If you would like to know more about any of the sections below – for example, examples of how the system element may work in a scenario – then please follow the links scattered liberally throughout.
Combat is a non-contact, deductive points system. Each character has a health score to represent their physical well being, and when they take damage, the amount of damage inflicted should be subtracted from their current health total.
How to fight
Each character has a combat rating. The number assigned to these skills determines how many seconds you must count down before your character can inflict damage.
To engage in combat, your character must broadcast their intent by adopting a suitable stance, then they should take a shot/swing a blow (stopping about half a foot short of your intended target). On successfully hitting or shooting another player, you will call out how much damage you have inflicted.
If you do not wish to let off a shot/swing a blow immediately after you have completed your count, then you may choose to hold your action. There are two likely reasons for this: your target is ducking in and out of cover and you know where they will appear from next, or the character is prone or at your mercy and you wish to postpone the inevitable.
There are combat-related skills that enable you to perform a combat action without broadcasting your intent, or inflict more damage depending on your choice of weapon. You can read more about these in the Skill section.
The amount of damage you deliver without a weapon is the same as your character’s Strength skill. Improvised or actual weapons will add to this.
- A +1 weapon possesses one of the following properties: is sharp, is hard, is heavy, is long enough to apply an additional kick. Most improvised weapons such as chair or weighty vases would fall into this category.
- A + 2 weapon will have two of the following properties: is sharp, is hard, is heavy, is long enough to apply an additional kick. +2 weapons are actual weapons and cannot be improvised.
- A +3 weapon will be large, sharp, dangerous, and will require skill to handle.
Ref decision on damage bonuses is final.
The amount of damage inflicted by guns is variable. The base is 6. Refs will inform you of damage totals for different types of firearms. If you fire a gun and the cap fails to sound, it counts as a misfire.
Effects of Health Damage
You should role-play your character’s state of health appropriately.
- At less than half health your character will be in pain and will be greatly discomforted. If your character takes a blow which deducts more than 5 points in a single blow, this is a Serious Injury. Your character will be stunned and will take a consequence appropriate to the weapon they were hit with. It is player discretion what form this injury should take. Only a medically-trained player character will be able to diagnose specifics.
- A 0 points, your character is unconscious is Unconscious until they are told otherwise by a Ref.
- At -1 points or below, the Dying rules come into effect. Seek a Ref immediately.
- At -5 points your character is dead.
Grappling and Strangling
Combat which does not use weapons or look to result in inflicting damage is called Grappling. This is when two players wish to wrestle with one another, perhaps to restrict someone’s movement, or retrieve an item being help by another character. Grappling should be performed sensibly, with all participants able to make contact. A full hand of contact is necessary – only being able to touch someone with your fingertips is not sensible or realistic.
Grappling is an opposed Strength check. Whoever has a highest Strength score wins. If the Strength scores are the same, an awkward shuffle should be mimed before both parties split. Other people may become involved in a Grapple; their Strength will add to whichever side they ally themselves to.
Beating a target character’s Strength score by 2 points or more enables you to manipulate them and move them howsoever you wish.
Grappling can also be used to strangle another character. Your Strength score must beat them, and you must mime strangling them by pacing your hands on their shoulders. The victim’s health will fall by 1 point every 15 seconds. If their health reaches 0, they are Unconscious. If they’re health reaches -5, they are dead.
Some characters possess the Escape skill which will enable them to remove themselves from a Grapple situation.
For the purposes of simplicity, it is assumed that Melee and Firearm Surprise Attacks result in a blow to the target character’s head. This should be mimed safely, and the victim should be informed of their fate by a hand being placed on their shoulder and their damage number given. A player character who has been taken by a surprise attack will immediately fall unconscious.
- Melee: A melee surprise attack confers the attacker with a +1 bonus to their attack.
- Firearms: Surprise Attacking with a firearm means you are shooting someone up close in the back of the head. More often than not this will result in the instant death of your target. Do NOT fire a cap gun near another player’s ear.
- Surprise Grapples: A surprise grapple confers the attacker with a +1 bonus to their Strength score for the purposes of the grapple.
First Aid, Surgery, and Medicine are the three primary healing skills; they each restore 1 point of health per treatment. A “treatment” is a single instance of restoring health to a patient by whatever skills at one’s disposal. It can only restore Health up to the level it was at the last time a treatment was successfully applied, so you can’t get healed by 2 points, say, then take a single Health point of damage, then get healed up a further 2.
- First Aid: a pre-requisite to any further medical training.
- Medicine: handles the administering of the correct drugs to control pain and stabilise a body in shock. Medicine can also have non-combat related benefits – for more information, see the Skill.
