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Money and Equipment

Characters begin the game with silver coins equal to their archetypal ability.

Players may have their characters keep this initial money or spend it to have acquired starting equipment. They may also “have spent it” in the adventure during their first level: at any point during the character’s first level, if the player wants their character to have already acquired an item, they can spend some of this starting money and have the item. Either the money was spent back when it was most reasonable to have spent it, or the character always had the item, perhaps as an inheritance or gift. As long as it makes sense for them to now have it, it can be assumed that they’ve been carrying it all along.

The equipment that the character “purchases” does not have to have been actually purchased by the character. It might have been inherited, given as a gift, or found in the ruins of a destroyed farmhouse in the midst of the woods. The character’s starting money is a measure of how much money and equipment the character starts with; it is not necessarily how much actual money the character has to purchase things. Because of this, characters can often start the game with items that are not for sale in their home town, as long as it is for sale somewhere where they or some member of their family might travel.


General equipment

Characters will wish to equip themselves with many odd and normal items: lanterns, rope, walking staves, blankets, horses, horse equipment, and more. Prices for such equipment can vary depending on the area, the time period, and the time of year.

Some items, such as torches, have an activation time. If the character attempting to activate the item is in combat, an evasion roll is required to successfully activate the item.

Some items, such as picks, can double as weapons. Such items are not designed for combat and will have a penalty to attack of from 1 to 3.

Characters are not limited to the items listed on these tables, nor are items on these tables guaranteed to be available. It will be up to the Adventure Guide to gauge the availability and cost of all items. In many games, for example, gunpowder and firearms will be unavailable.

Food & lodging
Item Cost Bulk Notes
Beer, pint .2 3 This is a glass or mug of beer, as you might purchase in a tavern.
Beer, half-gallon .4 5 A half-gallon is 4 pints, which fits in a waterskin.
Beer, three gallons 2 26 Three gallons is 24 pints; this is a small keg’s worth of beer.
Room, common .4   Room costs are per night.
Room, private 1   Cost is usually increased by .5 to 1 per extra person.
Dry food 5 10 Lasts 1 week eaten carefully; spoils if stored in prolonged humidity.
Meal, simple .3 2 A simple meal does not last more than two days without spoiling.
Meal, fancy 2 2 A fancy meal does not last more than a day without spoiling.
Wine, pint .5 3 This is a glass or mug of wine, as you might purchase in a tavern.
Wine, half gallon 1 5 A half-gallon is 4 pints, which fits in a waterskin.
Wine, three gallons 5 26 Three gallons is 24 pints; this is a small keg’s worth of wine.

More than other equipment, food and lodging costs will vary widely according to quality and scarcity. Liquid pint bulks assume an open container. Liquid gallon bulks do not include the container. Liquids weigh approximately one pound per pint or eight pounds per gallon.

Item Cost Bulk Notes
Animal part, common .3 .3 Small animal parts such as the beak of a crow
Animal part, uncommon 1.5 .3 Small animal parts such as the claw of a wolf
Animal part, rare 4 .3 Small animal parts such as the feather of an eagle
Carving, simple .5 .1 Small wooden carvings, such as tiny arrows
Carving, complex 2 .5 Small wooden carvings, such as faces, intricate designs
Herb, common .1 .1
Herb uncommon .5 .1
Herb, rare 1 .3 Rare herbs have bulk .3 to keep them extra safe

Bone and metal carvings cost twice as much as wood. Stone carvings cost four times as much, and have four times the bulk. Special materials, such as rare metals and gemstones, will cost even more.

Extremely rare animal parts (such as the parts of Fantastic creatures) will usually be much more expensive due both to their rarity and to the difficulty of acquiring them. Normally these must be supplied by the player characters.

Animals & containers
Item Cost Bulk Notes
Backpack 2 2 Difficult to get into quickly; requires one round to pull something out
Donkey 7   Movement 9 carrying 225 bulk
Horse bit & bridle 1.5 3
Horse saddle 10 28
Horse saddle bags 3 5
Horse saddle blanket .3 4
Horse shoe .4 2 Horses and donkeys already have shoes when purchased
Horse, pack 30   Movement 10 carrying 200 bulk
Horse, riding 75   Movement 14 carrying 250 bulk
Horse, war 200   Movement 14 carrying 300 bulk
Keg, small 3 6 Will hold three gallons of liquid
Mule 20   Movement 10 carrying 400 bulk
Ox 12   Movement 5 carrying 400 bulk
Pony 30   Movement 12 carrying 180 bulk
Pouch, belt .5 .5
Pouch, shoulder 1 1
Sack .2 .5
Scroll case .8 .5
Trunk, Wooden 8 25 Cost and bulk can vary widely according to size and ornamentation
Wineskin/Waterskin 1.5 1 A skin holds four pints of liquid

To assist them in carrying their equipment, characters will want to purchase sacks, backpacks, quivers, and pouches. (Quivers are listed under ammunition.) A container allows the character to carry multiple items in as if they were one item in their carry list.

For animals, the bulk carry listed assumes that the animal’s load has been packed reasonably, using saddle bags and saddles or other standard pack devices. Generally, reduce an animal’s movement by 1 for each 10% increase in bulk carried. Horses, ponies, mules, and donkeys may jog, run, and sprint at twice the speed listed for their movement on the movement chart.

Riding a horse requires a saddle. Saddles include a saddle blanket, or you can ride with just a saddle blanket at a penalty of 2 to rolls while riding and a penalty of one to the horse’s daily movement. Riding bareback reduces the horse’s daily movement by 3, and riding rolls are at a penalty of 3.

Item Cost Bulk Notes
Axe 1 8 Does d6 damage as a hand weapon, -1 to attack, bulk 16
Blanket .2 5
Book, handwritten 5+ .5+ Add .03 to bulk and .1 to cost per ten pages
Book, printed 1+ .5+ Add .03 to bulk and .15 to cost per ten pages (content also affects cost)
Journal, blank 1+ .5+ Add .03 to bulk and .1 to cost per ten pages
Candle .01 1 6 yard radius, -1 to actions outside of 1 yard, candles last 6 hours
Canvas .25 .5 Per square yard
Chain, large 1 3 Made from iron links, cost is per yard
Chain, small 2 1 Made from iron links, cost is per yard
Flint, steel, tinderbox .5 1 It requires two rounds to start a fire using flint, steel, tinder, and kindling
Hunting horn 25 6 A simple coiled horn of the type used in a hunt
Ink 8 .5 Enough for writing 100 letters or pages.
Lantern 8 3 20 yard radius, 6 hours per flask, 1 round activation
Lock and key 8 1 Better locks can cost double, quadruple, or more, penalizing lock-pick attempts by -1 for each doubling of the cost
Mirror 10 .1
Oil .05 1 Cost is per flask
Paper .1 .03 Per ten pages
Parchment 1 .01 Per square foot
Pick 1 10 Does d8 damage as a hand weapon, -2 to attack, bulk 20
Pole .02 7 3 yards long, wooden. Does d4 damage as a hand weapon, -2 to attack, bulk 14
Quill .2 .05
Rope .2 3 Usually made from hemp, cost is per 3 yards
Rope, light 2 1 Usually made from silk, cost is per 3 yards
Shovel 5 9 Does d6 damage as a hand weapon, -3 to attack, bulk 18
Spike (iron) .3 1.5 About seven inches long
Tent, enclosed 15 32 3 by 3 yard area
Thieves’ tools 5 1
Torch .01 1 10 yard radius, 3 hour duration, 2 rounds activation
Tent, canopy 10 24 4 by 4 yard area


Anyone can attack with their hands for d3 points damage (d2 for Halflings, Goblins, and Gnomes). Most adventurers will prefer using a weapon, however.

Damage is the amount of survival points lost by the target of a successful attack with the specified weapon.

Range applies to thrown or propelled weapons, is in yards. Within range yards, there is no penalty to attack. There is a penalty of 1 after that, and another penalty of 1 for every range yards beyond. For example, an attempt to throw a spear at a target thirteen yards away will be at a penalty of 2: a penalty of one for being greater than six yards, and another penalty of one for being greater than 12 yards. A sling at thirteen yards will only have a penalty of 1, and a bow will have no penalty at all at 13 yards.

Hands is how many hands are required to use the weapon for mechanical reasons. A two-handed weapon requires two hands to manipulate and leaves no free hand for a shield or other item. Note that a weapon’s bulk may also require that two hands be used to wield it with no Carry penalty, depending on the wielder’s strength.

Space is how much space, in yards, the character needs on either side of them to use the weapon.

Bulk is the weight and bulkiness of the weapon. If the character will never use the weapon, the Guide may allow it to count as half the listed bulk. Staffs, for example, have a six bulk if only used as a walking staff but the listed twelve bulk if sometimes used as a weapon.

Fire Actions is the number of actions required to throw or fire the weapon if it is thrown or is a missile weapon. Some missile weapons require loading, lighting, or other preparatory actions. Weapons used to beat on opponents directly require but one action.

Thrown weapons

For thrown weapons, strength negates range penalties as a minor contributor. A character with a minor strength contributor of two can throw an object up to two ranges away without a penalty to attack.

Propelled weapons

Specially constructed versions of weapons such as bows may, at the Guide’s discretion, take advantage of higher strengths. Such weapons will usually cost twice as much, three times as much, four times as much, or more, depending on how much strength must be built in to the weapon (as a major contributor).

Damage can be increased by up to the character’s strength as a minor contributor, and range is increased by 25% according to strength as a major contributor. A character with a 16 strength, for example, might pay 50 silver coins for a bow with a range of 25 yards (strength 12-14, +25% to range), or 75 silver coins for a bow that gets +1 to damage and has a range of 30 yards (strength 15-16, +50% to range, +1 damage).

Anyone without the requisite strength bonus will be at a penalty to attack of the difference in strength bonuses and cannot make use of the increased range or increased damage, if any.

Simple weapons

Simple weapons can be used by anyone.

Weapon Damage Fire Actions Range Hands Space Bulk Cost
Club D4 2 2   1 10 0.1
Dagger D4 1 3     2 2
Dart D3 1 4     2 .4
Hand Gun D6 4 8 2   9 45
Knife D3 1 3     2 1
Quarterstaff D6 2 1   2 12 0.5
Sling D4 1 10 2 2 4 2
Wheel Lock D8 2 10 2   14 150
Wheel Lock Pistol D6 2 5 2   8 100
Basic weapons

Basic weapons can only be used by warriors or those with the Fighting Art skill basic weapons.

Weapon Damage Fire Actions Range Hands Space Bulk Cost
Arquebus D8 3 10 2   13 55
Brass Knuckles D3         1 1
Crossbow D6 2 15 2   11 35
Hand Axe D6 1 3   1 8 2
Matchlock Pistol D6 3 5 2   10 50
Metal Glove D4         1 4
Short sword D6 2 2   1 6 8
Spear D6 1 6     8 0.8
Warrior weapons

These weapons may only be used by warriors.

Weapon Damage Fire Actions Range Hands Space Bulk Cost
Battleaxe D10 2 2   2 18 7
Bow D6 1 20 2   8 25
Great sword 2d6 2 2   2 22 40
Heavy Crossbow D8 3 25 2   17 75
Javelin D4 1 5     4 0.6
Lance (may only be used while mounted) D12 2 2     16 14
Longbow D6 1 25 2   12 50
Long sword D8 2 3   1 8 20
Mace D6 2 1   1 12 3
Morning Star D8 2 4   2 17 6
Rapier D6 2 3   1 7 20
Scimitar D8 2 2   1 8 15
War hammer D8 2 4   2 16 5

All ammunition costs and bulk are for single units of ammunition. Gun powder is enough for one use, for example. Sellers will usually only sell in larger quantities, such as ten, twelve, sixteen, or twenty.

Item Cost Bulk Notes
Arrow .1 .2 D3 damage as a hand weapon, -2 to attack
Crossbow Bolt .1 .2 1 point damage as a hand weapon, -2 to attack
Crossbow Bolt, heavy .2 .3 D2 damage as a hand weapon, -2 to attack
Gun bullets .05 .05
Gun powder (1 use) .3 .05 Gun powder must be kept dry
Powder bag 1 .2 Holds 6 uses of gun powder
Powder horn 4 .5 Holds 20 uses of gun powder
Quiver 1 1 Holds 20 arrows or crossbow bolts
Sling Bullets .01 .05


Armor makes it harder to hit the character in a manner that hurts the character—that takes away survival points. The character may wear one type of armor at a time, and may also wear a full helmet. If the character has a free hand, the character may also carry a shield.

