What makes a character (or monster) powerful is having the right advantages for the situation. Being physically strong, i.e. having the Brawn advantage, gives the character an edge in many situations but is useless at other times. It is difficult to see a scenario where Brawn could help spot a hidden enemy. What matters is having the right advantages for the situation. This is why all advantages, including equipment, use the points / buy scale of Character Points (CP) and dice values.
A player's choice of advantages does not directly cause disadvantages to a character. Having the Giant advantage will not stop a character moving through a narrow passage. The penalty for having the Giant advantage in this situation is the inability to use it to their advantage. Those four or more CP are wasted in this situation and there is no need to additionally punish the player. The giant character in a narrow passage should be no worse off than the character who has spent all their points on combat skills but finds themselves having to attempt diplomacy. They are both disadvantaged equally by the lack of appropriate advantages.
However, that's just the mechanics. In the narrative of the game, the character is still giant and the passage is still narrow. The Game Leader and other players should take these opportunities to ask the awkward question, "So how exactly are you getting yourself down that passage?" The aim is not to prevent the character moving down the passage but to elicit colour and character-building details that enrich the game. When players (and Game Leaders) are put on the spot, they become inventive. Their answers might reveal vulnerabilities that put them in danger (and getting into danger and out of it again is half the fun of play). Sometimes their answer will be a really clever solution that surprises everyone and sometimes their answer will speak volumes about their character's personality. Whatever the answer is, the process of asking questions and responding makes the game world and the characters more alive and the game more engrossing.
I've Lost My Diminutive Advantage, Does That Mean I've Grown Taller?
When a character is hurt they discard advantages and as a character develops they will gain more advantages. What does this mean for a character? Do they grow taller when Diminutive is lost? Can an established character add the Giant advantage using the CP earned by adventuring?
Every advantage on a character sheet represents an ability the character can use. In the case of Diminutive, it is the ability to use their size effectively. When it is lost, they are still small in stature but they can no longer benefit from it. This can be imagined as an injury to their back making it harder for the character to duck and dive; a leg wound that slows their ability to dodge; or a painful blow to the head that makes it hard to think straight. This detail is a great opportunity to add colour to the game and players are encouraged to explain how an injury deprives their character of a particular advantage.
Contradictory & Duplicate Advantages
Should a character be allowed to take both the Giant and Diminutive advantages? Yes, because the advantages do not say how tall a character is, only what abilities they have. A character's height is part of the narrative and up to the player to decide.
It is down to the situation and the group's decision whether the advantages are appropriate. A human-sized person could use the Giant advantage against a tiny leprechaun as the human towers over the target and in the next moment use a Diminutive advantage against the Titan who is about to squash the human underfoot.
Characters can end up with two or more duplicate advantages. Each advantage represent a degree of specialisation in the skill or ability. For example, the muscles needed for dead lifts are slightly different from those needed to do a bench press but both come under the general ability of Brawn.
Ultimately a player should always be able to rationalise the advantages they choose, as an essential part of role playing the character.
Some advantages have particular effects or limitations. Normally a character can choose either to knock a person down or hurt them (this is known as the action focus) but the Knockdown advantage allows the character to do both in the same action. Conversely, an advantage may place limits on when or how it can be used. For example, the Retreat advantage has the Opportunity keyword but is only triggered when someone moves towards the character. These effects and limitations are contained in the advantage's description and may supersede any rules, keywords or situation bonuses that would otherwise apply.
Life and ability advantages mimic the individual mix of strengths and weaknesses we all have, both physically and mentally. When it comes to equipment advantages, things are different. Equipment is often mass-produced and identical, and items can be passed from one person to another. Handing someone your sword is a lot easier than giving someone your sword expertise.
They say that 'Guns don't kill people, people kill people.' Well I think the gun helps. If you just stood there and yelled BANG, I don't think you'd kill too many people. Eddie Izzard
Equipment is anything external to the character that enables them to do something that would otherwise be impossible or to do things more effectively. Bows allow us to shoot projectiles further than we can throw them; cars enable us to travel faster than we can on foot; first aid kits let us clean wounds that would otherwise fester. From simple rock tools to rovers on Mars, equipment has enabled humanity to do more.
With all equipment there is a certain skill or raw talent required to use it. Even something as simple as clothes, which would appear to need no ability to use, depend on the wearer. Clothes can look drab on an average person but fantastic on a model who has the advantages of poise, grace and distinctive looks. Likewise, whether a gun is an effective weapon against the enemy or a danger to the user depends on the abilities of the person holding the gun.
It is the operator of the equipment, not the equipment itself that is important. This is why all mundane equipment has the same 1d6+0 dice value.
Why Is An Assault Weapon No Better Than a Flintlock Rifle?
Both weapons are killers. A single shot from either can kill someone and in that sense, the assault rifle and the flintlock are just as deadly and both add the same 1d6+0 to an action. The difference between the two weapons is how fast they can be fired, their reliability and their accuracy. In all three categories the assault rifle is much better and enables the user to attack more targets at greater distances.
