Monday, 28 March 2016


Magic is brought into the world through the Wield Magic Move. Spell power is at one of four levels:

Cantrips - simple fleeting magic with no power cost and can be cast at the whim of the mage. A Cantrip cannot cause Harm.

Minor Magic - standard magic with a cost of 1 Power and a successful Wield Magic Move. If not enchanted into an item, the magic can last up to a scene, affects one subject and, if offensive, causes 3 Harm. The effect scope of this magic equates to what one person could achieve.

Major Magic - powerful and complex magic with a cost of 2 Power, that requires a Magical Focus, and a successful Wield Magic Move from a mage that has had 5 advancements. The magic can last a lengthy period of time, affects multiple subjects and, if offensive, causes 4 Harm including to Large creatures. The effect scope of this magic equates to what many people people could achieve.

Legendary Magic - immensely powerful magic with a cost of 4 Power, that requires a Magical Focus, and a successful Wield Magic Move from a mage that has had 5 advancements  and specific and complex narrative requirements as to time, place, astronomical alignments, item of power or sacrifice. The magic can be in effect for generations, affects whole regions and, if offensive, lays waste to cities, lands and communities. The effect scope of this magic equates to what legions of people could achieve over many years.

Describing Magical Effects
Within the confines of the magical tradition and the available spell power level the mage has complete freedom to describe the desired magical effect. Once the Wield Magic Move outcome is known, the GM can respond to the effect and embellish or illustrate consequences to the magic. The creation of a magical effect is a dialogue between the caster and the GM and creates new truths in the game.

The unintended consequences of magic become more pronounced the higher the level of power.

The Mage

Shrouded in mystery, piercing the veil of reality, the mage is imbued with a gift, yet carries a burden of mistrust and fear. Grounded in one of a number of disparate traditions, the mage alters, encourages, negotiates,  or simply bamboozles perceived reality into a new, form. The mage is a catch all profession for those that Wield Magic. Magic is expressed in many different ways, loosely collected into ‘traditions’ that codify and teach their ways over the generations. The Abilities found below are commonly available to all traditions though the way they are described and realised will vary in at least as many ways as there are traditions to describe them.

Choose a magical tradition. This will influence how you look, what you believe and how your magic manifests in the world.

The Elementalist
When you describe your magic it will be based on the the great arcana of the elements Earth, Wind, Fire, Water, Shadow and Metal that bend to your will. You can shape the abstracted ideal of these blocks of reality, disjointing them from their natural state and reconstituting them into new forms at your will. Shape the winds and use the air as your servant, create blasts of elemental fire, flow like the river between cracks of stone, create walls of earth or, slip between places in shadow and power the riddle of steel with magical power.

The Necromancer
When you describe your magic it will be based on Death Magic, create and control undead, unravel the threads of life, master disease and taste putrefaction. As death is the key to life, you are able to unlock the mysteries and blur the boundaries between the two. Achieve a clinging and dependant immortality, enjoy the pleasures of life with none of the weaknesses.

The Sorcerer
When you describe your magic it will be powered through the summoning and binding of  demons and powers from other realms. The physical world is only one of multitudinous realms and your magic draws creatures from them to do your bidding or to be bound and incarcerated in physical containers in this world. Control can be tenuous and bargains (via the Persuade Move) are rarely certain or perpetuating.

The Witch
When you describe your magic it will be primal and powered by the forces of the natural world around us. This is ancient magic of the earth, the natural world, weather, healing, curses and the spirits that watch us from tree, rock, stream and shadow. Bring the vitality of life to cursed ground, converse with the ancestors, natural spirits and animals, brew potent elixirs from herbs and beast and  ground stones, draw magic from life, heal the sick and curse your enemies with plagues and bad luck.

The Fae
When you describe your magic it will be seen through a dreamy mist shrouded veil. This is the natural magic of the Elves, misdirecting through faerie glamour, old alliances with the trees, protection of places, manipulation of weather, unweaving of the fabric of time, unchaining the waiting fears in the mind, soothing dreams, and constructions of breathtaking beauty.

There will be power overlaps between Traditions. In many ways it is less about the effects that can be produced but more about the traditional narrative that enables them to manifest.

Choose 1 description for your character from this list. This is a facet of your physical
appearance or behaviour (along with the other 2 choices from your race and origin).

Elementalist or Sorcerer
Fiery eyes, Far away look, Stooped, Energetic, Cautious, Arrogant

Palid, Dark pits for eyes, Waxy skin, Gaunt, Cruel, Morbid

Fresh complexion, Laughing eyes, Wizened, Mercurial, Coarse, Uncaring

Beautiful, Graceful, Shimmering, Vengeful, Distracted, Enigmatic

Choose one of the following triggers to begin advancing in this career.

