Destiny: diceless action resolution using descriptive analysis, including the setting of goal importance, selection of strategic methods, and allocation of resources. Most things are measured on a relative verbal scale of degree, ranging from somewhat to unimaginably. Character design can hinge on description or be managed by allotting resources in the form of man-hours and inspiration and karma.
created by : Lance Dyas
Designed for Eya World of the Dragon Masters but adaptable to many.
status : in progress also being cast as a plug-in to Fate, Called Destiny - Hand of Fate (download Fate and Twists of Fate from the Fate RPG site)
While it can indeed be argued all rolegames are decision driven since the most common mechanism for action resolution in all role-playing games is someone, usually the "Game Master", making a decision in response to someone else making a decision, Destiny takes it a step or two further. The emphasis of Destiny is visualizing and presenting a story that the players can feel a real impact on. Unlike some classic diceless games Destiny maintains its connection to gaming by providing non-arbitrary mechanics, which both aid visualization and provide some variable resolution independent of dice/or other artificial randomizers.
One of the goals of the Destiny System is to provide the tools to allow characters of wildly divergent abilities, to have their moments to shine in the sun. This equality is different than the equality provided by some games. Ideally a player should not need to worry about it at all... Heroes of lesser apparent "might" will be explicitly granted "compensations" even if the player didn't plan for them, traits they thought of as being mediocre in significance may well become central... karmic favor will make life less severe for them... they will personally stumble on the very "keys" which unlock the adventures themselves.
Description underlies it all Destiny encourages description on the part of the player and the storyguide with mechanics to back up those choices. Clearly explaining the game world and the characters choices become the central determinant for action resolution.
In most games they mention character design first. In Destiny this is intentionally not so. First we will discuss how decisions are made in roleplaying. This is important so that players will understand the significance of choice, style and detail when they describe the game action as well as when they design their character.
Descriptors of Degree One element you may notice throughout Destiny is a common language/set of descriptors. Destiny's game terminology attempts to maintain the connection with it's natural language roots to retain its understandability for novices and experts alike. Hence you have traits and adjectives with only slightly narrower definitions in game than the common dictionary definitions. They are used as a verbal measure of degree... somewhat, definitely, very, extremely. With incredibly, unimaginably and impossibly for those times when you simply have to break the scales.
How does the Storyguide/Players make decisions? Reality/Genre, Mechanics, Description, Plot, Drama, Meta-game, Group Consensus and yes Dice can be used but do they need to be? I think they often contribute more bad than good detracting from other methods. A more thorough description of each of these methods can be presently located at http://www.darkshire.net/~jhkim/rpg/theory/rgfa/faq_v0/faq3.art
From the variety of tools available for decision making, one might assume that dice are tertiary to most roleplaying games. That they could even have been included as an after thought, in most games today, this is surprisingly not true. In fact the dominant game on the market is named after the die used for resolution.
The majority of what follows are mechanics, rather than other types of guidelines, for several reasons. One, it is uncertain whether Drama, for instance, can really be taught or explained in anything approaching an unambiguous way. Second, plot as a reason for success and failure tends to harbor resentment, if done in anything but a subtle backdrop fashion. Furthermore, players who help make or strongly drive the 'plot' with their character's goals are a 'dream to play with', and saying their character's goals are achieved because they choose it to be so... is ummm... somehow wrong.
The mechanics which follow may indeed be seen as ways of interpreting descriptions in a regulated fashion, just as a group consensus can be used to support descriptions improving their plausibility. In many games the description is secondary and meant to describe or justify the mechanics.
In Destiny the description is the way that key choices are first expressed and these are then analyzed in terms of mechanics. In a two player game the player could indeed never see the mechanics.. in multi-player games this is less viable.
Players should be encouraged to improvise props and minor scene details to bring a more diverse creative touch to the game, it is not purely the storyguide's duty to describe the world and bring it to focus.This ranges from how your character is equipped, to the bits and pieces of the environment used in deceptive maneuvers, to a lone ray of fading sunlight that gleams off their weapon, sending their foe blinking and reeling back in defense. Such improvisational visualizations are subject ultimately to veto or more often modification or clarification, but generally are so much a good thing, wherever possible flowing with them helps. Some games encourage a sort of "accountants approach to roleplaying" where one measures every coin... and if you didnt "buy" it isnt in your knapsack mentality, If you notice this runs counter the improvisational style just described... you are on the ball.
Diceless resolution encourages more description it doesn't have to happen mechanistically. When and how to focus the action and control the flow of the game, can take some definite attention and practice on the players and SG's part (If you are enjoying yourself you are probably doing it right). The factors which determine need for detail are Interest, Significance, and Uncertainty. Obviously these can really fluctuate depending on the players and the situation. In some sense we are talking about how frequently choices are banged out in game terms.
The fact is players with their descriptions are dominant in determining the need for frequency of choice. Essentially really tight narrow descriptions tend to be a clue showing higher interest. Situations which are seen by players or SG as important to the plot in some fashion or with significant potential repercussions should be broken down more taking on more focus hence allow more frequent choices. Uncertain situations also beg for focus and sub-tasks. Sub-tasks are basically making the resolution into a process.
We are talking about how often do players take the wheel. This is less about how much time is involved in the action as how much screen time it takes up as In a very focused action scene where in a movie you often see the scene going into slow motion.. the player will find themselves called on to decide their course of action each moment or two, basically a blow by blow resolution. At the other extreme entire scenes can be decided by one setting of goals and methods and allocating of luck ... In this case the variation from the median result will take more karma/luck or adrenaline or whatever resources. Also remember the repercussions are going to be greater statistically the more uncertain the situation. Uncertainty situations tend to also take longer game world time to resolve. Where the choice density is low methods tend to have less impact. And probability washes resolution over all nearer the center.
It is the areas one finds most interesting that details should be stacked. The strategic methods described below work at most any detail level and challenges should be measured in terms of the same relative detail as the characters ability.
Total beneficial traits and circumstances minus total challenges in some ways its as simple as that.
The most obvious and primary reason for success and/or failure is of course effective ability. A game where a sufficiently skilled/talented/experienced character always succeeds or an incompetent character always fails could be quite boringly predictable HOWEVER and this is a big one players almost never know exactly the full challenges involved in any given situation.
