There is little reward without risk, and many of my favorite gaming moments were determined by the roll of a die. This chapter is meant to define these limits, but remember that the rules come second to the story. If necessary, the GM and players are welcome to ignore, add, or change rules to improve their personal experience.
Anesidora is split into sequences, where each player and NPC get the opportunity to take actions. Challenges that arise are resolved by rolling multiple dice, or a “Dice Pool.” The results of the roll determine varying degrees of success or failure. Attacks against other characters are also handled with dice pools, where success leads to damage, injury, and sometimes death.
The location of all characters is tracked by “Zones,” which determine things like cover from shooting attacks and abstract distance. Finally, the order of events is dictated by the “Chaos Deck,” an unpredictable deck of cards that dictate when actions happen. Once each character has acted, the deck is reshuffled to determine a new order.
Anesidora uses an initiative system that promotes Chaos. This is meant to represent the unpredictability of combat and order of events.
Before the game, the GM should write the name of each PC on a card (A standard deck of playing cards and a sharpie will do just fine). While a new card could be used for every NPC, it is up to the GM how they would like to organize their deck. We recommend using generic numbered cards for enemies and neutral characters. This will be the basic Chaos Deck that is shuffled and used to determine the order scenes are performed or the order Actions are completed. Companions act when the Player that controls them acts.
In combat, each NPC and monster should have a card added to the deck (This is when you might use a set of numbered Enemy, Ally, and Neutral cards instead of writing new cards for each combat). As each card is drawn from the deck, that character takes their turn. Once all cards have been drawn, the deck is shuffled and reset.
The GM must place cards for the players and their allies in the deck, but are under no obligation to let the players know what other cards are in the Chaos Deck or what occurs when the card is drawn. This may be because an activating character can’t be detected, the card starts a countdown, or it is simply a red herring to keep the players on their toes.
The GM may want to add Event, or No Event, cards to the deck during a sequence. For example, an explosion could occur completely out of the character’s control. If an Event card is drawn, that event happens immediately. The GM may add numbered event cards for different events to happen in a random order. If a No Event card is drawn, any events drawn after that point are ignored. This allows the GM to create random events in turn order without knowing when they will occur. The GM can also remove No Event cards at the end of each Round to make the event more likely to happen.
While adventuring, PCs can take Actions, talk, and ask the GM if they can make a Skill Check freely. During this time, the PCs often travel, socialize with each other or NPCs, and ask questions about their environment.
Anesidora is structured around moments between PCs and the world around them. To facilitate this, use the Chaos Deck and Sequences to ask players what their characters are doing. This helps build scenes and character, while ensuring that each player has a voice and opportunity to be the focus of the game. A Sequence does not need to be a fight or dangerous, often it is helpful just to check in with shy players or fairly determine scene order.
Sequences are split by how much time a round takes. A round ends when all cards have been drawn from the Chaos Deck, and they are reshuffled to begin a new round. This also defines the amount of time characters have to take actions. No matter the type of sequence a character can only do one meaningful action, usually defined by a single Skill Check, but that action can be longer and more impactful if they have more time. See the combat section for special “Combat Actions.”
A round is about 1-5 minutes and every second counts. These are used for duels, all out brawls, and moments of extreme tension, when the situation could change very quickly.
A round is 10-20 Minutes. This is used for normal combat, split party character development scenes, and dangerous encounters.
Each round lasts for a few hours. Hours are best used for exploring large areas, large scale battles, small skirmishes, hit and run tactics, and short visits to a town or encampment.
A Cycle is one 24 hour period that includes rest and downtime. Cycles are used for healing some Injuries, shopping, and gathering supplies.
The party has a large amount of time to plan and prepare. A long term round is about 3 Cycles, but can take weeks. Long Term is for healing particularly bad injuries, traveling, repairing equipment, or refilling supplies in town. It is also used for long term character projects, and the only time players may spend XP.
The Chosen often build roads between their towns and cities, and some still remain from the time of the Ancients, though they are mostly overgrown and in poor condition at this point. Roads can have their own dangers and the majority of travel is done by large caravans or heavily armed travelers. Other people can be just as dangerous to small parties on the road as the animals, environment, and supernatural elements.
Most of the Exiled live along secret paths in towns and villages the Chosen haven’t bothered to, or been able to, map. Some Exiled have built roads from their towns to the Chosen roads, but only the most powerful or trusting civilizations who seek trade would do such a thing. Many prefer to set up trading posts to keep their homes secret, because letting the Chosen know where they live could lead to the destruction of their people.
It is recommended that GMs keep these ideas in mind when running Travel sequences. To help, we will be creating a Random Events Table to generate situations your party might encounter and how to approach the scenes.
