If your GM decides a sentence is just a list, they may allow the first two abilities, or they may tell the player to rewrite the sentence. Note, however, that you cannot specify more than one sidekick in your prose description.

    4.0 Contests

    A contest is the default resolution method for story obstacles or story question where there is a dramatic branch from uncertainty. If the branch does not lead to new story, just use an assured contest.

    A contest is conflict resolution, we don’t resolve the individual tasks that form part of the story obstacle or story question instead we resolve the whole story obstacle or story question in one roll. When you pick your tactic it may encompass your approach to the whole, or be a spotlight moment, where the part stands for the whole. In the latter case your chosen tactic is the focus of the key moment. It all comes down to this moment, where you win the prize or your plans go awry. Your GM will narrate your passage through the other obstacles once the outcome is known, but the focus of win and lose always hinges on this moment.

    Using contest as the default speeds up play, and keeps the story hitting major events, reinforcing the sense of adventure.

    4.1 Contest

    4.1.1 Procedure

    A contest can be summarized as follows:

    1. You and your GM agree upon the terms of the contest.
    2. You choose a tactic. Your target number (TN) is your rating, adding any augments (see §2.6), hindrances (see §2.7), stretches and situational modifiers (see §2.5), consequences and benefits (see §2.8).
    3. Your GM determines the resistance. If two PCs contend, your opponent figures their TN as described in step 2.
    4. You roll a D20 vs your relevant ability, while your GM rolls a D20 vs the resistance.
    5. Your GM compares the difference successes between the two rolls to assesses the outcome (see §2.3.7).
    6. Your GM then narrates the outcome of the conflict as appropriate and assesses any benefits or consequences that arose (see §2.8).
    7. Award experience points if appropriate (see §8.1).

    4.2 Group Contest

    In the group contest, multiple participants take part in a contest. Each of you in your group conducts an individual contest against the GM, and the outcomes for each side are collated to determine the victor.

    A group contest may pit all of you against a single resistance, representing one story obstacle or story question. Alternatively, a group contest may be a series of paired match-ups between two groups of contestants. If your PC is matched against multiple opponents, your GM should consider increasing the resistance instead of rolling multiple times (see Mobs, Gangs, and Hordes §2.12). If the resistance is forced to face off against multiple PCs the GM should consider, lowering the resistance (see Ganging Up §2.11).

    4.2.1 Procedure

    A group contest can be summarized as follows:

    1. Your GM frames the contest.
    2. You choose a tactic. Your target number (TN) is your rating, adding any augments (see §2.6), hindrances (see §2.7), stretches and situational modifiers (see §2.5), consequences and benefits (see §2.8).
    3. Your GM determines the resistance. If two PCs contend, your opponent figures their TN as described in step 2.
    4. For each of your group
      1. Roll a D20 vs your relevant ability, while your GM rolls a D20 vs the resistance. Determine the degree of victory or defeat for the individual PC from the outcome (see §2.3.7).
      2. Add the number of successes scored in the contest to a running total of successes for each group, regardless of the individual outcome. Victory or defeat, successes count towards the group outcome.
      3. Award experience points if appropriate (see §8.1).
    5. The side with the highest number of successes is the overall victor in the contest. Award experience points if appropriate (see §8.1). If the number of successes is tied the contest ends in a stalemate, with neither side gaining control of the prize.
    6. Determine degree of victory from the difference between the successes scored by each side.
    7. Describe the outcome based on the agreed prize.

    If the result is a tie, but it does not make sense for there to be no outcome, then award the PCs group a zero degree victory

    It is possible that you suffer a defeat, even though your side gains the victory. It is possible that, as a result, that your PC will suffer a consequence (see §2.8) related to your defeat, even though your side won. If your side loses, then you may suffer both a consequence for your own individual contest, and a consequence for the overall contest.

    It is possible that you gain a victory, even though your side suffers a defeat. It is possible that, as a result, that your PC will obtain a benefit (see §2.8) related to your victory, even though your side lost. If your side won, then you may gain both a benefit for your own individual contest, and a benefit for the overall contest.

    4.3 Multiple Contestants, One Prize

    Sometimes, there can be only one. When you are in a contest with multiple contenders, but only one of you can win the prize, you have to beat everyone else. Typical examples include athletic contests, beauty contests, a game show, or an election.

    When you compete for a single prize you compare your result with the other contestants. Your GM should find the highest number of successes obtained by any of the contestants. If there is only one contestant with that number, the GM awards them the prize. Otherwise, your GM will compare the rolls of everyone who shares that number of successes. The contestant with the highest roll wins the prize. If two contestants match on the highest roll, then the contest finishes in a tie, and the winners must share the prize. If sharing the prize does not make sense, then your GM awards it, in order of preference, to the highest ability, a PC over an NPC, GM’s choice.

    It is possible that all the contestants lose. In this case, the GM needs to decide if it possible for no one to win, because they failed to finish the race or did not answer the questions in the final round of the game show. If they cannot fail to win, it goes to the highest roll, as above.

    Use a contest when you have multiple contenders for a single prize over a sequence (see §5.0).

    4.3.1 Procedure

    Multiple contestants and one prize can be summarized as follows:

    1. Find the highest number of successes amongst the participants.
    2. If only one contestant has that number of successes amongst the players, award them the prize.
    3. If multiple contestants share that number of successes the contestant with the highest roll wins the prize.
    4. If two or more contestants match on the highest roll, there is a tie and the contestants with the matching roll share the prize.
    5. If the prize cannot be shared then award to in order: highest ability, a PC over an NPC, GM’s choice.

    5.0 Sequences

    Most conflicts should be resolved simply and quickly, using the contest rules. However, every so often, your GM wants to draw out the resolution, breaking it down into a series of smaller actions, increasing the suspense you feel as you wait to see if they triumph or fail.

    Think of the different ways a film director can choose to portray a given moment, depending on how important it is to the story, and how invested they want us to feel in its outcome. For example, there are two ways to shoot a scene in which a thief breaks into the bank to steal the contents of the safe.

    • The action can be portrayed quickly, cutting to a moment with the thief, their ear pressed against the safe trying to get the tumblers to fall into place. Then they sigh with relief, open the safe, and get whatever is inside. In this instance, the story is about what happens after the thief gets what’s in the safe, not about what might happen to them if they fail.
    • Another film might instead choose to make the bank robbery a pivotal turning point in the story, if not its climactic moment. It would spend many scenes building up to the safe-cracking sequence: obtaining the plans of the bank, learning the movements of the guards, crawling through the air conditioning ducts, sliding past the motion sensors and pressure plates, and finally cracking the safe itself.

    A contest mirrors the first approach. A sequence mirrors the second. If your GM wants to focus on how you complete a sequence of tasks to overcome the story obstacles or story questions then then use a sequence.

    Even a movie driven by action and suspense will typically include only a handful of these set-piece sequences. They need the rest of their running time to build up to their big moments, to make us care about the characters, and to give us quiet moments to contrast with the white-knuckle parts.

    So pacing may always trump your desire to work through the sequence of tasks, as your GM may wish to resolve this conflict quickly. This is especially true if only one player is involved.

    Your GM may be tempted, to adjudicate every fight with a sequence, because fights seem like they should be played out blow-by-blow. They should resist this temptation, as fights are often repetitive trading of blows that can drag when everyone repeats actions from round to round. Only use sequences for fights where the PCs want to do more than slug it out toe-to-toe with their opponents until only one is left standing.

    5.1 Sequence

    5.1.1 Overview

    A sequence is a succession of contests. It represents a set of tasks required for the PC to overcome an obstacle.

    A sequence is played out in rounds. Each round represents an attempt by the PC to wear down the resistance by succeeding at a task, that makes up part of the goal. In a sequence where a PC thief tries to break into a bank to steal from the safe, individual rounds might represent:

    • Obtaining the plans of the bank
    • Surveillance to learn the movements of the guards
    • Crawling through the air conditioning ducts
    • Sliding past the motion sensors and pressure plates
    • Cracking the safe itself.

    The GM needs to be aware of pacing during this, skipping potential obstacles to try and time the final roll to be as the thief cracks open the safe (or fails triggering more complications).

    Sequences are longer and more dramatic than contests. Your GM uses sequences when the drama of the conflict is as important as the outcome to the story. A sequence generates suspense with a back-and-forth struggle. It is something you and your GM should visualize and describe.

    A sequence consists of one or more rounds, which you resolve as contests. However an individual round does not decide the outcome of the whole sequence, only who has momentum at that time.

