Primeval Games Press
Symmoria is a cooperative game of storytelling. Its participants are actors and writers in a drama they create, through description and dialog. Symmoira's rules focus not on the intentions of the characters, but on possibilities: on what might happen next, and what the consequences will be.
Symmoira is a rules system, and stories can be created in any kind of setting. Can setting and “rules” ever be truly separated? No, they can't. Setting must by necessity always become part of the rules to play by, unless it has no bearing on anything, in which case it isn't really a setting at all. The rules you are looking at now are therefore not the entire set of rules you will need to play: Symmoira itself is the core of that system, but the rest you will need to make up yourself (or get from one of the setting guides). Nonetheless, Symmoira makes no assumptions about setting, and with it you can just as easily talk about dragons, cowboys, genies in lamps, space pirates, and corporate agents. It's all up to you.
How it Plays
Play of Symmoira revolves around competing narrations. In any given situation, there are two possible outcomes: one is positive and the other is negative, and each is described by a player. Chance determines which one actually comes true. The better the positive narration is, the less likely it is, and the more likely its opposition. At the same time, the more extreme the negative outcome is, the more the scales are pushed away from it as well. Thus there is a balance between the two narrations.
Using this mechanic, Symmoira encourages the dramatic, the fantastic, and the larger-than-life. While realism can be a factor in which outcome is chosen, it's usually a small one and depends on the setting you use, where genre-conventions are usually far more important than just real-world physical constraints. Competing narrations form the heart of Symmoira, and these rules merely expand and explain this basic idea.
What You Need
To play Symmoira you will need a couple of things. First, you will need your own imagination and some energy. Symmoira is not a game you can play by coasting along: you'll have to be engaged and active to make things happen (the lackadaisical “I swing my sword at it” is absolutely antithetical to play of Symmoira). Secondly you'll need at least one other person, and perhaps more, to play with you—and needless to say, they must have their imaginations on and their creative juices flowing as well.
You may also want to use a setting guide, to cut down on your own preparatory work, but you can just as easily make up your own. Settings in Symmoira need not be immense and monolithic tomes of knowledge, describing the place and time of the game in minute detail. Instead they must merely describe what kinds of things are and are not appropriate in the world; what things can and cannot be done, what the characters will be doing, and what the players should be keeping in mind. If making your own setting, you'll need to do some preparatory work, but a lot of it can also be made up, and codified, as you play.
Use of These Rules
Symmoira is provided free of charge. It is distributed under a Creative Commons License (read for details).
- 1. Participants
- 2. Narrating
- 3. Crises
- 4. Control Points
- 5. Injury
- 6. Characters
- 7. Optional Rule: The Director
Participants in Symmoira are called players, like Shakespearean actors. Like actors they will give voice to characters in the story. Unlike actors, they will also decide what happens next. Every game of Symmoira features a cast of main characters (MCs). There are three ways to cast these different roles among the players:
- Parity: Each player has a single primary role, principally controlling one character.
- Troupe: Players freely switch between roles, so no one controls any given character more than anyone else. The number of characters may vary, being more or less than the number of players, including just a single character.
- Parity with Extras: As with parity but there are also several side characters that everyone has equal control of.
There is also an optional rule for having one player who doesn't control main character but takes over other jobs instead. See the end of these rules for details.
The core of Symmoira is narration of the unfolding story by the players. Narration is describing any part of the imagined world, including events and actions. One player at a time is given ultimate narrative power, although everyone else may suggest things to him. If no one has narrative power (at the beginning of play for instance), anyone can take it and begin narrating. If more than one player wants to narrate, then they must bid against one another using tokens.
Throughout this document examples of play will demonstrate how the Symmoira rules work.
Brian, Denis, and Marie have just sat down to resume play after eating some pizza:
Brian: So that airplane starts to smolder and then...
Denis: Oh, I was going to have it take off...
The players will need bidding to decide whose narration takes precedence.
