Bathor the Fortunate’s Book of Basics

From Fortunate Blades

The Basics

To play Fortunate Blades you will need three to seven players, some paper and pencils, and a full set of classic RPG dice.

First decide as a group what the Tones of your game's Story is going to have (and not have).

Then pick who's going to be the GM, which in this game is just as much fun (if a different sort of fun!) as being a Player.

Then the Players each make a Character, either by choosing what sort of character they would like to play, or by randomly generating one via die rolls. As part of that process, they will be asked to come up with a few things about where that character came from, what they are doing now, and/or about their people. This is the start of the Story, as these details become Places and Forces that will be in our Story.

Once everyone has made a Character, the group will collaboratively draw a new Map that shows where these Places are, as well as add some more ones for fun.

Then as a group you pick (or randomly roll for) how The Party of Heroes came to be, what their main purpose or Party Quest is, and where the Story is going to start.

Then as a group you pick (or randomly roll for) a few more of the major Forces that shape your world. The group then works together to define how the Character backstories fit together into the Map, Places, and Forces of the Story.

The GM then picks or randomly rolls for a few starting Quests. The Players choose one and the Story starts. Each Quest is made up of a few to many Encounters, major events that happen in our Story, that the Players and GM will play through together. As they do, they will make Rolls to see how risky events unfold in the Story, and spend Fortune to effect those Rolls and Story.

As the Players complete Quests, the Characters can Level Up, gaining new individual abilities. The Party itself levels up too, gaining new advantages for the Party as a group, as it also builds a Reputation with the different Forces in the Story. The GM also picks (or randomly rolls for) what is in Peril and what Forces are behind it. They keep these secrets from the players to be revealed over time through play over several Quests.

Through play, the players and the GM collaboratively will build the world, its backstory, and the specific histories of the characters within it as they try to save it, drawing more of The Map and adding more Places and Forces as the Story carries on.

What You Need To Play

Fortunate Blades requires a full set of ‘RPG’ dice to play and the full set of the free basic Books, along with paper and pencils.

There are Character, Party, Places, and Forces sheets one can print out to help, and I’ll be working on a Roll20 integration as well.

The Story

This game was created to collaboratively tell a fantasy story, where the players are the main characters directly involved in a pivotal, critical moment happening in their corner of the world.

It’s a conversation between the Players and the GM, where the GM puts forth Quests, the Players narrate what their Characters are doing, and the GM calls for Rolls to see what Consequences those actions might have.

As the Players and GM play through these Quests, they will collaboratively build a world together and set the Story that happens within it.

Tones

The first part of starting a new game of Fortunate Blades is for the group playing it to decide what Tones or themes they want, and don't want, in the Story. It's best for everyone to talk through what sort of game they want to play, and the sorts of things they want in the Story, as it will inform all the rest of the decisions and creative elements everyone comes up with.

You can have as many Tones as the group may want, but it's usually best to pick (or roll a D20 for) three from the list below, as well as pick a few that you don't want in the Story:

  1. Fighting horrible monsters
  2. Exploring the Unknown
  3. Overcoming great evil
  4. Righting wrongs
  5. Enacting justice
  6. Helping those in need
  7. Looting great treasure
  8. Amassing great power
  9. Becoming great leaders
  10. Uncovering dark secrets
  11. Rediscovering ancient pasts
  12. Being total badasses
  13. Having lots of juicy inter-player drama
  14. Digging into scary and tense situations
  15. Sneaking about and/or hidden secret identities
  16. Being criminals (or even outright evil)
  17. Political power plays involving lots of different factions
  18. Performing and/or entertaining
  19. Brutal, dark, and bleak
  20. Magical, lighthearted, and wonderful

The Setting

Unlike most Blades In The Dark styles games there is no predefined setting. In Fortunate Blades you play to find out the setting, the peril it’s in, and the world lore together, and each player gets to help define the part of the world their character came from.

The Players

To play, you’ll need three to seven people, with one of them being the GM and the rest being the Players.

This game is for those that have a lot of fun with:

  • “Yes, and…” story-focused improv games that are comfortable with 'GM Fiat' and 'the rule of cool'.
  • Fantastical settings that would look proper airbrushed on the side of a van.
  • Larger story arcs for the PC’s where they are the main characters in a pivotal, critical moment that’s happening in their world.
  • Collaborative World-building and player control over backstory.
  • High-stakes chaotic dramatic adventures, encounters, and fights as a team.
  • Lots of interesting / flexible character building and character leveling options.

This game isn’t great for those that have a lot of fun with:

  • Simulationist ‘crunchy’ detailed rule systems where everything ‘makes sense’.
  • Historically-accurate settings.
  • Purely episodic or more “one-shot” style games with new characters every time.
  • Predefined settings with deep pre-written lore.
  • Slower, more tactically complex fights.
  • Preset genre-specific roles, playbooks, or classes.

The Characters

Characters are built using a combination of Attributes and Talents.

Attributes represent how good the character is at certain important Actions, such as Fighting monsters, Sneaking past guards, Studying magical scrolls, Noticing that the king is lying to them, or Corusing with local merchants to learn important facts. Attributes are added to Rolls made for doing things that are related to that Attribute. We’ll go into more detail on Attributes and Rolls later in their own sections.

Talents are the specific things that only few can do that make your character more unique in our story. Things like the special training to wear heavy armor without it slowing you down, or a knack for noticing dangers in the dark, or the inherent ability to cast powerful spells. We’ll also go into more detail about Talents later in their own section.

Attributes and Talents come from the Backgrounds you pick for the character, their chosen Trades, and from the magical item they carry, their Fortunate Blade. As the characters progress, they can increase their Attributes, add more Talents, and/or gain more powers from their Fortunate Blade, depending upon what has happened during play.

The Party

Once you’ve generated your characters, it’s time to assemble the Party.

The Party is your team, your group, your company. As you complete Quests, it has a Reputation that will grow, unlocking new Party Talents all the characters gain.

To create one, the Players and the GM will work together to choose from a list, randomly roll for, or just make up an origin from a list of origins, a Party Quest, and a starting Reputation.

Origins are how the party met and formed, like did they come together to defeat a great evil? Have they known each other for a while or just met? Or did they all survive some horrible monster attack? Or did they all break out of prison together, and now are on the run? What is the main thing that brought them together? While there is a list to pick from, or randomly roll on, this can just simply be made up as a group.

The Party Quest is the main thing this group of characters is trying to do together. Is it to get rich? Stop a great evil? Get vengeance on a king who betrayed them? Again, while there is a list to pick from, or randomly roll on, this also can simply be made up as a group.

Reputation is how your Party is perceived by the world in our story. Its type describes what sort of Party you are, such as noble, or vengeful, or murderous. There’s a list to pick from, or randomly roll for, but this too can simply be made up as a group. As you complete Quests, the Party earns Reputation with the various Forces that are in your Story, and special Party Talents will be unlocked. Your Party can gain such things as henchmen, followers, noble titles, a grand ship, a trade charter, or even a castle that it can use to further its goals.

The Map

When you start a game of Fortunate Blades, pull out a blank piece of paper, and start a new Map. The Map will show where all the Places are in our Story, and doesn’t have to be detailed or predefined, as it’s best to sketch it out as you play. It will become an ongoing record of where the Story has gone, what it’s found in the world, and what has happened along the way.

In the center of the Map will be where the Story is going to start based upon what the Origin and Quest of the Party is.

The GM will then add a few more Places to the Map, pick (or roll for) some details about that place, and write down a few notes about them.

As the Players make Characters and the Party, they will be sometimes asked to generate different Places to support their Backgrounds or Trades. Add these Places to the Map as well, and have the Player pick (or roll for) some details about these places that impact their Characters, and make a few notes about them based on what the Player and GM say about that Place.

The Map can be as small as a single village to an entire world, but it should 'fit' in size with where the Characters came from and what the Party Quest is.

  1. It's a dangerous and hard to survive in place even if you know it, and outright deadly to those that don't.
  2. It's a place rich in magic, strange or otherwise.
  3. It's a rich and lush place, verdant and comfortable.
  4. It's a place recently ravaged by war and/or strife.
  5. It's a place that's extremely hard to get to.
  6. It's the bustling center of commerce, culture, and/or religion for this area.
  7. It's a barren wasteland of a place, without much more than it's natural beauty.
  8. It's a backwater in the middle of nowhere.
  9. It's the capital of a nation or kingdom.
  10. It's been abandoned for some reason.

Places

As part of making Characters, the Players will be asked sometimes to create a Place. A Place is a mark on the Map where there is some significant location that’s important to our Story at the start, and as more Places are discovered and explored will be added to The Map as well.

At the start of a game, or when the Characters have traveled into a totally new area, the Players and the GM will work together to add some more Places (possibly unknown and unexplored) to the Map, either by picking them from a list, randomly rolling for them, or just making them up.

Forces

Every Story has its important Forces impacting the world it’s set in. In Fortunate Blades, at the start of a Campaign, the players and GM work together to define the starting Forces. These are things like great kingdoms, evil arch-demons, divine actors such as gods, raw elemental magical forces, or even abstract concepts like ‘poverty’ or ‘servitude’.

These Forces can be picked from a list, randomly generated, or simply made up together. A Force has a Magnitude that represents how powerful it is in your world, an Involvement that represents how much it directly interacts with your world, and an Ethic that represents its principles and possible goals.

