The following rules are important for all modes of play. Following this section, the rules governing each game mode is described in greater detail.
Choices and Actions
Playing World Saga is all about making choices. The GM will describe the current situation and then it is up to the players to determine what their character does next. Player will have to make a choice. Most of the time that choice will be harmless with no immediate consequence, such as choosing to speak with an NPC shopkeeper. Other times, choices can have drastic consequences, such as choosing to charge through a door instead of first listening for any signs of danger on the other side.
When a player proclaims what their character is doing, they are taking an Action. Most of the time, these actions and their consequences will be certain and predictable. In these cases, the GM will simply agree that these actions take place and describe how the world reacts to the player’s choice. However, in some cases, these actions might possess an element of danger and the results of the action are uncertain. In these cases, the GM will ask for a Test.
Whenever there is uncertainty in the result of an action, you’ll be asked for a Test. The five types of Tests are described in detail in Chapter 1. Chapter 2 also outlines many Actions within the game with a predefined Test to adjudicate the Action. These codified Actions are provided to help streamline the many possible occurrences during a typical game. However, these lists of Actions are not comprehensive and should not be considered a restrictive menu of what is possible in the game.
World Saga is a roleplaying game. Imagination and creativity are cornerstones of such games. This means that the players will often surprise the GM by making a choice that is not governed by one of the Actions listed in this book. During these occurrences, it is up to the GM and the players to decide what sort of Test would best adjudicate the action. The GM always has the final say, but they should take input from the players.
There are three steps to choosing a Test:
1) Choose a Skill, Resistance, or Attribute.
First, you must choose what talents the Test is testing. Skills are the preferred option for Actions a character is actively choosing to perform. Resistances are best reserved for passive reactions to external events. Finally, Attributes can be used if there are no evident skills that are related to the action. When testing an Attribute, the GM should typically grant a +2 bonus to the roll (in addition to any appropriate difficulty modifiers).
2) Choose the type of Test.
If the action involves the character performing an activity on their own, choose a Basic or Complex Test. If the action involves doing something opposed to another character or NPC, then choose an Opposed or Conflict Test. If the action is expected to cause physical harm to an aware opponent, then use the rules for the
3) Define success and failure.
If the action has a clear dichotomy of success or failure, a Basic or Opposed test will likely suffice. If there is an obvious gradation of success, a Complex or Conflict test might be appropriate. However, do not stress about defining all possible levels of success. In these cases, consider that a Success grants the player the outcome they want. With a Weak Success being a lesser version of that and Strong Success and Great Success to be improved versions of that. It is perfectly acceptable for the GM to have the player roll a Basic Test but decide based on a high roll that additional positive outcomes also occur. If the GM decides that the player’s desired outcome would require great skill and luck to achieve, they might place the desired outcome at a Strong or Great Success instead. Alternatively, the GM can apply a difficulty modifier to the roll (see Chapter 7).
When these unexpected Tests occur, it is important to keep the game moving along smoothly and not get bogged down in the minutiae of game mechanics. The player will roll the dice, and the GM will make the final call.
Unexpected Action Example: Olive’s character, Talidor Raven, faces off against some pirates in an old fort. Talidor’s nemesis, Captain Hallidon, stands in the center of the chamber barking orders to his men. Talidor is currently undetected, standing on a high balcony where a rope connects to a large chandelier hanging from a hook in the ceiling. In classic swashbuckler fashion, Olive tells her GM that she wants Talidor to cut the rope and use it to swing down and kick her nemesis to the ground. There is no Action in the book to adjudicate such a choice. The GM loves this idea and the narrative behind it; however, they must figure out a way to fairly resolve the action.
First, the GM chooses Athletics, as that Skill seems to be the most essential for swinging on a rope. The GM then decides that this will be a Conflict Test, since Talidor is directly opposing Captain Hallidon with this action and the GM can foresee a number of possible outcomes. Captain Hallidon will roll Reflexes for his defense since he has to react quickly to avoid being kicked. The GM decides that a Success will knock the Captain prone. A Weak Success will narrowly graze the Captain, but only enough to make him Exposed 2 for the first round of combat. The GM warns Olive that a Failure will result in Talidor missing the Captain, and a Critical Failure will result in Talidor falling prone at the Captain’s feet. Olive agrees to this procedure and even spends 2 points of Courage to Apply Grit to the roll. She rolls Talidor’s Athletics and succeeds with a 12. The GM rolls the Captain’s Reflexes, but rolls an 18, a Failure. The GM never decided what would happen with a Strong Success, and therefore decides (on the spot) that Tallidor not only knocks the Captain prone, but that the Captain also has a -4 situation penalty on his Reflexes roll for initiative as they now enter Combat mode. Huzzah!
