V.O.C. of the People
Storyteller uses 6-sided dice. When performing a Test (an action that has both something at stake and a chance of failure), a number of dice are rolled based on the difficulty of the Test, and compared to the character’s Ability at the task they are attempting.
Attributes are a character’s base aptitude. They are the foundation of every character, and will — at least in early game — will likely comprise the majority of a character’s Ability.
Type I Attributes represent a character’s potential, or their raw talent in a given field.
- Mental: the use of knowledge, willpower, understanding, and wit
- Physical: the use of one’s body and the physical space
- Social: the use of words and emotions
- Weird: the use of magic, Orichalcum, and/or special abilities.
Type II Attributes represent a character’s ability to harness and apply their talent.
- Control: manipulation, finesse, and subtlety
- Endurance: determination, resilience, and staying power
- Power: forcefulness, speed, and strength
- Presence: awareness, concentration, and sanity
All Attributes are graded on a scale of 1 to 5, with the grade corresponding to how many dice are rolled on tests where that Attribute is used.
- 1: Below average
- 2: Average
- 3: Above average
- 4: Outstanding
- 5: Incredible
The Player describes an action they are going to attempt, and declares 2 Attributes (one Type I, one Type II) that they will be using for the test. The declared Attributes must align with the player’s description of their action (no using Mental/Presence to shove a person), and the player and Narrator must both agree that they are the most appropriate option. This lays the foundation for the character’s Ability.
In addition to their two Attributes, Ability can benefit from Skills, Items, Unique Traits, Convictions, and Exertion. With the exception of Exertion, all relevant additions to Ability must be made before any dice are rolled.
Using available information, the Narrator then decides how difficult this action will be, and assigns a number of dice to the task based on that decision.
- 1: Unusually Easy. Navigating a crowded street, or climbing the rigging in calm weather.
- 2: Standard Difficulty. Chasing someone through a busy market, or keeping a ship on course during choppy winds.
- 3: Unusually Difficult. Secretly following someone who is using the Weird to obscure their position, or steering a ship through a hurricane.
- 4: Effectively Impossible. Tracking an Otherworlder who is using both invisibility and short-range teleportation, or boarding an enemy ship during a legendary monsoon while avoiding enemy cannon fire.
The Player then assembles a number of dice equal to the assigned difficulty, and rolls. They then compare the rolled total against their Ability. If the rolled total equals or exceeds their Ability, they fail, but if their Ability is higher than the rolled total, they succeed at the Test. Characters may elect to spend Exertion before declaring the Test a success or failure, and may choose to subtract a number of Exertion in order to increase their Ability by the same amount.
Any time a Player rolls at least one 1 during a Test on which they succeed, they may add one die to the Scheme, described later.
Any time a Player rolls at least one 6 during a Test on which they fail, they also incur some kind of additional, minor setback. Determining this setback is the responsibility of the Narrator, but Players may assist with suggestions. Once the setback has been declared, the Players may agree to subtract two dice from the Scheme (see below) to negate it.
Convictions are a description of something significant to the character. Examples could include: “The mission always comes first,” “physical pleasures are for the weak,” or “those who cannot protect their things do not deserve to keep them.” There is no limit to how many Convictions a character may have, or their total Significance.
Significance is measured on a scale of 1 to 3:
- 1: Valued – “I’m not just gonna stand here and do nothing!”
- 2: Momentous – “You’re going to have to go through me first.”
- 3: Pivotal – “I swear upon my life, it shall be done.”
When performing a Test, before rolling, a character may spend one Exertion to declare one of their Convictions relevant to the Scene. Doing so allows them to add that Conviction’s Significance to their Ability. The Conviction need not be immediately obvious how it is relevant to the events of the Scene; the player simply announces its relevance and add the extra Ability. It falls to both the player and the Narrator to justify it within the story by the end of the Scene.
More than 1 Conviction may be activated for a test, so long as all activated Convictions can be believably painted as relevant. The Narrator should reserve the right to turn down Conviction activation from players they believe to be abusing the system for numerical gain.
Convictions may be altered as the character grows and the story develops. At the end of each Session, the player has the option to move 1 point of Significance from one Conviction to another.
Players invest XP into specific actions of their own design (fencing, deduction, debate), called Skills. Certain Skills can, if both the player and Narrator agree that its applications are much more limited than the average Skill, be declared Focused. Focused Skills cost slightly less XP to advance, but have drastically reduced applications, so are usually less reliable. Focused Skills gain their first Mastery for free.
XP spent allows the player to purchase levels in a Skill of their choosing. Each level allows the player to increase their Ability by 1 when performing a Test in which the Skill is relevant.
Masteries allows the player to reroll a number of dice equal to their total Masteries when performing a Test in which both the Skill and its Masteries are relevant. When rerolling, the player must choose a number of rolled dice (up to their total relevant Masteries) and roll them again. You may only perform one reroll per test unless specified otherwise. Any rerolls granted by Masteries that are not used are wasted, and cannot be saved.
A character may have a maximum of 10 levels in a Skill.
Players may choose to invest XP into items; tools, weapons, armor — anything they might use when attempting various tests. The item in question can be whatever the player would like, and, upon first creating it, they should decide if it is Unique or Standard.
Unique items function much like items in traditional RPGs. You only gain your item bonuses while using that specific one, and if you ever lose it, you must reacquire it if you ever want to see those bonuses again. Unique items require less XP to advance, gaining their first Weird Trait for free, immediately after the third Rank is purchased.
Standard items are much more flexible. When using standard items, it does not matter if you are using the one you inherited from your parents, the one you bought from a traveling merchant, or one you made with pieces you found in a dumpster — the bonuses are the same. Standard items require more XP to advance.
Items have a maximum of 5 levels. The levels of an Item determine how much a character’s Ability is increased when the item is being used, just like Skills.
Anytime the player rolls at least one 1 during a Test on which they succeed, they may add one die to the Scheme, a shared pool that all players have equal access to. Players may, before rolling for a test, choose to remove 1 die from the Scheme to immediately decrease the Test’s difficulty.
When a Scheme die is used, the Narrator rolls a die (before the Difficulty dice are rolled). The Player will then add that die’s result to their Ability before comparing it to their Difficulty roll.
Dice may be added to or taken from the Scheme without the approval of the other players.
If a Player chooses to remove a die from the Scheme, they cannot add a die back into the Scheme on that same Test, even if they roll a 1 on the difficulty dice.
Experience (XP) is awarded at the rate of 1 per Scene. Experience can be stored indefinitely, and spent at any time (including in between tests). Experience may be spent on the following things:
- Begin a new Skill with 1 rank: 2 XP
- Begin a new Item with 1 rank: 3 XP
- Advance an existing Skill or Standard Item by 1 rank: 2+current rank XP
- Advance an Attribute by 1: 3+current score XP