As you play, the Party will earn Reputation Points with the various Forces by completing Quests. These points are neither positive or negative, so by doing good things against an evil Force will earn you Reputation Points with that evil Force, even though you’re not working for that Force but against it. These points just represent how big of an impact the Party has been making on these Forces. It’s possible with some Quests to earn Reputation Points with more than one Force at the same time. And larger more perilous Quests earn more points than smaller safer ones.

More Forces will be introduced through play, both by the GM and the players, depending on our story, the character’s backstories, or the GM introducing a new threat. While it’s best to have at least three to four known Forces, the GM can have any number of secret ones they will reveal through play. Also Forces may be removed from things that happen in our Story as conflicts and Quests are resolved.

One or more of these Forces will be actively trying to radically change the world the characters are in to where their lives will never be the same. The GM will secretly choose which Force or Forces are trying to do that, what their real Goals are, who they are acting through, and as the Campaign Clock advances, that will move closer to happening unless our Party stops it.

We’ll go into creating Forces later in the book as well.

Playing The Game

Once a group has made their Characters, assembled their Party, picked Tones, drawn a starting Map, and decided what starting Forces there are in the world Play can start.

The GM will present the players with one or more Quests, which the GM will either make up on their own, pick from a list of options, or randomly roll to generate. These Quests are made up of a series of Encounters.

Just one or two encounters for a short Quest to five (or more!) for a Heroic Quest. The players will choose a Quest, and Adventuring begins.

Adventuring represents the ‘unstructured’ time that happens before an Encounter. Depending on how Safe things are, Players can prepare, interact with each other or NPCs, work on their own Personal Quests, explore and research and investigate, etc.

Some actions taken during Adventuring might trigger something called a Roll, which is the central mechanic used in Fortunate Blades to determine the outcome of any risky action the Player’s characters may take. We’ll talk about those in detail later.

In-game time during Adventuring can be fluid, too, with whatever best fits what’s happening in the story. Adventuring could represent months of travel, for example, or just an hour spent in the village before the Party carries on.

Once Adventuring is over (by the choice of the players or the GM) the Encounter begins. The Encounter represents the really risky part of our story, where all the big action happens. While that can sometimes be a fight, it can also be a challenge where the characters have to get past a certain danger using cunning, finesse, or magic. It could even be a social challenge of some kind, like attending a royal ball.

An Engagement Roll is made to see how good (or bad!) things are for the player’s characters at the start of the Encounter, and we jump right into the action. Many Rolls are made while resolving how the Encounter goes, Harm can befall the Characters, and Fortune can be spent to Resist Harm, empower Talents, Spout Lore, and/or add to Rolls. Things we’ll go into more detail on later.

Once the Encounter is over, successful or not, if it’s safe enough the Players can choose to take a Rest. This represents the time that happens after an Encounter. Players can Loot, Recover, work on long-term projects, train, tell a story of their people, and more. We’ll also look at these actions in detail later, but the players only pick two from a short list of Rest Actions they can take. This is the structured response the Players have after the Encounter is over.

Then once the Rest is over, Adventuring begins again, then it’s onto the next Encounter, another Engagement Roll is made, and we repeat this pattern of Adventuring - Encounter - possibly Rest - until all the Encounters that make up the Quest are resolved one way or another.

Once the final Encounter is resolved for the current Quest, the Quest ends, Reputation is earned, rewards are given, Characters that have gained enough XP can level up, the Party itself can level up, and more. We’ll also talk about The Quest’s End in more detail below.

If the group wants to keep playing, this cycle then repeats, with the GM presenting new available Quests to the players. One of which is chosen, and the whole cycle begins again. As Quests are completed and both the Party and the Characters advance and level up, the GM also advances the Campaign Clock, which ups the stakes, brings in new threats, and reveals the cosmic forces that are behind the quickly approaching peril their world is in.

The Roll

When to make a Roll

When the GM decides that a Character or the Party is doing something risky they will call for a Roll.

A Roll should be called for only when there is a risk of something going wrong from what the Character is doing or there could be possible additional complications of some kind from their action. If there is no real risk, there is no need to make a Roll. The Player states what the Character is doing, and it just happens.

Calling for a Roll

When the GM calls for a Roll, they will either state the Risk that’s triggering the Roll, or they will ask for a player to make a Roll using a recommended Attribute.

The Player will then say what Attribute they feel best suits how the Character is dealing with the risk, or what Attribute they would rather try and use, and what Talents and Fortune they might use as well. It’s always the Player that gets to choose what Attribute, Talents, and Fortune they are using in the situation, regardless of what the GM might have originally asked for.

The DM then will choose target numbers for “Close” and “Clear”, such as “10 for Close, 15 for Clear”, based upon how difficult they think avoiding the risk is given the way the Character is dealing with it, and any Positioning from what has happened before in the Story. It’s up to the GM if they share these numbers with the Players or want to keep them secret, whichever is the more fun for the immediate situation is what they should do.

The player then rolls a D20 and adds to it any bonuses they get from the Attribute, Talents, and Fortune the Character is using.

If they get equal to or over the Clear number, it’s a Clear Success, and the risk passes without Consequences.

If they roll under the Clear number, but equal to or over the Close number, it’s a Close Success, and the character still avoids the obvious repercussions of the risk but there is a Consequence for the Party that the DM will determine.

If you roll under the Close number, it’s a Miss, and the GM will state the dire Consequences (maybe more than one!) that results from the risk fully impacting the Party.

It’s important to note that a Close or a Miss doesn’t necessarily mean the character failed in some way, it just means that they were unable to avoid the consequences of whatever Risk they were facing.

It’s also important to note that the consequences befall anyone or even everyone in the Party, and not always the specific Character who's actions resulted in a Close or Miss on a Roll.

The DM can also upon their discretion tell the player ahead of a Roll how Effective it will be if successful, what consequences might befall them if not, and the Players can bargain with the DM to change tactics before the Roll is made if they feel the Close and Clear numbers are too high. The DM can also tell the player that applying a different Attribute and/or Talent might be easier, or offer a Hard Bargain where the Player might not even have to roll, but will have to make a difficult choice of some kind instead.

Critical Success

The higher the Player rolls, the better the results the DM will narrate, and if they roll a ‘natural 20’ it always counts as a ‘Close’ result even if the actual Close number is much higher as long as whatever they were attempting is actually possible for them to do at all.

On a natural 20 a Character also does double the Effect with their action, and the Player gets to either State A Fact from the Fact list which will add some additional beneficial effect to whatever risk was just avoided or gain back 1D3 Fortune points, their choice.

Critical Failure

Conversely, the lower the player rolls, the harsher the consequences will be from the DM, with a Natural 1 always having some consequences, even if when the Player adds the Attributes, Talents, and Fortune from their Character to the roll it puts the total number into the Clear.

Group Actions

When the GM calls for a Roll that applies to everyone in the Party because they are doing something risky together as a group, the Players can choose to make it a Group Action.

All the Players still make a Roll, but the Players who roll a Clear can then opt to spend one Fortune to turn another Player’s Missed Roll into a Close, or a Close into a Clear result instead, and narrates how their help does so.

So as an example, the Party as a group is all trying to hide in the bushes from a horrible dragon flying by overhead. The GM calls for a Roll from every Player to see if they are spotted or not. The Players choose to make this a Group Action, and everyone makes a Roll. Out of five players, three make a Clear, one makes a Close, and another Misses the roll. One of the three Players who made the Clear roll chooses to spend a Fortune to turn the other Player’s Miss into a Close instead, and narrates that at the last moment they expertly throw a hatchet that cuts a tree branch that falls on top of and hides the Character who Missed the Roll, making it such that everyone in the Group has at least a Close, and the Party isn’t spotted.

Common Difficulties

The range between Close and Clear can vary quite a bit depending on the DM’s discretion on the situation. For example, something that’s easy to do, but hard to avoid consequences for doing so (such as pickpocketing someone) the Close number might be rather low, and the Clear number fairly high. Or for something that’s extremely hard to do at all, and is likely to just have bad consequences (such as trying to wound a dragon) both the Close and Clear numbers may be rather high.

Here’s a list of common ranges for Close and Clear to choose from, but it’s always up to the DM to decide the final numbers a Roll needs to meet.

Close

  • Trivial Close Difficulty: 2
  • Minor Close Difficulty: 6
  • Simple Close Difficulty: 10
  • Concerning Close Difficulty: 12
  • Serious Close Difficulty: 14
  • Struggling Close Difficulty: 16
  • Heroic Close Difficulty: 18

Clear

  • Trivial Clear Difficulty: 8
  • Minor Clear Difficulty: 12
  • Simple Clear Difficulty: 13
  • Concerning Clear Difficulty: 15
  • Serious Clear Difficulty: 18
  • Struggling Clear Difficulty: 22
  • Heroic Clear Difficulty: 24

Typical Close and Clear Sets

  • Trivial: 2 for Close, 8 for Clear
  • Minor: 6 for Close, 10 for Clear
  • Simple: 10 for Close, 13 for Clear
  • Concerning: 12 for Close, 15 for Clear
  • Serious: 14 for Close, 18 for Clear
  • Struggling: 16 for Close, 22 for Clear
  • Heroic: 18 for Close, 24 for Clear

A Trivial difficulty is one that the majority of the time, someone would at least succeed, and some of the time without consequences, but there is some small risk that things to could go wrong. This would be for things like shooting someone point blank while hidden, climbing a garden wall that has some loose stones in it, telling a simple white lie, noticing an obviously magical effect, recalling a historical fact almost everyone knows, or sneaking past someone who's sleeping. Again, note that if there is no risk, and whatever the Character is attempting to do is something they could do, there is no need to ask for a Roll, it simply happens.

