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Author Topic: "Iron Game Chef" Lives!  (Read 74768 times)
Posts: 3453

« Reply #60 on: October 16, 2002, 05:29:26 AM »

Pardon me while I PANIC!

Somebody pass me the damn ketchup!  My secret sauce is in a shambles!  I forgot the fois gras!  Aaaaiiii!

Jonathan Walton

Posts: 1309

« Reply #61 on: October 16, 2002, 07:08:00 AM »




Zak Arntson

Posts: 839

« Reply #62 on: October 16, 2002, 11:19:47 AM »

A plate beneath Zak's face explodes in a ball of vodka-fed flame! Unfortunately, he's being rushed to the hospital and his dish will go unfinished.

Matt Machell

Posts: 477

« Reply #63 on: October 16, 2002, 11:21:09 AM »

Not quite an RPG, but close enough:

At the court of King Suliman

Players take the role of the shaman priests in the court of the African King Suliman, in a mythic age before the dawn of history. The priests argue for control of the King in a game of power. Manipulating powerful forces through the numerical values of the stars in the sky, they attempt to gain control of the Kingdom by finding solutions to the kings dilemnas.

You'll need 6 cards per player(plain card, about the size of business cards), and some beads.

Each player labels their cards 1 - 6 on one side, on the other put a description of a weird astrological sign, with a name and a descriptive aspect ("Marthrad - Hunter of Forever", "Akash - The deceiver", etc). Players then put them number down on the table in any order left to right. Place a bead on top of one card, this is the Active card, and reflects your characters current numeralogical insight.

Play starts with a player addressing the others, telling of a conflict or problem that is about to befall the Kingdom, and gives his Active Astrology sign as the cause. He then reveals the value of the card to the other players, and adds a number of beads to his pool equal to it.

For example:

"My lord, the Nigerians are about to invade, Marthad the hunter predicts it."

The other players then take turns clockwise to do one of the following, always talking in character:

1) Note an astrological anomaly - Swap any two cards on the table, bar active cards, cards must be named and an appropriate reason given.

eg "We must tread carefully Marduk and Akasha cause an imbalance in the country's fate"

2) Add a complication - Reduce the number of beads in any players pool by current active card and descibe how this sign is responsible.

eg "But the Nigerians have an ally in the kings traitorous nephew!"

3) Resolve the conflict - Add a number of beads to your pool equal to your current active card, describe how the sign was responsible (in which case the next player may describe a new conflict).

eg "We can avert this by praying to Mordash!"

4) Spot a contradiction from the previous player - Get two of the above before moving on.

"But did you not say that Mordash favours them!"

After each of these the player moves the bead indicating their active card to the left (or back to the start if they reach the end of their row of cards)

The winner is the player to take their pool of beads to a total 20.


Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters

Posts: 10459

« Reply #64 on: October 16, 2002, 11:27:46 AM »

Quote from: Zak Arntson
A plate beneath Zak's face explodes in a ball of vodka-fed flame! Unfortunately, he's being rushed to the hospital and his dish will go unfinished.

Tanaka-San: Ooh. Too bad for the veteran Iron Game Chef. We were looking forward to his entrees. Perhaps he'll be in shape for the next competition.

Yes, indeed that is unfortunate! We have enjoyed Zak-San's many RPG dishes before!

Member of Indie Netgaming
-Get your indie game fix online.
Le Joueur

Posts: 1367

« Reply #65 on: October 16, 2002, 01:39:28 PM »

Eclipse of the Masked Continent

Role-playing games are played to answer the timeless question, "What would you do in their place?"  They let you be and do things not normally possible and see what would happen, within limits.  Everything takes place in an imagined world on the level where the participants decide what they do using personalized Characters as the points of contact and the context where they relate to the setting.  This is not theatre; you take part, not play one.

This game is set in the 'Darkest Africa,' the setting of many famous pulp novels (like Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan series), black-and-white movie Serials, and monster movies (like The Creature from the Black Lagoon).  It happens anywhere from sixty to a hundred years ago, so anachronisms shouldn't be uncommon.  Everything about the setting is simplistic and direct; jungles are lush and impenetrable, deserts are trackless and deadly, men are savages or civilized no matter what ancestry, dangerous and mysterious Spirits abound.  Any time you are called upon to narrate, you must fulfill these vistas or void any Reward due you.

This is a game of Spirits tracked and entrapped in Masks, Powerful Masks, giving unbelievable Abilities to their Wearer.  It is about a small group of individuals brought together by fate to tame Spirits and Clash over supremacy.  These are stories ultimately of tragedy in the making.  Their Players, the Characters you personalize, are part artist, part Adventurer, part doomed, part hero or even villain.

In a typical Serial (the Name for a series of Adventures played in one or more sittings), participants gather to further the exploits of their Characters.  They first build a cast of Characters and then take each through Adventures that are Serialized into one long intertwining story.  During this they, or rather you, will create, support, and resolve many Conflicts; your Characters will do Battle, eventually even with each other in something akin to a tourNament by the end.

Within the context of the game the Characters will each set out on perilous Adventures to exotic places.  Every Adventure will culminate in Conflict on a Spiritual plane or 'Court of Masks.'  Characters will wrestle with their personal woes only to find them providing the 'karmic push' to succeed.  Frequently Spirits will be obliged to act as 'Powers' for the Characters, trapped in the Masks crafted and worn by these artisans.  As the Serial continues, more and more of the Battles will be with human Opponents wearing Masks of their own; some of which become the spoils of war.  Finally the combatants in this tragic Serial will Battle to take a place among the ten gods of the 'Masked Continent.'

All pertinent information in the game is noted on index cards (make sure you have a ready supply).  The first type is for the Characters, each Mask also gets a Card, and so does each Power a Mask makes use of.  Players are encouraged to decorate these Cards in any manner that seems suitable, but are required to make some kind of image for every Mask on the back of its Card.

Unlike most traditional role-playing games, Masked Continent Adventures have no single Authority; no one is 'running the show.'  Everyone is called upon to help create these Serials in turn.  Each Adventure centers on one of the Characters whose Player 'sets the stage' for it; the other Players take turns (in no particular order) supplying the Complications for each Scene within the Adventure.  Together they describe the events that make up the Scene and collectively the Adventure.  While the Central Character for an Adventure is encouraged to think of things in the context of their Character, the others may do so as well when Characters appear in the game suitable for them.


Get together with the other participants to create your Characters (you'll see why in a moment).  Each of the Characters are at first described by nine Names.  The first is their Proper Name; this is what the Character is called.  The Number of syllables in the Proper Name is taken as the Number of Conflicts the Character must endure.  Names can be as ethnic or nonsense as you desire (I suggest you at least approximate phonetic spelling), Characters are from all over the world and so can be their Names and the Names of the things they hold dear.  While some Characters may have longer Names with surnames and the like, only one Name will come to stand for them; choose this carefully.
      You could be Werner Stallion von Kleinsberg, but your Name might be "Stallion" or "Kleinsberg."[/list:u][/list:u]Following the Proper Name are seven more Names; these are the Strengths and Conflicts describe the Character.  They connect the Character to the world they live in; make sure the represent some Ability or relationship belonging to the Character.  Try to think of seven things that really define who the Character is and give each a Name.  They should be important enough that, without any one of them, the Character would be someone else entirely.  Don't worry if you have to explain some of these Names, just make sure everyone else understands what they mean to your Character.  (One way to come up with these Names is to write a short 'origin' story for the Character of 50-100 words and then find the seven most important aspects for the Character and then give them appropriate Names.)
          You could choose "Ex-Spy" for the Nazis or a "Physique" to attract the ladies.  Maybe you prefer to be a "Fighter Pilot" or have a "Bitter Rival."  You might even choose to have an adoring "Ex-Fiancé"[/list:u][/list:u]Of these seven Names, there must be Conflicts faced by the Character equal to as many syllables in the Character's Proper Name, be it a rival, a physical impairment, or such.  These will be useful in due course, but eventually may need to be dealt with; all this will be explained later.
              Of Stallion's seven Names, four must be Conflicts.  The "Bitter Rival" is obviously a conflict, but so could be "Ex-Spy," if your 'past comes back to haunt you.  Even "Nearsighted" can be a conflict if you describe how it connects you to the world of optometry.[/list:u][/list:u]
                Strengths and Conflicts

                The way you use a Conflict or Strength in play is when you feel you do not want to or cannot overcome a Complication directly.  If you can bring up what Conflicts with the Character in the course of dealing with a Complication and a way for them to become combined, then as your Character has dealt with the Conflict in the past, the Conflict carries away the Complication with it.  But beware; when the Conflict arises again, it will bring some essence of the Complication with it, making it harder to deal with than before.  In doing so, you also net a Key to further your Adventures (more on Keys later).

                    Let's say Stallion is too weak to fight a protracted battle with a Spirit inhabiting a lion's corpse.  Playing upon his Conflict of Ex-Spy, his player could describe how just before the battle on the Court of Masks, his old Nazi controller shows up to blackmail him into doing a job.  The spirit leaves the lion and enters the old Nazi; Stallion uses this opportunity to elude his old controller and escape the confrontation with the spirit…for now.[/list:u][/list:u]
                    Provided you have a Strength that can be brought to bear when faced with a Complication, you may alternatively call upon it to disperse the Complication.  The downside is that there is no way to benefit from doing away with a Complication like this.

                        Maybe the player chooses to use his marvelous Physique to devastate the crumbling corpse of the lion, setting the spirit to fleeing.[/list:u][/list:u]
                        Strengths and Conflicts also provide plenty of 'grist for the mill' of the game.  They can be resources, avenues to pursue, starting points for Adventures, plot hooks for the Character to get involved, or even bridges from one Scene to another.  They are not restricted to being used when faced with Complications, they can be invoked any time they seem relevant and used as they seem applicable.

                            Perhaps Stallion's glasses get broken and he needs to find a hospital.  Maybe he finds he must use his charm and 'impress the ladies' with his Physique to find out 'what is really going on.'[/list:u][/list:u]
                            Not only Conflicts, but also Strengths, are eventually 'dealt with' to some end.  The more of them you can 'finish' the more you will be able to add to your Proper Name (which makes you more Powerful for the end stages of the game).  You may not 'do away' with one of these Names except as the culmination of an Adventure as the Climactic result.  If you 'get rid' of them too early in the Serial, they won't add as much to your Name (due to the nature of the Adventures possible early on).  If you wait too long, you may lose the chance to be able to deal with them at all before the endgame.  When you deal with them is your choice as the Player of the Character; it's a part of setting up an Adventure (more on Adventure creation in a minute).[/list:u]The Masks

                            Finally, the ninth Name is the Name of the Mask the Character begins the game with.  The first Mask's Name may not be longer than the Character's (although they may have different Numbers of syllables).  A Mask has as many Powers (more on this later) as they have syllables in their Name.  Each Mask also has a Number based on the Numerological value of its letters.  To calculate this, look up each letter on the following spiral and make note of the Number associated with it; add these Numbers together.  If the result is more than one digit in length, add these digits; continue to add digits again until the result is finally one digit in length.  This is the Mask's Number.  No matter how Powerful a Mask becomes, the Character may never use more Powers (chosen at the start of the Battle), then they have syllables in the Character's Name.
                                Stallion could not have a mask called Rosethorn, but Kenohi would work.  It has three syllables thus three powers.  It's number is eight (2+5+5+6+8+9=35 and 3+5=8).  Stallion can only use three powers at the moment.[/list:u][/list:u]

                                During the game, the Characters will have chances to capture other Spirits and Masks and be able to oblige them into service.  These are captured after a Battle in the Court of Masks.  When Characters capture Spirits, they create Masks as works of art to contain them; their Players are required to have an Illustration of the Mask on the back of the Card where its details are noted (however they can create one).  Capturing a Spirit or Mask can only take place at the Climax of an Adventure (earlier Battles with the same afford some avenue of escape).  At that time, the Name of these will be determined using the letters accumulated throughout the Adventure (known Masks are renamed by their new owner to 'take over' them).  If the Spirit captured has more Powers than the Name given has syllables, the Extra Powers are lost, considered not properly 'captured' by the artistry of the Mask (but can be added at the end of a later Adventure).

                                This also provides the alternative when the final Battle of an Adventure is lost; the remaining letters may be used to Name a new Power for a Spirit in a Mask the Character already possesses.  It's also a good idea to keep any and all Cards not redeemed by Players during their Adventure, they will be used in later Adventures, perhaps even for other Extras.  If all Masks a Character possesses have as many Abilities as the limit, the letters are lost.

                                To create a Mask, you must write its Name on a Card; on the back, create some kind of Illustration representing what the Mask looks like.  On the front, list the Mask's Number (see above for Numerologic determination) and the Powers and Defenses the Mask has.  Name a Power or Defense for as many syllables as in the Name of the Mask.  (If a Mask is having it's Name changed and shortened, eliminate enough Abilities to reach this limit.)

                                Next, create a Card for each Power or Defense a Mask has.  Every Ability (a Power or Defense) has a Name, Number, and a brief description of what it does and to whom.  Abilities may affect the Masked Character, their Keys, the Cards they've Thrown, or those still in their Hand, or your Character.  Create the Name with the letters earned during the Adventure (or make them up for your first Mask).  Next, determine whether the Ability will Fool, Sense, Direct, Ruin, Imitate, Alter, Restore, Assimilate, or Produce.  Now Choose whether it will affect Characters, Keys, Throws, Hands, or Yourself.  Note all this down (and probably a description of what the effect is) on a note Card making sure to leave the back blank.

                                Here are what the various combinations do:[list=1][*]Fool
                                  This is mostly kept in the Hand until a Sense is used and then played immediately as a supplementary Defense to rebuke that effect (provided applicable Subject).  These are played as Defenses.

                                  Can be revealed after the Opponents Cards are on the table but before they are revealed, allowing you to switch Masks and replay your Throw.[/list:u]
                                  Played after the Clash to 'reclaim' stolen Keys; cannot be used to stop Key destruction.[/list:u]
                                  It can be used as a 'feint' to prompt the Opponent to do certain things; in that case it can be played as a Power or Defense and then replaced by the same (except with a shorter Name) after seeing what their Opponent played.[/list:u]
                                  Prevents Opponent from viewing your Hand.[/list:u]
                                On Yourself
                                  Allows you to escape Battle unharmed; in the Climactic Battle of a Scene, it is considered a loss.  At the end of the Adventure, it means the Character does not succeed (and can only add a Power to a Mask with letters from other Scenes).[/list:u][/list:u]
                                  This Power lets you look at the Abilities or Defenses yet to be played.  Senses can be played as Powers or Defenses.

                                  This Power lets you examine all of your Opponents Mask Cards briefly.[/list:u]
                                  Once played, this represents the Ability to foresee the future of the Character's Keys.  It is left in play and activates whenever the Opponent does anything to add Keys to his stock; the Card is expended and whatever effect did that is neutralized[/list:u]
                                  You play this after your Opponent's Cards are on the table, but before they are revealed.  It allows you to look at their choices and replay yours.[/list:u]
                                  This allows you a brief look at the Cards you Opponent has for the current Mask.[/list:u]
                                On Yourself
                                  Another foresight use, left in play, this Power can be called upon once to replay a Card that you lose a Clash with.[/list:u][/list:u]
                                  These Abilities and Defenses let change the selection of Subject for another Power.  These are played as Defenses.

                                  Forces the Opponent to change Masks for the next Clash.[/list:u]
                                  Causes any Power's effect to be applied against the reversed set of Keys (an Assimilate goes from their Keys to yours or a Ruin harms them, and so on).[/list:u]
                                  Your choice, his Power acts upon him instead of you (or vice if versa) or his defense protects you as well as him.[/list:u]
                                  Allows you to choose a blind draw from their Hand to replace either their Power or Defense as played.[/list:u]
                                On Yourself
                                  You cause the effect of one of your Cards to be reversed (a Restore becomes a Ruin against your Opponent).[/list:u][/list:u]
                                  These Abilities let you damage, impair, or remove Subjects.  This is played as a Power.

                                  Your Opponent's current Mask is out of play for a Clash.[/list:u]
                                  Takes away Opponent's Keys as listed above.[/list:u]
                                  Opponent's Power is nullified this Clash.[/list:u]
                                  One Power or Defense is removed from your Opponent's Hand for the duration of the Battle.[/list:u]
                                On Yourself
                                  Removes any Card from your Hand or left in play.  This can be useful when you want to add Cards to your Hand, but already have as many as syllables in your Mask's Name.[/list:u][/list:u]
                                  You can ape some quality of the Subject this is played upon.  This is played as a Power.

                                  Allows you to copy all the Cards your Opponent is using with his Mask when played (you must Discard enough Cards in your Hand to 'make room' for these additions, you cannot have more Powers and Defenses than syllables in your Mask's Name)[/list:u]
                                  You are able to raise the Number of Keys you have to match those of your Opponent at the time this is played.[/list:u]
                                  Allows you to copy the effect of any of the Cards on the table (in place of the imitate Card).[/list:u]
                                  You may add a copy of any of the Cards in your Opponent's Hand to your Hand (if you are already at the limit, Discard the Imitate Card).[/list:u]
                                On Yourself
                                  You can copy a Power or Defense of a Mask you possess (ruined or not) but not currently worn, into your Hand (if you are already at the limit, Discard the Imitate Card).[/list:u][/list:u]
                                  Allows you to alter a Subject for the duration of its Mask being worn.  This is played as a Power.

                                  Left in play, this Card halves the 'apparent syllables' of your Opponent's current Mask.  The Wearer must Discard enough Cards to meet the new limit.  This Power returns to your Hand you’re your Opponent changes Masks.[/list:u]
                                  Left in play until your Opponent changes Masks, this forces them to spend Keys to use Powers
                                and Defenses.[/list:u]Throw
                                  Your Opponent's Power now affects a different Subject (your choice of Character, Keys, Throw, Hand, or themselves).[/list:u]
                                  Your Opponent must swap Cards you blindly pick from their Hand for Cards you blindly pick from all of their other Masks.[/list:u]
                                On Yourself
                                  Lets you combine the Cards from two Masks and keep as many as the Mask with the most syllables.[/list:u][/list:u]
                                  You can undo the effect of another Power.  This is played as a Defense.