Events in decision driven gaming are intended to be primarily uncertain rather than random.
Unlike chess where all the pieces are fully revealed and their capabilities manifest the adversaries and gritty details of challenges faced will usually be maintained in a state of mystery or even fluctuation.
All elements of the character which help the performance of an action are added, and all which would hinder it subtracted (traits which are of subtle grades or narrower scope may not influence a particular performance)
The Storyguide would then calculate the performance quality starting with this effective ability and reducing by various factors most of which describe the challenges involved in the situation. Modify this by the situational details that the character isn't always aware of but may be described by the Story Guide as the action is resolved... you may even note to the player if there character was surprized something worked/didnt... ie hinting that something hidden was a factor.
The above gives the "reason" behind the resolution. Failures which occur for a real reason can at times be nearly as satisfying as successes honest ;-).
Quality of "performance" may not be sufficient to accomplish the goal in one swoop and may require more time and effort.. Goal Threshold is how destiny measures this.
Complex activities make actual success a multi-stage process, if your effective ability exceeds the difficulty of one stage you may pass on to the performance of the next. Additionally Goal Threshold can be used as a guideline regarding how long it will take to accomplish the action.
Actions handled this way should be the more significant and interesting activities based on what the players / storyguide feels they will have more suspense and be have greater detail in their visualization.
Physical combat has historically been handled this way as a multi-stage activity of overcoming your opponents active ability then there passive defenses and finally there damage tolerance resists their incapacitation.
Spell Casting might involve Opening a Channel, Conjuring the power, Forming (here you might add a particular taint to the magic or it might be innately tainted by its source.) and then launching, binding / stabilizing, guiding or maintaining it. This is a case where it could be interesting to make multistage an activity which classically been handled rather blandly.
Climbing a cliff might involve finding handholds or mapping the route initially followed by the more physical elements.
Slaying a Dragon may involve finding vulnerabilities, maneuvering into position and final delivery of an appropriate payload.. with a lot of luck points spent along the way.
Remember the way you play ... has to suit you and your players. This comes back to the concept of choice density.
Performance quality as a simple margin of success, while providing some variability to results, lacks an accounting for the complexity of goals. It assumes actions are completely discrete. This is not really an accurate or useful assumption, particularly in situations of stress. Many circumstances involve necessary division of attention. The choice of how to apply ones attention/effort between the multiple goals/intents inherent in the context is the key to bringing deeper variability to results.
To regulate how much characters can do "at once" a certain number of points of attention are available the larger this is, well the more it can theoretically be divided and the more complex actions can be performed. This value is as arbitrary as the amount of time the allocation is considered to govern. For the sake of sanity and as a simple example when a scene takes focus such as during a chase or a combat, we will select 6 seconds as the approximate time interval. Lets say that an typical person has 6 points of attention to allocate, Not all attention normally can or will go into the accomplishment of one single goal for 6 points I suggest 4 is a normal peak to a single goal corresponding to extremely important. In combat where you have atleast 2 very important things to worry about this makes each grade of importance 1 pt of attention.
Traits Which Affect Attention: There are a number of traits which affect your allocation of attention. Characters with greater alertness can divide their attention into more areas(get a bonus on total attention). Characters with greater focus can spend more of their attention on achieving a singular goal.
While most goal setting and division of attention is under the control of the player The storyguide may recommend that a player spend attention to achieve certain effect such as... avoiding tripping when tired and struggling from ones bed roll to ones feet in an ambush for example.
This can be understood readily in terms of goal importance .. you decide how important a goal is and the numeric value represents attention points allocated to it.
An example or even typical case of allocation of attention in a battle might be..
Initial description Keruans perspective : I move in on him assuming a raging crows stance as I do, hope george hasn't fallen yet, he wasn't looking too good, this ork is just going to eat my blade...
assuring defense against my engaged opponent important (2)
striking this fiend down, very important (3)
resolving the attack quickly important(2)
making sure my allies are alright ... somewhat important (1)
Initial description Orkan character perspective Orkan Raider: I'll slice first left and when he goes for that then Ill bring it around under his guard for a long draw pulling away that ought to really gut the bugger... and he'll end up bleeding like that sap friend of his.
gutting this prey important (2) - this effort explicitly goes towards increasing damage
landing a sneaky attack - very important(3)
defending my hide using the distraction of from my attack - somewhat important(1)
Orkan Raider Character Details
Orkan Raider training what formal elements there was of it (-1) was sloppy (-2) and somewhat raw (-1), his experience with physical conflict has been both brutal(+2) and very unrelenting(+3), these infected his fighting style of course and he likes to rely on instinct. His weapon is a cheap mass produced piece of iron, yes crude but reasonably balanced. This Raider has a knack at catching his enemies flat footed with his sharp reflexes (+2) as well as a habit of being sneaky. The orkahn raider has a somewhat tough hide(+2 on damage resistance) and is very tolerant of suffering (+3) (has experienced frequent whipping and other basic punishments for many a year). The orkan raider generally allows his leaders to make basic decisions for him although he rather likes fighting for the opportunity to dish out pain that is a regular part of his life.
Keruan Noble Defender Character Details
Keruans training as a proper son of the verek nobility has been extensive +2 and even included analysis and familiarity with the most common weaponry of his peoples hereditary enemies(+1 situational vs opponents using Orkan weapons), his teachers were also some his nations most capable+2,his experience while not particularly extensive(0) would be surprising if not for his nations state of ongoing war.(+1), Keruans weaponry and armor are both as fine as his father could find but not magical(+2). Keruan is rather alert and gets spend 2 extra points on attention. Keruan emulates his father in atleast trying to be steadfast(sturdy in face of adversity) but always fears he is lacking.
Keruans personal fighting style is the kind that takes control of the battle and tries to force them to play his game...which is actually a problem against the sneaky adversary(-2).
Comparison of the Details
Keruan noticeably outclasses the raider (in spite of their stylistic mismatch and the Oraks experience) due almost entirely to superior training with a touch of advantage in the equipment area (a total of +4). Keruan is also a hero who regularly earns karma points by acts of self sacrifice and at times has shown considerable inspiration but may need neither for this fight.