Warriors may learn to use any armor: that’s part of their archetype. Thieves, prophets, and monks may learn to use basic armor: shield, cloth armor, leather armor, banded leather armor, or magically light chain mail. Sorcerors may learn to use no armor.

Some armors are harder to use than others. A character must attain a level in at least one archetype that is high enough to use that armor (assuming they can use it at all).

Armor Defense Bonus Cost Bulk Warrior Level Thief, Prophet, Monk Level
Cloth 1 3 8    
Leather 2 8 5 1 1
Banded Leather 3 15 8 1 1
Scale Mail 4 45 20 1
Chain Mail 5 80 15 1 2
Splint Mail 6 70 25 2
Plate Mail 7 300 25 3
Full Plate 8 1000 30 4
Ceremonial Plate 9 2000 40 5
Shield 1 5 6 1 2
Large Shield 2 15 12 2
Small Shield 1 vs. one 5 2 3
Full Helmet 1 10 or 10% 4 1

The Bulk given is while worn. If carried, bulk should be doubled for cloth, leather, shields, or chain, and tripled for splint and plate.

Small shields may only be used against a single opponent in any round. The warrior will need to choose which opponent at the beginning of the round. By default it will be the opponent they last chose, or the opponent they are attacking first in the current round, whichever makes more sense.

While wearing a full helmet, perception rolls and attack rolls are at a penalty of one due to lack of visibility. Full helmets cost a minimum of 10 silver coins, or 10% of the cost of the other armor the character is wearing, whichever is greater.

The Guide may impose extra time for armored characters to perform actions requiring shields adjustments or the removal of helmets, gloves, or other parts of armor.

Equipment for different-sized creatures

The bulk of an item is relative to the size of the creature it was meant for. If a creature of different size attempts to use or carry the item, its bulk will change.

For each increase of one in size of the creature that the item is intended for compared to the size of the creature actually carrying it, item bulk is multiplied by two. For each decrease of one in size, item bulk is halved. For example, a medium creature using a huge-sized weapon that is bulk 20 for huge creatures will find it has a bulk of 80. But a huge-sized creature using a medium-sized weapon that is bulk 20 for medium creatures will find that it has a bulk of 5.

Costs are also relative. For example, a tiny Pixie sword will cost 20 Pixie silver coins just like a human-sized sword costs 20 human silver coins. But when made in differently-sized cultures, cost changes. For every difference in size, the cost of the item is doubled. Both tiny and huge swords will cost 80 silver coins to buy in a medium culture.


Weapons designed for a non-medium creature size will do different damage.

Weapon range is doubled or halved for each size difference. Minimum range is 1, and ranges cannot have fractions, so round normally.

The damage progression is:

1 D2 D4 D6 D8 D10 D12 2d8 3d6 4d6 +d6

A large creature using a large long sword will do d10 points instead of d8. The weapon will have a range (should they decide to throw it) of 6 and a cost of 40. Here are other sizes of long swords as an example:

Size Damage Range Cost
Fine D2 1 160
Tiny D4 1 80
Small D6 2 40
Medium D8 3 20
Large D10 6 40
Huge D12 12 80
Gigantic 2d8 24 160
Titanic 3d6 48 320

Creatures using a weapon designed for a size different from theirs have a penalty of one to attack for each difference in size. The weapon was designed and balanced for a different-sized creature.


You might have gone into separate corners to calculate your numbers. Now it’s time to bring everyone together and create a backstory that will drive your characters toward adventure.

Your character’s backstory should be approximately three sentences. It should include a sentence about the character’s home, a sentence about the character’s family, and a sentence about the character’s community or culture.

You don’t need to use names yet. Your Adventure Guide can help you with that later. But you should know the kind of places and persons you’re describing: use “the city”, “the mayor”, and so on.

As you answer these questions, think about your character’s motivation, archetype, specialty, and skills. Interpret your character’s motivation in a manner that will drive your character to adventure. What in your character’s backstory drives them to the unknown?

Who raised you?

What kind of person or persons raised your character? A farmer? A scholar? A rich merchant or evil landlord? A thief or an ex-con? Or even wolves if it’s that kind of game. Was your character’s home nearby or far away? What kind of a place was it? Was it rural? A village? A city? A port city? A lawless frontier town? A religious community? If your character’s background includes wealth, why has your character lost access to this wealth? Has the wealth itself disappeared, or do the rules of inheritance keep them from any chance of receiving it? Sudden poverty is often an impetus to adventure.

How do you know the other characters?

How does your character know the other characters? Unless the group has decided to bring the characters together in some other way, your character’s backstory should include at least one other player character, and preferably two or more.

Your character must know each of the other characters enough that they would hang with you and you with them.

How did you get here?

Where is your character starting the game, and how did your character get there? The Adventure Guide may tell you where your character is, depending on the first adventure. Or your group can choose a place to start.

You may already know where your character started based on your answer to the first two questions. How did your character get here from there, and why? What happened on the journey? What does your character hope to accomplish by being here?

Tony Barlow creates Toromeen


Tony and the rest of the group get together, and the first thing they do is write their characters’ motivations. Tony’s is “Even though I am an architect, I will explore the ruins because I believe that the gods have a greater plan for me.”

Moral code

Tony sees his character as individualistic, valuing personal freedom and the rights of others. He chooses the moral code Chaotic Good.

Archetype and specialty

Tony offers to play a Dwarven warrior who might become a prophet. This determines his archetype (warrior) and his Specialty (Species).

Ability scores

Tony rolls four six sided dice for each ability, and adds the three highest dice together.

Roll 1 Roll 2 Roll 3 Roll 4 Total
2 5 3 6 14
1 1 4 5 10
6 5 2 4 15
2 1 5 2 9
6 3 6 6 18
4 5 3 3 12

Since he wants his character to be a warrior and a prophet, Tony puts high scores in wisdom, endurance, and strength. Because his specialty is Dwarf, he gets a bonus of one to endurance, and a penalty of one to charisma. He decides on:

Original Ability Final (as Dwarf)
9 Charisma 8
12 Intelligence 12
15 Wisdom 15
14 Endurance 15
10 Agility 10
18 Strength 18

First level mojo

Toromeen’s 18 strength means that he starts the game with 16 mojo: the twelve that every first-level character receives, and then +4 for his strength as a major contributor.

Survival and verve

His survival is 5 plus 2 (his endurance of 15 is a major contributor to survival) for a total of 7. His verve is 5 plus 2 (his strength of 18 is a minor contributor to verve; his intelligence of 12 is not high enough to contribute) for a total of 7. He has 7 survival and 7 verve.

Fighting Art

As a warrior, Toromeen gains the Fighting Art field at +1, along with the skills unarmed combat and weapon fluency.

Native Culture

Toromeen’s native culture is Dwarven Culture. Toromeen gains that field at +2, along with the skills Dwarven Language and an etiquette. Tony chooses Mountain Dwarf Etiquette.

Toromeen’s specialty (species: dwarf) gives him the skill Spelunking in his Native Culture.

Fields and skills

With a 12 intelligence, a 15 wisdom, and an 8 charisma, Toromeen begins the game with two initial Fields, each with one skill.

Tony sees Toromeen as a traveling builder of defensive structures. He chooses the field Engineering Science with the skill Defenses. He also chooses the field War Craft with the skill Weaponsmith.

Movement and carry

Toromeen’s movement is 8 (as a dwarf), plus 2 (for his 18 strength), or 10.

Toromeen’s Carry is 9 (strength) plus 4 (endurance), or 13. Each item Toromeen carries must have a bulk of 18 (strength) or less.


At first level, Toromeen’s reactions will be:

Reaction Base Major Contributor Minor Contributor Special Total
Health 4 Endurance (+2) Strength (+2) Dwarf (+2) 10
Fortitude 4 Strength (+4) Endurance (+1) Warrior (+1) 10
Willpower 4 Wisdom (+2) Charisma (0)   6
Evasion 4 Agility (0) Intelligence (0)   4
Reason 4 Intelligence (+1) Wisdom (+1)   6
Perception 4 Charisma (-1) Agility (0)   3

Toromeen also has a bonus of four (as a Dwarf with a 15 endurance) on any reactions against magical attacks or effects.

Defense and attack

Toromeen’s Defense is 0. His agility of 10 is completely average.

Toromeen’s Close Combat Attack is 2. His damage bonus in close combat is 4. Those both come from his 18 strength.

Toromeen’s Thrown Weapons Attack is 0. Due to his 18 strength, his damage bonus in thrown combat is 2 and his range penalties will be reduced by up to 2.

Toromeen’s Propelled Weapons Attack is 0, because of his average agility.

Age, height, and weight

Dwarves are 8 times as old as humans. This makes his base age 120. Tony rolls 31 on 8d6 for age, so Toromeen is 151 years old. This gives Toromeen five extra skills or field bonuses. He can use them when he needs them. Tony knows that Toromeen will use a battleaxe, so he spends one to acquire that skill under the Fighting Arts field.

As a Dwarf, Toromeen has a base height of 41 inches. He has 2d6 height dice, plus 5 for his endurance (+1) and strength (+4). He rolls 10 on 2d6 and is 56 inches: 4 feet, 8 inches tall. He has a base weight of 80 pounds. His weight will be modified by ten times the 10 he rolled for height plus 4 for his endurance (2) and strength (2). Ten times 14 is 140; eighty plus 140 is 220 pounds.

Tony could have chosen any of these numbers, instead of rolling—even choosing a higher age if he desired.

Money and equipment

Toromeen has an 18 strength, so he starts with eighteen silver coins.

Tony already knows that Toromeen will use “his grandfather’s traditional battleaxe” and wear banded leather and use a shield. (Toromeen’s strength of 18 means that he can use a battleaxe one-handed.)

Since Toromeen is small, his items cause less damage and have shorter ranges. He chooses to buy some armor and a weapon using mojo:

Weapon Cost Bulk Small reductions
Battleaxe: 7 18 D8 damage, 1 range
Banded Leather: 15 8 3 defense (not affected by size)
Shield: 5 6 1 defense (not affected by size)
Total: 27

This “costs” 27 silver coins. He only has 18 coins, so he trades one mojo for thirty more coins. This leaves him with 15 mojo and 21 coins.

The banded leather and shield will give him a defense bonus of 4.


Toromeen was born in the southern mountains, where his people must continually fight goblins, orcs, and trolls for the best parts of the mountains and forests. His grandfather, whom he knew briefly, died in battle far from home.

The southern Dwarves trade with humans in the towns north of the Leather Road and east of the High Divide. He is an engineer, and builds devices for castles. He worked with Charlotte Kordé near High Town on a castle overlooking the River Valley.

Toromeen is returning to Biblyon to offer routine maintenance on some work they did in Illustrious Castle. He also wishes to visit a Dwarven Shrine in the northern mountains where, hundreds of years ago, Dwarves and Giants fought a great battle. His grandfather and many of his people are buried there. Toromeen wishes to visit this shrine for guidance from his ancestors.

The Adventure Guide tells Tony that there is a battlefield in the mountains of the Celtic Lands that fits this description, called Fomhor Achadh. Tony changes his backstory to mention the battlefield by name, and he changes his motivation to be “I will explore the ruins because I want someday to see the ancient battlefield, Fomhor Achadh.” This is the motivation that will lead Toromeen to adventure.

When Toromeen reaches Fomhor Achadh, Tony will need to retire Toromeen or write a new motivation. Toromeen’s new motivation will involve his becoming a prophet, if Tony continues that path.

Play the Game

Level advancement

As characters gain experience, they increase in ability, competence, and power.

Character Archetype Archetypal Ability Archetypal Reaction Verve Contributor Fighting Art Bonus
Warrior: Strength Fortitude Intelligence Every level
Thief: Agility Evasion Wisdom Every even level
Sorceror: Intelligence Reason Charisma Every third level
Prophet: Wisdom Willpower Strength Every even level
Monk: Charisma Perception Endurance Every even level

Characters start at first level with zero experience points. It takes 1,000 experience to go from first to second level, and another 2,000 to go from second to third level. Level advancement requires current level times 1,000 experience beyond the previous requirements.