                                  You can undo any Card left in play by your Opponent; it returns to his Hand (or if it exceeds their limit, it is Discarded).[/list:u]
                                  Your lost Keys (during this Battle) are returned to your stock as limited by how many are gone or your 'Degree of Success,' whichever is lower.[/list:u]
                                  Returns any Discarded Card you choose to the Hand it was lost from (this will force a another Card to be Discarded if the limit is exceeded, your blind choice if it is your Opponent's Hand restored).[/list:u]
                                  Discards any Card left on the table that affects either Player's Hand.[/list:u]
                                On Yourself
                                  Returns any Cards not in your Hand as you choose.[/list:u][/list:u]
                                  You can steal Subjects.  When this Card is played and it results in a Hand holding too many Cards, it is Discarded.  This is played as a Power.

                                  You may steal one of you Opponent's Masks for the duration of the Battle.  (You cannot use more than your Character's Name in syllables of Powers when you employ the Mask, but the Mask does not lose them; simply Discard as needed each time you change to this Mask.)[/list:u]
                                  Take as many as the 'Degree of Success' (as listed above) of your Opponent's Keys and place them in your stock.[/list:u]
                                  You take either Card your Opponent just played after the Clash is resolved.[/list:u]
                                  You may steal a blindly chosen Card from your Opponents Hand.[/list:u]
                                On Yourself
                                  You may choose any Power from any Mask you possess and add it to your Hand.[/list:u][/list:u]
                                  You can invent Subjects out of nothing.  If the creations of this Power cannot be done quickly, the effect is lost.  This is played as a Power.

                                  You may create a new Power or Defense for your Opponent's Hand and if it forces him to Discard, you choose it blindly.[/list:u]
                                  You may add as many Keys as your 'Degree of Success' to your stock.[/list:u]
                                  You may create a new Defense on the spot as needed and add it to your Hand after the Clash is resolved.[/list:u]
                                  You may create a new Power and add it to your Hand.  This new Power may only be used as many times as your Degree of Success.[/list:u]
                                On Yourself
                                  You may create a new Mask with only the Powers of Produce Throw and Produce Hand.  It only exists until you take it off.[/list:u][/list:u][/list:o]
                                Keys to Adventure

                                Every Character has the Keys to their Adventures; at the beginning of a Serial, each of the Characters has as many Keys as there are syllables in their Masks' Names.  Keys are spent to activate the Powers of the Masks.  You receive additional Keys during the game by supplying the Complications in another Player's Adventure.  You also get Extra 'starting' Keys by agreeing to be the focus of other Characters' Conflicts or Strengths.  Your Character is not ready for play until they are the focus of Conflicts or Strengths for at least a forth of the other Characters.  These 'relationships' do not have to be reciprocated in any your other seven Names.  Use whatever props you like to represent Keys, just make sure you have plenty of them on Hand.
                                    Kranatutu could choose to be Stallion's Bitter Rival.  Likewise she could also be his Ex-Fiance and pull him out of the occasional jam; it's really up to her.[/list:u][/list:u]In order to create an Adventure, the Player with the shortest Mask Names goes first.  Having more than one Mask counts as having a longer Mask Name (add the letter counts together).  This Player Names the Adventure they'd like to have; this Name is used in the Title of the Adventure.  The whole Title may provide additional information about the nature of the Adventure.  If Title doesn't otherwise, the Player must also specify the Scope of the Adventure.  The Number of syllables in the Name of the Adventure plus the Scope is the Number of 'meaningful' Scenes in the Adventure (cut Scenes, flashbacks, establishing shots, and Scenes that don't establish or change the direction of the Adventure don't count towards this total); these are the stakes.

                                    Scope is determined thus:[list=1][*]Individual
                                      The Adventure centers around and culminates with a confrontation with a single individual Subject be they Spirit, possessed by one, using a Mask, or reacting to the Complications of a Spirit.[/list:u]
                                      A Handful of Subjects will be eventually dealt with in this 'size' of Adventure.[/list:u]
                                      A whole village will be affected by the result of this Adventure.[/list:u]
                                    [*]Lost City
                                      An Adventure that decides the fate of an entire hidden city-state represents this Scope.[/list:u]
                                      An Adventure spanning or affecting an entire region occurs at this level.[/list:u]
                                      Africa is divided into only a few Climes, the desert, the jungle, savanna, coasts, and et cetera.  This Adventure involves the whole thing.[/list:u]
                                      Only Adventures near the end of the game affect the entire Masked Continent.[/list:u][/list:o]Each Scene in the Adventure is more 'difficult' than the previous by a factor of one until the Climax that equals the stakes.  The 'Difficulty' of a Complication within a Scene are similar.
                                        Thus an Adventure titled "The Riddle of Mu, the Lost City of Gold" would have a Scope of four and one syllable (the Name is "Mu")for a Scene total of 5.
                                        [/list:u][/list:u]Each Scene has the Character deal with some effect of a Spirit, Mask, or Mask Wearer, directly or indirectly.  The Number of syllables in the Spirit's Name, plus the Scope of the Scene, are the level of that Scene, but the Scope does not need to proceed in any order from Scene to Scene.  Each Scene must force the Character to deal with an effect of a Spirit's presence in some definitive fashion.  Any Scene that does not, offers no Keys for the Author supplying the Complication, nor letter for the Player of the Character.
                                            Maybe the Complication for a later Scene confronts the Character with a city official who secretly feeds a spirit and is slave to its appetites.  This is a single individual, but not the first Scene.[/list:u][/list:u]The other Players take turns creating Complications around which each Scene is based.  This Complication must remain secret until the appropriate moment part way through the Scene.  Since no one plans an entire Adventure, the next Player is encouraged to 'get creative' with how their Complication becomes 'more difficult' than the last Scene's.  Don't forget that all Scenes must suit the Title of the Adventure; try to avoid going off on tangents (unless they create puns or irony).  Any Scene that either fails to capture the 'Darkest Africa' flavor or gets away from the Title of the Adventure does not offer any Rewards for the Complication's Author.  A good Complication yields one Key for its Author once completed, long or short.
                                                So the Author of the final Complication, where Stallion captures the Spirit corrupting the officials of Mu in its labyrinthine underground passageways gets its Author a Key he can use in his own Adventure.[/list:u][/list:u]By invoking a Strength or Conflict that ties the Central Character to one of the others, the Player may cause another Player's Character to join a Scene.  The Author of the Complication is exempt from this (effectively neutralizing that Strength or Conflict).  It is possible for the other Player to then 'steal the Scene' through play yielding them the letter for the Scene, if they resolve the Complication instead of the Central Character.

                                                Longer Adventures are often broken up into shorter sagas so that the group does not need to linger too long with only one person playing.  This occurs after a particularly Climactic Complication is dealt with.  The Adventure 'on hold' counts the letters for the Adventure 'so far' and the Character's Mask's Names for the purpose of deciding 'who goes first.'


                                                The most important thing to remember is to start a Scene 'when it gets good' and not a moment before.  Time is not being kept (a Serial can span decades if it appeals to the participants), so things like 'travel time' should be ignored.  Concentrate on 'cutting to the chase.'  The Author of a Scene should think about his mysterious Complication and consider when the first, most significant decision must take place for the Character.

                                                Since each Adventure must begin with a Scene with an 'intensity' of one, it'll either be a single person or an encounter with a Spirit with a Name of one syllable, but it needn't end in Battle (too many Battles early on create a hefty requirement for tougher and tougher Battles throughout the Adventure, try to take it easy).  Try to imagine how this connects to the Title of the Adventure.  Begin at the point where the Central Character is forced to make a decision that involves them in their Adventure.  Describe how the place that this happens looks like; give it plenty of color.  Recount how the Character got into this situation in the first place, press the decision, and let the Central Character's Player describe their reaction.

                                                Play goes back and forth between the Complication's Author and the Player until the Character resolves the Complication invented by the Author.  Early Scenes will be over very quickly.  The challenge for the next Author is not only 'fitting in' with the Title, but also making the previous Scene(s) relevant.  This can be done by continuing the presence of some item, place, or Extra.  (The previous Author is not allowed another turn right away if anyone has even the vaguest idea for the next Complication; if more than one person has an idea, they go in the order of least Keys to most.)  Jumps to seemingly unrelated situations are entirely possible, but must make some kind of reference to previous Scenes and Complications at some point.  Be careful not to use too many Extras (the Characters in the story not played by any Players) over the course of the Adventure.  The simple way to do this is to 'give voice' to only a few, speaking for them, using third person to refer to the speech of the rest.

                                                As the Scenes grow 'bigger,' the other Players are encouraged to take on the roles of some of the speaking Extras; provided they really enforce the setting or the Title, they receive a Key at the end just like the Author of the Complication.  Whenever there is question over whether this or any Reward is justified, a show of Character Cards determines the majority's decision.

                                                At the end of each successful Scene, the Player of the Central Character chooses a letter from the Name of the principal embodiment of the Complication as his prize.  At the end of the whole Adventure, they may use these to Name the Mask of the Spirit they've just captured or Name a new Power for a Mask they already have if they haven't.  Be careful choosing because Power comes from the syllables in the Name, if you run out of vowels, you may wind up with fewer Powers.

                                                Throughout the Scenes, the Central Character will do many things.  They automatically succeed at anything that could be reasonably construed as having to do with their Strengths.  (If the Player desires, they can have their Character notably fail at such an endeavor and claim a Key instead, this only occurs when the activity is crucial to reaching directly to the Climax of the Complication.)  Activities not related to either a Character's Strengths or their Conflicts should not be a part of a Scene (just 'skip over' those parts and 'cut to the chase').

                                                When violence occurs outside of the Court of Masks, it is handled highly abstractly.  Compare any applicable Strength of the hero with the apparent Strength of the Opponent.  The greater Strength wins, the loser is 'bloodied' but survives and escapes.  Death can only occur in the last Scene of an Adventure.  This is one way that Conflicts can be dealt away with; compromise is another.  No matter what, the tension implicit in the Conflict can only be relaxed in the final Scene of an Adventure.

                                                The Battle is Joined

                                                The only Conflicts of note on the Masked Continent are Battles on the Court of Masks.  The Court of Masks is an 'outside place' from reality that looks, feels, and seems like a dream.  Battles with Masked Opponents may require a quick creation of their Mask(s), all Players will create the Powers and Defenses while the Author creates the Mask Name(s) and gives minimal direction to the other Players.  The Player whose Adventure this is creates the Name of the Opponent (unless a Spirit).  The Author of the Complication plays this Extra for the Battle (unless it was a speaking Extra used by another Player).  Spirit Opponents work the same way but are created as though a Mask unto themselves, without a Wearer.  This Opponent may not have more syllables in their Name than the Number of Scene being played in the Adventure.  (id est, the second Scene can have an Opponent with no more than two syllables in their Name.)  It's faster to 'recycle' Opponents or Abilities when possible (it also ties the Adventures to each other better).  Involved Players lose their Rewards for taking too long.

                                                Battles here are Handled as a series of Clashes.  Each Clash consists of both Players playing one Power (or Mask) and one Defense; using a Power expends one Key. If the Player plays one of his other Masks instead of a Power he is 'changing his Mask;' he is not allowed to use the next Mask's Powers and Defenses until the next Clash and on (Masks removed regain all their original Powers and Defenses when 'taken off').  To carry out a Clash, Power and Defense Cards are played from the Hand of each Player and placed on the table before them facedown.  When all Cards are placed, they are turned over.  Each played is resolved following the effect of the type of Power using Numerology.

                                                Abilities and Defenses are give Numbers based on the Numerology chart (see above).  When the Clash is revealed, for each play add the Number from the Name of the Mask, the Name of the attack, and the Name of the Defense.  The result is reduced per Numerology and compared to the Character's Number.  The lower of the two is subtracted from the higher (unless their more than four apart, in that case, add 9 to the lower first).
                                                  [*]If the difference is zero, you succeed greatly (the Degree of Success equals the letters in the Name of the Ability).
                                                  [*]If the difference is one, your usage succeeds (the Degree of Success equals the letters in your Power's Name outNumber those in the Defense or one, whichever is higher).
                                                  [*]If the difference is two, your usage barely succeeds (the Degree of Success equals one).
                                                  [*]If the difference is three, your usage fails
                                                  [*]If the difference is four, the Power cannot be used and the Card is set the aside for one Clash[/list:u]The Opponents continue Clashing until one yields or is out of Keys.  The other, the winner, may choose a letter out of any of their Opponent's Masks to use at the end of the Adventure.  (The loser does not actually lose the letter; it merely becomes a 'mark of victory' in the winner's story.)  At the end of the Adventure, the Player may add a Power to a Mask, (providing that the Battle was with a 'free Spirit') add a Mask with a Name made up of these letters (if they won), or add to their Proper Name and remove the Conflict or Strength (that their Character dealt away with).

                                                  Final Confrontations

                                                  Ultimately, the Players must confront each other in Masked Court Battles to determine who will take their place amongst the gods.  During these Battles, the Player will use the Numerological Number for their Character's Name instead of Masks' Names in the Battle.  Also, once per Battle, their Opponent may invoke any of their remaining Strengths or Conflicts to block any Power played (not including Defenses).  This is why the game is said to be a 'tragedy in the making;' the ultimate confrontations almost require that the Characters have shed all relevance to worldly concerns, becoming more 'godlike.'

                                                  In a campaign of Eclipse of the Masked Continent, the Character then has to confront the god whose Number is the same as theirs for their Name.  This god will be a Character retired from a previous play.  Whichever wins will be retired as the god of the Numerology for a future game.  There is a tenth god, zero the trickster, who never Battles but is the representative of the universe from before the world formed.  In campaign play, a Number of speaking Extras will be revealed to have been this god in disguise by the end, but only those that 'tricked' a Character into a surprise turn of events (snatching defeat from the jaws of victory and so on).

                                                  Once your group has retired Characters for the gods for all of the other nine Numbers, write up those Characters' stories and submit them to editor@scattershotgames.com; you may win a free copy of one of the most recent Scattershot games.

                                                      Either a Power or Defense possessed by a Mask or Spirit.[/list:u]
                                                      A series of Scenes, initiated by the Player of their Central Character with a Title containing the Name of the Adventure.[/list:u]
                                                      The Player who supplies the Complication and other material for a Scene.[/list:u]
                                                      A confrontation held in the Court of Masks.[/list:u]
                                                      Everything is noted on Cards, Character Cards, Speaking Extra Cards, Mask Cards, and Ability Cards.[/list:u]
                                                    Central Character
                                                      The Character belonging to the Player who initiates an Adventure.[/list:u]
                                                      A person in the context of the game.[/list:u]
                                                      Each Player in the Battle places two Cards on the table before them, one Power (or Mask) and one Defense.  How these Cards are revealed and applied is covered above.[/list:u]
                                                      The last part of a Scene (or the whole last Scene in an Adventure), it forces the Complication to be resolved successfully or not.[/list:u]
                                                      The crux of a Scene, the Author of a Scene invents this and if becomes the focus of play, directly or indirectly.[/list:u]
                                                      A challenge faced by a Character, given a Name by the Player, it connects the Character to some part of the game world.[/list:u]
                                                      The game's Battlefield, also called the Court of Masks.[/list:u]
                                                    Court of Masks
                                                      Where all Spiritual and Masked Battles take place, this is 'outside of the world.'[/list:u]
                                                      An Ability that either a Spirit or a Mask possesses used to protect it or its Wearer.[/list:u]
                                                    Degree of Success
                                                      A Number resulting from a Clash, equal to the Number of letters in the Name of the Power, the difference between that Number and the count of letters in the Defense, one, or zero.  See the calculation table above.[/list:u]
                                                    Difficulty (Factor)
                                                      A rating of the Complication in a Scene, it begins at one for the first Scene of an Adventure and proceeds one at a time until the final Scene, which is given its rating based on the Name of the Adventure and its Scope.[/list:u]
                                                      A Card set aside, facedown during a Battle, it cannot be used during the rest of the Battle unless Restored.[/list:u]
                                                      A Character not belonging to any specific Player, they are created by an Author during a Complication.  Many are not 'speaking roles,' instead having their dialogue described in third person rather than said.  Speaking Extras can be played by Players other than the Author of a Scene.[/list:u]
                                                      The Cards held in your Hand(s) in such a way that your Opponent may not see them.  Each Battle begins with you Hand containing a Card for every Power of the Mask you begin with.[/list:u]
                                                      This doesn't necessarily have to be Hand drawn by the Player, but can be any example of two-dimensional pictorial reference.  A clipping is fine, or silhouettes, anything that is flat and shows a view of the Mask.[/list:u]
                                                      Symbolic items that represent the mystical 'oomph' that affords the use of Powers.  Use any kind of small props to represent your Character's Keys.  Spending a Key activates a Power in a Battle.  You get Keys for participating in Authoring Complications.[/list:u]
                                                      The physical embodiment of Spirits captured and employed by the artists who make and wear them.[/list:u]
                                                    Masked Continent
                                                      Africa, the continent of the setting.[/list:u]
                                                    Masked Court
                                                      The game's Battlefield, also called the Court of Masks.[/list:u]
                                                      Very important to the game, these are given to anything of value to play, Adventures, Characters, Masks, Spirits, Conflicts, and Strengths.  Numerology is used to derive Numbers from all Names (see the process, with diagram, above).[/list:u]
                                                      After converting all letters in a Name to digits according to the chart, these digits are added together.  If the result has more than one digit,
                                                    those digits are added together; repeat this last step until only one digit remains.  This is the Number for that Name.[/list:u]Numerology
                                                      The metaphysical study of Numbers, how they relate to words and people.  From it comes the method for deriving a Number for each Name.[/list:u]
                                                      The Player playing opposite you in a Battle or the Character facing your Character in the same Battle.[/list:u]
                                                      A participant in the game, the 'real' people.[/list:u]
                                                      An Ability used proactively to create a beneficial effect for its wielder.[/list:u]
                                                    Proper Name
                                                      A Name which quantifies a Character.  A Character may have a 'use Name' like Francis Scott Fitzgerald, but in the game, his Proper Name could be Fitzgerald.  This doesn't mean that all Names may only have one word to them, but that excessively long Names can be Voted shorter by the major.  'Red Baron' would be good, but 'King Armand von Estates of Microvia' will probably get shortened.[/list:u]
                                                      The Keys or letters a Player receives for their part in play.  Poor play or wasting time can result in the majority voting to void a Reward.[/list:u]
                                                      A single unit of play, it follows the Central Character as they resolve a Complication created by the Author of the Scene.  It may include a Number of temporal or spatially separate locations, but 'cutting to the chase' should close these breaks and keep play from dragging.[/list:u]
                                                      The physical 'size' of what a Scene affects, the entirety of the Scope need not be directly altered by the actions or inactions of the Central Character, but the whole should 'feel' the result.[/list:u]
                                                      The overall Name for the collection of Adventures culminating in the final confrontation between the Players.  So Named because of the likelihood of completing it in one sitting.  Keys to everyone who participates in a proper cliffhanger to stop play at.[/list:u]
                                                      Disembodied Powerful entities who possess, affect, bother, direct, follow, and otherwise bedevil the denizens of the Masked Continent.[/list:u]
                                                      Something that works in the Character's favor, given a Name by the Player, it also connects the Character to some part of the game world.[/list:u]
                                                      Whatever a Power or Defense is supposed to affect.[/list:u]
                                                      The two Cards a Player puts down in a Clash.[/list:u]
                                                      A more description label for an Adventure, it must contain the Adventure's Name.[/list:u]
                                                      When a manner of play is called into question, a Vote is taken.  Players who agree with the judgment call being made raise their Character Card; half or more Votes ratifies the judgment.[/list:u]
                                                      The artist who puts on the Powerful Masks of their creation and uses the Abilities of such.[/list:u][/list:u]Copyright 2002 Impswitch and Fang Langford

                                                    Fang Langford is the creator of Scattershot presents: Universe 6 - The World of the Modern Fantastic.  Please stop by and help!
                                                    Mike Holmes
                                                    Acts of Evil Playtesters

                                                    Posts: 10459

                                                    « Reply #66 on: October 16, 2002, 02:03:20 PM »


                                                    Where did that come from!