A Minor difficulty is something that's easy to do, or would be easy for a specific character due to their extensive training, such that at least half the time there wouldn't be any consequences. Things like fighting off a drunk, a trained thief climbing a wall unseen, entertaining with a tall tale at the pub, noticing when someone is obviously casting a spell, a character remembering specific helpful facts about the history of the kingdom they are from, sneaking past someone who's distracted, etc.

A Simple difficulty is for things that are a little risky, but totally possible due to circumstance or special training, but where there is always a chance for consequences even under ideal conditions. Things like fighting off untrained bandits, climbing a tricky wall without falling, performing before a large audience (or lying to someone who's wary), trying to understand what sort of magic something is, sneaking past normal guards, etc.

A Concerning difficulty is for something that's more risky, or maybe is more likely to have a bad outcome if it doesn't work out. Things like fighting a strong monster, climbing a wall while getting shot at with arrows, performing in front of an hostile audience (or trying to talk your way past the guards), trying to read an evil spell book without getting cursed, sneaking past well trained guards, etc.

A Serious difficulty would be for things that are risky under even good circumstances. Things like fighting off highly trained warriors, climbing a crumbling wall as it’s falling apart into lava below, bold-faced lying to a shrewd wise person, casting a really big spell, or sneaking past alerted guards during wartime, etc.

A Struggling difficulty is something that typically can't be done without real and/or serious consequences, however minor.

A Heroic difficulty is for things that are near-impossible, and will almost always have serious consequences even if you do pull it off, but there is still a slim chance it could happen.

The numbers are tuned such to have a 'Close' result for many Rolls, and for 'Clear' results to be fairly rare.

The GM can also vary the Close and Clear numbers for things that would be easy to do, but hard to do without consequences. Like pick-pocketing a City Guard in broad daylight. This could be something like “6 for close, 18 for clear”, for it’s easy to steal from the guard, but very hard to do so without them noticing something.

Positioning

The GM will consider the narrative, and anything clever (or dumb) the Players may have done so far, to help pick or modify these difficulty numbers. What would normally be a ‘Serious’ difficulty could be made Minor by the clever actions of the Party; conversely something that should be easy could be made very hard by someone doing something fantastically stupid.

For example, if one of the Players had turned themselves invisible, and then snuck up undetected to be able to point-blank shoot the dangerous evil boss, what would normally be a Serious thing to do (hit this powerful boss with an arrow and get away with no consequences) could be turned into a Trivial thing instead.

Or, if the Party has been foolish, and brazenly stolen something from the local temple, then social Rolls made in town that would have been Minor could all now be Serious or worse.

So the GM will set the Close and Clear numbers based on both what the Players are trying to do right now and what they have done in the Story so far.

Devil's Bargain

The GM can (and is encouraged to) offer Devil's Bargains to the Players, whereby accepting the bargain it lowers the Difficulty of a Roll in trade for greater and/or additional Consequences. For example, the GM might say that normally attacking the Ork Boss and his henchmen would be a Serious difficulty even for a seasoned warrior, but if they focus their attack just on the boss without regards for the henchmen's counter-attacks, the Difficulty will be lowered to a Concerning Difficulty instead. The Player would make their Roll, but if they do get a Close or a Miss, the consequences would be greater from taking the bargain.

Lucky vs. Unlucky

There are times where a Roll is Lucky or Unlucky. A Lucky roll is one where the Player will roll two D20’s, and take the higher result, and an Unlucky roll is one where the Player will roll two D20’s, and take the lower result. Rolls can be made Lucky or Unlucky by a Player spending Fortune, a Character's special Talent, or deemed so by the DM depending upon what’s happening in the Story.

Aid

When the GM askes a Player to make a Roll, another Player can choose to give Aid. This forfeits the next action from the Player giving the Aid (as they are busy helping) but then lets the Player giving the aid choose one of the following advantages to give to the Player receiving Aid:

  • They are Lucky for this Roll.
  • They will do one level higher of Effect if they get a Close or a Clear on this Roll.
  • They will receive one level lower of Harm, or a lesser Consequence, if they get a Miss on this Roll.

The Player giving Aid describes how they are doing so, which could trigger a Roll for the Player giving the Aid if the GM thinks it’s risky.

Or if they would like to, the Player giving the Aid can spend one Fortune Point to not lose their next action and to not have to Roll to Aid another Player, even if how they described they were providing that Aid could expose them to risk.

Why a D20?

Most PBtA and Blades-style games use D6’s, usually in some sort of dice pool, instead of a D20. Also they tend to use some sort of target mechanic that doesn’t change and/or more complex systems around Positioning and Effect. We opted to go with a single D20 vs. a GM-set target to make things faster, simpler, more dramatic, and very ‘swingy’. We know it’s not ‘fair’ or ‘well balanced’. It’s on purpose. Rolling Natural 20’s is awesome. Betting against the odds when the GM says something like “you have to roll over a 18 to do that without dire Consequences!” is a whole lot of fun. And Natural 1 Critical Failures right at a key moment can really make a Story. D20’s are stupid fun, and they look cool. Embrace the randomness and stupid fun of it.

Clocks & Effect

In Fortunate Blades, any challenge faced by the characters that can’t be overcome with a single action or Roll are represented by Clocks.

The GM will draw a circle, and then draw lines across it to separate it into evenly-sized 'pie wedges' or 'Ticks'. Ticks of the Clock are filled in as the Players make actions and Close or Clear Rolls that result in a positive Effect on that challenge, and Ticks are removed when something happens that has a negative Effect on them overcoming that Challenge (such as a Missed roll, see Consequences below).

A Minor Effect fills in one tick of a Clock, a Standard Effect will fill two ticks of a Clock, a Serious Effect fills in three ticks of a Clock, and a Heroic Effect will fill in four or more ticks of a Clock. Most actions will result in a Standard Effect, unless the Player's Positioning, the Character's Talents and/or Gear, or a special ability of the enemy or situation move it up or down in Effect.

Once the Clock is completely filled up, the challenge is overcome or the threat has passed. Clocks with more Ticks are 'larger' and harder to finish filling up, where 'smaller' Clocks represent easier to solve problems as they are easier to fill. For example, a 12-tick clock will be much harder to fill, requiring at least six actions of a Standard Effect to fill it. Where a simple 4-tick clock would be filled by just two actions of a standard effect, or even just a single action of Heroic Effect.

When fighting enemies, they too are represented by Clocks, and when the Clock is filled the enemy is defeated.

Clocks can also represent approaching dangers, such as being detected while sneaking about, or running out of time to escape a collapsing temple; in these cases the Clock is typically reversed, with the GM filling in the Clock as time passes or as a consequence of the Players missing a Roll, and the Players able to remove ticks by doing clever things and/or making Close or Clear Rolls.

Some threats can be Resistant to a particular Effect from an Attribute Group, and Effects resulting from Rolls made by Attributes from that group do one lower level of Effect. So if a monster is Resistant to Physical Effects, any Roll made using a Physical attribute such as Fight does one less level of Effect, thus making a Standard effect have no effect, or a Serious effect only tick off one tick of a Clock, etc.

Some threats can be Immune to a particular Effect from an Attribute Group, and any Roll made from that Attribute Group has no Effect at all. For example, a mindless incomprehensible ooze could be Immune to Mental Effects, and thus any Roll made using a Mental Attribute against it has no Effect.

Quality

The gear the Characters has a Quality to it that will determine what Effect it's likely to have when it's used.

  • Minor - Improvised, damaged, or poor quality stuff, normally fills in one Tick of a Clock.
  • Simple - Normal stuff, normally fills in two Ticks of a Clock.
  • Serious - Fine, well made, more rare, etc. Normally fills in three Ticks of a Clock.
  • Heroic - Magical, unique, really special, Can fill in four or more Ticks of a Clock.

Range

Some items and spells have a Range associated with them. If the item is being used on a target that is one step away from its listed range, then it does one less Effect; if it’s two or more steps away it does no Effect.

Ranges are:

  • Touch - within easy reach without having to take a step.
  • Close - within reach of a one-handed weapon, a good kick, or by taking one or two steps.
  • Reach - within reach of a two-handed long weapon such as a spear, a great leap, or by taking multiple steps.
  • Mid - within reach of a simple bow, a thrown rock, or a good shout.
  • Far - within reach of a fine bow, or a good horse at a run.
  • Very Far - just within sight

Consequences

When consequences are required, either due to a Close or Missed Roll, the GM taking a turn when the characters are in a fight, or when nothing's happening and the GM wants to kick things off, the DM will pick (or roll randomly for) from the following list, or tell the player to do so instead:

  1. Reduce the Effect of something that just happened
  2. Reveal an Unwelcome Truth
  3. Lost Opportunity, Try Something Else
  4. Put Someone in a Spot
  5. Take Away Something Important
  6. Move a Clock forward (or back!)
  7. Show the Downside of something / Embarrass Someone
  8. Cause Harm

The consequence should be meaningful to the Story, actually consequential, and more severe the lower the result of the Roll was, with a Critical Failure being something that’s really going to “sting”. So the consequences of rolling a '3' on a 'Minor' difficulty (missing Close by 3) would be fairly minor, ("You swing your sword at the goblin, and totally miss, and the goblin bites your arm, take the Minor Physical Harm of 'Goblin Bite'...") where rolling a '3' on a 'Heroic' difficulty (missing Close by 15!) would be very bad ("You swing your sword at the dragon, and it bites your whole arm off and swallows it, take a Lethal Physical Harm of 'arm bit off'...").

