Making our favorite games even better
Below is an explanation of the character sheet and some basic game mechanics. Some of the design is a little bit of a buddhist joke as in the attributes are the vajra. Some of the other word choices are inspired by Fiore’s fightbooks.
Name should be obvious.
Legend is analogous to the level of the character. It is the base or default die rolled when taking an action. Starts at d4 for Legendary characters like PC’s.
Destiny is an amount of charges in which a PC can either rework what and how and engagement works for greater success, a bit of back history for the character, or shape a scene or a bit of the story with the GM.
Origin is the time period, Socio-economic status, and location/s that the character has experienced growing up.
Profession develops that Origin providing more familiarity with things relating to a job or position. Being a Lawyer doesn’t mean that you are good at winning in the courtroom as that would be handled by Speech primarily but it does give you the knowledges a lawyer would need like knowing the law, knowing the procedures involved in a courtroom, and how to interact with police or clients.
The attributes are simple with each having a rating based around the bell curve and standard deviations. A Mind of +4 would be a genius that is four standard deviations from the norm. A Body of -2 would be a couch potato or someone with chronic illness.
Tactics of mistake are part of the personality of the character and they reveal how they go about getting stuff done. Each tactic provides different game mechanics and different story choices. Each tactic provides a permanent advantage to the character at all times and an advantage when chosen as the specific tactic for a conflict for this engagement.
Vigor and Fortitude is a tactic or style of the blunt, the strong, and the tough. Most people with a high rating in this tactic are imposing and powerful figures able to apply force skillfully and ably to get the job done or can handle failure well. The focus of this tactic is on the outcome of an engagement.
Celerity and Agility is about speed, reaction, accuracy, and grace. Most people with a high rating in this tactic are scathing with wit and fast with the fist. The focus of this tactic is on the success of the engagement.
Audacity and Courage is about boldness and risk taking. Most people with a high rating in this tactic are bold and brave with a passion for the novel and extraordinary. The focus of this tactic is on seizing the initiative in a conflict and strengthening the outcome of the engagement whether it is a success of failure.
Prudence and Sense is about being cautious and opportunistic. Most people with a high rating in this tactic are perceptive, rational, and hard to deceive. The focus of this tactic is opposing Guile and Artifice and weakening the outcome of the engagement whether it is a success of failure.
Guile and Artifice is about being devious and thinking ahead. Most people with a high rating in this tactic are able to out maneuver their opponents either through trickery in the moment or planning out situations where the advantage is theirs. The focus of this tactic is more complex than the other tactics as it provides the rating that the PC uses for their Old Age and Treacheries and covers things like forcing an opponent into backing up to a wall or stabbing them in the back from the shadows.
Youth and Skills are the abilities of the character that “bump” up the Legend die.
Old Age and Treacheries are tricks or unlikely bits of knowledge. These can be added in game by spending destiny charges and adding a new backstory to the character.
Qualities and Quirks are the PCs talents, gifts, and personality traits.
Assets might be a really nice car, or a butler, or a bespoke italian suit. They are items or beings that are a part of a character’s story. A Stark has their dire wolf and John Wick always has the cool sports hot rod. Hard to imagine Bruce Wayne without Alfred.
Activities and Connections cover hobbies such as playing chess or collecting wine, Influences like downtown LA clubs, Silicon Valley tech world, eastside gangs, Railroads in Japan, Oil and Natural gas companies, the Yakuza in Hawaii, black market smugglers in Russia, Wall Street bankers etc and Relationships are those people who are beyond just a contact for one of the above influences or hobbies but like an Army buddy who saved your life or your best friend in college. Hobbies and Influences give you various contacts that you can use to get favors like a security guard at an airport letting you in so you can speedrace without interference or call someone to clean up a bunch of dead bodies or just ask a question about quantum electrodynamics from your physics professor.
Weapons and armor…duh.
Wounds, anxiety and stress. When getting hurt in a physical contest you usually get wounds, in social you get anxiety and loss of face, and in mental battles you get stress.
Fortitude is your threshold or ‘soak’ for that type of threat. It is split into Body, Speech, and Mind and the ‘Vigor and Fortitude’ rating plus any qualities and quirks that apply. So, a stunt actor with a Body of +3 and Vigor and Fortitude of +2 and Legendary Toughness (d4 Legend so half of 4 is 2) would have a Body Fortitude of 7. The same character might have a Social Fortitude of 3 and a Mental Fortitude of 3 so they wouldn’t be as resistant to harm in those arenas.
Resilience is how fast you pop back or recover from injuries. This has the same body/speech/mind categories with the tactic of Audacity and Courage adding to the PCs total along with qualities like Fast Healer or tricks like “bounces back from adversity”.
Injuries provide a penalty to tests taken while injured. One can have a cut to the shoulder physical wound providing a -2 to Tests, a broken nose providing a -1 to Tests while suffering from mental trauma or stress from seeing a friend die horribly -2. Thus, they would suffer a total of -5 to all Test Totals.
Maker-of-Death grimaced in distaste causing his Maori face tattoos to ripple. The dwarf shaman a few paces away let go another undulating scream into the cool night air blanketing the desert. The music earlier had relaxed him to sleep for the first time in weeks but the multi tonal screeching put him on edge and seemed to strike at his bowels.
“I should never have taken that fraggin mask I knew it was unprofessional,” Maker-of-Death whispered to Crimson his long time mate in the Australian shadows.
“Well, who would’ve guessed Maker that…well now I’ve seen everything!”
The ancient samurai mask floated in the air surrounded by a nimbus of neon purple as Crimson saw into the astral for the first time revealing the form of a deadly Japanese warrior whose form bubbled with dozens or maybe hundreds of tiny faces mutely screaming their pain and terror before dropping back into main body of the samurai to be absorbed in a constant flux of suffering.
