Swords & Sorcery Fantasy Using Variant Feng Shui

Caveat 1: This is version 0.0003a of this document. Not only is it massively incomplete and fragmentary, but what text there is could change at any second.

Caveat 2: This document assumes a familiarity with the basic principles and mechanics of the Feng Shui system. No knowledge of the fine details is needed; they're all different anyway.

Caveat 3: Female pronouns have been used throughout this document; this is because the designer honestly expects that all players will be pimply teenaged nerdboys playing pinup girls in chainmail bikinis.

Contents


Terminology

Because we are not engaged in the high-concept conflation of RPGs with cinema, combat time is divided into rounds and initiative is in terms of phases, rather than the sequences and shots of FS. Also, without the use of undercranking, rounds take 15 seconds instead of 3.

The notion of a closed roll has been borrowed from Nexus. This is the same as a normal FS roll except that 6s are not rerolled: the result is always between -5 and +5. The GM should call for a closed roll in an situation where a wildly variable result seems implausible or would be disrupted; this rarely applies in combat, but often applies to tasks performed in nonstressful conditions.

The standard chart of time intervals is:

If you see any reference to 'one time interval shorter' or the like, this is the chart that's being referred to.

Schticks are now referred to as Abilities.

Most other terminology for FS mechanics is unchanged.

Character Definition

Attributes

Attributes are arranged in primary and secondary fashion as in FS. Body, Mind, and Reflexes are all the same:

There is no Chi stat; it is replaced by Magic and its substats:

Capacity determines how many patterns a mage can have prepared at any one time, and Power determines how strong those patterns are: how much energy they can channel. For an explanation of patterns, see the magic section.

Sensitivity represents the mage's ability to perceive magical energy (possibly including more traditional Second Sight); it can be thought of as the magical equivalent of Perception. Precision is the mage's ability to exactly manipulate magical energy: the magical equivalent of Dexterity or Agility.

Nonmages typically have Mag 0, of course, but may have a bit of Mag:Sen.

Skills

As in FS, skills are added to an attribute to determine the AV; unlike in FS, a skill may be added to different attributes depending on the situation. Accordingly, the skill descriptions (will eventually) include examples of which attributes should be used in which circumstances. However, each skill does have a principle attribute, the one with which it is most commonly paired, which is used to determine skill levels at character creation time.

Archery (Ref:Dex)
Archery skill covers all ranged weapons: bows, crossbows, thrown knives, thrown rocks, shuriken, catapults, anything. It also include knowledge of how to maintain and repair such weapons.

Sample tasks and attributes:
Shoot someone with a hand-held ranged weapon: Ref:Dex
Shoot a target with a siege engine or artillery piece: Mnd:Int
Charm (Mnd:Cha)
Charm is the ability of a character to get people to like her, to do her favors, to cut her slack, or even to just not think too much about what she's doing. This does subsume seduction and flirting, but is not limited to it. Charm is different than Deceit in that the victim isn't deceived about what's going on; she just thinks it's worth it to go along (if she thinks at all).

Sample tasks and attributes:
Get someone to do you a favor: Mnd:Cha
Get someone really repulsive to do you a favor: Mnd:Wil
Resist someone else's charm(s): Mnd:Wil
Realize after the fact that you've been played for a patsy: Mnd:Int
Climbing (Ref:Agl)
This skill covers not just plain climbing of sheer cliffs, but also clinging to the bottoms of wagons, swinging on chandeliers or vines, and similar feats of acrobatic derring-do.

Sample tasks and attributes:
Climbing almost always uses Bod:Agl, but Mnd:Per might be used to see if a particular move is a good idea. Mnd:Int is probably not appropriate.
Deceit (Mnd:Cha)
This skill covers most of the ways to deceive someone: lying, forging documents, disguise. It also covers, naturally, seeing through the deceptions of others.

Sample tasks and attributes:
Tell a convincing lie: Mnd:Cha
Recognize a lie: Mnd:Int
Copy a document: Ref:Dex
Recognize a forged document: Mnd:Per
Disguise someone: Mnd:Int
See through a disguise: Mnd:Per
Gambling (Mnd:Int)
Gambling skill includes knowledge not only of the rules of a wide variety of games of chance and skill, but also of how to win them legitimately (or at least minimize losses), and how to cheat at them.

Sample tasks and attributes:
Spot someone cheating: Mnd:Per
Keep track of cards to win a game: Mnd:Int
Switch a set of dice with another set: Ref:Dex
Correctly figure the odds on a horserace: Mnd:Int
Knowledge/field (Mnd:Int)
This is the catch-all skill for knowledge of subjects or professions not covered by other skills. It may also include the mental or theoretical portions of other skills; for example, Knowledge/Veterinary Medicine could be substituted for Riding when doctoring a sick horse. Because Knowledge skills are less useful and more character-building than other skills, they only cost half as much.

There are two sort of knowledge skills that deserve special mention. The first is medical skills: herbalism, acupuncture, battlefield medicine, anything of that sort; all are considered equally effective. When used to aid healing, the Result of the skill roll is used in place of the patient's Bod:Con to determine the healing rate.

The second sort is divination skills: oneiromancy, cartomancy, augury, etc. Knowledge/divination + Mag:Sen is used to cast divination spells (see the Magic section for details).

Sample tasks and attributes:
Knowledge skills almost always use Mnd:Int or Mnd:Per, but ones involving crafts or artistry may use Ref:Dex, and other attributes are certainly possible (eg, Knowledge/Etiquette might sometimes use Mnd:Cha)
Leadership (Mnd:Cha)
Leadership includes not only the oratical and theatric performances necessary to inspire followers, but also the operational aspects of getting all of the inspired followers marching in the same direction.

Sample tasks and attributes:
Rally a wavering army with an inspiring speech: Mnd:Cha
Rally a starving army by getting supply lines in order: Mnd:Int
Magery
At some places in the rules, the skill Magery will be referred to, but it's just shorthand for "whichever of Sorcery or Worship applies".
Melee (Ref:Agl)
Melee skill covers the use of hand-to-hand weapons of all kinds: swords, clubs, halberds, bare knuckles, anything. It also covers the care and repair of such weapons.

Sample tasks and attributes:
Hit someone with a weapon: Bod:Agl
Repair a broken weapon: Mnd:Int
Pilfering (Ref:Dex)
This skill includes most of the physical aspects of thievery: pickpocketing, lockpicking, sleight of hand, disarming traps. It also includes the related mental skills of spotting traps and other security features, figuring out what's worth stealing, and fencing the loot. Stealth, Climbing, and Deceit are also important skills for a thief.

Sample tasks and attributes:
Pick a pocket: Ref:Dex
Pick a lock: Ref:Dex
Figure out where the guard is hiding: Mnd:Int
Estimate the contents of a mark's purse: Mnd:Per
Fence something for a reasonable price: Mnd:Cha
Riding (Ref:Agl)
Riding skill includes not only staying on riding animals of all kinds while simultaneously making them go in the right direction, but also caring for and training such animals, and driving animal-drawn conveyances.

Sample tasks and attributes:
Ride an animal through a jump or other fancy maneuver: Ref:Agl
Train a wild animal to the saddle: Mnd:Cha
Stay on the back of a bucking animal: Bod:Str
Doctor an animal that's eaten something it shouldn't: Mnd:Int
Drive a wagon: Ref:Dex
Sailing (Mnd:Int)
This skill includes not only the operation of watercraft of all sizes, but also their construction and repair, and navigation and cartography.

