Workshop: Modos RPG 1.4 patch


Guide of Modos

I don't know if I'm more excited about the improvements in this patch, or the cop-out that a "patch" saves me from re-writing the whole book! ;)

Anyway, here are a few fun things in the upcoming patch:

Expanded/emphasized player agency:
Players narrate their own attack moves, as well as their defenses. Further, Guides of Modos can solicit creative ideas from players (thanks Wil), and reward viable/dramatic choices with hero points.

Tactical firefight support:
This is inherent in the flanking rules, but not yet explicitly stated. If your mercenary unit is on its way out of the private jet hangar when SWAT arrives, you'd better shoot AND maneuver. You can bet some coppers are going to try flanking you (with movement actions), and if your mercs successfully outmaneuver them (with opposing movement actions), you'll still be able to take cover (defensive posture) (thanks Morrus).

Spell rules assimilation:
I'm pulling out the spell attributes for opponent cover (is he partially concealed? Behind a wall?) and implementing the existing offensive/defensive posture rules instead.

New perk: Skill point substitution.
Gain a skill point with your new perk at level up. So you could choose to know a new spell at the fibers of your being, if you feel that casting it from your arcanist's lens isn't good enough. Or if you don't mind waiting another level to take the Mana perk to gain 4 more spell points. Bonus: this eliminates the need for "perk substitution" rules.

Since I know I'm going to want some community input through this process, as in the past, and since I want the game to continue to be for and by the people, I'll post here with questions and updates.

Don't make me bribe you with ENworld XP...

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Guide of Modos
Modifying the Conflict Resolution Rules

This revision of the game is focusing on empowering both the GMs and PCs to create the story of the game. To that end, I'm going to reword the basic conflict resolution rule: the contest. The current wording refers to better or worse outcomes, and sometimes (still) successes and failures. Because there are a little too binary, I'm going to blur the line a bit more.

There will be three contest outcomes:
- a favorable outcome, which is a higher total than the opposition, is called a "pro"
- an ambiguous outcome, which is a tie (or a near tie), is called a "tie"
- an unfavorable outcome, which is a lower total than the opposition, is called a "con."

Some consequences of this:
- rolling a total of 25 against an opposition of 3 isn't an epic success; it's just a pro, or favorable outcome. How epic the success is depends on how the GM and PC want to narrate it,
- rolling near your opponent can result in an epic sword clash, or be included in your margin of pros or cons if there's a roleplaying/flavor reason to do so,
- rolling low can still be a "success," albeit an unfavorable one for the character.

My hope is that this eliminates some of the success/fail problems, like "failing" activities that people really can't fail (like the listen contest for the loud THUNK of a trap springing), and the phenomenon of succeeding or failing by an entire die (what I think of first is rolling 1 on a bow-shot...c'mon, I wasn't even aiming at the sky!!!).

What do you think? Does the rule look like it will help roleplaying or hinder it?


Guide of Modos
Chapter 1, first draft

Inner-city assault rifle shootouts, 12-step whirling axe attacks, and characters defined by a single skill, truly earning the title "master," can be found in this rules module. This is the version 1.4 patch, an update to the full Modos RPG game, and it contains streamlining, improvements, and brand-new rules that span the full table of contents of the main game. In addition to a suite of rules that allow GMs and PCs to do what they want – rules that say "yes" instead of "no" – this module also contains the full 1.30 rules catalog, followed by the rules catalog for version 1.40.
Due to the breadth of rules, this module follows the chapter layout of Modos RPG version 1.3. However, each chapter contains updates and modifications, meant to enhance each chapter of the full game, not to be read as full chapters on their own. To help you match each subject to its corresponding source, this module includes headers that refer to the rule(s) in question, and loosely follow the topics of the full game.
Following the discussion of the rules module (the chapters), you'll find the appendices: several play examples to illustrate how the game can go during play, the rules catalogs, and some guidance on the idea of a "character sheet."
This module is just that: a module. Use the rules you like, discard those you don't, and by all means, write-in your own rules to make the game your own. That's why it's here.