Level Total Experience Specialty Normal Reactions Survival Verve Mojo Fighting (Thief, Monk, Prophet) Fighting (Sorceror)
1   1   5 5 12+
2 1,000   +1   +d10 +12 +1
3 3,000 +1   +d10   +13   +1
4 6,000   +1   +d10 +14 +1
5 10,000 +1   +d10   +15
6 15,000   +1   +d10 +16 +1 +1
7 21,000 +1   +d10   +17
8 28,000   +1   +d10 +18 +1
9 36,000 +1   +d10   +19   +1
10 45,000   +1   +d10 +20 +1

If the character has multiple archetypes through a specialty, use their overall level for everything except Reactions and the Fighting Arts. Fighting Arts field bonuses and reaction bonuses increase according to archetype level.

What does advancement mean?

When characters advance in level, they can do more things, and some of the things they used to be able to do, they can now do better. What does this mean? In some cases, it means that they learned something new they didn’t know before. In other cases, it means the character could always have done these things, it just wasn’t relevant. It may mean that the character has gained new knowledge, or that knowledge once secret has been made public.

How do I gain experience points?

Your character gains experience for using mojo on archetypal die rolls, for engaging creatures and people within the adventure, for defeating opponents in conflicts, and for donating or losing treasure acquired as part of the adventure.

Experience points for engaging encounters and for defeating opponents will be handled by the Adventure Guide. The more encounters you take part in, and the more opponents you defeat in conflicts, the more experience you will gain from those sources.

Experience points from engagements, conflicts, and loot are shared among every member of the group, and are awarded only after your characters complete the adventure. Loot experience is gained between adventures: at the end of an adventure or the beginning of one.

Experience from mojo is under your control. When you use mojo to affect an archetypal die roll, your character will gain fifty experience points per mojo used, immediately.

Loot experience is also under your control once your group acquires loot. Things looted during the adventure can be donated or lost with no expectation of tangible benefit after the adventure is completed. One silver coin of loot is worth two experience points.

For example, donating to a village will give the group experience even though this increases the goodwill toward the characters. “Good will” is not a tangible benefit. On the other hand, a donation that is really a bribe to get something from a church official is not experience-worthy. A loss in a gambling casino is not experience-worthy: there was an expectation—or hope—of an immediate benefit.

However, if you stipulate that your character will lose, and the Adventure Guide agrees, this then counts as a loss worthy of experience. For example, you might decide to lose your previous adventure’s loot at the beginning of the next adventure to provide your character an incentive for adventuring.

If you choose to have your characters lose loot, this is an opportunity for you to exercise more control over the narration than normal. You might decide, for example, that your characters were forced to jettison some of their loot in order to escape pursuers, or leave a dungeon, or cross a bridge. If the Adventure Guide agrees, you can (and should) role-play or jointly describe your characters’ loss.

Survival and verve

At second level and every even level, your character gains another d10 verve, modified by your character’s archetypal ability and verve contributor as minor contributors. At third level and every odd level, the character gains another d10 survival, modified by endurance as a major contributor.

Fighting Art field bonus

Warriors gain a bonus of one to their Fighting Art field bonus every level. Thieves, prophets, and monks gain a bonus of 1 at second level, and every two levels thereafter. Sorcerors gain a bonus of 1 at third level and every three levels thereafter.


Characters receive a bonus of one each level to their archetypal reaction. Thus, their archetypal reaction is at a bonus of level. For other reactions there is a bonus of one each even level.


The character gains one new specialty at the third level and every odd level thereafter.


For everything else, the character gains or can acquire mojo. Mojo may be applied to learning skills, researching spells, increasing abilities, or gaining new weapon skills. Multiple characters can join to apply mojo to the same project as long as each character has applicable mojo. In this way, several sorcerors can pool their mojo to research a spell. If different characters in the group have different mojo costs for the task, the most expensive mojo cost is used.

At each new level, the character gains ten plus level mojo. For example, at second level, a character gains twelve mojo.

Moral codes

Players must play their characters according to their moral code if the character has one. If they end up playing a different moral code, they should change it to a more appropriate one at their next level advancement. At each level advancement, the player and Adventure Guide should consider whether the character’s moral code has changed. If it has, then mark the change. A good question to ask is “do you think your character has made or avoided any moral questions during this level?”

This also applies to characters who do not have a moral code. If they start making moral choices, they have chosen their code.

Player characters who become evil become non-player characters. Prophets who change their moral code without assistance from their deity or pantheon can no longer call spirits, nor use any specialty that has the requirement of “prophet”.

Depending on the character’s prominence and the nature of the change, the world may impose other consequences as well.

Multiple archetypes

If your character has a specialty that allows multiple archetypes, use their archetype levels rather than character level to determine reaction bonuses and the fighting arts field bonus. Use character level for determining whether to roll survival or verve. For the character’s verve modifiers, use the archetype that the character has the highest level in after advancement (or the new level’s archetype if the character’s archetype levels are tied).

Archetype advancement


Prophets can call more spirits as they advance. At each level, a prophet gains level new calling points.

Once during each level after the character’s first level, the player can change one of their character’s available spirit types. From then on, the character can call spirits of the new spirit type, and not of the old one.


Sorcerors gain new spell slots for memorization. At each level, the sorceror gains that many new slots. A 3rd level sorceror gains three new slots, for example. Sorcerors can acquire spells by looting them from dungeons, stealing them from other sorcerors, trading formulas with other sorcerors, or by spending mojo.

Acquiring spells with mojo

Acquiring new spells costs three mojo per spell level.

The character must also have ten times the basic spell components on hand for experimentation. Experimentation costs aren’t necessary if the character spent at least spell level archetypal mojo, though the sorceror will need to acquire components for current or future castings.

Inscribing mnemonic Spells

However a sorceror acquires a spell formula, the spell must be inscribed into the sorceror’s spell book using the inscription spell.

If at least spell level archetypal mojo was used to acquire it, the spell is assumed to already be inscribed in the sorceror’s spell book at no cost to the character. If the character has any uncast spells of the appropriate level memorized, they can choose to have memorized their new spell instead of one of the uncast spells, if appropriate.

Spell compatibility

Before inscribing or learning any new spell that is not paid for with at least spell level archetypal mojo, the sorceror must make a reason roll at a bonus of six and a penalty equal to the level of the spell. On a successful roll, that spell is compatible with the sorceror and the roll need not be made again. If the roll fails, the spell is not compatible with the sorceror and the sorceror cannot impress or learn that spell.

If the character and spell are not compatible, any practical mojo and experimentation moneys are spent. However, the character may try again at a later level at a cost of only two mojo and five times the spell components on hand.


At each level after first, the thief gains a bonus of 1 to one thief field or an extra skill in one of their existing thief fields.


Game time and playing time

In Gods & Monsters, there is a difference between game time and playing time akin to the difference between players and characters. As Gralen, your character, retires to bed in an inn, you might say “Gralen sets an alarm spell and goes to sleep.” Your Guide then says, “Gralen wakes up the next morning. Nothing seems to have happened.” This exchange takes about five seconds. But in the game, it probably took about eight hours. Your character spent an entire night in the inn, but you covered that part of the game in a few seconds. Game rules almost always cover game time. When the rules say that a round is approximately ten seconds, this means that a round is ten seconds in the game. Determining what happened in that round might take anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes of playing time.


In game terms, a round is approximately ten seconds and is used mostly for conflicts. Over the course of one round, each character gets their chance to attack, defend, do something else, or do nothing. There are six rounds in a minute.

Sessions, adventures, and campaigns

Where rounds, minutes, hours, days, and so on are relatively specific units of time, there are other units of time that have no specific duration. A game session lasts one evening or afternoon, depending on when you play. A game adventure may last multiple sessions, until the adventure is completed. And a campaign is usually a narrative arc that consists of multiple adventures.

Your game sessions will usually end when someone has to leave. Often, you’ll have a specific time that the game session will end, such as 11 PM or 1 AM. Game sessions can easily stop in the middle of an adventure or even in the middle of a conflict.

Adventures usually have a specific short-term goal, such as searching some ruins or solving some mystery. Finishing that adventure means reaching that goal. Often, that goal will move the characters along toward solving a greater mystery or reaching a greater goal. When your character finishes one adventure, they’ll soon find themselves embroiled in another adventure.

Not all games have campaigns, but when they do the adventures will lead, perhaps with some side-treks, toward the fulfillment of the greater goal of that campaign. When the goal is reached, the campaign ends. Often, your character’s adventures will end when the campaign ends. You’ll put that character away and create a new one, or make a new character in a completely different role-playing game. Other times, your group may decide to take these characters on to further and greater adventures.


Regaining survival and healing injuries

When a character gets hit by a weapon or otherwise takes damage, they lose survival or verve, and possibly gain injuries. They may restore survival, up to their normal amount, by resting. Each night (eight hours) of rest restores level survival points or removes one injury point on a successful health roll. Otherwise, only one survival point is regained. Each full day of rest restores level survival points or removes one injury point with no reaction roll necessary.

For example, Toromeen, a 2nd level warrior, fights an Orc. The Orc has +1 to damage and uses a short sword, which does d6 damage. Toromeen has 7 survival and 17 verve. In the first round, the Orc hits Toromeen and the Guide rolls 4 on d6. This means five points damage. Because fighting is archetypal for warriors, Toromeen loses 5 verve, and drops to 12 verve. The next round, the Orc misses. Toromeen loses no verve or survival. In the third round, the Orc again hits Toromeen. The Guide rolls 5 so Toromeen loses six verve. Toromeen is now at six verve. In the fourth round, the Orc hits for seven points. Toromeen is at zero verve and also loses one survival. In the next round, the Orc hits for four points. Toromeen loses four survival and has only two survival. Finally, Toromeen kills the Orc.

Toromeen ends the encounter with 2 survival and no verve. He will have 2 survival points in any future encounters that day. Toromeen’s verve will fully restore to 17 tomorrow. If Toromeen rests tonight, Tony will roll Toromeen’s health. If the roll is successful, Toromeen’s survival will increase by two, to 4. Toromeen might also receive healing aid through magical, divine, or psychic means.

No matter how much Toromeen rests or how much healing aid he receives, his survival will not increase above its maximum of 7, nor will his verve increase above its maximum of 17.

Using verve

Because verve returns more quickly than survival, players will want to use verve rather than survival for their characters when possible. Verve can only be used for damage due to archetypal actions. What kind of a survival point loss counts as from an archetypal activity?

1. Loss from a source or action that requires a roll against the character’s archetypal reaction.

2. Loss from a source or action that requires a roll against the character’s archetypal ability.

3. Loss that is the direct physical or rule consequence of an archetypal action, including specialties.

4. Loss to a warrior when the warrior is in combat.

When you are being your archetype, you get to use verve. So, for example, warriors use verve in combat. Thieves use verve if they fall after failing to climb walls. Monks use verve for survival point losses incurred because of a failed perception roll. On the other hand, warriors cannot use verve for damage unrelated to being a warrior. A warrior in combat can use verve to defend against spells cast into the combat. (Almost any damage in combat is relevant for a warrior, because damage is what combat is for.) A warrior playing poker with a mage cannot use verve against spells that mage casts unless one of the other criteria comes into play.

A thief tossed off of a thirty-foot wall cannot use verve points to defend against that damage, even though they could use it if they’d been climbing that wall and failed their Climb Walls roll. Climbing walls is an archetypal activity for a thief. Being tossed off a wall is not.

Being ambushed is probably not archetypal for a warrior. Triggering a trap accidentally isn’t archetypal for a thief—unless they set it off while using their thief fields. Nor is being hit by a spear from that trap archetypal for a warrior.

For all purposes verve points are survival points if the survival point loss meets the criteria. For example, characters run the risk of death if they receive injury points in excess of their survival point total. Under rare circumstances characters can gain injury points even when they still have survival points. If the injury points were the result of archetypal damage, verve points count toward the survival point total that is compared against the injury point total.

Verve is fully restored at the beginning of each game day, the moment the character awakens to begin the day’s planning and adventuring. Verve is partially restored when characters engage encounters outside of conflict within the adventure. Each character (regardless of whether they take part in the encounter) will regain up to their own level in verve once the encounter has definitely begun. An encounter must have been part of the adventure and must involve non-conflict engagement. An encounter can only be engaged once per adventure for the purpose of restoring verve.

When your damage comes from verve, you can look cool doing it even when you fail. Yes, the rope you were trying to swing from snapped, but you made a perfect land-and-roll and came up ready to fight.

Injury points (zero survival points)

Once survival reaches zero, further damage adds to the character’s injury points. There are also times when a character will take injury points before survival reaches zero. Whenever a character gains injuries, the character runs the risk of unconsciousness and death.