Sample tasks and attributes:
Sail a small boat through a narrow strait: Bod:Agl
Command a crew to sail a large ship through a narrow strait: Mnd:Int
Tell land on the horizon from clouds on the horizon: Mnd:Per
Plot a course or determine a position: Mnd:Int
Sorcery (Mag:Pre)
Sorcery skill is what a sorcerer uses to understand the forces that maintain the world, and tocommand and draw upon them for her own ends (that is, to cast spells).

Although anyone can learn about magic, to actually do magic beyond the most minimal levels requires a True Name: no one can learn Sorcery to more than +3 without having one. (See the section on Magic for details on True Names.) Also, any active use of magic by someone with a Mag:Sen of 0 is at -3 penalty, as they are unable to percive the forces they are working with and must work by rote.

Sample tasks and attributes:
Casting a spell: Mag:Pre
Blocking a spell being cast: Ref:Spd
Spotting the source of a magical effect: Mag:Sen
Determining what will deactivate a spell trap: Mnd:Int
Stealth (Ref:Agl)
The skill of not being spotted while sneaking around; also, the skill of spotting other people sneaking around.

Sample tasks and attributes:
Sneak past a guard: Ref:Agl
Spot someone sneaking past where you're standing guard: Mnd:Per
Locating the best spot to set up a camouflaged blind: Mnd:Int
Survival (Mnd:Int)
This is the skill of finding food, shelter, drugs, and other necessities of life in the wild, as well as avoiding becoming anyone else's sustenance.

Sample tasks and attributes:
Find water in the wilderness: Mnd:Int
Determine if the water is potable: Mnd:Per
Spot the predator sneaking up on the waterhole: Mnd:Per
Urban Survival (Mnd:Int)
This is the skill of finding food, shelter, drugs, and other necessities of life in the wild, as well as avoiding providing these things for anyone else without getting paid for it.

Sample tasks and attributes:
Find beer in the city: Mnd:Int
Determine if the beer is a health hazard: Mnd:Per
Spot the mugger lurking the dark alley: Mnd:Per
Worship/deity (Mag:Pre)
This is the skill a priest uses to entreat her deity to work miracles on her behalf, or to grant her visions (that is, for the character to cast spells). Each deity typically provides only a limited set of spells, and Worship must be bought separately for each deity the character can entreat, but on the plus side, it can substitute for Knowledge/divination when casting Divination spells.

Although anyone can learn about a deity, to get the deity to do anything significant requires a True Name: no one can learn Worship to more than +3 without having one. (See the section on Magic for details on True Names.) Also, any active use of magic by someone with a Mag:Sen of 0 is at -3 penalty, as they are unable to percive the forces they are working with and must work by rote.

Sample tasks and attributes:
Casting a spell: Mag:Pre
Blocking a spell being cast: Ref:Spd
Spotting the source of a magical effect: Mag:Sen
Determining what will deactivate a spell trap: Mnd:Int

Abilities

Many characters have special abilities in addition to their skills, such as being able to fight with two weapons, to cast spells without chanting or gesturing, or to call upon the faithful of their religion to aid them. These abilities are divided into three categories: combat abilities, magical abilities, and miscellaneous abilities. Most archetypes will specify which sort of abilities the character can have; miscellaneous abilities can be substituted for either of the other two with the GM's approval.

There are also professional flaws, problems that make a character's life miserable above and beyond the usual problems. Some archetypes will automatically have professional flaws, and any archetype may take an additional professional flaw or two to get another ability or two (balancing one for one), if the GM approves.

A mage's spells sort of count as abilities, but are explained in the Magic section.

Some characters will have abilities or flaws from their species; see the Archetypes section.

Many abilities have prerequisites listed in parentheses after the ability name. The character must have at least the listed attribute or skill, and any listed abilities, in order to have that ability.

Combat Abilities

An "M" or "A" trailing the name of the ability indicates whether it can be used with Melee combat, with Archery combat, or both. This does not apply to defense maneuvers, which work equally well against either kind of attack.

Skill requirements are Melee + Ref:Agl for melee abilities, Archery + Ref:Dex for archery abilities, or either for defensive abilities.

Charge MA (Skill 12)
This ability lets the character move her full Bod:Mov (or more, for special movement like flight) and attack at full AV in a single 3-phase action.
Mighty Charge M (Charge, Skill 13)
A superior version of Charge, this ability lets the character add half the distance travelled in yards (up to half her Bod:Mov) to the damage of the attack. For a character using a special movement that multiplies her Bod:Mov, figure out how much Bod:Mov she used (ie, divide total distance travelled by the multiplier), halve it to find the damage bonus, and add +2 for each doubling (+2 for double, +4 for quadruple, ...). This is not actually as complicated as it sounds.
Claim The Blow (Skill 12)
This maneuver is common among bodyguards, including the escorts of mages. A character who claims the blow interposes herself between the attacker and the intended target; the attack is then rolled against the new defender's Dodge, and she takes any damage it inflicts.
Disarm MA (Skill 12)
A character skilled in disarming techniques has her AV penalty for disarming attacks reduced by 3.
Fencing M (Skill 12)
A fencer is adept at using the light fencing rapier, which does only Bod:Str+3 damage, but in the hands of someone with this ability offsets up to -2 of snapshot penalties: she can attack at full AV in two phases, or in one phase for only -3.
Great Parry/Dodge (Skill 12)
As a continuous action, a character with this ability can add +2 to her Dodge against all attacks. Active defense only adds the remaining +1 against the specific attack. Characters who fight with two weapons often have this ability (defined as using one weapon to parry while attacking with the other).
Holdout
A character with this ability is always armed, unless subjected to a rigorous strip-search by someone who also has this ability; even if strip-searched by ordinary goons, she'll have a Bod:Str+1 scalpel glued to the bottom of her foot, or be able to hide a dagger before she's searched and pick it after being cleared, or some such. This ability can also be used to conceal small objects other than weapons; notes, vials of poison, and the like.
Counterattack M (Skill 13)
A character with this ability may instantly make a 0-phase attack on anyone who hits her in melee combat, at a -3 penalty. Wound penalties from the hit are not applied to this counterattack.
Riposte M (Counterattack, Skill 14)
Riposte, like Counterattack, allows the character to make a 0-phase attack at -3 AV against someone who attacks her in melee, but the opponent's attack does not have to hit.
Lightning Draw MA (Ref:Spd 8)
A character with Lightning Draw can draw a weapon as a 0-phase action, instead of the normal 1 phase, and can draw and strike as a single 3-phase action.
Mighty Blow M (Skill 12)
The Mighty Blow allows a character to make an attack at -2 AV but +5 damage. If the blow connects, the target is knocked down and knocked back a number of yards equal to the attacker's Bod:Str (minus the target's size).
Prodigious Leap (Bod: Mov 7)
A character who can leap prodigiously can leap up to her Bod:Mov in yards horizontally, or twice that far with a running start. She can also leap up to half her Bod:Move vertically. However, she takes a -3 penalty to anything she tries to accomplish at the far end of the leap (EG, if leaping as part of a Charge).
Astounding Leap (Prodigious Leap, Bod:Mov 8)
The Astounding Leap carries a character up to her full Bod:Mov in yards vertically, or twice that far horizontally (four times as far with a running start). The -3 penalty still applies.
Signature Weapon MA
A signature weapon is one that is important to the character (family heirloom, spear she used to kill her first troll, gift from her mentor) and that she always uses, given the choice. Should she lose the weapon, she will do her best to recover it; if the weapon is lost for good, she loses an appropriate amount of Fortune. However, her attachment to the weapon gives her +1 AV when using it.
Magic Weapon MA (Signature Weapon)
Some signature weapons are more than just heirlooms; they are actually magical (or at least forged by someone impressive, in an impressively distant time and place); such a weapon gets +2 damage in addition to the +1 AV. The other conditions of a signature weapon still apply.
Torrent of Steel M (Skill 13)
Torrent of Steel allows the character to attack a target repeatedly: she may keep making melee attacks on the chosen target until she misses. The total initiative cost of this sequence of attacks is one per attack, not counting the final miss. During the flurry, the target may be driven back up to half the attacker's Bod:Mov (the attacker moving forward an equal distance).

