One player takes on the roll of Deckmaster (DM) and is responsible for running the game, controlling the enemies and other Non-Player Characters (NPCs) and adjudicating the rules. The remaining players each choose three decks from the provided set. Players should choose one deck of each color: one blue deck, or Class, for combat; one green deck, or Craft, for exploration; and one purple deck, or Profession, for interaction. Each resulting combination of decks creates one Player Character (PC).
Each player will have a set of gold Gear cards depending on the decks chosen. Each player should arrange these cards before them in the play area. Gear occupies slots; you cannot have more gear in a slot than the total amount allowed for that slot as described in the table below. You can play entries from equipped Gear in scenarios. Flip over any Gear cards that are not currently equipped.
SLOT # ALLOWED Hands (Combat) 2* Armor (Combat) 1 Clothing (Any) 1 Accessories (Any) 3 Expertise (Exploration or Interaction) 1 * Two-handed gear cards take both hand slots
Most gameplay takes place within one of three types of scenario: combat, exploration, or interaction. When the DM declares the start of the scenario, every PC and NPC involved rolls initiative. Initiative can be found on the role card (class, craft, or profession) for the relevant scenario type; NPC initiatives can be found on their entries. Resulting initiatives determine the turn order of play from highest to lowest. PCs win ties over NPCs. PCs that tie with each other can decide their order themselves. The DM determines turn order for NPCs that tie with each other.
After initiatives are determined, each PC draws 5 cards from the appropriate, shuffled deck.
The objective for combat scenarios is to reduce the enemies' Hit Points (HP) totals to 0. The objective for exploration scenarios is to acquire a certain number of Progress Tokens. The objective for interaction scenarios is to reduce the enemies' Will Points (WP) totals to 0 or advance the Debate Counter to a certan value on the Debate Axis before time runs out.
Turn order plays out the same regardless of scenario (see included Turn Order cheat-sheet).
STRATEGY: Played during your Strategy Phase.
ACTION: Played during your Action Phase against one or more targets. Targets are permitted to play a Reaction in opposition.
REACTION: Played in response to an enemy targeting you with an Action.
ASSIST: Played off-turn in response to an ally trigger being met.
INTERRUPT: Played off-turn in response to an enemy trigger being met.
You can only play one Assist and one Interrupt per turn, and only when it is not your turn.
Dice are described in the following format: XdY, where X is the number of dice (“dice number”) and Y is the number of sides on the dice (“dice level”). An entry that reads 2d6 would be interpreted as two six-sided dice.
When instructed to modify the dice level, change the number of sides by 2 in the proper direction for each level (to a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 12). For instance, when increasing the dice level of 1d4 by one, you'd change that roll to a 1d6. A d20's level cannot be modified.
Actions and Reactions often include dice entries used to see if the play is successful:
SCENARIO ACTION REACTION Combat Hit vs. Miss Exploration Inflict vs. Endure Interaction Argue vs. Rebuttal
Each PC or NPC makes the roll as described on their play; highest result wins. Ties go to the Action. If either the Action or Reaction have no opposed roll entry, then both plays take effect.
Any entries under Damage or Special require the play to take effect. Damage rolled is subtracted from the target HP, EP, or WP; if it reaches 0 the target is defeated (negative values are not tracked). Defense values are special in that they take effect even if the play as a whole does not. Defense results subtract from any incoming enemy damage, reducing the total suffered. So, a Damage roll of 4 and a Defense roll of 2 would result in 4-2= 2 total damage taken.
If the Damage entry has the Piercing property, any enemy Defense entry is reduced a number of dice levels equal to the Piercing number. Unlike other dice level reductions, Piercing can reduce Defense to no dice rolled (by reducing further than d2).
If the Damage entry has a type (such as Fire), and the enemy has a Weakness value to that type, the Damage entry is increased a number of dice levels equal to the Weakness number. If the enemy has a Resistance value to that type, the Damage entry is instead decreased a number of dice levels (min d2).
Combat scenarios include a tactical battle map that displays the terrain divided into sections. Every entity (PC or NPC) occupies a section on the map. You can only make melee attacks against enemies in your occupied section. Reach, Ranged, and Thrown attacks can cross a number of section borders equal to the number displayed on the entry. However, you cannot play Actions with a Range entry greater than 1 if there is an enemy in your occupied section.
Actions with the Area Attack descriptor target all entities in a section instead of a single entity.
Some section borders have a Height value. Height values of +/-1 can be climbed with no difficulty. Height values of 2 or higher cannot be climbed, and going down a Height value of 2 results in suffering 1d8 damage from the fall.
Some sections may be dark. PCs cannot see those sections (they should not be drawn on the map until discovered). Entities with Darkvision can see dark sections as if they were lit.
Some Actions in combat include an Incantation entry. This entry is the number of turns it takes to complete the Action; a completed incantation takes effect at the start of the entity's turn that played it. An incanting entity cannot play Strategies, Actions, Assists, or Interrupts but may draw, move, change gear, and play Reactions. An entity that takes damage while incanting loses the incantation; if the Action was played from a card, the card returns to the player's hand instead of being discarded.
Exploration scenarios include an additional deck of Trait cards. At the start of each round (including the first), a new Trait card is drawn to replace any previous Trait. Each Trait supplies its own effect, which typically includes a mechanism for earning Progress Tokens. Progress Tokens earned from Trait cards are gained at the end of the round (so it's possible for the PCs to still lose if they lose all their EP before finishing the round in which a winning token was earned).
Interaction scenarios include a Debate Axis, a number axis used for special victory and defeat conditions. The maximum value on the Debate Axis is equal to twice the number of players; likewise the minimum value is equal to -1 * twice the number of players. So for four players, the Debate Axis ranges from -8 to +8.
The Debate Counter tracks movement on the Debate Axis. It usually starts at 0 but may differ depending on the difficulty of the scenario. If the Debate Counter reaches the minimum value, the players lose. If the Debate Counter reaches the maximum value, the players win. Some scenarios may provide additional win or loss conditions.
Most interaction scenarios include a Round Limit. At the end of the round described by the Round Limit, the scenario comes to a close. This results in defeat for the players in the provided scenarios, but other scenarios may provide victory if the Debate Counter is greater than a certain value when the scenario ends.
Scenario failure often results in Injuries. Each Injury reduces a PC's maximum HP, EP, and WP by 2. A PC that reaches a maximum of 0 in any of those values dies from the injuries. Injuries last until healed, which usually requires healing services from a city (not included in the sample adventures).
Each PC has an additional Karma value used across all scenarios. Some special cards require spending Karma in order to play. Life-or-death scenarios (where defeat ends the game) also permit defeated PCs to spend Karma to regain HP, EP, or WP. Karma is usually gained from selfless acts. In addition to the spending options above, Karma can be lost by engaging in selfish or brutal behavior that unnecessarily harms others. Karma can go into the negative from such acts, but a PC can never spend Karma to play cards or regain HP, EP, or WP if the expenditure would result in a negative Karma value.