When a character has injuries, those points are a penalty on any attack rolls, reaction rolls, and ability rolls. Sorcerors can’t use spells of higher level than their level minus their injuries. A fifth-level sorceror with two injuries could continue to cast first through third level spells normally, but is unable to cast—or memorize—fourth and fifth level spells.


A character who drops to zero survival or who gains injuries must make an immediate fortitude or willpower roll at a penalty of the character’s current injury total, as normal. If failed, the character goes unconscious at the end of the round for a number of minutes equal to their injuries. If successful, the character may continue acting as normal, with their injury point penalty. (You may also choose to have your character lose consciousness.)

An unconscious character may awaken or be awoken as normal after unconsciousness ends, except that any rolls to awaken an injured character are at a penalty of the character’s injury point total.

A player whose character is unconscious may choose to spend one mojo to bring their character to semi-consciousness.

A time to die

At the end of any round where a character gained injury points and their injury total exceeds their current survival (and verve, if the latest injuries were gained as the result of archetypal activity), the character runs the risk of dying. Player characters must overcome their injuries in a contested endurance roll against their total injuries. Their injuries are the acting side of the contest: the Guide rolls less than or equal to their injuries, and the player rolls less than or equal to their endurance (with normal penalties, including injury point penalties). If the player’s roll fails and the injuries’ roll succeeds, it is time for the character to die.

Death normally takes place after endurance minus total injuries minutes. If the character goes unconscious, the remaining minutes become hours. If the character’s injury total drops to zero before the character dies, death is canceled.

Death rolls are archetypal for all player characters. Death rolls while unconscious are at a bonus of two. Characters can go unconscious while making the roll in order to gain that bonus. Field bonuses also apply if the field includes an appropriate skill, such as falling.

After a player character’s time runs out, they will die by the end of the current scene, and even healing cannot help them. At any time before the end of the scene, the character can make one heroic last effort to do anything other than stay alive. The player can have the character try to attack the enemy one last time, try to assist their comrades in some way, make a stirring speech to influence the senate—or stir the mob to riot.

The player will gain a bonus of their level on that roll; the character’s injuries will not apply. They may bid any remaining mojo on that roll. Other players may also contribute mojo to the dying character’s heroic last effort if they wish to do so. For all purposes, a heroic last effort is archetypal for all player characters who contribute, and each character gains experience and possible skill/field bonuses as if they had spent the full mojo, not just what they personally contributed.

At the end of their final scene or at the end of their heroic last effort if they choose to perform one, the character dies.

Non-player characters

Non-player characters often do not have a known endurance score. If the endurance of a creature or other encounter isn’t known, use 10 plus half level as an estimate. If they have a per-die survival bonus on their level number, that bonus will also apply.

Non-player characters do not have verve. NPCs with archetypes gain d6 survival per level, unless they’re warriors, in which case they gain d10 survival per level. NPCs regain level survival each night without rolling.


Toromeen, after fighting an Orc and a few of the Orc’s friends, has four survival points. One more sword-thrust from the remaining Orc does six points damage to Toromeen. Toromeen is now at zero survival points and he has two injury points. Toromeen has to make an immediate fortitude roll to stay conscious.

Toromeen is a second level warrior. His fortitude is 11. Tony (his player) must roll 9 or less (fortitude 11, -2 for his two injuries) to stay conscious. Tony rolls 6, and Toromeen is still conscious. He has, however, a penalty of two to his attack rolls (and most other rolls).

Toromeen also might die: two (his injury points) is greater than zero (his current survival and verve). The Guide rolls a 1; this meets Toromeen’s injury total, so Tony needs to make an endurance roll for Toromeen. Toromeen’s endurance is 15 and he is at 2 injury points (-2), so Tony needs to roll 13 or less. Tony rolls 20; Toromeen is dying. He will die in 13 minutes: his endurance of 15 minus his 2 injuries.

Fortunately, Toromeen successfully hits and kills the Orc on his next action. He crawls underneath a tree and goes unconscious. While he is still dying, the remaining time for his death increases from 12 minutes to 12 hours. If someone can heal his injuries before 12 hours are up, he will live; otherwise, he will die.

Temporary bonus pools

Some spells, specialties, and spirits can grant their targets a temporary bonus pool of survival points. This temporary pool is separate from the character’s normal survival points. Eligible damage is removed from the temporary pool first; only when the pool is exhausted (or the spell or spirit’s effect ends) does the character begin to count damage against their real survival points.

For example, Gralen casts Fighting Prowess on Toromeen, and Toromeen gains a temporary bonus pool of seven survival points. Six rounds later, Toromeen enters combat. In the next round, a goblin hits Toromeen for three points of damage; the temporary bonus pool is reduced to four. In the eighth and ninth rounds, the goblin misses. In the tenth round, the goblin hits for three points again. The bonus pool is reduced to one. At the end of the tenth round, the spell’s duration ends, and the bonus pool disappears. Toromeen has taken no real damage; if the goblin(s) had done more than seven points over those ten rounds, he would have taken real damage.

Your character is dead; now what?

Take a deep breath. Don’t disengage until the end of the current scene. You can offer advice and moral support to the other players for as long as you wish. When you are ready to create a new character, wait until whatever scene they’re currently in plays out and roll the dice. Work with the rest of the group to choose your character’s archetype. Ask the Guide how many experience points your new character has and how many mojo your new character has. Then follow the instructions for creating a new character.


For most non-combat activities, players will use simple die rolls to determine an action’s success. Characters either fail or succeed based on that roll.

Abilities and reactions

When a character acts, or when the world acts against a character, that character’s player will often have to make an ability roll or a reaction roll. In each case, the player must roll d20 less than or equal to that number. For example, if goblins are sneaking up on Toromeen, Tony Barlow will have to roll d20 less than or equal to Toromeen’s perception. Since Toromeen’s perception is 4, Tony will have to roll less than or equal to 4 on d20.

Situations will often call for modifiers to these rolls. For example, if the goblins are being noisy, the Guide will give Toromeen a bonus to the roll, making it more likely that Toromeen will notice the goblins before they surprise him.


What does it mean to fail an ability roll? It means that your character’s action was unsuccessful and further attempts are discouraged. The rules do not say why they didn’t succeed. The reason can be anything you want, as long as it means that your character’s attempt was unsuccessful. The obvious reason is that your character failed. But it could also be that your character was in too much of a rush, or that something (or someone) got in your character’s way.

The default explanation is that your character failed, but if you wish to narrate the unsuccessful attempt differently, you may. Keep your narration to one or two sentences, and do not create an argument. If any of the other players raise an objection to your narration, your character simply failed.

When a contest involves weapons, a failure also means that the loser takes damage and might be injured. Weapons do their normal damage to the loser, and for every die of damage one of the lost points will be an injury point. If the potential damage is one or two dice, a successful evasion roll negates the injury point requirement. If all damage can be and is applied to verve, no injuries result either.

The Adventure Guide may also rule that some contests which don’t involve weapons are dangerous enough to merit damage.

Each action is a single roll

No matter how long an obstacle is, overcoming it is a single roll. Whether a player’s thief scales a 20-foot wall or a 200-foot wall, only one roll is required to complete the climb. If, for example, the character climbs a hundred feet, has an encounter, and then climbs another hundred feet, their first climbing roll suffices for the second hundred feet. Similarly, a character making a roll to find information about an event in the underworld doesn’t make that roll every night. They make it once, and the contacts start flowing in (or not, depending on the success of the roll). They don’t need to roll again for that event.

A failed roll cannot be re-rolled, not even by another character, unless the task is reframed as a different task. The only exception is that if an individual player character has attempted a task once, a group of player characters can also attempt the task once. If a group effort has been attempted once, then an individual can also try once.

Difficulty adjustments

The size of the obstacle may affect the difficulty of the roll. Climbing a 200-foot wall will have more penalties than climbing a 20-foot wall, for example.

Obstacle size

If an obstacle’s size affects the difficulty of an action, apply penalties for larger obstacles. Usually, penalties increase as size doubles:

Size: 1 2 4 8 16 32 64 128 256 512 1024
Penalty:   1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Sometimes, the obstacle and penalty will increase together: an obstacle size of three will mean a penalty of three. Rarely, the penalty will double rather than the obstacle size, so that you’ll read up rather than down. See Jumping for an example.

Sizes will be multiples of a reasonable no-penalty size. Distances will often be based on 10 foot sizes. Climbing a 20- to 39-foot wall is a penalty of 1. Climbing a 40- to 79-foot wall is a penalty of 2. If the wall is 80 but less than 160 feet, the penalty is 3, and so on.

Similarly, searches of a 20 by 20 foot area or 20-foot diameter circle incur a penalty of 1 on the perception roll. Searching a 40 by 40 foot area incurs a penalty of 2.

When confronting obstacle sizes greater than normal, where and when failure occurs often matters. If an ability or reaction roll failure will directly result in damage, and the damage depends on where the failure occurs (for example, when climbing a wall, the height of the fall determines the damage), then the amount of the obstacle overcome must be determined randomly. For example, if a thief fails to climb an 80-foot wall, a d8 might be used to determine in which ten feet the fall occurred.

If the failure does not directly result in damage or the damage does not depend on where the failure occurs, it may still be determined randomly; however, the Adventure Guide also has the option of placing the failure near an adventure other than the one the character had been trying to reach.

If the obstacle size is greater than one, the time required to overcome the obstacle will be proportionately longer.

Players can choose to divide their actions into smaller actions.

Difficulty levels

Often it will be easiest to consider difficulties using a common-sense term such as “easy” or “difficult”.

Difficulty Bonus Difficulty Penalty
Difficult   Difficult  
Easy 2 Very Difficult 2
Very Easy 4 Extremely Difficult 4
A Snap 8 Nearly Impossible 8
Incredibly Easy 16 Practically Impossible 16

Skills may modify ability rolls and reaction rolls, if the skill distinctly applies to the action being attempted. For example, the Guide might decide that knowing some bit of historical trivia requires a reason roll. If your character has a field bonus of one in History and a relevant skill, you gain a bonus of 1 to the roll. Most often, rolls that skills apply to will be ability rolls.

Careful attempts

Normally, attempts are assumed to be made over the course of one round or some other normal, but quick, time period. If a character chooses to spend more time—one minute instead of a round, ten minutes instead of a minute, or one hour instead of ten minutes—they can gain a bonus of 1. If they spend even longer—ten minutes, an hour, or a whole 8-hour day—carefully setting up their attempt, they can gain a bonus of 2. It is up to the Adventure Guide whether or not any particular action can benefit from careful attempts and what the base time period is.

Contested actions

In some cases, two or more characters will attempt to do the same thing, or keep the other from doing something. In such a case, each player makes a roll vs. the ability or reaction in question.

If both fail, the side that was trying to do something fails. If one side was resisting and one side was acting, the acting side fails. If both were trying to achieve the same goal, both fail to achieve the goal. They have battled to a draw. If both succeed, they keep trying until they give up or only one succeeds. If one succeeds and the others fail, that’s the winner. If more than two sides are involved, those who lose do not get to keep trying.

Contested actions can, if both sides keep succeeding, take longer than uncontested actions, along the scale of: immediately, one round, one minute, ten minutes, one hour, one day, two days, three days, etc. Start with however long the action would take if it were uncontested.

If all sides in a contested action cannot fail, double each participant’s final rolls (before any mojo are applied) and increase the time period to the next level.

Players can request a doubling of both final rolls if their opponent cannot fail. This also increases the time period to the next level.

Providing assistance

Characters can sometimes grant their field bonus to other people, in lieu of that person using their own field bonus. An herbalist can grant their field bonus to the injured; a speechwriter can grant their field bonus to someone making an oratory roll; a navigator can give their captain their navigation field bonus in place of the captain’s.

The character granting the bonus makes their roll first (usually an ability roll). If successful, the people they were assisting can use the field bonus of the assistant. If the assistant tries to provide a bonus to more than one person, the number of people is the obstacle size.

For example, an herbalist with a wisdom of 15 and a field bonus of +2 in Healing Craft treats the wounds of three people who have lost survival or gained injuries in a fight. The herbalist must make a wisdom roll of 16 or less: 15 for wisdom, +2 for their field bonus, -1 for the obstacle size. If the herbalist is successful, the three patients each gain +2 (the herbalist’s field bonus) to their health roll that night to regain survival and/or heal injuries.

Or, a politician who has the skill Oratory in the field Political Science, but who only has a field bonus of 1 in Political Science, might hire a speechwriter who has a +3 field bonus in Writing Craft. If the speechwriter makes their wisdom roll when writing the speech, the politician can use that +3 in place of their own +1 when making their oration roll.