    Different types of sequence change how we record who has the upper hand at any one time, based on the degrees of the contest outcome.

    • In a scored sequence, the first contestant to have five ‘strikes’ against them loses. We tally resolution points (RP).
    • In a wagered sequence, we tally advantage points (AP), which represent momentum and position. The contenders trade APs until one of them runs out.
    • In chained sequence we tally resolve, which represents willingness to continue. If you choose chained sequence all contests become a chained sequence.

    Your GM uses this record, either tallying or applying consequences, to determine when to trigger the end of the sequence and the outcome for the victor. Procedure

    1. Your GM frames the sequence.
    2. You choose a tactic. Your target number (TN) is your rating, adding any augments (see §2.6), hindrances (see §2.7), stretches and situational modifiers (see §2.5), consequences and benefits (see §2.8.
    3. Your GM determines the resistance (see §2.3.3). (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. Your GM decides which contender has the initiative, the ‘aggressor’, and describes what they are trying to do to achieve the prize. 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’.
      2. Resolve the round as described for the sequence type.
      3. The outcome determines the new tally or applies consequences. Tied results leave the score unchanged.
      4. Determine if an opponent is knocked out of the contest from their tally or consequences, according to the rules for that contest type.
      5. The winner has an opportunity to perform a parting shot (see §5.1.8).
    5. Determine the outcome according to the sequence type. Award or deny the prize, and give experience points if appropriate (see §8.1).
    6. Determine benefits or consequences.
    7. Describe the outcome based on the story obstacle or story question

    5.1.2 Group Sequence Overview

    Group sequences proceed as a series of sequences between pairs of PC and opponents, interwoven so that they happen nearly simultaneously.

    As in a sequence between a single PC and an opponent, each per pair of adversaries contend in a round. Usually the PCs make up one team, and their antagonists the other.

    A group sequence continues until one side has no active participants. If you defeat your opponent you can pair with a new opponent. The new opponent might be unengaged, but might also be engaged in an existing pairing. When you pair with an unengaged opponent, you begin a new sequence. If your opponent is already engaged in a sequence, you participate in the existing sequence and points tally for that type of sequence. Alternatively, if you are unopposed, you may choose to help lower the tally of an existing participant with an assist appropriate to that sequence type. Of course, you may be later engaged by an opponent who becomes free yourself.

    You may lose some pairings amongst the PCs, but still win if the last participant standing is a PC; otherwise if the last participant belongs to the opposition you lose. Group Sequence Procedure

    1. Your GM frames the sequence.
    2. You choose a tactic. Your target number (TN) is your rating, adding any augments (see §2.6), hindrances (see §2.7), stretches and situational modifiers (see §2.5), consequences and benefits (see §2.8).
    3. The GM determines the resistance (see §2.3.3). If two PCs contend, your opponent figures their TN as described in step 2.
    4. The PCs choose their opponents in order of their TN where it makes sense. Otherwise your GM will allocate opponents to you dependent on what makes narrative sense.
    5. Establish an order of the paired sequences. The narrative may indicate who should go first but use your group’s TNs from highest to lowest if no other option presents itself.
    6. For each pairing your GM carries out one round. Then they repeat by carrying out more rounds in order, as necessary.
      1. Your GM decides which contender has the initiative, the ‘aggressor’, and describes what they are trying to do to achieve the prize. 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’.
      2. Resolve the round as described for the sequence type.
      3. The outcome determines the new tally or applies consequences. Tied results leave the score unchanged.
      4. Determine if an opponent is knocked out of the contest, according to the rules for that contest type.
      5. The winner has an opportunity to perform a parting shot (see §5.1.8).
    7. As one of a pair is eliminated from the group sequence, their victorious opponents may then move on to engage new targets, either starting new contests with an unengaged opponent or joining an existing contest (see §5.1.9). These new contest are added to the end of the existing roster. Alternatively, unengaged contests may assist (see §5.1.10) those who are engaged.
    8. The group with the last undefeated contestant wins.
    9. Award experience points if appropriate (see §8.1).
    10. If necessary, your GM can determine your group’s degree of victory or defeat.
    11. Describe the outcome based on the story obstacle or story question.

    5.1.3 No Nesting

    Your GM should never “nest” one sequence inside another. If a sequence is in progress and you want to perform an action your GM should treat it as an unrelated action (see §5.1.8), or disallow it completely during the current sequence.

    5.1.4 Switching Abilities

    You may describe an action in a sequence that is not covered by the ability that you started the sequence with. There are two possibilities here: either you are trying to provide color to your actions in the round, without seeking to gain advantage, or you are seeking to gain advantage over your opponent with a novel tactic.

    In the former case, you can continue to use the ability you started the contest with, as you should not be penalized for wanting to enhance the contest with colorful or entertaining descriptions.

    In the latter case you should switch abilities, and your GM must decide if the resistance changes because of your new ability. Your GM is encouraged to reward tactics that exploit weaknesses that have been identified in the story so far with a bonus from a situational modifier. Sometimes your GM may respond with a higher penalty from a situational modifier because your tactic looks less likely to succeed due to conditions already established in the story.

    Either way any tally does not change.

    5.1.5 Asymmetrical Round

    You may choose to briefly suspend your attempt to best your opponent in a sequence, 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 change the tally against your opponent,or inflict consequences if you win the round. Instead, you succeed at whatever else you were doing. Your tally is still altered, or you suffer consequences if you lose the round. 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 TN associated with your substitute ability is significantly lower than the one used for the rest of the sequence.

    In addition to secondary objectives, as in the above example, you may engage in asymmetrical round to augment (see §2.6) yourself or others.

    5.1.6 Disengaging

    You can always abandon a sequence, but, in addition to failing at the story obstacle, you may also suffer negative consequences as your opponent may take a parting shot against you, as though you had suffered a defeat. Likewise, your opponent might seek to disengage before being defeated, entitling you to a parting shot. Taking the parting shot is always optional as it may worsen the attacker’s position.

    5.1.7 Unrelated Actions

    If you are not currently enmeshed in a round, you may take actions within the scene that do not directly contribute to the defeat of the other side. These unrelated actions may grant an augment to yourself or to a teammate. You may achieve a secondary story objective. This resembles an asymmetrical round, except that, as you are not targeted by any opponents, there is no additional risk.

    5.1.8 Parting Shot

    Immediately after you defeat an opponent, you may attempt to worsen the defeat suffered by your opponent 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

    The parting shot is another contest against your defeated opponent. 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.

    The mechanics for a parting shot differ for each sequence type, reflecting the tally.

    5.1.9 Joining an In-Progress Contest

    When you wish to join a sequence in progress, you and your GM should discuss whether you accept the current framing. If so, you can participate. You simply select an opponent and start a new round with them. The mechanics for joining an in-progress contest differ for each sequence type, reflecting the tally. If you want to achieve something other than the goal established during framing, you may instead perform unrelated actions, including assists and augments.

    In some types of conflict, many-against-one may have an advantage. In a melee for example it is more difficult to fight two or more opponents. In other types of contest many-against-one may actually hinder because contenders get in each other’s way, such as an attempt to persuade another. In situations in a sequence where numerical advantage exists, award a situational modifier usually of +/-5 or +/-10. This is a bonus if the PCs outnumber their opponents and a penalty if they don’t. Don’t use this rule if you are treating the resistance as a mob (see §2.10)

    5.1.10 Assists

    You may take an unrelated action to grant an assist to a teammate enmeshed in a round. 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. Assists are subject to the same restrictions as augments: they must be both credible and interesting.

    The mechanics for a assist differ for each sequence type, reflecting the tally or consequences.

    5.1.11 Outcome

    Your GM may wish to determine the overall outcome, beyond the prize and individual outcomes.

    If your group has the “last contestant”, your GM should use the outcome for the contest in which your group defeated the opponent with the highest ability rating.

    If the opposition has the “last contestant”, your GM should use the outcome for the contest in which the PC with the highest ability rating was defeated.

    In the event of a tie for ability rating pick the outcome that has the second highest degree of victory or defeat.

    5.2 Scored Sequence

    A scored sequence consists of one or more rounds; each round is a contest.

    In a scored sequence, we tally the position of the contestants in a scored sequence via resolution points. Once five or more resolution points have been tallied against a contestant, they lose that scored sequence.

    In a scored sequence each round represents attempts by both parties to overcome their opponent and so a is a single contest.

    Your GM should determine who has the initiative to choose their tactics for any round, based on their interpretation of the flow of events. Their opponent has to react to that tactic. 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.