Since resolving the attack quickly is Keruans emphasis (more allocated to quickness than by his adversary but only enough to balance the Raiders natural quickness) so far they are tied so it comes down to the strategies Keruans basic combat style tends to resolve at the same time as his adversaries but this particular act is direct and quicker than the sneaks. So the storyguide describes his attack first.
"You barely manage to take the initiative and your attack strikes true giving him a minor wound that might be actively hindering if his enemy is not resolute. (intensity 5) (fewer points spent and trying to use deception Keruans decisive action is ignoring) Strategic effect, Keruans attack gets a +8 (rather than 4) combined with his basic +4 advantage compared to the 3 points his adversary held in defense is a total of +5.
The storyguide mentions to the player he notices the approach of a new adversary from a blind spot for his ally (who is watching him fight rather intently perhaps trying to figure out how to help without interfering or becoming a target.)
During the initial phase of action you allocate your full attention according to your described plan of action. Changing ones plan of action is possible but it tends to hurts your performance this allows points of attention to be moved from its original goal to be allocated to a new goal on a two for one basis. Physical Action allow Spend one Adrenaline point to make this a one for one conversion .. Psychic Activities allow spending Mana Points similarly. This is most often employed in defense....
This generally involves trading "something" for immediate gain in the performance of your current action. Most often we are talking about trading your position and or balance next round ... to gain benefit this round. Think of this as borrowing available attention from next round of conflict on a two for one basis.... it isn't cheap but it may be what you need to accomplish your goals. Occasionally what sounds like a sacrifice maneuvers are actually very desperate degrees of goal importance, where little or nothing is allocated to defend or maintain.
Archetypal strategic style associations are meant as guidelines to help visualize, they are not meant as absolute. Characters may change their style in conflict but this is a dramatic event.
Chaotic Wild Instinctive:
Simple Actions: A flurry or barrage, flailing about and in general unplanned actions.
Simple Actions: A high strike, or launched attack, a basic block
responsive or Manipulative:
Simple Actions: A diverting parry a judo throw, basic aimed attacks
Deceptive / Complex:
Base Archetypes - Rogues, Wanderers, Tricksters and some Swashbucklers
Simple Actions: A feint, or flamboyant spinning strike
Base Archetypes - Veterans, Wizards, Spies and Priests
Simple Actions: Reading your opponent, Scanning for the solid opportunity.
These Strategic Methods regulate... usage of timing and perception and hence should work in a surprisingly diverse set of situations. While attention is normally just added to the performance quality of a goal. Strategic methods affect the resultant effectiveness in a radically different way.
Most strategies are similar mechanically to one another in that attention invested in making your actions a particular strategy are varyingly useful when they are applied versus the strategy they were specifically designed to defeat and not particularly useful otherwise. So the amount of impact Strategy can have is rather connected to the amount of attention available for allocation.
Each opposed action should be analyzed to find its dominant strategic element Attention applied to the action is evaluated as follows If the actions strategy dominates an opposed actions strategy it counts as 3 x as much if it only somewhat dominates it counts as 2x If it doesn't particularly dominate it counts 1x.
What impact? Assuming life and death activities with a range of important to extremely important and a fully beneficial strategy of x3. The resultant extreme values of 4 and 8x3=24. This means 20 pts of ability due to focus and outguessing your adversary. If players allocate only 6 attention total (halve the above ie. 10 pts of effective ability may be gained.).
The above numbers reflect situations for which strategy is of definite use. Situations for which no clear real benefit can be perceived from strategy incur no benefit, however Challenges as well as an active opponents strategies can be described using the strategies above and compared to choices of the players.
Using the Star Pattern Strategy chart the outer circle means dominating. and the inner star means somewhat dominating. (actually the star can be designed inversed and reversed but the current star has some correspondence to pentacles in the real world)
Simple/Direct also known as Proactive
This is seen by some as no strategy at all.. but rather an attempt to perfect that actions and forms of combat itself. While this does involve minor assumptions it is really only in the vaguest way predictive ignoring most deceptions and complexity, it relies somewhat on forcing a quick resolution, it is to the point with little or no wasted effort, the simplest and most basic strategy. Pure acts "without strategy" are often Direct (but may be raw/instinctive).
This is the strategy that uses its adversaries action and inaction against itself. These strategies attempt to control the situation by force and by using the visible actions and status of the situation to immediately adjusting your own actions and exploiting them, in most cases it resolves concurrent with your opponents actions and hence matches the speed of the direct proactive maneuvers and when applied against a proactive challenge and defeats it because of the added benefit of analysis. (these actions tend to be of somewhat reduced potency in result in order to achieve quickness). The reliance on fairly immediate perception of the situation makes this vulnerable to the deceptive and complex challenges.
Taking an indirect route and hiding true intent behind a layer of complexity or outright hidden intent and so defeat strategies such as responsive maneuvers but their complexities and deceptions get ignored by those taking the direct route and can be figured out... by analytic response. Those acting instinctually cant seem to resist apparent openings left via deception and are defeated by it.
This strategy looks for deceptions analyses the opponents actions.. Adjustments to ones own performance based on a more precise perception of the situation much like reactive but it extends the performance attempting to achieve optimal assuredness at the expense of speed, it over comes many deceptive and/or complex challenges by avoiding reactive conclusions, but is vulnerable wild unplanned action which are not suited to prediction.
Raw / Instinctive /Wild /Chaotic
This fast purely unplanned barrage of action can overwhelm those who try to find its plan... it doesn't have any...It invests little in any given sub-action lacks the follow through of direct action and so is cut short by resolute direct action.
One way to keep this process smooth is to divide the turn into Initiation (description and analysis) and Resolution phases. Points of effectiveness gained from strategic methods are allocated during the begriming of the resolution phase.
In conflicts involving players versus other players attention/intention needs to be decided in secret === essentially simultaneous revealment of the strategic elements of any action. to this end strategy cards can be used listing the strategy... and revealed during resolution. However when in conflict with NPCs simply describe the methods the storyguide can analyse based on the above. Another alternative idea useful in player vs player and Live Action Roleplaying can be cribbed from Rock Paper Scissors , hand signs.(Suggested hand signs such as those described in ATTAK could be very useful to this end)
Stupid - Wild - Crafty - Sneaky - Cowardly, these correspond exactly to a the Direct/Decisive - Instinctive - Analytic - Deceptive - Manipulative/Responsive. They are more negative or primitive in connotation but otherwise the same. The Orkan Chieftain should have crafty not analytic. Remember style counts.