It’s critically important to understand that a Miss is not a Failure, it’s more that something bad has now happened. No Roll ever results in ‘Nothing Happens’.

Reduce the Effect of something that just happened

Instead of an action moving a Clock a normal amount for that action, it moves it less, or possibly not at all for a Hard Miss. Or if there is no Clock, while an action was successful it’s just less so, such as not getting as good of a deal when haggling as they had wished for, or only being able to find enough food to not go hungry for now, but not enough to travel very far.

Reveal an Unwelcome Truth

Whether the action was successful or not, it has revealed an Unwelcome Truth; such as successfully sneaking past the guards just to have them close and lock the door behind the Party as the guard changes. Or on a Hard Miss it’s revealed that the monsters are completely immune to fire after the Party tried to thwart it’s advance with a large bonfire. Some new fact is introduced that makes everything harder for our players in some direct way.

Lost Opportunity, Try Something Else

Whether the action was successful or not, the opportunity has passed, and the Party won’t be able to do it again (and on a Hard Miss, if at all!). Maybe the thief got the lock open, but has run out of time to look in the chest before the guards come. Maybe they will need a distraction? Or on a Hard Miss they broke the lock, and there is no way anyone could pick it now. Maybe they try smashing the chest open instead? Whatever it is, the opportunity they were aiming for with the Action has passed, and they will need to try something different next time.

Put Someone in a Spot

Whether the action was successful or not, someone in the Party is now in immediate trouble of some kind. Such as a warrior successfully fought off the monsters that were attacking them to find they are now separated from the rest of the group and standing on the edge of a crumbling cliff that’s about to give way. Or on a Hard Miss, while the warrior is fine, the wizard is not, and has been grabbed by the monsters who are starting to carry them off. It’s important to note that any consequence from a close or missed roll can happen to anyone in the story, it doesn’t have to happen to the player who made the roll.

Take Away Something Important

This one is very straightforward: simply have something important break, or get stolen, or have to be used up, or get removed from the party in some way. This could be temporary, such as a weapon being accidentally dropped; or permanent, such as a weapon breaking. It could be something physical, such as having most of their rations stolen, or something that happens to a possession rendering it useless, such as the rations spoiling due to getting too wet. Or even something non-physical, such as a Character temporarily losing an important Talent due to being too sick from bad rations, or getting cursed to where they lose the Talent altogether until the curse is lifted.

Move a Clock forward (or back!)

If there is a Clock for some event that they Players are hoping won’t happen, such as being discovered, move that Clock forward! Or if there is a Clock the Players were hoping to fill, such as defeating an enemy, move that Clock backwards as that enemy heals itself or moves into a better position, etc.

Show the Downside of something / Embarrass Someone

Sometimes a miss will just make someone look bad. So the thief picks the lock just to have the door fly open on them, causing them to fall face-first into the room beyond. The wizard discovers when trying to read an ancient and inscrutable magical book that they were holding it upside down the whole time. The brave warrior turns out to be absolutely terrible at telling jokes at the royal ball. Do something that shows a Character to not be the perfect hero!

Cause Harm

The most basic and direct consequence of them all, simply cause a Harm to befall someone in the story. So on a Hard Miss, the warrior not only fails to hurt the monster in a fight, but gets a Serious Harm as the monster bites deeply into his arm, rendering it useless until healed. Or on a Close, you managed to talk your way into the party, but accidentally insulted the host, and take a minor Spiritual Harm of being that 'jerk at the party that no one remembers inviting'. Note that the Harm can befall anyone in the story, including non-player characters, and doesn't have to befall the Character belonging to the Player that missed the Roll. Keep in mind also that Players can resist Harm by Making a Save.

DM Rolls

Sometimes the DM might roll to see what happens in a situation. In this case the DM will call the Close and Clear numbers, make a Roll adding whatever appropriate bonuses, and If the DM rolls for something important and misses, the Players get to pick from a list of consequences that the DM will then add to the Story.

Player vs. DM / Enemies / Combat

When the Players engage in a fight vs. enemies that are controlled by the DM, The DM will make Clocks for each group of Enemies that once cleared, the threat has passed. The DM can choose to show these Clocks to the players or keep them secret. The DM will then call upon the different Players to take turns, with the order based off of what’s happening in the story determining who goes when.

Then once all the Players have had a turn, each Clocks worth of Enemies gets to take a turn, presenting the Players with a new Consequence the Characters now face.

So, for example, if the Characters are facing a single large horrific monster in combat, the GM might set a 8-sectioned Clock, and when a Character triggers a Roll that uses the Fight attribute, the GM might say that they have to get a 15 or higher to avoid Consequences from that action. If the Player Clears that Roll, then the GM would tick off two sections of the Clock without any Consequences, narrating that the Character was able to deftly attack the monster while dodging it’s razer-sharp claw swings and gruesome bites.

If the Player only gets a Close on that Roll, then the GM could chose to still tick off two sections of the Clock, but then also choose for the Character to suffer Harm as the monster counter-attacks as the Consequence from the Close result, narrating that the Character trades blows with the horrible beast. Or, if it fits the Story better, the GM might choose to only tick off one section of the Clock, picking the ‘Reduce the Effect’ Consequence, and narrate that while the Character didn’t get hurt from attacking the foul abomination, that it’s hide is so thick it turned away the Character’s strike and only hurt it a little. If the Player Misses the Roll, the GM gets to choose a Consequence, and may choose to just cause Harm and not tick off any sections of the Clock (narrating that the Character’s swing missed the beast as it’s fangs sink deep into their arm), or worse to simply erase some of the already filled-in sections of the Clock to represent the monster healing itself during the fight (Move a Clock as a Consequence).

Once all the sections are filled in, the monster is defeated, and the risk is gone. ‘Defeated” can mean killed, but it can also just mean that it ran away, or has been weakened enough to not be a threat anymore, etc. Whatever works best for the Story.

A single Clock can represent a group of Enemies as well, such as a 10-section clock representing a whole pack of evil wolves trying to eat the Characters, or a 6-section clock representing the various henchmen working for their boss, who might be another separate 6-section clock.

A Clock can also be limited to only certain things filling in a section of it, such as a monster that is immune to damage from non-magical weapons, whereby you’d only have the clock Effected (and thus filled in) by hits from magical weapons and/or spells. Or a Clock that represents the challenge of safely negotiating past the bureaucrats at the royal palace, where any physical attack would have a very negative Effect, and only Spiritual / Social ‘attacks’ would work.

So the combination of how many sections a Clock has, how many Clocks there are, what might Effect it to fill in sections of it, and how high the numbers that have to be Rolled to do so are what set the ‘difficulty’ of a particular challenge and/or enemy. There are some recommendations in the Book of Monsters below for some good Clocks to use.

Player vs. Player

When two Players decide to go head-to-head about something, first stop the game altogether, let the Players cool off for a moment, and then the DM will ask the Players what their Character’s single goal they are trying to achieve with this conflict, and how far are they willing to go to achieve it, which the Players both openly state before a Roll is made.

The DM then says back what sensible outcomes would happen upon a Successful roll for each player, and asks both Players if they agree to those outcomes. If both players can't agree on the outcomes the DM has put forth that a Roll would result in, the defender decides the outcome instead without a Roll being made at all.

Both Players then announce what Attribute, Talents, and Fortune they are going to use that best fits what their Characters are trying to do, and both Players make a Roll. Whomever rolls higher succeeds and has no consequences, and the other gets the Consequences the GM had stated prior before the Roll.

Fortune

Fortune is a resource Characters have that Players can spend to effect Rolls, make Saves, and impact the Story in meaningful ways. It represents the overall 'luck' or 'specialness' that our heroes have in our Story.

A Player can spend Fortune to effect Rolls in the following ways:

  • Spend one Fortune to Aid another Player without losing their next action or exposing themselves to risk (this makes that other Player's Roll Lucky, but must be done before that Player Rolls).
  • Spend two Fortune to make their own roll Lucky before it’s rolled.
  • Spend two Fortune to make the Effect from a successful roll one level higher.
  • Spend any number of Fortune points before or after a Roll to add +1 per Fortune spent to that Roll. This is for any Roll being made by them or another Player.

A Player can spend Fortune to make Saves and affect Harm:

  • Spend one Fortune (or more) to make a Save to avoid Harm.
  • Spend a Fortune point to enable their Character with Serious Harm to make a Roll at all.
  • Spend a Fortune point to enable another player’s Character with Heroic Harm to make a Roll at all.

A Player can spend Fortune to impact the Story in the meaningful ways:

  • Spend a specific number of Fortune points to activate a specific Talent that thier Character has.
  • Spend at least one, and up to four, Fortune points on a Lucky Break (GM determines cost based on what the Player wants to accomplish, see Lucky Break).

Whenever a Player spends Fortune, they should briefly narrate what their Character is doing in the Story or some reason as to why the effect from spending the Fortune is happening.

A Character starts the game with Nine Fortune points to spend per Quest, can gain more through special Talents, and can refresh them during Downtime between Encounters by telling stories from their history and people. They fully refresh at the start of every Quest.

When a Character runs out of Fortune, they are out of the current Encounter, and they gain a Mark. Write down on the Character sheet what Mark they received that’s relevant to the story based off of what just happened. They then rejoin in Downtime after the current Encounter is over with all their Fortune points restored.

Once a Character gains four Marks, they are Defeated. See the Defeated & Death section.