    5.2.1 Resolution Points

    You score resolution points equal to one more than the degree of the outcome. So a zero degree outcome produces one resolution point, a one degree outcome produces two resolution points and so on. (You can take the shortcut of adding one to the difference in successes of the two rolls, if you prefer). RESOLUTION POINT TABLE

    45 Resource Point Knowledge

    Your GM should make the resource point totals for each side public. Followers

    You may choose to have your followers take part in scored sequences in one of three ways: as full contestants, as secondary contestants, or as supporters.

    Contestant: The follower takes part in the contest as any other PC would. You roll for your followers as you would their main characters. However, your followers are removed from the contest whenever 3 resolution points are scored against them in a given round.

    Secondary contestant: To act as a secondary contestant, your follower must have an ability relevant to the contest. The follower sticks by your side, contributing directly to the effort: fighting in a battle, tossing in arguments in a legal dispute, acting as the ship’s navigator, or whatever. Although you describe this, you do not roll for the follower. Instead, you may, at any point, shift any number of resolution points to a follower acting as a secondary contestant. Followers with 3 or more resource points lodged against them are removed from the scene.

    Supporter: Your follower is present in the scene, but does not directly engage your opponents. Instead they may perform assists and other unrelated actions.

    Followers acting in any of these three capacities may be removed from the contest by otherwise unengaged opponents. To remove a follower from a scene, an opponent engages your follower in a contest. Your GM sets the resistance, or if it is another PC’s follower they determine the relevant ability of the follower engaging yours. On any failure, your follower is taken out of the contest.

    Your GM determines any long-term implications for the follower being removed from the contest. Whilst your GM should not end your character’s story without consent, such as via death, they may choose to end the story of a follower in such circumstances, viscerally demonstrating the threat that the PCs face. What the Score Means

    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 one RP might mean that you hit your opponent with a grazing blow, or knocked him into an awkward position.
    • Scoring two RPs might mean a palpable hit, most likely with bone-crunching sound effects.
    • A three 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, one RP might occasion mild head nodding from spectators, or a frown on your opponent’s face.
    • Two RPs would occasion mild applause from onlookers, or send a flush to your opponent’s face.
    • On three RPs, your opponent might be thrown completely off-track, as audience members wince at the force of your devastating verbal jab.

    If the opposition represents multiple opponents, then an RP loss may represent their ranks thinning.

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

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

    5.2.2 Scored Sequence Outcomes

    Your GM uses the difference in resource points between the contestants to determine the degree of your victory or defeat. SCORED SEQUENCE OUTCOME TABLE


    Your GM applies results as described in §, including assigning benefits and consequences.

    5.2.3 Parting Shot

    If you succeed in your parting shot roll, you score additional resource points against your opponent, worsening their defeat.

    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 sequence. If the revised total is now less than 5 RPs, they return to the sequence, 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.

    Where it makes sense, unengaged PCs may attempt parting shots against opponents taken out of the sequence 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.

    5.2.4 Risky Gambits

    During a scored sequence, you can attempt to force a conflict to an early resolution by making a risky gambit. If you win the round, you lodge an additional 1 resolution point against your opponent. However, if you lose the round, your opponent lodges an additional 2 resolution points against you.

    If both contestants engage in a risky gambit, the winner lodges an additional 2 resolution points against the loser.

    5.2.5 Defensive Responses

    In a scored sequence, you can make a defensive response, lowering the number of resolution points lodged against you in a round. If you win the round, the number of resolution points you lodge against your opponent decreases by 1. If you lose, your opponent lodges 2 fewer resolution points against you. The total number of resolution points assigned by a round is never less than 0; there is no such thing as a negative resolution point.

    5.2.6 Assists

    The assist alters the score against your teammate according to the outcome of a contest.

    Your first assist faces the base resistance. Each subsequent assist attempt to the same beneficiary increases the resistance by +5. The resistance escalation occurs even when another PC steps in to make a subsequent assist. This escalation allows the occasional dramatic rescue but makes it difficult for players to prolong losing battles to excruciating length. Your GM should make it seem credible by justifying the increasing resistances with descriptions of ever-escalating countermeasures on the part of the opposition.

    Your GM may adjust the starting resistance up or down to account for campaign credibility or other dramatic factors. If an assist as proposed seems too improbable or insufficiently useful, your GM should collaborate with you to propose alternate suggestions.

    On a victory, you reduce the number of resolution points by one more than the degree of the victory. On a defeat, you increase the number of resolution points by one more than the degree of the resistance’s victory. See table §

    Scores can never be reduced below 0.

    5.2.7 Joining an In-Progress Contest

    If you join in an existing scored sequence use the same tally of resolution points; your fate is now bound to your comrade’s fate. In this case, two PCs may face off against the same opposition, both sharing the same tally.

    It is usually a better tactic to reduce a comrades tally via an assist if they have resolution points against them, before joining them, so that you don’t risk being brought down by them.

    5.3 Wagered sequence

    A wagered sequence consists of one or more rounds. In a round both you and your opponent take actions in turn; a pair of exchanges. Each exchange is a contest.

    In a wagered sequence, we tally the position of the contestants in advantage points (AP). Once a contestant reach zero or fewer APs they lose that a wagered sequence.

    Your GM should determine who has the initiative to describe what they are doing for any exchange. They describe the tactic for their exchange, and wagers a matching number of APs. Their opponent then describes their reaction to that tactic to determine the ability used in the contest. Next, their opponent then describes their tactic and wagers a matching number of APs. The initiative holder then describes their tactic in response.

    These exchanges are then conducted in order of the highest AP wager first.

    If a contestant falls below zero APs as a result of their opponent’s exchange, they immediately lose, and do not get to conduct their own exchange.

    If on the second exchange of the round, a contestant no longer has the AP that they bid remaining, they should change their action to reflect a lower bid.

    If, on the second exchange the contestant’s original intent no longer makes sense in the unfolding narrative, they can change their tactic but they do not change their wager.

    5.3.1 Advantage Points Starting AP Totals

    You describe your action towards the desired prize and what ability you use. The ability used in the contest 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.

    Figure your starting advantage point (AP) total using the TN. So a TN of 15 is 15APs. The AP include +20 for each level of mastery, so a TN of 5M is 25APs. Your starting APs and can also be increased by followers (see below).

    The GM figures starting APs for the resistance from the resistance TN. Wagering Advantage Points

    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 or may even transfer them.

    You 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 should specify your wager; if you do not, your GM determines this based on the amount of risk you are taking.

    The size of the wager mirrors how bold and risky your character’s action is. Extreme or aggressive actions mean a high wager, and cautious actions require less.

    If you describe an all-out offensive with your sword cutting vicious arcs, you need to wager a lot of APs; if you say that you are circling your foe cautiously, a low wager is in order.

    Your GM will look at the level of risk you are taking, and may suggest that you change your wager to better match your actions.

    If you do not declare a wager before rolling the die, your GM will decide how many points are wager (using 3 as a default), with riskier actions calling for higher wagers. Losing Advantage Points

    The number of advantage points lost by a contestant is a multiplier of their wager depending on the degree of the victory. Determine the multiplier used as follows: WAGERED SEQUENCE EXCHANGE TABLE

    DegreeAP loss by loser
    TieBoth lose 1/2 wager, round up
    0½ x wager, round up
    11 x wager
    22 x wager
    33 x wager
    44 x wager
    nn x wager

    If the victor rolled a big success, the APs lost by the loser are gained by the winner – a transfer. Followers and Advantage Points

    Followers can act in one of the following ways during a contest:

    • A follower can augment you with their abilities.
    • You can use one of their abilities as if it were your own.
    • For a follower with a relevant ability or keyword, you can simply add their APs to yours at the beginning of the contest.

    Neither you nor the GM makes rolls for followers. Instead, their actions are subsumed into yours.

    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. 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. Advantage Point Recalculation

    Advantage points are only relevant for the length of a particular wagered sequence. Your PC does not have any until the next wagered sequence begins, when you calculate them all over again. What the AP Total Means

    Advantage points represent who has the advantage in a sequence. They represent who is enters the fray in the best starting position because of skill, support, or conviction.

    Losses represent:

    • Losing momentum.
    • Becoming overcome by fatigue.
    • Morale is failing.
    • Becoming close to losing consciousness from repeated blows.
    • Losing the support of the audience.

    If the opposition represents multiple opponents, then an AP loss may represent their ranks thinning.