Each session, all characters mark xp the first time...

An objective is taken by the power of magic.
A magical place or power is uncovered.
An extensive magical ritual is successfully completed.
A life is saved or destroyed by magic.
An enemy from another tradition is beaten.

Mage Abilities

As a mage you can choose from these Abilities during character creation.

Cantrips: Small shards of your magic that lightly touch reality and can be produced at a whim.
Countermagic: Undo the magic of others.
Enchanting: Imbue physical items with the power of magic.
Magical Focus: An item through which you channel your power
Well of Power: Your Power track is equal to double your Magic value.

Create minor magical effects, almost instinctively at no Power cost. This magic will be slight, fleeting and insufficiently powerful to create any form of Harm. It will serve to enhance your aura and reinforce the power of the tradition that you follow.

This Ability allows you to unravel magic that is currently in effect. Spend Power equal to the level of Magic Power. Countering Legendary magic will also require additional components, rituals or sacrifices as when it was created.
On a 10+, the magic is dispelled.
On a 7-9, the spell is dispelled, but it costs either an extra point of Power and there is an unforeseen effect to the unravelling that could cause complications.
On a 6-, the magic is strengthened with +1 Power and cannot be unravelled  by the Mage again.

Some of the traditions magic involves placing power into physical things. This Ability enables the Mage to craft items and create magical Tags to upgrade items. Magical weapons, armour, wards and glyphs can be created within the boundaries of the tradition.

Magical Focus
A special item or familiar through which you channel your power. This focus is required to create major or legendary effects.

Well of Power
Your Power track is now set at double your Magic Stat, extending the amount of magic you can cast before your power needs to be recovered.

The Sixth Stat

I'm about to publish 'The Mage' profession, which incorporates a number of distinctive traditions. The Abilities will be common across the traditions but expressed in a language that makes sense to each. As such it will be one slightly longer section, rather than  many individual professions. More on this soon.

Whilst Creating The Mage I've looked at how magic will be expressed mechanically through the 'Wield Magic' Move. Essentially I want to go for a simple and entirely free-form descriptive approach to magic that frees the game up from lists of spells I'm increasingly liking the idea of a sixth +Magic Stat for Wield Magic,  a Stat that will be distinct from +Spirit, reflecting connection to the forces of magic in Kalland.

As such, the core Moves such as 'Face Danger' and 'Gain Understanding' will also have a +Magic dimension to them along with the other core Stats. Plus I need to think again about a core Stat Move for +Spirit.

In terms of the starting split for Stats, I've assumed to go for a +2, +1, +1, +0, +0, -1 distribution.

Friday, 25 March 2016

The Warrior

The Warrior is set apart and trained to protect and destroy. Blood and Steel, Shoot and Skirmish are your stock in trade. You are a step up from the simple rabble, honed for the fight, sensing the initiative, understanding the pattern of the battle and anticipating the enemy. Carrying heavy weapons and steel armour without noticing, you can fight alone, in small groups or in the serried ranks with your battle brothers and sisters.


Choose 1 description for your character from this list. This is a facet of your physical
appearance or behavior (along with the other 2 choices from your race and origin).
Scarred, Grizzled, Massive, Brooding, Weary, Grim.


Choose one of the following triggers to begin advancing in this career.

Each session, all characters mark xp the first time...

  • An objective is taken by force of arms.
  • A perilous order is obeyed.
  • An injury is sustained.
  • An innocent is saved by the force of your martial skill
  • A worthy enemy is beaten.

Warrior Abilities:

As a warrior you can choose from these Abilities during character creation.

Tactics: Understand the flow of the battle and influence the outcome.
Endure Great Suffering: Take a lot more punishment than the average person.
Signature Weapon: Specially crafted, with a power to change the course of a battle.
Unencumbered: Carry greater weights and ignore the penalties of doing so.
Battle: Take command in battle and lead your forces to victory.

When you are about to enter melee you can Gain Understanding during combat, roll +Bright

  • On a 10+, you can see the way this combat will pan out and can anticipate the enemy. Hold 3.
  • On a 7-9, you Hold 1.

For every Hold you spend it grants an Advantage +1 going forward to any ally during the encounter. Only 1 Hold can be spent on an ally at anyone time, though one ally can receive multiple bonuses.

Endure Great Suffering
You can suffer two injuries of each of the first three severities, rather than one.

Signature Weapon
Own a signature Grade 3 weapon. If that weapon is ever lost, you can abandon it and spend an extended period of time claiming a new weapon as your Unique Weapon, adding an extra
upgrade to it.

Ignore the Clumsy trait inflicted by heavy weapons, large packs and heavy armor.