If the character also knows Two-Weapons fighting, she may make one last attack after the miss that terminates the sequence, at no initiative cost.
Wave of Steel M (Torrent of Steel, Skill 14)
Like Torrent of Steel, Wave of Steel allows the character to make repeated melee attacks until she misses, at 1 phase per attack; unlike Torrent, these attacks may be made against multiple foes. The character can move up to half her Bod:Mov in order to reach these targets, if necessary, but the targets are not driven back. As with Torrent of Steel, a fighter using the Two-Weapons style can make one final 0-phase attack after the miss.
Traditional Foe MA
A character with a traditional class of foes gets +2 AV when attacking any member of that class. It must be a class (rival noble family, pirates, despoilers of the earth) not an individual, but the size of the class doesn't matter much; since the enmity has to be part of one of the character's plot hooks, the foe is guaranteed to show up.

Should the character succeed in wiping out all of her traditional foes, she loses this ability, but should gain huge amounts of fortune.
Two-Weapons M (Skill 10)
A character who fights in a two-weapons style can more easily engage multiple opponents; her penalty for attacking multiple foes is reduced by 2 (no penalty for attacking two foes, -1 for three, ...). Such characters often also know the Great Parry, defined as using one weapon to parry and the other to attack.
Whirlwind of Blades M (Skill 14)
With this ability, the character can use her melee weapon to create a zone of sharp-edged death around her: for as long as she keeps it up, anyone who enters melee combat range of her (about 2yds) is attacked by her Ref:Agl + Melee (with no dice added), and takes damage as appropriate. The Whirlwind can be maintained for as long as the character likes, but she can do nothing else during that time.
Magic Abilities

Skill requirments are whichever of Worship + Mag:Pre or Sorcery + Mag:Pre applies; none of these apply to Divination spells.

Conditional Magic (Skill 10)
A character with conditional magic gets a bonus to her Mag (and all substats) when a certain condition applies. Magic attuned to the cycles of nature is most common; in this case, the bonus is dependent on what fraction of the time it applies. If it applies half the time (all day, or all night) the bonus is +1; if it applies a quarter of the time (full daylight, spring), +2; if it applies 1/8 or 1/10 of the time (three nights of the full moon, three hours of highest sun), the bonus is +3.

If the condition is locational, then a place or type of place that is easy to get to and commonly available (the top of a hill, inside a house, at sea) is worth +1; a specific place or small group of such (a temple of the character's faith) is worth +3. Intermediate cases (any temple, shrine or other holy area of the character's faith) are worth +2.
Graving Patterns In The Mind (Skill 12)
Casting spells normally requires arcane incantations and mystic gesticulations, but a character with this ability has learned to overcome that limitation. She can cast spells without speaking or moving, at no penalty to her Magery roll, but does have to concentrate the entire time, and cannot be doing anything else, not even actively dodging; her Dodge is at half value while she concentrates.
Drawing Patterns In The Mind (Skill 13, Graving Patterns In The Mind)
This is a superior version of Graving Patterns In The Mind (see below), which allows the character to walk around normally, make small talk, and even actively dodge while concentrating (though her Dodge is still normally at half value, and only goes to normal value if she actively Dodges). She cannot spare enough attention to use any other skills at more than +0, though.
Independent Magic (Skill 12)
Normally, a mage's sustained spells drop if she ever loses consciousness, even to sleep, or if she receives a major wound. A Mage with Independent Magic doesn't have this problem; her sustained spells remain active as long as she is alive. However, she cannot drop spells completely at will; it takes a 1-phase defensive action to break the connection.
Miscellaneous Abilities

All skill requirements for miscellaneous abilities are spelled out explicitly.

Beautiful (Mnd:Cha 7)
All characters are reasonably good-looking (unless specified otherwise by the player), but a Beautiful character is even more outstanding. She gets a +1 bonus to win friends and influence people in general, and +3 against anyone whose libido she suits.
Calling The Faithful (Mnd:Cha + Worship 10)
Characters who are highly placed in an organization can often call on the respect and obedience of other members, at least towards the organization's ends. The most common example of this, of course, is a religious leader calling on the faithful, but this ability could also apply to a revolutionary underground or any other ideologically-motivated group.
Contacts (Mnd:Cha 6)
The character with this ability knows someone everywhere, or at least someone has heard of her and liked what they heard. Not everyone likes her, and most of the people who do won't be willing to risk their lives for her, but she can usually find someone to help out in any field that she has a skill in
Filthy Rich
A filthy rich character can't buy *everything*, but most problems that can be solved by money, she can handle: she can bribe officials, purchase new equipment, hire specialists such as couriers or investigators (although the adage about what it takes to get the job done right always applies); and of course always lives in luxury's lap. This ability won't sweep away important problems, of course, but it makes life much easier while the character is working on a solution.
Friend Of The Wild
Animals react well to the character with this advantage; wild animals will tend to neither attack nor flee the character, and tame animals will be more biddable. This doesn't give any bonus to riding an animal or otherwise making specific use of its training, but is worth about +3 when training an animal or trying to make it behave against its training (eg, calming an attack dog).
Linguist
A linguist is considered to know all the languages common in her area of origin (not including deliberately secret ones), and requires only 1 training check to gain full fluency in a language instead of 2 (and should be considered partially fluent after just a brief exposure).
Perfect Memory
The character remembers everything. Everything she sees, everything she hears, everything she reads. This does not automatically give her any free skills, not even Knowledge skills, but does help with Training (see the Advancement section) and lets her remember clues, redraw maps from memory, and the like.
Quality (Mnd:Cha 7)
The character is a Person Of Quality and, although she has no actual power outside her own lands, will be recognized as such everywhere. The lower classes will be respectful; the upper classes will regard her as one of their own (which is a far cry from welcoming you as one of their own).
Stalwart (Bod:Con 7)
A stalwart character does not have to check for incapacitation until she has reached -5 Impairment. She still makes death checks as normal.
Professional Flaws

Flaws have no requirements.

Bad Reputation
Everyone has some enemies, but with character with Bad Reputation has enemies everywhere, even ones she never knew about. Wherever she goes, she'll run into people who heard about That Little Incident and are willing assume the worst about her on that basis. This doesn't mean that everyone will hate or fear her, but there will always be someone around who does. The exact nature of the bad reputation needs to be specified, of course, and generally ties in to one of the character's plot hooks.
Geas
A geas is a requirement that the character always do something at every opportunity. If the character has the chance to fulfill the geas but is prevented from doing so, she loses a point of Fortune; if she chooses not to, she loses at least two Fortune and possibly a lot more. Remember, it is possible to have negative Fortune.
Taboo
Lots of people have things they don't want to do, but a taboo goes beyond that. If the character even fails to stop someone else from performing the forbidden action when she could have, she loses a point of Fortune; if she performs the act herself, she loses at least two Fortune and possibly a lot more. Remember, it is possible to have negative Fortune.
True Name
A Character with a True Name is much more vulnerable to magic cast by someone who knows her Name. Briefly, any stat she uses to resist a spell is considered to be 0, and anyone who knows her Name has an arcane connection to her. For full details, refer to the Magic section.