    When your GM narrates AP losses they need to be guided by two principals:

    1. No effect is certain until the entire wagered sequence is over.
    2. When a character loses points, it can reflect any negative change in fortunes, not just the most obvious one

    5.3.2 Wagered Sequence Outcomes

    Your GM uses the final AP total of the loser to determine the degree of the victory or defeat for the PC. WAGERED SEQUENCE OUTCOME TABLE

    Final AP TotalDegree
    0 to –10 AP0
    –11 to –20 AP1
    –21 to –30 AP2
    –31 or -40 AP3
    –41 or fewer AP4

    Your GM may apply consequences and benefits for your PC as they see fit, based on this outcome.

    5.3.3 Parting Shot

    A parting shot allows another round, in which only contestants with positive APs can act. You once again wager APs and use an appropriate ability against your opponent. Your wager must reflect what you are doing to drive them to greater defeat.

    If you succeed, their AP will decrease; their outcome may or may not change.

    Parting shots are risky; if you fail, an AP transfer might bring your opponent back into positive APs in which case they get an exchange in this round (and subsequent rounds as normal). Your stumble gave them an opening that they exploited in an effort to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

    5.3.4 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.

    5.3.5 Second Chance

    If your PC falls to 0 or fewer advantage points in a standard wagered sequence, you are defeated. In a group wagered sequence, however, you can try a second chance to stay in the contest. A second chance 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 second chance in any wagered sequence.

    To attempt a second chance, you must be free from attention by the opposition. You must spend a story point. You can use a relevant ability in a contest against the number of APs your PC is below 0. Even if you succeed, a consequence applies: take a –6 to further actions in this contest.

    If you win the contest, you rejoin the contest with a positive AP total. Your new total is a 1/4 of your original AP total at the outset of the contest, round up.

    Your GM should not use a second chance for the resistance.

    Your GM may decide to impost a consequence on you, even if you are later victorious in a contest, or your team wins the prize, that represents the adversity you suffered that brought you initially to defeat.

    5.3.6 Assists

    You can transfer some or all of your advantage points to another contestant engaged in a wagered sequence on your side. With more advantage points, they can stay in the sequence for longer, or make larger wagers without driving themselves to defeat.

    State the number of AP you are trying to transfer. (The GM may suggest a higher or lower wager based on the action you describe.) The number of APs you are attempting to transfer is the resistance you face in a contest. You lost the APs whether or not you succeed in the contest.

    You cannot transfer advantage points to yourself.

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

    5.3.7 Joining an In-Progress Contest

    Both you and your opponent use your existing AP totals.

    5.4 Chained Sequence

    A chained sequence consists of one or more rounds; each round is a contest.

    Electing to use a chained sequence changes all contests into sequences. A contest is always just a round of a sequence.

    In a chained sequence each round represents an attempt by both parties to overcome their opponent. After each round, participants who are able to continue must decide if they wish to continue the sequence or if they wish to disengage and yield the prize to their opponent.

    In a chained sequence we track resolve. Once your resolve reaches zero you cannot continue without recovering resolve (see §5.4.9).

    When electing to use chained sequences be aware of the impact of this choice.

    Your GM should award consequences and benefits to a victorious PC after the sequence ends (see §2.6).

    Your GM should determine who has the initiative to describe what they are doing for any round, 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.

    5.4.1 Resolve

    Resolve represents your resistance to the exhaustion of your mental, physical, emotional or social reserves. Once your resolve is gone, you quit.

    The loser of a round in a sequence, loses resolve equal to their opponent’s degrees of victory plus one, see §

    When your resolve hits zero it initiates a crisis, your desire to struggle on is gone: you collapse into exhaustion; you give in to despair; you succumb to your wounds; you flee in fear… depending on what harmed you. You cannot continue with the sequence and lose the prize. Until you recover positive resolve, you must rest and may not initiate a sequence.

    Your resolve may become negative due to losses from a round. You cannot return to play until your resolve becomes positive. RESOLVE LOSS TABLE

    Degree of VictoryLost Resolve

    5.4.2 Chained Sequence Outcomes

    Your GM uses the number of resolve points scored against the losing contestant to determine the degree of your victory or defeat. Do not count resolve points traded for consequences, but do count any losses absorbed by followers. CHAINED SEQUENCE OUTCOME TABLE


    Your GM applies results as described in §, including assigning benefits and consequences.

    5.4.3 PC Resolve

    A PC begins with a starting resolve of five. On your PC’s sheet record your current resolve. You can use check boxes to visually represent resolve. Exchange Resolve for Consequences

    As an alternative to losing resolve in a round, you can choose to take a consequence.

    Your GM should create a consequence which should be appropriate to the source of harm. A consequence only negates resolve losses from the most recent round; a consequence cannot negate resolve losses from earlier rounds. If you accept that consequence you do not lose resolve for this round but instead take the consequence.

    • Instead of marking 1 point of resolve, the GM offers a penalty -5.
    • Instead of marking 2 points of resolve, the GM offers a penalty of -10.
    • Instead of marking 3 points of resolve, the GM offers a penalty of -15.
    • Instead of marking 4 points of resolve, the GM offers a penalty of -20.

    You can’t buy off 5 points of resolve, instead your resolve is immediately reduced to zero and you yield the sequence. Resolve and Incredible Powers

    In some settings your use of incredible powers may be exhausting and may cost resolve.

    A setting may use one of several approaches to resolve losses for incredible powers.

    • Usage of the power costs resolve on any degree of defeat.
    • Usage of the power costs resolve on a partial victory (zero degrees of success).


    You may choose to have your followers take part in chained sequence in one of three ways: as full contestants, as secondary contestants, or as supporters. You track resolve for followers as you do for a PC, but a follower begins the game with three resolve. Retainers are treated as a group for tracking resolve but sidekicks are handled individually.

    Contestant: The follower takes part in the contest as any other PC would. You roll for your followers as you would their main characters.

    Secondary contestant: To act as a secondary contestant, your follower must have an ability relevant to the contest. The follower provides an augment to your character in a chained sequence. In addition, if you suffer a defeat in a round of a chained sequence you may transfer that resolve loss to a follower. Doing so takes that follower out of further rounds of the chained sequence, even if they still have remaining resolve. Any augment your follower provided is lost.

    Supporter: Your follower is present in the scene, but does not directly engage your opponents. Instead they may perform assists and other unrelated actions.

    If a follower checks off three or more resolve they leave your service immediately – they may be dead, exhausted, or in despair – and must be replaced.

    5.4.5 NPC Resolve

    We divide NPCs into two categories for resolve: mooks and named NPCs.

    Your GM should track resolve losses for an NPC. An NPC cannot trade resolve losses for a consequence. Mooks

    A mook is a faceless, nameless NPC who exists to allow your PC to impress us with their competency. A mook yields a sequence after suffering one point of resolve loss. Named NPCs

    A named NPC starts with between three resolve.

    Your GM should decide if an NPC has recovered any resolve losses between encounters. An NPC who is reduced to zero resolve should not re-appear in the story – your PC has overcome them.

    Some rare encounters, NPCs who your GM intends as an individual threat to a group of NPCs, may have greater resolve. This should be used sparingly.

    5.4.6 Resolve for Impersonal Opposition

    Impersonal opposition – a security system, a science or engineering problem, a mountain to climb or wilderness to cross – can have resolve too, representing how resistant it is to resolution. Impersonal opposition may include people, where are large number can be treated in an abstract fashion – the prison guards, the ship’s crew – as such the rating reflects a collective resistance.

    To justify your loss of resolve in a conflict, your GM should only call for a sequence when it can be explained how you might become worn out attempting to overcome the obstacle or run out of time, otherwise your GM should let you succeed if you have a relevant ability. The resolve of impersonal opposition represents your progress – as you complete more steps towards overcoming the opposition – defeating security systems, winning hearts and minds – then the resolve of the impersonal opposition ebbs away.

    For a lot of impersonal opposition, where it has not taken on the role of a “character” or become a key obstacle in the evolving story, your GM will just set the resolve at one.

    For more challenging impersonal opposition, your GM may consider setting resolve at three for an individual conflict, or higher if overcoming it is a group effort. Where resolve represents overcoming a group being treated as a single opponent, then a resolve of four of five may be appropriate.

    5.4.7 Group Chained Sequence Outcomes

    In a group chained sequence the side that has the last contestant that has not disengaged or exhausted their resolve gains the prize.

    5.4.8 Parting Shot

    If you succeed in your parting shot roll, you inflict additional resolve losses on your opponent, worsening their defeat.

    However, if your opponent succeeds, they take the number of resolve they would, in a standard round, score against you, and instead subtracts them from the resolve scored against them in the round that removed them from the contest. If your opponent now has positive resolve, they return to the sequence, 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.