There are three important units of time for keeping track of events in the game. These are the
- Round (6 seconds), 10 Rounds per minute.
- Activity (10 minutes), 6 Activities per hour.
- Period (6 hours), 4 Periods per day.
Stamina, Exhaustion, and Death
The Exhausted condition is automatically removed when your Stamina increases above 0. Stamina can be recovered by taking the
Requirement: You are Exhausted and take Stamina damage.
You attempt to survive a lethal blow. You must take this action immediately upon being attacked or otherwise suffering Stamina damage when you are Exhausted. You take a -1 condition penalty on this roll for each Injury you already possess. If you have three Injuries when you take this action, you are automatically killed. Courage cannot save you in this instance. Envision your character’s valiant death.
– You suffer through the blow, you receive an Injury and are knocked unconscious.
– You grimace through the blow and are knocked unconscious.
– Your fortitude prevails, you endure the blow without harm.
– You find a surge of fortitude inside you; you endure the blow without harm and you recover 1 point of Stamina and are no longer Exhausted.
– You take the blow painfully. You receive an Injury and are now Bleeding Out and unconscious.
– You are immediately killed by the attack. You cannot spend Courage to Avert Catastrophe normally, but you can spend all your remaining Courage and become Hopeless to change this outcome to a Failure. You cannot do so if you are already Hopeless. You automatically receive a random Trauma.
When a character is injured, randomly determine which of the three Injuries they receive by rolling a d6. On a 1-2, they are Bruised, on a 3-4 they are Broken, and on a 5-6 they are Battered. They cannot have the same Injury at the same time. If you roll an Injury your character already has received, roll again.
Each Injury is connected to a body Attribute and bestows a -2 condition penalty to all Skills related to that Attribute. These Skills are listed below for each associated Injury. The Battered injury also reduces the character’s maximum Stamina until the character recovers.
Bruised – (Strength) – Athletics, Fighting, Intimidate
Broken – (Agility) – Athletics, Brawl, Dodge, Reflexes, Stealth, Thievery
Battered – (Endurance) – Block, Resilience (Hardiness), Survival, maximum Stamina.
When a character first receives an Injury, roll 2d6. This is the Recovery Days for the Injury, the number of days it takes for the character to recover from their Injury. Mark down the Recovery Days next to your Injury on your character sheet. At the end of each day in the game world, you can reduce this number by 1. When it reaches 0, your character has recovered from that Injury. This number can also be reduced by you or an ally taking the
A character that is Bleeding Out is unconscious and losing blood fast. They must roll a Resilience Basic Test at the end of each combat round (but excluding the round they gained this condition). If they succeed, they live another round of combat. If they fail, they die. The
Attention and Stress
Savvy players will use their Attention liberally during combat. However, one must be careful not to let their Attention fall to 0. This can happen in one of two ways. The player can voluntarily have their character use the last of their Attention to perform a daring feat; or the character can take Attention damage.
Some actions during Combat (e.g.,
Whenever a character’s Attention is reduced to 0 (or below due to damage), their Attention is set to 0 and they gain the Stressed condition.
Actions with the Attention Trait
Recovery: Focus, Refocus, Block: Brace, Shield Bash, Brawl: Grapple, Restrain, Shove, Trip, Command: Lead, Deceive: Divert, Feint, Dodge: Shuffle, Fighting: Maneuver, Opportune Strike, Inspire: Motivate, Intimidate: Terrorize, Investigate: Exploit, Parry: Deflect, Disarm, Riposte, Perform: Distract, Enthuse, Persuade: Remark, Shooting: Maneuver
Once a character becomes Stressed, they remain Stressed even when their Attention increases above 0. The Stressed condition can only be removed by taking the
Attention can be quite easy to recover. The
Courage, Hopelessness, and Madness
Player can choose to spend points of Courage in three ways to improve the outcome of die rolls. Spending Courage in these ways reduces a character’s current Courage value by the indicated amount. Characters cannot transfer these effects to another character. They also cannot reduce their Courage below 0 in this way.