It is also possible for a character to take Species Abilities/Flaws as Professional Abilities/Flaws with the GM's permission. For example, one of the Claws of the Rat King, who underwent the mandatory 13-year apprenticeship locked in the lightless maze of the Warren would probably be justified in taking Night Vision, and possibly even in compensating for it with Day Blindness.

Fortune

Fortune represents the favor of the higher powers. It is used the same way as in FS (with the minor exception that the fortune die does reroll on a 6, but only one of the fortune die and the normal positive die can be rerolled), but characters have no fixed amount of Fortune. Characters start with 3 Fortune, but once a point is spent, it's gone. New points of Fortune are granted by the GM when the character does something impressive in accordance with his religion/moral code/philosophy of life. Characters may lose Fortune for doing blatantly wrong things, again at the GM's discretion.

Religious characters (priests, paladins) should start with 5 Fortune, but have to be more devout to get more, and more easily lose it when they go astray.

It is possible for a character to have negative Fortune, in which case she can spend no Fortune and is pretty well guaranteed to have a miserable life. Any Fortune granted to the character goes to offset this debt until she is even; in addition, the GM may reduce the character's Fortune debt by giving the negative points to the character's opponents as positive Fortune.

Archetypes

As in FS, characters are created by selecting an archetype and filling out the remaining few points. However, the FS technique of fixing important skills at given levels regardless of the corresponding attributes demphasizes attributes: in FS, the only attributes that matter much are Bod:Con, Bod:Str, Bod:Tgh, and Ref:Spd (4 out of 11). Therefore, even key skills will be given fairly low initial values, with the expectation that customization attribute and skill points will raise them to appropriate levels.

Although the attributes of the various archetypes are presented as fixed numbers, there is some room for customization. Attributes are priced as follows:

1All secondary attributes except...
2Bod:Con, Mag:Pre, Mnd:Int, Ref:Agl, Ref:Dex
4All primary attributes

Any attribute above 9 costs double; any attribute above 12 costs triple. If it matters, any attribute below 4 costs half. These breakpoints may be modified by species attribute modifiers (see below).

Up to 4 points worth of attributes may be rearranged as the player desires, before species modifiers are taken into account. However, no more than one secondary attribute of any given primary attribute may be below the value of the primary attribute.

In summary, the procedure for creation of a character is:

  1. Choose an archetype.
  2. Give the character a name
  3. Give the character plot hooks, and optionally other history
  4. Optionally, modify attributes by rearranging up to 4 points worth
  5. Apply species attribute modifiers, if any
  6. Choose specialities for Knowledge, Survival, and Worship skills
  7. Add skill customization points so that all skills with parenthesized values, when added to their principle attributes, fall within the indicated range. Unlabelled skills have a maximum of 12.
  8. Choose the number and kind of professional abilities listed; with the GM's permission, optionally add one or more professional flaws to get that many more abilities
  9. For mages, choose spells
  10. If the archetype has a choice of armor types, choose one.
  11. Calculate the character's base Dodge (better of Ref:Agl or Ref:Spd plus better of Melee or Archery), and then her Dodge when wearing her preferred type of armor or less: (for a full explanation see, the Combat section).
  12. Calculate the character's minor wound threshholds (10, 10+Bod:Con, 10+Bod:Con+Mnd:Wil), and major wound threshhold (better of Bod:Con or Mnd:Will).

Barbarian Warrior

Attributes

Skills

Additional Skill Points: 8

Abilities

Additional Abilities: 3 combat or miscellaneous

Flaws

Possessions

Preferred Armor: None or Light

Dodge: 14, or 15 (13 unarmored)

Minor Wound Threshhold: 10/18/23

Major Wound Threshhold: 8


Duellist

Attributes

Skills

Additional Skill Points: 16

Abilities

Additional Abilities: 5 combat

Possessions

Preferred Armor: None

Dodge: 15

Minor Wound Threshhold: 10/17/25

Major Wound Threshhold: 7


Knight

Attributes

Skills

Additional Skill Points: 12

Abilities

Additional Abilities: 4 combat

Flaws

Possessions

Preferred Armor: Heavy

Dodge: 16 (14 in light armor, 12 unarmored)

Minor Wound Threshhold: 10/18/23

Major Wound Threshhold: 8


Pirate

Attributes

Skills

Additional Skill Points: 9

Abilities

Additional Abilities: 2 combat or miscellaneous

Possessions

Preferred Armor: None or Light

Dodge: 14, or 15 (13 unarmored)

Minor Wound Threshhold: 10/17/23

Major Wound Threshhold: 7


Rake

Attributes

Skills

Additional Skill Points: 10

Abilities

Additional Abilities: 2 combat or miscellaneous

Flaws

Possessions

Preferred Armor: None

Dodge: 13

Minor Wound Threshhold: 10/15/23

Major Wound Threshhold: 8


Ranger

Attributes

Skills

Additional Skill Points: 7

Abilities

Additional Abilities: 2 combat or miscellaneous

Possessions

Preferred Armor: Light

Dodge: 15 (13 unarmored)

Minor Wound Threshhold: 10/18/24

Major Wound Threshhold: 8


Soldier

Attributes

Skills

Additional Skill Points: 7

Additional Abilities: 4 combat abilities

Possessions

Preferred Armor: Light

Dodge: 15 (13 unarmored)

Minor Wound Threshhold: 10/18/23

Major Wound Threshhold: 8


Thief

Attributes

Skills

Additional Skill Points: 12

Abilities

Possessions

Preferred Armor: None

Dodge: 13

Minor Wound Threshhold: 10/15/23

Major Wound Threshhold: 8



Battlemage

Attributes

Skills

Additional Skill Points: 12

Additional Abilities: 2 magical or miscellaneous

Flaws

Spells

Additional Spells: 8

Possessions

Preferred Armor: Light

Dodge: 13 (11 unarmored)

Minor Wound Threshhold: 10/16/22

Major Wound Threshhold: 6


Paladin

Attributes

Skills

Additional Skill Points: 10

Abilities

Additional Abilities: 1 combat, magical, or miscellaneous

Flaws

Spells

Additional Spells: 4

Possessions

Preferred Armor: heavy

Dodge: 16 (14 in light armor, 12 unarmored)

Minor Wound Threshhold: 10/17/22

Major Wound Threshhold: 7


Priest

Attributes

Skills

Additional Skill Points: 10

Abilities

Additional Abilities: 3 miscellaneous or magical

Flaws

Spells

Additional Spells: 8

Possessions

Preferred Armor: None

Dodge: 5

Minor Wound Threshhold: 10/15/23

Major Wound Threshhold: 8


Sorceror-Scholar

Attributes

Skills

Additional Skill Points: 9

Abilities

Additional Abilities: 3 miscellaneous or magical

Flaws

Spells

Additional Spells: 12

Possessions

Preferred Armor: None

Dodge: 5

Minor Wound Threshhold: 10/15/22

Major Wound Threshhold: 7

Species

Humans are the default species; a player creating a human character doesn't need to do anything special on account of species. (Minor, optional exception: the player of a female human character may subtract 1 from Bod:Str and Bod:Mov, and add 1 to Bod:Con. This is entirely at the player's option.)

A species' differences from humanity are expressed in two ways: attribute modifiers and species abilities/flaws.

Attribute modifiers are just that: modifiers to the attributes of a character of that species (applied before any customization). In addition, species attribute modifiers modify the half/double/triple cost levels for attributes (normally 4/9/12).

Species abilities are things like Night Vision, Water Breathing, Natural Armor; species flaws are things like Day Blindness, Water Dependence, and Uncontrollable Rage. All species abilities are considered to be worth 2 attribute points; all species flaws are worth -2 attribute points. The total value of species attribute modifications, abilities, and flaws should sum to 0.