- Surgery: can brace or splint an injury. In game time, an afflicted character will continue to suffer the effects of their injury (as a broken bone or will not heal in the scant hours an event occupies), but the pain will be lessened and movement will be all-but restored to the rest of the body. Generally helpful for RP purposes.
The Sanity System is there to enhance role play. It is not a numbers game.
- Sanity is how your character reacts to things that defy their understanding of the world.
- Your character will encounter Mundane or Unnatural Threats to their Baseline sanity – that is: how they are from day to day. These Threats might threaten them physically, mentally, spiritually or emotionally. You can fight, flee, freeze or faint as an immediate reaction. Whatever you do will be influenced by the fact that…
- When threatened, your character has a Flaw that becomes aggravated. Flaws cannot be controlled: they can only be counteracted. The severity of the Threat dictates how severely your character will react.
- Your character can – if they choose (or if others force it on them) – bring that Flaw under check by indulging in a Coping Mechanism. This will enable them to return to their Baseline faster, but might carry a harsh penalty in and of itself.
Mundane Threats to Sanity
Mundane Threats are things that could happen in the really-real world but are sufficiently horrible or unsettling that they will make your character disturbed. For example: bodies, torture, or isolation. Refs do not “police” your character’s reaction to mundane threats. It is at the player’s discretion to decide if their character is sufficiently touch to deal with such things, or if such exposure will break them.
Unnatural Threats to Sanity
Unnatural Threats cannot be resisted unless you have been explicitly told otherwise. The severity of an Unnatural Threat will be broadcast by the use of coloured cards with dots on them to indicate how you should reaction (1 is green and is the least unsettling, 2 is yellow, 3 is orange, and 4 is red indicating its high severity).
Cards are not cumulative (so two greens do not make a yellow), but it is at your discretion as a player to decide if your character should be more disturbed by what they have experienced than we as Refs have indicated.
Examples where coloured cards might be used to indicate unnatural sanity threats include: seeing a terrifying, otherworldly monster, performing a ritual, interacting with a ghost.
Your character does not have to use Coping Mechanisms to control their Flaw
Your character will use their Coping Mechanism or express their Flaw for as long as you, the player, feels is realistic for your character and the situation they are in.
- Refs: The people who organise, run, and arbitrate events
- Crew: Catchall term for non-players who help in the running of events
- Players: The people who play in events
- First Aiders: People who are first aid qualified
- Members of Public: Non-participants who might enter into an event area
Out of Character Direction and Instruction
The colour purple is used to indicate things which players should respond to, but characters cannot see. Members of the Ref team, for example, will wear purple to indicate that they are not present in the scenario. Purple signage is also used to provide information and instructions. Common signage includes:
- OOC: Whatever this sign is attached to is not accessible in character
- Ref Area/Ref Bunker: Strictly no entrance to players; key plot area and Ref dumping ground
- Player Inside Is Unwell: Area beyond is for players who are unwell and occupies an OOC/IC middle ground
- Locked: This door or item is locked IC and will require certain conditions to be met before it can be opened
- Barricaded: This door has been reinforced through character action and will require certain conditions to be met before it can be opened
Calls may be issued by Refs, Crew members, or players. They must be responded to by all players unless specific instruction has been given.
- Time In: The game has begun/restarted after a Time Freeze call
- Time Freeze: Gameplay has paused
- Time Out: The game has concluded
- Drop: Affected characters should drop to the floor unconscious and await instruction
- Man Down: A player, Ref, or Crew member has been injured. Gameplay must stop and First Aiders should respond
Health and Safety
- Never, ever use sharp-edged objects such as knives as role play props whether that’s to gesticulate, threat, or engage in combat. Players found doing so will be removed from the scenario.
- Alcohol is often available at events. If it is felt that you have had too much to drink and you are a danger to yourself or the enjoyment of other people, you will be removed from the scenario.
- Look after yourself: keep rested, hydrated, fed, and ensure that if you have any medical conditions that require timed care, you observe that. If you become ill out of character, you must tell a Ref otherwise you will be treated as any other player which may cause you further harm. If you become upset or angry in game, please tell a Ref.
- Look out for other people: Know your audience in all things – avoid getting into someone’s personal space unless you are certain they will be okay with that. This extends to shouting as well as to touch. If you are aware of someone who is ill, please ensure the Refs are aware as the player themselves may not have informed the Ref team. If you see anyone in breach of game rules or Health and Safety, please discuss with the member of the Ref Team.
- Be mindful of your surroundings: Pay attention to any event-specific safety brief provided before each game. Each event and each location will have its own quirks. Always be respectful of the play area as it ensures we remain in good standing with the venue owners and can use it again.