A roll can only be assisted by one field bonus at a time.

If a failed attempt at assistance involves a weapon, damage results as normal for a failed contest. For example, a character under surgery risks injury if the surgeon fails their Medical Science roll.


Combat takes place during ten-second rounds that give each character a chance to do something, whether it be attack with a weapon, run away, cast a spell, use a spirit, or use some other ability. In a conflict, each successful attack reduces the target’s survival by the amount of damage rolled by the player or Adventure Guide, according to the damage done by that weapon.


A character may be surprised if they were unaware of an impending attack. If their characters were unaware of the attack, the players must make a perception roll. If the characters were aware of their attackers, there is a bonus of four to this roll. If the characters were sleeping, there is a penalty of six to this roll.

Surprised characters are unable to act during the first round of surprise. In subsequent rounds, they are at a penalty of two to defense and three to any success rolls. While surprised, characters may not initiate complex actions such as casting spells, calling spirits, using psychic powers, or any of the special conflict maneuvers.

Surprised combatants must make either a willpower or fortitude roll to ‘snap out’ of surprise. This roll is made at the beginning of each round after the first round, and applies to the round it is made in.

If surprised combatants are removed from the conflict for two or more rounds, they are no longer surprised.

Order of events

There is no order to what happens in conflict. Everything happens at once. To make things easier, however, the Adventure Guide will describe how all of the non-player characters are moving. Then the players will move their characters and perform their actions. Finally, the Adventure Guide will determine the actions of non-player characters (on both sides of the conflict). After both sides act, check for unconsciousness and death if any player or non-player characters lost all survival and/or were injured.

Note that in some cases, the Guide will need to apply non-player character actions to player character actions, such as when a non-player character casts a Sleepfall spell. In this case, resolve the non-player character’s action first, as for a called shot. If multiple characters are performing actions that will affect the other’s outcome, use an agility roll to determine which action(s) get resolved first. If the characters have any penalties to movement, apply those penalties to the agility roll as well.


Each round, every character can attempt one action. Often this action is hitting an opponent with a weapon. A character can attack any target who comes within their movement, in feet, during the round. The attack roll is made against an 11: the roll must be 11 or less on d20 to successfully attack. The attacker’s Fighting Art bonus increases and the target’s defense reduces the number needed.

Close combat and ranged combat

Characters fighting within hand or extended weapon reach of their opponents are in close combat. If characters must fire or throw missiles to attack their opponents, they are in ranged combat.


Each weapon does a different amount of damage: roll the dice listed for that weapon to determine the damage the weapon causes. Damage is subtracted from the target’s survival.

Firing into close combat

Firing into close combat gives the target strong cover if there are three to five combatants, and full cover if there are six or more.

If the target is in close combat with an individual or individuals, and if the attack would have hit one or more of those individuals, those individuals it would have hit must make an evasion roll or take the same amount of damage the target did. The attacker may choose to make a called shot to avoid this. On a successful called shot, only the target takes damage.

On a miss, a random adjacent opponent of the target must make an evasion roll, with their Defense as a bonus, to avoid being hit.

Number of actions

Some weapons or attacks require multiple actions. When an attack requires multiple actions, such as loading, arming, and firing an arquebus (three actions), the attack will normally require that many rounds to use. The actions need not immediately follow each other: a character might load their arquebus at the beginning of the day, fill the pan with powder when combat is imminent, and then only require one action to fire the weapon the first time. In later rounds, the character might load the weapon, use their sword to fight off a monster, then load the pan with powder and finally fire.

Attacks which require more than one action to perform gain one free action per use when outside of close combat. The arquebus above would require only two actions to use if the character using it were not engaged in close combat. Most of the time, if the character has no need to worry about being attacked or hit, the character is not engaged in close combat.

Number of attacks

Some creatures and archetypes may attack more than once per round. When a combatant attacks more than once per round, each attack must be rolled for.

Special conflict maneuvers

Any bonuses which a maneuver or situation gives to the attacker must be used only against the opponents the situation applies to.

Attacking unseen targets

Attackers who are aware of but unable to see their target have an attack penalty of three in close combat, and six in ranged combat.

Called shot

Called shots are made to a specific location on a target, with an attack penalty of 3 and a defense penalty of 2 for that round. The target’s defense includes armor even if isn’t worn on the called location. Called shots do damage as normal. A successful called shot does not mean the target is hit at the called location, it means this was the location that needed to be protected. The target may be required to make an evasion or fortitude roll to avoid special effects. For example, a called shot to the hand against a target carrying a potion will require an evasion roll or they drop the potion. Use evasion if the target tries to avoid the effect by dodging, fortitude if the target tries to avoid the effect by standing strong. The reaction against the disrupting effects of a called shot is at a penalty of the damage done by the attack. The target gains a bonus of their movement. Sorcerors and prophets use their reduced movement if casting spells and manifesting spirits.

Called shots are handled first in a round, and can affect other actions during that round. A called shot can disrupt complex actions such as casting spells, manifesting spirits, or reloading crossbows. The target must make an evasion roll to complete the action. If a spell or spirit manifestation is disrupted, verve is not lost, nor is the spell or spirit used up.

Called shots can distract an attacker using thrown or propelled weapons. The arrow or other missile automatically misses (as normal) unless the target of the called shot makes an evasion or fortitude roll, in which case it proceeds as normal.

A successful called shot also allows carried attacks, such as poisons, to take effect. Unless otherwise specified, all carried attacks require a called shot. Carried attacks have their own reaction roll instead of the above, usually an evasion roll or a health roll.

Cover Warriors Non-Warriors
Weak Cover +1 Defense No bonus
Strong Cover +2 Defense +1 Defense
Full Cover +3 Defense +2 Defense

In ranged combat, combatants will often try to hide behind obstacles to avoid being hit by their opponents’ missiles. Cover can be weak, strong, and full. Weak cover protects a significant portion of the character but also leaves a significant portion open to attack. Strong cover protects most of the character, and full cover blocks all of the character from attack. Behind full cover, a non-combatant can usually hide with no possibility of getting hit, but if a character is trying to attack (especially with missile weapons of their own), or trying to move in a way that brings them partially in the open, even full cover will afford opponents the possibility of hitting.

Warriors use cover better than non-warriors. However, if a warrior does not engage in the conflict, but instead leads their comrades, they may grant the warrior cover bonus to up to level companions. The warrior’s player must make a perception roll to successfully do so.

High ground

If a character is attacking from the higher end of a reasonable slope, stairway, or while mounted on a horse-like animal (and fighting medium-sized opponents), or while attacking from above, the character gains a bonus of 1 to attack or defense.

Immobilizing an opponent

Immobilizing an opponent involves grabbing their arms and/or legs. The combatant trying to immobilize their opponent has a penalty of two to their defense.

A called shot is required to immobilize an opponent, and the opponent is allowed an evasion roll to avoid immobilization. The evasion roll is at a bonus of two for every general size level larger they are than the character trying to immobilize them. A large target would gain a bonus of 4 to the evasion roll if a small character is trying to immobilize it, for example.

If the evasion roll fails, the attacker has a hold on their target. They may attempt to hold the target immobile. Both the attacker and the target make fortitude rolls, once per round. The larger of the two gains a bonus of 4 to this roll for every general size difference.

  • If both succeed or both fail, neither may do anything.
  • If the target succeeds but the immobilizer fails, the target has broken the hold, and may attack their opponent once at +6.
  • If the target fails and the immobilizer succeeds, the target is immobilized and may not attack with the immobilized limbs; the target is immobilized and can no longer break free. All physical actions and reactions by the target are now at a penalty of six.

Allies of the immobilizer may tie up or attack an immobilized target. The immobilizer may also attack, as attacking an immobilized target (although this removes the penalty of three for breaking the hold if the immobilizer attacks with a weapon).


Normally, it takes one action to draw a weapon. A character can also attempt to draw and use an available weapon in the same round. An evasion roll is required to do so successfully. On a successful roll, the character attacks as normal. On an unsuccessful roll, the character acts as if surprised, which must be thrown off as normal.

Size differences

The sizes used for rules such as immobilizing an opponent are fine, tiny, small, medium, large, huge, gigantic, and titanic.

Unaware and non-defending opponents

There are three kinds of non-defending opponents: covered, unaware, and immobilized. These bonuses do not combine with each other.


If an attacker can take aim at a target or targets, and the target(s) are unprepared for combat, the attacker is said to have the target(s) covered. The attacker can get one free attack against the target or one of the targets at a bonus of four to attack and one to damage. If the target attacks before the covering combatant chooses to use their free attack, the covering combatant will still gain all bonuses. However, if the target beats the covering combatant in a Reaction contest the attack is not free. Each side can choose either perception or evasion as their reaction roll in this contest.

Only physical attacks with an attack roll can be used to cover a target. Spell, psychic, and spirit attacks cannot be used to cover a target.

Immobilized targets

There is an attack bonus of 10 against immobile targets, such as sleeping opponents, bound opponents or opponents who are otherwise unable to move.

Unaware and non-defending opponents

Opponents who are unaware of an attack are easier to hit. There is an attack bonus of four against a defender who is unaware of the attacker’s general location or simply not defending against attack. Warriors can use the bonus to gain an extra attack against the unaware/non-defending opponent, assuming the target is within combat reach and the warrior has space remaining in their combat pool.

Killing blow

Only immobile targets may be subject to a killing blow. If the attacker makes a successful called shot to kill, the target takes half the damage (round up) as injury points; the rest go to survival points as normal.

Knockout blow

Unaware, surprised, covered, or immobilized opponents may be subject to a knockout blow. The attacker must make a called shot. The target is allowed an evasion roll. If the target is wearing any sort of head protection, there is a bonus of one to this roll. If the head protection provides a bonus to the target’s defense (magical or non-magical), this bonus also applies to the reaction. Creatures whose defense is from tough skin will usually also gain this bonus to their roll.

If the reaction roll succeeds, the target takes damage as normal. If the reaction roll fails, the attack was a knockout blow: one point of the damage rolled goes to the target’s injury point total and the rest to the target’s survival points (as normal). The target runs the risk of unconsciousness and death as normal for gaining injury points.

Warriors may allot two combat bonus points to the knockout blow, so that two points of the damage rolled add to the victim’s injuries.

Combat example

There are four combatants in this example. Sam Stevens, a first level thief, first level warrior, played by Sarah Dent, is wearing leather armor and bears a long sword and a shield. Charlotte Kordé, a second level monk, played by John Greeley, is wearing leather armor and bears a dagger and a staff. Toromeen, a second level warrior, played by Tony Barlow, is wearing chain mail and bears a battle axe.

Combatant Survival Verve Perception Willpower Fortitude Fighting Art Attack Defense Player
Sam Stevens 6 15 6 5 5 +1   +4 Sarah Dent
Charlotte Kordé 5 14 9 9 5 +1   +1 John Greeley
Toromeen 7 17 4 7 11 +2 +2 +5 Tony Barlow
Yeti 20   6 6 6   +4 +3

Combat begins when a Yeti, a fourth-level creature, surprises them in the snowy mountains outside Hightown in West Highland.


Everyone rolls surprise (d20). Surprise uses perception. Sarah rolls 2. Sam Stevens’ perception is 6, so Sam is not surprised. John rolls 18. Charlotte Kordé’s perception is 9. Charlotte is surprised. Tony rolls 4. Toromeen’s perception is 4, so Toromeen is not surprised.

The Yeti knowingly initiated combat. The Yeti is not surprised.

Round 1

The Yeti has a defense of +3. An eight or lower (eleven minus three) is required to successfully hit it. Each of the players make their attacks.

Sam Stevens has an attack bonus of 1, so she needs a 9 or lower on d20 to hit. Sarah rolls 4. Sam is fighting with a long sword, which does d8 points of damage. Sarah rolls seven, a massive blow against the small hairy creature. The Yeti now only has 13 survival points.

Toromeen has a combined attack bonus of 4. He needs 12 or less to hit the Yeti (8 plus 4). Tony rolls 17 on d20, a pitiful score. He has no chance this round to sink his battle axe into the Yeti.

Charlotte is surprised, and unable to act.