    Where it makes sense, unengaged PCs may attempt parting shots against opponents taken out of the sequence 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.

    5.4.9 Assists

    An unengaged PC or follower may attempt to help another PC recover resolve.

    5.4.10 Joining an In-Progress Contest

    On a round of a group chained sequence, if you are otherwise unengaged you can engage with any opponent who remains. As resolve only changes with recovery both participants use their existing resolve.

    5.4.11 Recovery

    Without intervention, your PC will recover, given time. Your GM should decide at what point your character recovers their resolve and can return to play. As a guideline: one or two points of resolve heal with a short rest, good meal, or time spent relaxing with friends; three or four points of resolve requires a longer period of recuperation, therapy or medical assistance; five points of resolve requires a long period of peaceful rest, away from conflict, to heal.

    You may decide that you cannot wait for time to restore your PC, and instead want to use abilities to accelerate your recovery. Recovery Abilities

    When deciding what tactic to use for recovery, credible choices depend on the nature of the conflict.

    • Medical abilities both conventional and incredible, such as first aid, trauma surgery, regenerative powers or AI doctors, can be used to recover from physical injuries.
    • Psychological abilities both conventional and incredible, such as therapy, psychiatry, meditation or telepathy, can be used to recover from mental injuries.
    • Social abilities both conventional and incredible, such as leadership, charisma, magical glamours or familiarity with social networks can help recovery from social injuries.
    • Engineering abilities such as mechanical repair, fusion engineering or blacksmithing can be used to repair damage to equipment.
    • Abilities that represent beliefs, convictions, or ties to a community can be used in multiple situations to recover, representing the emotional ties that keep your PC going despite adversity. Your GM is encouraged to be liberal when allowing the usage of emotional ties to recover, provided their usage is ‘fresh’ within an episode. Recovery Sequences

    Any attempt to recover is also a chained sequence. Your GM must decide how long each round takes in game time – the limitation on attempts to restore resolve is usually time.

    On a victory you restore recovery equal to the degrees of victory plus one (see

    On a defeat your GM has the following options:

    • Lost time is the only penalty – use this when there is little risk to helping others.
    • The helping PC loses resolve – use this when there is a risk of the helping PC becoming exhausted or otherwise drained by their efforts.
    • The PC being helped loses further resolve – use this when any intervention carries a risk of worsening the position such as when attempting to fix losses to relationships or mental health.

    As with all resolve losses the PC losing resolve may opt to take a consequence instead, and the recovery sequence ends immediately. If it is credible, then resolve losses during recovery may also be transferred to followers.

    The resistance for a recovery roll is always the default resistance.

    When nested within another sequence the first recovery roll faces the base resistance. Each subsequent recovery attempt to the same beneficiary increases the resistance by +5. The resistance escalation occurs even when another PC steps in to make a subsequent recovery. This escalation allows the occasional dramatic rescue but makes it difficult for players to prolong losing battles to excruciating length. Increasing attempts to bring someone back from exhaustion become harder. RECOVERY OUTCOME TABLE

    Degrees of VictoryGainDegrees of DefeatLoss
    4545 Exhaustion

    If your resolve becomes exhausted (reaches zero resolve), you return to play with your starting resolve permanently reduced by one. This is the impact of trauma on your reserves to cope with further stresses.

    When your starting resolve becomes zero your PC succumbs to the strains of an adventurous life and must retire from play, perhaps dead, perhaps in exile, perhaps incapacitated. It is time to create a new character.

    You might decide to retire your PC earlier – as your starting resolve lowers your PC’s ability to cope with a life of adventure diminishes.

    5.5 Wagered Sequences vs Scored Sequences vs Chained Sequences

    Your GM chooses ONE form of sequence for their game, and sticks to it. The sequence rules presentation here is modular: your GMs should choose the one that matches their genre.

    Scored sequences are fast and simple, and we consider them the default. Wagered sequences have the drama of wagering and tend to encourage high-octane stunts, but can take longer to resolve. Chained sequences make all contests a sequence, where resolve is slowly worn down.

    You can think of this as a continuum. At one end are gritty genres where you want to use a chained sequence to reflect how punishing conflict is. At the other end are gonzo, larger-than-life genres where you want to use a wagered sequence to encourage crazy stunts and outrageous action. In the middle is the scored sequence which lets you focus in on tasks to add suspense and drama, without being too grim or too over-the-top.

    If in doubt, use a scored sequence by default.

    5.7 Lengthy Sequences

    There’s no particular time scale associated with sequences. But some sequences may by their very nature be a drama that can’t be resolved at one point in the narrative. Examples include political campaigns, construction projects, or seductions. These can be resolved by sequences where each round is conducted at an appropriate moment, rather than in close succession.

    Your GM will need to keep track of the tally. They need to keep the running total for advantage points or resolution points, and perhaps track running totals for consequences or benefits in a chained sequence if they only impact future rounds in the sequence. They will also have to track the resistance, though this might change as the context changes (a civil war started by the players could impede their castle-building plans).

    The challenges of each round will vary, and you may use a different ability or augment in the each round.

    6.0 Relationships

    Abilities may represent your relationship to NPCs.

    6.1 Supporting Characters

    Many relationships connect you to NPCs controlled by the GM.

    When you try to use one of these relationships to solve a problem, your tactic is your relationship ability. You can’t simply go to the supporting character you have a relationship with, stick them with the problem, and expect to see it solved.

    If you succeed, the supporting character helps you solve the problem. If you fail, they don’t. As with any ability, you must still specify how the NPC goes about overcoming the story obstacle or answering the story question. Calls on relationships are almost always contests.

    In crucial situations, it may seem dramatically inappropriate for you to solve a problem indirectly, by working through others.

    You may expose the supporting character to serious risk. When supporting characters undertake significant risk, the supporting character may suffer a consequences commensurate with the degree of the defeat in the contest. Or it may simply be your relationship that is damaged or destroyed. Your GM should feel more at liberty to frame a contest with supporting character death, exile, or breakdown as an outcome than with a PC. If the character dies or otherwise suffers a change of status that renders them useless to you, you lose use of the relationship ability until your next advance (see §8.2) where you can replace them. Your GM should work with you to introduce a replacement at an appropriate moment in the fiction. Before putting supporting characters at serious risk, your GM should make sure the players understand the magnitude of the possible consequences.

    6.2 Allies

    An ally is a character of roughly the same level of accomplishment as you, often in the same or a similar line of work. For every favor you ask of them they’ll ask one of you. These reciprocal favors will be roughly equivalent in terms of risk, time commitment, resistance class, and inconvenience.

    6.3 Patrons

    Patrons enjoy greater access to assets than you, either through personal ownership (as in a wealthy entrepreneur or rich aristocrat) or authority (as in the governor of a state or province or the head of an organization). They may lend you advice or provide you with assets but are too busy and important to personally perform tasks for you. They may hire you to do jobs, or issue orders within a command structure to which you both belong.

    When you roll your patron relationship, your GM adjusts the resistance depending on what you have done for them lately.

    6.4 Contacts

    A contact is a specialist in an occupation, skill, or area of expertise. Contacts provide you information and perform minor favors, but will expect information or small favors from you in return.

    You can describe a contact as being a particular individual, or as a group of similar individuals.

    6.4.1 Occupational Contacts

    Any occupational keyword can be treated as a source of contacts. However, using an occupational keyword as a source of contacts will always be a stretch (see §2.5). To more reliably draw on particular contacts associated with your occupation, you should take a breakout ability under the occupational keyword.


    A follower is a supporting character that travels with you and contributes on a regular basis to your success.

    There are two types of followers: sidekicks and retainers.

    Followers need not be people, or even sentient beings: you can write up a spirit guardian, trusty robot, or companion animal as a follower.

    6.5.1 Sidekick

    A sidekick is a supporting character under your control. Most of the time they stay at your side to render assistance, but they can also go off and perform errands or missions on their own.

    You should give your sidekick a name. You should, when asked, explain how the sidekick came to be your follower, and why they continue in that role.

    Sidekicks start with three abilities, one rated at 15 and the others at 10. Any of these abilities may be a keyword. At least one of them should indicate a distinguishing characteristic.

    If the sidekick is nonhuman or a member of an unusual culture, one of its three starting abilities must be its species or culture keyword.

    Once you have determined the sidekick’s base abilities, you can allocate 10 improvement points amongst them, as described in Assigning Ability Ratings (see $3.4).

    You can improve these abilities through the expenditure of experience points.

    You may use any of your sidekick’s abilities as your own. The sidekick can go off and do things without you.