                                                    With just a few hours left, Fang Langford-San has arrived with a veritable banquet. This is a tight competition indeed!

                                                    Only a few hours left! Who will be crowned the new Iron Game Chef Gamist!




                                                    Member of Indie Netgaming
                                                    -Get your indie game fix online.

                                                    Posts: 675

                                                    « Reply #67 on: October 16, 2002, 02:11:23 PM »

                                                    I was going to add a whole bunch of examples to part 2 of Co9C to really beef it up, but I am running out of time... the more I look at the game, the more ideas I get about what to add. (I just now added rules for artists exploring the Void at random!)

                                                    so I am going to post the rest of the rules here, and save any further changes for a later "edition", after the contest is over. I definitely want to develop this into a larger game for publication.

                                                    also, I made one edit to part one of the game: I changed the Third Law of Description to add "shape" as a possible adjective type.

                                                    continuing now from part one of the rules, located here:

                                                    the COURT of 9 Chambers
                                                    a role-playing game of artistic transcendence

                                                    CHARACTER IMPROVEMENT

                                                    Since the two character abilities (Extrovert and Introvert) cannot be changed after character creation, nor can the character's name, monogram, or Essence, the only real way to improve a character (aside from acquiring Tools) is to add or Intensify Motifs.

                                                    To add a Motif, players compose an ADJECTIVE+NOUN Motif in accordance with the Laws of Description. The "movable thing" restriction given during character creation is lifted: if you can picture someone lifting or holding an object, even if it would be impossible to "really" lift or hold that item, it is considered "movable" for advanced artists. Thus, since it is possible to paint a picture of someone holding a black car, "black car" is a potential Motif with an Essence of 3.

                                                    New Motifs are not automatically acquired; the player must make an Introvert roll (representing meditation;) one success means the Motif has been added. Motifs must begin at +1 Intensity, no matter how many successes made on the improvement roll, but may be increased later.

                                                    To increase the Intensity of a Motif, the player writes down an existing Motif (in plain view to other players) and adds more adjectives to the Motif. Thus, "greasy spoon" can become "red fly-covered greasy spoon". The player adds as many adjectives that come to mind as possible (within the usual restrictions on adjectives.)

                                                    As long as there are no objections about the validity of an adjective, the player rolls for Introvert as before; the number of successes equals the number of adjectives the character gets to keep (and thus equals the new intensity.) Note that the intensity can *drop*, although any Motif will keep at least one adjective.

                                                    Characters cannot use paintings or Tools to improve their chances of adding or Intensifying a Motif, except for a special case: an Icon of the Motif in real life counts as a Tool. So, if a player wants to Intensify "slimey green treefrog", a slimey green treefrog Icon counts as 2 extra dice on the Intensity roll.  Places can also count as Icons: someone wishing to add "misty mountain" as a Motif could take an extra day to locate "misty mountain", which would count as a +1 Intensity Tool (Locale.) finding Icons or Iconic locales is handled the same as any other Tool Acquisition.


                                                    Characters can acquire Tools and allies during play. The difference is that a Tool is an object that improves your chances when performing an action while an ally is a person who gives you an extra daytime action.
                                                    To acquire a Tool, make an Extrovert roll. There aren't many other Tools that could grant a bonus on an acquisition roll, but there are a few possibilities:

                                                      [*] want-ads or catalogs
                                                      [*] a Locale where that Tool may be found
                                                      [*] another Tool that you want to sell/trade to purchase the new Tool

                                                      You can also sell or trade a painting to boost an acquisition roll. This is better than selling a Tool (which only adds 1 to 3 dice) because a painting adds dice equal to its Quality on this roll.

                                                      A Tool acquisition roll is a simple roll with varying degrees of success. The Intensity of the Tool equals the number of successes rolled.

                                                      You don't need to acquire any Tools, although it's wise to do so; they are a way to get a bonus on Extrovert rolls. If you do not want a bonus, it is assumed you can get your hands on ordinary items for whatever tasks you try. Ordinary paintbrushes or an easel does not grant a bonus, but you can use them while painting. An ordinary knife doesn't help you fight any better than you could with your fist, because it might happen to be dull or the grip is slippery and you could drop it.

                                                      Icons also count as Tools (i.e. they can only be used in the real world, for one type of activity: meditation) but are rated as Motifs, based on the number of adjectives that apply; plus, they give their bonuses on Introvert rolls only. Icons can also be used in trade to acquire Tools.

                                                      Some Icons will be hard or impossible to find, especially if they do not exist in the real world, but they may be possible to fake. The steps to making a Fake (or Hoax) are:

                                                        [*]find an Icon that is as close as possible (this takes one action
                                                           and thus one day;)

                                                        [*]on the next day, create the Fake using an Intensify Motif roll
                                                         (but using Extrovert instead of Introvert.)

                                                        This is mainly a technique to stifle objections ("OK, I realize `winged pig' is an impossible icon to find, so I will find a hairy pig today, then put fake wings on it tomorrow.")

                                                        Locales also count as Tools. some Locales are Icons and have their Intensity based on their adjectives, while a few (good metalworking shop, excellent studio) have an Intensity based on the good/great/excellent range. Searching for a Locale is handled the same as acquiring Tools.

                                                        Allies, as already mentioned, are people or animals (with names, descriptions, Essences, Introvert/Extrovert scores, even Tools and other allies, but no Motifs) that players control. They are NACs (Non Artist Characters.) An ally is basically an extra real world action. Not every ally can perform every kind of action, and no ally can perform mystical (artist) actions. However, you can have a manservant acquire Tools for you, have a lawyer bail you out of jail, hire a thug
                                                        to steal a painting or attack a rival.

                                                        To acquire your Ally, make an Extrovert roll. Your successes on the roll count as your Ally's Extrovert score; the Introvert score will be the complimentary score (Extrovert + Introvert always equals 9).

                                                        What about Iconic Allies? They are called "Models". You can either hire a model (successes on the acquisition roll equal the Intensity of the Icon) or hire a regular ally, then ask the ally to model for you.

                                                        You can attempt to steal Tools from other artists or Bribe Allies away from your rivals by making an opposed Extrovert roll. for bribes, you can trade paintings and Icons as if acquiring a Tool; for theft, Tools such as crowbars or glass cutters might be helpful. If you win, you get the Tool or Ally; if you tie, you fail; if your opponent wins, run: your opponent gets one free attack or one free "call the police" action.


                                                        Painting is a special action for artists; allies cannot paint because they do not have Motifs. A real painting uses one or more Motifs, which gives it more meaning and power than a cheap knock-off.

                                                        As explained during character creation, paintings have a special score called Quality. It is equivalent to Introvert. If you are in a painting (in the Noösphere, of course...) and need to make any Introvert roll (except the roll to transcend,) you get to add your painting's Quality to the number of dice you roll. Also, you get to match your painting's Essence in addition to your own Essence, possibly doubling your chances of getting a success.

                                                        The Motifs in a painting also give an opportunity for extra dice and extra matches. This makes a painting a very powerful resource in the Noösphere. Co9C strategy revolves around the use of paintings.

                                                        To make a Painting, write down the name of the painting, describe it, and list the Motifs the painting will contain, in the order desired. These must be Motifs your character has already acquired. Then, make two rolls:

                                                          [*]an Extrovert roll to determine whether the painting is finished
                                                             or not. If there were no successes, the painting was botched;
                                                             you will need to try again another day.

                                                          [*]an Introvert roll to determine how inspired character is today.
                                                             Add these successes (if any) to the successes from the Extrovert

                                                          Decide now whether your character will finish the painting today or continue to paint the next day. Each day that the character continues painting, roll the same two rolls; zero successes on the Extrovert roll again means the painting is ruined, but at least one success means that all the successes add to the previous day's successes.

                                                          When you decide to finish the painting, take the successes and "spend" them on Motifs; one Motif costs one success. "Buy" them in the order you wrote on your scratch paper when planning the painting; you cannot take the Motifs out of order, but you can stop buying Motifs at any time.

                                                          Any left-over successes become points of Quality. You may opt to drop one or more Motifs, rewriting the painting's description, so that the painting will be of higher Quality.
                                                          Once finished, make a monogram of the painting's title using the visual nouns in the title, then calculate its Essence.

                                                          One special kind of painting is a Parody. Parody paintings have the title "parody of (original title)". The monogram is the same as for the original. Again, the painter must have all the Motifs used in the painting, including at least one Motif identical to the original.  The process of creation is the same as for regular paintings. Parody paintings can be used in the Noösphere to move into the original painting (to attack a character, for example, or to attack the
                                                          original painting's Motifs.)

                                                          And... if you just have to make a knock-off painting (to trade for Tools or hire Allies, for example,) you can follow the same steps, but purchase no Motifs. A painting without Motifs is useless in the dream-trance (it doesn't "carry over" into the Noösphere,) but since all of the successes carry over into Quality, it can at least be sold.


                                                          Movement in Co9C is very abstract. Instead of using a map, you use a Distance score, which starts at zero for everyone. if you decide you would be safer if you were farther away, you announce as your action "I am moving farther away" and make an Extrovert roll; the successes on your roll are added to the Distance.

                                                          Distance is always positive; it is distance from the center. If you want to return to the center, you can announce "I am moving closer" for your action and make an Extrovert roll, subtracting one point from your Distance score for each success, until you reach zero. You cannot overshoot.

                                                          You can attempt to move to a specific distance -- to retrieve a Tool or painting you left there, for example, or to catch up to a rival artist who moved away yesterday. This is treated in the same way as a zero score: you add or subtract successes, depending on the direction you are moving, until your Distance matches your target Distance. again, you cannot overshoot.

                                                          If one person is chasing another, the person fleeing rolls an opposed action, then the person following rolls an opposed action. In both cases, the degree of success (winner minus loser) is the Distance gained or lost, winner's choice.

                                                          Movement in the Noösphere is even more abstract, since there is no distance or position; instead, you move from symbolic place to symbolic place.  Paintings represent these symbolic places; you can move to any place you have a painting for. This does not require a roll unless you are fleeing from someone else. You can also search the Noösphere for one scene to attempt to find another artist; if that artist stays put, you can move to wherever that artist is on your next scene by making an Introvert roll -- even if you do not have a painting for that symbolic place.

                                                          Portraits -- paintings of people-as-motifs -- can also move in the Noösphere.  You can move a portrait to any place you have a painting of, or have a portrait join you. Portraits act like allies in the Noösphere, granting extra actions in each scene.


                                                          Ah, finally! conflict!

                                                          Although it is possible to make a physical attack in the "real world", most of the combat in Co9C is art combat: either a conceptual attack on someone's art in the real world (the Critique) or using art and motifs to attack in the Chambers.

                                                          A Critique attempts to undermine Motifs in someone else's painting. You do not need to have these Motifs, as you would if you were making a Parody. To Critique, write down the Motifs in the original painting you wish to attack, then make an Extrovert roll followed by an Introvert roll, similar to the process of making a painting. The first (Extrovert) roll is not an opposed action; it's a roll to see if your critique was good enough to be published at all. The second (Introvert) roll is opposed by the painting's Essence. Subtract the painting's successes from your total successes. If no successes remain, your critique was ignored by the art world. Otherwise, each remaining success reduces one Motif by one level of Intensity (attacker's choice.) The owner of the painting drops any one adjective (owner's choice) from the Motif for each level of Intensity lost; if no adjectives remain, the Motif is lost (the painting looks the same, it just doesn't have as much power in the Noösphere as it did before the attack.) a painting with no Motifs is just an ordinary painting, suitable for sale; ordinary paintings cannot be critiqued.

                                                          You can also attack a painting's Motifs in the Chambers. To do so, you must be in the painting -- in other words, you followed a rival into his painting or you have a parody of his painting that you used to enter the original painting.  Make an Introvert roll, opposed by the painting's Essence. If you have a Motif that is present in the scene, you can use your Motif, too. If you win, your degree of success reduces the Motif you were attacking; if the painting wins, it expells you into a formless void. on a tie, you stay put, but the painting is undamaged.

                                                          If you do not have a Motif present in the current scene (you probably don't, unless you deliberately studied one,) you can add a Motif as one action. This does not change the original painting, it just modifies the scene until you leave it. Roll Introvert opposed by the Essence of the painting; if you win, you can add any Motif you know at an Intensity equal to your degree of success. If the painting wins, you are expelled.

                                                          Parody paintings can help when attacking or modifying a painting, too. First of all, they make entering the painting easier; second, because you are actually in the parody and not the original painting, you can't be expelled. But most important: the Parody assists you with its Quality and Essence. Since a Parody has the same Essence as the original painting it parodies, all of the original's successes will be tied by the Parody's successes. Plus, you can use the Motifs in the Parody as further boosters. In other words, parody attacks can be devastating.

                                                          Ok, time to stop throwing feathered lizards at your opponent's picture of a mausoleum: here's how to attack your rival directly. In the Chambers, move to your rival's location. Make an Introvert roll opposed by your rival's Essence. You can use any of your Motifs to boost your dice and provide extra matches, but only one at a time ("I throw a flaming crystal goblet at Andre's head!"); your rival gets to defend with any one Motif ("Andre attempts to block the goblet with a yellow submarine!".) Your rival can also get help from his painting, if you are attacking him on his home turf, or he can wait and let the painting attack on its own. If you are using a parody, your parody painting can join your attack. The winner gets to choose whether to expell the loser from the painting or to cause a Psychic Wound. A Psychic Wound, unlike a physical wound (described later) disappears when you awaken from your dream-trance; if you take more Psychic Wound damage than your Introvert score, you are forced awake immediately.

                                                          If your are afraid to tackle an opponent yourself – or just too busy transcending a Chamber – you can send a Portrait to attack. Portraits, as mentioned before, are like allies (often, they are portraits of allies) but act in the world of the Chambers instead of the real world. A portrait's Quality acts as its Introvert score. Portrait-initiated combat is identical to artist-initiated combat, except that portraits can't can't be psychically wounded; damage is done to its Motifs instead.

                                                          Attacks in the real world are similar; make an opposed Extrovert roll against your target's Essence. You can't use Motifs this time, since you are in the real world, but you can use an appropriate Tool, like a gun or knife. You can also send a thug Ally to make the attack instead.

                                                          And, to bring combat full circle, you or your Allies can attack (Ruin) a painting in the real world. Make an Extrovert roll opposed by the painting's Essence, plus extra dice for any Tools of destruction you may be using (large can of kerosene.) if you win, your degree of success reduces the painting's Quality permanently. If the painting wins, you have been caught red-handed and your opponent can make a free attack or call the police.

                                                          OTHER ACTIONS

                                                          There are a few actions that do not match any of the above broad catergories:

                                                            [*]CALL POLICE: if a character has just been robbed, vandalized, or attacked (or these actions were attempted,) a character may choose to report the crime to the authorities; make an opposed action Extrovert roll during the next day; on a success, the criminal goes to jail. A tie in this case means the criminal is a fugitive. If the criminal wins, however, he is found innocent and cannot be  reported for that particular crime again.

                                                            ... And if no crime has been committed, a player can opt to forge evidence. Treat this as a Tool Acquisition (Extrovert) roll. You must announce that you are forging evidence, but you do not need to identify your victim until you Frame them on another day.

                                                            [*]GET OUT OF JAIL: while a character is in jail, daytime actions are severly restricted: the only possible real-world actions are Hire a Lawyer (ally Aquisition), smuggle in a Tool (Tool Acquisition), or Make a Jail Break -- make an Introvert roll for a plan, then roll Extrovert to actually break out of jail. Escaped criminals can be reported to the police even if there is no new evidence or crime; any other player can attempt another opposed Call Police roll. If the fugitive wins, the manhunt is called off and the crime is erased from the criminal's record; otherwise, it's exactly like any other Call Police roll.

                                                            While in jail, the character's Allies can still perform real-world actions. This is one reason for the Hire Lawyer action: the lawyer can then make an Extrovert roll to get you out of jail legally.

                                                            [*]HIDE AND SEEK: players can make a simple Introvert roll to hide themselves, or an Extrovert roll to hide a Tool or painting. Record the number of successes: that's how good the hiding place is. Anyone who wants to attack you or steal the Tool/painting must search first: an opposed action Extrovert roll takes away from the Hide successes.