The cursed melee is something, but the killing ground of mass arrayed armies is another. With this Ability you can take command and direct armies at various levels and opens up Battle Moves.

There are some mechanical elements that will arise out of character creation. Mass battle is one! I'm looking forward to playing with the equipment upgrades too. :)

Thursday, 24 March 2016


Characters are essentially created by making three selections: one race, one profession and one origin. Each provide descriptions, advancements and 'Abilities' that individualise the character, provide edges and options and hone how they will behave in the game.

I thought I would start with ten professions:

  • Assassin
  • Bard
  • Mage
  • Merchant
  • Priest
  • Rogue
  • Scholar
  • Scout
  • Seafarer
  • Warrior

Over the coming weeks I'll post up details of each. Initially I'll pick out some for development, so that I can get some characters together for a game on the 8th May at my FLGS.

The Elves

The next series of posts will outline example races, professions and origins to give a flavour as to how they work. These will be first drafts to get the game out onto the table. I'll try and restrict the abilities available to five, though it might be possible to raise that a little.

Once posted I will be working up new Abilities offline, with options to supplement or swap with the ones outlined here.

I imagine that the text will provide whispers of a setting without it being necessary to fully detail it.


First born, long lived, with clear memories that stretch back to a time before the histories of men, the elves are in decline, isolationist and protective by instinct and disconnected from the fates of the younger races. The Oracles foretold the rise of Tarria and the upstart usurper Kestol. What part the elves played in the introspection of the Golden Empire remains a matter of keen speculation amongst the scattered realms of men

When abroad you mask your natural reticence with calm, and at times, bemused civility. The studied perspective of your people does not always match the encounter with other peoples. They surprise, delight and horrify in equal measure.

The blood of the elder race can be mercurial if passions are raised. They can act hastily before the weighted hand of their knowledge and experience can guide and direct. Tragedy ensues.

Choose 1 description for your character from this list. This reflects one aspect of your physical appearance or behaviour. Also pick 1 from your Profession and your Origin.
Lithe, Tall, Fair, Sombre, Hawk like, Fickle

You may choose one of the following triggers to begin advancing in this Race.

Each session, all characters mark xp the first time…

  • A place, tree or item of great beauty is saved
  • An item of power is hidden from the younger races
  • An ancient evil is slain
  • A lost elvish place of power is discovered
  • Innocents are rescued from the clutches of evil

Elf Abilities

If you are an Elf you can choose from these Abilities during character creation.

See to the Horizon
You can pick out detail even as far out as the horizon, making elves perfect scouts and watchmen.

You do not suffer debilities caused by bad weather, poison or illness.

Knowledge through the Ages
The elves have lived for many an age and have gained great knowledge of Eryelme’s lands. One point of Lore is available to you at the start of each game session. Decide what it will be about and note it down. Perhaps it will be applied at just the right moment during play?

Loss of the Fair
If you witness elves dying in battle or a place of beauty is destroyed then Face Danger +Spirit.

  • On a 10+, Summon every reserve to defeat the enemy. You lash out with decisive action and you are At an Advantage +1 ongoing - wherever that takes you...
  • On a 7-9, You are inspired to redouble your efforts and are At an Advantage +1 forward as you rashly leap to redress the shadow of evil, especially if they are kin.
  • On a 6-, resign yourself to the futility of hope. GM will provide a cost and harm to your Resolve

Tree Warden
Tree spirits are often older and wiser than many of the peoples of Kalland. These spirits are aware of their surroundings and can feel through their roots and the wind in their leaves. As an elf you are able to converse with them, many will be allies, and they see things that they can impart to you. Use Persuade +Influence to coax information from them.

Step-by-step Character Creation

The following procedure closely follows Uncharted Worlds. The main difference is that 'race' and 'profession' are key options rather than two careers. For now I am not using 'Workspaces'.

Now, there is a very good case to be made that 'race' or 'species' is just fancy dressing, and that 'origin' speaks more interestingly about how the character will behave in play. Perhaps overly influenced by established fantasy tropes, I've gone with race being a key determiner and even separator when it comes to character creation. Those tasty decisions about whether to put on the ears or beard resonate even today.

Let's see how it goes split three ways?

  1. Choose one race and profession and three abilities: This combination will determine your ability choices, the core of your character, how you will behave, and the way you respond to challenges. Your combined race and profession will give you access to a total of 10 abilities. Choose any 3 of them.

  2. Choose an origin and one origin ability: Pick an origin that most suits your character from page XXX. This is the setting of the character’s formative years. Choose one of the four abilities offered by your origin. Note that a character cannot take the same ability twice, even if both their profession and origin offers it.

