Play is organized into two main phases: the venture phase and the town phase. Each phase has three main stages of play.This structure provides momentum to the game by keeping players focused and giving a sense of pacing.
When your team identifies a specific way to help a town member, called a Contact, they will need to pursue the venture.
First, they will create the venture plan. Out of character, the group answers a few brief questions to sketch out the main obstacles of the venture. In character, the PCs choose a plan type, i.e. their initial approach to the task. This will help frame the initial scene of their venture as they face their first obstacle. Planning ends when each PC decides their Load, how much equipment they take with them.
Second, the group will make an engagement roll. It answers the question of how well things are going for the team with their plan type when the action starts. Essentially, this roll determines the tension level in the initial scene.
The rest of the venture plays out through action. For most of the action, players simply narrate their character’s actions as they work towards their goals, and the GM will narrate the world’s response. Narrative play continues until an obstacle enters the fiction.
An obstacle is anything that blocks the PC’s goal or challenges their safety. There are two steps to overcoming an obstacle:
At any time, a PC can invoke a flashback to before the venture to describe how they planned for a present obstacle. That PC marks stress based on the complexity of the flashback (zero to 3).
When a player character does something challenging, we make an action roll to see how it turns out. The core process is simple.
When you roll, always look at the highest result on any one die:
1-3: a bad outcome. Things go poorly. You don’t achieve your goal and you suffer complications, too.
4 or 5: a costly success--you do what you were trying to do, but that success comes with some complications like triggering a new threat or using up a resource
6: a full success--things go well. Two or more 6’s: it’s a critical success and you gain some additional advantage.
You have two opportunities to improve your dice pool before you roll.
The PCs have special reserves of endurance. They can change a roll outcome in two ways.
Resistance roll. You quickly use an attribute to mitigate the severity of the complication. After the GM describes a complication, propose a way the PC stops part of the complication and roll your attribute. Resisting costs 6 stress minus the highest result on any one die of the roll.
Overcome limits. You turn any roll into a full success, as if rolling a 6. Mark a condition in the related attribute.
Once a condition is marked, the PC has an ongoing vulnerability in that area. Anytime they make an action roll with a related action, they will also need to roll a separate condition die.
1-3: condition fallout. The condition you have adds a new complication to the situation. Propose what that looks like to the GM.
4 or 5: keep your cool. The condition doesn’t affect your roll.
6: dig deep. Your condition inspires an advantage or helps you in an unexpected way. Propose to the GM how your condition gives you better insight. Note: this does not affect the success of your action. This is an advantage separate from the base action.
Using Special Abilities
Every PC represents a special archetype in the world, from the tech jockeys who speak with machines to the survivors who rely on wisdom and experience to persevere through any danger. Each archetype has access to three core powers, which give them a variety of special abilities.
When you use a special ability, you treat it almost exactly like an action roll. The ability describes the action, you use the power rating, and roll a pool of d6 based on your rating dots. Judge the result with the same numbers for a failure (1-3), costly success (4-5), and success (6). If you want to resist the result, you use your soul attribute and make a resistance roll.
However, every powerful archetype is also associated with certain flaws. When the PC rolls less than a full success, they can decide one of their archetype flaws creates the complication. The player would describe how the flaw makes things go wrong. Or, the player can decide a flaw isn’t the complication, and turn over describing the complication to the GM like normal. Using flaws for complications earns you xp, but it also leads to dangerous attention in town.
Ending a Venture
The action stage of a venture continues until the PCs complete their task or decide to abandon it. Once the venture ends, the game moves into the Town Phase.
If the venture phases focuses in on action scenes, the town phase slows the pace and looks at the broader picture. This gives everyone a break from the intensity and allows you to see how actions tie into bigger dynamics in the town.
First, the group plays out the discord stage. This explores the community tension caused by the PCs’ actions; their entangled histories and developing relationships with town Contacts; and the group’s ability to resist conforming to the oppressive, fractured world around them.
The second stage focuses on community building. The PCs can learn more about individual Contacts. They can also unite friendly Contacts into a coalition that works on long-term improvements to the town. Bonding with Contacts and improving the town are the primary ways the group earns town advancements and special abilities.
Finally, the PCs engage in downtime. Each PC chooses how they spend their free time: recovering from conditions, working on long-term crafting projects, reducing stress, working odd jobs to build up favors, and more.
Once the PCs complete their downtime, they find another Contact who needs help and launch into a new venture.
Once a group is familiar with the rules and has built up some of the fiction of their town, they may want to spend time doing free play. This is an open-ended phase, with not set procedures.
Typically free play occurs after a town phase. Once the group finishes their free play goals, they can segue back into a new venture phase.