                                                            [*]RECOVER FROM WOUNDS: if your character has been wounded (see the CONFLICT section) and the wounds are more severe than your Extrovert score, you are unable to make real-world actions until you recover. Make an Introvert roll (not an Extrovert roll) once per day; every success reduces your Wounds by 1 point. you can stop resting once your wounds are below your Extrovert score. You can, of course, choose to skip a day of activity at any time to recover some more.

                                                            [*]WAKE UP: waking up during a dream-trance counts as one action, but does not require a roll. Waking up erases any Psychic Wounds you may have. Also, your paintings are safe from attacks in the Chambers while you are awake.


                                                            ADVANCED PLAY

                                                            The Co9C rules are abstract enough and flexible enough that players could make several changes to gameplay and still maintain the feel of the game. For example, instead of an "all against all" competition, players could try team play: the artists assume that it is possible for more than one person to achieve transcendence, but believe that anyone who reaches the Court will gain the power to dominate the Noösphere and shut out other seekers. Thus, two or more characters could cooperate while simultaneously opposing a small group of other artists.

                                                            Another possible change is to actually use a GM. this allows several options missing from GMless play:

                                                              [*]cooperative players (an Art School) in competition with one or
                                                                 more NPC groups, such as violent realists, territorial theosophists,
                                                                 or power-hungry mystics.
                                                              [*]extending daytime actions beyond the "one real-world action per
                                                                 day" model, allowing more interaction with noncombatant NPCs.
                                                              [*]exploratory missions into the Noösphere.

                                                              Some other changes you can make to the basic game, without changing to GMless or noncompetitive formats:

                                                                [*]Psychic Distance: whenever an artist is expelled into a void in the Chambers, the number of successes can be recorded as a Psychic Distance. Treat this as if it were real-world Distance, but the distance is conceptual rather than measurable. This adds the option of returning to the scene you were expelled from by making a simple Introvert roll; every success rolled removes one point of Psychic Distance until it is reduced to zero. Psychic Distance automatically resets to zero when you wake up or when you move into one of your own paintings.

                                                                [*]Fleeing into the Void: just as artists can choose to move farther away in the real world to avoid contact, they can also choose to move into the Void. Treat this exactly as if it were real-world Movement.

                                                                [*]Confounding: when artists attack, they have the option to Confound. This is a deliberate attempt to push someone into the Void. Treat your degree of success as the target's new Psychic Distance. You might use this tactic to buy some time to Transcend a painting, for example.

                                                                [*]Manipulating the Void: you might choose to stay in the Void for a few scenes. If you would like to decorate, you can attempt to add any of your Motifs by making an Introvert roll opposed by Essence 0. The number of successes on the roll equals the number of Motifs added to your location; adding Motifs to the Void is easier because it is a blank canvas.

                                                                [*]Void Battles: one reason to add Motifs to your location in the Void is in case a rival attempts to follow and attack. Void battles are fought on even ground: since you are not in a painting, you can't use it to your advantage, nor can your rival attack one of your paintings. If there are no Motifs added to the scene, you can only use one Motif to attack or defend; if one of your Motifs has been added, however, you can use it as well.

                                                                One variation of this is the more civil Formal Duel. The artists agree to meet in the Void and duel each other by attempting to manipulate the Void, adding Motifs. The artists take turns making opposed Void Manipulation rolls; the winner of each roll gets to add Motifs or remove Motifs. Once either artist feels comfortable with the amassed power, an attack roll is made, using the added Motifs as leverage; the winner gets to Confound the opponent.

                                                                [*]Exploration: sometimes, you just want to roam the Void until you find a random dream-scene. To explore, a player announces "I am exploring". Everyone in the group rolls one die. The players each look at their own die roll and check to see if they have a Motif with the same Essence number; if so, they can select one Motif to add to that scene.


                                                                That Whole "Dead Character" Thing: characters who choose to die, as mentioned previously, can no longer take actions in the real world, although their allies may take actions on their behalf. However, since they cannot make new paintings, their ability to transcend is more limited: they have to wait until another player makes a painting for a Chamber they have not transcended yet, wait for someone to enter that painting, then search, move in, and attempt to transcend -- possibly while being attacked.

                                                                Co9C play was deliberately designed to force players to make real-world actions to advance in the dream-trance. If, however, you want to loosen it a bit for the benefit of dead characters, you can add these actions:

                                                                  [*]Explore for Motifs: dead characters are no longer in the real world, so they cannot look to it for inspiration... but they can encounter new Motifs that other characters have brought into the through Exploration. Make an Exploration action as before; once the Motifs have been described for the new scene, the artist can make an Introvert roll opposed by the Essence of one of the Motifs: if successful, the artist adds that Motif at the +1 Intensity level.
                                                                  [*]Forming a Chamber: while in a Void location that has one or more Motifs in it, an artist can attempt to create a temporary "painting". This is treated as a special kind of Transcendence roll. First, give the scene a title, exactly as if it were a painting; then, make an Introvert roll opposed by Essence 0. If you win, the scene becomes a Chamber with an Essence based on the title you gave it.

                                                                  Keep in mind that temporary Chambers and other modifications to the Void vanish as soon as you move away from them. Also, dead characters in particular have one other inconvenience: since they can't wake up, their Psychic Wounds do not go away unless they try to recover from them, exactly like recovering from physical Wounds. If Psychic Wounds ever become greater than the artist's Introvert score, the artist can no longer act at all except to Recover (the wounded artist does get to make reactions on opposed rolls, however.)

                                                                  There is much much more that can be done with The COURT of 9 Chambers, but players should find plenty of opportunities even in the basic game. Enjoy, and pursue your Motifs!

                                                                  John Laviolette
                                                                  (aka Talysman the Ur-Beatle)
                                                                  rpg projects: http://www.globalsurrealism.com/rpg
                                                                  Jonathan Walton

                                                                  Posts: 1309

                                                                  « Reply #68 on: October 16, 2002, 02:14:23 PM »

                                                                  I've got to run to an exam right now, but I'll be back after 9:00pm to consolidate all my dishes into a delighfully convenient bundle and finish the few things I've left cooking in the oven.

                                                                  Personally I can't wait to sample some of the other dishes that have been presented, but I'm pressed for time at the moment.  They smell so good! :)

                                                                  Iron Chef Walton-San

                                                                  Le Joueur

                                                                  Posts: 1367

                                                                  « Reply #69 on: October 16, 2002, 03:33:45 PM »

                                                                  Quote from: Mike Holmes
                                                                  Fang Langford-San has arrived

                                                                  Try Fang-kun; you know me well enough, don't you?

                                                                  Even though I am the world's slowest game developer, I get lucky once in awhile.  Hopefully, I can whip up some examples before it's too late, for what's a dinner without garnish?

                                                                  And remember what the man says, "If Fang can cook, you can too!"

                                                                  Fang Langford

                                                                  p. s. You know; the proof of the pudding is in the eating.  Are you going to play these games Mike?  Or have we created a feast for your eyes?

                                                                  Fang Langford is the creator of Scattershot presents: Universe 6 - The World of the Modern Fantastic.  Please stop by and help!
                                                                  Jonathan Walton

                                                                  Posts: 1309

                                                                  « Reply #70 on: October 16, 2002, 06:10:30 PM »

                                                                  And, all the various dishes assembled together...



                                                                  Because turnabout
                                                                  is fair play.



                                                                  THEN I had religion, THEN I had a vision.
                                                                  I could not turn from their revel in derision.
                                                                  THEN I SAW THE TIBER, CREEPING THROUGH THE SNOW,
                                                                  CUTTING THROUGH THE VALLEY WITH A GHOSTLY GLOW.

                                                                  -- from "Tiber, A Study of the Cauca Race" by Wanjiru Lindiwe



                                                                  My Dearest Sister,

                                                                  How strange it is to be writing to you from the Pale Continent! To think that you are now safe and comfortable, many thousands of miles above this detestible locale, South across the sea and the Great Desert, gazing out the windows of our family's great house on the banks of the Congo. Oh, how I wish that our fortunes were different, and that I could stand by your side and look out over the river and across rooftops of the bustling cities of central Africa. But that is not the place that fate has set for us.

                                                                  Though I am quite miserable here in the land of savages -- of the Gauls and Germans, Latins and Etruscans, swarthy Iberians and pale Saxons, Huns, Slavs and Prussians, and those devilish idol-worshiping Celts -- know that my every thought is of home and of you, and, with both held deep within my breast, I am sustained. No Cauca barbarian can stand against an African with the spirit of the Congo flowing in his veins! So ease your troubled heart. The beastly creatures will not get the best of me, neverfear. Our family, though scattered to the winds by the will of Allah, will continue to grow stronger. We will tame these inhospitable lands, bring the savages to their knees, and offer them salvation through the Prophet (Praises be to Him). We will turn them away from their druids, witch doctors, and their false ressurected "Messiah," back to the light of the Quran. This goal, I know, is of special interest to your own compassionate heart.

                                                                  However, it is best to remember that these are savage brutes, cannibals some of them. They may not be inclined to the study of the divine without first being taught of the sword. As such, the Zulu commander-in-chief of the Assembled Northern Armies has given myself and our cousin Haakim leave to return to Latium. Once we arrive in the capital city (if such a provincial backwater can truly be called such), we are to vouchsafe it against the maurading tribes that occasionally breach our perimeter. Though Latium is not yet a candleflicker in comparison to the towering spires of Nigeria or even the thriving port cities of the Moroccan coast, it is still the second-largest jewel in our "European Crown," shining only slightly dimmer than Iberia (a wonderous place, I'm told, now that the bulk of the Hispanic tribes have been driven away or killed, and the peninsula is almost entirely Moorish).

                                                                  When we have safely reached Latium, I will send word of our state and means. Until then, dear sister, treasure us in your bosom and pray for your poor brother, adrift in these heathen lands.


                                                                  Khalid al Motumbo



                                                                  You are Africans of noble birth who have recently arrived in the city of Latium.  In all likelihood, you are devout Muslims, come from one of the lesser families of central-west Africa, and have been sent here as a punishment or through the manipulations of your enemies.  Latium is a dangerous frontier land, so only madmen WANT to come here.

                                                                  Your primary goals may be political (gain power and respect/fear), military (do your duties well and get promoted), economic (gain wealth and influence for your family), patriotic (bring honor to your family and nation), religious (kill the heathens or convert them to Islam), colonialist (tame the savage lands), revenge-driven (punish those who sent you here), or personal (anything you can imagine).


                                                                  The game consists of controlling your Lord or Lady and the various servants that attend to them.  You take part in the high-stakes intrigue, power politics, romances, rivalries, and struggles for survival that plague the Noble Court of Latium, an isle of civilization in a hostile environment.

                                                                  You do this through roleplaying and moving chess pieces around on a map of the city, one to represent yourself and others representing your slaves, servants, and others who follow your commands.  In this way, you will not merely be playing a Noble, but their entire household as well (albeit, one much smaller than they would command in their homeland).

                                                                  The GM, in turn, takes control of the Governor of Latium (himself a servant of the Empire), other Noble houses, the native barbarians, their chieftains, and anyone else the game requires.


                                                                  Who cares?  If you haven’t caught on yet, this is a game of alternate history, where African civilization rises to the top and seeks domination over the tribal peoples of Europe.  African culture and attitudes should be considered comparable to Europe at the time of its colonialist expansion into Africa (19th century), though the technology and culture of Latium is much closer to that of Classical Rome at its height.  There is no gunpowder or enginery in either Africa or Latium, and boats are still the most profitable way to transport goods and people over long distances.

                                                                  Until I get a chance to further detail the gameworld, the GM and players should feel free to elaborate as they see fit.  However, “The Pale Continent” is not really a game ABOUT alternate history.  Instead, it’s about the concepts and themes that are involved in turning history on its head.  For game purposes, it doesn’t really matter what life was like for the Nobles back in Africa.  That’s irrelevant to their current concerns.  Africa should be treated as a far-off, idealized paradise, one that the Nobles will probably never see again.  Instead of focusing on Africa, try to emphasize the exotic nature of Europe and the barbarian tribes that inhabit it.  Africa should only be used as an ideal to which the reality of the Pale Continent can never measure up to.


                                                                  Latium is roughly situated on the site of historic (and present day) Rome.  It is named for the tribes of “Latins” that the African armies drove up the peninsula (into the lands of the Gauls, Germans, and Slavs) when they took this region.  If you’ll look at the map of the Pale Continent included earlier, the dark areas roughly mark the spread of African civilization, while the lighter areas are still held by various Caucasoid tribes.  

                                                                  Latium is a fortified city supported by a standing army and (if they need it) larger contingents situated in Iberia and North Africa.  Though the barbarians are widely assumed to have been driven down to the Northernmost reaches of the Latin Peninsula, scattered groups of bandits occasionally try to raid the outskirts of the city.  Also, in recent years, there have been rumors of larger armies forming to the north, uniting various tribes under charismatic chieftain leaders.

                                                                  It has also been discovered that many of the barbarians respect the seal of Latium (twelve stars arranged in a circle, symbolizing the 7 hills surrounding the outer walls and the 5 districts that make up the city proper).  They somehow connect it to the “12 tribes of Isreal” of their primitive mythology, and have taken it as an omen that they will eventually retake the city.  Additionally, the same Cauca numerologists have determined (through various signs) that the natives “messiah” should return in the very near future, either this year or the next (depending on who you listen to).  Accordingly, the city’s standing army has been steadily growing over the past few months, since a major assault seems inevitable.


                                                                  REQUIRED COMPONETS

                                                                  1. The pieces from several chess sets.

                                                                  It is probably a good idea to require each player (and the GM) to track down an individual set of both white and black pieces.  Those pieces that they end up not using personally can be set aside (to be put into play as the households increase in size) or used by the GM, who will control all “free” Caucasians and the other Noble families of Latium.  Different styles of games will need different assortments of pieces, so the GM should be careful to know what pieces are available to be included or make other pieces from bits of cardboard or by raiding other games (“The little metal shoe is the head of the most prominent Egyptian house”).

                                                                  2. Lots of dice.

                                                                  Each player will need a personal dice poll consisting of 8 dice: D4, D4, D6, D6, D6, D8, D10, D12.

                                                                  The GM will need a personal dice set as well, containing at least one of each kind listed above, as well as a D20.

                                                                  3. A large game board, showing a map of the city.

                                                                  This should be printed out from a bunch of PDF files and pieced together.  The various files are listed below (each can be printed on a single 8.5x11 sheet of paper, with 12 pages making the entire board):




                                                                  Once assembled, the board should look like this:

                                                                  4. Scrap paper for each player and the GM

                                                                  This is where the players and GM will record the character traits of each piece on the board.  Each Noble will have a group of traits to define them, while each member of a household or other GM-controlled NPC will have a single defining trait.

                                                                  CHARACTER CREATION

                                                                  1. Pick a name for your Noble.

                                                                  Luckily, there are many sites online that are intended to help African-Americans find real African names for their children.  Any major search engine should be able to find a dozen sites to assist you.  Note that Islam is the religion of choice for Africa’s elite, so many have adopted traditional Muslim names (from the Quran) as a sign of their faith.

                                                                  2. Pick three positive character traits.

                                                                  These are often things that the Noble is good at or personal qualities that you want to emphasize.  Perhaps the Noble is a brilliant swordsman or has a vicious wit.  Alternately, the Noble could be known for their courage, kindness, or loyalty.  Perhaps your Noble could even be familiar with the language and customs of a particular Caucasian tribe, hold a high rank in the military, or be a member of the Islamic clergy.

                                                                  Note that “positive” traits don’t have to be completely “good.”  Being in the military or trafficking with the savages can certainly get you into trouble.  It’s just that these things are most often likely to benefit the character (or the player has decided that these things should usually work to the character’s benefit).

                                                                  3. Pick two negative character traits.

                                                                  These are either vices that the character has or areas in which he is often outclassed.  Perhaps the Noble is illiterate (a common but still limiting flaw) or clumsy, or never learned to dance or how to properly speak to a Lady.  Maybe the Noble believes that all savages should be exterminated and refuses to have anything to do with even “civilized” Caucasoids (a extremist belief that could have unfortunate consequences).  Other Nobles could be drunkards, prone to fits of anger, or ascetics who follow strict religious practices that limit them.

                                                                  Note that “negative” traits don’t have to be completely “bad.”  No one thinks less of someone who is extremely devout or wants to kill all savages (unless they decide to kill the slaves of others or Caucasians who are valuable to the Empire).  The player has just decided that these traits are more limiting than not.  A particular trait like Military Officer could be either a positive or negative trait depending on how the player wants it to be used in the game (either giving the character prestige and influence or taking him out of the city and away from important intrigues).

                                                                  4. Roll 4D4 to determine the strength of your house.

                                                                  You use these points to buy the individuals loyal to you and those that you command or control directly.

                                                                  Slaves (White Pawns) – 1 point.
                                                                  Servants/Allies (Black Pawns) – 2 points.
                                                                  Soldiers (Black Knights) – 4 points.
                                                                  Islamic Clergy (Black Bishops) – 4 points.
                                                                  Other Nobles (Black Rooks) – 5 points.

                                                                  Note that there are other pieces on the board that you are not allowed to buy directly.  However, if some special circumstance comes up in the game, such that you believe should allow you to bring one of the following individuals under your control, you can make your case to the GM.  If the GM agrees, you can purchase the following at the listed cost (or whatever the GM thinks is appropriate).

                                                                  White Knights (representing Barbarian Warriors) – 6 points.
                                                                  White Bishops (representing Christian or Pagan Clergy) – 6 points.
                                                                  White Rooks (representing Barbarian Chieftains) – 8 points.

                                                                  Note that the Kings and Queens of both colors can never be under your direct control. Even if the ruling family of Latium or the Grand Warlord of the united Caucasian tribes is merely a puppet, following your direct orders, they are still moved and controlled by the GM.

                                                                  5. Mark your pieces to clearly distinguish them.

                                                                  How you do this is up to you.  One good option would to get rubber bands of various colors, choosing a color to represent your house and wrapping a rubber band around every one of your pieces.  Twisty ties, like those used to seal up store-bought loves of bread, would also work very well, and packages of those strips can easily be purchased.  If the different sets of chess pieces are different enough that distinguishing them is easy (one made of crystal, one of wood, one of plastic, different sizes, different shades of black, etc.) you may not even need to do much.