  3. Distribute stats: Assign one of the following numbers to each of your stats (Might, Agility, Bright, Spirit, Influence, as explained on page XXX):  +2, +1, +1, +0, -1

  4. Choose advancement: Select a race or profession you wish to advance, then choose one of the five advancement methods. This will determine one of the ways you earn experience during play. You are restricted to your selected race, but can select any profession, however start with your initial profession.

  5. Create description: Choose one of the descriptive elements from each of race, profession and your origin; this combination describes the most noticeable features of your physical appearance and personality. Alternatively, choose three words which best describes your character’s look and demeanour.

  6. Choose starting assets: Select the following equipment from The Marketplace on page XXX:

    • A Grade 0 Attire (regular clothing).
    • Two Grade 1 Equipment.
    • One Grade 2 Equipment.

  7. Name character and archetype: The GM will be calling on you to act using your character’s name. The character’s archetype gives a general idea of that character’s “class” and style.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Stat Moves - Spirit - Wield Magic

When you draw on forces of magical power, seeking to bend them to your will then you must Wield Magic. This Move is considerably safer if the wielder has taken magical Trait as part of their background.

Characters have a Magical Power track equal to their Spirit. A character with magical training may have Power equal to double +Spirit. Every attempt at manipulating magic will initiate this Move and draw on this power.

When you draw on the power of magic then Roll +Spirit

On a 10+, the magic works fully as intended and Choose two.
On a 7-9, the magic works and Choose one. The GM can also make a Move in which you may suffer harm, unpredictable consequences of the magic, create a complication or a hard choice

  • A mighty power that inflicts +1 Harm, if a damaging effect
  • A mighty power that reduces the effectiveness of the target’s armour by 1 if a damaging effect
  • The awe inspiring power of your magic unnerves your opponent. You are at an Advantage(+1) going forward
  • Your spell has an area of effect that affects a group of opponents within Close range.
  • The perfect casting costs you no Power
  • In the face of power beyond realms you see the beauty of this life. Recover 1 Resolve.
  • You can keep your opponents at range if you wish and they are not able to engage you with any sort of immediate attack

On a 6-, you are ineffective and can only watch, slack jawed, as the GM makes a magical backlash Move. Lose two Power

Stat Moves - Armour - Take the Hit!

The world of Kalland is full of danger. Despite all precautions and puissant skill, charaters will be faced with having to Take the Hit! Any time the GM makes a Move that could cause Harm to a character then use this Move.

Damage is typically rated as a number of ‘Harms’. This determines the severity of the wound and places where it should fall on the Wound Track. So, a Harm 2 blow would be a Major wound. If the character already has a Major Wound then damage rolls up to the next level becoming Severe. If Severe is already taken then it bumps up again to Critical.

  1. Minor
  2. Major
  3. Severe
  4. Critical
  5. Fatal

This Move encompass dodging, parrying or moving to best absorb the hit. The Stat used is +Armour. A greater success success (13+) will reduce Harm by three. A success (10-12) reduces by two and a Partial success reduces Harm by 1.

If multiple small sources of harm would happen all at once (hail of arrows, a horde of goblins, etc..), they should be considered as one source and given an appropriate severity. Refer to the severity guidelines below.

The GM may call for an armour reduction or, for weapons with the ‘Piercing’ tag, ignore a character’s armour altogether. If a character is hit by an armour piercing weapon, they Take the Hit! without adding their armour value to the roll.

Large beast damage: Large Beasts automatically reduce the severity of incoming harm
by one, unless the weapon is rated as 'Felling’

Minor Injury
Brawling, short falls, debris.
Bruises, cuts.

Major Injury
Melee weapons, claws/fangs
Lacerations, broken bones, burns. etc, fire.

Severe Injury
Large claws, huge weapons, long falls,
Weapon wounds, broken limbs, organ damage.

Critical Injury Very Large Beasts, magical explosive epicenter.
Dismemberment, organ failure, disfigurement.

Death, disintegration, gory chunks, red mist, dog food.

TAKE THE HIT (+Armour)
When you would suffer harm, the GM will tell you the Severity (1. Minor, 2. Major, 3. Severe, 4. Critical or 5. Fatal). Roll+Armour.

On a 13+, the severity is reduced by three levels.
On a 10-12, the severity is reduced by two levels.
On a 7-9, the severity is reduced by one level
On a 6-, you also suffer debilities, incur costs/troubles, or suffer an injury of a greater severity, at the GM’s discretion.

Stat Moves - Influence - Persuade

Smooth velvety tongues, stirring rhetoric, dazzling charisma, a quiet confident presence, the Persuade Move is used to get others to do what you want. Persuade will be effective with NPCs who can follow your suggestions without going against their own beliefs or greatly endangering them. This Move can also be used when influencing your own followers or those that are indebted to you.