Guide of Modos
A new (draft) GM section on awarding hero points, or Bribing Your Players to Do What You Want:

Hero Point Awards
The game features an element that ties roleplaying and roll-playing together, in a way designed to strengthen the bond between player and character: the hero point (see chapter 3). For you, hero points are a way to reward players and guide their behavior in the direction you want it to go. For example, you want to run a serious scene. You could award a hero point to the player who stays in-character when other players are joking around. You can also award hero points to reinforce your
campaign concept. For example, your campaign concept describes the game as a movie about musical cartoon heroes. To reinforce this, you could award a hero point to players when they spontaneously break into song.
These uses of hero points should augment those listed in chapter 3. Remember, you have an unlimited supply to give, but Pcs have a limited number that they can keep, so give them freely. If you find that you've given few or no hero points in a previous session, it wouldn't hurt to start your next session by awarding a hero point to everyone.
For reference, a hero point is the chance to add 1d6 to a contest (an action requiring a d20 roll). The player defines his own hero points, and gains 1 per level, daily.

As a PC, I'd use my hero points on:
- fight contests to channel glowing, yellow energy, making my attacks "unblockable,"
- profession (scientist) contests while in Mad Scientist mode,
- defend (parry) contests while my escape artist character is in an escape scene, dodging blaster beams.

Revisions and comments appreciated.


Guide of Modos
Draft Dump

You may call this a preview, as long as you're error-checking/editing as you read! The following is not formatted, so please forgive such inconsistencies and the lack of eye-guidance.

Chapter 2: Guides of Modos

New section: General Rules
To assist with some of the decision making in the game, you and the players will use the standard types of polyhedral dice: d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, and d20. Each die type usually represents a level of competence, for everything from causing damage with a spoon to insurance underwriting. These competence levels are like the level titles in chapter 3. For example, a d4 represents amateur efforts, while a d12 represents the efforts of a master.
Sometimes you'll see a bonus after the die notation, like d4+1 or d12+3. In these cases, you'll add the bonus to the result of the die roll, or after taking half. Furthermore, these bonuses do not increase the minimum progress, which is always 1.
One feature of the game is the opportunity to increase your die rolling results by using a higher die type. This usually represents a greater level of a character's competence. For example, a player might use a d8 when rolling progress for sneak contests. If that PC takes the specialize (sneak) perk, his progress die improves by one type. The player then rolls d10 for sneak contests, instead of d8. If a player already uses a d12 for progress, there is no d14 for him to use if his progress die type increases. To increase your die type beyond d12, just increase the die roll bonus by 1 for each increase. So a d12 with two die type increases would become d12+2.

Mid-Game, Counters
The Counters section is removed, in favor of the new Initiative section in chapter 8.

Mid-Game, Adjudication
Player Agency (formerly Player Delegation)
Players feel more involved and invested in the game and have more fun when they have agency: the ability to make an impact in the game. Player agency is what occurs when you take a break from the rules and let the players do some adjudicating. Here are some examples of times to grant player agency:
Character sheet elements, and the character itself, are typically flexible enough to allow interpretation by the player. For example, a low physical score isn't something you should use to decide that a PC is weak. Instead, it's up to the player to decide what that low score means. Or if an NPC waits for a PC to reveal a specific detail about heraldry, you can ask your player, "would your character know the answer to this? What character element do you have to support it?"
Whenever you're not revealing a critical storyline scene or running Pcs through something completely out of their control, players control the game through their characters. Accordingly, if the players aren't telling you what they're doing, the game isn't progressing. If a PC isn't telling you what he's up to at the time, you should be asking the player(s), "what do you do?"
Just as important as the previous question is this question, "what happens?" Allowing Pcs to describe what happens gives them ownership of the game world, strengthening their bond to it. When a player makes an attack in combat, it's not just a vanilla baseball-bat swing. Ask the player what happens – why is that attack interesting – and describe the NPC's reaction accordingly. Or if your players are in the ancient dwarf home of one of the Pcs and they set off an ancient trap, ask the PC to describe what the trap would do.

Hero Point Awards
The game features an element that ties roleplaying and roll-playing together, in a way designed to strengthen the bond between player and character: the hero point (see chapter 3). For you, hero points are a way to reward players and guide their behavior in the direction you want it to go. For example, you want to run a serious scene. You could award a hero point to the player who stays in-character when other players are joking around. You can also award hero points to reinforce your
campaign theme. For example, your campaign theme describes the game as a movie about musical cartoon heroes. To reinforce this, you could award a hero point to players when they spontaneously break into song.
These uses of hero points should augment those listed in chapter 3. Remember, you have an unlimited supply to give, but Pcs have a limited number that they can keep, so give them freely. If you find that you've given few or no hero points in a previous session, it wouldn't hurt to start your next session by awarding a hero point to everyone.