                                                                  6. Give each household member a distinguishing trait.

                                                                  Other Nobles of your house are created just like your own character, with the same number of positive and negative traits.  However, the others are only defined by a single distinguishing trait.  To make things easier, it is recommended that all pieces of a particular type share the same characteristic (“All the Clergy who serve House Motumbo are known for their eloquence”), but if you want to distinguish each piece separately, that’s fine too.  Just make sure you aren’t going to easily get them confused.  If you end up sending the wrong servant to do a particular errand, it’s nobody’s fault but your own.  You need to take responsibility for the proper administration of your household.


                                                                  1. Ordering your dice pool.

                                                                  Take your dice pool and set the dice up in a line in front of you.  They can be in any order you so desire, but they should be in an obvious line with one coming after the other.

                                                                  For example, a sample pool might be structured this way: D10, D4, D6, D6, D12, D4, D6, D8.

                                                                  2. Drawing your “dice cache.”

                                                                  Draw the first three dice from your pool.  This is your “cache,” the equivalent of a “hand” of playing cards in a card game.  At the beginning of every turn, you will refill your cache back up to three dice, replacing any that you’ve used.  When refilling your cache, you must draw dice from your pool in order.

                                                                  For example, the initial cache from the pool we set up would contain D10, D4, and D6.  Our pool would now look like this: D6, D12, D4, D6, D8.

                                                                  If, during the first turn, we used D6 & D10 (in that order), our cache would only contain D4 (leaving us without much defense during the other players’ turns), and our pool would read: D6, D12, D4, D6, D8, D6, D10 (with the ones we spent added on to the end, in the order they were used).

                                                                  Then, at the beginning of our next turn, we would draw two dice from our pool to refill our cache, which would now contain: D4, D6, & D12.  Our pool would be: D4, D6, D8, D6, D10.

                                                                  3. Placing your manor.

                                                                  Pick a square on the map for your House’s manor.  All manor locations are subject to approval by the GM, who might have a few suggestions of appropriate places (near the coliseum, not to close to the outer city wall, in a more up-scale district, etc.).

                                                                  Make sure to clearly mark the location on the map itself, as it will be important later on in the game, as you bring in new pieces.

                                                                  4. Starting locations.

                                                                  The Black Rook representing your Noble starts off play at the Manor.  All the other pieces start off play as if they have each been allowed a single move in a chess game.  Rooks move in a straight line, Bishops move diagonally, Knights move in an L-shape (two squares in one direction and one square off to the side), and Pawns can move up to two spaces in a single direction (as it’s the first turn).  The only limit is that all pieces cannot start out outside of the outer wall of the city (though a piece could be said to have “just returned to the city” and be placed on top of one of the outer wall squares).


                                                                  1. Movement and Other Actions.

                                                                  Movement (big surprise) is done just as you typically would in a normal chess game.  There are turns.  One player moves all of his pieces first, then the next, then the next, moving around in a circle until you reach the GM, who moves last.  Then the next round of turns takes place.

                                                                  How long is a turn?  Variable.  If the pieces do nothing but moving, a general turn could be about 30 minutes to an hour of in-game time, time enough for a piece to move a fair distance through the city.  Because of this, Rooks, Bishops, and Queens, who normally can move an unlimited number of spaces in a single direction, can only move up to a maximum of 5 spaces, just to keep them from constantly flying from one side of the city to the other.

                                                                  Of course, the pieces can do things besides moving.  In fact, every movement in the game must have a Justification, that is, a reason why the piece is moving in that direction.  For instance, your Noble might be going to visit another Noble, or you may have sent your Slave to the market to buy provisions.  Actions your pieces take that don’t involve movement are handled completely separate from the game board, but it is these actions that make up the soul of the game.

                                                                  Whenever two pieces are on adjoining spaces, they can converse freely, exchanging information, or insults, or secrets, or threats, or hugs & kisses, or physical objects, or sex, or anything not represented by a piece on the board.  Obviously, your Noble couldn’t allow a friend to borrow a slave if there was no such Slave nearby, but almost anything else is perfectly acceptable.  Now, how much the various Houses and factions interact is up to the players, the GM, and the style of game you’re playing, but it is the roleplaying that keeps “The Pale Continent” from simply being a miniature game of city battles.  The GM is also likely to award points based on the characters’ participation in plots and intrigues, more so than just outright slaughtering of other characters, so keep that in mind.

                                                                  2. Task Resolution.

                                                                  Ah, yes, but what happens when a character (be it Noble or vassal) tries to do something that they may or may not succeed in?  This is where the task resolution mechanics come in.  The GM is often the one who “calls for a roll,” but other players can do so as well.

                                                                  Normally, players are free to narrate their characters’ actions, with assistance by the GM, who is responsible for the city environment (“There’s a bakery off to your left”), events outside of the characters’ control (“You throw your bucket of water on the fire, but it continues to spread”), NPCs (“The Governor warmly receives you, but you can tell there are some unstated emotions hiding in the back of his mind”), and minor piece-less characters that you encounter all the time (“An old beggar woman holds out her bowl to you”).  However, at some point, a player may want to do something that the GM or other players don’t think he should just be able to easily accomplish.  In these cases, they can call for a roll.

                                                                  If a roll takes place during a non-dramatic situation where there is no tension (GM’s call), the player who challenged the action (or, more often, the GM) chooses one of the dice from their cache to bid against the action’s success (the GM has no cache and is free to choose any die he wishes).  Next, the player being challenged chooses one of his own dice to counter the challenge.  Finally, the two players (or player and GM) roll their respective dice and the winner gets to determine the outcome, governed by how much their die roll surpassed that of their opponent.  In the case of a tie, the victory goes to the player attempting the action (because we want to be pro-active here), but the action only barely manages to succeed.  Note that the GM and other players can challenge ANY ACTION THEY LIKE, even ones they are not directly involved in.  However, in challenging an action, they are spending dice from their cache, and their cache will not be refilled until the beginning of their turn.  This prevents excessive meddling, as players will want to save some dice for their own actions, leaving the GM to challenge most actions.

                                                                  Note that, under tense situations, where the drama is heightened, ANY PLAYER (including those who are not challenging or defending an action) may call for a “blind bid,” where the players involved in the challenge secretly choose a die from their cache, without letting the other know which die was picked.  Then they both roll as normal and resolve the action.

                                                                  3. Using Character Traits.

                                                                  Any time a player is attempting an action that references one of their Noble’s positive traits (or the single defining trait of a vassal), they can draw another die from their cache, before choosing the die to roll for a challenge.  Not this die is only drawn if the action is challenged.  This, in effect, allows you to freely attempt actions that you excel at, with no cost to your cache (at least, in terms of number of available dice), even if the action is challenged.

                                                                  Likewise, if another player challenges an action based on one of a Noble’s negative traits (or negative aspects of a vassal’s single defining trait), the challenger can draw a die from their cache, allowing them to make the challenge at no cost to them.  This makes players free to call each other on their flaws.  Obviously, neither of these rules do anything for the GM, who must use his/her own judgment in picking dice for challenges (I’ll probably eventually come up with dice cache rules for the GM, but I don’t have time to balance those out right now).

                                                                  4. Cache/Pool Mechanics.

                                                                  One very important thing to note is that spent dice don’t rejoin your pool until right before you refill your cache at the start of your turn.  You should still line them up in the order you spent them, readying them to fit into your dice pool, but separate them from the main body of the pool itself.

                                                                  This has a couple interesting results.  First, you’re only going to be able to spend a maximum of 8 dice during a round of turns, no matter how many “free” dice you get from character traits, because your dice pool will eventually become empty.  Once your turn starts, your spent dice plop back into your pool and you can refill your cache, but UNTIL THEN you need to think about how best to spend them.  Conservative players should make sure they have some for their own actions (if they are challenged) and some to challenge other player’s actions, but often you may have to blow a whole bunch of dice to attempt or foil a complex series of maneuvers.  This keeps the game interesting :)

                                                                  GETTING PHYSICAL

                                                                  1. Overview: Three Strikes & You’re Out.

                                                                  Ah, yes.  Combat.  Now, “The Pale Continent” is not COMPLETELY focused on how to seek out and kill the enemies of your House.  However, this is definitely an option.  Note, however, that the Governor of Latium is likely to look down upon those who kill other Africans, and all-out clan wars will not be tolerated.  He’d probably call in the army if things looked like they were getting out of control.  Still, there should definitely be some strong tension and rivalries between various Houses.  Whether these take place between player-controlled Houses or between player-controlled and GM-controlled Houses depends on your style of game.  But the “Romeo & Juliet meets Diplomacy” feeling should be encouraged.  And then there’s always those pesky Caucasian savages, who’ll certainly attack the city at some point…

                                                                  So, combat works like baseball: three strikes and you’re out.  This refers to combat between pieces, not combat between pieces and non-represented characters (which is resolved as a normal action or with the task resolution rules).  The sequence works like this:

                                                                  A.  One piece attacks a piece in a neighboring square.  The victim is knocked to the ground (i.e. the piece is placed on it’s side), but there is no overall motion.
                                                                  B.  The attacking piece (or another piece within range that hasn’t moved yet) now moves into the same space as the victim (this is normally not allowed, without the other player’s permission), to deliver the killing blow.
                                                                  C.  The killing blow is delivered and the fallen piece is removed.

                                                                  Note that each of these is a normal action and can take place after the attacking piece has moved, all during a single turn.  The sequence continues uninterrupted unless a player (and this can be ANY PLAYER) challenges one of the actions in the sequence.  Then the task resolution rules are followed (typically in dramatic “blind roll” fashion) and the winner narrates the outcome.  However, if the chain of actions is disrupted by a successful challenge, the same piece cannot continue the attack, but adjacent pieces or pieces that can move to adjacent squares (and haven’t yet moved) are free to continue the attack, picking up where the sequence was broken.

                                                                  One final note: pawns only get two strikes, skipping step A completely.  In this way, they are much easier to take down and are the “red shirt ensigns” of Latium.  If you want to send a message to a House but don’t want to start a major conflict, you can always just kill one of their Slaves or Servants.  

                                                                  2. Intimidation and Threats
                                                                  One easily overlooked portion of the combat mechanics is how easy it is to threaten and intimidate pieces without killing them.  If a horde of enemy pieces surround a Noblewoman, knock her to the ground, and close in for the kill, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they have to kill her.  They could simply deliver a threat, try to extract information or money in exchange for her life, or attempt any other viable tactics.  Then, they could stop the sequence right there.  Allowing the victim to scamper off or even moving away during their next turn.

                                                                  3. Recovering from Combat.

                                                                  Like the actions of the combat sequence, recovering from being knocked down is a simple action that must be attempted before an assaulted piece can move again.  However, it is automatically accomplished, unless the action is challenged.  However, like all actions, it can only take place during YOUR TURN, so a piece cannot get up during an assault, unless the combat continues over a series of turns.

                                                                  3. Bring Your Friends

                                                                  This is the Golden Rule of Combat.  Don’t forget it.

                                                                  EARNING POINTS

                                                                  The GM arbitrarily hands out points.  What?  You were expecting some kind of system?  In a week’s time?  You have to be kidding.

                                                                  Until I get something solid, try to think carefully about the type of game you’re trying to run.  Handing out lots of points will mean that Households will grow in size and conflict will increase exponentially.  However, keeping the points sparse will make each piece more important and force the players to focus more on roleplaying.  A good idea would be to have the flow of points rise and fall (like the tides, even), causing a cycle of expansion that leads to conflict which is following by a period of rebuilding before the conflict starts anew.

                                                                  In any case, points are handed out to a player directly after he finishes his turn, but he is not allowed to spend points until (at least) the beginning of his next turn.  If you want a general guideline, it might be a good idea to reward a player 1 point for a well-played turn (with good roleplaying, not just shuffling pieces around), and then bonus points if he does something especially spectacular.

                                                                  SPENDING POINTS

                                                                  Spending points is even easier than earning them.  You can only do it at the very beginning of your turn, before you do anything else.  After you make another action, you can no longer spend points.  You basically have two options, as far as spending goes:

                                                                  1. Buy New Pieces

                                                                  You simply buy new pieces at the original cost for building your Household.  This would be how you eventually acquire a horde of savage whiteys with which to storm your enemies’ Manors.  *Cough* Not that you would WANT to do that or anything, seeing as how roleplaying is far more rewarding than mass chess-piece-miniature kombat.

                                                                  All new pieces come into play on the space where your Manor is located.  However, if someone else’s piece (including one of the GM’s) is occupying that space (either by closing in on a piece standing on the Manor or just resting on top of the Manor space), you cannot place a piece there without the invader’s permission, so capturing the Manors of your enemies is a valid tactic to prevent them from growing in power.

                                                                  2. Promote Your Vassals

                                                                  You know how one of your servants has been spending much of his time practicing sword techniques with your chief retainer?  Well, pump 2 points into that sucker and make him a Black Knight!  Yeah, baby!  Try to take him out now!  Basically, you pay the cost difference between different types of pieces to increase their rank and significance.  Note that you should try to work the promotion into the story of the game, instead of instantly changing your White slave into a Germanic Chieftain.

                                                                  3. Optional Fun

                                                                  An optional rule would be allowing players to challenge certain promotions and purchases of pieces, treating the spending of points as a typical in-game action.  The GM might allow players who have worked the promotion into the game to draw on that as they would a character trait, and their opponents to do likewise if the promotion is not well-integreated.

                                                                  DIFFERENT TYPES OF GAMES

                                                                  “The Pale Continent” provides for a large variation of playing styles, depending on just how Gamist your group’s playing preferences are and what kind of conflict you want to create.  Below are a few options, but the style you choose could be almost anything.

                                                                  1. Us vs. Us

                                                                  In this version, the players’ Households are the only sources of real power in Latium, aside from the Governor’s family, which is controlled by the GM.  This works best if you have a large number of players (more than four) and they’re interested in a Diplomacy-like game of inter-player conflict.  This would also work better for a short term or one-shot game, since players whose families are ruthlessly taken down may find it hard to continue unless they are incorporated into larger Households.

                                                                  2. Us vs. Them

                                                                  In this version, the players’ Households are in a loose alliance (with some potential for betrayal) against the forces controlled by the GM (other Houses, the Governor’s family, the barbarians, etc.).  For players who like a cooperative feel, slaughtering the GM’s NPCs may be easier and more enticing than slaughtering the characters of their fellow players.  This is more of a traditional RPG setup, where the GM is required to structure most of the plot and create challenges for the characters to tackle and (hopefully) overcome.

                                                                  3. Us vs. Who?

                                                                  In this version, there are no obvious sides, except that the players’ Households are clearly the underdogs in a city full of intrigue and secrets, most of which the players are completely ignorant of.  Here, the characters are charged with investigating the mysteries of Latium, without getting themselves helplessly caught up in plots that could lead to their deaths.  Sheer strength of numbers is less important in this type of game, where a single misspoken word could mean the instant demise of entire Households.

                                                                  4. Who vs. Who?

                                                                  In this version, there are no good guys, there are no bad guys, and there are no great secrets.  There’re only people trying to do what they think is best, hoping to survive in a savage world where random death is common and the unknown is everywhere, even inside you.  This style of game would be highly emotionally and moody, where characters are often unsure of what they should be doing and what their place in the world is.  If they kill someone, they should never be completely sure whether it was ultimately the right thing to do or not.

                                                                  Unfortunately, I never got a chance to write up a Sample of Play or do much rewriting.  You had to have this contest during exam week, didn't you Mike? ;)  Still, I'm really liking how the "dice cache" system turned out, the three-hit chess-piece combat, and the player's ability to challage other players actions.  All in all, definitely a recipe I'll continue to refine...

                                                                  Jonathan, representing the "Hundred Flowers" resturant

                                                                  Posts: 3453

                                                                  « Reply #71 on: October 16, 2002, 08:20:36 PM »

                                                                  A thousand blessings upon the head of Mike living in a timezone west of me!

                                                                  Quote from: My Game

                                                                  Dead Can Dance: The Serpent's Egg
                                                                  Baaba Maal: Souka Nayo and Firin' in Fouta
                                                                  Angelique Kidjo: Logozo
                                                                  Loreena McKinnet: The Mask and the Mirror
                                                                  Peter Gabriel: Passion: the Last Temptation of Christ
                                                                  Steven Flynn: Rapture Rumi
                                                                  Lisa Gerrard: The Mirror Pool

                                                                  Pistachio nuts, cashews, dried apricots.
                                                                  Cured olives, olives stuffed with garlic or almonds.
                                                                  Green tea with fresh spearmint.
                                                                  Ethiopian coffee, very strong.


                                                                  Players: Overview

                                                                  You are a religious mystic in the court of Prince Mulu Alem of Abaid, a made-up city in fantasy North Africa. Mulu Alem is devout, wise, tolerant, and generous, a Muslim in an age when Islam is the light of the world. Abaid under his rule is enormously prosperous, on trade roads for frankincense, ivory, spices, and gold, and a center of science, literature and art. He employs you (and perhaps God does as well) to fight Jinn, the enemies of humanity, evil spirits who crave the downfall of the faithful.

                                                                  There are nine sects. You can play an Ethiopian Sufi, a Moroccan or Arabic Sheikh, a Turkish Mulla, a Christian, a Jew, a Tuareg, a Zoroastrian Persian, or even an Idolater from afar. You don't get to just decide, though. There can be only one character of each sect, so you bid for them.

                                                                  You have three skills: Calligraphy, which you use to bind Jinn; Law, that is, Divine Law, which you use to command Jinn; and Numerology, which you use to identify and define Jinn. You also have a Luxury stat, which represents the time and wealth that the Prince gives you; a Renown stat, which represents your fame and good name in Abaid; and an Esteem stat, which represents the reputation of your sect and the respect they're accorded.

                                                                  You keep a running tally of the bonuses you accumulate and spend for each skill and stat. Bonuses are named: Illumination for Calligraphy, Righteousness for Law, Insight for Numerology; Leisure for Luxury, Prowess for Renown, and Respect for Esteem.