As the NPCs carry out the necessary actions to fulfil your wish, they will initiate other Moves through you. If you have requested them to Make a Difference then they will do so, but be the ones that suffer any consequences. If they are fighting on your behalf then they may be wounded or suffer other deprivations.

Persuade is also used to direct long-term schemes and large-scale tasks that require significant manpower.

On a (7-9) partial success, the NPC’s willingness to carry out actions is reduced so that they may only carry out part of the task. Depending on the nature of the request NPCs might be disgruntled, wounded, intoxicated, diseased, in a jail or socially ridiculed. Whatever the issue, it will follow from the nature of the request and needs ot be described so that a further attempt can be made to complete the task.

PERSUADE (+Influence)
When you seek to persuade an individual or group that is inclined to follow your orders, Roll+Influence.

On a 10+, they follow those orders to the best of their ability, though there may be costs in time, resources or personnel.

On a 7-9, as above, but their disposition or effectiveness has been significantly impacted in some way. These followers will not accept a new Persuade until those issues have been dealt with.

Stat Moves - Bright - Heal

In the heat of battle or in the stillness of a lonely village, the healer will bring comfort and save lives. This Move treats injuries caused in battle and, with appropriate Traits, other ailments, diseases and more complicated problems can be treated.

On a partial success, further Heal attempts prove futile until the character can be At an Advantage thanks to access to better facilities or a place of magical healing.

When attempting to Heal, the character needs to have access to herbs, bandages, twine, needle, splints and a hot sharp knife.

Treat a single minor, major or severe injury. This heals a single injury of the chosen severity. Rub out the cross in that wound box.

Treat a minor debility. This treats a variety of minor afflictions, such as intoxication, dizziness, unconsciousness, nausea, agony, etc.

Stabilize a major debility. This temporarily stops the exacerbation of a major affliction, such as a wasting sickness or massive haemorrhaging, until proper Healing Arts can be performed.

Treat a major debility. With the Healing Arts Trait a character can treats a major affliction, such as a wasting sickness or massive haemorrhaging.

HEAL (+Bright)
When using appropriate medical supplies/tools to repair harm to people or machinery, Roll+Bright

On a 10+, choose 1 from the list below.
On a 7-9, choose 1, but you've reached the limit of what you can do; you cannot re-attempt to Heal the subject for now.

  • Treat a single minor, major or severe injury
  • Treat a minor debility
  • Stabilize a major debility

With the Healing Arts Trait add the following option:

  • Treat a major debility

On a 6-, your attempt is ineffective and may create a further complication.

Stat Moves - Agility - Shoot and Skirmish

Draw your bow, ready the javelin, take down the first wave, silently kill from the dark recesses of the adjoining chamber, this Move is for ranged combat where the sudden or surprised look of fear is the shared last memory you will both have. Keep your distance and deal death from afar. Your opportunity may be brief if enemies are all around you and the last resort may need to be Blood and Steel, but only if the enemy are still standing.

This Move provides the raw outcome of an incisive shot or volley of arrows. Further details on how to be At an Advantage or Disadvantage are found in the combat section on p.XXX.

When you shoot an arrow or launch a missile weapon outside of Close Range then Roll +Agility

(On a 13+, inflict your Harm and Choose three)??
On a 10+, inflict your Harm and Choose two
On a 7-9, inflict your Harm and Choose one. The GM can also make a Move in which you may suffer harm, inflict lesser harm, create a complication or a hard choice

• A powerful shot that inflicts +1 Harm
• A piercing arrow that reduces the effectiveness of the target’s armour by 1
• The unerring cold skill of your shot unnerves or misdirects your opponent. You are at an Advantage(+1) going forward
• The tempo of your shots pushes your opponent back, forcing them to another position in the battle.
• Your shots are a whirlwind as you cause death all around you. Divide your Harm between multiple opponents that are close to each other.
• The perfect balance of attack and defence grants you +1 Armour going forward
• In the face of death you see the beauty of life. Recover 1 Resolve.
• You can remain safely disengaged without opening yourself to be closed by the enemy

On a 6-, you are ineffective and can only watch, slack jawed, as the GM makes a Move

Monday, 21 March 2016

Stat Moves - Might - Blood and Steel

Here is the first Stat Move and it is a big one. Here is where your character will face life and death with Blood and Steel...

Heart pounding, visceral close quarter fighting. Cold steel and spurting warm blood amidst the cacophony of fear pumped challenges, cries of vengeance and final screams. Here you will lose innocence, hope, friends and possibly your own life.