In the world of Eya, Science and Magic are one, but even more they represent a concept of advanced art that spills into other arenas. Some of the world’s greatest swordsmen are said to be the Sword Lords who have advanced their art into a state of wizardry (though it is said others maintain the focus more clearly and that the Sword Lords followers, dance their way into witchery before they fully perfect the forms of the blade). These rules of conflict are expressed in terms of the magical techniques because at their extreme all arts take on the aspect of Wizardry. Rather than elaborating the myriad specific maneuvers possible and their effects we will be concentrating on defining broad styles within which your imagination can express itself and yet which maintain consistency and logic across all forms of conflict.
The primary stratagems in conflict are herein named after the techniques of penetration and warding used in Dragon Magic (some times referred to as taints) - Krrez, Abdek, Then, Thrag, Ahn, this is a matter of convenience and it is known more universally than other naming conventions, such as the secret tongue used by the Sword Dancers or Mayenish gladiatorial gestural lingua. Although the Dragon Masters are not known to use the pentagram where as the Sword Dancers do indeed use its form in actual practice
Answering the above three questions whether you think in terms of the numbers or not will give your Story Guide a definite and real basis for adjucating the results of actions. These questions should be keyed in to your description of your characters actions.
Using long term resources makes for an extra component of player planning to game play. In fact for situations with few strategic elements (or where variation from chance overwhelms the strategy). This may be vital. The following resources Karma, Inspiration, Deep Resources (varieties include Adrenaline and Mana/Chi) are presented to this end. Inspiration and karma are employed as elements of objective character design and advancement but can also make an on going resource. Karma is also the primary narrative / game balancing tool in Destiny see below the Meek shall inherit.
These resources allow players to control bursts of "energy and might" -- primarily physio-emotionally based. To some the ability to tap into these is as much a definingly "heroic" ability as anything. Differentiating between them is not nearly as cut and dry as it might at first seem and yet for some genres, they may need differentiated even further. What form or name these resources take may be genre dependent. The two following adrenaline and chi are often melded and called power.
Adrenaline Points are a fairly quickly recovering resource used to fuel extreme physical maneuvers. It may take skill to use them for somethings, however a few common known uses include ignoring fatigue or the pain of wounds. This is a temporary effect and those same wounds can knock you out during the aftermath of battle. As already mentioned changing one course of action during physical endeavor becomes more efficient with the burst energy represented by adrenaline points.
Mana/Chi Points are a variably recovering resource used to fuel extreme psychic maneuvers. It often takes skill to use them but they are also used in acts of raw resistance to magic or overcoming various mental states. Skills are available such as meditation which increase mana recovery, but various activities can become the basis of such. See also changing your mind.
Inspiration represents the flashes of "clarity and precision". -- they are often considered spiritually based. Inspiration at the right moment can make all the difference unlike simple luck, this is a focused burst of skill, its source can be what some would call emotional/spiritual but its effects are more akin to a surge of perceptual clarity... in mythic greece this was the muses at work. Unlike karma, Inspiration can still be used in genres where the heroes are not particularly lucky, but generally karma points and inspiration points go hand in hand just fine. Inspiration is the basis of much advanced learning and acts of invention. Genres where young characters not only learn quickly but exceed their teachers are simulated well using this. Inspiration points can also be allocated to overcome more or less permanently ones flaws. The advancement it allows is broad, not limited to what is normally perceived as skills.
How does one come by inspiration? Spirit guides and similar phenomena are sometimes purveyers of inspiration, but many relatively normal events and situations can also be sources of inspiration think in real world terms, love, devotion and duties can be sources of inspiration.(many things which restore mana also carry inspiration)
Karma points may be required to bring inspiration to the fore just at the moment when one needs it, inspiration happens any time and in fact sleeping is a fairly common time. However when focused to a single action at hand it can be outright magical.
Flashbacks and Visualized Inspiration - Flashbacks are in movies a scene which occurs out of place within the time flow of the movie allowing previously unrevealed elements (usually of a characters past) to become significant influencing the current scene. In game terms a flashback allows one to ellaborate upon a here-to for unrevealed element of your character via a simple highly specific situational bonus or effectively an "inspired performance". Flash-backs could infact be required for an inspired performance so that there is a descriptive source to associate with the inspiration.
From the characters perspective luck isn't a choice... from the players point of view this may be entirely different. This dicotomy can be managed for those who prefer a more immersive experience using Luck Bearers. Karma represents fluctuations in the balance of chance ironically a controlled way of simulating the apparent balance in the shiftings of "chance", and represent the universes probabilistic "promise" that when "bad" things happen eventually things will be balanced by analogous opposite occurences. Karma is not about being a good person it is about luck balancing ...
Luck Bearers. One possible method of assuring the sensation of Luck/Karma as luck is to have another player describe the way your characters luck/karma manifests to accomplish the goal. This trading off on the description duties is one of the methods of bringing each player into creativity and visualization of the game. Additionally assigning another player as the guardian of your characters luck can be used to separate this resource from others that are tightly woven to your characters abilities and choices. As a luck guardian you actually choose when to allocate luck for another's character. This can also be used by immersive players to avoid a sense of discontinuity. Obviously in a two player game... the game master is the only available other player to act as luck bearer or luck guardian for the players character.
Emphasizing the reasons behind a particular outcome as well as consequences of that outcome can really give the players a sense of being there so even if the reason for an occurrence in game terms is luck It needs to be described in ways that fit the circumstance and make the scene come alive. So use the opportunity to add a tidbit like glints of light and slippery moss on rocks and weapon conditions or smells and distractions like random thoughts and memories they inspire etc.
These can add directly to the character performance or subtract from the effectiveness of an adversaries but the action has to be described in a dramatic sort of way that makes it not look like skill or anything inherent to the character this is luck and needs to feel like it.
After any player has luck allocated in their favor the storyguide may set aside luck to be applied to allow the supporting cast and adversaries a measure of benefit ( or played as snap back and unexpected failures for the players characters)... players who are stingy in allocation of luck will find the wind fall is less luck allocated against them ;-). Extra Lucky Characters get karma points that aren't balanced by a storyguide allocation of luck to the NPC's.