                                                                  You choose Rituals based on your sect and your Law skill; Rituals allow you to make particular rolls at a big advantage. You can perform each Ritual only once against any certain Jinn. You might also have Allies, people in Abaid who help you by giving you free bonuses.

                                                                  Jinn have 3 skills, opposing yours: Malice opposes Calligraphy, Lawlessness opposes Law, and Subtlety opposes Numerology. (I'll use Malicious, Lawless and Subtle too, interchangeably.) Each Jinn is also the author of a particular Evil: Murder, Idolatry, Famine, and the like. Jinn are intangible spirits until you've provoked and constrained them to manifest, but then you can bind them, capturing them in a scroll or book of illuminated scripture.

                                                                  When you roll dice, roll a number of d10s equal to your skill or stat, sometimes modified. Each of your dice that comes up a 2, 3, 4 or 5 counts as a success; each 1 counts as two successes. If you don't like your results, you can spend your bonuses to add new dice or change the values of the ones you've already rolled.

                                                                  You make the majority of your rolls in opposition to Jinn. Each of a Jinn's dice that comes up 6-9 counts as a success for the Jinn, and each 10 counts as two. The Jinn's successes do harm or misfortune to you, but you can choose to expend your successes to counter them. Otherwise, you'll generally choose whether your successes directly affect the Jinn or give you bonuses to future rolls.

                                                                  (Occasionally you'll want to roll against a fellow PC. Those rolls are almost always Renown vs. Renown.)

                                                                  The game is quite structured. You take turns calling for scenes for your character. Every scene has a specific goal, building up to confronting and binding your Jinn, and you take them in strict order. The order's based on your character's standing in the city. You choose which Jinn you'll take on in the same order.

                                                                  When you defeat Jinn, the Prince rewards you with Luxury, Renown, Esteem, or Allies. It's to your advantage to defeat Jinn quickly, but it's also more rewarding to face more powerful Jinn. Making canny early decisions about risk vs. gain can turn into big power later in the game.

                                                                  GM: Game Structure
                                                                  [list=1][*]Character Creation.
                                                                  [*]Jinn Creation.
                                                                  [*]Players and GM introduce their Jinn to the group.
                                                                  [*]Establish Esteem+Renown order.
                                                                  [*]Players choose Jinn to take on, in Esteem+Renown order.
                                                                  [*]Scenes, in Esteem+Renown order:
                                                                  [list=a][*]Some number of regular scenes;
                                                                  [*]A Final Confrontation scene;
                                                                  [*]A Collecting Rewards scene;
                                                                  [*]Some number of Self-improvement scenes;
                                                                  [*]A Taking On a New Jinn scene.[/list:o]
                                                                  [*]The scene cycle continues until the game ends. Create new Jinn as called for.
                                                                  Shall we?

                                                                  Players: Character Creation

                                                                  Roll 6d10. You build your character out of those 6 numbers. Write them in the top margin of your character sheet.

                                                                  Choose one to be your bid for your sect. Start with the player on the GM's right and go around the room; call out your bid and cross it off your character sheet. Once everybody's bid, figure out your order, high bid to low. In case of ties, roll off or do rock-paper-scissors.

                                                                  So choose your sect, following bid order. There can be only one character of each sect, so don't choose one that somebody's already taken. Here are the sects:
                                                                    [*]Ethiopian: Esteem 5, +1 Calligraphy, +1 Law, +1 Numerology.
                                                                    [*]Arab: Esteem 4, +1 Calligraphy, +1 Numerology.
                                                                    [*]Turk: Esteem 4, +1 Calligraphy, +1 Luxury.
                                                                    [*]Moroccan: Esteem 4, +1 Calligraphy, +1 Renown.
                                                                    [*]Jew: Esteem 3, +1 Law, +1 Numerology.
                                                                    [*]Christian: Esteem 3, +1 Calligraphy, +1 Law.
                                                                    [*]Zoroastrian: Esteem 2, +1 Law, Ally - Attendant Spirit.
                                                                    [*]Tuareg: Esteem 2, +1 Law, Ally - Family Member.
                                                                    [*]Idolater: Esteem 1, +1 to any one skill, Ally - Caravaneer.[/list:u]
                                                                    (If you have more than nine players, you can have multiple Idolaters, just make them all from different parts of the world. But consider splitting the game instead.)

                                                                    Write your sect on your character sheet, then copy down your Esteem and your skill/stat modifiers. If you get a starting Ally, write it in the Allies box. If you're an Idolater, see your section below for more info.

                                                                    You have five numbers left. Use them to buy skills and stats.  (Skills and stats are measured in dice, as in "I've got 4 dice in Law.") You'll recall that the skills are Calligraphy, Law and Numerology, and the stats are Esteem (which you've got already), Luxury and Renown. Read the skills' and stats' section below for more. Anyway but buy them with this chart:
                                                                      [*]Die Value: 1 = Skill or Stat Dice: 2.
                                                                      [*]Die Value: 2-3 = Skill or Stat Dice: 3.
                                                                      [*]Die Value: 4-6 = Skill or Stat Dice: 4.
                                                                      [*]Die Value: 7-10 = Skill or Stat Dice: 5.
                                                                      You get 3 free bonuses for each skill and stat. Show them with hash marks, far enough apart that you can erase them as you spend them.

                                                                      So let's say you put your 7 die into your Law. On your character sheet it looks like this:
                                                                        [*]Law (7)_5_ – Righteousness: / / / [/list:u]
                                                                        If you're say Christian, with +1 Law, it looks like this:
                                                                          [*]Law (7)_6_ – Righteousness: / / / [/list:u]

                                                                          (While you're at it, put three hash marks for your 3 starting Respect, and you can put your bid die in the Esteem parens if you want.)

                                                                          So now buy rituals. You get a number of Rituals equal to your Law, and the first has to be the one for your sect (eg, an Ethiopian's first Ritual must be the Coffee Ritual). See your sect's section below. Meanwhile choose the rest from these:
                                                                            [*]Ecstatic Dance: Add your Esteem to a Numerology roll.
                                                                            [*]Fasting: Add your Law to a Numerology roll.
                                                                            [*]Litany: Add your Calligraphy to a Law roll.
                                                                            [*]Orthodoxy: Add your Law to a Renown roll.
                                                                            [*]Prayer: Add your Calligraphy to a Numerology roll.
                                                                            [*]Prophecy: Add your Numerology to a Calligraphy roll.
                                                                            [*]Religious Office: Add your Esteem to a Law roll.
                                                                            [*]Scholarship: Add your Law to a Calligraphy roll.
                                                                            [/list:u]I'll go ahead and give you the obvious advice: take Rituals that let you add your best skill to other skill rolls. If Numerology's your thing, for instance, prioritize Litany and Prophecy.

                                                                            Oh, and if you roll against another PC, it's usually a Renown roll, so Orthodoxy's handy for that.

                                                                            Choose an Ally, in addition to the one you got from your Sect if you did.

                                                                            That's it! Name yourself and your Ally or Allies. Here are the sects:
                                                                              [*]Ethiopians: Ethiopia is the birthplace of Coffee, and, as we all know, when you've got a mind-altering substance religion springs up around it. Coffee is a big deal in Dervish ceremony even today.

                                                                              Esteem 5, +1 Calligraphy, +1 Law, +1 Numerology.

                                                                              The Coffee Ritual: Add your Luxury to a Law roll.

                                                                              [*]Arabs: Arabia is the center of the civilized world, rich, learned, leisured, and expressive. Soon the Christian Crusades will radicalize and militarize Islam, but not yet.

                                                                              Esteem 4, +1 Calligraphy, +1 Numerology.

                                                                              Inspired Poetry: Add your Luxury to a Calligraphy roll.

                                                                              [*]Turks: Turkey lacks the moderation and restraint of the more civilized West. Turks brew their coffee sometimes with crushed coriander, cardamom or pepper, if you can imagine!

                                                                              Esteem 4, +1 Calligraphy, +1 Luxury.

                                                                              Generous Giving: Add your Luxury to a Renown roll.

                                                                              [*]Moroccans: The famed explorer Ibn Battuta is from Morocco. He's known for his diligent study, his pursuit of knowledge, and his strict adherence to Islam.

                                                                              Esteem 4, +1 Calligraphy, +1 Renown.

                                                                              Diligent Study: Add your Renown to a Law roll.

                                                                              [*]Jews: Jews, of course, are the first of the Faithful. Jewish mystics are masterful numerologists.

                                                                              Esteem 3, +1 Law, +1 Numerology.

                                                                              Kaballah: Add your Luxury to a Numerology roll.

                                                                              [*]Christians: Animosity between Muslims and Christians isn't yet widespread. Christians, like Jews, are people of the faith.

                                                                              Esteem 3, +1 Calligraphy, +1 Law.

                                                                              Confession: Add your Esteem to a Calligraphy roll.

                                                                              [*]Zoroastrians: Persia is the birthplace of Monotheism, and forms of the first religion survive today. Zoroastrians are powerful magicians and astrologers.

                                                                              Esteem 2, +1 Law, Ally - Attendant Spirit.

                                                                              Astrology: Add your Renown to a Numerology roll.

                                                                              [*]Tuareg: The Tuareg are the nomads and caravaneers of the Sahara. They're fierce and hard, and the men go veiled out of respect for the women. They're sometimes called Blue Men because the indigo in their veils stains their faces.

                                                                              Esteem 2, +1 Law, Ally - Family Member.

                                                                              Warrior Heritage: Add your Renown to a Calligraphy roll.

                                                                              [*]Idolaters: Abaid is a crossroads of trade and learning. In it you can find people from as far away as India, China, Malaysia, Southern and Western Africa, and farthest northern Europe. None of these people serve the one God, except as He is disguised in their superstitious cults.

                                                                              Esteem 1, +1 to any one skill (your choice), Ally - Caravaneer.

                                                                              Make up your own ritual! For instance: Kung Fu: Add your Law to a Renown roll. Or Karma: Add your Renown to a Luxury roll. Or whatever!

                                                                              You Idolaters can also rename Calligraphy, if it doesn't fit your culture. Choose an appropriate art: Woodcarving, for instance, or Making Fetish Bags.[/list:u]
                                                                              Here are the skills and stats, more fully described:

                                                                                [*]Calligraphy is an art that requires much more than excellent handwriting. It includes technical skills, like making colored inks and applying gold and silver leaf, artistic skills, like designing ornate capitals and decorative borders, and - most broadly - expressive skills, like composing beautiful poetry and drawing subtle parallels to existing text.

                                                                                Roll Calligraphy for any creative use of words or language: speaking to sway people's emotions, composing ecstatic chant, or (naturally) scribing, illustrating and illuminating text. A Calligraphy roll is required to bind Jinn.

                                                                                Illumination supports Calligraphy, representing your inspiration and skill and the suitability of your artistic choices.

                                                                                [*]Law is the knowledge of the laws of God. It's not strictly linked to theology; this is an era when God is expansive and indulgent, not exclusive. You can ignore in your fellows even grievous errors of doctrine if they're living Faithful lives. (Rituals like Orthodoxy and Religious Office are where specific theologies come in.)

                                                                                Roll Law for anything requiring authority, correctness, or critical thought: decrying sin in a community, commanding obedience, or (naturally) reciting and expounding on scripture. A Law roll is required to command Jinn.

                                                                                Righteousness supports Law, representing your accordance with God's will.

                                                                                [*]Numerology is the study of the laws of nature, fate and fortune, as well as calculating hidden influences, reading omens, and discovering the future.

                                                                                Roll Numerology for attempts to learn, understand or foresee: figuring out the true powers in a mob, finding a hidden clue, or determining a Jinn's next victim. A Numerology roll is required to name Jinn.

                                                                                Insight supports Numerology, representing your attention to details and alertness to possibilities.
                                                                                  [*]Esteem is your sect's standing in Abaid. It represents your people's influence in the public sphere, integration into the community, prestige, and also the alignment of your beliefs with the mainstream.

                                                                                  Roll Esteem for anything that depends on your being accepted by people who don't know you: finding a bargain in the bazaar, visiting a stranger's home, or reciting the names of your ancestors.

                                                                                  Respect supports Esteem, representing the good you've done that reflects on your people.

                                                                                  [*]Luxury is your own personal wealth and prosperity. It represents money, goods, fashion, trade arrangements, dowries, free time, and all earthly pleasures.

                                                                                  Roll Luxury for anything that requires an investment of money or time: bribing the chief caravaneer, buying milk-white vellum and gold leaf, or translating an occult text from some idolatrous alphabet.

                                                                                  Leisure supports Luxury, representing your uncommitted time and cash on hand.

                                                                                  [*]Renown is your own fame and good name. It represents the deeds you've done, prayers said in your behalf or in your name, and the stories people tell of you.

                                                                                  Roll Renown for anything that requires personal prowess: arguing against another PC in court, defending yourself against bandits on the road, or calling on magical powers.

                                                                                  Prowess supports Renown, representing your strength, endurance, and skill.
                                                                                  And here are the Allies:
                                                                                    [*]An Attendant Spirit converts Renown to Insight.
                                                                                    [*]A Caravaneer converts Renown to Leisure.
                                                                                    [*]A Courtier converts Leisure to Prowess.
                                                                                    [*]A Family Member converts Respect to Renown.
                                                                                    [*]A Follower converts Righteousness to Renown.
                                                                                    [*]A Former Teacher converts Leisure to Righteousness.
                                                                                    [*]A Student converts Leisure to Illumination.
                                                                                    [*]A Wife converts Prowess to Leisure.[/list:u]
                                                                                    There's a made up character and a blank character sheet at the end.

                                                                                    Everybody: Jinn

                                                                                    Creating Jinn
                                                                                    Roll d10s equal to your Numerology +2.  (If by mischance that happens to be fewer than 4 dice, which I can't think of a way but there it is, roll 4.)  (GM, roll as many dice as you want.)  Choose one to be your Jinn's Evil, according to this chart:
                                                                                    [*]Disaster (floods, earthquakes, fires, storms)
                                                                                    [*]Famine / Barrenness
                                                                                    Choose 3 dice to be your  Jinn's skills.  Its skills are, you'll recall, Malice, Lawlessness, and Subtlety.  Buy its skills on the same ol' chart:
                                                                                      [*]Die Value: 1 = Skill Dice: 2.
                                                                                      [*]Die Value: 2-3 = Skill Dice: 3.
                                                                                      [*]Die Value: 4-6 = Skill Dice: 4.
                                                                                      [*]Die Value: 7-10 = Skill Dice: 5.
                                                                                      Unlike your characters, Jinns' raw dice values are important.  Do you know about numerological reduction?  It works like this.

                                                                                      Add up your Jinn's four dice (e.g. 4 + 5 + 7 + 7 = 23).

                                                                                      Separate the digits of the sum and add them (e.g. 2 + 3 = 5).

                                                                                      If you don't have a one-digit number now, repeat until you do.

                                                                                      This number is way significant in the game!  Write it down in your Jinn's Numerological Value space and hang in there, I'll tell you about it in a bit.

                                                                                      Meanwhile, most Jinn enter play as incorporeal spirits, but all will manifest themselves materially sooner or later.  Describe what your Jinn will look like.  Be as monstrous as you can.

                                                                                      And finally, your Jinn is right now as we speak doing badness in the world.  Write a sentence or two (under "Harm") about the problems your Jinn is creating for Abaid.  You can introduce your Jinn to the group by saying its Evil, its skill values, and its Harm.

                                                                                      There's a blank Jinn sheet at the end, and the Jinn from the example below reappears there as well.

                                                                                      What Happens with Jinn
                                                                                      Symbolically speaking, One is a big deal.  It's the world, the universe, God and everything.  Jinn hate One and it's their weakness.

                                                                                      As you confront, oppose, and thwart a Jinn, its skills increase.  Prevent it from harming people and it becomes more Malicious; predict who it will attack and warn them away and it becomes more Subtle; confront it with its own evil and it becomes more Lawless.  That's how they are, and that's why they can't ever be converted.

                                                                                      So sometimes you'll use your successes in your rolls to increase the Jinn's skills.  You don't directly increase their skill dice, however; you increase the number in parenthesis, the number from the original die.  Only increase its skill dice when its number crosses to the next level up.

                                                                                      But regardless, recalculate its Numerological Value.  (It's easy: when you increase one of its skills by 1, its Numerological Value increases by 1 too.)  Eventually its Numerical Value will increase to 10, which reduces (1 + 0 = 1) to 1.  At that point, the Jinn, provoked and constrained and raging, manifests physically.

                                                                                      Then you can bind it.

                                                                                      A Jinn, for example

                                                                                      Quote from: Jinn Example
                                                                                      Dice: 4 5 7 7
                                                                                        [*]Evil (4) Robbery
                                                                                        [*]Malice (5) _4_
                                                                                        [*]Lawlessness (7) _5_
                                                                                        [*]Subtlety (7) _5_ [/list:u]
                                                                                        Numerological Value _5_

                                                                                        Appearance: I'm a raging beastial ogre, fifteen feet high, with tusks capped in steel and heavy gold rings in my ears, nose, and nipples.  I have a steel sword that weighs 200 pounds and blasphemies tattooed on my skin.  I eat babies and women and bathe in molten metals.

                                                                                        Harm: I've inspired a gang of bandits to raid the caravans in and out of Abaid.  When the merchants speak of them they make signs against evil and look over their shoulders, and the caravaneers are convinced that their leader is the Devil Himself.  They're right.
                                                                                        When to increase my skills:
                                                                                          [*]Die Value: 1 = Skill Dice: 2.
                                                                                          [*]Die Value: 2-3 = Skill Dice: 3.
                                                                                          [*]Die Value: 4-6 = Skill Dice: 4.
                                                                                          [*]Die Value: 7-10 = Skill Dice: 5.
                                                                                          [*]Die Value: 11-16 = Skill Dice: 6.
                                                                                          [*]Die Value: 17+ = Skill Dice: 7.[/list:u]

                                                                                          So some little prick of a mystic takes me on.  He teaches prayers to the caravaneers and tells them auspicious times to leave Abaid, he publically decries robbery, he confronts my bandit chieftain and convinces his concubines to leave him to live modest lives, all to get at me.  It works, of course.