The bidding process works by each player stating how many tokens he's willing to spend in order to narrate. This works best if you use physical objects to represent each token: then each player places his bid down in front of him. Players can continue to add tokens to their bid until all the bids stabilize. Whoever has made the highest bid loses his bid and takes narrative control. If two players match tokens, then they should roll off, with the highest roll winning the bid. Whoever makes the highest bid loses his tokens and takes narrative control.At the beginning of a session, every player should get 15 tokens (or you can use more, or less, if you like). When everyone is out of tokens, then they are distributed again, so that everyone has 15.
Brian: (places one token on the table) one.
Denis: Okay, I'll go two.
Marie: It's between you two.
Brian: Three then.
Denis: It's yours.
A player with narrative control can narrate whatever he likes and can continue to do so until another player decides to declare an alternative narration, or until something he says is opposed.
An alternative declaration occurs when someone else either doesn't like what was narrated and wants to change it, or simply has a creative idea of his own which cannot coexist with whatever the narrator has just said. Either way, he has an alternate narration that he would prefer be used.
Opposition occurs when the narrator describes something significantly beneficial occurring to a main character. What qualifies as “significantly beneficial” is up to the other players. Generally it is anything that furthers the goals of the character, often by his own hand. A very small aid to his goals may be left standing without opposition, however. In part this will depend on the setting, for some worlds seem to act against the protagonists at every turn, while others are more yielding.
Whether an alternative or opposition is declared, a crisis is needed to resolve the situation. Crises decide between two competing narrations: the original and an alternate proposed by someone else. When a crisis is resolved, either the original narrator or whoever came up with the alternative will end up with narrative control. A narrator can also give up control at any time, and can cede it to another player to pick up if he so chooses.
Brian is talking about his super-spy character, Max.
Brian: As Max lounges near the pool, a beautiful woman walks past and drops a manila folder next to him. Cocking his eyebrow, he slowly brings his gaze down to the folder. Opening it, he discovers a list of all the Soviet agents working in France. He gets up and...
Marie: Whoa there! Opposition!
A crisis is a point in the story where events may go one way or another; where there is doubt about the fate of the characters. Whenever a narration is opposed, or an alternative is declare, a crisis is used resolve it. Crises are the real heart and soul of the Symmoira rules.
A crisis defines two paths which the story could go down. These paths are called outcomes. The initial outcome is the narration that was made before a crisis was precipitated.. The second outcome is called the opposing outcome, or the alternate outcome. Both outcomes are always described by different people: if an alternative was declared, whoever declared it describes the opposing outcome. If opposition was declared (by the group) then one player must be nominated to describe the outcome: if no one volunteers, or if there is more than one, then the current narrator can choose someone. Usually the narrator will ask each volunteer for a quick and rough idea of what they're thinking of.
An alternate narration, specifically proposed by someone, may not have anything to do with the original narration. However, opposed narrations should generally play around with what was said; keeping some of the same basic elements, but twisting them into something negative instead. This is part of the fun of making an opposed narration!
Brian: Okay, okay. Were you thinking of anything, Marie?
Marie: Hmm. It's a fake list of course, and printed in poisoned ink.
Denis: The woman actually puts a gun to your head.
Brian: I think I prefer the gun. You go, Denis.
Denis: Max hears a rustling the bushes behind him and just start to turn his head when the cold steel muzzle of a silenced gun pokes through and looks him in the eye. A pretty voice, though with a thick French accent, says 'Do not move, or your life is forfeit.' Max eyes the gun and says okay...
Brian: He should say, 'Whatever you say, darling.'
Denis: Okay, he says that. Following close behind, she slowly leads him out of the pool area and into a dark alley. She holds him there a few moments and then glances at her watch....
Which of the two outcomes is actually used is determined by the random roll of a die. In the simplest of scenarios, each outcome has a 50% of coming true, but most crises are more complicated. The odds is a number that indicates how likely either outcome is. In any crisis it begins at 10 and is modified by a number of factors. To decide on an outcome, a 20-sided die is rolled. If it comes up equal to or lower than the odds, the initial outcome is chosen; if higher, the opposing outcome. (Therefore, the higher the odds, the more likely the initial outcome.)
