How to Moderate a Role-Playing Game, Part 7: Combat

By Jordan Campbell, Director of Game Development, Flying NightBear Games

Follow this series of blog posts on moderating a role-playing game, with specifics about Beyonder. Your own fantastic adventures lie ahead!

To Fight… Or Not to Fight: Physical Combat

All good stories center around a conflict.  Many times in fantasy worlds this conflict is an epic battle of life and death, with blades slashing at flesh and supernatural abilities in their many forms saturating the scene.  Beyonder can be full of these —  in fact, the majority of the rules revolve around this type of conflict situation and how to manage them.  We call this Physical Combat. (Note: not every conflict is resolved through physical combat, as you will see in our next blog entry.)

combatsceneIn Beyonder, when there is a combat situation it is your job as Moderator to keep track, in an organized fashion, of everything that is going on.  If you don’t, then a simple battle that takes place in a matter of seconds in the game world can take an hour in our world.  Below are some tips to keep things moving along.

Reaction Time: At the beginning of combat everyone (both the PCs and the creatures you control) will roll to see who has the fastest Reaction Time (a special use of the Perception Talent).  To save yourself some hassle, if you have a big group that you are controlling you may want to roll once for the lot of them.  Generally speaking this order stays constant throughout the scene, so you should write it down and cycle through it.  If you are using the Tracking Wheel (and we suggest you do), then you can arrange the pieces from the center outward in order.

Order of Combat: Each moment of combat will follow the same order.  You and your players will get into a rhythm over time.  Each player and NPC will complete the step before moving on.  In other words, everyone who needs to will Resolve, then everyone who needs to will Declare, and so on.

    • Resolve : It seems odd that this would come first, but other than in the first round, where there is nothing to resolve, it must happen before anything else can.  If there are actions that resolve at this moment, then resolve them, making rolls and calculating outcomes as necessary.  They do this in order, going from BEST reaction time to WORST.
    • Declare : If someone has just resolved an action OR has not yet declared an action OR they would like to stop what they are doing and declare a new action, then they do so.  They should move their marker on the Tracking Wheel to show where their action will resolve.  They do this in order, going from WORST reaction time to BEST (the opposite of resolving actions).
    • Move forward 1 moment in time
    • Rinse and Repeat

Callout_CrawnPlan Ahead: Players should be paying attention to when their actions are going to resolve, they should know what they are going to need to roll when it does resolve, and they should have some idea of what they are going to do next.  This will speed things up.  If you trust your players enough, you can even have them make their rolls ahead of time.

Know Where You Are: Encourage your players to know where they are and where they want to be.  It is not unusual in a combat situation to wait in the back, or somewhere out of the fray.  Especially if you are in a support role, you want to make sure that you are out of harm’s way while you come to the aid of your colleagues.  Also, there are times when you want to run — it might be toward an enemy or away, or perhaps in pursuit of someone, or something, else.  So, think about where you are now and where you want to be a few moments down the road.

Time Limit: One way to keep things moving in a combat situation is to set an amount of time that players have to make their choices.  A countdown can definitely help to focus the mind.

Tracking Wheel: Use the Beyonder Tracking Wheel to help you and your players keep track of where things are wrt who goes next.  Don’t hesitate to pull out a sheet of paper and quickly sketch out the “lay of the land,” placing each PC and NPC on the board so they can actually see where everyone is.

Separating the group: If you’re an experienced Moderator, it can be good fun to occasionally separate some of your players from others.  You can physically separate the two groups — “you all go in the kitchen, and the rest of you stay here.”  Each (smaller) group is then fighting their fight, but also wondering if the other group is okay or just what’s going on with them.  Don’t leave either group alone for too long, but having some time to themselves can be helpful for each group to discuss strategy and decide on future actions.

Not every story is about physical combat!  The Beyonder system gives you many other options, which we will discuss in our next “How to Moderate” entry.

The Crown of Drawnwyn, Part 1: The Seven Eyes

The Crown of Drawnwyn is one of the most powerful artifacts in the Beyonder world. Given to the great leader Drawnwyn almost fifteen hundred years ago to help her defeat the reviled despot (her grandfather) Samron, it is embellished with seven powerful stones, called “Eyes.”  These Eyes are the key to the power of the Crown. Six of them are each aligned with one, and only one, of the Six Energies.  The seventh Eye gives the owner of the Crown the ability to coordinate the power of the other Six and to wield them all as a single entity.