Describe your actions and the GM will describe the responses. Neither of you should show weakness or fear, for it will be exploited. This Move provides the raw outcome of an incisive strike or a series of grim blows from a weapon. Further details on how to be At an Advantage or Disadvantage are found in the combat section on p.XXX.

When you fight toe to toe with an enemy then Roll +Might

(On a 13+, inflict your Harm and Choose three)??
On a 10+, inflict your Harm and Choose two
On a 7-9, inflict your Harm and Choose one. The GM can also make a Move in which you may also suffer harm, lose resolve, only inflict lesser harm, create a complication or face a sudden hard choice.

  • A mighty blow that inflicts +1 Harm
  • A piercing blow that reduces the effectiveness of the target’s armour by 1
  • The unerring cold skill of your blows unnerves or outmanoeuvre your opponent. You are at an Advantage(+1) going forward
  • The tempo of your blows pushes your opponent back, moving them to another position in the battle.
  • Your blows are a flurry as you cleave death all around you. Divide your Harm between multiple opponents within Close range.
  • The perfect balance of attack and defence grants you +1 Armour going forward
  • In the face of death you see the beauty of life. Recover 1 Resolve.
  • You create room in the melee to safely disengage without opening yourself to any sort of immediate attack

On a 6-, you are ineffective and can only watch, slack jawed, as the GM makes a Move

I am considering a second wound track for ‘Resolve’ that will be affected by sorrow, horrors and defeats, affected through the Face Danger Move and defended by +Spirit.

Not sure about the 13+ and may have packed too much in this Move? I have a similar 13+ for the Take a Hit! Move, Roll +Armour. I wanted to bring some tactical options into the choices on a success. I could have 10+ give a Choose three and ditch the 13+. I'm not sure.

Where’s the Harm in that?

So, here we are at a crossroad. There are probably two ways that I can go, making this perhaps a T junction? Let’s hope it is not a roundabout, as I'm not sure that the beauty of such traffic management systems have sufficient international currency to keep you with me.

One of the many great things about Uncharted Worlds is the way the game handles Threats. Any opposition, any at all, is boiled down to a narratively flexible description, with assets and some nefarious agenda. Mostly, and forgive if I simplify something that is already elegantly simple, any character opposition in the game is handled with a consensual narrative dialogue. If you have the right assets to handle the opposition, and therefore have sufficient weight to influence outcomes, then you can make your Move and deal with the opposition. We’re talking one combat Move to take out a Threat, perhaps with a little help from your mates.

Now Threats themselves are malleable. They will form and reform around the results of the character Move, fluidly adjusting or expiring depending where you get on your 6-/7-9/10+ range. One Threat could become two if an opposition group splits. If you don’t take them out for the narrative they will fulfil their agenda and start writing story up and down your arse.

As a GM you’ve got nothing other than some cards with Threat names written on them and an enduring capability to make consistent calls on what makes narrative sense, when to trigger Moves, and how to respond to the outcomes. Don’t look for opposition stats (let’s leave starships out of here for now) or weapon capabilities or armour points. Look for what makes sense, be a fan of the characters and lavish descriptions of the action. Scary without the stat blocks? Just a touch. In large part it is liberating. Most of my players responded well and enjoyed the to and fro of descriptions and that the dice were rolled a couple of times. Certainly helps with the ‘play to find out what happens meme’ and a joy for GM prep. I'm sticking with it.

Characters do have Harm tracks and they are well implemented in Uncharted Worlds. Five levels of ascending brutality, the fifth being the great goodbye.

1. Minor
2. Major
3. Severe
4. Critical
5. Fatal

Take a major wound but already have one? Your new wound rolls up to the next level - Severe. Take a third and it rolls up to Critical. There’s only so much punishment that anyone can take. They remind me of the Fate damage stress track. Check out p.60 of the book for a summary.

I can take this path but, perhaps, I’ll back up and offer the more standard Harm tracks for opposition too. I’ll have to note the Harm levels that weapons, or incisive verbal attacks, do and maybe account for the protection of opposition armour, accounting in a way that doesn't require me to roll anything.

I'm conscious that other PbtA games go down this clock route of Harm ratings. My instinct is that I will follow that route, but it feels like a big design deal. Perhaps I'm being a little weak on this, but I did a lot of FGU in the 1980s, so you are just going to have to cut me some slack.

Advantage and Disadvantage

I’m anticipating that the Traits in Races, Roles and Origins will afford characters advantages in play. Mechanically i’ve been wondering how to represent this advantage.

PbtA games are on a 2d6 roll with Stat modifiers in the range -1 to +3 and results always measured on the -6/7-9/10+ scale.. The dice range is quite a tight bell curve, so a mechanical +1/-1 is significant. I considered using Advantage and Disadvantage dice but I think mathematics is telling me “no”.