To determine how the odds will modified, either up or down, both outcomes must be evaluated in several ways. However, when “modifiers” are given (e.g. +2, -3, -1) they do not apply directly to the odds, but to the likelihood of the outcome they're describing. So if an initial outcome is said to be “at -3”, it is less likely and the odds are therefore shifted down by 3. However, if an opposing outcome is described in the same way, it too is made less likely, and so the odds must be shifted up by 3. All of the different modifiers that apply to the outcomes must be summed up for each and then be applied appropriately to the odds.
Benefit & Harm
The key factor in determining the likelihood of an outcome is how much it benefits or harms the main characters. This is quantified with two mirror ratings, benefit and harm. Benefit describes how much one or more of the main characters is helped by an outcome, while harm does the opposite. An outcome can be either beneficial, harmful, or neutral. Opposing outcomes are almost always harmful, while alternate narrations can easily be anything.
The more extreme the benefit or harm of an outcome, the less likely it is. Each outcome is rated numerically for the magnitude of its benefit or harm. The categories are rough and open to player interpretation, but your group should try to be consistent. If an outcome has both some good and bad aspects, you must try to evaluate it in total effect.
Brian: So, what's the benefit of mine?
Marie: I'd say pretty great, assuming that the folder is legit. If not, maybe neutral. Were you planning anything definite?
Brian: Some would have been bogus, but maybe some real leads as well.
Marie: Significant then. Maybe minus five.
Denis: Sounds good to me. How about mine?
Brian: Getting captured is kind of bad, but these French women are never really evil. Plus she's nervous. Minus three maybe?
Marie: She's probably just waiting for the big thugs to get there and beat you up. But okay, minus three.
Every setting used with Symmoira will define what is and is not appropriate in it. For instance, some allow magic while other don't, in some character may die as easily as people do in the real world, while in others they may never be allowed to die. These kinds of rules are called precepts, and they modify the likelihood of outcomes involving particular events. The rationales behind settings precepts are quite varied, including a genuinely different set of physical laws to conventions of genre and theme. Most precepts used in Symmoira are left unwritten since they are common across most settings: like the fact that humans need food. That is a technically a precept, but everyone knows it already, and unless a setting alters it, it will never be mentioned.
Precepts define specific actions, events, and ideas along with a ratings. These ratings are applied as modifiers to the likelihood (the odds) of any outcome that involves them. Precepts cannot be applied in reverse unless they state as much: although “getting caught at lying” may be deemed unlikely, it doesn't necessarily follow that getting away Scott free is common.
Marie: We do have the precept that spies don't get caught unawares though. That's another minus two to Denis'.
Denis: I also think it's pretty unlikely for a file of Russia agents to be floating around so easily. I'd put a negative two on it for that.
Brian: Eh, that's fair.
Marie: All right then.
Some precepts may also simply allow something that is normally impossible, without providing any further odds modification. If a narration involves something which is impossible, then it too is deemed such and must either be re-narrated by the player to become possible, or must be dropped.
Traits are numerical ratings that quantify various aspects of characters and other entities in the Symmoira world. Each trait describes some ability or skill, nature, flaw, asset, connection, or other important characteristic; a trait can be almost anything. Traits are rate for how powerful they are. Traits can be positive or negative: a negative value indicates sub-normal ability. (“Strong -2” and “weak 2” are equivalent and which you use depends on you own taste.) Most traits will have ratings no greater than 3 or (at most) 5 in magnitude.
The ratings of a trait are applied to the odds whenever an outcome relates to them or calls them into use. Whether they increase or decrease the likelihood of the outcome depends on circumstances: while great strength would make battering down a door more likely, it might make crawling through a narrow tunnel less so.
While it is most common to use character traits in crises, other things have traits as well. Equipment is a notable example. For items which a character directly uses, traits should describe either qualities of the item or ways in which it helps or hampers the character when he uses it. E.G. a sword which is “sharp 1”. Items which are not used a simple tools (like a jet plane or a book) might be rated only for their own qualities. Although many traits are left unspoken and unwritten) until actually needed, all objects in a world could have an innumerable number of them. A dark wood might be “mysterious 2” and “hard to cross 3”. However, the most important traits are those of the main characters themselves, and you shouldn't get bogged down defining very many traits for the character's environment.