    6.5.2 Retainers

    A retainer is a more or less anonymous servant or helper. You may specify a single retainer, or, where appropriate to your character concept, an entire staff of them.

    Like any other ability, a retainer ability allows you to overcome relevant story obstacles by engaging in a contest. To model the contribution of retainers, when you are acting, you can use them to augment your ability. Your GM can rule that consequences apply to retainers.

    Retainers generally regard you with all the affection and loyalty due to an employer or master. If you treat them more poorly than is expected for their culture, your GM should increase the resistance of attempts to make use of their talents.

    6.6 Relationships as Flaws

    Certain relationships with supporting characters act as flaws. They impose obligations on you, prompting your GM to present you with story obstacles you have no choice but to overcome or story questions you need to answer. Your GM should award you an experience point at the conclusion of any session of play where you or your GM created dramatic complications for you via a relationship that is a flaw.

    6.6.1 Dependents

    A dependent is a person, usually a family member or loved one, who requires your aid and protection. Your GM should periodically create storylines in which your dependent is endangered.

    Rather than taking a dependent as a flaw, you may find it more fruitful to specify the nature of your relationship as an ability, such as Love for Wife or Love for Son.

    6.6.2 Adversaries

    An adversary is a rival, enemy or other individual who can be relied upon to periodically disrupt your plans.

    The adversary’s goals are probably the opposite of yours, although they could be a bitter rival within the same community, organization, or movement.

    To treat an adversary as an ability, rather than a flaw, describe your emotional response to them. Examples: Hates Leonard Crisp, Fears the Electronaut, Sworn Vengeance Against Heimdall. That way, you still inspire your GM to add the plot elements you desire, but can use your antipathy toward the enemy to augment your target numbers against them.

    7.0 Story Points

    QuestWorlds’ design favors pulp stories and cinematic action. Story points mirror the ability of heroes in these genres to “cheat death”, or “escape with one bound”.

    Normally, your GM should ensure that defeat takes the story for your PC in an interesting new direction. Unlike some games, where your goal is to win against challenges set by the GM, in a storytelling game your goal is to tell a good story together. Just as in fiction the protagonist can suffer all sorts of reversals, so in a storytelling game, your PC should suffer all sorts of adversities before they triumph (or meet their tragic end). As a result, we recommend against the tendency to ‘buy off defeat‘ with story points in the middle of the story. Instead, use story points when defeat would damage the conception of the character that you have been building during the story, or lead to an unsatisfactory climax to the story.

    Your GM should push the story in an interesting new direction on defeat not send it to a dead end. If there is no interesting branch from defeat they should consider an assured contest instead.

    In other genres, it may feel less appropriate that you can ‘cheat certain death.’ For those genres you can simply drop story points without impacting the game.

    In games with a strong player vs. player element, your GM should dispense with story points as they become disruptive if used against each other.

    7.1 Story Point Pool

    At the beginning of play, your GM will create a story point pool for your group. The story point pool has one story point per PC.

    During play you can burn one or more points from this pool, after which it is lost. You can decide to spend story points at any time. You do not need agreement from the other players to do so.

    7.1.1 Refreshing Story Points

    Because you burn a story point to use it, your story point pool may become exhausted. The GM has three choices for refreshing your story point pool:

    • The story point pool refreshes at the beginning of every session of play.
    • The story point pool refreshes whenever your PCs engage in genre-appropriate downtime. Usually the GM plays this out as a montage, asking your character to describe genre appropriate activities in this time period. For example: in a police procedural series, the PCs might gather at a cop bar to drink and talk about their personal problems; in a series about high-school paranormal investigators they might gather in the school library to chill with their mentor, the librarian, and talk about teenage problems.
    • The story point pool refreshes whenever the GM deems it necessary, based on their desire to allow you to edit the upcoming story.

    Ultimately your GM is always the arbiter of when and how the story point pool refreshes. On a refresh your story points pool resets to one story point per PC.

    7.1.2 Story Point Pool Summary

    To summarize:

    • At the beginning of a session you have 1 story points per PC in the pool.
    • During the session you may burn story points.
    • Story points that are burned are lost from the story point pool.
    • The GM decides on the conditions to a refresh a story point pool.
    • The story point pool refreshes to 1 story point per PC in the pool.

    7.2 Success with a Story Point

    You can burn a story point to gain an additional success (see §2.3.6)

    7.3 Plot Edits

    QuestWorlds is a co-operative game, and you may create details about the setting as the normal part of narration. Your GM should allow this, as long as they do not break credibility. So, you may describe your PC walking over to the pot of soup bubbling on the fire, swiping a drink from the tray the waiter is carrying at the governor’s ball, or taking the monorail to the next city to continue your investigation. Your GM should allow these additions without interruption, providing it does not confer significant advantage to your PC. Mostly this will be using elements that have already been established as part of the setting.

    A plot edit is a more significant moment of good fortune that you wish to narrate, that provides advantage to your PC. You are not just describing something that is plausible in the environment, but something whose existence aids you in overcoming story obstacles or revealing the answer to a story question .

    A plot edit might be thought of as ‘fate’ or ‘luck.’

    Burning story points for a plot edit allows you to modify the setting or environment in your PC’s favor. The chance encounter in the street with an NPC, favorable weather, car keys in the sun visor, the forthcoming eclipse, the wind that fills the sails.

    Your GM is the arbitrator of whether a plot edit is allowed. It should not suspend the disbelief of the other players in the game or setting or hamper their enjoyment. It should not derail or short-circuit the game’s entertainment. The plot edit should, by contrast, be something that enhances the story for all the players.

    The cost, in story points, of a plot edit, is given by the following table. PLOT EDIT TABLE

    Marginal1A substantive change that does not alter the situation but offers an alternate avenue for resolutionThe gate guard at the secret government facility tonight is an old war buddy established by the PC in a prior scene and cemented as a relationship
    Minor2A substantive change that does not flow from previously established facts in the story. A deus ex machina changeThe XO of the Patrol ship is an old drinking buddy of your PC, a fact not previously established in play
    Major3A stroke of good fortune that is unrelated to prior events and resolves a conflict or reveals a secretThe vampire has failed to notice the approaching sun rise, which disintegrates them just as they are about to drain the incapacitated PC

    8.0 Experience

    During a session of play your character will have the chance to learn from experience or overcoming personal obstacles. When your character learns, they gain a experience points. Experience points can be used to improve your character.

    8.1 Earning Experience Points

    You gain one experience points for any of the following:

    • When your outcome for a contest is a defeat.
    • Your GM uses a flaw or other ability against you in a contest with you (see §2.6). This happens either when the story forced you to confront a flaw, or the GM gave you a hindrance (see §3.4), if the hindrance results in a penalty.

    Note the following restrictions:

    • You only gain an experience point for each of your abilities or flaws once in a session of game play.
    • You do not get experience points for an augment, AP gifting or assist.
    • You do not gain an experience point from an assured contest, even if you roll to determine benefits or consequences.

    You can gain a maximum of five experience points in any one session. Once you have earned five experience points, you cannot gain further experience points in that session.

    8.1.1 Experience on Defeat

    Awarding experience points on defeat is a self-correction mechanism.

    • It slows your advance if your PC regularly outclass the resistance. This pushes your GM to introduce threats that credibly present a greater threat to your PC.
    • If you regularly buy off defeat with story points you will find it harder to advance. In QuestWorlds your GM should provide an entertaining story branch on defeat; you should not need to buy defeat off, unless it damages your character conception or is the climax.

    If the GM finds that the PCs are no longer regularly earning experience points they can consider using resistance progression (see §2.13) to increase the base resistance so that more contests will feature a high enough resistance to earn experience points.

    8.2 Improving Your Character

    When you accumulate 10 experience points, you can buy an advance. An advance allows you to select two of the following. You cannot choose an option more than once, unless it is repeated.

    • 10 improvement points across standalone abilities.
    • 10 improvement points across standalone abilities.
    • 5 improvement points across keywords.
    • 5 improvement points across keywords.
    • increase an existing breakout ability by +5.
    • a new breakout ability at + 5.
    • a new standalone ability at 10.
    • Turn a stand-alone ability into a keyword by adding a new +5 breakout ability to it.
    • Drop a flaw, or turn it into an ability if story appropriate and agreed with the GM.
    • Replace a supporting character who has been lost (see §6.1).

    In addition, if you have less than three flaws, you may add another, provided it fits the story, when you take an advance.

    You may spend improvement points immediately, or in play, even after a roll. You may not spend improvement points to increase breakouts only keywords or standalone abilities.