Light Levels
The type and amount of lighting in any given scene is determined by the GM and Pcs. However, because lighting is usually very important to characters and their activities, the rules provide four levels of lighting that can affect the contests of characters who have difficulty seeing. These are:

Bright – Daylight or any other lighting bright enough to create shadows and illuminate up to Long range or beyond.

Dim – Full indoor lighting, twilight, or ambient bright light coming from the outdoors. Dim light casts shadows and a dim light source illuminates generally up to short range.

Dark – Moonlight, indirect lighting, or weak light sources like candles. In darkness, there's just enough light to be able to guess at what's nearby, at close range. Those who can't see in the dark suffer challenging difficulty (-4) on vision-based contests.

Black – Blackness is the complete lack of visible light, like the conditions found in caves or on some moonless nights. A lucky character can barely see something in blackness right before he bumps into it. Most vision-based contests take a difficult (-8) penalty or worse in blackness.

Player-Character Advancement
To reward PCs for accomplishing tasks, reaching landmarks, or just showing up to play, you can give them level-ups: the chance to increase character level by one. When you do so, the character gains another attribute point, skill point, and perk. Also, as the character level increases by one, so does that character's maximum number of hero points and skill points per skill.
The rate of leveling up depends on your campaign theme. Some campaigns feature characters who only change their relationships over the course of the game. This type of campaign wouldn't offer level-ups. Other campaigns have characters who improve their superpowers enough to destroy a galactic villain. These campaigns might award level-ups after each session. Still others reward characters on an incremental level as they learn things or do well. These could award portions of levels in the form of skill points or perks. Advance characters at a rate appropriate for your campaign, and reasonable for the players.

Chapter 3: Player-Characters

2) Assign Level
General character power is measured in character levels. A level is simply a set of character elements granted to a character – an attribute point, a skill point, and a perk. Your level is also the number of hero points you can store, and the highest number of points you can assign to a single skill. Because levels measure improvement, you can refer to specific levels with common terms for power, experience, or achievement, like those in table 3-1. Before character creation begins, the GM will tell you what level your character is. Later, you'll use that number to assign points to attributes, skills, and perks. For example, to create a 4th level character, you'll add 4 points to one or more attribute scores, 4 points to skills, and you'll pick 4 perks to add to your character.

3) Determine Attribute Scores
An attribute is a metagame, abstract measurement of a character. They are like a character's inherent power, or sometimes called stats. Each character has three attributes: physical, mental, and metaphysical:

Physical (abbreviated P) is the measurement of a character's body. It can represent well-being, strength, stamina, speed, and any other corporeal characteristics.
Mental (abbreviated M) is the measurement of a character's mind. This relates to anything like reasoning, sensing, memory, and focus.
Metaphysical (abbreviated MP) is the measurement of a character's spirit. This covers a character's charisma, soul, aura, supernatural sensitivity, and fate.

Each attribute is measured by a score. Players describe how their attributes define their characters in-game, but the attribute scores define characters in terms of rules. As a score gets higher, a character gains higher contest bonuses, more ability to take damage, and bonus actions.
Your GM will tell you how to determine attribute scores. Here are two common methods:

Average: take 8, 10, and 12 and apply them to whichever attribute you like. This method gives you a weak score and a strong score, while guaranteeing that no scores are critically low. This is the recommended method for NPC and monster creation.

Roll 3d6: to determine each score, use the result of 3d6. This method places most of your scores from 8-13. It gives you a good chance to start with scores higher than the Average method, but also gives a chance of very low scores.

Each attribute score determines a bonus that applies to all contests made with that attribute. Negative bonuses are called penalties. To find the attribute bonus for an even score, subtract 10 from the score and divide that by 2. To find the bonus for an odd score, subtract 11 and divide that by 2. For example, a mental score of 15 has a bonus of +2, or a physical score of 8 has a penalty of -1.
What the attributes mean is up to you. A character with a Physical score of 15 can be slow or fast, strong or weak, short or tall. A character with 5 Metaphysical could speak with ghosts, but as you'll see in the magic rules, become Catatonic every time he uses magic. For the most part, attribute scores are metagame rules. Collaborate with your GM, using the campaign theme, to solidify your character's attributes.