Lucky Break

A Player can spend at least one, and up to four, Fortune points on a Lucky Break. The Player states they want to have a Lucky Break, and then states what lucky event just happened, or something from their Character's past, that will impact the Story in a meaningful way.

From this Lucky Break the Player can change their Positioning and/or Difficulty on Rolls pertaining to the current situation, gain a needed item, or gain needed information.

The GM then decides how much Fortune this will cost based upon how big of an effect it may have to the Story, with one Fortune for minorly impactful events and up to four for a majorly impactful event. The GM can also call for additional Rolls to see how impactful this event might be to the Story. If the GM decides that what the Player is asking for is too much, they can say that the Lucky Break won’t work, and the Player doesn’t spend any Fortune or lose their action.

The Player than narrates what just happened or was revealed with the GM prompting them with questions.

Telling Stories

As a Rest action, a player can choose to Tell A Story, which restores Fortune points. This story can be from the Character’s past, their people, a legend from the world, an old fable or song, really anything that’s relevant to them, true or not. The DM will pick details from these stories that will become ‘canon’ in the story and the setting, as well as possible future challenges the Characters may encounter.

Telling a Story automatically restores two Fortune Points, and if everyone agrees that it was a really awesome story the DM can reward extra points. The DM can also threaten to give less Fortune points if the story is going on way too long.

Preparation

Fortune can be ‘earned’ and ‘saved’ for a specific Roll via Preparation, with every act of Preparation done equal to one extra Fortune point that can only be applied to a Roll that regards the event that was Prepared for.

Running out of Fortune

When a Character has run out of Fortune, they can choose to take Harm instead. A Minor Harm is worth two Fortune, a Serious Harm is worth four Fortune, and a Heroic Harm is worth six Fortune.

Harm

Bad things happen to adventures in our story. Harm is how we keep track of it. There are three kinds of Harm:

  • Physical Harm, which affects the physical abilities of a Character, and is Resisted using the Prowess Group Total. These are things like wounds, injuries, broken bones, and other physical Harm.
  • Mental Harm, which affects the mental abilities of a Character, and is Resisted using the Insight Group Total. These are things like getting stunned, hypnotized, psychic or certain magical spells, and other Harm.
  • Spiritual Harm, which affects the spiritual abilities of a Character, and is Resisted using the Spirit Group Total. These are things like being insulted, exhausted, cursed, corrupted by Dark Forces, or excommunicated.

There are also three levels of Harm based on how severe it is:

  • Minor Harm is something that causes a nuisance, and makes a Character cause one level of Effect lower when making Rolls using the Attributes within the relevant Attribute group. Minor Harm can also be negated completely when a Character Takes A Rest, and uses the Recover action.
  • Serious Harm is something that hinders a Character in a serious way, and makes a Character Unlucky when making Rolls using the Attributes within the relevant Attribute group. Serious Harm also takes longer to Recover from, in that a Recover action when Resting or from most spells will only reduce it to a Minor Harm instead of removing it completely.
  • Heroic Harm is something that really sets back a Character, and makes any Roll using the relevant Attributes cost one additional Fortune to do (or requires Aid from another Character). It’s also much harder to recover from, in that a Recover action and most spells only reduces it to a Serious Harm.
  • Lethal Harm is something that removes a Character from the current Quest by rendering them Defeated, and is only resolved via the “Defeated & Death” rules.

An important thing to note is that Harm of one type only affects Rolls made using attributes from that Type; so for example a Character with a Heroic Physical Harm could still use their Mental or Spiritual attributes at full strength, a Character with Serious Spiritual and Mental Harm can still use their Physical Attributes full strength, etc.

Examples of Harm

Physical Harm Examples

  • Minor Physical Harm would be cuts and scrapes, bruises from getting hit, a small burn, etc.
  • Serious Physical Harm would be a stab wound, a fractured bone, a serious burn, etc.
  • Heroic Physical Harm would be a deep cut, a compound fracture, being engulfed in flame, etc.
  • Lethal Physical Harm would be getting cut in half, being crushed under falling rocks, being engulfed in lava, etc.

Metal Harm Examples

  • Minor Mental Harm would be a bad headache, confusion, being rather drunk, etc.
  • Serious Mental Harm would be a heavy migraine, delusional, being drugged, etc.
  • Heroic Mental Harm would be a psychic blast, hallucinating, being anesthetized, etc.
  • Lethal Mental Harm would be a psychic vortex, complete ego dissociation, being made comatose, etc.

Spiritual Harm Examples

  • Minor Mental Harm would be a bad insult, a small rumor, a spiritual warning, etc.
  • Serious Spiritual Harm would be a major insult, a vicious rumor, a minor curse, etc.
  • Heroic Spiritual Harm would be a royal insult, a published expose, a major curse, etc.
  • Lethal Spiritual Harm would be a remark that cuts to deep as to change you forever, an excommunication, your soul being permanently tainted (or part of it consumed), etc.

Results of Harm

A Character normally can only have at most two Minor Harms, two Serious Harms, and one Heroic Harm. They 'stack' such that if a Character already has two Minor Harms, and takes another, it become s Serious Harm instead. Once they take a Lethal Harm, they are Defeated.

When the Game Master says you take a Harm of some kind, you write down in the relevant box which kind Harm it is (Physical, Mental, or Spiritual) and narratively what happened. The GM can use that narrative detail to make Rolls more difficult or even to rule that you can't take a certain action. For example, if your Character has a Minor Physical Harm of 'Sprained Ankle' from a bad fall, the GM might use higher Close and Clear numbers for your Sneak rolls, and say that your Character can't really run right now at all. Or if your Character has a Serious Mental Harm from being poisoned, the GM might rule that in addition to being Unlucky with any Rolls that use a Mental Attribute, that you can't focus your eyes well enough to be able to read anything until it's cured. And if your Character suffered a Heroic Spiritual Harm in the form of a curse from a terrible spell, the GM might rule that you're now forever sleepy, and not only can't you act Spiritually without spending a Fortune, you need to be constantly woken up less you just curl up somewhere forever.

Harm should have a narrative element to it that the GM will add. It shouldn't just be 'damage'.

For most Stories of a normal level of intensity most Harm resulting from GM-chosen consequences should be Serious Harm. The Characters have lots of Saves and Fortune and Talents to reduce harm, so don’t shy away from dealing it out to push them to use Fortune, tell stories to regain Fortune, and finishing Quests to recover completely.

Making a Save

When there is a Consequence that results in Harm, the GM can call for a special sort of a Roll called a Save to give the Players a chance to reduce or even (if they are very lucky) eliminate it. The Player can also choose when they suffer Harm to gamble some Fortune to Make a Save.

A Save is almost just like another Roll, as the DM calls out a Close and a Clear value to do so. But it’s different in what Attribute you use, as you use the relevant Attribute Group Total for the roll, and that it might cost some Fortune as well.

The Attribute Group Total is the total of the first Ranks in a Attribute a Character has from that group. So if a Character has at least one rank in Fight, Wreak, and Finesse they would have a +3 on Rolls to resist Physical Harm.

If the Character is wearing it, Armor also adds to this total as well, such as a '+1 Physical Armor' adding another +1 to any Save made against Physical Harm.

So the Player then takes the relevant Attribute Group Total for the type of Harm, adds any relevant Armor they may have (and whatever Fortune they may want to spend to add to the roll), and then rolls a D20 adding all these bonuses to try to make the Save.

  • On a Clear they take a lesser but similar Harm two levels lower than the original Harm.
  • On a Close they take a lesser but similar Harm one level lower than the original Harm.
  • And on a Miss they take the original Harm. Critical Failures don't hurt more here.

If the Player is deciding to Make A Save instead of the GM, then on a Clear or a Close they roll a D4 and subtract that many Fortune points. No Fortune is spent on a Miss.

If the Player rolls a Critical Success, the Character somehow miraculously takes no Harm, and they gain an additional 1D4 Fortune points (but do not get to pick a fact from the State A Fact list).

It’s important to note that making a Save only applies to Harm that has befallen a Character, and not other consequences that came from their actions or a Missed Roll, and a Save has to be made immediately at the moment the Harm befalls the Character, and can’t be made later.

Marks

When a Character has taken all the Harm they can take, they gain a Mark. This is some sort of permanent visual, mental, or spiritual 'mark' that will forever change that Character in noticeable ways. Physical Marks are things like a prominent facial scar, a slight limp, or a missing tooth. Mental Marks are things like irrational fears, a new phobia, or a serious delusion of some kind. Spiritual Marks are things like losing part of one's soul, becoming less empathetic, or a minor cursed magical effect like having no shadow anymore. Whatever it is, it has to be something that will be noticed about the Character and will thus impact the Story in some way.

A Player can choose to take a Mark to automatically Clear any Roll that the GM has called for. They can't use this to make the impossible happen, if the GM says something can't happen or hasn't called for a Roll it can't just happen. But if there is a chance it could happen and the GM has called for a Roll as such, then a Player can say that they are going to take a Mark, narrate what their Character is doing that makes the Roll a success, and get a Clear result, no matter how high they might have had to Roll to do so.

When a Character takes a Mark, they are out of the current Quest and can return to the Story once the current Quest that they received the Mark in is over.

Once a Character takes their fourth Mark, they are Defeated. See the Defeated & Death section.

Defeated & Death

When a Character gains four Marks they are Defeated.

The Player can choose if they want to Revive, Retire, or go out in a Blaze of Glory.