Species that are major fixtures of the setting (typically elves and dwarves) should have fixed species templates designed by the GM; a miscellaneous humanoid species can be designed by the player (with the GM's approval).

Species Abilities

The parenthesized number after the ability name indicates how many levels of the ability can be taken; the effect of multiple levels will be explained in the text. All species abilities cost two attribute points per level.

Amphibious (1)
An amphibious character can move at her full Bod:Mov both on land and in the water.
Aquatic (1)
An aquatic character can can either hold her breath for extended periods of time (rolling per minute instead of per round), or breath underwater through gills or some other means.
Disease Resistance (1)
This ability makes a character immune to all ordinary diseases, and gives her a +4 bonus to Bod:Con for resisting extraordinary or magical diseases.
Extra Limbs (1)
Extra limbs do not allow the character to perform more actions in a round, but will often permit her to perform continuous actions at no phase cost. Extra limbs also give the character +2 Bod:Str for any task that she can apply all of her limbs to; this does *not* include swinging a sword, but usually includes cocking a crossbow. How many extra limbs the character has is up to the player, but this ability never provides a free bonus to Seduction.
Fast Healer (1-2)
Normally, characters heal damage equal to their Bod:Con every 5 days. This ability reduces that interval to 1 day or 5 hours for one or two levels.
Gliding/Flight (1,3-4)
A character with gliding membranes or other rudimentary wings (1 level) can glide at twice her Bod:Mov rate, but drops one yard for every three or four travelled. A character with fully-functional wings (3 levels) can fly at twice her Bod:Mov rate, and can take off under her own power, gaining altitude at 1/3 her horizontal movement rate. For one extra level, she can fly at four times her Bod:Mov rate over long distances (not in combat, in other words). Note that a flying character is much less nimble than one with the ground to push off from; her Dodge is reduced by 3 while she's in the air, and the GM will undoubtedly call for Bod:Agl rolls for any fancy maneuvers.
Natural Armor (1)
Natural armor provides the equivalent of light armor: +1 Dodge. This is not cumulative with any other armor: the character is considered to be a Lightly Armored combatant who is never unarmored.
Natural Weaponry (1)
A character with Natural Weaponry does Bod:Str+2 damage when fighting unarmed. There will probably be additional benefits depending on the type of weaponry: a character with claws or fangs effectively has a knife at all times, a character with hard hooves can walk over dangerous surfaces, etc.
Night Vision (1-2)
A character with one level of Night Vision can see perfectly well in anything up to full night (ignoring up to a -4 sight penalty). A character with two levels of Night Vision can function normally even in pitch blackness, either by some sort of mystic sight-like sense, or by bat-like echolocation. In the latter case, other characters with echolocation will be able to hear the character at a considerable distance.
Poison Resistance (1+)
This ability either gives the character a +4 bonus to Bod:Con to resist all poisons, or makes the character completely immune to one specific poison. A character may take multiple levels of this ability to be immune to multiple poisons, but may only get the general bonus once.
Scent Tracking (1)
A character with Scent Tracking can, with a successful Mnd:Per roll, track someone by scent. At the GM's discrection she can also (on a successful roll) determine someone's emotional state, identify people even in disguise, tell if food has been poisoned, and other bloodhound-type tricks. Modifiers to the roll will definitely apply.
Venom (1-3)
This ability includes some method of introducing the venom into the victim's body, which may be combined with Natural Weaponry, but need not be; many natural poison injectors do very little straight damage, and it is not actually necessary to do damage in excess of the victim's Bod:Tgh to inject the venom. If the character has no way of injecting the venom, and must introduce it orally (which usually requires a completely helpless or unsuspecting victim (ahem)), she gets on additional level worth of effect, as described below, for free.

In any case, a character with 1 level of this ability can store a number of doses of venom equal to her Bod:Con; this venom has a potency equal to her Bod:Con and an onset time of round/action (for an explanation of these terms, see the Poison section, under Combat). For injected poison, the maximum dosage that can be injected in one strike is half the character's Bod:Con; for non-injected poison, the maximum is probably one dose per action. It takes 24 hours for the character's poison reservoir to completely refill.

For an additional level of this ability (or in exchange for not being able to inject the venom), the character can store twice as much poison, refill twice as fast, inject twice as much (double the result of the dosage calculation above), or add 2 to the potency; for two additional levels, she can do two of the above, or one of the above twice.
Species Flaws

The parenthesized number after the flaw name indicates how many levels of the flaw can be taken; the effect of multiple levels will be explained in the text. All species flaws give the character two additional attribute points per level.

Day Blindness (1)
Day-blind characters suffer a -2 penalty to anything requiring vision when in full sunlight; in partial sunlight (outdoors in overcast conditions, or in a room with large windows), the penalty is reduced to -1. Artifical light is almost never strong enough to cause a penalty.
Dependence (1-3)
A character with this flaw requires some fairly common substance, action, or situation (eg, an aquatic creature that must keep her skin moist) to survive; deprived of it, she takes 2 points of damage per day. Dependence on something inconvenient or difficult to obtain (eg, human blood) makes this ability worth an additional level, as does taking 6 points of damage a day.
Horrifying (1)
Some characters just look scary: children hide from them, honest citizens call for the watch (or the dog-catcher), everyone assumes they're dangerous barbarian if not outright monsters. This is not the same as looking ugly, note.
Rage (1-2)
A character with this flaw is prone to go berserk when in a violent situation (although she is not necessarily more likely to provoke such situations). To avoid going berserk requires a roll of Mnd:Wil against Difficulty 5; the GM may require multiple rolls for an extended conflict, or apply a penalty for especially provoking situations. While a character is berserk, she attacks anyone who attacks her, or the nearest target if no one is asking for it, but can avoid attacking a friend by making a roll of Mnd:Wil vs 5, unless she has taken two levels of the flaw, in which case she cannot distinguish between friend and foe. On the up side, a berserk character can ignore one point of Impairment.

A berserk character can regain her senses by making a roll of Mnd:Wil vs 10; she can roll once at the end of every round, and gets a +5 bonus if there are no active enemies in sight.
True Name (1)
A Character with a True Name is much more vulnerable to magic cast by someone who knows her Name. Briefly, any stat she uses to resist a spell is considered to be 0, and anyone who knows her Name has an arcane connection to her. For full details, refer to the Magic section.
Vulnerability (1-4)
This flaw is effectively the inverse of Dependence, although somewhat harsher since it's usually easier to avoid something than to obtain something.

A character who takes 2 points of damage every time she comes in contact with a fairly common substance (eg, metal) for a minute has one level of this flaw. If it's a fairly rare material (eg, silver) the flaw is one level less; this can bring it to level 0. If the character takes damage after a round, the flaw is one level more.

For extended contact, apply the damage every fifteen minutes if the threshhold time is a minute, or every minute if the threshhold time is a round.

Regardless of the rate of damage from continuous exposure, the character takes 2 additional points of damage whenever she takes damage from the substance, unless instead she cannot use her Bod:Tgh to resist damage inflicted by the substance, in which case the flaw is two levels greater.
Neutral Species Traits

These traits have no cost.