    In some genres you may wish to maintain a tally of the total experience points earned as a measure of your reputation.

    8.2.1 Rate of Advancement

    We assume an average earning rate of two experience points per session. This would lead to you gaining an advance every five sessions. If your rate is lower than one experience point a session, your GM should choose one of these options:

    • Provide more credible threats
    • Use resistance progression
    • Reduce the cost of an advance to five experience points.

    8.2.2 Directed Improvements

    On occasion your GM may increase one of your abilities, by +5, +10 or +15, or give you a new ability, usually rated at 10. These are called directed improvements.

    Directed improvements are usually rewards for overcoming particularly important or dramatic story obstacles or answering a dramatically important story question.

    Your GM will tend to use them to raise abilities that would otherwise fall behind, but should increase due to story logic, or introduce new abilities for the same reason.

    Your GM might give you a new flaw to represent a story outcome from a contest, that leads you with a hindrance to future action. If you have three or more flaws you can ask your GM to drop one in favor of the new flaw, if you it seems story appropriate.

    8.2.3 Timing of Improvements

    Your improvements happen immediately, when you cross the threshold to buy an advance, or a GM awards you a directed improvement.

    8.3 Milestone Improvements

    Your GM may decide that they do not want to track experience points earned during a game. In this case they may switch to milestone improvement.

    Under milestone improvements the GM simply declares that your PCs have reached a point in the story where we should see them improve their abilities and award you an advance (see §8.2).

    Your GM should not use both experience points and milestone improvements but choose one. If in doubt, choose experience points as the default. Milestone improvements do not naturally balance against the resistance and the GM may need to use resistance progression to continue to up the threat level against your PCs (see §2.8).

    9.0 Community Resources and Support

    Some series revolve around the relationship between a band of influential figures and the community they protect. In defense of the community, they can bolster, expend, and juggle its various resources.

    These rules allow your GM to track the rise and fall of the fortunes of your community, and your impact on them.

    If your GM intends to play a game centered around a community, you should have a keyword for that community.

    It is possible that you have relationships with other communities that are not the focus of play. Treat these abilities as relationships that you can call on, but your GM should not track these communities with those rules. Your GM should pick the level of community that provides the greatest dramatic potential from its competition for resources, friendly or otherwise, with its rivals.

    Some campaigns do not center on a community, with the adventurers being footloose wanderers. In that case, even if you have community abilities, your GM will not track any community. Before your GM decides this, they should consider where your PCs might turn for help, succor, or aid. Is there somewhere in the campaign defined as a place of refuge and safety for you? It may well be that is a community. For example, the bar where other footloose adventurers all meet, who will help each other out in a tight spot.

    9.1 Community Design

    9.1.1 Defining Resources

    Communities have resources that your GM defines. Your PC can try to draw on their community’s resources to use them as bonus. If your community is in difficulty, a strained resource might act as a penalty. Your GM should focus on no more than five or so broadly-labeled resource types, so that the PCs can care about (and have a chance of successfully managing) all of them.

    Most communities have variants of the following resources, perhaps with more colorful names:

    • Wealth — the capacity of the community to provide financial help, whether counted primarily in dollars, credits, or cattle
    • Diplomacy — the relationships with other groups through which a community can obtain favors, while minimizing the cost of its reciprocal obligations
    • Morale — the community’s resolve to achieve its goals, and willingness to follow the directives of its leaders

    The following abilities might appear, depending on setting:

    • Military — its capacity to defend itself from outside threats, and to aggressively achieve its own aims through force of arms (for settings where communities of the size you’re tracking field their own armed units)
    • Magic — the capability of a community to perform supernatural acts (for fantasy worlds)
    • Technology — its access to specialized, rare or secret devices or scientific knowledge not shared by its rivals (for post- apocalyptic or SF worlds)

    Similar communities in the genre, should have the same set of resources.

    9.1.2 Rating Resources

    Your GM distributes each of bonuses of: 5, 10, 15, and 20 between the four of the five resources. The last resource has no bonus. Note that the size of the group doesn’t affect the bonuses.

    9.1.3 Community Questionnaires

    Your GM may create a questionnaire that asks the players to make choices about the priorities of their community. The responses to each question should be multiple-choice. Each choice you make adds points to a score for each resource type. Points are awarded according to what the answer reveals about the community’s relative priorities. An answer may give points to more than one resource.

    You can choose your answers by consensus, majority vote, or take turns.

    When you’re done, rank the resources in the order of the scores. Assign the high bonuses to the highest scores and the lowest to the low.

    A questionnaire also introduces your setting in a punchy, interactive format, and tailors the community to the players’ desires, increasing their investment in it.

    9.2 Drawing on Resources

    You can use community resources as a bonus to your abilities after convincing the community to let you expend precious assets. This requires a preliminary contest using a social ability, most likely your community keyword. Your GM will use a moderate resistance as the baseline, with higher resistances when your proposals seem selfish or likely to fail, and lower ones when everyone but the dullest dolt would readily see their collective benefits. Your GM may increase resistances if your group draws constantly on community resources without replenishing them.

    The lobbying effort and the actual resource use require framing, a clear description of what you are doing, and other details to bring them to fictional life. You cannot use resource abilities directly, but as an bonus to your own abilities.

    Use of community resources should pass the threshold for being memorable and entertaining. Normally there should be a clear benefit to the community, or risk to the community. The PC’s actions should be in support of the community, not themselves. Community involvement becomes part of the story. A certain amount of routine support for your character is assumed; a bonus implies that the community is expending abnormal effort on your behalf, that will cost the community itself.

    9.2.1 Resource Depletion

    Unlike character abilities, each use of community resources temporarily depletes it. Regardless of outcome a resource takes a penalty of -5 when used. Effectively, this reduces the bonus by 5.

    Your GM decides when a resource is restored to its original value. Your GM should decide what the credible interval is for the community to recover from the expenditure of effort. At that point, your GM restores the bonus for the resource.

    You might chose to use a resource when it is already depleted, in which case you use it at its reduced value. Your GM may use this to represent attrition to your community from a continued struggle. A resource that is depleted enough to fall below zero becomes a penalty.

    Threats to community resources act as a spur to PC action. Your GM may rule that the outcome from a contest where you did not use the resource may still deplete a community resource.

    9.2.2 Required Resource Use

    As part of your GM’s setting design, they may specify that certain actions in a setting always require the use of a community resource. Because the resource use is obligatory, it need not meet the usual criteria for entertainment value.

    9.2.4 Resource as a Penalty

    A resource’s bonus may fall below 0. If you require use of a community’s resources (see §9.2.2) your actions will be subject to a penalty.

    9.2.4 Bolstering Resources

    Your GM may offer you the opportunity to bolster a community resources ahead of need by seeking out and overcoming relevant story obstacles. If you succeed, the community resource improves by +5. Your GM will set the resistance for the bolster. The community’s higher ranked resources should have higher resistances to bolstering. As a default, use the current bonus as the modifier to base resistance as the TN for the bolstering.

    For clarity, a resource rated at +M can be bolstered to +M2.

    Bolstering lasts until the resource is used. When your GM depletes a bolstered resource following usage, they remove only the additional +5 from bolstering.

    If a resource is already suffering from a penalty, bolstering removes that penalty instead of improving it by +5.

    9.2.5 Background Events

    In the background all sorts of other events periodically alter the community’s prosperity. These include the actions of other community members, who are depleting and bolstering resources all the time, as well as the unexpected intrusion of outside forces.

    Your GM may decide that the community’s bonus in a resource is temporarily at a higher or lower due to these outside events. Your GM decides when the resource returns to normal. This may require you to overcome a story obstacle.

