Frame the Contest (p21)
- Name the Prize – “What are you trying to get out of this?”
- Describe the Tactic – Describe the action first, then decide on ability to be used
- State the Consequence of Failure
- Set the Resistance – see Resistance below
Only one exchange per pair of contestants! It is not intended that contests be run as pairs of exchanges – attack/defend and defend/attack.
Optional Rule: Altering Probabilities (p22) – High roll wins in tied victory levels
Pass/Fail Cycle (p72)
Would the current level of dramatic tension benefit from a failure? Choose a High resistance and describe it in a way that preserves the character’s heroic nature;
Would the current level of dramatic tension benefit from a success? Set a Low resistance and describe it in a way that preserve the sense of drama.
- 3+ defeats = very low resistance (lower of -W or 6)
- 1-2 defeats or ties = a low resistance (-6);
- 1-2 victories = high resistance (+6);
- 3+ victories = very high resistance (+9);
Situational Modifiers (p53) – +3, +6, -3, -6
Plot Augments (p55) – +3, +6, +9, +W; Player(s) must overcome several plot obstacles. The magnitude of the bonus depends on the difficulty of the plot obstacles.
Stretch Penalty (p52) = -6
Specific Abilities (p51) = -3 if another PC has a more specific ability; -6 if another PC has a much more specific ability.
Example: Fighting is at a penalty of -3 if another PC has Sword Fighting. The penalty is -6 if another PC has Fighting Dorastan Elves as an ability.
The Ability compared must have a common origin – both must be mundane, magical, technological, etc.
Quick Augments (p55) – Ability Rating / 5
You may spend any number of HP on a simple contest (p23)
Graduated Goals (p85) – Identify the primary and secondary goals. Major or Complete victory achieve both goals. Minor or Marginal victory only achieves the primary goal.
Equal Goals (p79) – average the two abilities. This is like Graduated Goals except that you either achieve all or nothing. Example: Trying to talk an opponent out of killing you while avoiding getting killed = Fast Talk averaged with Brawling.
Pyrrhic Victory (p82) – Grants an extra mastery in the contest, but the consequences are determined by the (quite nasty) Pyrrhic Victory table.
Risky Gambit (p49) – +1 RP to opponent on a win, +2RP to the PC on a loss. If both characters are making a Risky Gambit then the loser takes an extra 2RP.
Defensive Response (p49) – The opposite of the Risky Gambit. -1RP if the PC loses the exchange, -2RP if the PC wins. There is no penalty for both sides performing a Defensive Response.
- Use the simplest contest type you can get away with.
- Resistance should be used to generate tension. The more tense you want the contest to be, the higher the resistance.
Automatic Success Contests
- Automatic Success (p25) – No roll is made. Grant the character a minor victory. The victory can be bumped to “complete” by spending 1 HP.
Use if… Players are not emotionally involved; Failure does not offer an interesting branch; Failure would seem odd; The stakes are low.
- Arduous Auto-Success (p81) – No roll is made. Execute as Automatic Success but describe the effort as difficult. Mitigates pacing problems while preserving the illusion of effort.
- Mock Contests (p27) – Player rolls as usual. If the player fails, the result is a marginal victory. If the player fumbles the result is a failure.
- Costly Success (p81) – Player rolls as usual. If the player fails he still wins the prize but also suffers the consequences of the defeat level. Avoids boring plot branches. Note that the consequences most often are applied to abilities that will affect the characters down the road – often resource abilities. Otherwise you might still face the problem of an uninteresting branch, just later in the story.
Group Simple Contests (p32)
- Boosts may be purchased with HP before the contest begins at 1HP per 3 PCs. (p34)
- One resistance vs all PCs, rolled separately for each PC
- A collection of individual resistances, as in a fight vs multiple opponents.
- Communal Result – Total the RPs and generate a party result using the GSC Results table
- Separated Results – Determine results individually as a series of simultaneous simple contests. The RPs determine the overall group success. (p34)
- Optional Rule: Stake Points (p75) – 1SP for each Minor defeat, 3SP for each Major defeat. Add these points to the final value when determining consequences (not success vs failure)
- Asymmetrical Exchange (p39) – If you win you achieve your unrelated goal (an augment, maybe) but if you fail then you take RP damage as usual. Your opponent can attempt to resist your attempt.
- Missile Combat (p83) – Narrate as a contest for position where the final consequence is determined by the result of the overall contest. Example: Swordfighter uses movement skills to get close to the bowman. If he wins the extended contest he can use his Swordfighting ability for a Parting Shot.