The Yeti, pained by Sam’s attack, roars and claws at her. It has an attack bonus of 4. Sam has a defense of 4 due to her leather armor, shield, and agility. If the Guide rolls 11 or less on d20, the Yeti hits Sam. The Guide rolls 9. The Yeti’s claws do d6 damage and the Guide rolls 1. The Yeti roars and claws Sam but she rolls with the blow. Sam now has 14 verve. The Yeti claws a second time—Yeti get two attacks—and the Guide rolls 5. The Yeti hits Sam again, for 6 points. Sam felt that one, and now has 8 verve remaining.

Round 2

Charlotte might still be surprised. She needs to make a fortitude or willpower roll to shake off the surprise completely. John rolls 6. This is lower than Charlotte’s willpower of 9. She is no longer surprised.

Tony rolls 13 on d20. Toromeen just barely fails to hit the Yeti.

Sarah rolls 14 on d20. Sam Stevens also fails to hit the Yeti.

John rolls 3 on d20. Charlotte Kordé needs a nine or lower, so Charlotte has successfully hit the Yeti with her dagger. Daggers do d4 points of damage. John rolls a 1. Charlotte Kordé pokes at the Yeti, and it now has 12 survival points.

The Guide rolls an 18 on d20. Sam Stevens successfully avoids the Yeti’s claws. The Guide gives the Yeti a fifty-fifty chance of attacking Charlotte Kordé with its second attack. It continues to attack Sam. The Guide rolls a 20 on d20 for the Yeti’s attack, so it fails anyway.

Round 3

The Yeti is being attacked by three creatures. The Guide decides that the Yeti will continue to attack, but it will leave next round if things don’t go its way. The Yeti is a strong and fierce creature, but not stupid. It is a better fighter than any of the player characters individually, but three against one mitigates that advantage.

Tony rolls 16 on d20, and curses his dice. Toromeen fails to find an opening to hit the Yeti.

John rolls 10. Charlotte barely misses her opportunity to hurt the evil creature.

Sarah rolls 17 for Sam Stevens’ attack. Sam also fails to hit.

The Yeti roars at Sam Stevens and the Guide rolls 11. That’s exactly what the Yeti needs to hit Sam. The Guide rolls 4 on d6, so the Yeti claws Sam Stevens for 4 points. Sam now has 4 verve. She could be hurting soon. The Guide rolls 14 for the Yeti’s second attack. The second claw attack misses Sam Stevens as she deflects it with her shield.

Round 4

The Yeti did well last round and its opponents seem unable to hit it. It continues its attack. Sam Stevens is tempted to withdraw, but doesn’t want to leave Toromeen fighting the creature alone (she doesn’t have faith in Charlotte’s fighting skill). So Sam remains in combat.

Tony rolls 6 for Toromeen’s attack. His battle axe does d8 points damage, and Tony rolls 8. The dwarf’s 18 strength gives a bonus of 4, for a total of 12 points damage. The dwarf’s battle axe sinks deep into the Yeti’s side. The Yeti only had 12 survival left. It now has zero.

John rolls 13 for Charlotte’s attack. Charlotte misses.

Sarah rolls 18 for Sam’s attack. Sam also misses.

The Guide rolls a 2 and 16 for the Yeti, which is attacking Sam again. The first attack hits; it does 5 points damage to Sam, who now has no verve left and is missing one survival. She’s down to 5 survival.

However, the Yeti dropped to zero survival this round, and must make a health roll to remain conscious. Both the Yeti’s fortitude and willpower are 6. The Guide must roll 6 or lower for the Yeti to remain conscious. The Guide rolls 3. The Yeti is conscious and decides to run away. The player characters choose to let it go.


Using mojo

Characters use mojo to improve skills, modify failed rolls, and increase abilities. Some specialties also use mojo for special effects.


It costs three times the character’s current ability score to increase an ability by one point. Increasing the character’s archetypal ability costs only twice the current score. If the player wants a specialty, and only one point of an ability requirement stands in their way, the player can increase that ability by spending only the current score. For example, if a warrior has a 17 strength and the player wants the Exceptional Ability specialty, they can increase their strength when they choose that specialty by spending 17 mojo.

Fields and skills

New fields cost 11 mojo. The field comes with one skill and is at +1. Increasing a field bonus by 1 costs four mojo, plus the current bonus. For example, increasing a field from +2 to +3 will cost six mojo. Increasing from +5 to +6 will cost nine mojo.

Adding a skill to a field costs five mojo. Some fields are partially or fully restricted to specific archetypes. Archetypes other than the preferred archetype, if they are allowed to gain skills in that field, can do so for seven mojo.

If reasonable from the character’s backstory, players can buy skills, fields, and field bonuses immediately before making a roll where that skill and field can help. When bought immediately before rolling, the player will gain the mojo spent as a bonus on that roll.

Monks can learn techniques that apply to one skill (at a cost of two mojo) or to all skills in a field (at a cost of four mojo). They can convert a one-skill technique to a field-level technique for three mojo. Converting a two-skill technique to a field-level technique costs two mojo.

Fighting Art

The Fighting Art is partially restricted to warriors. New weapon skills cost five mojo for warriors and seven mojo for non-warriors.

The Fighting Art field bonus cannot be increased using mojo; it can only be increased by increasing the character’s level.


After the failure of any d20 roll involving any of the character’s archetypal abilities, the player may choose to bid a specific number of mojo to change the outcome of the roll. If that bid as a bonus would make the roll successful, the necessary mojo is lost (excess mojo is kept by the player) and the outcome is reversed. If the bonus would not alter the success of the roll, no mojo is lost.

Archetypal rolls are rolls against the character’s archetypal ability, their archetypal reaction, a roll involving a specialty, or a roll involving an archetype’s special abilities: combat for warriors, picking pockets for thieves, casting spells for sorcerors, etc.

Mojo use to affect rolls is always useful. If a player successfully affects a roll using mojo, the results of that roll must be useful. It must matter to the character’s success in the adventure. For example, if a monk uses mojo to affect a surprise (perception) roll, they will receive more information than simply “you hear a noise”. They will receive useful information about the nature of the danger.

If the action that the character is taking is simply not useful to the adventure, and the player uses mojo to be successful at the action, the Adventure Guide will say so and the player will have the opportunity to withdraw that bid. This is the only time that a player can withdraw a successful mojo bid.

Mojo cannot be used against other player characters.

Mojo experience

When mojo is used to affect an archetypal roll during the course of an adventure, the character gains 50 experience points per mojo used. These experience points are gained immediately.

If the character gains enough experience to go up a level, the level change occurs immediately. The character gains the new level’s benefits immediately if the player doesn’t need to ask about them. If they need advice or assistance, the benefits are gained only after the current scene ends.

For example, if a player bids six mojo to succeed on a failed roll, and needs to spend four mojo, their character loses four mojo and gains 200 experience points.

Mojo increases

If the amount of mojo spent to turn a failed roll into a success is as much as is needed to gain a new bonus or skill in the appropriate field (or even to gain an appropriate field), the character gains that bonus, skill, or field.

For example, a player whose character has Language Science at +1 is told that their roll to read an ancient manuscript has failed. The player bids seven mojo to succeed. They need six mojo. Since it would have cost only 5 mojo to increase Language Science to +2, the character’s Language Science is now at +2.

Practical mojo

Characters can practice to gain and enhance fields, learn skills, and research spells. Characters study, train, or practice to acquire mojo that works like the mojo they receive for advancing in level. However, practical mojo is specific: it must be dedicated to a specific field, skill, or spell during the learning process. Specialties that create things may also allow the use of practical mojo.

Practical mojo never offers bonuses to rolls when used.

Practical mojo may only be used for fields, skills, spells, and specialties. It may not be used for other purposes, such as increasing ability scores, nor can it be used for restricted fields such as bonuses to the Fighting Art or thieving fields and skills.

Normal study

Characters may practice or study in order to gain one mojo per week. Mojo points cost one silver coin each for study or exercise materials and instruction. Training in this manner precludes adventuring or any sort of regular, full-time job.

Free-time study

Characters may gain one mojo for every month of free-time study. Training in this manner precludes excessive travel, such as long adventures, but does not preclude a normal job that allows for free time of at least two hours almost every day in the same place. Mojo points gained in this manner cost two silver coins per mojo gained.

Characters may use free-time study for up to three things at once, although this will leave no time for other things, such as a job.

Intensive study

Characters may gain zero mojo for every two days of intensive study. A mojo resource of some kind is required for intensive study. Mojo points gained in this manner cost three silver coins per mojo gained. Characters may not engage in intensive study for more than half wisdom days at a time. After intensive study, the character may not engage in intensive study for at least the same period.

Intensive study allows for no free time. Mojo points gained from intensive study must be used within intelligence days or they are lost.


Days, weeks, and months of study may not be saved. Only mojo may be saved. Characters may take a total amount of time off of one day (for normal study), half a day (for intensive study), or six days (for free-time study) while acquiring each point of practical mojo.

Mojo resources

Resources such as books, libraries, instructors, and schools provide bonuses to practical mojo gained. Resources are rated by the field or fields that the rating covers and by their mojo level. A really good magical library might have a level of 8 for magical research. A detailed book on Roman etiquette might have a level of 10.

Mojo resource types Mojo total
General (skill) book Level/bonus difference (level 1-7)
Specialized (skill) book Level/bonus difference (level 1-12)
Immersion (language or etiquette) Student’s charisma
General library (100-15,000 books) Level/bonus difference, times ten
Specialized library (100-5,000 books) Level/bonus difference, times twenty
Tutor Level/bonus difference, times ten
School Level/bonus difference, times twenty

Mojo resources with levels or (for Tutors) field bonuses have a mojo total depending on how much higher the field bonus/level is from the student’s field bonus/level.

Different mojo resources may be combined—but only one of each type. If a student uses multiple resources, add all mojo totals together and consult the mojo bonus table. Mojo resources may be mined for mojo at a rate that increases according to the mojo resource’s total mojo. A mojo resource with ten mojo, for example, will grant 1 mojo per week of normal study, per month of free-time study, or every two days of intensive study.

For example, a student with Philosophy+2 using a level 5 philosophical library to assist in their study of philosophy will gain an extra three mojo for each period of study: five minus two is three, times twenty is sixty, and sixty mojo total means 3 mojo per time period.

Mojo total Mojo bonus
1 1 per 4 time periods
2-3 1 per 3 time periods
4-7 1 per 2 time periods
8-15 1 per time period
16-31 2 per time period
32-63 3 per time period
64-127 4 per time period
128-255 5 per time period
256-511 6 per time period

If they are also studying under a tutor whose philosophy score is four, that will add twenty to the total, for a mojo total of 80. This will give them four mojo for each period of study.

Mojo resources often have usage fees. Libraries may require payments for the use of their books, and tutors may require payment for their teaching services. Such payments will generally vary from zero to ten silver coins per mojo that the resource grants in a time period.

Mojo resources may only provide up to their mojo total on any particular project.

Cultural immersion

If a student immerses themself into a culture, this will help them learn the culture’s language or etiquette. Immersion doesn’t have a level, it’s either all or nothing. The mojo total will be the student’s charisma. The student can never gain more mojo than their charisma from cultural immersion.

Student exceeds resource

If the student’s level or bonus exceeds the mojo resource’s level or bonus, the resource may only be used one time as a study aid. The mojo resource will provide its level in mojo for one project by the student. For example, a sixth-level sorceror could use a level 5 magic guide as having a mojo total of five.


A character’s intelligence, as a major contributor, shifts the Mojo bonus up or down on the Mojo bonus chart when the character is using at least one mojo resource. A character with an intelligence of 15, for example, studying from a book with a mojo total of 5, can mine that book at 3 mojo per time period rather than 1 mojo per time period.

Actions and consequences

Most of the time, you’ll use contests and conflict to resolve what the characters attempt to do unless success is guaranteed. Especially when the characters are involved in a contest of some kind you’ll want to avoid real-world numbers because they bog down the game. If a character chases a monster, for example, the appropriate resolution will be an agility contest (as described under Chases ) rather than a calculation based on the varying Movement rates and tactics of the characters involved. You can look at these rules as examples of how to handle contests.


In a long-term campaign, characters might start getting old. Some players might choose to play an older character as well.

At age 40 plus endurance, and every year afterward (modified by endurance as a special contributor), a character will gain an unhealable injury point. The player (or Guide, for NPCs) can choose to trade an injury point for a two-point loss in an ability as long as that ability remains above one.

Ailments: sickness, disease, and poison

Most ailments characters encounter are poisons, but ailments also represent sickness, or the effects of recreational drugs such as alcohol.

Ailment strength

Each ailment has a strength. Players must make reaction rolls at a penalty of the ailment’s strength, or the ailment takes effect. Most poisons will have a strength of zero. Weak poisons can have negative strengths, generally to a -4, and strong poisons will range up to +4 strength.