The rule would have gone along the lines of:

Whilst At an Advantage, roll 3 dice and take away the lowest value die. Only remove one die if there is a tie for lowest. This roughly equates to a +2.

Whilst At a Disadvantage, roll 3 dice and take away the highest value die.  Only remove one die if there is a tie for the highest. This roughly equates to a -2.

Mongoose Traveller introduced Boon and Bane dice on a similar 2d range with a typical Task requiring 8+ for success and with modifiers for Stat and Skill. So, not a million miles away. I like the notion that the dice result is affected one way or the other before applying modifiers.  However, instinct tells me that, within PbtA systems, this rule introduces too much swing in the results creating a substantial advantage/disadvantage.

So, maybe, I’ll just revert to whilst At an Advantage/Disadvantage gain a +1/-1 DM to the roll either just once or ongoing for the scene.


Core Moves - Make a Difference

Here's the last of the Core Moves. As per Uncharted Worlds I will follow up with a Move for each Stat and one for Armour.

When a character wishes to support an ally or disrupt an enemy they can Make a Difference. The supporting character needs to be engaged and involved in the scene and their actions make narrative sense in the unfolding drama. You Make a Difference immediately after a Move has been rolled for. The character describes their actions to either help or hinder and how they can influence the outcome of the previous Move. On a Success the previous Move is either upgraded or downgraded one level, depending on intent, turning a failure failure or success into a partial success, or turning a partial success into either a failure or a success.

On a failure this Move either has the tragic or comedic opposite effect as intended, or the character shares the effect of any soft or hard Moves that the GM might have initiated as a result of the initial Move by the character's ally.

When an ally makes a Move and you affect the result using…

…protecting with your body, brute strength or strenuous activity, Roll+Might
…stealth, balance or quick movement, Roll+Agility
…deduction, spotting an escape or methodical experimentation, Roll+Bright
…intuition, empathy, reading runes, or consulting the ancestors, Roll+Spirit
…stirring exhortations, distracting taunting, gossip and intrigue, Roll+Influence

On a 10+ Choose 1
• Turn a failure(6-) into a partial success (7-9).
• Turn a partial success(7-9) into a full success (10+).
• Turn a full success(10+) into a partial success(7-9).
• Turn a partial success(7-9) into a failure(6-).

On a 7-9, as above, but you incur a cost, complication or hard choice in order to Make a Difference.

On a 6-, have the opposite effect than intended or become affected by negative consequences suffered by the ally

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Core Moves - Gain Understanding

As part of the conversation around the table, characters will continuously ask for information about their surroundings. Usually the GM will simply convey information as part of this conversation, without any need to initiate a Move.

Gain Understanding is used when the subject is more difficult to assess, physically hidden, lost in Byzantine ancient texts in dusty temples, atop alabaster towers, or simply important to to the narrative. On a successful Move, the better framed the character question, the more constructive and useful the GM reply. A general question will only gain a similarly broad reply. In addition to asking the right questions the player should be clear as to how the character is seeking to Gain Understanding, as this will determine which Stat is used (see below).

As we play to find out what will happen, characters will ask questions about their surroundings and GMs will prompt players for facts about the world. Either way, the information from the Gain Understanding Move will be true and become a part of the narrative. Truth is a slippery thing though. Realities can shift over time.

On a Success (10+), the character also earns a point of Lore about the subject. Lore is a fragment of knowledge about a subject that provides an advantage in the ensuing action. If any Lore can subsequently be applied, then it provides Advantage for a +1 bonus to a roll. Only one Lore can be applied to any one roll, even if the character has several fragments of Lore that could apply.

Fragments of Lore can be collected into tomes that preserve the knowledge for future generations. However, knowledge fades, and tomes are frequently lost or destroyed in tumultuous conflicts. Only in the great empires and the rich centres of the city states will you find libraries of Lore, jealously guarded as treasures greater than gold. Scholars, who collect and codify this Lore, may also provide this information to those who seek it, for a fair price. Typically a fragment of +1 Lore will cost Grade 1 in goods. Rarer information will cost more.

Characters can own any number of fragments of Lore, though over time they will fade and no longer be useful. The GM and Players can remove one point of Lore per session. Lore can be re-acquired or refreshed.

On a Failure (6-), the character will still Gain Understanding, but the truths imparted by the GM will be unwelcome, frightening, or even threatening.