Apply Grit. Before any roll, players can choose to spend Courage points to improve their chance of success. They may spend up to 2 points of Courage (or up to their Training Rank in the associated Skill or Resistance). They must choose how much Courage to apply before they roll the die. They then receive an untyped bonus on that roll equal to the number of Courage points spent. This option can help a player attain a higher level of success than they normally would be capable of achieving. Keep in mind that the Target Number can never exceed 18 on any roll.
Nudge Fate. After any die roll, a player may spend 2 points of Courage to immediately re-roll the die for a new result. The same modifiers apply to the second roll (including any bonus from Apply Grit). This can be used multiple times on the same roll (costing 2 points of Courage for each use), but the last result is final (even if it is worse). Players cannot use this option when they roll a Critical Failure.
Avert Catastrophe. When a player rolls a Critical Failure (20 on the die), players can spend 3 points of Courage to avert catastrophe and change the outcome to a normal Failure instead.
Players will have to carefully decide when to spend their Courage. Courage is the hardest Tolerance to recover. Most often, characters will lose Courage when the player voluntarily spends it. However, there are a few ways in which a character can receive Courage damage. The
The other cause is a Fear Test. When your character has seen fear-invoking horrors or has been threatened to an extreme degree, such as by a dragon’s roar, the GM might ask for a Fear Test. This is typically a Resolve Basic Test. Based on the result you may receive points of Courage damage and must reduce your current Courage value by the received amount.
When a character’s Courage has been reduced to 0, they become Hopeless.
A character cannot normally increase their Courage while Hopeless. The Hopeless condition can be removed by having an ally take the
Requirement: You are Hopeless and take Courage damage.
Your dwindling hope is being tested. You must take this action immediately upon suffering Courage damage when you are Hopeless. You take a -1 penalty on this roll for each Trauma you already possess. If you have three Traumas when you take this action, you automatically go insane and fall into madness.
– You barely take the suffering, you receive a Trauma and you fall unconscious.
– You persevere through the ordeal, but you fall unconscious.
– Your resolve prevails, you persevere the ordeal without harm.
– You find a surge of resolve inside you; you persevere the ordeal without harm and you regain 1 Courage and are no longer Hopeless.
– You suffer through the torment. You receive a Trauma and are now Going Mad.
– The torment is too much for you, you immediately go insane and fall into madness. You can spend all your remaining Attention and become Stressed to change this outcome to a Failure. You cannot do so if you are already Stressed.
When a character receives a Trauma, randomly determine which of the three Traumas they receive by rolling a d6. On a 1-2, they are Hesitant, on a 3-4 they are Oblivious, and on a 5-6 they are Withdrawn. They cannot have the same Trauma at the same time. If you roll a Trauma your character already has received, roll again.
Each Trauma is connected to a spirit Attribute and bestows a -2 condition penalty to all Skills related to that Attribute. These Skills are listed below for each associated Trauma. The Withdrawn trauma also reduces the character’s maximum Courage until the character recovers.
Hesitant – (Charisma) – Command, Deceive, Inspire, Perform, Persuade.
Oblivious – (Perception) – Parry, Shooting, Deceive, Reflexes, Investigate.
Withdrawn – (Empathy) – Inspire, Resolve, Healing, maximum Courage.
When a character first receives a Trauma, roll 2d6. This is the Therapy Score for the Trauma. Mark down the Therapy Score next to your Trauma on your character sheet.
At the end of each day in the game world, roll a Resolve Basic Test. If you succeed, you can reduce this number by 1. When it reaches 0, your character has recovered from that Trauma. Traumas are harder to remove than Injuries and require being in a safe space during Sojourn mode. Allies or NPC friends can then take the
A character that is Going Mad is having a bout of madness as their hopelessness collapses in on them. They cannot take any actions during their turn. They must roll a Resolve Basic Test at the end of each combat round (but excluding the round they gained this condition). If they succeed, they stave off insanity for another round. If they fail, they go insane and fall into madness. Their character is now lost to the player and becomes an NPC controlled by the GM. The
Conditions and Effects
Conditions are temporary or semi-permanent effects that can apply positive or negative modifiers to dice rolls and may limit the actions that a character is allowed to take.