The whereabouts of the Crown itself and the seven Eyes is currently unknown, but many people have searched for it, and are searching for it now.  (This will be the subject of a separate blog.)

beyonderstarThe Eye of Amdrath

This Eye is associated with Emotion Energy; it can only be used by someone from the Charismatics Guild or who has a strong affinity with Emotion.  A brilliant gold in color, upon close inspection it reveals sinews of deep yellows and luscious, faint oranges.  The colors may change depending on the emotional state of its owner or whoever the owner has targeted, allowing a quick assessment of the emotional state of those around.

beyonderstarThe Eye of Koldep

This is the Eye of Mental Energy, highly desirable to a member of the Mentarch’s Guild or someone who has strong affinity with Mental Energy..  It is a rich blue so sharp and clear that the colors in the world around it pale when this Eye is present.  It can help its owner to “see” pockets of strong Mental Energy, which can, make the world around them look like a rich and varying sea of blues.

beyonderstarThe Eye of Edet

The Eye of Body Energy, this is blood red in color.  It is said that, under the right Energetic influence, this stone will physically (though subtly) pulse in sync with the Body Energy around it. The owner senses, on his or her skin, something like the soft, warm touch of other living organisms and can determine the kinds of living beings they are.  This is a valuable artifact for someone from the Somans Guild or who has a strong affinity with Body Energy.

beyonderstarThe Eye of Zanyr

Zanyr is the Eye associated with Physic Energy and the Evokers Guild.  It is a deep, rich purple with swirls of lavender, royal blue, and magenta.  With this Eye the owner can sense the physical world around them in great detail.  It’s as if their physical body has extended itself so that the walls and earth and water and even the air surrounding them are a part of their sensory apparatus.  Movement, even the most subtle kind, resonates through the owner’s physical self.

beyonderstarThe Eye of Darmyn

This is the Eye of Spirit Energy: field-green, lustrous, and alive in its hues.  The Eye of Darmyn shows its owner the vitality of living beings within its vicinity.  Healthy creatures (or plants) appear to glow in vigorous greens, browns, and yellows.  Less healthy living things will glow gray or even black.  Given that this Eye aligns with Spirit Energy, it would make a powerful artifact for any member of the Mystics Guild, or a sorcerer with control of Spirit Energy.

beyonderstarThe Eye of Mark

The Eye of Mark aligns with Shadow Energy, and it is considered by the Umbrists Guild to be a highly valuable artifact, well worth extensive seeking.  Its markings are shades of gray when the Stone is “at rest” — unused or uncalled — muddy, dark, and deep, with variations of hue and darkness as if many colors of paint had been mixed in the same bowl.  There are tales that this gem can also shine with many other colors when in use — due, at least in part, to the ability of Shadow Energy to unravel and contort the other Energies.

beyonderstarThe Eye of Dey

This Eye is not associated with any one of the Six Energies; rather, it gives access to each of the Six Eyes mentioned above.  With proper attunement, this Eye can find and communicate with each of the other Eyes.  Perhaps more importantly, the Stone of Dey has the ability to link the abilities of each Eye so that they all act as one, which endows the owner of this Eye with great power. The Eye of Dey remains a constant white color, but it will glow more brightly with each other Eye it connects with.

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There is more to tell about the Crown of Drawnwyn and the Eyes that give it power.  See future blogs to read about the making of the Crown and how it (and the Eyes) have been used in the past.

How to Moderate a Role-Playing Game, Part 6: The Beyonder Setting

By Jordan Campbell, Director of Game Development, Flying NightBear Games

Follow this series of blog posts on moderating a role-playing game, with specifics about Beyonder. Your own fantastic adventures lie ahead!

The Setting of the Beyonder World

Most RPGs have a similar structure:  they’re a group of rules with a setting built around them to give them context.  Maybe the designers had a great idea for a combat system involving weapons of different sizes that took reach into account; as a result they needed to have a setting with a variety of melee weapons.  Another design team might have an idea about the movement of giant mechanical robots; their setting could include space combat.

Map of the Tamarran Continent thumbnail

The northern plains of the Tamarran Continent

With Beyonder, we went about it a whole different way.  We started with the setting.  We created a world with a complete and coherent set of natural laws, all of which grew organically from a single idea: The Six Energies.  We spent endless hours arguing about the exact role of each of the Energies, how they interacted, how they combined to create the world of Beyonder, and how a Channel, or Energy wielder, can control the flow of the Energies to do amazing things.  From that we created the rules of the game, always asking ourselves, how does this relate to The Six?  Is this logically consistent with the rest of the cosmology? Does this support the stories of the creatures inhabiting the world?

Why am I telling you all of this?  Because understanding the setting of the Beyonder world is crucial to moderating the game. The more familiar you are with the setting, the easier it will be for you to create content in a smooth, seamless way.  So, how do you get to know the setting?  

FNB_Martles2

A Martle explores Tamarra (see “Imbelnhi’s Bestiary” for more info on the Martle)

Begin by reading the books.  Almost a third of our rulebook, Beyonder: Science of the Six, describes setting, including cities and neighborhoods, guilds and organizations, and the many Races who live on Tamarra.  Particularly helpful are Chapter 2: The World, Its Workings, and Its Inhabitants; and Chapter 3: A Short History of the Tamarran Continent.  In addition, check out Imbelnhi’s Bestiary, with its spectacular illustrations, written by a naturalist character living in the world of Beyonder. Imbelnhi had a passion for the creatures he encountered while exploring the continent, and his stories range from humorous to frightening to tragic.