6) Prepare Damage Pools
When characters risk their well-being, they take damage. Damage accumulates in a damage pool, and when that pool fills past its limit, the character becomes disabled. Here's how it works:

Damage. A means of counting how close a character is to being disabled. Damage can be Physical, Mental, or Metaphysical, but what it means to your character is usually up to you. For example, you could play your character as increasingly crazy as he takes metaphysical damage, or your physical damage could be debilitating wounds, or simply sweat accumulation. Damage can also be labeled in other ways, like Lightning, but it always has an attribute type.

Damage Pools. To record damage, your character sheet should have a section for tallying Physical, Mental, and Metaphysical damage. You should list your defense bonus and protection near their respective damage pools as a reminder. These are discussed in chapters 4 and 8, respectively.

Max Damage. Each damage pool can hold a maximum amount of damage equal to the character's current attribute score. When a character's damage exceeds max damage, the character becomes disabled.

Disabled. A disabled character cannot significantly contribute to the story. The type of disability depends on the damage taken. Exceeding max Physical damage makes a character Mostly Dead. Such characters are severely limited physically, whether having grievous wounds, severe dehydration, or other physical problems. Too much Mental damage makes a character Unconscious, a mental disability like sheer confusion, being too stunned to do anything, or actual unconsciousness. After Metaphysical max damage, a character becomes Catatonic: his body and mind still work, but his spirit is completely broken. Catatonic characters could be crippled with sadness, void of all motivation, or simply just staring off into space.

Recovery. Recovering from Disabled can happen any number of ways, and is usually a product of GM and player agreement, and the situation. The simplest way is to assume that a character is no longer disabled when he loses some of the damage that pushed him over max damage in the corresponding damage pool. For example, Number 2259 fell unconscious when a lunar Cereclops mind-lashed him, causing him 5 Mental damage, which was 3 more than his max. If Number 2259's exo-suit activates its neuro-nano-bots, healing 2 points of Mental damage, he'll have 2 less than max damage, and no longer be Unconscious. By default, characters lose (or "heal") damage naturally at the following rates: Physical and Mental damage at 1 per day, and Metaphysical damage at 1 per hour. Note that the term "health" can be used to measure how much damage a character hasn't taken; if a character with 15 max Physical damage has 10 Physical damage in the pool, you can say that he has 5 Physical health.

Chapter 4: Skills

Skills – Common Skills -
Knowledge (type) - M
Knowledge (lore) is a new knowledge type, while Knowledge (scholarship) has been revised.
Knowledge (lore)
You have paid attention to tales, rumors, and legends. Knowing lore means knowing helpful information that people don't write down, like people's relationships, what part of the countryside is dangerous, and what's the best festival for lifting some purses.

Knowledge (scholarship)
You have spent time studying books, being tutored, or listening to lectures. Use this skill to produce information that is most likely found in an old book, or to write a book. This includes, but is not limited to, any topics not covered by the four profession skills (artist, craftsman, healer, scientist) like history, heraldry, and law.

Magic (spell name) - SK – MP
Many special abilities (spellcasting, hi-tech, psionics, superpowers, etc.) use this skill. A different magic skill must be learned for each spell that a character wants to know. Using this skill while wearing no armor and no shield grants a +2 bonus to your contest. When you use the Magic skill you lose Metaphysical health, taking 1d8 + (spell level) Metaphysical damage when the spell occurs. See the Magic chapter for more information on spellcasting. Opposing this skill depends on the effect of the spell, but is usually a defend skill or another Magic contest.

Chapter 5: Perks

Perks – Gaining Perks
Perk Tree – REMOVED. If a perk can be taken multiple times or has prerequisites, its entry will say so.

Attribute Point (attribute)
This perk increases one attribute score by one point. This perk may be taken again and applied to any attribute.

Your damage rolls gain +2 when you use tiny or small weapons and your opponent does not react to your attack, i.e. use an action to avoid your damage.

Dual Wielder
If you wield a second weapon, you can use it as a shield that grants +1 to your Defend (Parry) contests.

Karma (renamed Ki Strike)
When you roll to cause Physical or Mental damage, you may choose to deal one point of Metaphysical damage instead.

Lucky Day
If you take damage and become Disabled in any attribute, you may immediately spend a hero point to undo that condition. Taking subsequent damage will Disable you as normal.

You gain +4 to your Metaphysical max damage. You may take this perk again to continue increasing MP max damage.

Martial Artist
When unarmed and unarmored, your unarmed attacks deal d6 damage and your Physical protection is d4.

Owl's Eye
In Black light level, you see instead at Dark light level, at Close range. Taking this perk again extends Dark vision to the next range increment.