Supplies and money are important for survival and long distance travel. We are excited to create a tracking system for the final release of the game, but consider it secondary to storytelling, which we are focusing on with the early rules.
At anytime during an adventure, the GM may start a sequence. If they do so, they create a Chaos Deck, and ask players how they will be using their time as the cards are drawn. The scope of the PC’s Action should reflect the amount of time of the Sequence. The GM might do one round, or split time into multiple rounds, depending on how they would like to allocate time and how many important Actions they want to allow the Players to take.
Once a PC has declared what they would like to do, any other PC may try to join them, and the first PC decides whether or not they will allow each PC to join. For example, the PC might want to meet with an NPC in secret, and they found a time to get away from the rest of the party during the downtime, or they could decide that they would prefer other Character’s to be present for the conversation. A player may use their action to Track another player who is trying to avoid them. If a Character joins another PC, they do not act again when their card is drawn. A PC whose card has already been drawn may not join another PC, unless they specified that intent when their card was first drawn.
Some actions will require a Skill Check. Each Player is only allowed to roll or help with one Skill Check during each round of actions.
Blessings allow PCs to make additional Actions during sequences. If a Player has a Blessing, they take the additional Action when their card is drawn, or when they join another PC. If they do not use their extra action, while helping another PC, they may take that extra Action when their own card is drawn. A PC does not have to use their Blessing Action.
Remember that the game is about telling a story and having fun. Sequence actions should not be picked based on what the Player believes is most effective, but what makes sense for their PC. It is completely ok and encouraged for a PC to rest or have fun as their Action. Some activities like practicing a skill only have the in game effect of making sense for a Character, but are viable and great roleplaying choices. The richest gameplay comes from good character choices and storytelling, not doing something every time your card is drawn.
While every group is different, GMs are encouraged to not allow players to pressure other players to make specific actions out of character.
This list is in no way representative of the many creative and specific things that a player could do during a sequence. It is only intended as a suggestion of the scope of the actions.
-Talk to an Important NPC
-Organize a Secret Meeting Among PCs
-Have a Character Building Scene with another PC
-Explore the Area
-Look for Food and Water
-Take an Inventory of the Party’s Supplies
-Perform First Aid or Medicine on an Injured Character
-Go Shopping or Barter
-Gather Information from the Locals
-Take Part in a Leisure Activity like Drinking or Dancing
-Perform a Ritual to Honor the Gods
-Fix a Broken Item
-Play a Sport
-Practice a Skill
Characters have a variety of Stats that track their ability to perform actions, affect their surroundings, and stay alive.
All Characters have Attributes that represent their natural talent in different areas. They are assigned at character creation, but may change over time as Character's earn XP and become stronger.
Skill Ranks represent a Character’s experience and training in a particular skill. Ranks are purchased with Experience Points (XP). Increasing in rank can unlock special abilities.
A Skill Total is the sum of a Character’s Attribute and Skill Rank. This number is used to determine how many dice are in your pool when you roll.
A Roll is when a number of dice are rolled at the same time to determine the success or failure of an action. There are a variety of Rolls in Anesidora, but the most common are: Skill Checks, Melee Attacks/Defense, Ranged Attack/Cover, and Injury Checks.
Anesidora is played with special 12 sided Norn Dice. They represent how a character’s ability and fate are tested through skill, combat, and pure luck.
The Norn Die has 12 sides:
1 Double Success Result
2 Single Success Results
3 Lightning Bolts
2 Eyes of Horus
2 Blank Sides
Skills Checks test a Character’s ability and are only necessary when a player’s action is particularly difficult, the success or failure will change the story in a meaningful way, or when it'd be fun to roll some dice.
When a character’s skill is tested, they roll a number of Norn Dice equal to their Skill Total (Skill Rank + Attribute), modified by their Environment, Abilities, Items, and any other special circumstances. Some abilities may allow the Character to use symbols on the die other than Successes.
Compare the total number of Successes rolled to the difficulty of the check. If the total is equal to or greater than the difficulty, the Character succeeds in their action.
Compare the results of the roll to the difficulty Table for results
Easy - Given enough time, an average person would eventually succeed
Normal - A trained person could fail
Difficult - A specialist could fail
Very Difficult- Challenging for a specialist
Heroic - Only the best have a real shot
Mythic - Anyone who accomplishes this would be remembered
Ascended - The labors of great heroes
Variable - Some checks are dependent on the nature and strength of the challenge
Instead of rolling against a difficulty, the Player could be checking to see the degree of success. Some examples are the number of successes they roll are: the number of questions a character will answer, the number of people they rally around their cause, the number of items they are able to make, or the number of supplies they are able to collect.
