This is what you’ve got

A matrix. Three by three. Attributes down one side, Methods across the other.

Seduce Sneak Scare
Ready
Willing
Able

Every one of those cells has a number in it.

When you want something, you tell the GM either which Method you’re using to get it, or which Attribute you’re relying on to succeed. In return, the GM tells you which Attribute you’re relying on or which Method you’re using.

Use Ready when relying on your character’s preparation, whether that’s getting equipment or gathering intelligence. Use Willing when making a personal sacrifice, or acting against your conscience. Use Able when relying on personal abilities or supernatural powers.

There is no specific Method for “Combat” or “Killing.” You’ll have to work with that.1

If you want some extra dice before the roll, you can spend your Humanity dice. To add to Ready, you must have done a bad thing. To add to Willing, your action must have inevitable bad consequences. To add to Able, you must be doing a bad thing. The GM defines “Humanity” and “bad.” 2

Cross reference the Attribute and the Method to find out how many dice you roll. So if you’ve got a Sneak + Able of 3, roll 3 dice. Find the highest die, then look at this table:

Highest Die
Result
6 You succeed and receive an additional benefit from your success. Gain 2 Edge dice.
5 You succeed. Gain 1 Edge die.
4 You succeed but suffer some complication.
3 You fail but there’s a silver lining.
2 You fail.
1 You fail and something truly dire happens.

The other way to get Edge dice is a Danger roll. Maybe I’ll explain those later.

  1. The GM could change the Methods, but if she adds Combat, we’ll disapprove.
  2. If she doesn’t tell you what they mean before the game, then she’s a dick.

6 thoughts on “This is what you’ve got”

  1. Over here in Chicago, we’re curious about the “the GM tells you which Attribute you’re relying on or which Method you’re using” mechanic. What does that add? And wouldn’t that remove a lot of the player’s agency?

    Let’s say I’m Fafhrd, and I want to use my Northern Ability to overpower a group of guards (Scare, I assume?). Does this mean that I’d only get to dictate half of my story? So if I wanted to use Able, I might end up Sneaking (or Seducing? Civilization is sooo decadent!) the guards?

    And if I was dead set on using Scare, the GM might dictate that I was actually using Will–“personal sacrifice, acting against your conscious”?

  2. The idea is to capture a pattern I see in tabletop roleplaying and tuck it back into the core mechanics. Sometimes, I say “I want to seduce the guard,” and then the GM tells me how hard that’s going to be and what the modifying factors are. Other times, I say, “Guys, lemme try and get us past the guard,” and I ask the GM what skills I can use.

  3. So, it’s basically saying, ‘Well, if your players are lazy about describing their actions, the GM can just decide for them’. Which is fair… but does it need to be mandated?

    Don’t get me wrong, by the way–I think this sounds really cool. I’m just trying to figure it out.

    (Oh, and while I’m here, is there a place to get the full rules for that playing-card-based two-person RPG that you were describing a while ago? That also sounded fantastic.)

  4. Why Ready, Willing, Able? I get the gist of it, but they don’t make me think of the requirements you’ve got attached to them. Better to give them descriptively apt names that three things that happen to sync already in the consciousness, I say. You’re risking confusion for me as it stands.

    I say this as someone who’s already engaged with this idea just from this post, so there’s a lot of goodness in there, to be sure. But I don’t think that naming convention is working for you as hard as it could be.

  5. Benjamin:

    In this case, it’s not the player being lazy. It’s the player going “I’ve made a character who’s really prepared. So tell me what the right preparation is.” It’s backwards from a lot of game mechanics, but it’s something I’ve seen in a lot of groups. The expected behavior here is that the player will announce a row or column that’s to their advantage, and the GM will pick the other knowing full well how difficult that makes the roll. So basic game-y concerns get leveraged into twisting the narrative around.

    Something I didn’t make clear above is that basically nothing gets narrated until the Attribute + Method have been picked.

    As for To Seek Adventure, the two player game of swashbuckling and sorcery, we’re in the playtest stages right now. I’ll be posting more about it fairly soon.

  6. Will:

    (You know, I love how that coffee stain also looks like an ouroboros.)

    The Attribute names are what occurred to me in the shower. They’re loosely borrowed from Remember Tomorrow, but don’t blame Gregor. You’re right that they’re not quite right; I’m working on new ones.

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