Untold Designer Notes

April 7, 2008

This is a set of updates for Untold. This fixes several issues I had with the original notes posted below. I have tried to go through and strike out the portions which have been changed. In cases where these rules contradict them, these rules will take precedent.

Damage: Damage is no longer handled in a system that merely tries to graft the standard mechanic. Now, damage is listed as a number of six-sided dice to be rolled. The dice are rolled and any dice that shows up a 4 or 5 is worth one wound and any dice that shows up a 6 is worth one fatal wound.

Certain weapons have a change to fatality. Blunt weapons and small weapons are set to -1. Hand-to-Hand is considered both of these, though martial arts training will reduce the standard penalty to -1 (instead of -2). Untrained combat, no matter what sort, gives an additional -1. Firearms and large weapons each add a +1. Weapons that rely on fire, acid, or energy (including plasma-beams or lasers or magic energy, whatever is appropriate to the campaign), any sort of attack that destroys its target at a molecular level, will be at +2 fatality. This does not stack with the "firearms" bonus but overrides it. In other cases, the total is added up. A small firearm would be at +0 (+1 for Firearm, -1 for Small) unless the person is untrained in firearms, in which case a small pistol would be -1. A large fire would be at +3. A small laser would be at +1.

Damage rolled takes into these considerations. It should be noted as follows: small pistol (4,+0) or dagger (3,-1).

When rolled, this is added to each die. Anything that is greater than 5 is a fatal. Anything less than 1 is immedately removed (does not count towards "bruising" or "stunning").

For every degree of 7 higher the attack has than the defense (in non-combat attacks, this means the attack is higher than a target number, in combat, this means the attack is higher than the target's attack score), one extra dice at the same fatality will be added.

Bruising and Stunning. Any successful hit, whether or not it is soaked away, fails to make a wound, or whatever, counts as a scratch or bruise. This should be handled in purely role-playing terms. However, you take the number of damage dice, add to the number of wounds to it. If any of those wounds are fatal, double their addition. If this number is greater than the target's Vitality, then the target must make a Vitality roll versus the overflow. If the roll fails then the character will lose consciousness to a degree dictated by the severity of the failure. If the roll succeeds by more than three, then half the overflow value. If the roll succeeds by more than 7, quarter it. In both cases, round up. If the roll succeeds by more than 10, discard it all together. This remaining overflow will be counted will be added on to the next damage the character takes.

Since this is based partially on the number of damage dice rolled, a character could have to make a Stun check even if no damage is recorded.

Fatal and Non-Fatal Wounds. Each character gets several stages of wounds. These stages can be called Mild, Moderate, Major, and Fatal. The standard campaign gives three spots to Mild, two spots to Moderate, and one spot to Major. The first wounds (not fatal wounds though) start filling in the spots under Mild. Once a character has received enough wounds to cover all those spots (say, a characters gets a fourth wound) then the wound starts filling in the next spot (in this case, the first spot of Moderate). Each degree of severity reached is a -1 to the final roll. After Major is filled, all wounds immediately pour into fatal. Every fatal wound is worth -1 to begin with.

Every time a fatal wound is received, a Vitality roll is made versus the number of fatal wounds. Failure to succeed means the character collapses. A collapsed character must receive treatment in a reasonable time (based on the sort of wounds given, this can be anywhere from a few seconds to a few hours) or die. Any collapsed character is unable to defend, and will take the full damage value of attacks as fatal wounds assuming the attacker is not distracted by another active combatant (in which case they can still aim at the collapsed character, but they must succeed in combat as per normal. If they hit, they still count all damage as fatal automatically). If fatal wounds are ever driven up to twice the value of a character's Vitality, then the character is automatically killed.

Scarring. Whenever a character collapses, or receives fatal wounds equal to his or her Vitality, they will receive a scar (worse if both conditions are met). This will stick with the character from then on out. It should be noted, role-played when appropriate, and will have one or possibly two in game effects on the character. Vitality will be permanently reduced by 1.The GM might also hold that other phrases are affected as well. Characters with reduced Vitality and phrases can work to gain them back, but this is not set in stone and should be up to the campaign and the GM to decide how to do this.