Implications: Don't worry too much about the number of luck used. Luck can be as rare or common as you wish for your game. Effectively by shuffling it back and forth between the players it is inherently balanced... and can only make things as wierd or wild as you let it get.
Like most of the numeric ingredients of Destiny this can have relatively arbitrary answer in part because the game world can be very karmic...or less so. For instance with the numbers presented using maximum of 10 Karma can be spent to improve or degrade a given action ... this number "works" but may introduce too great an amount of fluctuation on the result of actions particularly if this much is allowed when the action is strategically influenced.. perhaps a 5 point limit for karmic flux on strategic actions and 10 point limit for non-strategic actions.
Generally Karma can be allocated not only during initiation of an action but also to alter its resolution... doing so during resolution is less cost effective and costs twice normal but during resolution it is likely to be when you really know that you need to use it.
Lucky streaks ... ie how long a character can have a sequence of bad luck or good luck are regulated by how much karma a character can save from scene to scene. If you allow 50 Karma to be carried over this is the equivalent of saying you can have an average of 10 serious bad things happen before your luck just "has" to get better!!!
There is massive precedence for this and it is a relatively common theme in various fictional sources, so it probably doesn't require much justification but it is one decided difference between Destiny and many games you will find. Characters may be of any power or experience grade. Those who are more potent in terms of over all ability are going to find that they have to rely on purely that, Karma granted and Extra Serendipity favors the meek and not just a little, Frodo and Gandalf walked side by side and admired each other for their gifts both knew Gandalf was more powerful and more versatile there were still things that Frodo could do that Gandalf could not ( Knowing just who to trust and resisting the temptations of the one ring as obvious examples). When you write up your character remember to include elements of focused uniqueness, and limitations - for people are defined as much by what they cannot and will not do even more than by what they can and will.
Extra Lucky Characters get karma points that aren't balanced by a storyguide allocation of luck to the NPC's
The primary accessory for any rolegaming is imagination and the second is munchies as gaming has always been a social activity (ok the munchies are indeed optional.) To facilitate the game even further you may want the following:
A Character sheet (after the character is very familiar to both SG and player even this becomes less than absolutely necessary) - for this ordinary paper or a printout from your computer should suffice. A pre-formatted sheet with predefined anything probably isn't appropriate for anything but one game world, and even then not every character. Design your character sheet after the fact [make your sheet suit the character] after all why should you list things not significant to your character? Like a bunch of things you are simply ordinary or typical in? A sheet that lists even gender choice of male or female won't support the hermaphrodite or asexual alien organism. OK that is probably pushing into the extremes.
A picture to help visualize your character... Draw one, or get out a magazine and hunt up a face.... or borrow an artistic type and see if they can grok your character in a visual way.(If you don't understand the term GROK. It is because the author is showing his age and his fascination with Robert Heinleins writing.
Tokens these are counters to help track Serendipity(white) and Karma(gold) and possibly other fluctuating character resources - Adrenaline(red) or Mana(blue) for instance. These can be beads, pebbles, coins or as I prefer colorized glass "dragon" tears. Varying colors are useful to distinguish differing resources. Managing these various resources can be one of the "Game" features of Decision Driven Gaming.
In the Destiny System just about everything about your character is up to you! Within the parameters set by the Story Guide of course, the world your character lives in shapes them however and shouldn't be forgotten.
This may seem a lot of responsibility but your character can begin as simple as you like. Archetypes provided invoke the fantasy lands of Eya. and include character example histories... because one of the first things to do when creating a character is think in terms of their history and connection to the world you will be jointly experiencing. You may notice that the examples show characters who are inter connected.... from the same places, related or met the same people or have overlapping goals, everybody wins this way and to enable this very thing Destiny uses an interactive development process...
Design of characters cannot be done in a pure independent fashion, anymore than the stories that take place later are independent...Is this a flaw? it's a design goal. The story-guide will introduce world events during the design process ... without which your character will miss opportunities.
People all have some sort of history, a path which brought them to where they begin the story even children have an origin which opened the door to the adventure. Character flaws and limits should be described inter woven with this history they invariable are off shoots of it. This past provides the meat of your character and the basis for your characters choices in the game.
Recommendations: If you are coming out of a game where skill and capability were hard to come by build a highly capable character out of the box... On the contrary if you are coming from a game where only the highly skilled characters got to do anything interesting, you might want to build a youngster and feel the story reel around you those new to gaming might find either attractive but in in general, pick a good luck guardian.
A characters capabilities are in the most basic fashion described based on the time spent applied to the activity... this is also the basis of development, beyond experience in this fashion their is something called inspiration... inspiration is the source of Talent or Charisma
"Traits, Hooks, Limits and Flaws"
You can choose and describe as many limitations as you like they should fit together and be appropriate to the game world as you understand it : These are surprisingly important but don't have really much impact on game play during character design but they can later. In fact the more you take the more of an advantage at some point they could theoretically become, If the flaws are appropriate and have an negative impact on your character during the game then you will get Karma/Serendipity and Inspiration points as a compensation during play. Even nominally positive traits can be situationally negative. Character traits can also open up opportunities and allow the allocation of Destiny points in ways not "generally" available. Essentially these are a way for players to take a degree of control over the nature of their characters karma.
Destiny Character Design lets you explain where your skills came from if they are a product of raw talent that's cool, if they are the product of arduous years of training or experience forced upon you by the circumstances of a hard life, in game terms this should be noted. As it will have implications.
Character design mechanics are particularly significant since they can set the tone of the new players experience. The Storyguide needs a prepared world, a setting and context for the gameplay. such as the Dragonmasters and the World of Eya Sufficient materials describing that world are needed but also elements such as Genre/Theme/Motif for the game play need be considered. What character archetypes are appropriate within the game and world you are looking at playing. Context for game play, can narrow a players choices but limits/norms are the things which define the game world without them.. no game... no world, some players will enjoy pushing the envelope you have defined, and that can be fun too.
Players : Liking your character is important. Destiny is about choices. Find some inspiration from in the setting, some aspect of the storyguide's initial presentation to get a hold on. Visualize and describe the first steps are really just that. Have fun express your creativity and bounce your ideas off the storyguide.