Sometimes instead of checking the number of successes against a difficulty, you will Check against another Character’s roll. As a general rule, NPCs have set difficulties rather than making opposed checks against players, unless the opposed roll would add the drama of the encounter.
If each Character rolls the same number of Successes they have tied. If another character is trying to hide, they are not revealed, but the other character knows something is amiss. If they tried to detect a lie, they know the other character is untrustworthy. If a Character rolls more Successes, their Skill has succeeded.
If a Character assists another, they may add their skill rank to the dice pool.
If a Character has a Focus that matches the Skill they are using, they may use the Eye of Horus results as successes. A PC may pick a Focus in each of their Skills at Rank 3. However, combat skills do not have Focuses.
If the Character has an Item that helps their Skill Check, including a weapon for attacks. An item's quality is added to the dice pool up to the character's rank. This represents how a character requires a certain level of experience to take full advantage of the highest quality gear. For example, a Character trained in shooting could use any bow, but would only ever gain a maximum of 2 extra dice from quality, even if they had a quality 4 bow.
Independently, items are either Basic (B), Tech (T), or Ancient (A). This means that a character could have a master crafted bow (B4), or a rifle in disrepair (T1).
Basic items covers a variety of tools. For example, a magnifying glass might be a low quality basic investigation tool with a fingerprint kit as a high quality basic item. The usefulness of a particular item is based on role-play, since while a finger print would be perfect for finding a particular person, it would be relatively useless in tracking a deer, which is also Investigation. Basic items add quality dice to Skill Checks, Attacks, and Defense.
Tech items are more advanced, similar in level to our modern technology. As a general rule, Tech items can be distinguished from Basic items, because they require something from the Gods to maintain, like bullets for guns or energy for most other Tech items. A gun in poor condition would be a Tech item, but it might only be quality 1 until it is repaired. Tech items add quality dice to Skill Checks, Attacks, and Defense. They also count vaulknuts as successes for skill checks, and cause vaulknuts to deal additional damage when attacks hit.
Ancient Items are beyond our modern abilities and understanding, the things of science fiction and borderline magic. All Ancient items require energy to function. Ancient items add quality dice to Skill Checks, Attacks, and Defense. They also count lightning bolts as successes for skill checks, and cause lightning bolts to deal additional damage when attacks hit.
Items do not need to be literal tools. Sometimes, the benefit of an Item is conceptual. Some examples are a religious talisman, war paint, or an old medal condoning rank in a military. A single item can also effect multiple skills, but it uses its full item slots for each skill that uses the item.
A Character may carry, maintain, and benefit from a number of items associated with each Attribute equal to the rating of that Attribute. After a Character has spent a specific amount of XP, their number of item slots in each Attribute increases.
Quality does not affect the number of slots an item uses, but technology level does. Basic items take 1 slot, Tech items take 2 slots, and Ancient items take 3 slots.
Remember that if an item is used for multiple skills, it uses up additional item slots. A single Item may also affect skills in different Attributes.
Any time a rule or effect halves a number, round up unless the rule specifically states otherwise.
Particularly powerful symbol combinations can call the attention of the Norn to change a Character's fate. More Skilled actions are more likely to call their attention. If the Character rolls one of these combinations, something special will happen, whether or not the PC succeeds in their Check. It is up to the GM to determine the exact result, but they are generally minor ways to change the current situation of the Players.
3 Eyes of Horus - Good Fortune
Something good happens outside of the PC's control. If the Player rolls 4 Eyes of Horus, something especially good happens.
3 Blanks - Bad Fortune
Something bad happens outside of the PC's control. If the Player rolls 4 Blanks, something particularly bad happens.
3 Valknuts - Insight
The PC learns something new about what they were trying to do. This could be anything from a short term ability to a hint from the GM about a new approach to their problem. If the Player rolls 4 Valknuts, their insight is particularly strong.
6 Lightning Bolts - Divine Intervention
The Gods themselves appear to have intervened. This is not necessarily good or bad, but something major and magical. There could be a natural disaster, change in the weather, a vision of the future, or even a strike of lightning. Whatever it is, it has the touch of the divine.
If a Character only rolls two dice on a check or attack, they may have good fortune, bad fortune, or insight with only two symbols.
Skill Total = Skill Rank + Attribute
Melee Attack = Melee Attack Skill Rank + Physique
Shooting Attack = Shooting Skill Rank + Wilderness
Melee Defense = Melee Defense Skill Rank + Physique
Add Item quality bonus up to the Skill's Rank
In the final version of the game, Lifestyle will be much more detailed with supplies and Godshards effecting these checks