If the character definitely imbibes, injects or otherwise accepts the ailment, there is a penalty of four to the reaction roll to contract the ailment, and the reaction is health. Otherwise, the reaction is perception (if the character can avoid the ailment by knowing it exists, such as drinking poisoned wine) or evasion (if someone else is attempting to do it to an unwilling victim, such as with a poisoned sword).

Ailment effects

Each ailment has an effect. This is what happens to a character if they succumb to the ailment. Unless the ailment is chronic, the effect happens once and then the ailment is gone. Poisons will usually have an effect of injuring the character by d2, d3, or d4 injury points, for example. The effects take place after the action time of the ailment. Poisons often have an action time of one round: they take effect at the end of the round in which they were contracted.

Ailments that affect concentration, abilities, or cause unconsciousness are usually temporary. Injury or other damaging effects are permanent, in that they remain even after the ailment is gone and only disappear through the normal healing process.

Some ailments are chronic. Once the character ails, the ailment continues to affect them until they can throw off the ailment. At each action time, the player makes a health roll. If they succeed, the ailment disappears as normal. If they fail, they take the effects again, adding to any previous effects of the ailment. For example, if a character has been affected by food poisoning and fails to throw it off three times beyond when it took effect, they’ll have 4 injuries and be at –4 concentration for d4 hours. The strength of chronic ailments fades over time: chronic ailment strength is reduced by one for each action time.

Some ailments are inescapable. The character can’t just succeed once, they need to keep succeeding for every action time of the ailment. Gasses in an enclosed space are often inescapable, for example. There is no roll to throw off an inescapable ailment: the roll per action time is only to see if the ailment affects the victim that round. The effects of inescapable ailments are cumulative as well. A character stuck in a sleep gas for five rounds, who fails three reaction rolls, will sleep for 6d10 minutes.

Some ailments are both chronic and inescapable. After a chronic inescapable ailment affects a character once it will affect them in all subsequent rounds, with no further roll necessary. The strength of chronic inescapable ailments increases by one for every successive action time. Once the character is removed from the area of the chronic inescapable ailment, so that it is no longer inescapable, the ailment’s strength immediately returns to normal, and begins fading as normal for a chronic ailment.

Example ailments
Ailment Type Strength Action Time Effects
Alcohol Chronic -1 20 min -1 agility, concentration, evasion, fortitude
Common Cold Chronic 1 1 day -1 concentration, evasion, fortitude
Food Poisoning Chronic 3 1 hour 1 injury
Black Widow     30 min D2 injuries
Giant Spider   4 1 round D4 minutes paralysis
Huge Spider   2 1 round D3 injuries
Large Spider   1 1 round D2 injuries
Shadow Spider   1 2 rounds D6 injuries
Sleep gas     1 round Sleep 2d10 minutes


When one character attempts to chase or escape another character, this is an agility contest, with appropriate skills modifying the roll. A success by one character and a failure by the other means that the chase has concluded: the escaping character has escaped, or the pursuer has caught up with their quarry.

If one character has a significantly higher movement than the other character, that player gains a bonus to their roll of one for every difference of three in their movements.

Groups chasing an individual will often use the group effort rules.


Some spells, spirits, and psychic powers require concentration. While engaged in such an activity, a character may move at no more than half movement, and may not attack or initiate other actions (such as other spells) while concentrating. Their defense is at a penalty of 1.

Anyone engaged in an activity which requires concentration for more than a round, such as a sorceror, monk, or prophet, may break concentration if they are attacked. If successfully attacked, they must make an evasion roll or their concentration is broken.

When concentration is given a penalty, as with some ailments, this penalty applies to charisma, wisdom, and intelligence rolls.


Height Damage Time Evasion
0-9 feet D6 1 second Negates
10-19 feet 2d6 2 seconds Halves
20-39 feet 3d6 3 seconds No effect
40-79 feet 4d6 4 seconds
80-159 feet 5d6 5 seconds
160-319 feet 6d6 6 seconds
320-450 feet 7d6 7 seconds
+150 feet No Increase +1 second

Under normal circumstances, characters lose d6 survival for the first ten feet fallen, and another d6 for each increase in the obstacle size. Maximum damage is 7d6 damage, for falling 450 feet or more.

The character takes 1 second to fall for every die of damage up to 450 feet. Under normal circumstances, the character will fall an even fifty yards per second after 450 feet (150 yards, or 7 seconds), so that each extra 150 feet adds a second to the time aloft. These numbers may vary across worlds.

For falls of less than ten feet, a successful evasion roll will negate the damage. Less than twenty feet, a successful evasion roll will half the damage.

One point of damage for each die rolled goes to injuries (unless, for falls of twenty feet or less, the character makes their evasion roll).


Illusions cause no damage unless there is a phantasmal component to the illusion. (See spells and psychic fields in Arcane Lore .) Mere light shows won’t cause victims to lose survival points. The illusion must dig into the victim’s mind and coerce it into damaging its own body and acting as if hurt.

While phantasmal damage isn’t real, it is real enough to the victim. Phantasmal damage has all the effects of real damage until the victim makes a successful reaction roll to recognize the illusion, or until the victim falls unconscious. Unconsciousness occurs as normal. On falling unconscious or on determining that the damage is illusory, the character will regain all but one tenth of the phantasmal damage (round up, so that there is a minimum of one point lost). It takes one full round to regain the lost survival or injury points.

Despite the increased survival points and decreased injury points, unconscious characters will not immediately regain consciousness; while their body is no longer actively hurting itself, it has still switched to a healing sleep, a normal deep sleep.

While phantasmal damage rarely kills, a character that fails their death roll will be in shock after being “killed” by an illusion. Their unconsciousness is severe, and cannot be cured except with a full night’s rest or magical healing.

Invisible damage, such as poison, will almost never take effect. If the character has no way of knowing such an effect is possible, there is no chance of them taking damage from it. Otherwise, a character’s reaction roll against such effects are at a bonus of 10.

Players will often want their characters to disbelieve things they think might be illusions. There are two ways of doing this. They can make a perception roll if the character is actively looking for flaws in the illusion. This is often not successful, because it is the character’s mind that is creating part of the illusion. More powerful phantasmal spells will provide penalties to the roll for this reason. Characters may not attack or concentrate on any other action while disbelieving in this way, but they may defend as normal, and are allowed any reaction rolls against possible effects. It takes one round to disbelieve an illusion in this manner.

The second way of disbelieving a possible illusion is through willpower. The character is so certain of the illusion that they are willing to stand and accept the illusion’s effects—because they believe there won’t be any. This is dangerous, because if the effect is not illusory, the character not only will take damage, but will accept the damage. The character is foregoing any reaction rolls to ameliorate the effects of the possible illusion, and is foregoing any attempts at dodging it. If it is an illusion, however, and the willpower roll is successful, the character not only disbelieves the illusion, but also grants a bonus of 2 to other characters’ attempts to disbelieve using their perception.

Penalties to disbelieving are usually halved for a willpower roll.

In some cases, a poorly designed illusion will allow an immediate perception roll to disbelieve. Most of the time, however, players must request a reaction roll to be allowed one. Their characters may receive a bonus to the roll to disbelieve more obvious illusions.

Item reactions

Material Fire Bludgeon Acid Bonus
Glass +8   +16 Quarter inch
Ice     +8 Half inch
Metal +6 +5   Quarter inch
Paper -2 +6 +8 Half inch
Stone +8   +10 Inch
Wood   +3 +5 Inch

Under normal circumstances, items do not have to worry about reaction rolls: items don’t react. When the character survives an attack, items that the character carries also survived.

If items are not carried, are carried by an unconscious individual, or are carried by an individual who gains injuries as a result of the attack, and the attack might damage the item (a Great Ball of Fire for iron or paper, or a fall for glass), make a reaction roll. The reaction is against four, with bonuses or penalties depending on the material and the attack form. If the reaction fails, the item takes damage. Items have survival points equal to their weight in pounds, though characters and attacks can focus on a specific area of an item so as not to have to destroy all survival points in order to, for example, break an item in half or punch a hole through an item.

Items also gain a bonus depending on their thickness. Beyond the bonus thickness, they gain a bonus of 1; for each doubling, add another +1. Glass will gain a bonus of 1 at a quarter inch, a bonus of 2 at a half inch, a bonus of 3 at an inch, a bonus of 4 at two inches thick, etc.


Jumping up is normally a snap: an agility roll, with strength as a major contributor, and a bonus of 8 to the roll. Each foot beyond one foot provides a penalty that doubles. Failure means that the character jumps short: they jump as high as they could have with that roll.

to 1 foot  
To 2 feet -1
To 3 feet -2
To 4 feet -4
To 5 feet -8
To 6 feet -16
To 7 feet -32

Large creatures jump double the distance; huge creatures jump four times the distance; gigantic eight times, and titanic sixteen times. Small creatures jump ¾ the distance; tiny creatures jump ?; and fine creatures jump ?.

Leaping across is just like jumping up, but feet become yards. Moving characters add their current running movement to the roll to increase how far they leap.


Characters move according to their Movement. In combat, a character can move this many feet along with attacking. A character can also dash up to this many yards during combat, in place of attacking or performing any other maneuver.

Inside of combat, characters may only move at combat speed or at a dash. Outside of combat (if there are no combatants within reach) characters may explore, walk, jog, run, or sprint. There are bonuses to attack such characters.

Speed yards per minute feet per round time base reactions attack
Semi-conscious movement half movement Endurance rounds
Combat twice movement movement Endurance minutes    
Dash 6 times movement 3 times movement Endurance minutes -1 4
Explore 4 times movement twice movement Endurance times 10 min    
Walk 10 times movement 5 times movement Endurance times 30 minutes -2 2
Jog 20 times movement 10 times movement Endurance times 5 minutes -4 4
Run 30 times movement 15 times movement Endurance minutes -8 8
Sprint 50 times movement 25 times movement Endurance rounds -16 16

The reaction listed is the penalty the character has to reaction rolls while moving at that speed. The attack listed is the bonus opponents have on their attack rolls when attacking an opponent who is moving at that speed.

At normal exploration speed, such as in a dank cave or moving through an abandoned castle, characters walk very slowly, observing their surroundings carefully for concealed, hidden, or secret things, as well as performing simple mapping. Characters who move at normal walking speeds or faster are subject to the reactions penalty to avoid traps or find hidden items.

Outdoors, outside of ruins, dungeons, caves, combat, and similarly dangerous places, the penalties are shifted up one. A person can walk on a road without penalty, for example, and jog with the same penalty they would have for walking in a dungeon.

Spells and spirits

When sorcerors are casting a spell, their movement is reduced by the casting time of the spell. If the casting time is greater than their movement, or if the spell’s casting time is a round or more, the sorceror cannot move while casting the spell. When prophets are calling a spirit, their movement is reduced by the calling time of the spirit manifestation. If the calling time is greater than their movement, or if the manifestation has a calling time of one round or longer, the prophet cannot move while calling forth the manifestation.


These movement rates are used only for tactical movement (such as characters maneuvering for position in combat) or for uncontested distances. In any case where a character is trying to chase or capture another character, ability rolls or reaction rolls are more appropriate.


Characters will usually want to rest for ten minutes following the appropriate time base for their movement speed. If they wish to force themselves to continue moving with no rest, the player must make a health roll. There is a bonus of two on this roll for each reduction of their Movement (for the entire period) by 1. There is a penalty of two on this roll for each previous movement health roll since last resting. The health roll may also be penalized for not drinking enough water or salt, by up to four. (At jogging speeds, the character should be drinking about two quarts of water per hour.)

If the health roll fails, the character gains an injury point.

For reference, walking speed is approximately a third of Movement miles per hour, and characters should rest for ten minutes following half endurance hours.


At night, if there is no full moon, movement is reduced by half unless the character has special vision or a light source. In total darkness, such as underground, movement is reduced again by half (to a quarter movement) unless the character(s) have some way of seeing.

Daily movement

Under perfect circumstances, a character can walk twice their Movement in miles per day. Forests and hills can easily halve that (to Movement in miles per day), and bogs and thick undergrowth slow it to a quarter of that (half Movement in miles per day). Characters should rest for a day following half endurance days of such walking, but may push themselves forward as above.

Characters can increase a day’s movement by 50%, but this will incur a health roll. On a failure, the character gains one injury point.