Beginning with the Broad Strokes : Eventually your character will be clearer than that of most characters in a movie or Novel or just about any other work of fiction. This is not important right away. Initially the basic concept needs expressed simply and concisely. The details can be brought forward gradually through the design process. Some players stop designing their character years after you quit playing ;-)
Gather A Visual Token -Early on making the character come to life with portraiture or visual association can have significant effect, find beg or borrow a picture... ranging from a clipping out of a magazine ... a portrait scribbled by hand. Pick an actor for your characters voice... give your character a "mannerism" ... some habitual behavior to identify him or her.
The Storyguide should take an active hand in the process. One way for the Storyguide to contribute is by the use of an active questionnaire, the questions posed may begin generic, but by breaking it up over a staged character design process he can use the questions/answers from an earlier stage to influence the next.
One important question should be familiar what is the characters goals and defining elements and/or personal themes.
SG remember to pay attention to the nature of the characters designed.. for this will express the type of stories / environment the players wish to play in. And what parts of the Game World they may wish to explore.
Initially the character should be designed in terms of concept and familiar human language. It deserves repeating... Destinies game terminology attempts to maintain the connection with this language roots to retain its understandability for novices and experts alike. Hence you have traits and adjectives with only slightly narrower definitions in game than the common dictionary definitions.
A Character is defined in game terms by a set of qualities a.k.a. Traits. These are all things which make your character distinct, they are your characters defining features so only describe how your character differs from "normal". They should be derived from the characters concept and background story. They express either a set of norms to which your character generally adheres (a classification or category to which you belong ) or a manner in which your character diverges from one of his/her own explicit or implicit norms. This divergence from a norm may be situationally advantageous or inhibiting for the character.
The degree to which you possess a trait can be clarified by using "adjectives" a fascinatingly useful feature of normal language. ;-) Destiny uses adjectives for expressing to what degree you diverge from a norm, my personal standard adjectives include somewhat,definitely*,very, extremely and incredibly. (definitely is not really needed) it is in some sense a default degree.
All traits compound with one another. Traits are not discrete. For instance when you say you are a fast man it means you are definitely/noticeably fast for a man, If you are also a Pendarian, a people known for being somewhat slow then that deficiency also affects your ability.
It should be noted that strict adherence to these or another set of explicit adjectives, may make your character description read a bit hollow if presented in fiction but will keep it understandable for game usage one alternate notation is to describe your character in completely normal language and parenthetically note (s), (d), (v) or (e).
If you only have a trait at "somewhat" it is often overlooked when others describe your character and might in fact be disagreed with by some describing your character.
Unbelievably is considered a totally not normative degree of trait it is on the cusp of breaking you into a different type.
Traits which pass beyond unbelievably primarily apply to fantastical things or things being "compared out of their class" or "are of a differing order of magnitude."
A trait can in fact both establish a new set of linked norms (as a classification) and express how one diverges from a basic norm. Being old or young is an example of such a broadly influential trait.
In Destiny the traits used to describe characters need to be more concrete and ultimately more specific compared to what you might see in most role-playing games for instance it is quite reasonable for skilled character to list talent, training and experience as separate associated traits. And having differing amounts of these distinguish characters who might otherwise appear the same. Like in the following example. Example Description: I am a highly trained Arduvian soldier, and my teacher marked me as ocassionally talented , I have since accumulated considerable experience fighting trolls along the borders of our northern reaches.
Arduvia is populated by Ealves. If she is described as having considerable experience at Troll fighting ;-)... its probably even greater relative to humans it might even qualify as extremely (Ealves are often of a different order with regards to general experience). Ealves due to lack of reincarnative memories seem less talented (this is only noticeable amongst the young as elves typically make up for this by being older and more experienced as well as diversely trained) than humans so one who is somewhat talented for an Ealven folk is probably of normal or may even seem somewhat lacking in gifts in the context of humans. Trolls are fought using a set of fairly advanced weaponry including fire-lances, rune-spears and electro nets, these are normally public property and not owned by the Troll fighters themselves. Troll fighters are used to fighting creatures who fight in an animal-like yet fearless fashion hence this is actually difficult to apply to battle against other people or even many normal animals.
A characters favored conflict resolution strategy, defines a subtle difference but can have some influence on the resolution of conflict. Every combatively oriented character including politicians, should consider selecting a favored strategy for the arena of conflict they engage in the most and perhaps others as well, the storyguide may end up asking you later if it isnt defined up front. Essentially when in conflict versus another whose favored strategy your favored strategy defeats you get a subtle bonus(+1) to your strategic benefit. The descriptions to the right include Archetypes associated with a favored strategy
These are significant because unlike the personality traits from many games which act as behavioral straight jackets these show how people approach and solve problems and reflect the basic strategies or modify how you may spend your attention.