Size
A character can have any size from -2 to +2 at no cost, though the default is 0. Each point of increased Size doubles the character's weight (and usually nutritional requirements); each point of decreased Size halves it. The GM will take Size into consideration when he finds it appropriate, but Size will almost always be subtracted from Climbing rolls on fragile surfaces, be added to the damage of area attacks, added to the outcome of spray attacks, and be subtracted from the strength of attacks or effects that throw the character around. Characters with increased or decreased Siz often have (respectively) increased or decreased Bod as well, but this is not mandatory. Large weak characters should probably have reduced Ref:Agl, and small strong ones should have increased Ref:Agl, but this is not mandatory either.
Swimmer
A character who is primarily aquatic may swim at her full Bod:Mov rate (rather than the normal 1/3), but only moves at half speed on land.
Unaging
Being unaging does not give a character any extra skills, not even Knowledge/History, nor does it automatically confer immunity to disease, poison, or swords. It is sometimes useful for impressing people, though, and provides immunity to certain spells. However, since to the unaging character a year is not much different than a decade, she accumulates training checks at half the normal rate.

Combat

Combat is conducted in the usual FS fashionwith respect to initiative, AVs, Difficulties, and such. Stunts are not as emphasized, so should be more worthwhile: the GM should feel free to assign a large penalty, but should make the result of a successful stunt corresponding useful/stylish. Attacking multiple opponents incurs the same penalty as in FS, however.

Some notes on initiative and movement:

Weapons

Weapons inflict damage based on the wielder's Bod:Str and the size of the weapon:

Bod:Str+0Bare hands
Bod:Str+1Small knife, rock, small claws or fangs
Bod:Str+2Dagger, club, big scary claws or fangs
Bod:Str+3Short sword, quarterstaff
Bod:Str+4Longsword, spear
Bod:Str+5Claymore, great-axe, halberd
Bod:Str+0Thrown rock, shuriken
Bod:Str+1Throwing knife, dart
Bod:Str+2Light bow, javelin
Bod:Str+3Heavy bow, atlatl, thrown spear
Bod:Str+4Crossbow

Note that weapons are normally scaled to the user's size and strength: a three-foot-tall goblin with a three-foot-long sword is weilding a goblin-sized claymore, so does Bod:Str+5 damage; it's just that his Bod:Str is probably like 2.

Armor and Shields

Armor is a staple of the genre, but so are unarmored fighters who rely on speed and agility. Therefore, characters are divided into three classes, according to their preferred armor type:

No armor is anything from bare skin up to sturdy leather, light armor is anything from cuir boulli to mail, and heavy armor is mail reinforced by plate or pure plate.

An unarmored fighter can get a +1 to her Active Dodge by using a cloak or a small shield; a lightly armored fighter can get the same effect with a small or large shield; and a heavily-armored fighter needs a large shield. A large shield weighs down an unarmored fighter as much as it protects her, for no net change in Dodge.

Light armor reduces the wearer's Stealth AV by 3; heavy armor reduces it by 5. Armor may also reduce her Climbing AV by 1 or 2 respectively if sheer weight is an issue, but someone properly trained can be remarkably agile even in full plate armor.

Special Attacks

In addition to the usual sort of attack, where one character whacks another, there are some special attacks which use slightly different rules:

Area Attack
An area attack is one that completely fills an area, affecting everyone and everything in it. Dodge is no use against such an attack; anyone in the area will be affected. However, armor applies its Dodge bonus to Bod:Tgh against area attacks. A character's Size is added to the damage of area attacks affecting her.

To avoid an area attack, a character may attempt to fling herself to safety, but if she can't get out of the area, she takes the damage.
Poison
Poison, however administered, is defined by three quantities: potency, onset time, and dosage.

Potency determines how much damage the poison inflicts: when the poison takes effect, add a closed roll to the potency and subtract the character's Bod:Con. The result, if positive, is how much damage the character takes to minor wounds. Poison damage never inflicts major wounds except by accumulation of minor wounds. It is possible for a poison to inflict Transforming damage (see below), although usually only magic potions do.

The onset time of a poison is just how much time elapses before it does its damage. In the genre, most poisons are pretty quick, and have an onset time of only a round or a minute; more realistic poisons would take from 5 minutes to 5 hours. Many poisons act more quickly if the victim exerts herself: these poisons will be indicated by a double onset time, the shorter of which applies if the victim exerts herself for that length of time.

Dosage indicates how much poison the victim is subjected to: each dose will inflict damage according to the poison's potency once. The first dose takes effect after the onset time has elapsed, and each successive dose takes effect after an equal interval. (The total time for the poison to do its work is therefore onset time multiplied by dosage.)
Spray Attack
A spray attack is intermediate between a normal and area attack: it affects everyone in an area, but goes against Dodge normally. A character subjected to a spray attack may either fling herself to safety or perform a moving Active Dodge as described above.
Transformation
Some attacks, rather than incapacitating or killing a character, transform her in some way: turn her to stone, or mentally control her. Damage from these attacks is applied separately from normal damage, but otherwise behaves the same. Impairment generally only applies to tasks opposed to the effect of the transformation (for example, someone who is being turned to stone would suffer Impairment to Ref and possibly to Mnd, but probably not to Bod, or at least not to Bod:Tgh). Only the worst Impairment applies if a character has both normal and transformative damage.

If a character is "incapacitated" by the transformation, she suffers whatever the effect is temporarily, until the incapacitation heals. (Medical assistance is rarely of use; the character will probably have to heal naturally.) If the character is "killed", the transformation is permanent unless specifically reversed.

Damage

Damage taken is calculated the same way as in FS (Outcome of attack + Attack base damage - target's Bod:Tgh), but the results are slightly more complicated.

There are four important numbers defining a character's damage capacity: three minor wound threshholds, which are 10, 10+Bod:Con, and 10+Bod:Con+Mnd:Wil; and the major wound threshhold, which is the higher of Bod:Con and Mnd:Wil.

Each point of damage that is inflicted is a point of minor wounds; when the character's accumulated minor wounds reach the first, second, and third threshholds, she suffers -1, -2, and -3 Impairment, respectively. Beyond that, each increment of damage equal to the major wound threshhold counts as a major wound (see below).

A character also takes a major wound when she takes, from a single attack, damage equal to or greater than her major wound threshhold. If the damage equals or exceeds a full multiple of the major wound threshhold, she takes that many major wounds.

Each major wound, regardless of its origin, causes -2 Impairment, cumulative with all other Impairment. Furthermore, a character who takes a major wound loses 3 phases of initiative (if this reduces her initiative below 0, the excess is taken as an additional penalty to her roll for the next round) and drops any spells she was sustaining (unless she has the Independent Magic ability).

At the instant at which she receives enough damage to give her -3 or worse Impairment (from any combination of major and minor wounds), and each time she is wounded after that, a character must roll her Bod:Con or Mnd:Wil (minus Impairment) against 5 to avoid becoming incapacitated. If her Impairment is -3 or -4 and she is incapacitated, she is still conscious, and can memorize landmarks as she's carried back to the villain's lair, or whatever; at -5 or further, she's unconscious. In either case, she can take no significant action (consider her to be Bod 0), and has a Dodge of 0.

Similarly, a character who takes enough damage to give her -5 Impairment must roll Bod:Con or Mnd:Wil vs 0 to avoid dying (if she is also rolling to avoid incapacitation, make one roll for both).

A character who has enough Impairment to reduce her Bod:Con to 0 is dead.

Damage against unnamed characters is simpler: they take no Impairment, but are automatically incapacitated or killed (attacker's option) when they take damage equal to twice their Bod:Con (or sometimes Mnd:Wil, at the GM's option).

Healing

In the absence of magical healing, a named character heals damage equal to twice her Bod:Con (or twice the Result of a healer's skill roll) every week. Each major wound counts as 15 points, and must be healed before general damage can be healed.

An incapacitated character will recover naturally after she has healed 1 point of minor wounds (this takes 84 hours, divided by the character's Bod:Con), or when she receives medical attention.

If it matters, unnamed characters heal damage equal to their Bod:Con every two weeks.