Set to Stun
When you roll Physical damage, you inflict one point of Mental damage as well.

Skill Point (skill)
This perk adds one skill point to a skill of your choice. It may be taken again and applied to any skill.

Specialize (Skill)
You have great potential with a particular skill. With this skill, your max number of skill points are not limited by your character level, you may treat the skill as though you have Specific Knowledge of it, and your progress die is one type greater than normal. For example, if Merloon gains Specialize (Magic [Ice]), he can cast the spell without having a skill point in it, his damage die would be a d10, and he could add future skill points to the spell even if they would exceed his level. Taking this perk again applies it to a different skill.

You gain +4 to your Mental max damage. You may take this perk again to continue increasing M max damage.

You gain +4 to your Physical max damage. You may take this perk again to continue increasing P max damage.

Weapon Training (Weapon Focus renamed)


Guide of Modos
Next draft dump

So, no one's dying to proofread random internet stuff. Got it. Then I hope this inspires you to write your own material, or get some ideas on magic systems or fundamental RPG resolution rules (see Contests)!

Chapter 7: Magic
Module intro:
Two major changes and some minor changes to the magic module make using magic less cumbersome, and more imaginative for the player and GM. The major changes are the removal of cover as a separate magic spell consideration and the reduced minimum Magic contest (formerly Cast Spell) from 10 to 1. These, along with the minor changes, warrant a close examination of each spell's parameters which is outside the scope of this module, but well within the purview of your gaming group.
For example, the spell Fire2 had a Partial cover attribute, meaning that it could damage characters who were both within the spell's Short range and behind no cover or partial cover. This made the spell more difficult to cast (usually in increments of 4), so a new Fire2 spell would be likely to have 0 casting difficulty instead of -4. Furthermore, 3 actions of casting Fire2 result, on a Pro, in d12 damage – an average of just over 2 points per action. You and/or your group might decide that two casting actions are more worthwhile for a spellcaster casting Fire2, making the spell level 2 instead of 3.

Spellcasting Basics
A magic spell is what happens when you, the spellcaster, use the Magic skill. Like any other skill, the outcome of using the Magic skill is determined by the contest rolled by the player or GM. Some spells are harder to cast than others, so the spellcasting contest will sometimes have a difficulty bonus from the spell itself. If in conflict, you use a number of actions equal to the spell's level. Then, the player and GM determine what the spell will do given the situation, spell targets, spell range, and effect. Finally, you expend Metaphysical health , called casting damage, to make the spell occur.
If you're the target of a spell and want to avoid it, you'll use a defense contest (Defend skill) to counter the spell's effects. Against some spells, one favorable defense is enough for safety. Against others, one defense exposes you to only the spell's half-effect, and you'll need a total number of Defend Pros equal to the spell's level to escape the half-effect.
Finally, spells have different durations. Some last an instant, effectively beginning and ending on the spellcaster's final casting action. All other spells have a variable duration, lasting either until the beginning of the spellcaster's next turn, or longer if the spellcaster uses a maintenance action each round.

Magic Spell Entries
Some spells are more difficult to cast than others. When a spellcaster rolls his Magic contest, he applies the casting difficulty to it. If casting diffculty reduces a contest below 1, the player or GM may decide that no spell occurs, or something goes wrong with the attempt. Casting difficulty based on the spell's target are +4 self, +0 single, and -4 multi. For range, it's +4 close, +0 short, -4 medium, and -8 long. So casting a ward on one's self (Close) that affects three targets per round (Multi) would have a difficulty of +0. Or casting a spell that makes a hole (Single) in any wall within eyeshot (Long) would have a difficulty of -8, reducing the spell's contests by 8 each.

This describes how far a spell's effects reach, in terms of the abstract posture system. The actual distance involved is up to the GM and player, but is bounded by these range categories (discussed further in the Conflict chapter):

Close. The spell affects any nearby target. In game terms, Close range is those targets in the same posture as you are, or one change of posture away. For example, if you are in defensive posture, allies in defensive posture are in Close range, and allies in offensive posture are in Close range, but no enemies are within range. Close range spells follow the same damage percentage rules as ranged weapons.

Short. A spell with this range can target anyone or anything in conflict, usually anything with a combat posture. It suffers a damage penalty only when being cast from defensive posture on an opponent in defensive posture.

Medium. Spells affecting Medium range targets generally aren't affected by obstacles. If they have physical effects, they don't need to follow straight lines. If they are intangible, they can affect even well-protected targets, although the spellcaster should have an idea of where his target is.