Revive

If they choose to Revive, the Character is immediately unable to act for the current Encounter and the remainder of the current Quest and subsequent Downtime. They are out of the game. The Player can have this Character return for a future Quest, but they have to have changed the Character in some fundamental way (work with the DM on this) and the Player and the rest of the Party has to meet the DM’s requirements as well (if there are any).

Retire

If they choose to Retire, the Character is able to complete the current Encounter, but not the current Quest, and instead is out of the game. The Character can stay in the Story, but as background character, and is unable to directly aid in Encounters or Quests, but can aid the Party during Free Play.

Blaze of Glory

If they choose to go out in a Blaze of Glory, the Character gets to pick its Final Act from the list, perform that Act, and then they are Dead, and removed from the game.

Final Acts

<list final acts here>

The Attributes

Attributes represent how good the character is at certain important Actions, such as Fighting monsters, Sneaking past guards, Studying magical scrolls, Noticing that the king is lying to them, or Carousing with local merchants to learn important facts.

They are grouped into three categories, Physical, Mental, and Spiritual. They can vary from -3 (very bad) to +3 (very good!), which are the amounts you add or subtract to your Roll when doing something risky using that Attribute.

Each Attribute Group has an advancement track. As the Players complete Quests, or spend their Resting time in Training, they will get points to spend on advancement. When an advancement track is filled, it’s reset to zero, and the player can add a +1 to an attribute within that group.

Attribute Groups are also used when making a Save. When a player decides to gamble Fortune and try to make a Save to lessen the Harm from an immediate consequence, they get a +1 to add to the Save roll for every Attribute in that group that is a +1 or higher (up to a maximum of +4, if all Attributes within that group are at a +1 or higher). Attributes that are zero, or negative, don’t impact the Save roll or subtract from it, they simply don’t help with any sort of bonus.

Physical

Physical stats represent the raw physical abilities of your character.

Fight

Whether by sword or by bow, by strength or by speed, upfront or from afar, when it comes to fighting this is the stat that determines what you roll.

Finesse

When performing feats of physical daring, such as dodging the falling spikes, dancing gracefully at the ball, carefully picking a lock or pocket, or impressing with acrobatic moves this is the stat that determines what you roll.

Wreck

Whether by brute force or perfect application of force, whenever you are destroying something, breaking open a door, smashing into a group of enemies with your shield, prying open a chest, or bringing down a castle wall, this is the stat that determines what you roll.

Sneak

Either by being quick, quiet, and/or clever, whenever you don’t want to be seen and/or heard, this is the stat that determines what you roll.

Mental

Mental stats represent the raw mental abilities of your character.

Notice

When it comes to noticing things, detecting a lie, or reading a situation; for everything concerning immediate awareness this is the stat that determines what you roll.

Study

Hitting the books, watching from afar in a stake-out, piecing together clues from random people; anything concerning awareness over time, this is the stat that determines what you roll.

Craft

Whenever you’re making something, assessing the quality of something, brewing, cooking, mending, or putting together makeshift things in a hurry, this is the stat that determines what you roll.

Lore

When you're remembering the stories of your people, your studies of archaic lore, spouting history, sharing deep mysteries won thru prior study, or anything else you might know this is the stat that determines what you roll.

Spiritual

Spiritual stats represent the raw spiritual and social abilities of your character.

Attune

When you’re connecting to the magic within an item, or the spirits of a place, the most wise way forward, or seeking an empathic connection to another, this is the stat that determines your roll.

Endure

When you’re facing terrible hardships with true grit alone, struggling to survive through raw endurance, “toughing it out”, or going head to head in a magical struggle of willpower, this is the stat that determines your roll.

Convince

When you’re pleading your case, bravely leading an army, trying to manipulate a shopkeeper, intimidating a guard, or telling a bold-faced lie, this is the stat that determines your roll.

Carouse

Making the rounds for information, trying to impress at a party, being a clown, or vying for a clever position within Court, this is the stat that determines your roll.

Character Creation

Each character starts the game with five Talents, pick or randomly roll for:

  • Two from their Background.
  • Two from their Trade (or Trades).
  • One from their Fortunate Blade.

Each character starts the game with five Ranks of Attributes to distribute as they wish. If they want to, they can take a negative Rank in an Attribute to gain another positive Rank, 1:1.

Pick, randomly roll for, or just make up a Personal Quest for the character. Give them a Name and a Look.

First you pick (or randomly roll for) two different Backgrounds, each giving the character a minor Talent, a bit of backstory, and a minor complication. This sets where this Character comes from, what their heritage is, and a starting point for the tales the player of that character will share when Resting or Spouting Lore. As it’s up to the Players to help define the world our Story will take place in, the facts they say about their character’s specific Backgrounds become canon to the Story. These facts can’t give them any additional Talents or Attributes beyond what’s already given by that Background, but they are considered ‘true’ and should be worked into the Story by the GM and other Players in some way. Backgrounds are set for the existence of that Character, and new ones aren’t gained through play.

Then you pick (or randomly roll for) a Trade, which gives the character a major starting Talent, which defines what special things they are able to do. This sets what this Character is about now, what they are good at, and where they fit into our developing Story. You then either pick another Talent within your starting Trade, or pick (or randomly roll for) a second Trade, and take its starting Talent as well instead. As they Progress through play, players will pick more Talents from those Trades, or start a new Trade and possibly abandon an old one, depending upon the events that happened during play and what they feel like doing.

Then you create your Fortunate Blade. This is a special magic item you start the game with that gives you another Talent when your character is in possession of it and uses it as it was intended. It doesn’t have to be a blade at all, it can be any object that you can think of that makes sense for your character to possess. It’s just called a ‘Blade’ as an homage to Blades in the Dark, a game that inspired this game. So choose or randomly roll for an item, then pick or randomly roll for what Talent that item grants the Character, and then give it a name and origin story.

Some of the Backgrounds, Trades, and Fortunate Blade options you can pick or roll for will ask the Player to define a new Place or Force within the Story, the Player names these and writes down a few facts about them, working with the GM to fit them into the rest of the Story so far.Some of the Backgrounds even ask directly for the Player to define Forces or Places now as well to add to the Story, which they should work with the GM to do so, with the GM having final say over the details of a new Force or Place.

Then, you select where to distribute the starting Attributes your character has, with their Background and Trade in mind (or not, it’s up to you). You get five ‘Ranks’ to distribute as desired, with each one giving you a +1 to a Roll using that Attribute.

Then, you determine the Character’s Personal Quest. This is something personally important that this character wants to accomplish. Choose one from the list, or randomly roll for it, or simply make one up.

Finally, you choose a name, and write down a few details about how your Character looks, and you’re done and ready for adventure!

Personal Quest

Every character has a personal quest that they are driven towards. Pick one from the list, or randomly roll for one, or just make one up on your own.

<list of personal quests>

When your Character does something that furthers their Personal Quest they earn additional Experience.

Character Creation Examples

  • A Dwarven Warrior of a Lost Clan could pick the ‘Underground’ and ‘No Home To Return To’ backgrounds, the ‘Warrior’ and ‘Smith’ Trades, and for an Fortunate Blade a Battle Axe that causes extra damage to the sworn enemy of the Dwarfs, the goblins. Their Look can be that of a classic Dwarf, and their Personal Quest could be to recover their family’s mythical hammer that was lost when they fled the mines they used to live in. They could distribute their attributes in Fight, Craft, Lore, and Endure.
  • An Elvin Archer from the Forest could pick the ‘Nature’ and ‘Raised By Wolves’ backgrounds, the ‘Master Warrior’ Trade along with another Special Move from that Trade to be an expert of the longbow, and for an Fortunate Blade a magical bow that’s ‘lucky’ and lets them re-roll any one roll once per session. Their Look can be that of a classic ‘wood elf’, and their Personal Quest could be to re-learn the long-lost songs of the forest.
  • For a more ‘magical’ Elvin Archer, they could replace the ‘Raised by Wolves’ background with the ‘Extraordinary’ one, giving them the ability to spend Fortune to use their Elvin magic, keen eyes that can see in the dark, resist spells that would bewitch normal mortals; whatever 3-4 abilities help define ‘elf’ for this Player that they would define with the GM and write down upon creation.
  • A Mantis sorcerer from the wastelands could pick the ‘Wasteland Wanderer’ and ‘Extraordinary’ Backgrounds, the ‘Scout’ and ‘Sorcerer’ Trades, and for a Fortunate Blade say that it’s own pinchers cause Mental damage instead of physical damage. The ‘Extraordinary’ background would give them their special Mantis-person abilities, and their Look would obviously be an awesome huge Mantis-person, and their personal Quest could be to help find a new home for their mantis queen and brood.
  • A Savvy Merchant from the Capital City could pick the ‘From a Great Family’ and ‘Chosen for Greatness’ Backgrounds, the ‘Merchant’ and ‘Manipulator’ Trades, and for a Fortunate Blade say they have a magical amulet that makes them Lucky when making Rolls using Carouse. Their Look could be a dashing wealthy trader, and their Personal Quest could be to find their long lost sister.
  • A magical robot that doesn’t know where it came from but is excellent at breaking into things could pick the ‘Built not Born’ and ‘Unknown’ backgrounds, and the ‘Crook’ and ‘Lucky’ Trades, and for it’s Look choose to be an animated clockwork doll and it’s Personal Quest could be to find it’s maker.
  • A ‘burned soul’ that’s more a ghost than a person could choose the ‘Incorperial’ and

The Party

So you can simply jump into the Story with all the characters already knowing each other, and with a purpose, Quests, and reputation already established. Or all of this can become the first Quest the players play through as an ‘origin story’, if so desired, where the GM & Players only set the Origin, and the Party Quest, Personal Quests, and starting Reputation is determined through play.