The dwarven shaman turns to the pair. “You want to unweave the artifact’s hold on you then you must make a better story.”
“What do you mean Allambee?” Said Crimson as his cyber spur popped out.
“Defeat the artifact by overcoming your fear and your friend is free and I can begin the next stage of disenchanting it.”
Maker-of-Death freed his damascene sabre and Ares Predator in a smooth motion firing his pistol as the mana flowed into his mind and body speeding up his motion to a blur and the orichalcum in the sabre began to glow red in the night as it began arcing towards the wispy neck of the samurai and clanged upon an opaque katana blocking the blow while the mask spun and drop kicked Crimson before his cyberspur could strike beginning the melee and a new chapter of the legend of the cursed japanese artifact or a new chapter of the Legend of Maker-of-Death and Crimson…
The battle raged and Allambee told the battle and fear aspected spirits originating from across Australia and the metaplanes gathered by the hundreds around the Song pool. “We get good entertainment tonight and a new story to share with the Dreamtime no matter who wins.”
Requirements to learn Storytelling metamagic: Attunement metamagic and the Naming metamagic. Many Storytellers are Geomancers though it is not required.
The Storytelling metamagic grants bonuses with the Enchanting Skill Group at Domains with a rich and powerful ambient Astral Realm mana rating and Storytellers often seek out Song Pools and Grooves for access to greater Astral Power.
The key to using Storytelling lies in finding and Naming and thus awakening the story or Legend within an item, person, locale, or device allowing for more powerful and unique enchantments and making it possible to unweave more powerful enchantments and thus disenchant them.
The rating on the Schwarzkopf Scale of the location’s ambient mana in the Astral Realm can have varying effects such as allowing unique enchantments or disenchantments of indestructible artifacts, lessening the karma requirements of an enchantment, or allowing certain key ingredients to be replaced in a formula.
The aspect of the Domain determines what type of enchantments can be woven from Legend. A pool aspected to the place of battle lends itself to creating weapon foci while a place of magic does the same for power foci.
Alchemist Storytellers can use the ambient mana as a bonus using the Schwartzkopf Scale of the Astral Realm in the Domain to add to the potency of the preparation up to a maximum bonus equal to their Initiate’s Grade but it takes twice as long to create the preparation. So, a Storyteller Initiate with a Grade of 3 and a Schwartzkopf Astral Rating of 2 would increase their preparation’s potency by 2 but if the Astral Rating was 4 then the limit would be their Grade of 3 and the preparation’s potency would be 3.
Artificers must create a focus formula from scratch specifying the story of the specific item and thus its Name.
If the Artificer crafts the item then the use the net successes from their Artisan test (threshold equal to Force of Focus) to lessen the telesma’s object resistance by up to the Storyteller’s bonus (the lesser of the Astral Realm Mana Rating or Grade of the Initiate) for the purposes of step five’s test and this provides the Storyteller’s bonus used during the rest of the creation process. The artificer can increase this bonus by using ingredients with rich and powerful stories included in them. These items can often be used as reagents by other practitioners but are special to Storytellers.
For step six the artificer lessens the karma cost by the Storyteller’s bonus at the cost of increasing the “force” of the drain for the drain value by the Storyteller’s bonus which can easily cause the drain to become physical.
Exempli Gratia: Max the Artisan is hired to create a weapon focus in the shape of a katana at force 4 by the local oyabun. His Storyteller’s bonus is two because his Grade and the Astral mana rating are both 2.
He uses his Artisan skill to craft a beautiful blade with one success over threshold and he includes within the hilt one of miyamoto musashi’s knuckles to provide the other point. (combining history and artisanship) to get a Storyteller’s bonus of two as the Domain’s astral rating he will be using is rated at two and his grade is three.
The Storyteller’s bonus drops the katana’s object resistance from 6 to 4 for step five. Max rolls his Artificing plus Magic of 12 against the force 4 plus modified OR of 4 and succeeds with a lucky roll of five vs 1.
Max then rolls against drain with 2 for the hit plus 4 for the force plus 2 for the Storyteller’s bonus and gets 2 successes and takes six stun and is exhausted. The creation of the weapon focus is complete upon Max channeling 4 -2 or two karma into the katana.
Other effects that can be added to focus creation to make unique enchantments and use unique materials as discussed in parageology are up to the GM and the player to dream up such as items that give temporary or permanent Edge bonuses or cause elemental effects upon a successful strike or bonuses to particulars subtypes of magic or bonuses against specific types of entities.
Items created with a Storyteller’s bonus might start to improve over time as Legend builds up in the item and the PC invests Karma in the item at GM discretion during the campaign.
For disenchanting and disjoining add the PC’s Storyteller’s bonus to the tests by adding to the Enchanter’s Magic Rating thus allowing for the Storyteller to attempt to disenchant items he wouldn’t normally be able to try and possibly preventing physical drain.
As far as game balance goes remember that the initiate has an opportunity cost situation when they pick this metamagic as they give up the chance to have a metamagic that can help them succeed or survive during a run. The other ‘mechanic’ for game balance that restricts the value of this metamagic is that the character must have open access to a Domain rich in Astral mana that is also aspected towards the type of enchantment he wants to make. This can lead to runs to procure the opportunity to be granted temporary access, join a magical society, or if the character controls the Domaim then there will be runs against them as other enchanters vie for it. Mastery of a Domain may be more trouble than it is worth often requiring the Storyteller to learn Geomancy to protect his turf but at the very least the GM can make it interesting for all involved.