Modifiers from Conditions are typically of the condition type and thus do not ‘stack’ with each other, you apply the sum of the best and worst modifier of the same type on any given roll. For example, if your character was both Weary and Exposed 2, you would suffer a -2 penalty on all rolls, but only a -2 penalty on Defense Rolls. The penalties do not stack to -4 for Defense Rolls, only the worst penalty is applied.
Conditions below with a # have a number associated with them. This indicates the strength of that condition and the value of the modifier associated with the condition. These modifiers are usually factors of 2.
Afflictions are dangerous Conditions, such as Diseases, Poisons, or Curses, that persist with a character and are more difficult to remove. What causes an Affliction varies by the type: a disease could result from contact with a plague-ridden corpse, a poison could result from a venomous creature’s bite, and curse may be the result of ancient magic protecting a tomb.
Name (type); Frequency (Onset); Max; Attribute(s);
Toxic (toxicity): Tolerance(s)
The Frequency of the Affliction refers to how often a character needs to confront its effects. Each time the Frequency time elapses, the Afflicted character must take the
The Affliction’s Onset refers to how much time must elapse before the afflicted character begins to feel its effects. For Poisons, this might be immediate, but for Diseases or Curses, it might be days or even longer.
Max Rank refers to the maximum possible Rank of the Affliction. This usually corresponds to the degree of penalties applied by the Affliction. An afflicted character’s Affliction Rank cannot exceed this value.
Each Affliction will list the Attributes it effects. When a character gains an Affliction, the receive a condition penalty equal to the Affliction’s current Rank. For example, if a character was at Rank 2 of an Affliction that listed Endurance, the afflicted character would take a -2 condition penalty to Block, Resilience (Hardiness), Survival, and their maximum Stamina.
Afflictions with the
An Affliction also may list any special conditions that are also applied for certain Affliction Ranks. When a character changes their current Affliction Rank to that value, they gain the listed conditions as well as the normal penalties. If their Affliction Rank decreases below the listed value(s), they remove the special condition. When a character is first exposed to an Affliction, they must take the Resist Affliction reaction.
When a character is first exposed to an Affliction, they must take the
Requirement: You are affected by an effect that bestows an Affliction.
You attempt to resist the Affliction.
Resolution: Resistance (varies for each Affliction)
– You narrowly avoid receiving the Affliction, but you suffer a -2 situation penalty to Resistance Rolls to resist the same Affliction for the next Activity (10 minutes).
– You successfully resist the effects of the Affliction.
– You successfully resist the effects of the Affliction and are temporarily immune to the same Affliction for the next Activity (10 minutes).
– You fail to resist the Affliction. As soon as the Affliction’s onset period elapses you gain the Affliction at Rank 1 with its associated penalties, If the Affliction has the
– As Failure, except the Affliction condition begins at Rank 2 with its associated penalties. If the Affliction has the
When the Affliction Rank changes, you immediately apply any changes to the penalties related to the Affliction. After the Affliction’s frequency has elapsed, the character must take the
Requirement: You are afflicted with an Affliction and an amount of time has elapsed in the game world equal to the Affliction’s frequency.
Resolution: Resistance (varies for each Affliction)
– Your condition improves, you reduce the Affliction’s Rank by 1. If the Affliction’s Rank is now equal to 0, you are cured, and the Affliction is removed.
– As a Success, except you may reduce the Affliction’s Rank by 2.
– Your condition worsens, you increase the Affliction’s Rank by 1. The Affliction’s Rank cannot exceed the Max Rank of the Affliction.
– As a Failure, except you increase the Affliction’s Rank by 2.
Mindfire (poison); 1 round (immediately); max 4; Coordination, Intelligence;
Toxic (minor): Attention
Influenza (disease); 1 day (after 2 days); max 6; Strength, Agility, Endurance;
Rank 5: Unconscious; Rank 6: Death
Curse of the Sallow King (curse); 1 day (after 5 days of increasing despair);
max 5; Empathy; Rank 3-4: Hopeless; Rank 5: Madness
More to come!