Flying creatures can move more easily than walkers: long-distance movement for fliers is movement miles per hour rather than miles per day, which lets them move eight times further in a day than a walker of the same movement could go.


Searching is generally a matter of making a perception roll, with penalties appropriate to the difficulty of finding the hidden item. Searching often takes time, about two minutes for a 10-foot by 10-foot area.


A semi-conscious character is vaguely aware of their surroundings. They may not use any agility bonus to defend against attacks (agility penalties apply as normal) but are not at any bonus to be hit as unconscious characters are. They move and think very slowly.

A semi-conscious character may not initiate any action except movement. If directed to do something, the semi-conscious character may choose to follow that direction; if asked a question, they may choose to answer. In either case, the player must make a willpower roll or take d4 rounds to react or reply.

Semi-conscious counts as unconscious for Death rolls.


Characters without a useful air supply will eventually suffocate. If the character is prepared (is able to take a deep breath) they have a suffocation buffer of endurance rounds. Otherwise, they have a suffocation buffer of d4 rounds, modified by endurance as a minor contributor. For characters with low endurance, it is possible to have no buffer.

During the buffer period, the character may act as normal. After the buffer period, the player must make a health roll or their character gains one injury. For each additional minute (six rounds), make another health roll with a cumulative penalty of one each time.

These times can be doubled if the character remains completely inactive and at rest.


Tracking is much like searching, but it takes place over a space of time and distance. There is a penalty of one to the perception roll for every day that has passed since the creature or creatures passed, and usually a bonus according to the size of the group that is being tracked (use the group size on the group effort chart). The successful tracker will generally also know incidentals such as how long ago the creatures passed, how many there were, and what kind of creatures, if familiar to the tracker, they are.

Characters may also attempt to cover their own tracks. This is also a perception roll. Successfully covering their own tracks gives a penalty to the perception rolls of those trying to track them, of the amount the player made their perception roll by. Covering your own tracks also reduces the character’s movement by half.

Obstacle size for tracking is a quarter mile outside in natural surroundings, and 100 yards in an urban or man-made area.

Upkeep and living expenses

General, basic living expenses can be covered by a single silver coin every day. Poorer living expenses can be covered by as little as a silver coin every week, but this is not how adventurers normally prefer to live.

More extravagant living expenses can run ten or even a hundred silver coins per day.

Weapons and armor must be maintained in good condition. Maintenance on weapons is 10% of the weapon’s cost every year. Maintenance on armor is 5% of the armor’s cost every month.

Animals have upkeep as well. Riding animals have an upkeep of 10% of their cost every month. Other animals have an upkeep of 5% of their cost every month.

Spells and spirit manifestations

What is the difference?

Spirits are divine power; spells are personal power. Spells come from the sorceror’s skill, and knowledge. Spirits come from the gods.

Spells tend to be flashier than spirits. Spirits are often either subtle or devastating. Where a spell will cast a lightning bolt, a spirit of nature would call lightning from the skies. A spell could engulf a few targets in a ball of fire; a retribution spirit would destroy an entire village.

What is the purpose of spirit manifestations?

Spirit manifestations are grants of divine power to a prophet. There are three basic reasons that spirit manifestations are used: to further a plot or plan of a god, to aid the worshippers of a god, and to increase the number of worshippers for a god or pantheon.

Increasing the number of worshippers can come through the conversion of non-worshippers, and the spread of current worshippers. Sometimes the two will be combined, as when the worshippers of one pantheon defeat the city or state of another pantheon’s worshippers. Often, to complete the victory, the winner will tell the loser that their god or gods are really just lesser deities of the winner’s pantheon, or different forms of a similar deity in the winner’s pantheon. Some of the losers will believe it and convert without it being called conversion.

Researching Spells

In the game world, researching spells is mostly a matter of taking the time and money to create the spell formula: the mental impression, words, gestures, and/or ingredients necessary to cast the spell. As player, however, you’ll need to work with the Adventure Guide to create the spell description and requirements. All proposed spells are subject to the approval of the Guide; however, if you’re willing to work with the Guide you should be able to come up with a spell description that fits the game world your character is in.

Spirit Types and Finding New Manifestations

A spirit can do anything related to that spirit’s type. The manifestations in Divine Lore are examples, but if you can design a new manifestation with a cool name, and your Adventure Guide allows it, your spirit can do it. Spirit manifestations must be related to the spirit type and must be religiously inspired: that is, they must be something that shows the power of your character’s god.

It’s easier if you can plan ahead, and work with the Guide to create the manifestation outside of the game. However, if you come up with one during a game session, the Guide will make a guess at the appropriate level and then add two for the level you’ll use until the Guide has had time to think about what level it should be and what its effects and requirements should be. You’ll want to make spirit manifestations as low level as you can, and then scale the effects upward, to keep the manifestation list short.

Spell Types

There are six different spell types. Most spells are one of those types. A few will be more than one type.

Mental (Mentalist)

Mental magic controls and shapes a creature’s mental reactions. Mental magic can make friends, influence decisions, create illusions, and link minds.

Summoning (Summoner)

Summoning magic calls on extra-normal forces to do the sorceror’s bidding. The summoner can call on the spirits of the dead or their corpses, can summon creatures and forces from other planes or places, and can ward creatures from entering a protected area or attacking a protected creature or thing.

Divination (Diviner)

Divination magic seeks out information, detects information, and discovers hidden truths and concealed secrets.

Transmutation (Transmuter)

Transmutation magic alters existing things. It can change shapes, change materials from one type to another, and can even change a creature from one kind to another. It can alter a creature’s abilities or change physical aspects of creatures and things.

Metamagic (Metamagician)

Metamagic works with and alters other magics. The metamagician can control the effects of spells, work with and modify spell impressions, and even take advantage of another sorceror’s spells.

Conjuration (Conjuror)

Conjuration magic creates physical things from fire, earth, water, and air, the combination of elements that permeate the world. It can make objects or energy, though often its creations are transitory.

Psychic Conflict

Only those who are psychically aware, such as those with the monk archetype, may engage in or be engaged in psychic conflict.

Attacks are made as normal on a d20, with charisma as a minor contributor. For defense, monks may use intelligence as a major contributor. Each combatant in psychic combat has two actions in each round of combat.

Initiating psychic conflict costs two verve and gives a penalty of two during the first round. During the first round of psychic conflict, each combatant has one action (engaging in conflict took the first action). If a target does not wish to engage in psychic conflict, the two sides can engage in a willpower contest, with charisma as a minor contributor.

If a combatant chooses to attempt to use a psychic power or to exit the conflict, this choice must be made at the beginning of a round, and no other actions may be performed that round.

Engaging in psychic conflict uses verve. On any action, the character may use up to their monk level points of verve for defense or attack. If a combatant chooses to defend on their first action in a round, they may leave this defense in place on their next action at no extra cost.

Action Verve Cost Notes
Attack 1+ D4 damage, with charisma as a major contributor, plus one per extra verve
Defend 1+ +2 psychic defense per verve
Use a Power Special Special
Exit Conflict   Make a reason roll, with charisma as a minor contributor, to successfully disengage from conflict
Enter Conflict 2 Target allowed willpower roll, with charisma as a minor contributor to avoid engagement

Psychic combatants are somewhat aware of their surroundings; defense and perception rolls for things going on in the real world are at a penalty of 4 while in psychic conflict. Movement is one quarter normal. Combatants may speak simply or move at half movement, but this will incur a penalty of 3 to psychic defense and attack.

Psychic damage normally comes from verve, but if verve is gone, it comes from survival points. The defender may also choose to take psychic damage from survival instead of from verve. However, any psychic damage that goes to survival also stuns the victim. They gain the damage done as a penalty to the next round’s actions.

Taking injuries automatically removes a character from psychic conflict.

Group Effort

Characters with similar abilities can join together to focus their efforts on a single task.

When engaging in a group effort, the group is treated as an individual, and has full access to the rules for individuals.

Group Effort Bonuses

Groups gain a bonus to the action they are trying to perform together. Group effort bonuses apply to ability rolls, reaction rolls, attack rolls, and defense. Look up the size of the group on the Group Effort Bonuses chart.

Count: 1 2-3 4-7 8-15 16-31 32-63 64-127 128-255 256-511 512-1023 1024-2055
Bonus:   1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

The group will also have more than one action per round. The group gains a number of extra actions equal to the bonus.

If individuals have a range of success numbers, the median number is used. Median means taking the middle: if there are five individuals, with the numbers 9, 10, 11, 13, and 39, the median is 11. If the median is between two numbers, use the average of those two numbers.

Each participant’s final number is used to determine what the group roll will be. If there are two individuals working together on a history problem, one with an intelligence of 15 and a History bonus of 2, and one with an intelligence of 17 and no bonuses, each has a final score of 17, and that’s what their bonus of 1 is applied to. The historians need 18 or less to succeed.

If, on the other hand, the bonus matters, use the median of the bonus, too. For example, if the above two characters are trying to provide a History assistance bonus to a third party, the median of 0 and 2 is 1. With both of them working together, whoever makes the intelligence roll will need 18 or less to provide that +1; if the historian were working alone they would have to roll 17 or less to provide their +2.


Player characters have mojo. Any participant can bid mojo to make an unsuccessful roll successful if the roll is archetypal for their character. All members of the group effort gain the full experience bonus from mojo use as well as the potential for field bonus increases or additional skills. Each character benefits as if they had spent all of the mojo used on the roll, not just what they personally spent.

Group Effort Decisions

Groups take longer to change their mind than individuals do. When changing their course of action to something that was not in their original plan, groups will take a number of extra rounds equal to their group effort bonus, to complete the change.

If the decision is not in response to the leader, but is rather a natural reaction that an individual might spontaneously make, such as a retreat, the group can make a roll to avoid the spontaneous reaction. This will often be a charisma roll, and the group bonus applies. If the group fails its roll, the decision time will be a number of rounds equal to the amount the roll was missed by, up to a maximum of the group’s group effort bonus. This is often called a morale check.

Leaving a Group

Individuals as part of the group have little control over their actions unless they choose to leave the group. Individuals may leave the group at any point that the group has an action. It takes a number of rounds equal to the group effort bonus to leave a group effort.

Once an individual leaves a group, the aftermath applies immediately to that individual.


Leaders must make a charisma roll to convince the group to do something other than what it is already doing. If the leader fails the roll, the group continues to do what it is currently doing. If the leader succeeds, the group changes its actions. It takes the normal decision time for the group to change its action, but if the leader’s charisma roll was under the necessary score, the amount the leader made the roll by reduces the decision delay.

Mass Conflict

One common use of group effort is mass conflict . Mass conflict works pretty much just like normal conflict. Any group of individuals with the same weapon/attack form can join together to fight as a unit. Attack rolls, damage, and any other aspect of conflict are all handled as if the unit were a single combatant.

Any individuals that are not known characters can be assumed to have an average number of survival points, average attack bonuses, etc.

Combat Movement

The unit’s combat movement is increased by the group’s median movement times the group’s group effort bonus. See the Encounter Guide for combat movement changes for creatures of sizes other than small, medium, and large.

Survival Points

The unit has additional survival points equal to the median survival points multiplied by the unit’s group effort bonus. A unit of twelve goblins, with 5 survival points median, has a total of 5 survival points, plus 5 times 3 survival points (12 is three on the group effort bonuses chart), or 20 survival points.

Verve is normally ignored, however, player character participants can volunteer their verve if applicable.

Taking Damage

Damage is done to the unit as a whole. While it can be assumed that individuals within the unit are dying or falling unconscious during battle, the effectiveness of the unit does not change until the battle is over.

Groups that fall unconscious are no longer a group. Groups that die have been defeated, and are also no longer a group.

Other Actions

A group is an individual as far as the rules are concerned, and may perform any conflict action that an individual could perform, including special conflict maneuvers, under the control of the leader. There must be a designated leader for the group to use maneuvers.


After the conflict, some of the group might be wounded or dead. Divide the survival and injury damage by the group bonus for the maximum damage per character. Choose the smallest die that is still greater than or equal to that number. For example, if the maximum damage is 7, use a d8. If it is 15, use a d20. If you roll an impossible number, re-roll until you get a valid number.

Each member must make an evasion roll. If unsuccessful, the member adds that damage to their injuries. Otherwise, they subtract it from survival as normal. For large groups, you can assume an even proportion. For example, if the members need 8 or less to make their evasion roll, eight out of twenty of the group will make it and twelve out of twenty will fail.

If the group had any injury points when disbanded, those apply as a penalty to the evasion roll.