Origin

Once all the Characters have been created, you then form The Party. The Party has some way they all met, an Origin. Pick one from the list below, or randomly roll to select it.

  1. The Characters are all from the same village, town, or city, met somewhere, and decided to team up. Name this Place and write down a few details about it.
  2. The Characters are all from the same kingdom or nation, and are far from home, so they banded together. Name this Place and write down a few details about it.
  3. The Characters all grew up together and decided to team up. Name the Place where that happened and write down a few details about it.
  4. The Characters all attended the same school, temple, or other institution (but maybe not all at the same time) and know each other that way. Name it, write down a few details about it, and it becomes a Force within the game.
  5. You all were hired by the same company, organization, guild, temple, or kingdom. Name it, write down a few details about it, and it becomes a Force within the game.
  6. One of the Characters hired the other ones once for some job, and they met that way..
  7. The Characters had to rely on each other to survive some terrible event, such as a war, attack, disaster, or other tragedy. Write down what that was, and whether it’s still ongoing.
  8. The Characters were all wronged by the same Force, met, and decided to team up. If it’s not already in the game, add this Force to the game.
  9. The Characters met randomly, like in an Inn, a prison, a caravan, etc. and decided to team up.
  10. The Characters all swore to defeat some Force, met, and decided to team up to do so. Name the Force and add it to the game.

The Party Quest

The Party will have a Party Quest, an overall goal that it’s trying to achieve. Again, pick from the list below, or randomly roll to select it.

  1. The Party wants to get rich or die trying.
  2. The Party wants to obtain, rescue, or recover a single great treasure (or person).
  3. The Party wants power, titles, and/or to rule something.
  4. The Party wants to stop, defeat, or get revenge on some Force.
  5. The Party wants to be the best there ever was.
  6. The Party wants to right some great wrong.
  7. The Party wants to uncover some great secrets.
  8. The Party wants to protect the weak and do good, or they want to exploit the weak and do Evil.

Reputation

The Party has a Reputation with the various Forces in the Story, and the total of all of it's Reputation with all the different Forces advances a Reputation Track that will unlock new Party Advantages.

The Party earns Reputation by completing Quests:

  • A Trivial Quest is just a single Encounter, and will give one Reputation to the Party.
  • A Standard Quest is 2-3 Encounters, and will give three Reputation to the Party.
  • A Serious Quest is 3-5 Encounters, and will give five Reputation to the Party.
  • A Heroic Quest is 5 or more Encounters, and will give seven Reputation to the Party.

Additionally, ask these questions to the entire group (GM included), and for every Yes, add another one Reputation to the Party as well. If the group can’t agree, put it to a vote instead:

  • Did we learn something new, interesting, and important about the world the Story is taking place in?
  • Did something really memorable happen and/or did someone tell an awesome story as part of play?
  • Did something significant happen to further the Party in its Party Quest?
  • Did something significant happen to further a Character’s Personal Quest?

This Reputation should be listed on the Party sheet, along with the name of the most relevant Force that the completed Quest had to do with. If there isn't a relevant Force, create a new one now. If the Party already has Reputation regarding that Force, add the new Reputation to the old. This tracks over the Story how much the Party's Reputation has grown regarding that Force. Reputation isn't positive or negative, it's just measuring big a specific Force is in the Story.

For example, if The Trolls are a Force in the Story, and the Party just completed a Serious Quest to defeat a tribe of them that has been raiding the kingdom, the Party would now have at least five Reputation with The Trolls, as they are now known by both Trolls and non-Trolls as the Party that had something major to do with those Trolls. The Trolls will probably hate them more, and the non-Trolls who were being attacked by Trolls will love them more now, and either way, the Party's Reputation has grown.

Reputation with a specific Force also comes into play when the GM is generating Quests.

Every time Reputation is earned, the Party Reputation Track is also filled, with one tick per point of Reputation just earned. When it’s totally filled with 15 or more Reputation points, it's then zeroed out, and the group picks a new Party Advantage from the list (but keeps the Reputation listed next to the relevant Force on the Party sheet).

So again with our Troll example, if the Party already had a Reputation of eleven from other Quests and Forces, when those five Reputation points from the Troll quest are added to the Reputation Track it would be 'full' for it would be over 15 points. It would be 'zeroed out' and reset, and the Party would choose a new Party Advantage. But they would keep the "Trolls: 5" under the Reputation list on the Party Sheet as a record of what their growing Reputation involves.

Party Advantages

Every time the Reputation Track is totally filled, a new Party Advantage is picked (or randomly rolled for). This is like a Talent that anyone in the Party can use, however they can be lost if the GM deems something has happened in the Story that justifies it.

  1. Home Base. The Party now owns a keep, small castle, bustling tavern, grand mansion, magical cave, secret hideout, or other defendable home base that's moderately secure, staffed with some assistants, and well known to the Characters. Rolls made in the Home Base are either Lucky, or will have one level higher of Effect, Player's choice. Give it a name and put it on the Map. It must be upkept and defended, or it can become lost.
  2. Major Vehicle. The Party now owns an galleon, airship, giant insect underground-traveling caravan, small military escort, or other major 'vehicle' that can carry all of the Party plus crew and some cargo, and can be directed to travel to Places with or without the Party. Rolls made while on board the vehicle are either Lucky, or will have one level higher of Effect, Player's choice. Give it a Name. It must be upkept and defended, or it can become lost.
  3. Virtuous Reputation. The Party is now known as being virtuous due to it's kind and heroic acts. All Rolls involving royalty, honor, or trustworthiness are now Lucky. However, too many unvirtuous acts could threaten and then lose this reputation.
  4. Fearsome Reputation. The Party is now known as being fearsome due to it's powerful and fearless acts. All Rolls involving intimidation, bargaining, or negotiation are now Lucky. However, too many defeats or retreats could threaten and then lose this reputation.
  5. Notorious Reputation. The Party is now known for it's clever and bold acts. All Rolls involving impressing others, entertaining, or dumb bravery are now Lucky. However, look a fool or coward too many times, and they could lose this reputation.
  6. Fame. The Party is now known far and wide. They can gain an audience with any authority, get favors for free, and even have a chance to last requests or parley from their enemies. Fame lives forever and can't be lost.
  7. Glory. The Party will never be forgotten. A monument is built in a Place commemorating a Quest the Party completed, and as long as it stands, all Rolls for the anyone in the Party are Lucky when in that Place.
  8. Wealth. The Party is now very rich! Simple, readily available items can be easily had, and even very special rare items can be procured on a successful Roll if they are possible to buy in the location the Characters are at. However, the more money they throw around, the more they are likely to draw attention from those who want some of that wealth as well.
  9. A Following. The Party now has a band of useful followers that will do whatever the Party asks within reason that they are able to do. If some are lost, the band will replenish when possible from new locals who wish to also follow the heroes. Followers can provide Aid to a Roll, but will be put at risk, or sacrificed to completely avoid a Harm. Lead too many to their doom and they will likely stop following.
  10. Primo Gear. All of the Party's gear is updated and/or refurbished to be the best it can be. Raise the Effect of all items within the Party when used, and all Armor gains a +1 to the relevant Save for it.
  11. Siege Weapons. The Party now owns some kind of weapon, and the crew and/or magic to run it, that is capable of breaching major structures or creatures one normally wouldn't be able to Effect by normal or even Serious Magical means. Name it, write down a few details about it and what it looks like, and define what sorts of items or creatures it was made to defeat. When properly used, it enables the Party to either Effect a target it normally couldn't except with Heroic Magic, or triple the Effect against a relevant target the Party would be able to Effect normally without the weapon. It can also be added to a Home Base or Vehicle, but it does take upkeep and some sort of ammunition that is non-trivial to obtain.
  12. Titles. Everyone in the Party is now royalty, made leaders, and/or promoted to some sort of major head of state. You now have a say in the happenings of that state, can issue orders to armies and police, and enact laws upon the land. However if you are too much of a tyrant, or too much of a pushover, you won't hold that throne for very long.

The Map

Whenever you start a game of Fortunate Blades you draw a Map. This is the starting area the Story is going to take place in.

In the center of the Map will be where the Story is going to start based upon what the Origin and Quest of the Party is.

As the Players make Characters and the Party, they will be sometimes asked to generate different Places to support their Backgrounds or Trades. Add these Places to the Map as well, and have the Player pick (or roll for) some details about these places that impact their Characters, and make a few notes about them based on what the Player and GM say about that Place.

The Map can be as small as a single village to an entire world, but it should 'fit' in size with where the Characters came from and what the Party Quest is.

The GM will then add a few more Places to the Map, pick (or roll for) some details about that place, and write down a few notes about them. It's best to have at least two Places per player at the start of a game.

Place Details

  1. It's a dangerous and hard to survive in place even if you know it, and outright deadly to those that don't.
  2. It's a place rich in magic, strange or otherwise.
  3. It's a rich and lush place, verdant and comfortable.
  4. It's a place recently ravaged by war and/or strife.
  5. It's a place that's extremely hard to get to.
  6. It's the bustling center of commerce, culture, and/or religion for this area.
  7. It's a barren wasteland of a place, without much more than it's natural beauty.
  8. It's a backwater in the middle of nowhere.
  9. It's the capital of a nation or kingdom.
  10. It's been abandoned for some reason.

