In A Wicked Age: Forumopolis
Game Rules and Information
1) Give the character a name and a brief description. Here is a list of names that you can use or use for inspiration, but you can name them whatever you want.
2) PCs have six stats, called forms.
Assign to each form one of the following die: a d12, a d10, a d8, a d6, a d6, and a d4.
When you go into a conflict, you choose two forms that are appropriate to your action and roll the dice assigned to those forms (Example: Stabbing someone could be With Violence and Directly. If you’re doing it to defend someone, maybe it’s Violence and With Love. It all depends on the context!) Bigger dice means more success in conflicts when that form is used. We’ll go into all that later.
Through the course of the game, you may lose a die size on one or more of your forms. This means that instead of, say, a d12, that form now has a d10. If a form is reduced to 0 (from a d4), you can no longer use that form. If you have two forms that are at 0, your character is written out of the rest of the chapter (not necessarily dead, just out of action).
NPCs have only three forms:
One gets d12 d8, one gets d10 d6 and one gets d6 d4. When NPCs roll dice, they only pick one form, but each form has two dice. You don’t have to worry much about NPC forms right now; I’ll stat out the NPCs.
3) Decide if your character will have a Particular Strength and what that strength is. A Particular Strength is some kind of special ability that this character has. An exorcist might have “Exorcism” as a particular strength, for example. Or a heroic youth may have “Bravery.” A wizard may have “The Secret Spells of Amon’Rath.” Or a warlord might have “Command of the Northern Hordes.”
Particular strengths give you bonus dice (usually a d8) in conflicts.
Important note: conflicts deal with concrete actions, not talking. You don’t roll dice to win an argument or persuade or convince. Dice get rolled when you DO something. So make sure your particular strength is related to an action, not words.
If you want one, do the following:
- Give the strength a name.
- Describe the strength: what it is, what it requires, how it looks in action.
- Choose a form: pick one of the character forms that is associated with the strength. To use the strength, you must be in a situation where you roll that form. Choose an NPC form, as well (an NPC might use this same strength later on!)
- Choose a significance for that strength: This is the measure of how powerful the strength is in the story. New powers have a significance of 1, so pick one of the following:
- The strength is potent – You get a d10 instead of a d8
- The strength is broad – Add a second form associated with the strength
- The strength is consequential – List a PC and NPC form of your choice; using this strength against someone threatens that form (essentially, losing against this strength damages that form, in addition to the normal consequences of losing a conflict)
- The strength is unique – If the strength is written on one character’s sheet, it can’t be written on any other.
- The strength is far-reaching – You can use this strength beyond your normal reach
4) Name at least two Best Interests. Your characters’ Best Interests are what guide the game. This is your character’s agenda, their goals for the chapter. Create your Best Interests with an eye for getting into conflicts with other characters (PCs or NPCs).
You will have at least two Best Interests. They can be directly contradictory to another character’s Best Interest or even contradictory to your OWN Best Interests.
The Owe List
When you go into a conflict with someone rolling bigger dice than you and you survive the first round, the fates owe you a little somethin’-somethin’. If you are up against someone with bigger dice and you survive the first round, your character’s name gets put on the Owe List. The Owe List serves several functions:
The first character listed on the Owe List gets to come back in the next chapter, and their player gets to choose the Oracle we will play and choose one story element for that Oracle.
If you want to bring a character back in a future chapter, you can cross one instance of that character’s name off the Owe List.
You can cross one of your characters’ names off of the list (ANY of your characters) for an Advantage die in a conflict that you keep throughout the conflict. In essence, you cash in on a character’s future appearance for an immediate bonus in a conflict.
NPCs do not go on the Owe List.
The “NO YOU FUCKING DON’T, ASSHOLE!” Rule
In IAWA, you roll dice when you perform a concrete action and someone else (either a PC or an NPC) interferes with that action. You don’t roll dice to convince someone to do something – you roll dice to MAKE them do it. Dice rolling is reserved for actions – finding someone who doesn’t want to be found, picking someone’s pocket, stabbing a thief with a dagger, banishing an evil spirit.
If you want to do something, don’t TRY to do it. Just do it. “I pick you out of the crowd.” “I pick your pocket.” “I stab the thief.” “I banish the evil spirit.” Do. Or do not. There is no try.
If no one interferes with that action, no dice are rolled. You just do it. Easy.
But when someone would say “NO YOU FUCKING DON’T, ASSHOLE” to that action (or something to that effect) and wants to interfere, then that is when we get into a conflict and dice get involved.
This works better around a table than online, so here is what I ask of you: you can narrate your actions freely, but when you do something that you think someone would object to, stop. Give the other player / the GM an opportunity to object, then we will start rolling dice to see what happens.