When you seek information about an important, dangerous or mysterious subject using…

…exploration, brute strength or strenuous activity, Roll+Might
…stealth, balance or quick movement, Roll+Agility
…deduction, scholarly research, or methodical experimentation, Roll+Bright
…intuition, empathy, reading runes, or consulting the ancestors, Roll+Spirit
…tapping contacts, questioning onlookers, gossip and intrigue, Roll+Influence

On a 10+, you acquire substantial information about the subject, and gain a fragment of Lore about it as well.
On a 7-9, the GM will reveal interesting, potentially useful information about the subject. Or will prompt you to do so.
On a 6-, the GM will reveal regrettable facts about the subject that may cause you problems in the future.

Core Moves - Face Danger

This game will have a relatively low count of Moves. This keeps complexity low and enable all Moves to appear on a single sheet of paper in play. Well, let's note that as a design aspiration and see how we fare?

In addition to a small number of Core Moves, I'll look to introduce a particular Move for each Stat in turn. Characters will also have Traits. Traits will be acquired through selection of Race, Profession and Origin. More Traits will be available through character advancement. Traits will allow characters to use the Moves in new ways, create advantages and encourage particular types of action.

We'll explore Traits when we get to character generation. For now the focus is on getting the Moves down and to think of some mechanical tricks we'll use in the game.

Let's start with our most frequent Core Move...

Face Danger

Face Danger is likely to be your most often used Move. Whenever a character faces some kind of challenge, trap or opposing force that complicates an otherwise straightforward action, then use this Move. Running across a courtyard in one of the Kestolian palaces is one thing, being shot at by archers is something quite different. The simple action becomes fraught with danger and initiates this Move.

Danger takes many guises: a dizzying leap from rooftop to rooftop, trying to avoid a swirling vortex in the sea, a gambling game where the stakes are way too high, tendrils from a spectral horror ripping at your resolve, or a sharp tongued advisor arguing for your banishment. The characters have lives beset with peril and Face Danger Move is a good catch-all if the GM feels that a Move is warranted, but unsure which should apply.

Any of the character’s Stats might apply in a Face Danger Move.

When you must overcome some threat or danger using…

…endurance, strength or health, Roll+Might
…athletics, stealth, accuracy or coordination, Roll+Agility
…lore, cleverness or healing, Roll+Bright
…force of will, soul searching or determination, Roll+Spirit
…charm, diplomacy, bargaining or lies, Roll+Influence

On a 10+ you overcome the opposition or danger, just as you described.
On a 7-9, the danger is overcome, but at a price; the GM will offer you a cost or a hard choice.

Being encumbered is one of the Dangers a character will have to Face on a regular basis. Unless well trained, a character becomes encumbered when they are carrying too much weight, heavy weapons, treasure boxes, or wearing heavy armour. Characters Face the Danger of encumbrance at the most awkward of moments using their +Might.


Here's where I have got to with the core Stats for characters:

Might - physical power, strength, endurance and fortitude
Agility - graceful dexterity, coordination and movement
Bright - intelligence, awareness, knowledge and cold understanding
Spirit - resolve, willpower, courage and connection with magical realms
Influence - charm, persuasiveness, command and social power

It will be interesting to see how these play out when the core Moves are constructed. I hope to put in place some core Moves and one Move for each of the Stats. There will then be a range of subsidiary Moves that may use different 'Stats' including Armour and Goods.

I might need to come back to these as I build the Moves. One area I wondered about was magic. Kalland is full of magic, wielded by those with a mystical connection to realms of power, cursed or blessed by the gods, keepers of ancient traditions or trained from potential to mastery in mighty schools of magecraft. So, I wondered about a 'Magic' Stat. For now I have linked this to Spirit, noting that many will have a strong Spirit, without necessarily a connection to the powers of magic.

I plan to allow the standard range for Stats in PbtA games: -1 through to a chunky +3.

Welcome to Adventures in Kalland


This blog will outline the design of a Powered by the Apocalypse tabletop RPG for fantasy roleplay. The game will re-skin the brilliant Uncharted Worlds space opera for heroic fantasy and lean on ideas from many of the fine existing PbtA games already out there. Here you will find all the key design decisions and the forming text that will go into the full game.

Why create this when we already have the immensely popular Dungeon World?
I love Dungeon World. It emulates big old D&D with a lightness of touch and buckets of humour. What I'm looking to create here is a shorter and lighter fantasy game, building on the modular design in Uncharted Worlds that cleaves a little closer to some of the core approaches in PbtA games.

Why base your game around a small Norwegian town?
That's a fair question! Kalland is my old fantasy game world, created at a time before the Internet and search engines. I had no idea. I am sure it is a very lovely part of Norway and, perhaps, I will visit the place sometime? For now Kalland will remain the realm of the Kall, the indigenous people, now trapped in the Middle Kingdoms, with their backs to the Dragonspire Mountains and facing the unstoppable dominance of the Kestolian Empire.

Let's design to find out what happens?