Marie: Any traits there, Brian? For your outcome?
Brian: Yep. Max has 'French Connection: somehow knows a lot of attractive French agents.' Level two.
Marie: Okay, more likely for that. For the other outcome?
Brian: Oh you bet! 'Sucker for a pretty face.' Level three.
Denis: You really want that to apply?
Brian: Well if it had been a big brute, Max would have just jumped in the pool or something. But he'd go along with a woman.
Marie: (Rolling her eyes) If you say so...
Resolving a Crisis
Now we will consider the actual steps that the players need to go through in order to resolve a crisis. After the initial narration has been made, and been declared opposed, it must be evaluated for its likelihood. This is done by the other players (who did not narrate it) who consider all the modifiers that should affect the odds. Usually one player at a time will have an idea for an appropriate modifier and will name it. It will then be modified or accepted by the other players. Then the opposing outcome is described and rated in the same way by the other players. Now the odds can be determined by combining the modifiers for both outcomes.
Marie: So for the first outcome...minus five for benefit, minus two for unlikely, plus two for 'French Connection.' Negative five total.
Denis: And for the other we have minus three for harm, and plus two for being a sucker. Negative one.
Brian: Okay, beginning with ten, minus five on the first outcome brings it to five, and minus one on the opposing gets added, so that's a six for odds.
Once the odds are known, the actual outcome must be decided. Whoever narrated initially should roll a single twenty-sided die. If it comes up lower than or equal to the odds, his narration (the initial outcome) is chosen, otherwise the opposing outcome is. The selected outcome is then accepted into the game world and occurs as described. Whoever described it can reiterate it if he so desires, including embellishments and additional detail, but he should not alter the main body of what was said (to which the other players should object). Once this is done, the crisis has been resolved, and further narration can commence.
Brian rolls the twenty-sided die. It comes up a 7.
Brian: Ah nuts! Max gets captured.
Marie: Though by an attractive French agent. Okay, Denis, your narration...
Different Types of Crises
Multiple Characters in a Crisis
More than one character can be part of one crisis. While one player is always the principle narrator, if he wishes to involve characters that are nominally controlled by other players (with parity-style casting or some other definite assignment of roles), he should allow input into the outcome from those players. Particularly if other character are taking real action or are speaking, he may ask another player to contribute that part of the outcome. After a crisis has been resolved, these other players may also add in dialog and other elaborations of their own.
The traits of all character in a crisis are considered when calculating the odds, but they are not added to it directly. Instead, only the lowest sum of traits from among them is considered: i.e. the characters form a chain and only the weakest link counts. Control points (of either kind) can be used to make up the difference though (see rules below).
While most crises will deal with in-game time periods that last anywhere from a few moments to perhaps a day or two, some crises cover far greater spans. These need not interrupt everything else a character is doing but may entail his steady work over a period of time. Therefore, other crises will fall between the long-term crisis’s beginning and its end (its resolution). These crises are anticipated with an initial narration that describes the beginnings of the character's actions and his intentions. Since it doesn't actually produce results, it is only a minor narration, though it can be opposed normally. Then, when it is time for the action to be resolved, the real crisis is initiated with a narration that describes the character's work in full as well as its results. It is then handled like any other crisis.
Long term crises include characters bettering themselves through study, practice and experience. This improvement can take the form of modifying the character's actual traits, and is therefore a benefit in the associated crisis. Improving a trait by one point is a benefit of 5, so that the likelihood of the outcome is lowered by 5. Usually no other modifiers are applicable to crises of improvement, though relevant traits, control points, and injuries can all be applied. In game time, intensive training or study should warrant a n improvement crisis every six months or so, while general experience might warrant one once a year. Attempting improvement after a short span should decrease the likelihood significantly, and eventually be made outright impossible.
