Heroic Fantasy or something

Caveat 1: This is version 0.0001a 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: This document is written in second person, with "You" referring to both the player and the character, and sometimes even to the GM. If you (the reader) can't reliably make this distinction, please replace all your (the reader's) gaming material with Bible commentary and your (the reader's) CD collection with Amy Grant so that you (the reader) don't make the rest of us (depraved gamer weirdos) look bad when you (the reader) snap.

Caveat 3a: Where characters are referred to in the third person, female pronouns are used exclusively; this is because the designer honestly expects that all players will be pimply teenaged nerdboys playing pinup girls in chainmail bikinis.

The Basic Action Resolution Mechanic

Two dice, one positive, one negative (of different colors and designated before you roll; nice try). Reroll and add 6s (without changing the sign, so rerolling the negative die makes it more negative). Take the positive die minus the negative die, add that number to the action value (usually a skill, possibly plus an aptitude) to find the result and compare it to the difficulty (sometimes someone else's skill plus aptitude, sometimes a fixed number). If the result is equal to or greater than the difficulty, the action succeeds. The amount by which the the result exceeds difficulty is called the Outcome, and is used in various ways to express how marginal or overwhelming your success is. If the result is less than the difficulty, the action fails. Technically, this produces a negative Outcome, but the exact value rarely matters except in qualitative terms like "Wow, you really suck".

Skills

This is a vaguely comprehensive list of things you can do that are interesting enough to require dice and mechanics. Your ability to do each of these is described by a number between about 0 and 10.

Sorcerers can also use these skills, which are rated in the same way.

Priests have fairly similar options to sorcerers:

Aptitudes

You have various natural aptitudes which may affect how well you do at using your skills. These aptitudes are rated with numbers which can be either positive or negative, but for PCs are typically in the range +0 to +3.

Fortune

Fortune represents indomitable will, good luck, good karma, grit, divine favor, and all those other ineffable qualities that separate heroes from sane people. However, just as those qualities can be exhausted, so can Fortune.

Every character has some number of Fortune dice, which can be spent one at a time to perform some task more spectacularly or reduce the effects of some calamity. The details are described in the appropriate sections of the rules.

A Fortune die, once used, is gone for good. However, you can get more Fortune dice by being heroic (villains, obviously, get them by being villainous). Exactly what qualifies is up to the GM, but heroism is generally not subtle. You also get Fortune for fulfilling personal goals, such as toppling the corrupt regime that massacred all 1,279 of your cousins, or spreading the worship of the Great God Fnorbert. Again, these awards are at the GM's option, so character goals and motivations should be made clear before play. It is also traditional to get Fortune dice when you impress the gaming group with good roleplaying or bad puns, but not all GMs approve of this.

Unlike villains, heroes lose Fortune for acting villainously, although it doesn't happen often. You also lose Fortune for acting against personal goals or codes of behavior, such as hiring on with the aforementioned corrupt regime or violating the Eight Essential Edicts of Fnorbert. These restrictions are usually codified as Flaws. It is possible to lose more Fortune dice than you have, in which case any gains go only to paying back the debt and cannot be used until you has a positive number again.

PCs start with three Fortune dice. There is no limit to how many you can accumulate, nor to how far you can go into debt. However, it is probably in the game's interest to keep Fortune dice relatively scarce, so that spending one is a meaningful decision. (If you need an excuse, it's that anyone accumulating Fortune dice is doing well without having to spend any, so what she's doing obviously isn't that impressive.)

Combat

Time and Order of Action

Combat time is measured in rounds of 15 seconds, which are divided into a variable number of phases which tend to be about a second long.

At the beginning of each round, roll 1 die (no, you can't reroll and add on a 6; nice try) and add it to your initiative rating, which is just 5 plus the better of your Deftness or Cleverness. This how many phases you have for that round.

The GM counts down from the highest number of phases anyone has; when he calls the number corresponding to the number of phases you have, you can act. Actions normally take either 1 or 3 phases, but could take practically any number. After you've acted, reduce your remaining phases by however many the action took, and wait for the GM to call your new number.

Needless to say, everyone else will be doing the same with their own phase counts.

An action that costs 1 phase is called a simple action; one that normally costs 3 is called a complex action. Some actions can be done out of turn; these are called defensive actions. A continuous action, like riding, adds 1 to the phase cost of any action you do while also doing the continuous action.

The round ends after phase 1, and a new one begins. If your number of remaining phases from the last round is less than 0, take that number as a penalty to your roll for the new round.

After every round ends, everyone takes one point of stun from fatigue. Wearing heavy armor may increase this by one or two points. Any other per-round effects, like continuing damage from drowning, or effects of continuous spells, is also handled between rounds.

Attack

The fundamental action of combat, "I whack 'im", uses your appropriate combat skill (Brawl, Fight, Shoot, Use Battle Magic, or Smite), possibly plus an aptitude, against your target's Defense, a number bearing some relation to their combat skills and aptitudes. If the attack succeeds, the amount of damage done is equal to the base damage of the weapon, spell, or appendage you used, plus the Outcome of the attack roll.