Long. The spell can affect targets unlikely to enter conflict, unknown targets, and some targets beyond eyeshot.

Cover (removed)
The attribute of Cover has been subsumed by the Range attribute.

Chapter 8: Conflict

Whenever a PC attempts something that might be difficult for him, or the outcome of character actions or circumstances should be decided in an objective way, the GM will ask for a contest. This is a roll of two d20s: one for the PC and one for his opposition (GM or other PC). Each side gets to add bonuses to the die roll, and there are three possible outcomes:

Pro: your contest is higher than the opposition. A Pro indicates a favorable outcome for your character.

Tie: your contest is the same as the opposition. A Tie can indicate a neutral result of the contest, or simply require a reroll. The GM can award a Pro if other factors are in your favor, you've roleplayed well, or if your bonuses to the contest are greater than your opposition's bonuses (regardless of die roll).

Con: your contest is lower than the opposition. A Con indicates an unfavorable outcome for your character.

For the typical contest, the GM has decided that what you're trying to do isn't something your character could do automatically. He'll ask you to roll a contest, usually referring to a related skill, like a Detect contest or a Profession contest. To find your contest result (or just "contest"), you roll a d20, add the bonus of your most applicable attribute, and add your skill points. If the GM thinks you have a situational advantage or disadvantage, he'll tell you to add difficulty to your contest. If you've roleplayed the situation well, he can also ask you to add a roleplaying bonus to it. Finally, if the attempt relates to a heroic feature of your character, you can add a Hero Point. The sum of these factors is your contest result. The GM compares it to your opposition, which determines if the outcome is favorable or unfavorable for you, and then narrates the outcome with you.
For example, Montana Smith is being cursed by an evil witch doctor. The GM tells Betty that she can make a Defend (concentration) contest to resist the curse. Betty wants Montana to resist, so she rolls a d20 and gets 6, adds her Mental bonus of +2 since Concentration relates to her Mental attribute, but can’t add any Concentration skill points since Montana doesn’t have any. Betty’s contest is 8. The GM rolls an opposing contest of 19, and then begins to narrate Montana's Con: "Black words take to the air from the witch doctor's mouth, and surround Montana's head. Montana begins seeing demonic shadows in any shadowy area." And Betty adds, "I shake my head violently, trying to clear it, but then stare with wide eyes at the evil spirits I see. If the witch doctor doesn't drop the spell in an hour, I'll try another defense around then."
Remember that contests are a chance to roleplay! Whether you get a favorable outcome or not, you can let the other players know what your contest result means by roleplaying it. If you win a Handler (dogs) contest, you can speak softly to the ferocious guard dog, using slow hand motions. If you lose a Magic (stun) contest, you could recoil briefly in pain from the psychic feedback. Do it well, and the GM could award you a Hero Point.
Note that each die roll has the same chance of occurring, so some are not inherently better or worse than others. A 1 is not worse than a 16 if both result in a Con. The player is, of course, welcome to inflict awful results on himself if it adds to the story, and again, potentially earn a Hero Point for it. On the flip side, a PC attempting a Challenging task doesn't instead perform something miraculous if he rolls a 20 and adds a Hero Point of 6. The result is a Pro, to be sure, but anything above that is up to player/GM collaboration.


Guide of Modos
Quality contests, difficulty table, minimum contest, and take half

In this batch you'll find the One Table to Rule them All, and a rule that eliminates the need for over 50% of die rolls.

Quality contests
The basic rules for contests are mostly binary; results are either good or bad. Usually, the player establishes the quality of his action when he announces it, and the GM assigns a corresponding Difficulty. However, sometimes it's helpful to gain a little more information about a contest result beyond favorable and unfavorable. For example, a sniper lines up a target's head at 800 meters. The target's commander just happens to be walking near the target at the time. The GM decides that the shot would be Arduous for a normal person, or +12 on the difficulty contest, and rolls a 5, for 17. The sniper's player needs a contest result of 18 or higher for a Pro. The player gets 19: a favorable result. The GM will call the shot a direct hit, but he's not sure if the commander was hit as well.
To decide the quality of a contest, the player rolls a second contest against his first result, not against the opponent. If the first contest was a Pro, and the quality contest a Con, then the result is average or non-exceptional. The same goes for the reverse, Con and Pro. If both contests are a Pro, i.e. the player's second contest was higher than his first, then the player has earned an outstanding result! In the example, the GM could say that the shot hit the commander as well. If both contests are Cons, then the outcome could be especially bad for the player.
Remember that in most cases, one contest is enough to help the player and GM dictate what happens, and the quality is usually decided up front with the difficulty. If there is doubt, roll Quality.