                                                                                          On one roll, he increases my Lawlessness Value by 4.  Here's how my character sheet changes:
                                                                                          Quote from: Jinn Example
                                                                                            [*]Lawlessness (11) _6_[/list:u]…
                                                                                            Numerological Value _9_[/size]

                                                                                            And then a bit later he increases my Malice Value by 1:
                                                                                            Quote from: Jinn Example
                                                                                              [*]Malice (5) _4_[/list:u]…
                                                                                              Numerological Value _1_[/size]

                                                                                              And I can't stand any more.  I reveal myself, coming out of the desert surrounded by my men, howling, to bite the heads off of caravaneers and snap their camels' backs.

                                                                                              Can he bind me?  We'll see.


                                                                                              Players: Order

                                                                                              Everybody, add your Esteem to your Renown. Compare with the other players. In case of ties, roll off or do rock-paper-scissors.

                                                                                              Now, get up and physically order yourselves. Highest Esteem+Renown at the GM's right, then next highest, then next, around to the lowest at the GM's left. Your characters get scenes in that order.

                                                                                              Whenever anybody's Esteem or Renown changes, finish out the cycle, but when you get back to the GM, recalculate. Again, get up and move around. Continue play in the new order.

                                                                                              Everybody: Scenes

                                                                                              A scene begins with the player declaring her character's action.
                                                                                                [*]Examples: I use Numerology to determine the Jinn's next victim. I go to the market square and decry licentiousness. I visit the chief caravaneer and ask him to expel the silk trader.[/list:u]
                                                                                                The GM decides which skill or stat the player should roll. Usually this'll be implicit in the player's statement, and the GM can feel free to ask the player to clarify. The GM also decides which skill the Jinn will use to oppose the player: generally Malice vs. Calligraphy, Lawlessness vs. Law, and Subtlety vs. Numerology. If the player's rolling a stat, the GM decides by common sense or whim.

                                                                                                The GM fills in details of the scene and introduces the Jinn's actions against the player.
                                                                                                  [*]Examples, respectively: As you're calculating the horoscopes of the previous victims, the distracting aroma of roasting lamb and spices comes in from the kitchen [Subtlety]. The people in the market square become rude and uncivil, hooting and bleating at you and throwing debris [Lawlessness]. The chief caravaneer snorts skeptically and derides your refined speech [Malice].[/list:u]
                                                                                                  You can go back and forth with this as long as you like. When you're ready, roll. See the section on The Roll, below.

                                                                                                  Player: if you spend bonuses, perform rituals, or call on Allies, describe what your character does.
                                                                                                    [*]Examples, continuing: Aha! I notice that the horoscopes of the previous victims numerologically match passages of the Torah, and use my Kabbalah to add my Luxury to the roll, patiently working out the implications. I am stern and unbending and, spending 2 Righteousness, I call the people to shame! With a flash of (3 points of) Illumination, I appeal to the caravaneer's devotion to his family and wife, and ask him to consider his actions' reflection on them.[/list:u]
                                                                                                    And then the GM assigns bonuses to the character, increases the Jinn's skills, and inflicts Suffering on the character, all according to the player's assignment of her successes (see The Roll's section for details). GM, feel free to ask for clarification, descriptions, or follow through, as you like.
                                                                                                      [*]Examples, concluding: Warning the future victim is a thoughtful and appropriate thing to do, so gain 4 Righteousness. Your conversion of the crowd pisses the Jinn off, to the tune of +3 Malice! The caravaneer is so angry that he beats and robs you (lose 2 Leisure), but you've gained valuable information about the Jinn's nature (gain 8 Insight).[/list:u]
                                                                                                      And there the scene ends. Go on to the next player.

                                                                                                      Player: Special Scenes

                                                                                                      Scenes with Other PCs:We do not care about logistics or realism! If you say "I meet with all the PCs, the Prince, the chief caravaneer, and a hundred slaves from Egypt," so it is! All the PCs are there, even if they've traveled to India and Tibet to fight their Jinn, even if they've sworn a hundred days of seclusion for contemplation, even if they've been dead these many years. Players, you play your characters, and you can try to justify their presence or simply accept it without comment, as you like.

                                                                                                      Asking Another PC for Help: You might say, for instance, "I go to Ibrahim and ask him to read the horoscopes of the previous victims." So you do, and Ibrahim's player can agree or refuse.

                                                                                                      If she agrees, she rolls, spending bonuses and performing Rituals as she chooses, and assigning her successes as normal. However, all the consequences of his roll are yours: ifshe assigns successes to gaining bonuses, you get them; if she assigns successes to increasing the Jinn's skills, your Jinn is affected; if she fails to assign successes to countering the Jinn's successes, your character suffers.

                                                                                                      If she refuses, you can either bargain with her until she agrees, or try to force her. In the latter case, roll Renown vs. Renown, representing bullying, threats, extortion, blackmail, violence, or whatever you like. If you score more successes, Ibrahim must do as you demand. (Ibrahim's player still uses her bonuses and Rituals as she sees fit, still assigns her successes, and you still get all the consequences, as before.) If she scores more successes, Ibrahim gains 1 Prowess per excess success, but they can be used only against you. (She might mark them on his character sheet with your initial instead of a hash mark.)

                                                                                                      Attacking Another PC: You might say, for instance, "I go to the Prince and complain about Ibrahim's unorthodox doctrines," or "I wait for Ibrahim outside the bazaar and hit him with a stick." Choose something from the Suffering list, and roll Renown vs. Renown. If you score more successes, your excess successes determine the degree of Suffering you inflict (see the section on Suffering for details). If poor beset Ibrahim's player scores more successes, Ibrahim gains 1 Prowess per excess success, usuable only against you, as above.

                                                                                                      Notice that other PCs in your scenes cannot gain or suffer, except in these very narrow cases. Unless you attack or threaten them somehow, participating in your scene can't ever cost them anything.

                                                                                                      The Final Confrontation: Once you've forced your Jinn to manifest, you can confront and (hopefully) bind it. Go to where it is. Make 3 consecutive rolls:
                                                                                                      [list=1][*]A Numerology vs. Subtlety roll, to name it;
                                                                                                      [*]A Law vs. Lawlessness roll, to command it to be still; and
                                                                                                      [*]A Calligraphy vs. Malice roll, to bind it.[/list:o]
                                                                                                      If you beat it in all three rolls, you've trapped it. On your next scene, you can take it to the Prince and trade it in for praise and rewards.

                                                                                                      (Meanwhile, whoever made your Jinn: create a new Jinn and introduce it to the group. Hand it over to the GM. When somebody decides to take on a new Jinn, it's available.)

                                                                                                      If you don't beat the Jinn in all three rolls, ignore the results of the rolls you did win, use all of your successes in the roll you lost to negate the Jinn's successes, and take Suffering for the successes the Jinn had over yours. See the sections on The Roll and Suffering for details.

                                                                                                      Rewards: Once you've bound your Jinn, take it to the Prince. Tell him who it is and how you defeated it, and choose your rewards. If it outclassed you, choose 3 rewards; if you were evenly matched, choose 2; if you outclassed it, choose 1.

                                                                                                      Here's how you tell. Add together the two highest of your skills and stats and the lowest of your skills and stats. Subtract the Jinn's three skills. If the result is less than -2, the Jinn outclassed you. If it's greater than 2, you outclassed the Jinn. If it's between -2 and 2, you were evenly matched.

                                                                                                      Here are the rewards you can choose from:
                                                                                                      [list=1][*]A new Ally.
                                                                                                      [*]+1 Renown.
                                                                                                      [*]+1 Luxury.
                                                                                                      [*]+1 Esteem.[/list:o]
                                                                                                      Now this last, +1 Esteem, is tricky. Esteem in Abaid is zero-sum; that is, when you get a +1, some other sect gets a -1. You choose which. Screw your rivals over!

                                                                                                      If you choose to increase your Renown or your Esteem, everybody has to recalculate their place in the Esteem+Renown order, as I've said.

                                                                                                      If you're choosing more than one reward, you can choose different rewards or the same reward multiple times. It's all one in the eyes of God.

                                                                                                      Self-improvement: Once you've collected your rewards, you can elect to spend some time in self-improvement. Permanently spend a die of Luxury to permanently gain a die in one of your skills. Describe what you do: I devote myself to the study of scripture, barely eating or speaking to anyone, for +1 Law dice; or I invest vast sums in new inks, vellums, and precious supplies, for +1 Calligraphy dice; or whatever seems good.

                                                                                                      If you improve your Law, choose a new Ritual too.

                                                                                                      You can keep taking Self-improvement scenes until you're ready to take on a new Jinn (there will be at least two available), unless you run out of Luxury.

                                                                                                      Taking on a new Jinn: When you're ready, simply declare that you do so and launch into your first scene against it.

                                                                                                      Everybody: The Roll

                                                                                                      PC vs. Jinn Rolls
                                                                                                      Player: Roll d10s equal to your character's relevant stat or skill. Each die that comes up 2-5 is a success; each 1 is two successes.

                                                                                                      GM: Roll d10s equal to the Jinn's relevant skill. Each die that comes up 6-9 is a success; each 10 is two successes. Tell the player how many successes you scored.

                                                                                                      Player: If you don't like your results, there are three ways to change them:
                                                                                                        [*]Perform a Ritual: Say what ritual you're performing, and describe what you do. Roll dice for the skill or stat that the Ritual allows you to add, and add their successes to the ones already showing.

                                                                                                        Example: I'm trying to compose a prayer to teach some sailors, to protect them from the terrible storms my Jinn is causing, and I've just made a pretty crappy Calligraphy roll. I'm an Arab, so one of my character's Rituals is Divine Poetry. I describe how I pause and find inspiration in the words of Rumi, building my new prayer off of one of his immortal poems. I roll my Luxury dice and count their successes as well.

                                                                                                        You can only perform a given Ritual once per Jinn, so put a little x by it.

                                                                                                        [*]Use Bonuses: For each bonus you spend, you can either a. roll an additional die, or b. decrease the number showing on one of your dice by 1. You can only spend the bonuses of your skill or stat relevant to the roll: Righteousness during a Law roll, for instance, but not during a Numerology roll. If you've already performed a Ritual, you can spend the bonuses of both.

                                                                                                        Example: I still don't have enough successes to beat my Jinn, despite my Ritual. So I spend 2 Illumination and 1 Leisure. I change one of my dice from a 2 to a 1, one of my dice from a 6 to a 5, and I roll one more die.

                                                                                                        Erase each bonus from your character sheet when you spend it.

                                                                                                        [*]Call on an Ally: Allies let you convert one certain type of bonus into another, one for one. You must incorporate the Ally into the scene, and you must spend all of your converted bonuses.

                                                                                                        Example: Still not enough! I call on my wife, who is (now) there with me, and who converts Prowess into Leisure. I convert 3 Prowess and roll my 3 new Leisure as additional dice.[/list:u]
                                                                                                        Player: Once you've finished adjusting your roll, you get to assign your successes. Choose one of the following for each success:
                                                                                                          [*]Gain Bonuses;
                                                                                                          [*]Manipulate the Jinn; or
                                                                                                          [*]Negate one of the Jinn's successes.[/list:u]
                                                                                                          GM: Describe the outcome of the roll, according to the player's assignment of her successes:
                                                                                                            [*]For each Gain Bonuses success, the PC gets 2 bonuses to a skill or stat of your choice. Feel free to ask for the player's input. Generally, give bonuses to a different skill or stat than the one she rolled on.

                                                                                                            Example: Teaching the sailors the protective prayer is a good deed, and reflects well on you and your community. Gain 2 Respect.

                                                                                                            [*]For each Manipulate the Jinn success, increase one of the Jinn's skills by 1. (Increase the Die Value, not the Dice.) Choose whichever skill seems good.

                                                                                                            Example: Armed with their new prayer, the sailors can safely make their way. The Jinn becomes wary, and considers its future attacks more carefully: it gains 1 Subtlety.

                                                                                                            [*]For each Negate success, ignore one of the Jinn's successes. As you'd expect.

                                                                                                            [*]If the Jinn has successes left over, use them to inflict Suffering on the PC. Choose which sort of Suffering (see the section on Suffering below); the number of successes the Jinn has determines the Suffering's duration.
                                                                                                            PC vs. PC Rolls
                                                                                                            Both players: Roll d10s equal to your characters' relevant stats or skills (generally Renown vs. Renown). Each of your dice that comes up 2-5 is a success for you; each 1 is two successes.

                                                                                                            Whichever player has fewer successes has the option to perform a Ritual or spend bonuses. Switch back and forth, adding dice as you choose and are able, until one player concedes. Narrate this sequence of exchanges!

                                                                                                            Ultimately, one player will have fewer successes than the other. Each of the loser's successes negates one of the winner's, and the winner's excess successes go toward whatever the roll was for (as you'll recall from the Scenes section).

                                                                                                            Example: I wait for Ibrahim outside the bazaar and hit him with a stick. I'm trying to inflict Suffering on him, Bad Health to be precise. We roll Renown vs. Renown. He has 3 successes to my 2, blocking my stick with his staff, but aha! I have Orthodoxy, the Ritual. "Bastard of an unbeliever!" I shout, and roll my fearsome 5 Law. I get 4 more successes(!) and Ibrahim's player concedes. Taken substantially aback by my dogmatic wrath, let's say.

                                                                                                            His 3 successes subtract from my 6, leaving me with 3. Checking the chart for Suffering, we see that Ibrahim loses 3 Prowess and suffers a 1-die penalty to his next Renown roll. I stroll away, whistling and swinging my stick.

                                                                                                            Everybody: Suffering

                                                                                                            PC vs. PC: The player of the attacking character chooses the type of Suffering up front, when she calls for the Scene.

                                                                                                            Jinn vs. PC: The GM chooses the type of Suffering after the roll, if the Jinn has successes left over. GM, feel free to discuss and negotiate the type and details with the player if you feel like it.

                                                                                                            There are four types of Suffering:
                                                                                                            [list=1] [*]Bad Behavior, meaning that the character acts under the sway of the Jinn. Penalizes Respect and Esteem. PCs can't inflict this type of Suffering on each other.
                                                                                                            [*]Bad Health, meaning injury or disease. Penalizes Prowess and Renown.
                                                                                                            [*]Expenses, meaning loss or destruction of wealth, or the retraction of Luxury by the Prince. Penalizes Leisure and Luxury.
                                                                                                            [*]Personal Loss, meaning social isolation or betrayal. Penalizes an Ally.
                                                                                                            Recall that Respect, Prowess, and Leisure are the bonuses for Esteem, Renown, and Luxury.

                                                                                                            The severity of the Suffering depends on the attacker's non-negated successes. For Suffering types 1-3:
                                                                                                              [*]1 Success: lose 1 bonus.
                                                                                                              [*]2 Successes: lose 2 bonuses.
                                                                                                              [*]3 Successes: lose 3 bonuses and take a 1-die penalty to your next roll on that stat.
                                                                                                              [*]4 Successes: lose 4 bonuses and take a 1-die penalty to every roll you make on that stat until you bind your current Jinn.
                                                                                                              [*]5 Successes or more: lose 5 bonuses and permanently lose 1 die from the stat.[/list:u]
                                                                                                              Example: I'm in the bazaar decrying Licentiousness, but I roll crap and the GM rolls very well for the Jinn, to the tune of 4 successes over mine. The GM decides to inflict Bad Behavior; we discuss it and I agree to, yes, chase after the wanton women of the bazaar, overcome with the very thing I oppose! Worked myself up into a frenzy, I suppose. Anyway I lose 4 Respect (if I even have that many) and I'll be at a 1-die penalty to all my Esteem rolls until I defeat this Jinn.

                                                                                                              For Suffering type 4, penalizing an Ally:
                                                                                                                [*]1 Success: You cannot call on the Ally during your next scene.
                                                                                                                [*]2 Successes: The Ally is in some physical. social, or personal danger. Your next scene must be to go to her aid.
                                                                                                                [*]3 Successes: You cannot call on the Ally until you bind your current Jinn.
                                                                                                                [*]4 Successes: You cannot call on the Ally until you bind your current Jinn and take a Self-improvement scene to get the Ally back. For this Self-improvement scene, don't spend a point of Luxury.
                                                                                                                [*]5 Successes or more: The Ally's killed or otherwise gone forever.[/list:u]

                                                                                                                Notice that dice penalties don't change your actual Esteem or Renown, so you can take Suffering up to level 4 without having to recalculate the Esteem+Renown order.


                                                                                                                Quote from: Character Example
                                                                                                                Dice: 3 4 6 7 7 10
                                                                                                                Name: Ibrahim
                                                                                                                Sect: Turkish
                                                                                                                  [*]Calligraphy (7) _6_ - Illumination: / / / _ _ _ _ _ _ _
                                                                                                                  [*]Law (6) _4_ - Righteousness: / / / _ _ _ _ _ _ _
                                                                                                                  [*]Numerology (7) _5_ - Insight: / / / _ _ _ _ _ _ _
                                                                                                                  [*]Esteem (4) _3_ - Respect: / / / _ _ _ _ _ _ _
                                                                                                                  [*]Luxury (10) _6_ - Leisure: / / / _ _ _ _ _ _ _
                                                                                                                  [*]Renown (3) _3_ - Prowess: / / / _ _ _ _ _ _ _ [/list:u]
                                                                                                                    [*]Generous Giving: Luxury to Renown.
                                                                                                                    [*]Litany: Calligraphy to Law.
                                                                                                                    [*]Prayer: Calligraphy to Numerology.
                                                                                                                    [*]Prophecy: Numerology to Calligraphy.[/list:u]
                                                                                                                      [*]Courtier: Leisure to Renown.

                                                                                                                        Quote from: Jinn Example
                                                                                                                        Dice: 4 5 7 7
                                                                                                                          [*]Evil (4) Robbery
                                                                                                                          [*]Malice (5) _4_
                                                                                                                          [*]Lawlessness (7) _5_
                                                                                                                          [*]Subtlety (7) _5_ [/list:u]
                                                                                                                          Numerological Value _5_

                                                                                                                          Appearance: I'm a raging beastial ogre, fifteen feet high, with tusks capped in steel and heavy gold rings in my ears, nose, and nipples.  I have a steel sword that weighs 200 pounds and blasphemies tattooed on my skin.  I eat babies and women and bathe in molten metals.