- Parting Shot (p38)
- The attacker doesn’t necessarily use the same ability as during the rest of the contest. What matters is that the ability used reflect the prize. (p38)
- Third parties may make the parting shot instead of the previous attacker. (p39)
- If the victim wins, then instead of adding the resulting RPs to the attacker’s score he subtracts it from the points scored against him in the exchange that took him out of the contest.
- If restored to positive territory the character may re-enter the contest or start a new one (different Prize and Tactic) as makes sense in the story.
- Disengagement (p40) – Attempting to exit a contest is an asymmetrical exchange. You must describe your disengagement in a way that shows how you are definitively removed from the possibility of further harm. Not that disengagement from a Climactic Scene may result in taking harm.
- Pursuit (p40) – Usually a simple contest. The contest may be resumed if there are no intervening events. Otherwise it is a new contest.
Group Extended Contests
- Multiple Opponents
- Resolution Points are tallied separately if you are facing multiple opponents! This can get ugly in a Climactic Scene. (p41) Note that this applies even if you are trying to help a comrade. You may want to Assist instead. (p42)
- For Rising Action contests determine consequences only for the contest that took the character out. Ignore the RPs for any other contests that are unresolved.
- For Climactic Scene contests tally all RPs scored against the character from all opponents.
- For each extra contest you are engaged in you suffer a cumulative -3 penalty. (p43)
- Unrelated Actions – can be done if you are not currently engaged with an opponent. This is less risky than an asymmetrical exchange. (p42)
- Assists (p42) – This is an Unrelated Action. Default difficulty is Moderate, and increases by one step for each subsequent attempt by any player to provide assistance.
- Engaging Multiple Opponents (p43) = -3 penalty per extra opponent.
- Followers (p43) – three options
- Full Contestant – The follower acts as a PC, but if 3+RP are scored against them in a single exchange then they are out of the contest.
- Secondary Contestant – Negates the penalty for one extra attacker per follower; Player can shift RPs to followers, although 3+RP in one exchange takes the follower out. When the follower goes down, he takes an extra 2RP making the consequence of failure that much worse.
- Supporter – Follower does not participate in exchanges, but can perform assists and other unrelated actions.
Reward and Punishment
Degrees of Success (p24)
- Tie: “Tie means no result. Effort was expended, but the net result is that nothing consequential occurs, or else both sides lose or gain equally.”
- Marginal: (Hurt) “A nominal victory or defeat, with little gain or loss. The victor gains only the immediate benefits of winning. The loser suffers no lasting effects of his defeat beyond the end of the contest.”
- Minor: (Impaired) “A clear victory or defeat, with a significant but limited effect. The victor gains the immediate advantage of his victory, plus the defeat has some lasting effects, although they are typically annoyances. The loser suffers penalties that last for at least a day, possibly longer.”
- Major: (Injured) “A resounding victory or defeat, with serious consequences for all participants. The victor may gain fame or glory. The loser is prevented from pursuing his plans until he somehow counters the results, and he will likely suffer lasting penalties. For both, the effects are long-term, lasting weeks or even months.”
- Complete: (Dying) “A total victory or defeat, with momentous consequences for all involved. These repercussions are often permanent or irreversible; the Narrator might make their removal the goal of an entire adventure or campaign. The victor will be famous (at least for a while). The loser suffers a severe penalty.”
- Mismatched Goals (p85) – Both parties get what they want without resorting to a contest. Although the rules don’t specifically say so, I think you could use the Automatic Success rule to determine success level.
- Fumble vs Fumble (p28) – in a group simple contests the narrator may declare that both parties suffer a marginal defeat.
- Confusing Ties (p23) – In cases where a tie doesn’t make sense resolve it as a marginal successes for the PC.
- Sample Contest Consequences table (p25
Consequences of Defeat table (p30)
- Hurt [-3] one day of rest removes a single hurt
- Impaired [-6] one week of rest removes a single impairment. (p28)
- Injured – Character is out of action unless the player succeeds in a Contest of Wherewithal against a Moderate resistance. If successful, the character suffers an automatic bump-down on all related tests. The Narrator may rule that a Major or Complete victory in the CoW negates this penalty. (p29)
- Dying – A difficult contest is required to prevent death. Any success leaves the character Injured. A complete victory may reduce this to Impaired. (p30)
Lingering Benefits – the positive version of “consequences of defeat”. Lasts until you suffer a defeat or the story ends. Range is +3 for Minor Victory to +9 for Complete Victory.
Starting HP = 3 (p22)