The Environment

From time to time, characters will be assaulted by inanimate objects. It happens to everyone. Since inanimate objects normally lack AVs, the damage inflicted will be listed as a constant, and will be modified by a closed roll.

Falling one yard inflicts 4 damage. Every time the distance fallen doubles, the damage increases by 2, to a maximum of 20 damage at 250 yards or more. However, a successful Bod:Agl roll will allow the faller to subtract up to half her Bod:Mov (or twice her vertical leaping distance if different) from the number of yards fallen. This can reduce a small fall to nothing, but is rarely helpful against a long fall.

Drowning or asphyxiation inflicts 1 damage per round (or per minute for characters with the appropriate ability). A character who gets a chance for a good breath before being deprived of air can hold her breath for Bod:Con rounds (or minutes) before beginning to take damage.

Fire does damage on initial exposure, and again at the end of every round of continued exposure, initially a small amount (1 for a candle, 5 for a campfire, 8 for being engulfed in flame) but increasing by 1 every round until it reaches the base damage plus the victim's Bod:Tgh. Exposure to fire may also ignite the victim's clothing (4 damage initially) or other belongings.

Darkness does no damage, but applies a penalty to all skills that require the use of vision, which is pretty much all combat, and much else besides. Penalties range from -1 (dusk) to moonless overcast night (-5), with ordinary night at -3 to -2 depending on the moon.

Objects have Toughness, which serves the same purpose as Bod:Tgh in resisting damage, and take wounds as unnamed characters do. However, it usually takes only a few wound points to break an object, once its Toughness has been overcome. The Toughness of an object depends on its composition, and its wound capacity, on its size.

MaterialToughness
Glass or Ceramic4
Wood6
Soft Metal8/td>
Stone10/td>
Hard Metal12

Smaller objects will often have less Toughness, of course.

ObjectTgh/WP
Sword 12/2
Wooden Door 6/6
Thick Rope 6/2
Barstool 4/3

Magic

Magic is accomplished by means of immaterial tools called patterns, which shape and focus the forces that compose the universe to the mage's ends. Sorcerers make these patterns themselves; priests receive them as gifts from their gods. (It is a matter of some concern to theologians that both methods are about equally powerful.) Each pattern performs one fairly specific function, so a mage with any versatility will know how to construct or will have been granted permission to pray for many different patterns. However, the total number and 'size' of patterns that a mage can carry at a given time is limited by her Mag:Cap, and is almost always much less than the number of patterns available, so she will often have to discard some, letting them dissipate into nothingness, to make room for new ones.

Patterns are invisible to the mundane eye, but easily perceptible to those with any Mag:Sen (Difficulty of 1 to see that someone is carrying patterns, 3 to see how many and what size, 10 to see what kind). Their effects are generally extremely visible, however, and the rituals to make them are typically complex affairs involving lengthy incantations and mystic gestures.

The size of a pattern is measured in points. Each of the effects listed below requires some number of points for a basic level of effect; a larger or better effect requires more points, and a lesser or limited effect requires fewer. It is possible for pattern to be 0 points, or even negative.

A mage can personally carry no more points worth of patterns than her Mag:Cap. For this purpose, count 0-point patterns as 1/2, -1 point patterns as 1/4, and so forth. Patterns embodied in objects do not count against this limit, but are limited in other ways.

Creating a pattern normally takes one hour and a roll of Mag:Pre+Magery. The Difficulty is 12 plus the size of the pattern. Taking longer gives +1 AV per extra time step; taking less time gives -1 AV per time step. Each 2 points of outcome reduces the time required by one time step from that originally allocated. At the GM's discretion, bonuses or penalties may apply due to environmental effects (for example, it might be easier to create a fire-based pattern inside a live volcano, or while directly serving a fire god, and harder inside a glacier).

Monsters

Monsters have some attributes, some skills, and sometimes abilities. As a rule of thumb, a human-sized animal will have Bod 7-8; add two for every doubling of mass or subtract two for every halving. Four-legged creatures often have high Bod:Mov; flying ones often fly quickly but are slow on the ground. Many monsters will have low Mnd, but natural creatures usually have a good Mnd:Per. Monsters without hands obviously have poor Ref:Dex. Monsters rarely have Mag, except perhaps a bit of Mag:Sen; ones that do are generally scary.

Most monsters have Melee skill; only intelligent ones with hands or ones with an innate ranged attack will have Archery. Natural creatures, and unnatural ones with any brains, will have Survival appropriate to their habitat. Arboreal monsters will have Climbing; predatory ones will have Stealth.

Most monsters will have natural weaponry (claws, fangs, horns, poisoned stingers) that does Bod:Str+1 or +2 damage; they may also have all sorts of strange attacks, movement, defenses, or whatever. They're monsters.

War Horse

Attributes

Skills

Attacks

Preferred Armor: Light

Dodge: 9 (7 unarmored)

Wound Points: 16

Fine Horse

Attributes

Abilities

Skills

Attacks

Dodge: 5

Wound Points: 14

Barbarian Pony

Attributes

Skills

Attacks

Dodge: 7

Wound Points: 18

Hound

Attributes

Abilities

Skills

Attacks

Dodge: 7

Wound Points: 14


Zombie

Attributes

Abilities

Skills

Attacks

Dodge: 6

Wound Points: 24

Tiger

Attributes

Abilities

Skills

Attacks

Dodge: 9

Wound Points: 22

Viper

Attributes

Abilities

Skills

Attacks

Dodge: 8

Wound Points: 8

Magic Items

The usual. Magic swords that do more damage, magic armor that resists more damage, flying carpets, crystal balls. Mages will appreciate items that store Power, or have a Flow of their own; parties lacking a mage will appreciate items that cast spells on their own.

Advancement

Although player characters are among the best in the world at what they do, there is still room for growth. Characters primarily improve in two ways: experience, and training; they may also strike bargains with the higher powers, although these are usual zero-sum arrangements.

Experience

In each adventure in which a character makes meaningful use of a skill at least twice, she receives a check for that skill. It is the GM's decision as to what constitutes meaningful use, but it should be fairly clear whether a task is trivial or significant. It is also the GM's decision as to what constitutes an adventure. For very long adventures, the GM may wish to allow two checks per skill (requiring four meaningful uses, but that should be easy). It is entirely possible for a character to have checks accumulated toward multiple skills; in fact, this will be the normal state of affairs.

Once the accumulated checks for a skill equal the skill's current level, the character must use the skill in some impressive way. The GM is, of course, the judge of whether any given use of the skill is worthy. This impressive feat must happen *after* the full number of checks are accumulated. Once the GM is impressed, the accumulated checks vanish, and the skill is raised by 1.

Experience is useful only for improving skills.

Training

Improving skills through training works on the same principle of accumulated points, but training checks only accumulate between adventures, during "downtime", and only provided the character can find an instructor with superior skill. A short downtime (several weeks to a few months) lets the character train one check in one skill; a long downtime (several months) lets the character train two checks. For extended downtime, characters get two training checks per year, unless they are unaging, in which case they get one. These numbers are tripled if the character is learning a Knowledge skill and has Perfect Memory.

Skill checks gained through training are interchangeable with those gained through experience; it is the total that determines whether a skill can increase. If a skill reaches that point during training, the impressive use necessary to increase the skill will generally take the form of a test administered by the character's instructor; this test should be played out "on-screen", even if only briefly.

To gain a new skill requires 5 training checks, and no particular ordeal; once the checks are accumulated, the character gains the skill at +1. The exception is Knowledge skills, which require only 3 checks.