Forces

Forces are the various factions, political powers, major themes, and/or gods of our Story. They can be anything as literal as a specific evil king to more general elements like an adventurer’s guild to as conceptual as things like ‘poverty’ or ‘hunger’.

Forces get a name, a few written details about them, and a Magnitude from minor to heroic that represents how big of an impact they have in the world.

Hopefully during character generation a few Forces have already been made, and it’s great to add a few more so that there are at least three to five Forces total in the Story.

If you want a Story full of intrigue, gray areas, and politics add more Forces, and add some details about what the various Forces are for and against (and which ones hate the other ones). If you want a Story with less of that and more of a ‘good vs. evil’ arc stick with fewer, larger Forces.

As you play the game, the DM will introduce new Forces, and remove current Forces, depending upon where the Story goes. For example, the Characters may travel to flee a Force, when if successful,

Quests

Quests can be picked from this list, rolled randomly from this list, or just made up.

  1. Loot something important
  2. Save a something or someone
  3. Kill a monster or monsters
  4. Discover an important secret
  5. Explore Farther, blaze a new trail, or find way back to safety
  6. Break a curse or end some magical effect
  7. Travel somewhere through a dangerous area
  8. Escape from a bad situation

A Trivial Quest is just a single Encounter, a Standard Quest is 2-3 Encounter, a Serious Quest is 3-5 Encounter, and a Heroic Quest is 5 or more Encounter.

Every time a Quest is completed the Party earns Reputation, which lets the Party and the Characters Level Up.

The Campaign Clock

There’s a ‘master clock’ for the whole campaign, kept in secret by the GM, that as sections are filled unleash the ‘approaching doom’ of our story.

At the start, with no ticks filled, the Players pick from the available Quests. When the Campaign Clock strikes three, there is a reveal of a Grim Portent, that some larger force is behind whatever troubles the Players have been struggling with all this time.

When the Campaign Clock strikes six, Things Start Getting Real, the larger force is revealed, and if the players don’t stop it, something they care about in their world will end.

When the Campaign Clock strikes nine, some longshot hope is revealed on how they can stop the larger force, maybe requiring some side quests to obtain items or help.

When the Campaign Clock strikes Midnight, it’s time for the Big Showdown, ready or not.

This clock is advanced by a single tick when:

  • A 6 is made on an entanglement roll.
  • A 1-3 is rolled on an Action Roll, if the GM thinks it’s a good consequence to have from the Action being taken.
  • The GM decides it’s time to move the Campaign Clock forward a tick because of something happening (or not happening fast enough!) in the story.

Adventuring

Encounters

Taking a Rest

If the GM says it’s safe, the Players can take a Rest between Encounters.

Each Player’s Character can take two of the following actions:

  1. Loot. A Player can take time searching the immediate area for Loot, and/or try to determine the value and identify something they have looted prior.
  2. Tell a Story. The Player tells a story, true or not, about their Character’s past and/or people. Doing so regains 1D4+1 Fortune, and if it’s a really good story, the DM may grant additional Fortune.
  3. Recover. A Player can remove one level of Harm from their own or someone else’s Character, if the Harm is one that could be reasonably dealt with by the Characters. So for example a Serious Harm becomes a Minor Harm, and a Minor Harm is fully removed.
  4. Train. Training fills one pip on the advancement bar of the Player’s choice.
  5. Prepare. The player defines a future event they think may happen, and what they are doing to prepare for it, and earns one extra Fortune point to spend when that event happens.
  6. Work on a project. The Player can advance any Clocks they may have regarding working towards a long-term project, or start a new long-term project.

If the GM says it’s risky to take a Rest, they may ask for some Rolls as the Players take these actions to see if they attract danger.

If the GM says it’s just not safe to Rest here, the Players cannot take a Rest, and will need to get to somewhere in the Story that’s safer.

End of the Quest

Once the Quest has been completed or abandoned, the players can count up Experience, Advance their Characters, Divy up the Loot, and earn Reputation.

Experience

Experience is given at the end of a Quest equally to all the Characters in the Party, with the amount given depending upon the size of the Quest undertaken:

  • A Trivial Quest is just a single Encounter, and will give three Experience to every Player.
  • A Standard Quest is 2-3 Encounters, and will give five Experience to every Player.
  • A Serious Quest is 3-5 Encounters, and will give seven Experience to every Player.
  • A Heroic Quest is 5 or more Encounters, and will give nine Experience to every Player.

Additionally, ask these questions to the entire group (GM included), and for every Yes, add another Experience to the total given to every Player (and one Reputation to the Party as well). If the group can’t agree, put it to a vote instead:

  • Did we learn something new, interesting, and important about the world the Story is taking place in?
  • Did something really memorable happen and/or did someone tell an awesome story as part of play?
  • Did something significant happen to further the Party in its Party Quest?
  • Did something significant happen to further a Character’s Personal Quest?
  • Did at least one Character encounter one of their Hindrances as part of the Quest?

Every point of Experience a Player gets can be spent to check the box of an Advancement Track. There are Advancement Tracks for each Attribute Group and a general track for unlocking new Talents.

Quests that were abandoned midway only count for half experience, and ones that were abandoned shortly after starting gain no experience at all.

So for example, a Party of four completes a Standard Quest. It had three big encounters in it, and something interesting and important was learned about the world, and it was memorable due to how much fun everyone had, but nothing about this Quest furthered a Character’s Personal Goal or the Party’s overall Goal. This gives us a total of seven Experience, which each of the four characters gets. Each player decides where to spend their Experience, advancing different Tracks to their liking, unlocking new increases and improvements along the way.

The Party itself also gets three Reputation for the Standard Quest plus two more for each 'yes' for a total of five Reputation, advancing it’s Party Reputation Track by five, possibly unlocking a new Party Advantage.

Advancement

Once Experience has been spent, if any Advancement Tracks have been filled, the Character can gain increases and improvements.

If an Attribute Group Track has been filled, the player zeros out the track, and then chooses an Attribute from that group to increase by +1.

If a Talent Track has been filled, the player zeros out the track, and then chooses a new Talent from their existing Trades, or start a new Trade (up to a maximum of three Trades at the same time).

If the Party Reputation Track has been filled, it’s then zeroed out, and the group picks a new Party Advantage from the list.

Note that due to Training, it’s possible for a player to advance an attribute mid-Quest, but new Talents and Party Advancements can only happen at the End of the Quest.

Divy up the Loot

After the Experience has been tabulated and distributed, and any Advancement taken, it’s time to divide up the rewards from the Quest.

Experience and Advancement

Loot. The heroes receive their rewards from a successfully completed Quest and/or have time to study the treasures they looted Reputation. The Party accumulates Reputation from the powers-that-be in the world as a result of their last Quest. Reputation is a two-edged sword. Entanglements. The heroes face new troubles from their Party’s new Reputation High Reputation leads to some forces pulling them in to solve bigger problems and some forces challenging them to defeat them, but can be used by the Party to Low Reputation makes it harder to make things happen, and more likely to be taken advantage of.

Gear

In Fortunate Blades, ‘Gear’ and ‘Slots’ is the abstracted and lightweight way we handle items, encumbrance, and what a Character could carry. A bit of Gear uses up a certain number of ‘Slots’. Gear takes anywhere from one slot for something small, to several slots for something larger, to many slots for something really big.

Most Characters have five slots for items they are carrying on their person, ready to be used at a moment’s notice. Some Talents may add or subtract from the five default slots, but in general these five ‘Slots’ represent the amount of ‘stuff’ that a Character could reasonably have usable on themselves.

A Character’s normal clothing and their Fortunate Blade do not count towards their five slot total, and are ‘free’. A single handheld item, like a sword, potion, lantern, compass, or magical amulet would use only one Slot. Larger items, like full armor, adventuring supplies, a mobile camp kitchen, rations for multiple days, etc. could use two or more slots, depending on how big it is. A really large thing could even be more than five slots, and could only be carried by more than one Character, working together, such as a giant ceremonial gong.

Extra items could be brought along in backpacks, in sacks, on horses, wagons, on ships; or kept in storage back home; before it can be used by a Character however it has to be ‘swapped into’ one (or more, for larger items) of their slots. So it can’t be used at a moment’s notice, it has to be unpacked and prepared first. Items like backpacks and sacks have slots too, just like a Character does, and larger vehicles like a wagon would have many slots for items.

Some gear has a number of uses that once used up, that bit of gear is exhausted, and has to be repurchased or recharged before it can be used again.

Please see Neelah’s Opus on Wonderous Items book for the full list of basic available Gear.

Loot

Armor

Armor has a value based off its Magnitude (such as a +1 for Minor Armor) and a Type (such as Physical or Spiritual).

When a Player is making A Save to try and avoid Harm, if their Character’s armor Type matches the Type of Harm, they get to add the value of the armor to the Save roll.

Armor also takes up Gear Slots, with the Magnitude of the armor equaling the amount of Slots taken.

So for example Minor Physical Armor would give a Player a +1 on Saves involving Physical Harm, would take up one Inventory Slot, and might be something like a simple metal breastplate or clothing made from thick hides.

Major Mental Armor would give a Player a +2 on Saves involving Mental Harm, would take up two Inventory Slots, and might be something like a matching set of special jewelry with embedded crystals that help resist mental stress.

Heroic Spiritual Armor would give a Player a +3 on Saves involving Spiritual Harm, would take up three Inventory Slots, and might be something like special robes covered with magical runes that help resist spiritual corruption.

Very special armor, such as magical armor, might have a high magnitude, but not take up an equal amount of inventory slots. It could also possibly apply to more than one Type of Harm.