4. Control Points
Control points are a numerical resource that can influence the resolution of a crisis. All characters can hold control points, though what they represent depends on the seeing. A control point can be spent to change the odds in a crisis so that an outcome becomes more likely. Every point spent increases the odds score by one and any number of points can be used at once. This must be declared by the narrating player before the opposing outcome is described.
Control points can only be used to support (increase the likelihood of) an outcome in which that character takes action or is otherwise directly involved. Even if the character is controlled by more than one player, whoever narrated is the one who gets to spend the character's CPs.
Players can also use their tokens in an analogous way: each token used shifts the odds one point in either direction. This can only be done in crises that came about from the declaration of an alternative outcome, not from inherent opposition. Any player can contribute tokens, whether he narrated one of the outcomes or not. Token use must be declared before the final roll is made though.
Marie's character, the British super spy Elsie Black, he just jumped out of a burning helicopter, but her parachute may be damaged: while she narrated a safe landing next to the Eiffel Tower, Denis described a piece of shrapnel hitting her chute and causing her to crash hard on the ground, and then to be taken to hospital.
Brian: So the odds are twelve.
Marie: Well Elsie's not too keen on breaking both her legs, so twelve's just not good enough. I'm going to spend four Daring Points (Control Points).
Brian: Odds are seventeen. Roll.
Getting Control Points
Players get control points at regular intervals, usually at the end of each session. The amount given can be changed by each group to suit its tastes, but a basic value would be one point for every hour of play. In addition to this, each player is given an equal number of points to award to the others: he should decide how to distribute them secretly, perhaps writing it down, and then give them out. These points should be awarded for good play: for convincing acting, good narrations and other ideas, fairness, and so on.
Characters often get control points on a regular basis as well, though sometimes based on in-game time instead of real time. The rate will depend on the setting being used, as will other means of getting them: rest, prayer, or other actions may net control points faster. In absence of a formal setting guide, give each character 10 points at the start of each session or whenever they've had a long break from action in the game; otherwise a night's rest brings two points.
A character can also gain control points by having the odds of a crisis shifted against him. This is requested by the narrator of the initial outcome, though it must be requested before the opposing outcome is described, and can only be done if the second outcome is harmful. The odds are then lowered by two. Any characters who might be affected by the outcome gain one control point, and the outcome is then rolled for normally.
Brian's character, Max, is trying to jump onto a moving train (albeit a slow-moving one). The odds of fifteen favor him.
Brian: Let's spice things up. I'll take a control point.
Denis: Okay. Odds are thirteen in favor of jumping the train. If not, a broken leg...
Outcomes can describe lasting damage coming to a character. Whether this damage is to his body, his ego, or his reputation, it becomes an Injury. Injuries are rated numerically for their severity, and the more serious an injury is, the more harmful—and therefore unlikely—an outcome describing it becomes.
When an outcome is being rated for modifiers, whoever narrated it should state explicitly how great of an injury is being caused to a given character. If the injury is to a main character or an ally, this is obviously a form of harm, though it is considered separately from the general idea of an outcome's benefit or harm. For every two points of injury a main character receives, the likelihood of that outcome is modified by one. (Injuries are only given out as even numbers.) If a main character is injured as part of the initial outcome, it is made more likely, not less. Similarly, if an enemy is injured in the initial outcome it is made less likely (though your group does not have to use the injury rules for enemies; only if it wants to).
Max is trying to charm his way out of an argument with the head of British Intelligence, though it's rather difficult over the phone. Brian has already described his outcome, in which Max flatters the man, patching over things nicely.
Brian: Your turn, Marie.
Marie: Instead, Sir Donovan goes into a flying white rage, calling Max irresponsible, reckless, and a hopeless debauch, who should never have been made an agent. He then suspends Max's expense account and hangs up.
Marie: That'll be a level eight injury.
Denis: For modifiers we have...Max's charm for minus four, Donovans temper at three, their rivalry at one, and minus four for the injury. Minus four likelihood total.