                                                                                                                          Harm: I've inspired a gang of bandits to raid the caravans in and out of Abaid.  When the merchants speak of them they make signs against evil and look over their shoulders, and the caravaneers are convinced that their leader is the Devil Himself.  They're right.
                                                                                                                          When to increase my skills:
                                                                                                                            [*]Die Value: 1 = Skill Dice: 2.
                                                                                                                            [*]Die Value: 2-3 = Skill Dice: 3.
                                                                                                                            [*]Die Value: 4-6 = Skill Dice: 4.
                                                                                                                            [*]Die Value: 7-10 = Skill Dice: 5.
                                                                                                                            [*]Die Value: 11-16 = Skill Dice: 6.
                                                                                                                            [*]Die Value: 17+ = Skill Dice: 7.[/list:u]

                                                                                                                            Quote from: Character Sheet
                                                                                                                            Dice: __ __ __ __ __ __
                                                                                                                              [*]Calligraphy (  ) __ - Illumination: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
                                                                                                                              [*]Law (  ) __ - Righteousness: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
                                                                                                                              [*]Numerology (  ) __ - Insight: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
                                                                                                                              [*]Esteem (  ) __ - Respect: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
                                                                                                                              [*]Luxury (  ) __ - Leisure: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
                                                                                                                              [*]Renown (  ) __ - Prowess: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _[/list:u]

                                                                                                                                    Quote from: Jinn Sheet
                                                                                                                                    Dice: __ __ __ __
                                                                                                                                      [*]Evil (  ) __________________
                                                                                                                                      [*]Malice (  ) __
                                                                                                                                      [*]Lawlessness (  ) __
                                                                                                                                      [*]Subtlety (  ) __[/list:u]
                                                                                                                                      Numerological Value ____
                                                                                                                                          When to increase my skills:
                                                                                                                                            [*]Die Value: 1 = Skill Dice: 2.
                                                                                                                                            [*]Die Value: 2-3 = Skill Dice: 3.
                                                                                                                                            [*]Die Value: 4-6 = Skill Dice: 4.
                                                                                                                                            [*]Die Value: 7-10 = Skill Dice: 5.
                                                                                                                                            [*]Die Value: 11-16 = Skill Dice: 6.
                                                                                                                                            [*]Die Value: 17+ = Skill Dice: 7.[/list:u][/size]

                                                                                                                                            Soon you'll be able to find this on my website, here. But not tonight.


                                                                                                                                            Posts: 2233

                                                                                                                                            My name is Raven.

                                                                                                                                            « Reply #72 on: October 16, 2002, 09:05:28 PM »


                                                                                                                                            This is late...I couldn't connect to the forums for the last bloody fourty-five minutes. Hence, I e-mailed this to Clinton -- whom I felt the judges would take to be impartial and trustworthy -- so the e-mail has a pre-midnight timestamp. Nothing has changed between that e-mail and the below.

                                                                                                                                            I'll have to leave it to the judges to decide what to do about a technological foul.


                                                                                                                                            STARS OVER AFRICA

                                                                                                                                            In a timeless aeon before history began, before Egypt or Babylon, there was a land wrapped in the thick, green embrace of the jungle. From this sweltering womb grew civilizations that pushed back the ever-encroaching jungle with mighty walls of yellow and gray stone and mighty works of wonder, for their mystics and priests studied the sparkling gods that line the heavens and made marvels of artistic and mystical power, including the very cities themselves.

                                                                                                                                            In these cities, extensive courts of noblemen vie against one another for the service and blessings of the wizard-priests and access to their master works, hoping to add the mystic power therein to their own and divine the uses of the magic surging untapped within edifices swallowed by the hungry green jungle. In so doing, they hope to achieve Harmony, and so ascend to the ivory throne of the Seven Cities of the jungle's womb.

                                                                                                                                            In the untamed jungles there lurk the dangers that keep these ambitious men from their goals, and terrify the citizens who live sheltered within the city walls. Among them are the savage Children of the Green, whose societies were forged by ancient cataclysms in times before men stood upright beneath the stars or could count the diamonds scattered across the night sky...the Children of the Green are demons, claim some, led by fallen gods -- gods who were once stars above, now cast or fallen to the black, sweltering earth in search of the power held by its wizards and denied them as gods.

                                                                                                                                            Can you wrest the mystic secrets from the wizards who hold them, and will you do so by force or diplomacy?
                                                                                                                                            Will you brave the savage jungle to reclaim ancient places of power and learn their secrets?
                                                                                                                                            And even then, do you have what it takes to use your knowledge and power to protect the cities of man from the savage things without? Or will you become one of the Forsaken cultists of the Jungle...or something worse...

                                                                                                                                            There are Seven cities of the interior, some are city-states unto themselves while others rule lands held by the outer villages. Each is known for a single color, there is Iriaem the Grey, Niibiri of the Yellow-Tiles, Caiaero the Sparkling Blue, Shanadar the White (City of the Great King), Rabbullu the Red, and Otunga of the Purple Lotus.

                                                                                                                                            Various noble courts within each city vie for rulership of the citizenry, attempting to outdo one another with their architectural and mystical accomplishments and their creatiton of providence for their people. It is through design and aesthetic the cities keep the Jungle at bay, through the Harmony contained in a properly executed piece of artwork, be it a mural painted on the inner walls of the palace to keep thieves at bay, or the layout of the city streets to thwart the encroachment of the jungle.

                                                                                                                                            To create a nobleman, first choose a city in which his Court is located, then tie each one of the following abilities to one of the keywords which follows. When some task must be accomplished, the keyword related to the task will be affected by any modifiers to that ability. What you tie together decides how your nobleman deals with situations of that sort.

                                                                                                                                            For example, placing Force with Africa means the nobleman uses force and strength to deal with threats to Africa or his subjects; placing Force with Art means the nobleman uses his edifices and wizards to create strength of arms and bravado, perhaps even creating an army of mystical warriors or a diamond at the top of a great tower, which creates a burning beam of magic to be directed against the enemies of the city.

                                                                                                                                            Cleverness   (mental)
                                                                                                                                            Rulership   (social)
                                                                                                                                            Wisdom      (mystical)
                                                                                                                                            Force      (physical)

                                                                                                                                            Numerology: foresight and luck.
                                                                                                                                            Africa: glory and benefit to the land and people.
                                                                                                                                            Court: rank among the Courts and ascension to the throne.
                                                                                                                                            Art: the mystical force available to the nobleman.

                                                                                                                                            A task that deals with Africa affects the city, the people or the jungle as an entity.
                                                                                                                                            A task that deals with Court affects the Court and the Nobleman and their status or rule.
                                                                                                                                            A task that deals with Art affects structures, edifices and traditions.
                                                                                                                                            A task that deals with Numerology affects the unknown future and planning.

                                                                                                                                            Each character also has a Harmony score and a Control score. Split 5 points between these two scores; assign at least 1 point to each.

                                                                                                                                            Harmony is an attunement with the natural order of things as governed by the symmetry of the stars above, it is enlightenment or understanding, and the wisdom to foresee and allow a course or event to be arrived at naturally; Control is worldly power and forcefulness, the ability to bend the natural order to one's will and hasten or lengthen the time between events, it entails lack of patience and virtue.

                                                                                                                                               Example Character:

                                                                                                                                               Noble Hadid Amir:
                                                                                                                                               Cleverness Africa
                                                                                                                                               Rulership Court      
                                                                                                                                               Wisdom Numerology
                                                                                                                                               Force Art   

                                                                                                                                               Harmony   3
                                                                                                                                               Control   2

                                                                                                                                            The point of "Stars Over Africa" is to achieve enough Harmony and ability to rule the Seven Cities as the Great King, though play groups can certainly alter that to reflect some other grand and worthy quest which serves all Africa and the Seven Cities. To do this, characters must achieve Goals, thereby gaining ability bonuses and Harmony.

                                                                                                                                            The minimum amount of Harmony needed to ascend to the throne of Shanadar is 10. The minimum amount of ability gain needed is set by the group at the start of play, based on the number of rounds they wish to play. The group may also decide on specific ability gains that must be had in order to become the Great King, setting this to a specific amount added to one, or more, abilities (frex, +5 to Rulership; or +3 to Wisdom and +4 to Rulership; or a total of +7 spread among all abilities).

                                                                                                                                            For longer campaigns, set goals that must be attained for each city, and declare at least one of these per city must be achieved for the noble to gain recognition in that city and so have even a chance at being named to the throne.

                                                                                                                                            Use a 10-sided die to roll on the table below and to determine each nobleman's goal for that round of the game or a mixture of goals for a particular city. The order in which this is rolled is unimportant. Attainment of the goal results in the bonus listed for the character who achieves it (starting the next round).

                                                                                                                                            Roll   Goal Event   Bonus         Examples
                                                                                                                                            1   Discovery.   +1 to Wisdom      A legendary Diamond mine or an ancient edifice
                                                                                                                                            2   Romance.   +1 to Harmony      A courtly wooing or a scandalous affair
                                                                                                                                            3   Intrigue.   +1 to Cleverness   Spying, asassination or bounty hunting
                                                                                                                                            4   Invention.   +1 to Cleverness   A new edifice, technology or medicine
                                                                                                                                            5   Travel.      +1 to Wisdom      Trade, exploration or vacation
                                                                                                                                            6   Judgement.   +1 to Rulership      Passing law and meeting out justice
                                                                                                                                            7   Horror.      +1 to Force      A disease, earthquake or worse
                                                                                                                                            8   Politics.   +1 to Rulership      A smear campaign or diplomatic mission
                                                                                                                                            9   War.      +1 to Force      Against another city, Court or the Jungle
                                                                                                                                            0   Choose.      

                                                                                                                                            Each Goal Event requires a certain number of steps to be taken to attain, equal to the Harmony score of the character. Each step must be narrated by a player, who explains the situation (the setup) of the step and assigns a keyword to it. The character with the highest Control score who is not involved in the quest narrates. If all characters are involved, the keyword is chosen by rolling a 4-sided die and the affected player narrates the situation.

                                                                                                                                            Roll   Keyword
                                                                                                                                            1   Africa
                                                                                                                                            2   Numerology
                                                                                                                                            3   Art
                                                                                                                                            4   Court

                                                                                                                                            The individual with the highest Harmony during a step always rolls first, however, anyone else can decide to roll a die (modified by their Control score) to go first instead and steal the glory. This invokes the normal roll to see if Control increases. As well, another player may roll to supercede your place; you may roll again against them to go first, and so on until everyone is happy with or consigned to their position in the order.

                                                                                                                                            Players may also make a bid for the goal of another player, hoping to beat them to the finish and supercede their victory, thus gaining more ability for themselves. Any number of players can compete for the same goal, but in all cases they must attempt to achieve their own goal as well. The number of steps for these extra players is always equal to the original player's Harmony plus one per extra player.

                                                                                                                                            Should the keyword chosen be linked to a character's Control score, that character may not use Harmony to boost their roll, but their Control score is doubled for the step. Should the keyword chosen be linked to a character's Harmony score, they may use their Control score, but their current number of steps to gain another point of Control is permanently halved.

                                                                                                                                            The narration of a step should be suitably dramatic and interesting, similar to a scene from a movie.
                                                                                                                                            The initial setup of a situation includes a problem that blocks progress. Based on the results of the roll, the character either overcomes the problem or is thwarted by it: the former results in progress being made towards the goal, the latter results in ending further from the goal, and either may result in no gains or losses towards the goal.

                                                                                                                                            The length of a step can be short (comprising a single action) or long (comprising a scene's worth of interactions and events).

                                                                                                                                            Task Resolution
                                                                                                                                            Task resolution is a simple d10 - d10 system. Modifiers are added to the rolls for each die and the results are totaled; then the chart below is checked to determine if the player moved towards their goal, away from it, or made no progress in either direction.

                                                                                                                                            Roll   Progress
                                                                                                                                            0   Complete Failure! Disastrous! Reduce Harmony by 2.
                                                                                                                                            1   Failure! Increase steps to goal by 2.
                                                                                                                                            2   Partial Failure. Increase steps to goal by 1.
                                                                                                                                            3   Partial Failure. Increase steps to goal by 1.
                                                                                                                                            4   Neutral Result. No change in status quo.
                                                                                                                                            5   Neutral Result. No change in status quo.
                                                                                                                                            6   Partial Success. Reduce steps to goal by 1.
                                                                                                                                            7   Partial Success. Reduce steps to goal by 1.
                                                                                                                                            8   Success! Reduce steps to goal by 2.
                                                                                                                                            9   Complete Success! Stunning! Increase Harmony by 2.

                                                                                                                                            Note that rolls over 9, while they do provide success, may not provide an increase to Harmony. Instead, use the actual results of the roll to determine if there is an increase to Harmony, and reduce the steps to the goal by 2.

                                                                                                                                            The total of a roll which results in a score under 0 behaves much the same as total greater than 9. Use the results of the actual roll to determine if there was any Harmony loss, and increase the steps to the goal by 2.

                                                                                                                                            Once per quest, a player can use their Harmony or Control score to gain a bonus to a roll.
                                                                                                                                            A player may also use their Control score once per quest to increase the difficulty of a task for an opponent, resulting in a penalty to the opponent's roll equal to the interfering player's Control score.

                                                                                                                                            Beware of using too much Control, for it results in corruption of the spirit and being cast out into the jungle to live as a cultist or slave or to die at the hands of the Children. Each time Control is used, the player must roll a die, adding their current Control score to check if the score increases. The number of steps it takes to increase Control by 1 is equal to the character's current Harmony score...treat results of 0-3 as 4-5, treat a 9+ as an immediate increase to Control of 2 points. Should a loss of Harmony result in the character meeting or exceeding the number of steps required to increase Control, then do so.

                                                                                                                                            If a character's Control score ever exceeds their current Harmony by more than 3 points (ie: four points or more), they are cast out of the Cities...that player may then play or contribute to the play of the Jungle, which seeks to destroy the Cities, pulling them down into ruin and wrapping everything once more in its choking green embrace.

                                                                                                                                            The Jungle
                                                                                                                                            Until one or more of the players join it, the Jungle acts as its own "player" (simply being the opposing force inherent in the second subtractive die rolled for task resolution). When a player joins it, the player(s) acting as the Jungle can use their Control score as described above, adding a bonus to a keyword for the Jungle or penalizing an opponent's roll (either case results in the chosen opponent's total being modified downwards -- cosmetically, which power is used is simply a matter of which die roll the modifier affects and how).

                                                                                                                                            The Children of the Green
                                                                                                                                            Almost nothing of the Jungle has Harmony.
                                                                                                                                            Rare caches of Harmony do exist within the Green, however, providing temporary Harmony blessings to those who find them. A Harmony blessing occurs when the keyword declared for a step is the same keyword to which a player has tied their Harmony. If the player manages to roll an 8 or better for the step, they gain the Harmony blessing -- a temporary bestowment of of a point or two of Harmony, which when added to a roll is used up.

                                                                                                                                            Here are some ideas for what's "out there" in the Jungle:
                                                                                                                                              Giant, intelligent ape-savages.
                                                                                                                                              Snake-gods and snake-cults and giant snakes.
                                                                                                                                              There are Beast Cities out there, but are they built by preternaturally intelligent animals -- or merely inhabited by them, and built by others?
                                                                                                                                              And let us not forget the Lost Gods, those fallen stars which rule the Green...

                                                                                                                                            Going Deeper
                                                                                                                                            More traditional RPGs are done action-by-action affairs, and Stars in Africa can be run this way as well. Merely use the abilities given above as traditional RPG abilities and set the the Goal as a larger adventure the action is taking place within.

                                                                                                                                            A single player should be nominated to be Africa, He Who Numbers the Stars, and is responsible for detailing and narrating all creatures, situations and locations outside each character in the game.

                                                                                                                                            When confronted with an obstacle (be it a creature or situation), a character always rolls a single d10 and adds their ability modifier; this is opposed by creatures and items, each which has a d10 of their own, and their own modifiers (frex, the ape-savages might have a +3 to their Force).

                                                                                                                                            In this sort of game, a player can declare an appropriate keyword tied to one of their scores and the opposition must use the same keyword to determine which ability is used to modify the countering roll. However, in order to do so, the player must roll a die and add their Harmony; if successful (ie: the roll totals above 6) they may choose the keyword.

                                                                                                                                            "Steps" have little meaning in this context, and instead is used to reflect the damage done or effects avoided. Damage is taken directly off abilities. Once a character reaches -5 in an ability, they die. Otherwise, ability damage heals fully after the current Goal has been achieved or abandoned and a new Goal set.

                                                                                                                                            Also, rolling a "0" or a "9" does not result in immediate Harmony gains or losses in this type of game, each requires a number of steps to achieve. In the case of a gain, this is equal to the Control score of the individual. In the case of a loss, it requires a number of steps equal to the character's Harmony score.

                                                                                                                                            Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
                                                                                                                                            Wild Hunt Studio
                                                                                                                                            Paul Czege
                                                                                                                                            Acts of Evil Playtesters

                                                                                                                                            Posts: 2341

                                                                                                                                            « Reply #73 on: October 16, 2002, 09:18:59 PM »

                                                                                                                                            This is late...I couldn't connect to the forums for the last bloody fourty-five minutes.

                                                                                                                                            I can corroborate that The Forge was definitely inaccessible for at least twenty minutes prior to the deadline, maybe more, and for a few minutes after the deadline had passed.


                                                                                                                                            My Life with Master knows codependence.
                                                                                                                                            And if you're doing anything with your Acts of Evil ashcan license, of course I'm curious and would love to hear about your plans
                                                                                                                                            Acts of Evil Playtesters

                                                                                                                                            Posts: 669

                                                                                                                                            « Reply #74 on: October 16, 2002, 09:30:34 PM »

                                                                                                                                            Regarding the sudden inaccessibility of The Forge...

                                                                                                                                            It's Vincent's fault.

                                                                                                                                            He had no sooner posted his entry than all of the forums went offline.  I didn't realize "mad hacker" was part of his job description, but I think the evidence speaks for itself.

                                                                                                                                            Vincent, just so you know, you've been foiled.  Your attempt to keep Raven out of the judging was futile and in vain (assuming Mike is as merciful as I think he will be).

                                                                                                                                            - Scott
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