All-out Attack and Defense. Anyone using "All-out attack" gets to use two additional dice while attacking. The highest two dice are added up in the attack. Any attacks against this person will automatically hit. If the attack against this person also won in combat, then the attack will get +1/+1 to damage (one more dice and +1 fatality).

Long range attacks are not automatically all-out attack, but can lead to all out attack. If the gunner/archer is in close combat with melee weapons and is not all-out attacking then he or she is at -1d to attack and at -1,-1 for the damage of the weapon. The flipside to this, a melee combatant who is not in range to hit a gunner should pretty much go for all out defense, because there is no chance of hitting.

All-out defense means the person gets two additional dice and the top two total dice are counted, just like with attack. They are not considered in the consideration of "highest" for purposes of combat, but anyone attacking them must roll higher than them in order to score a hit.

Aim. Intent to Kill/Stun. Aiming means that a person sets aside a number of seconds to take aim. This gives the character aiming bonus dice to add to the roll, but means they have to stand prone while doing so. For every round sacrificed to an aim attempt, the character is treated as a sitting duck. They get to make a defense roll at 1d6. Any attacker who targets them and who scores higher than them gets a hit. Each round taken to aim gives +1d6 to their attack. This can be expanded up to three rounds (or about 20 seconds of time) for a total bonus of +3d. Unlike an all-out bonus, this bonus is tallied in with the roll, greatly increasing a chance of a hit. In extreme cases, such as sniper fire versus a moving target or a small target (small would be anything smaller than an average human torso), the time required to aim is double.

An intent to kill adds +1,+1 to the damage code of the attack, but halfs the number of dice rolled. In cases of an "all out intent to kill", the player would roll two dice and only count the highest. In aimed shots, the half is rounded down (so aiming for a round gives you only 1 dice in the end, since 3/2 = 1.5). In normal cases, the player only rolls one dice. In this regard, even smaller attacks can be more fatal. If the attempt is to stun, then the attack is undeadly. The attack is rolled at +2,+2 damage, but wounds and fatal wounds are only counted for the sake of calculating bruises. It is also at half dice to attempt, because of the concetration put forward to not inflict a deadly wound.

Armor and Cover. Anyone attacking someone behind cover (this is pretty much exclusively a consideration of long range combat) will be at a penalty. Their attack will be reduced by -3 for light cover, -1d for medium, and at -3 and -1d for considerable cover. Full cover, meaning the target's body is not exposed at all, will negate an attack, though the principles of cover fire and piercing may come into consideration.

Armor, however, will add straight to the Soak of the target. Soft armor will add a small amount of Soak (from 1-3, generally). Hard armor will add a moderate amount of Soak (3-6). Some armor, like bullet-proof vests are special mesh will be able to reduce fatality by -1 or -2, but may not add to soak. Particularly hard armor, magical armor, or hi-tech armor may combine these two properties.

Soak. Soak is now treated different, as anti-damage. Any time damage is taken, a number of dice equal to Soak is rolled. For every Soak die rolled, one damage die of equal or lesser value is removed. For example, Sue is shot with a small pistol (4,+0). The damage rolled is 5, 4, 4, 3. Her Soak roll (2) is 5 and 1. The 5 negates the 5 rolled, but the 1 is lesser than any damage shot and does not count. She takes two wounds. In the next round, the pistol scores a 6, 5, 2, 2. Her Soak is a 5 and 4. In this case, the fatal wound is scored, but the 5 and 4 negate the next two dice. While this does not prevent her from taking the fatal wound, it does stop her from taking 6 points of stun, which might have knocked her out due to shock.

Soak's value will be set at 1/2 Vitality, rounded down. In "normal" settings (everyday), this is 2 and 5, respectively. In standard settings (heroic), this will be 3 and 7.

July 13, 2007

A few months back, a harddrive mishaps wiped out my entire written collection of Untold, Resistance, and Runworld notes and designs (as well as Ghostlight). In the aftermath, I decided that the system as a whole needed an restart anyhow, and have a basic idea on how to restart it, with some old ideas and some new ideas incorporated. The following lists the basic ideas I have in mind for the system.