you decide quickly some call you rash but you go with it... when you decide right it can really work because you commit quickly - Opposite Prudent
|Prudent||you take your time about making decisions but this means those decisions are more often correct - though occasionally too late. Opposite: Rash / Decisive.|
|Relaxed||You don't stress out under fire even, some think you don't take things seriously but you perform as well under fire as some do. Opposite: Uptight.|
|Precise||Your performance when things are stressful isn't what it could be and some call you uptight, but your everyday performance can be quite noticeably exacting. Opposite: Relaxed|
|Alert||You are more aware of things other than what your are concentrating on than most people. Its harder to sneak up on you to gain advantage... Opposite: Focused.|
|Focused||You are more aware of things you are concentrating on than most people. Its harder to break your attention Opposite: Alert|
|Determined||When you make a decision you cant be shaken some call you Stubborn but You believe in your decisions. Its hard to influence you. You cannot be adaptable Opposite:Adaptable|
|Adaptable||You are open to various ways of thinking and can change according to the demands of the situation. You find learning new things easy. You can be influenced to drift from chosen paths. Opposite:Stubborn|
|Creative||You actively need to create, you actively enjoy finding your on solutions to problems and enjoy originality for its own sake Opposite:Rote-learner|
|Rote-learner||You learn things which require repetition and exacting duplication easily you are better at following directions than most. Opposite:Creative|
|Disciplined||You tend to do what is expected of you and stick to those decisions. Some call you dependable others call you a stick in the mud. Opposite:Spirited|
|Spirited||You are something of a rebel and this energy tends to express itself in your individuality and backing or your own personal decisions. Opposite:Disciplined|
|Enigmatic / Complex||You are mysterious about yourself some think its because you like it that way... but not necessarily you can have difficulty understanding your own motivations Opposite:Honest|
|Honest / Simple||You present the truth and yourself the way they are and figure others need to deal with it You probably understand yourself and even know your own darkness and have learned to accept them this is at times and extra tough of confidence. You may need to resist revealing your darknesses to others. People will indeed tend to trust you. Opposite:Complex|
|Fuzzy Thinker||You actually see the whole picture and can find unusual connections that others dont get. Opposite:Mind for Details|
|Mind for Details||You pick up on details in a situation you can end up missing the forest because there are too many trees in the way. Opposite:Fuzzy Thinker|
|Extro-spective||You tend to pay attention to the external world Opposite:Introspective|
|Introspective||You are more aware of your internal environment, you are very self aware Opposite:Extrospective|
|Cautious||If you decide quickly it will be on the side of safety. Opposite:Risk Taker|
|Risk Taker||You dont mind risk no guts no glory and you may actually like danger. If you arent prudent you tend to get yourself in trouble or even hurt a lot. Opposite:Cautious|
|Deceptive||You prefer no-one knowing where you are coming from and like to change course often to make sure of it, some consider you un-dependable others think this makes you mysterious.|
|Instinctual||You go with your gut this is generally a quick thing, things work the way nature inspires them.|
|Analytical / Rational||You have to know what you see is real... you demand proof. And everything has a reason.|
|Spiritual||You like mystery and enigma... to much heavy handed explaining spoils things, something only needs to be intuitively correct.|
|Emotional||You like to ride your feelings even tho they may be a roller coaster ride... and are able to understand the feelings of others|
|Imaginative||You tend to come at things from different routes than most... If you are also creative these different routes may even be unique.|
|Pragmatic||You do what needs to be done.|
|Flamboyant||How you do what you do calls attention to itself and away from exactly what you are doing...|
|Direct||You dont waste time doing things external to your goal some call your way simple or crude.|
These are roles and archetypes to help inspire character design they are literary, mythical and psychological
|Father/Dad||Strong, Remote, Cold, Ominous, Playful, Doting|
|Mother||Protect, Disceplining, Teacher, Providing|
|Maid||Spritely, Innocent, Inspiring|
|Magic Child||Talented, Miraculous|
|Grandfather||Cantankerous, Peculiar, Forgetful, Out of Touch, Distracted, Bumbling, Wize, Guiding|
|Stranger||Untalkative, Shadowy, Looming|
|Trickster||Lying, Humorous, Energetic, Quick|
|Dumb Jock||Athletic, Strong, Stupid, Insensitive, Charismatic|
|Nerd||Intellectual, unsociable, shy, absent minded|
|Socialite||flighty, wealthy, social climbing, superficial, frivolous|
|Henchman||weak willed, follower, bumbling, mimicking, needy|
|Martyr||Forgiving, Fanatical, Insane, Inspiring|
Those Who Fight and Protect
Those Who Do and Provide
Those Who Serve
Those Who Think, Pray, Teach and Heal
How useful or hindering a trait is over all can be measured on the same scale and could be used as the basis for an objective character creation system.
It is not uncommon for gamers used to war-gaming and many of the roll-playing games which derived of them to want an over all measure of the "value" of characters traits and to extrapolate this as the "value" of the character. However the measure of a characters "usefulness" is very subjective as well as situationally specific. Placing an sort of meaningful value on the possession of every possible trait in the whole of potentiality is ridiculous and impossible further unless the situation is too narrowly defined it becomes an increasingly astronomical task. Traits have differing usefulness a.k.a. value dependent on the goals they set for their characters and situation those traits are brought to the fore.
That being said, if your players build soldiers they probably want to fight something and to test their "metal". If they put a limited resource in to a trait this can tell you what they want to experience in the story so it can be useful as a measure of what the players are "into"
A trait can have a defined "usefulness" adjective associated with it.. usefulness or inhibition* as well as the degree you possess the trait value of the trait and most point based game systems have an implied situation associated with the point value they attribute to a trait or quality.
It is more than reasonable to not worry about the numbers or how powerful the character is after all a character who is mighty as hell in a courtroom might be quite lame on a dance floor. The storyguides job includes adjusting game play to support mixed casts including granting on the fly luck and similar things(remember to include explicit limits for your character).
Check out this table corresponding luck inspiration and traits... luck and inspiration points are scaled as 10 mh. Perhaps a heroic young character might have 2500 mh (aka 10 years of training and experience and be 18 years old.) and 250 luck and 250 inspiration points.
How much a trait may vary can be affected by other traits. For
example Ealven and dwarven height do not vary as much as humans which
for this example we are using humans as the norm and so we are
defining them as varying incredibly. So if you said Dwarven height
varies extremely little and were definitely short then an extremely
tall dwarf would be somewhat short for a human. In some more
fantastical universes than Eyan Adventures Elfs might be described as
having even more variance in size than humans (there size being related
to their power and social position within the Faerie Hierarchy).
A species who was incredibly invariant relative to humans, would be identified as effectively identical by humans and those who compare them to humans... but would likely if isolated within their own scope see themselves varying incredibly. ;-)
Some things can be measured numerically and in fact most folks would do so there is no absolute need to have them on the verbal scale, and are visualizeable in terms of that, how much weight can my weight lifter lift... how many stone is she, how many hands tall is he? etc. It seems silly to limit our character description to just the verbal description of every trait.
Some traits actually vary less or more than others human size varies only very little for instance ;-) So the objective difference between a large human and a small human is far less than say the relative difference between a large and small dog.
Remember to explain where your skills came from.. this is your history.. if they are a product of raw talent that's cool, if they are the product of arduous years of training or experience forced upon you by the circumstances of a hard life, this should be noted. As it will have implications.
date or age
(or dev. stage)
Implications & Associated Trait(s)
Time Spent man hours
|What||When||Where and with/by Whom||Impact on character and Interactions between activity and others... habits developed etc.||How Long||How Intensely
Many Traits are abstract or intentionally subjective but when it comes to training and expertise it is fairly easy to envision an objective system of measure essentially this is tied to time allocated. To keep this connected to the real world Destiny uses man-hours as its basic unit of advancement your character gets better over time based on time allocated to doing things. At some level during a conflict only relative abilities are really needed for instance is this character slight worse than or considerably better than what is required for the task at hand and a nicely defined history can give enough information for making those determinants but sometimes you want something more set down and solidly defined measure of abilities.