Difficulty Level Bonus Description
Easy +0 Usually doesn't require contest
Challenging +4 Some focus is required
Difficult +8 Requires serious effort
Arduous +12 Overwhelming odds
Impossible +16 Cannot be done
Divine +20 Requires special intervention

Minimum Contest Result
As shown in the Difficulty table, easy actions don't requires contests; you just roleplay them. Sometimes the GM can hand wave some more difficult actions, simply because your character might have enough skill to make the action easy – like doing flips when your total Movement bonus is +9. However, sometimes a contest is advisable and should exceed a certain result.
This situation can occur in combat when an opponent has used all his actions for the round, so he is too busy to respond to further attacks in that round. That opponent's inability to respond to an attack against him doesn't mean that he automatically takes Damage. A surrounded opponent, for example, might be Easy to hit with a club, and not require a contest. But shooting that opponent with a bow might be Difficult (+8), since you wouldn't want to hit your allies. And shooting that same opponent while another opponent is attacking you with a club might require your contest to beat Arduous difficulty or worse!
Another important situation that can require a certain level of contest is magic use. Some spells are difficult to cast, and impose a penalty on your Magic contest. If such a penalty drops your contest below 1, the GM can announce that you've made a mistake while casting the spell, either causing the attempt to fail, or even resulting in a new, less desirable, spell effect.

Take Half
With contests, damage, protection, hero points, and simultaneous actions, there can be a lot of die rolling going on. To save time and table space, players and the GM can take half on any die roll to get a result of half the die's highest roll. For example, taking half on a contest (d20) gives you a roll of 10, or taking half on a hero point (d6) gives you a roll of 3. Gms and players use this rule in different ways.
Since the GM's job is to create interest and fun, the GM takes half whenever it improves gameplay. Usually, this means taking half on most rolls to speed up extended conflict. But at critical points, like when a character (PC or NPC) is near max Damage, or when a player expects to win (or lose) a contest because the GM usually takes half, actually using the die roll can add to the fun. A GM can take half before or after a die roll if it would make the game more fun for the players (usually meaning the player will get a Pro).
On the other hand, players must announce that they are taking half in place of making a die roll. One reason for this is to raise the stakes for the player; making a commitment to a contest is making a commitment to the character. Rolling is often a better choice for Pcs because it will give them better odds on a high result for rolls like Damage, Protection, and hero points, but it can be easier and faster to take half on all rolls but one. For example, one Magic action can require up to six rolls (Magic contest, spell damage, casting damage, hero point, Metaphysical protection, and Physical protection if being attacked while casting). A player may do the math for taking half in advance, and know that half casting damage less half MP protection is 4, half the contest plus half a hero point plus his bonuses is 18, and half of his Physical protection is 2 – and so announce he's taking half on everything but spell damage, which he'll roll.


Guide of Modos
Barebones? Yes. The future King of Conflict Resolution Rules? Doubtful.

The basic conflict resolution is two d20 rolls, one for the player-character and one for the GM. All contests for characters assign an appropriate attribute bonus; non-characters may add difficulty. The numerical result of either side's roll is called its "contest (result)." The higher contest is called a "Pro," or favorable outcome. The lower contest is called a "Con," or unfavorable outcome. Equal results are called a "Tie."

P.S. The little GM on my shoulder says that this has already been used in another game. Excluding the similar rule from a Totally Superior Roleplaying game, and the named outcomes (pro con tie), have you seen a game that beat me to the punch?
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Guide of Modos
Perks Chapter Intro

This isn't too snarky, is it?

Fire Ninja Gangsta: The samurai is busy? Time to destroy! Fight (melee) for 25 and 17! This stone samurai is a goner. (Rolls four damage dice) that's 16 on the die, plus four Backstabber bonuses is +8, plus four Karma hits, is another 4 MP damage! Boom!

GM: Er, Ninja? You can make one attack per action, not four. And that damage...

Fire Ninja Gansta: Oh yeah? I have Backstabber, Karma, Dual Wielder, and Martial Artist! Martial Artist makes each hand a weapon, and Dual Wielder doubles my attacks.