PHRASES: The phrases are retained. Attributes are not retained. The starting character will have 13 points (in a heroic campaign, in a normal campaign this is set to 11, or 15 in a superheroic) to spend on phrases and will have to take 3 (1 in normal, 5 in heroic) negative points of phrases. Each point buys a +1. The player will have the option of taking up to 8 (5/11) additional negative points in exchange of 8 additional positive points. The highest positve phrase must match the highest negative phrase (at least). Phrases can go from +7 to -7 in a standard "Heroic" campaign, from +5 to -5 in a normal campaign, and +9 to -9 in a "Super-Heroic" campaign.

Dice Rolls: the standard roll of the dice will be 2d6 + phrase value +/- adjustments VERSUS 2d6 + difficulty value. Tie goes to the one with the highest 2d6 roll. If this ties again, then result is treated as an honest tie, whatever that entails. Since 2d6 is averaged out at 7, then rolls of 7 or about 7 (6 or 8) are treated as standard effort. Rolls lower than 6 are treated as having increasing mistakes. Rolls greater than 8 are treated as being increasingly "fine". This does not change how the roll is calcuated, but it gives narrative power to what the dice indicate. For instance, if you roll a 3 but still succeed, then your success was despite your mistakes. A high roll that fails is an indication that you nearly made it, maybe accomplished a partial goal, but did not finish the task outright.

Comabt: will be an opposed roll of everyone in a conflict with the highest actually successfully striking a target. Those choosing ONLY attack or ONLY defense will get one extra die to roll. You take the value of the top two dice in calculating. If a person who rolls "all out defend" wins, then the next highest person who is not defending gets to attack still, but not if it is against a person defending. If all out attack is used, then attacks against the person will automatically hit if they can. Gun (or arrow) combat is "all out" unless cover is being taken. The act of taking cover consumes some of your ability to aim. All out defense assumes you are dodging, ducking or parrying in a way that stops you from counterstriking.

Soak and Will: Characters start with a base soak of 2 and a base will of 2. They may increase or decrease this as per any other phrase though not by more than the genre max allows or under 0. They may freely trade between Soak and Will up to the genre max/0 with no penalty. In those settings where Will has no real bearing, only Soak is allowed.

Damage: damage is going to be divided into three categories. Damage that does not make it past the Soak roll AND whose 2d6 roll is lower than the 2d6 soak roll counts as a bruise. A character can have any number of bruises though each one is attached to one phrase or another and will generally effect it through storyline methods only. In those cases where the Soak roll succeeds but the 2d6 is in the favor of the damage, they get a wound assigned to one of their phrases (not included Soak/Will). Each wound will make that phrase at -1 until the wound is healed (in a normal world, a wound can be removed at the rate of one per week, three can be removed per week in a heroic world, and one can be removed per day in a super heroic world). This can apply to either a negative or positive phrase. Any damage that exceeds the soak is a fatal wound and applies to all rolls (including Soak/Will) and takes three times the length to heal. Each time a fatal wound is scored, the player makes an unphrased 3d6 roll versus 2d6+"fatal wounds" (taking the top two numbers as per usual). The GM might make this 2d6 to increase fatality, or 4-5d6 to lower it. A failed fatal check rolls the wound over into the "mortal wound" category, which will character at the end of the scene unless appropriate action is taken.

Staging up/down: since it is possible for characters of different genre levels, or weaker/stronger characters within the same genre, the basic rule goes as follows. If the character is "lesser" to the genre they are in, they gain 1d6 for each "step down" and they take the lowest two dice. For instance, the fantasy RPG classic "goblin" might be a lesser enemy in a fantasy game and they would roll 3d6 taking the two lowest. The greater the character is to the genre standard, the more dice they use and they take the highest. For instance, a dragon might have 3d6 and a greater dragon might have 4d6. In their rolls, they take the two highest values (as well as having generally higher stats).

Or..: the older way of handling this was to make lesser characters roll only 1d6 (or no d6 if two stages down) and greater characters directly add +1d6 per stage up. This is dropped in this version in order to keep certain high level rolls from simply owning the game.

Written by W Doug Bolden

For those wishing to get in touch, you can contact me in a number of ways

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

The longer, fuller version of this text can be found on my FAQ: "Can I Use Something I Found on the Site?".

"The hidden is greater than the seen."