Which skill is used depends of course on what kind of attack is being performed. Unarmed attacks use Brawl. Attacks with most hand-to-hand weapons use Fight, except for things like knives, chair legs, and broken bottles, which can use either Fight or Brawl at the attacker's option. Ranged attacks with weapons are usually Shoot, although small thrown objects like rocks can use Brawl and thrown weapons like knives and shuriken can use Fight. Javelins, bows, crossbows, atlatls, blowguns, and artillery are always Shoot.

The aptitude normally used with any of these skills is Deftness, although a Strong person might have an advantage in some hand-to-hand struggles, especially grappling. Particularly cunning moves might require a Clever combatant.

Use Battle Magic and Smite don't overlap with other combat skills much if at all. The aptitude used with them is of course Magical; others rarely apply.

Defense

Your Defense rating is normally equal to the highest of your combat skills (Brawl, Fight, Shoot, Use Battle Magic, Smite) plus Deft for the first three or Magical for the latter two. This base Defense rating might then be modified by armor.

Regardless of what your Defense is, you can add 2 to it with active defense, which is a simple, defensive action. You cannot use multiple phases to get multiple +2 bonuses to your Defense; nice try.

Armor

Rather than fiddle with details of hit locations, weapon penetration, called shots, and whatnot, the various ways in which armor can protect -- deflecting blows, absorbing their energy, forcing them to be made against less vital members -- are abstracted into a bonus to the wearer's Defense. Sadly, the weight and clumsiness of armor can sometimes be a penalty to Defense that equals or outweights the bonus.

Every character's personal fighting style falls into one of three categories matching the three broad levels of protection armor provides: none, light, and heavy. You're at your best Defense in the armor that matches your fighting style, and less well-off in other sorts.

No armor is just that: anything from bare skin to sturdy clothing, but less than cuir boulli. People whose professions only secondarily involve fighting (such as scouts), who have to blend in with unarmored society (spies, assassins, and private-sector criminals), or for whom armor would be more danger than help (sailors) fight unarmored. An unarmored fighter has her normal Defense when so clad. If for some reason she dons light armor, her Defense is reduced by 1, and if she wears heavy armor, her Defense is reduced by 2; in either case, she takes an additional point of fatigue every round.

Light armor is cuir boulli, leather reinforced with metal, mail, or the patchwork combination of bandits and mercenaries. Most professional fighters (soldiers, guardsmen, bodyguards, the aforementioned bandits and mercenaries) use armor that falls into this category. A lightly armored fighter in her armor has +1 Defense. Without armor, she has -1 Defense, and in heavy armor she gets +1 Defense but takes an additional point of fatigue.

Heavy armor covers the wearer head to toe in metal, either plate or chain. Expensive and difficult to make and maintain, heavy armor is usually only worn by combatant members of a military aristocracy, or sometimes by other well-funded, dedicated fighters, such as a major ruler's elite personal troops. Because of the weight, heavily armored fighters are often cavalry, or at least dragoons. A heavily armored fighter in full gear has +2 Defense, but takes 1 point of fatigue every round if forced to fight on foot. If she can only get light armor, she has her normal Defense, and without armor, her Defense is at -2.

Damage

Wounds and Stun

After being beat up sufficiently, you aren't going to be functioning at full efficiency anymore, and after being knocked around some more, you aren't going to be able to do much of anything. This phenomenon is quantified as wounds and stun. Wounds are cuts, bruises, and other noncrippling injuries which will clear up in a few days; stun is fatigue, dizziness from being whacked upside the head, and other troubles that heroes shake off in mere moments.

Sharp pointy attacks (swords, arrows, claws) inflict all their damage as wounds; blunt attacks (fists, clubs, expensive vases) split their damage evenly between wounds and stun (rounding in favor of stun). Only certain spells and possibly knockout drugs do all their damage as stun.

When the sum of your wounds and stun equals or exceeds your impairment threshhold, you take a -1 penalty to everything you do. When it reaches your incapacitation threshhold, you might or might not be conscious, but you can't do much of anything. Your impairment threshhold is equal to 10 plus how Tough you are, and your incapacitation threshhold is equal to 15 plus twice your Tough aptitude (but always at least 2 more than your impairment threshhold).

Grievous Wounds and Knockouts

If you take damage in one attack that equals or exceeds your Grievous Wound threshhold (equal to 7 plus your Toughness), you are knocked out (if the stun plus wounds reaches the threshhold) or grievously wounded (if the wounds alone exceed the threshhold). It is possible to take more than one grievous wound at once, if the damage reaches some multiple of the threshhold, or to be both knocked out and grievously wounded.

If you're knocked out, you're unconscious until the damage heals. Multiple knockings-out keep you under until all of them heal.

If you're grievously wounded, you immediately lose 3 phases (or 6 or 9 for double or triple wounds) and take a -3 penalty to everything you do (again, per wound). Furthermore, if you already had a grievous wound, you must roll against a difficulty of -5 or else the wound is mortal. The full wound penalty applies, but you can add your aptitude if you're Tough. If you take multiple wounds in one blow, you only have to roll for the worst one.

A mortal wound isn't instantly fatal, but unless something is done to heal at least one of your grievous wounds pretty quickly, you're history. Exactly what "quickly" means is up to the GM.


This file was last modified at 1650 on 14Jul99 by trip@idiom.com.