Conflicts / Action Scenes
When someone does something (a concrete action!) that someone else opposes, a conflict (or an action scene, if you prefer) begins. A conflict is made up of at most three rounds.
A couple things to point out before we get into the nitty gritty:
- Whenever you roll dice, look at the highest roll first. The lower roll is your tie-breaker.
- An Advantage die is a d6 that gets added to your highest roll. Most of the conflict is spent fighting for control of this Advantage die – who wins it and how it is earned affects the narrative.
- If you cross an instance of one of your characters’ names off of the Owe List, you get an Advantage d6 that lasts through the whole conflict. This die stacks with the Advantage die that may be earned through the conflict and it does not go away if you lose that Advantage.
- If your action involves your particular strength, add that die to your highest roll. This stacks with any Advantage die/dice that you are rolling. This die is a d8, unless you chose Potent as your significance, then it is a d10.
- Whenever possible, try to resolve the initial action within the first round. For example, if Bob tries to pick Tom’s pocket, determine if he is successful in the first round. The next round can be about whether Bob gets away without being seen, or what Tom does if he catches Bob in the act. It is important not to “set stakes” at the beginning of the conflict (as in, “This conflict will determine if I steal Tom’s ring”). Let one action lead to another.
- Everyone involved in the conflict chooses two forms that are appropriate to their actions.
- Roll those dice.
- The highest roll gets to issue the first Challenge, followed by the second highest and so on.
- The first player’s dice stand. Everyone else picks their dice back up.
- If you are going first, your previous roll stands. If not, roll dice.
- Issue your challenge and choose who must answer – quickly narrate what you do (“I run Bob through with my spear.”)
- If you were challenged, roll dice.
- If the roll doubles the Challenge or better: the Challenger loses outright and is knocked out of the conflict. Begin negotiation.
- If the roll is equal to or greater than the Challenge but less than double: the Answerer takes or keeps the Advantage die (and if the Challenger has an Advantage die, they lose it). Narrate what happens so that the Challenge is prevented from succeeding and how you are at an advantage.
- If the roll is less than the Challenge but more than half: the Challenger takes or keeps the Advantage die (and if the Answerer has an Advantage die, they lose it.) Narrate what happens so that the Challenge is prevented from succeeding and how the Challenger is at an advantage.
- If the roll is half or less of the Challenge: the Challenger wins outright and the Answerer is knocked out of the conflict. Begin negotiation.
- The Answerer narrates what what happens and how they respond to the challenge (unless they lose outright)
- If you Answer a Challenge, you lose your turn for this round. Answering a Challenge is like countering it with a Challenge of your own.
- When everyone has issued a Challenge or answered a Challenge, advance to Round Two.
- You may negotiate now to avoid further rolls.
OWE LIST CHECK
- If anyone rolled against bigger dice and has survived to this round, their character goes on the Owe List.
When everyone has issued a Challenge or answered a Challenge, advance to Round Three.
- In the third round, there is no middle ground – if the roll is less than the Challenge, the Challenger wins. If the roll is greater than the Challenge, the Challenger loses. Begin negotiation.
By default, the winner of the conflict can choose one:
- The loser is exhausted and loses one die size from directly and with violence (for NPCs, action)
- The loser is injured and loses one die size from covertly and for others (for NPCs, maneuvering)
- The loser is shamed and loses one die size from with love and for myself (for NPCs, self-defense)
Or, the winner and loser can negotiate some other preferred consequence. This can affect other forms, affect a particular strength, be purely narrative in effect (“How about instead of hurting your stats, we just agree that you lose your magic ring in all the confusion?”), or even mean the death of the character (which might be preferred to losing more die sizes).
The loser does not have to accept any consequence other than the three default consequences.
You CANNOT negotiate for:
- Future actions, as in “I won’t injure you if you kill the khan.” You can extract a promise to do something, however. For whatever a promise is worth.
- Direct consequences on someone else, as in “How about we take a die from Lisa’s ‘Directly’ form?”
- Improvements to the winner’s character.
It is important to note that losing a conflict does not mean that the action that triggers the conflict is necessarily successful. So if a conflict begins with Bob stealing Tom’s magic ring and Tom loses the conflict, Tom does not actually lose the ring unless he agrees to lose it as part of the negotiation process. If a proposed negotiation is too much for the loser, he or she can always say, “Forget it – pick one of the default consequences.”
Once a consequence has been chosen or agreed upon, the winner of the conflict narrates what happens and how that consequence comes to be.
Here is a flowchart for the conflict process. I know this all looks reeeeeally complicated and overwhelming, but I promise it’ll make a lot more sense once we get started.