The Effects of Injury
Once a character has some injuries, they come into play much like control points but in reverse. Whenever an injured character is involved in a crisis, some of his injuries (in terms of points) can be invoked against him, to harm the likelihood of an outcome that is beneficial to him; usually they will be used when he himself is taking action (in a major narration). Every point of injury that is invoked shifts the odds by one level against him (usually lowering them). Once invoked, a point of injury is used up and disappears.
The way in which an injury harms the character should be described by whoever invoked it. They should preferably be invoked only when they apply to action or events described in the crisis, based on their specific nature. For instance, a sprained ankle hampers running, while a bruised ego diminishes one's confidence.
A narrator can choose to invoke or ignore a character's injuries as he sees fit. However, if his total number of injuries accumulates to ten points or more, whoever describes the opposing outcome can also invoke them to decrease the character's chance of success. He can use some or all of the points as usual, and should also describe how they come into play. Thus, it is to the advantage of an injured character for the player(s) that control him to use his injuries up slowly of over a period of time, and to control when they come into play.
Max is trying to get a room at an exclusive French hotel. Marie's alternate outcome is that Max fails and has to sneak into the hotel later to meet someone.
Denis: With all the modifiers, you the odds are sixteen.
Max: Hmm. I'll use up two of Max's “expenses suspended”, making it fourteen...
Injuries and Control Points
Since injuries work just like negative control points on the odds of a crisis, a player may very well choose to negate their effects by using an equal number of both at the same time. This should be worked into the outcome normally with a description of how the character overcomes the injury (depending on what control points mean within the setting.)
Characters can also negate some or all of an injury as it is received, by spending a number of control points equal to its severity (fewer CPs merely lessen that severity). This is called soaking.When an injury is so reduced, the player should elaborate briefly on the outcome by describing how the character resists the injury's effects within the game. Obviously, soaking should preferably be done when some logical explanation exists for can be created.
Returning to an earlier example, Elsie Black has just jumped out of a plane, and despite Marie's spending of control points, Elsie lands hard and is going to take four points of injury.
Marie: I don't care for that. I'll have Elsie use another two control points to reduce the damage; she falls well, and only twists her ankle a little.
Each character in Symmoira is a mental construct of the game's players. Their actions are controlled through narrations, and the players may speak dialog for them as they see fit. For the most part, characters must be defined by ideas alone. However, insofar as the rules are concerned, there are a few characteristics that need to be defined more precisely.
Every character in Symmoria is defined by a host of numerical traits which define his talents, weaknesses, assets, and problems. Traits can have positive or negative ratings, based on how the character compares to other people around him: while all humans have muscles and therefore some amount of strength, more important to a weakling is that he is less strong than everyone else: therefore he might have a negative strength trait. The more positive or negative a trait's rating, the more pronounced the trait is.
Not every aspect of a character needs to be codified with a trait. What traits are used depends on what sorts of things are considered important in the setting being used. For instance, a setting about hair stylists would naturally require numerous traits dealing with cutting technique, hair washing, and so on, but for most games all that is trivial: at best those different skills might be lumped together under a single trait of “hairstyling“, but might best be neglected entirely.
Settings don't make you guess about what aspects of a character might be important however, and most will have a short list of traits which are central to the definition of all characters in it. These are called attributes. Every player should write down these traits on the character sheet and assign ratings to them, even if the rating is zero.
There are two "core" sets of attributes which are fairly generic and may be used easily in a variety of settings. (However, you don't have to use attributes at all.) The Intelligence Set of attributes focuses on different aspects of the mind, with most every attribute being a particular kind of intelligence. The Trades Set instead focuses on what kinds of tasks the character ends up being good at, ignoring the root causes.
- Agility – kinesthetic ability: how to move your own body. Speed, coordination, precision.
- Craft – skill with manipulating tools and building things
- Empathy – interpersonal skills; charm
- Reason – logical intellect
- Vigor – health, strength and fitness
- Will – knowledge of self and self-mastery
- Art – one’s skill with tools and construction, particularly creating new ones. Useful for classic architects, artisans, and inventors.
- Body – fitness and strength as well as grace and control. Useful for athletes, soldiers, and laborers.
- Charm – social interaction: reading and responding to others. Useful for musicians, politicians, therapists, priests and con-men.