    10.0 Appendix

    10.1 Glossary of Terms

    Anything you can apply to solve a problem or overcome an obstacle.
    A package of improvements to your abilities and keywords earned through experience points or milestone advancement.
    Advantage Point (AP)
    A measure of advantage in a wagered sequence.
    A supporting character of roughly equal ability to your own.
    Abbreviation for Advantage Point.
    AP Gifting
    When you help another character, whilst uninvolved in a contest, by giving them advantage points in a wagered sequence.
    AP Lending
    When you help another character, whilst engaged in a contest, by lending them advantage points, in a wagered sequence.
    Asymmetrical Exchange
    In a wagered sequence, where you are pressed by an opponent, but want to do something other than contend directly for the prize.
    Asymmetrical Round
    In a scored sequence, where you are pressed by an opponent, but want to do something other than contend directly for the prize.
    In a scored sequence, if you are unengaged you may use an assist to reduce the resolution points scored against another character.
    Using one ability to help another ability.
    Assured Contest
    You have an appropriate ability and the GM feels failure is not interesting, or makes the PC looks un-heroic.
    Background Event
    An off-stage bonus or penalty applied to a resource.
    Base resistance
    The TN for a moderate resistance class, from which all other resistance classes are figured as a bonus or penalty.
    Benefit of Victory
    Long term positive bonus, because you won a contest, against a challenging opponent (not -6 or less than your ability). Usually a state of fortune.
    A story obstacle to apply a bonus to a community resource
    A positive modifier.
    Using a story point as a bump. The story point is lost after burning.
    When you cross a mastery threshold you can increase lesser used abilities to ensure they keep pace.
    A supporting character who shares an occupation or interest with your character.
    Where there is uncertainty as to whether a PC can overcome a story obstacle or discover a secret, then your GM can call for a contest to determine if the PC succeeds or fails.
    Long term negative modifier, because you lost a contest. Usually a state of adversity.
    Contest Framing
    Setting the stakes of the contest, what is this conflict about. Often not the immediate aftermath of victory.
    Credibility Test
    Is it possible to perform the action without an ability, with an ordinary ability, or only with a incredible ability?
    Crisis Test
    Used to determine if a resource that has a penalty creates a crisis.
    Your result is worse than the resistance’s result.
    Defensive Response
    In a scored sequence you can choose a defensive tactic which reduces the resolution points you lose on a negative result.
    The difference between the successes of the victor and the loser in a contest.
    A supporting character who depends on your PC.
    Use of a community resource leads to its depletion.
    Directed Improvement
    When your GM grants you a new ability, or an increase to an existing one, to recognize a story event.
    Distinguishing Characteristic
    The dominant personality ability that others recognize in a character.
    In a wagered sequence a round is divided into two exchanges where both aggressor and defender act. In a group wagered sequence a round consists of a sequence of exchanges where everyone acts in turn. The GM determines the order of action.
    Experience Points (XP)
    When you experience defeat, or a flaw you may gain an experience point, which accumulate between sessions.
    Incredible ability
    Certain genres allow player characters to have abilities that exceed human norms, these are incredible abilities. A genre pack normally outlines what is possible as part of its incredible powers framework.
    Rolling over your target number.
    Final Action
    A last action by a PC on 0 AP in a wagered sequence
    An ability that penalizes you instead of helping you.
    A supporting character under your control. Either a sidekick or retainer
    Framing the contest
    You and your GM agree on the prize for the victor, and your tactic in trying to win it.
    Group chained sequence
    A chained sequence in which more than a pair of opponents contend for the prize
    Group scored sequence
    A scored sequence in which more than a pair of opponents contend for the prize
    Group wagered sequence
    A wagered sequence in which more than a pair of opponents contend for the prize
    Group Contest
    A contest where one side has multiple participants.
    Graduated Goals
    When a contestant has a primary and secondary goal, and may have to choose between them.
    Story Point
    Allows you to alter fate for a player character, either by a bump to their result or a plot edit.
    A single ability that encompasses a range of abilities within it, such as an occupation or culture. An ability within an umbrella keyword is a break-out ability, an ability within a package keyword is a stand-alone ability.
    Milestone Advancement
    A method for improving a character where the GM declares when you receive an advance.
    An ability score that rises above 20 is said to have a mastery.
    Mismatched Goals
    When the opposing sides in a contest want different prizes.
    A change to the PC’s target number from the situation; the strength of the resistance to the PC’s actions.
    An ability that indicates the profession, or primary area of expertise, of your character.
    A contest has an outcome, described as a victory or defeat in obtaining the prize that was agreed in contest framing for any PCs involved.
    Parting Shot
    An attempt to make your opponent’s defeat worse in a sequence (scored or extended), by ‘finishing them off’.
    A supporting character with superior assets.
    A negative modifier.
    What is at stake in the contest, decided during framing.
    An ability has a rating, between 1 and 20, indicating how likely a character is to succeed at using it.
    The forces opposing the PC in a conflict, or concealing a secret that must be overcome by using an ability in a contest. A resistance is measured as a base resistance modified by a degree depending on how easy or hard the obstacle is to overcome in genre.
    Resolution Point (RP)
    In a scored sequence an RP tracks the advantage one contestant has over the other.
    A community ability that your PC may draw on.
    The outcome of a die roll against a TN. One of big success, success, and failure
    A follower of your PC who is not ‘fleshed out’ and cannot act independently.
    Risky Gambit
    In a sequence you can take an action that puts you at more risk on defeat, but enhances victory.
    A sequence is broken into a series of rounds, each of which is an attempt to obtain the prize. In a wagered sequence a round is further broken into a number of exchanges in which all participants have the chance to act. Resolution is via a contest that affects the tally used for that sequence type, or applies immediate consequences.
    Scored Sequence
    A sequence where we track the relative advantage one contestant has over another using resolution points
    Second Chance
    An attempt by defeated, but unengaged, PCs to re-enter a wagered sequence.
    A contest where we drill-down to the individual exchanges that resolve the conflict. We support scored, extended, and chained sequences
    A fleshed out follower of your PC who can act independently.
    Situational Modifier
    A bonus or penalty modifying a target number due to notably clever or foolish tactics.
    Supporting Characters
    Additional characters under the player’s control that play a supporting role to their PC.
    A one roll resolution method, the default contest type, used when learning the outcome matters more than the breakdown of how you achieved it.
    Stand Alone Ability
    An ability raised separately to a keyword. It may have been added to the character as part of a package keyword, or on its own.
    Story Obstacle
    Something that prevents you from getting what you want, the prize. A story obstacle is the trigger for a contest.
    Story Question
    Something that you need to understand before you can move forward in a story, the prize. A story question is the trigger for a question.
    A penalty applied to an ability because it stretches credibility that it is a reasonable tactic.
    Rolling under your target number. It can be a big success or just a plain success.
    How you intend to use one of your abilities to overcome a story obstacle
    Target Number (TN)
    The number, either an ability rating, or a resistance, to roll under or equal to in order to succeed.
    Abbreviation for Target Number
    Unrelated Action
    An action when you are disengaged in a sequence that does not relate to your attempt to win the prize.
    Your result is a better roll than the resistance.
    Also an AP Wager or advantage point wager is your wager in a wagered sequence.
    Wagered sequence
    A type of sequence in which you track the relative advantage one opponent has over another using advantage points.

    10.2 Version Changes

    Version 3.0

    These are the major changes in this version of the rules

    • Moved to measuring a result by a number of successes and comparing them, simplifying masteries.
    • Split hero points into story points (bumps) and experience points (character improvement). Flaws generate experience points as do failures.
    • Removed the Degree of Victory. Now just calculate outcome degrees from success counts.
    • Changed degree of success and failure, to degree of victory and defeat, as success and failure are for individual rolls, victory and defeat once compared.
    • Made degrees codify the +5, +10, +15, … progression used throughout, for example degrees of resistance.
    • For outcomes clarified that contest results are only reciprocal between PCs. When the contest is against a resistance set by the GM, the results indicate whether the PC gains the prize, and the GM narrates the result for the resistance based on this.
    • Changed outcomes to emphasize degrees. This change is designed to dissuade GMs from misunderstanding that the prize is obtained on a marginal victory, one of the most common result types, and instead encourage GMs to allow PCs to fail forward on a zero degree victory by introducing downstream complications or consequences.
    • Provided clarity that consequences of defeat and benefit of victory are optional and the GM should focus on using the prize to narrate the outcome of a contest, only applying mechanical benefits or penalties if they make sense.
    • Specific Ability Bonuses are dropped. They were hard for the GM to adjudicate and the same intent is better served by using a stretch on a broad ability when contesting against a PC with a more specific ability.
    • Made it clear that only a PC should use a parting shot, not the resistance.
    • Sequences replace all ‘long’ contest types. Between version 1 and version 2 extended contests switched to scored contests, this approach restores both variants, but changes the name to a sequence generically, factoring out commonality, and to scored and wagerding respectively. Goal is to show contest as the atomic unit within a sequence.
    • Dropped edges and handicaps – we use a resistance not stats, so makes no sense to have edges and handicaps
    • Added Mythic Russia’s Plot Edits
    • Simplified how multiple opponents are handled.
    • Clarified contest outcomes for sequences, and how to determine the overall winner in a sequence.
    • Do not allow transfers in a wagered sequence where the abilities differ by 6 or more. Consistent with benefits of victory and prevents ‘loading up on mooks’ as a strategy.