The following chart shows the correspondence between man-hours and degrees of skill and training based on the skills breadth and a relationship of diminishing returns. Essentially the challenges required to advance become rarer and so does the difficulty of advancing even with appropriate challenge. This relationship means that early advancement in any skill or skill set will be fast. The chart describes a combination of training and experience Training is sometimes gained first but may vary by character backgrounds
Experience and Training as expressed in the following table are linked, beneficial traits applied
to the performance of an activity associated with them. Their may be
occasions where a characters experience or training may not fully apply
to the situation at hand those will generally be considered an
additional challenge of one degree or another. Effectively you
advance an one trait or the other based on circumstances but the cost
to advance them is joined. The Skill Breadths collumns could be
expanded upon to be more general than a broad skill set (perhaps
an entire profession) or more specific than an individual skill (such
as a single action) .
A week in the table below is 50 man hours (and a year 50 weeks). This is analogous to college level intensity. The scale is intended to be relatively human and "realistic"
man-hours to skill (training and expertise) based on skill breadth
Inspiration is one of the reasons the above is not as static or set as it at first seems. Individuals with many man hours but no inspiriation can be outstripped by the talented with their inspiration. What cost is a special gift? or virtue in this objective system? They could range from 10 inspiration to 200 depending on the breadth of application and intensity of effect.
The following are example history concepts for characters they keep in mind some of the ideas above but are not yet fully enumerated.
Chi'lan is not particularly tall, but he has a thin youthful build with soft brown hair that he crops fairly short like his fathers, his birth father was the village smith (a very magical profession according to mother) but his father died very early and so he was never apprenticed... though his mother holds in her keeping an heirloom created by his father. He was in fact raised by his mothers brother who was a huntsman and a very good man. Chi'lan is one of the rare male sword dancers further he has the gift (magic) and so is resented by many other "sword dancers". He is a fairly recent initiate and like many members was already adult (17 years old) when he joined, He joined after he rescued a sword dancer who sensed his gift and took fairly quickly to both blade and the inner mysticism. He is considered nearly an enemy by one by the name of Kendra - she claims his blade wounded her in one of his early dances and that it has spoiled her fate - she is in fact quite jealous because she is no longer the rising star in the coven though in some ways she is more educated than he in the ways of the sword dancers. Chi'lan is rather timid socially, and wears a "loin cloth" during rituals. He is unlikely to confront people he has problems with directly and rather works around them. Kendra is bullishly forward and generally unsubtle and so he usually avoids meeting her head on and leaves her emotionally off balance after their encounters.
Ch'lan is pretty much an innocent in the world has never even used his sword in violence though his father has made a hunter out of him It is the Sword Dancers who have finally found a motivation for him.
He was born in back water village of Kanesh. He was the first son of
a local Barister (one of the many minor political officials who
considers himself the inheritor of the Justiciar mantel but has little
real training in anything but local politics) Though actually he can
barely remember his childhood before the age of 10 ( he did have a
couple of years of his dad yammering about the history of justiciars
and the various power factions in the town), when it was cut brually
short as a neighboring kingdom decided that Kanesh and the principality
it was a part of could be just what its flagging economy needed.
Illuros's father was killed in the first few moments of that invasion
as he did take his job seriously enough to try, and Illuros has quite
forgotten that he himself survived by hiding in the bottom of a well.
He has become quite terrified of tight spaces and got a severe case of
the shakes last time he had to hide in a barrel. It has really
interfered with his use of stealth on a number of missions and required
he use more brassy violence than absolutely necessary but it has made
him concentrate more on weapon use than other things. After being
conscripted by a band of soldiery from the captital (Selden) Illuros
spent maybe a month being introduced to scouting and a total of 3 years
on the forefront of the Tinusian invasion. scouting enemies. For
the next year it went beyond scouting and he was introduced to
the use of "the black bow" sign of the assassin, as they upped the
missions to killing a few significant adversaries during this time he
also picked up enough of their accent to pass atleast as an uneducated
Tenusian. He believes his captain Druble resents his talent as
the squat fellow has made certain the missions Illuros has been sent on
have gotten progressively more impossible as time went along. the last
mission involved a blade witch of some sort. Illuros abandoned that
mission and is pretty intent on killing the captain at which point he
gets side tracked by an "independent opportunity" that even sounds like
something his father would have been proud of him for doing. (he has
gotten weary of war and would rather do something worth while)
In the above the storyguide introduced the father as failed Justiciar element and the player picked up on it and made his father a source of "absentee ethics" and the Story guide gave the name for the principality.
Some other recent rolegames use "plot points" and other story oriented meta-game constructs to increase player power in a broad fashion. Why aren't these a feature of Destiny? The simple answer could be Destiny tries in most cases to avoid game constructs which do not represent a phenomena appropriate to the game world itself. (Karma is indeed used in a metagame fashion to keep characters of divergent ability "in the game" so to speak but is not in and of itself purely external) While plot points simulate elements of "stories" well, but these can distract the player from both the world and the character as they are very "external" to both and fail to represent something which is really a part of the game world. Plot points can interfere even more than karma points for those most interested in forgetting they are "just playing a game".
Destiny also attempts to give immersive players their due (Which is why game features such as Karma which are not "under the characters control" may be shunted to the story guide or another player who then act as "luck bearers")
if this option is employed you will need at least two dice of varying color. Simplest definition of this mechanic: one color is selected rolled and added to ones performance and the other subtracted. Providing a zero centered variation on any desired element within the game. This option has the most appeal for non strategic actions and those most controlled by chance.
Why? Destiny is very much an attempt at mechanical formalization of things I and other diceless story guides do in improvisational and freeform fashions it is a bridge attempt betwix halves of the brain and is perhaps more experimental than practical as it attempts to expose the concrete underlying definite rules that often manifest in what seems relatively arbitrary or vague. It has what the forge would call a strong simulationist cast to it. Destiny explicitly rejects ruleless arbitration, and attempts to bring forth a system of rules to back ithe arbitration, in that sense it extends what has been key to all diceless games.