- Organization – management of resources, accounting, and interaction with agencies, businesses and government. Useful to businessmen, army leaders and public servants.
- Smarts – traditional logical intelligence and book learning. Useful to sages, academics, and orators.
- Woodcraft – knowledge of the natural world and the skills to survive in it. Useful to soldiers, farmers, guides, and tribesmen.
Traits can be beneficial, harmful, or a mix of the two. Beneficial ones include skills, special abilities, relationships, rank, and reputation. They can be ordinary or highly unique, mundane or fantastic, possible naming something that ordinary people can't do at all like flying or seeing into the future. Generally harmful traits describe weaknesses or problems that a character suffers from which make him do badly. They can include phobias, physical weaknesses, enemies, curses, or an unappealing personality. Other traits have both good and bad sides, and work differently in different situations.
Equipment that a character possesses have abilities (and sometimes flaws) just like characters, which are utilized by the character in crises that involve both the piece of equipment and that ability. For instance, a particularly finely crafted sword might grant a +1 when sword fighting, just as a sports care would provide a +2 for quick getaways, thought the sports car has a -1 penalty on crises relating to its repair or maintenance. Each setting will detail what equipment is available and give suggestions for abilities.
There are several methods by which to make characters. Not every player needs to necessarily use the same method, though often this is desirable. If each player has only one character, he may simply make that character himself. If there are more characters than players, each player can make more than one. If there are fewer characters, or at the player's option, they can instead build each character jointly.
If you are using attributes, first select values for these, modifying them up or down from zero, but ensure that their sum remains zero. Then look up the number of trait points you get on the table below and use those to create other traits or to raise attributes. Overtly harmful traits (whether they are negative or not) give extra points to spend elsewhere.
|Traits||Character Control Points per session*|
* Actually after any significant break in action, which may or may not coincide with session breaks. See the section on control points.
Note that in less heroic settings, characters may have just as many abilities or other beneficial traits as in more heroic ones, but these abilities must be purchased with harmful ones.
First think up an idea for your character and discuss it with your group to ensure that it will fit in with those of the other players. When you sit down with the other players, assign values to his attributes, and add skills, flaws, and equipment. The other players should help you do this based on your concept of the character.
You have already chosen the setting of your game, and know that your character must therefore fit into it somehow—he has somehow gotten to be a wizard, a spy, etc.—but you aren’t sure who he should be exactly, and want some mystery. With this method, you roll your attributes randomly: roll two differently colored four sided dice. Choose one as the positive die and the other as the negative die. Roll them together and subtract the negative from the positive (e.g. red is positive and blue is negative; if red comes up 4 and blue 1, the total is 3). Then assign this value to the first attribute. Assign the reverse of this value (positive v. negative) to any other attribute. Then roll again for the next unassigned attribute on the list.
Proceed to choose what skills, equipment and flaws you want, assigning points as with the Balanced method.
7. Optional Rule: The Director
At the option of the group, one player can be nominated director. The director does not play like a regular player but has other jobs instead. He takes a major hand in defining the odds modifiers in any crisis. While the other players may still make suggestions of their own, in their absence the director will define everything. He also gets the final word in case of disagreements.
The director also describes the opposing outcome in any opposed crises. When other players declare an alternative, they still describe the alternate outcome themselves. The director often decides when a narration need be opposed, but cannot make alternate propositions himself.
The director can also make narrations of his own: to set the scene where action will take place, to define the world, to introduce characters, and to put problems in front of the main characters. His role in this can vary from being purely supplemental to giving constant prompts to the players. The director has nominal control of non-main characters if no one else takes it up, and thus will also act out dialog for them when necessary.
Thanks for looking at Symmoira. It is a work in progress and will be revised and expanded upon as time goes by. If you have any comments about it, please .
Right now one setting guide is available (Our Medieval Fate). I will be producing more in the near future. I plan on doing: Arabian Nights, Super Spies, Magic Realism, Wizards School, Ancient Prophets and perhaps Space Opera and Wild West. If you'd like to get involved, or to write one, let me know.
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