Equipment enables characters to do things and better equipment enables the character to do more. It is the equipment's keywords and what they enable a character to do that sets two weapons apart. An assault rifle will have a better range keyword, a greater ammo capacity and be faster to reload than a flintlock.
Mundane Versus Character Equipment
Equipment can be added to a character sheet in two ways. The first is as mundane or normal equipment and covers 95% of the equipment a character will use. Players can add mundane equipment to their character sheet whenever the Game Leader allows it, either picked up from a defeated foe or purchased in a shopping trip.
Then there is character equipment. For some people a particular piece of equipment or tool becomes a part of who they are: the musician who is never happy without a guitar in his hand; the hero with her signature weapon; the barbarian born in the saddle. To these people their chosen equipment is as much part of them as their life and ability advantages. Character equipment is acquired by spending character points and has some advantages over mundane equipment.
Keywords are a short-hand way of telling players important information about their advantages.
There are around fifty keywords covering all aspects of the game, though particular genres or settings may add more, with around ten keywords forming the core of most frequently used keywords. Three keywords are so common, applying to most advantages, that they are left off to avoid clutter and confusion. These default keywords are Dynamic, meaning the advantage uses dynamic potential, Area (0) and Range (0), which mean the advantage only affects one person or thing and is difficult to use at a distance. The presence of some keywords will override these default keywords. The Static keyword takes precedence over the default Dynamic keyword and an explicit range keyword, e.g. Range (3), supersedes the automatic Range (0).
Some keywords are primarily included to guide the players in understanding the concept of the advantage, helping the players when the advantage represents a subject or piece of equipment they are unfamiliar with. Informative keywords rarely have any direct impact on the game but some actions may need advantages with these specific keywords.
- A physical attribute such as brawn or speed.
- Familiarity with an location or situation.
- A useful object. Equipment advantages are either yellow or pink, depending on whether they are character or mundane advantages.
- Academic or purely theoretical expertise such as history.
- A detrimental status effect that may act against the player's actions. Hazard advantages have a red highlight.
- Advantages from the character's innate capacity. Life advantages are highlighted in green.
- A melee weapon usable against an opponent in an adjacent square.
- Mental capacity in an area such as problem-solving or linguistics.
- A character path; a significant milestone in the character's life. These advantages have a purple highlight.
- A practical ability such as carpentry.
- Spiritual and ineffable aspects of a person like honour and faith.
- The way the character is standing or moving.
- A particular form of activity, e.g. a dance style or martial art style.
- Something requiring both hands to carry or operate.
- Financial resources.
These keywords add to or change certain aspects of taking action. They increase the number of dice used, reduce the situation bonuses for the target, allow multiple targets to be attacked or reduce the cost in potential.
- Area (x)
- Affects everyone / thing in an area selected by the character.
- Autofire (x)
- The weapon may make multiple shots within a single action.
- Aura (x)
- Affects an area centred on the character.
- Blast (xd6)
- An explosive effect that will deliver an xd6 attack to anyone next to the blast and a lesser amount to those further away.
- The advantage has special rules governing the action dice, e.g. ones are re-rolled.
- Double [specify]
- When the specified advantage is used in the same action, its dice and modifiers are doubled.
- The advantage does not cost potential to use.
- Free [Specify]
- The specified advantage does not cost potential when used together with this advantage.
- A weapon or attack that does potential damage.
- Range (x)
- X is the number of 5' (2 metre) squares the weapon or effect can reach before its accuracy decreases and targets become harder to hit.
- Reach (x)
- Enables melee attacks up to x squares beyond a standard melee attack.
One of the main function of keywords is to inform players of how the advantage can be played, what static or dynamic potential is needed and any particular effects the advantage may have.
Common behaviour-related keywords include:
- The advantage is discarded on use and cannot be used again.
- Uses dynamic potential. All advantages are assumed to have this keyword unless they have the Static keyword.
- Indicates that the status effect will automatically attack the character at the start of every turn, day or other time period.
- Uses static potential.
Some keywords allow the action to have a specific effect on the game.
- The action may be used to control someone or something, e.g. a magic power to dominate minds.
- The character can gain a movement effect without making a Potential Action.
- Allows the recovery of potential or advantages from the discard pile.
- Status / Status (Specify)
- Applies a status effect for a scene or for the specified time period.
A small group of keywords allowing the character to act in situations where most characters cannot. These keywords often come with limitations that restrict their use to a specific set of circumstances and actions.
This short list of keywords are used to reduce how often advantages can be played or otherwise handicap their effectiveness.
- + [Keyword Suffix]
- e.g. Skill+, the advantage needs to be used with a specific advantage or one that has the specified keyword.
- Capacity (x)
- The number of rounds of ammunition a gun can hold when fully loaded.
- Freq. (Specify)
- The advantage can only be used occasionally without adding to the resistance.
- Prepare (x)
- The advantage cannot be used until the character prepares it by overcoming a fixed resistance of x.
- The weapon needs to be rested on a bipod to work effectively.
- Reload (x)
- The fixed resistance to be overcome in order to reload the weapon.
- Time (Specify)
- The advantages takes a specific length of time to use.