GM: You might want to re-read those perks.


Guide of Modos
Round 1, Fight!

GM: You're marching up the mountain trail when up ahead, where the hill crests, you see a familiar shape silhouetted at the top.

Thoros: I hope it's Berren...

GM: It is shortly joined by two more silhouettes. You recognize their pointy shoulders and long, flowing hair...

Pruni: (Whispering) those are Empire Elves. (Louder) and I think they see us!

GM: They do. Draw steel! (Rolls an initiative contest for the opponents) contests?

Thoros, Pruni, and Randal: 4... 8... 22.

GM: Randal's first. (Starts a combat card row for three opponents and three PCs.)

Randal: Draw my I need to move up?

GM: (Ticks off one action for Randal.) Yes, they're about fifty feet uphill.

Randal: I'll wait until we're all ready to move up.

Pruni: They're in javelin range, so I don't need to move up yet. I'll draw one, by the way, and stab my spear into the ground.

Thoros: My poleaxe is ready, since I walk with it. I'll move up with Randal on his next action.

Randal: Okay, then I move up the hill, carefully. And I'm done.

Pruni: And I throw my javelin through an elf's face! (Rolls fight (missile) contest and damage.) 12, and 3 damage.

GM: (Decides to charge Randal and Thoros an action for slow movement since it is uphill and toward the sun. She ticks off two actions for Pruni: one during Randal's first and one during his second action.) As you move up, the elf-silhouettes draw curved swords, but the taller, cloaked one casts his cloak back, revealing blue-magic-charged hands. (Ticks off an action for the each sword-elf.) Pruni's javelin flies straight toward the cloaked elf, who dodges wildly at the very last second, and takes Damage. "You are interfering with Empire affairs!" It's the elves' turns. The sword-elves charge down to you in their matching Empire armor. This puts the two elves, Randal, and Thoros in offensive posture. That's one each, Randal and Thoros. Are you defending? (Ticks off an action for each elf, takes half on the elves' fight contests, and rolls two damage dice.)

Thoros: And miss a chance to hack? No way! I flip the butt of my weapon up, hoping to catch my attacker off guard. (Rolls fight (melee) and rolls damage.) And...take half on protection.

Randal: Speak for yourself Thoros! I'm a soft target! (Rolls defend (parry) and physical protection) 14? Yes! 5 for protection.

GM: Randal, that's a Tie. Thoros, the other elf crashes toward you and into your weapon, trying to push his sword straight through. You take (checks die) 5 physical damage, and what's your damage?

Thoros: I rolled 4. I take the crash, and my weapon gets pressed up between us so I use it to push him away.

Randal: I get my daggers up just fast enough to stop the blade as it leaves a little mark on my neck. Do I take the damage on a Tie?

GM: Just one point, as a memento. Meanwhile, the leader uphill, on his turn, puts his two hands together and a tiny ice storm forms around them, for one action...

Thoros and Pruni: I attack! (Each rolls a fight contest and damage.)

GM: (Smiles) don't trust spellcasters? Thoros attacks. But you do half damage since the elf is in defensive posture. (Rolls magic (ice) and takes half on protection for the leader.) Also, you subtract 4 difficulty for attacking uphill, into the sun. Pruni, don't you need to ready a weapon?

Pruni: That would make it easer to throw, I guess.

GM: The sword-elves see the opening, and attack as well. (Takes half on fight and damage for the sword-elves.) Okay: the leader, who is initiating, balls up a spell of ice. Randal faces a counter-swing from the elf next to him...for 3 damage. Thoros breaks for the leader, so the elf near him slashes at Thoros' back for 6 damage. Pruni readies her other javelin, and Thoros?

Thoros: (Rolls) minus 8. I whirl my poleaxe in two big circles, coming down toward his head...(rolls damage) 4 damage. And the whirls serve to keep my last opponent at bay.

GM: Good detail. Take a hero point. He's trying to keep you away from the leader, but your axe-head keeps forcing him back. The leader shouts something while backtracking, aiming his ice-orb at you. The blast blows his hair and cloak back...(decides to keep the first Magic contest on the combined action since the result was 15, and Thoros is too busy to parry anyway.) 7 ice damage, Thoros, and you're so cold that it's Challenging to move. The elf-leader draws a shortsword for his last action.

Thoros: The ice blast hits me dead-on, but all it does is make me angrier. And colder.

GM: Next round.

Level Up: Advanced 5th Edition Starter Box

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