Our website has a page with a lot of related information on topics including the Races, the Energies, and the Continent.  Our blog entries (you’re reading one now!) provide you with more depth on some of the most important aspects of the setting.  I would particularly suggest looking into the entries on each of the Ten Races; the three best locations for starting a campaign in Tamarra; the various organizations, particularly the GERC; and any other topic that tickles your fancy.  Blogs come out twice a week, so there’s much more to come!

Finally, playing through our premade adventures can give you another perspective on the setting.  We hope to make two of these (“A Little Bit of Beyonder: Sally” and “Down”) available on our website soon. We are also in the middle of developing a multi-part campaign, “Legends of Tamarra,” that literally takes your character through a number of major historical events that shaped the world of Beyonder on the Tamarran Continent.  It is the ultimate ride, after which you will know more about this world than you do about your own.

GERC: The Wyrd Division

Most GERC members agree that the Wyrd Division is a little… off. Almost every member of the Division has transcended at least one Barrier in Shadow. They study Wyrd energy, a corrupted version of one or more of the fundamental Six Energies that make up the world, with some application to more practical, applied areas like automaton development.

Wyrd Bug

The Wyrd Bug (a creature of corrupted Shadow Energy)

Wyrd Energy is a bit of a riddle, as no one is quite sure what it is. Some researchers argue that it’s a true “Energy” in the capital “E” sense of the word: a fundamental building block of the universe. Others argue that Wyrd is actually a breakdown product from extraplanar umbral interactions with pentEnergetic superstructures.  …which is to say, in layperson’s speak, that they think Wyrd is what happens when Shadow degrades Energies on planes other than our own, then those degraded Energies leak back into our plane. This would explain the strange ways in which Wyrd sometimes imitates other Energies; maybe this is because it has little remnants of those Energies left in it, small scraps that in some faded way imitate what they used to be.

As a case in point, the Wyrd Division works with the Materials Development Division and the Energetic Experimental Group to develop automaton technology – the technology that powers machines to move, work, and (to an extent) think without the benefit of Spirit, Body, or Mental. Perhaps this is because the Wyrd that powered them is a kind of chewed up version of these Energies. Maybe this is why Shadow can wield some small control over these machines.

The current head of the Division is Kemmfaut Lap-Kep, a wellyn who has achieved the remarkable feat of transcending three Barriers in each of the six Energies. One of her eyes has a bright purple iris, while the other is completely white, with no iris or pupil at all. She has no tongue – she speaks in Quen sign language – and scars cover her face and body. Stories abound throughout the GERC of how she came to be this way: was she born with those eyes, or were they the result of some strange ritual? Did she remove her own tongue, or was it taken from her?

How to Moderate a Role-Playing Game, Part 5: Character Generation

By Jordan Campbell, Director of Game Development, Flying NightBear Games

Follow this series of blog posts on moderating a role-playing game, with specifics about Beyonder. Your own fantastic adventures lie ahead!

Creating a Character

At FNB Games, we have done our best to simplify the often daunting and time-consuming process of creating a character. We have a variety of methods that you and your players can use to generate characters (CharGen for short).  

Make Your Character with an Adventure (MYCA)

pictue of MYCA page in rule bookThis method is ideal for players new to Beyonder or to RPGs as a whole.  MYCA leads you through a story about your character-to-be; at crucial junctures you are asked to make decisions on behalf of the character.  At the end of the story all of the technical details will be worked out for you, and you will be presented with a character, including Race, Guild, basic stats, Talents, and Powers.  MYCA is available both in our rulebook Beyonder: Science of the Six, and on the Builder section of our website.  If you are using the book you will need a character sheet to record things as you go.

Custom-Make Your Character (CYC)

This requires a little more understanding of the workings of the game, so it may be a bit overwhelming for new players without any guidance.  However, it allows for more direct control over the outcome of the character, so if the player has an idea of what they want to build you may want to help guide them through this process instead.

The book walks you through the CYC process, step by step, and you may want to acclimate yourself by building a few characters of your own before guiding your players through the process.

Using our online system to Custom-Make Your Character (CYC)

If you use our online CYC,  you have a few options for how much you want to get your hands dirty vs how much you want to have done for you.

  • “Off the Rack” provides a list of premade characters that you can use.  You give the character a name, and you’re ready to go.  
  • Quick Choice allows you to make a few selections, such as your character’s Race, Guild and Guild School, Organization, and Homeland, and fills in details for you including Talents, Powers, Defense Ratings, etc.  
  • The full CYC lets you hand-pick every aspect of your character.  Choose each Power or make up your own from scratch.  Allocate points to each Talent, or decide to increase your Wealth rating instead.  You decide exactly how to distribute points to your Affinities to the six Energies.  You control every detail.  This can be a time-consuming process until you get used to it, but it can also be a lot of fun.  I have spent hours creating characters that were never played just for the fun of it.