A character learning a new language should be considered partially fluent in it after gaining 1 training check, and fully fluent after gaining 2 (a language related to one the character is already fully fluent in might need only 1). A language can be learned concurrently with another skill.

Attributes can also be improved through training: to raise an attribute by 1 takes as many skill checks as its current level, times its cost in attribute points, times 2. No test is required.

"Improving abilities & spells" goes here

Bargaining

It is fairly common for priests and paladins, and not unheard-of for magicians, to arrange to accept a Geas or Taboo (or sometimes another flaw) in exchange for an ability. Priests may even arrange this for the notable among their congregation. Although this may seem like a good deal, the inconvenience of the flaw usually pretty much compensates for any advantage gained. Furthermore, if the flaw is a matter of choice (Geas or Taboo) and the character completely violates it (say, reaches -5 Fortune due to violations), the bargain may be unmade and both the flaw and ability negated. This is especially bad if the ability is a middle element of a path: at best, the shticks depending on the vanished one are unusable until it is replaced; at worst, they may vanish entirely and have to be learned again from scratch.

A Heroic Fantasy Setting

The World

To call the world "flat" is to do a grave injustice to its mighty mountains and valleys, let alone the great oceanic chasms, but it's true that up and down are the same directions everywhere. The exact shape of the world is not certain: the few descriptions of the Rim indicate that the edge is as irregular with bays and peninsulas as any coastline, but it is unclear whether the whole outline of the world is that way, or whether those are just minor elaborations on a basically regular shape. Various faiths have various dogmas, and various thinkers various opinions, on this matter, but most people think the world is probably round. Opinions also differ on the size of the world, but no one (except a few primitives who believe their isolated island or valley constitutes the whole of the world) seriously espouses a figure below ten thousand miles; most thinkers estimate it to be at least twice that large, and perhaps ten times or more. Each religion has its own claim for the size of the world based on its mystically significant numbers; this has led some to conclude that the world must be a greatly enlongated oval, so that they can all be right if you measure along the right axis.

Each morning, the golden lamp of the Sun rises over the eastern edge of the world, travels across the sky to the west, and descends below the world to travel back to the east for the next day's rise. Those lands closer to the Sun's path are obviously warmer than those further away; the portions of the Rim near where the Sun rises and sets are assumed to be burned wastelands, and the lands directly under the Sun's path may be as well. It is popularly supposed that dragons come from these regions.

The Sun's path is not perfectly constant: sometimes it travels higher and faster, making the days shorter and warming the ground less; at other times it travels lower and slower, making the days longer and warmer. This variation occurs in a predictable way over a period of 360 days, producing the seasons.

The silver orb of the Moon follows roughly the same course as the Sun, but slower, so that it falls behind until the Sun overtakes it again. Being silver, the Moon tarnishes over the course of 15 days, but is then renewed over the following two weeks until it is perfectly clean and bright again.

Beyond the Sun and Moon, their children the stars orbit endlessly in their individual courses, forming a pattern that in the main follows their parent's path, though no one star quite does.

Its History and Peoples

In the beginning, the Elder Gods created the world out of earth, wind, and water, and the Sun and Moon took up their rounds. When weather and erosion had served their purpose, the Elder Gods created plants, and let them spread across the world, each to its own niche. When the plants had covered the whole world in their tapestry, the Elder Gods made animals and sent them forth to inhabit the whole world. Finally, when the world was ready, the Elder Gods completed it by creating peoples to suit their designs and placing them in the world, each kind to its place. These were the first-created: what are now called elves, dwarves, and dragons (though each of those names confounds many distinct groups).

For quite some time, the world continued peacefully in the pattern ordained for it. Outside the world, things were not so peaceful: the Elder Gods warred among themselves, and to aid these wars made new gods to serve them. Some of these new gods took up residence far outside the world, as the stars; some dwell within the world, the sources of earthquakes and volcanos; and some merely lurk in the hidden places of creation.

During a lull in the fighting, some of the younger gods, envious of their ancestors' worshippers, decided to try their own skills at creation. From this effort came forth the varied peoples of mankind (of which humans are only the most successful), often called the mortals. Because their creators worked together, all the kinds of mortals can interbreed, although they often produce mules; because their creators were lacking in power, they do not innately have True Names; and because their creators disregarded the original plan for the world, there is no check on their numbers except the four horsemen.

The mortals spread far and wide before the first-created noticed them, but when they took exception, there was little the mortals could do: lacking True Names, and therefore limited to only the smallest magics, they were decimated and pushed into the least desirable lands when they weren't exterminated altogether. For long ages, the mortals lived as little more than animals, unable to build more than a few mud huts lest they arouse the first-created against them.

It is not recorded for certain who was first; many claim the honor for their ancestors of body or spirit, but most likely the discovery was made independently in many places across the world, that mortals could gain True Names. Only a small fraction could do it at all, and even for them it was an arduous process, but even a small fraction of the fast-breeding mortals was enough to oppose the powerful but rare first-created. No single armageddon has yet been fought (though wars were, and are, lamentably common), but the mortals have pushed back the first-created, short generation by short generation, with new magics and skills almost every century.

Religion

It's easy enough to tell a true religion from a false: if its priests can petition their god for a miracle and get results, it's true. Unfortunately, there are a great many religions which pass this test, and none of them agree about anything else: the precise origin of the world, the fate of the dead, who polishes the moon in the waxing half of each month. The result is typically complete and utter conviction on the part of each religious person that her faith has the right answers and everyone else is wrong because their god is innately evil, or their high priests are lying or deluded or any of a thousand other rationalizations. This has the expected effect on interdenominational relations.

Fortunately, most of the matters on which the various faiths disagree are not terribly relevent in day-to-day life, and their adherents can therefore get along without more than the normal rate of intolerance and lynchings. Only rarely does it come down to issues like "Our god has given us dominion over this land and all its peoples!".

Most religions start out as either propitiary worship or ancestor worship; some grow enough over history that it is hard to discern which, if either was at their root, while others remain close to their roots.

Propitiary worship is directed at a deity the worshippers fear, in hopes of averting its anger. If the deity is difficult to pacify, the worshippers often end up pillaging or subjugating the surrounding lands and people to provide appropriate sacrifices; if that doesn't work, the survivors emigrate. If the deity is easy to pacify, but becomes somnolent, then the religion generally remains small; however, if the deity's wrath is easily averted from the faithful but then falls upon the heathens, the result is usually a religious protection racket.

Ancestor worship begins as veneration of the god, demi-god, or hero who in mythically distant times spawned the bloodline that now worships her. The tenets of the faith are the laws and examples that the great ancestor set down for her people, or at least are based on them in theory; these range from complex codes governing every aspect of life and death down to "It's us against them". Generally, once the number of worshipper/descendents is large enough, they deal with the great ancestor through the almost-as-ancestral, which might be either her direct children and grandchildren, or else any deceased ancestor of the worshipper. In the later case, living ancestors are usually exceptionally venerated, and filial obedience is stressed.

A third, less common, type of worship is imitative, where the worshippers hope to gain the power of their deity by imitating its outward aspects. This sort of worship tends to be more individualistic, with each worshipper herself trying to take on the attributes of the deity, and therefore less prone to the sort of organized action that makes religions famous.

Some secular thinkers have theorized that, since the types of religions and their evolution so well fit the patterns of the human mind, that all holy words are fiction, and priests nothing more than sorcerous con-men. These sort of thinkers are often found dangling from trees.


Credits

The author would like to implicate the following:

Feng Shui is copyright 1996 by Daedalus Entertainment (or one of its creditors), and no infringement of that copyright is intended. The above text is copyright 1998 by Trevor Placker.


This file was last modified at 1635 on 22Jun99 by trip@idiom.com.