A Sun Keld character is defined by a set of eight basic Attributes, which represent inborn physical and mental qualities, two secondary attributes (Status and Wealth) which represent social and financial capital, one or more qualities, representing exceptional (and magical) talents or items, one or more paths, representing careers and training, and a collection of skills and traits, representing learned knowledge. The Character Creation section describes how you create a character using these scores, while this section shows how they are used.
In addition to these scores, a character has a Level, which measures how they have progressed through experience and overcoming trials, and a pool of Determination, which measures how much will to survive they have accumulated. While Level simply increases from time to time, Determination is a constantly shifting number, with individual Determination points spent to make re-rolls, acquire aid, or survive trauma. New Skills, Traits, Qualities and even Attributes can be puchased when your Level increases, or by exchanging Determination points.
A characters basic Attributes (Strength, Agility, Physical, Intelligence, Spirit, Presence) define their innate physical and mental attributes. A low score in an attribute (8 or less) marks a weak point in a character's skills, while a high score (12 or more) denotes a strength. When trying to determine if a character achieves some task whose outcome is in doubt a Simple Roll (see below) against an Attribute can produce an answer.
Unmodified Attribute rolls are not common, representing pure natural ability without the addition of knowledge, training, or experience. More commonly the value of Trait or Skill is added to the Attribute, and a roll made using the total. Such a skill check is denoted throughout these rules as :
attribute + trait / skill
For example if we say a character should roll against Agility + Movement / Climb, we mean that the Agility Attribute and Climb skill are added together (counting any bonus from the Movement trait), and the total used for the dice roll.
When deterimining if an attribute gives a bonus to something that doesn't involve directly rolling against it, we use the Attribute Bonus. This is simply equal to your Attribute divided by 5, rounding down. For example if you attack someone with a hand weapon you add your Physical Bonus to the damage you inflict. Divide your Physical by 5 (rounding down) and add it to your damage.
As you play your character you will accumulate Determination points, which represent your will to survive in the face of the constant adversity provided by Sun Keld. Without Determination the world will quickly prove lethal. In most games of Sun Keld you will be constantly gaining and spending Determination throughout a session. Determination points are retained from session to session and are specific to each player. (In a game with multiple characters per player we advice giving each of a player's characters access to the same pool of Determination).
Determination is gained and spent in various ways as described throughout these rules.
There are three kinds of dice rolls, all made using a d20.
To make a Simple dice roll, roll a d20. If you roll less than or equal to your target number (usually Attribute + Trait / Skill), you succeed. A roll of 1 represents an exceptionally good success (a critical). You gain 1 extra success (or +5 margin of success). If a roll of 19+ would fail, then a roll of 20 is an exceptionally bad failure (a fumble). If counting margin of failure then a fumble counts as 5 margins of failure higher.
A resisted roll involves an active character being opposed by some static aspect, such as a roll to-hit, or Stealth versus Stalking. To make a resisted roll subtract the resisting value from your skill and add (or subtract) the difference from 10 (i.e. even stats give a 50% chance of success) and then roll as for a Simple roll. When you are resisted by something without stats the resisting value can be chosen from the following approximate difficulty scale. (Note that a roll resisted by a 10 is the same as a Simple roll, and a roll at -X where X is the resistance value minus 10, is the same as the formula above.)
An opposed roll is used when two characters actively vie over the same result, devoting their whole attention to the effort, such as an arm-wrestle, debate or race. To make an opposed roll each character makes a Simple roll. If both characters end up with the same number of successes (including none) then the contest is unresolved, and continues on the next round(s). If one character achieves more degrees of success then they have won the contest.
All three types of dice roll follow the same rules for assistance, deserperation, determination, degrees of success, and repeated attempts, as follows.
Sometimes you will be instructed to use the margin of success (or failure) to measure how well or poorly your roll went. The margin of success or failure is simply the difference between your target number and what you rolled. Criticals and Fumbles count as having a margin of success (or failure) five higher.
Other rules refer to the degree (or number) of success. Any roll that succeeds scores one success. Exceeding your target by 5 gives an extra success (see below). Exceeding by 10 gives two extra successes and so forth.
You have a target number of 10 and roll a 2. Your margin of success is 8 (10-2 = 8). Your number of successes is 2 (one for passing, one for passing by 5 or more). If you roll a 1 you have a critical success. Your margin of success is 14 (10-1+5=14). Your number of successes is 3 (one for passing, one for passing by 5 or more, one for passing by 10 or more).
There are a number of ways in which you can get bonuses to your dice rolls, or attempt to compensate for a failed roll. You can also use Determination and Desperation to increase your attribute when resisting someone else's roll.
You can roll to try and assist someone else, either with the same skill, or a similar supporting skill. Make a Simple roll of your skill. If you succeed then the person you are aiding gets a bonus to their Skill check. This will generally be equal to half your trait + skill (rounding up).
If a whole group of people can work together on a task, and that task has varying degrees of success, but each person's effort is individual, then each character should make their own roll, with the number of successes determining how much of the success on offer is achieved. Do not do this when the whole group must work together, or extra pairs of hands and eyes are of minor use. For example searching a house could use this rule (everyone can split up and effectively use their own skills), while following a trail would not (everyone must stay together).
You may spend Determination points when you make a Dice Roll (including damage rolls in combat). When you spend a Determination point you gain a +3 to your target number for the roll, and may roll again (although you don't have too). If you choose to roll again you must take the second result (even if it is worse than the first), but may spend a further Determination to try again, and so forth.
If you use Determination on a contested roll your bonus only applies to the current roll. If the Rolls is contested and extended then you get a re-roll but no bonus.
If the situation is really important you may invoke Desperation. When you fail a roll you may try again, with a +3 modifier, but you must reduce one of the following attributes by one permanently: Health, Physical or Spirit.
Special rules apply to Desperation when trying to avoid death (see Death).
An extended test is a resisted roll where failure simply applies more time to the task. An extended test has a base time (e.g. three days), this is how long the task takes if you succeed on the resisted roll. If you fail then the time taken is increased by the a number of time units equal to the margin of failure, where the time units are whatever you were measuring the base time in (e.g. a three day base time means 1 day is added for each point of failure). If you fail badly enough to score additional failures there may be other side effects.
Sudra is searching for a guide to take her across the Drylands. The GM suggests that this will take at least 3 days, and requires an Extended Test of Culture/City Lore vs. a Difficulty of 13. Surdra has a Presence + Culture/City Lore of 12, and so requires a 9 or less to succeed, but rolls a 13. Her margin of failure is 4, so it takes her a total of seven days (3+4) to locate a guide.
Normally when you fail a roll you have lost the chance to do whatever you were trying to do. You did not sneak past the guard, notice the hidden door, or cast the spell you were attempting. Sometimes, however, you can continue to try again, until you get it right. When a roll has no consequences for failure, and does not consume resources, you can simply keep trying it. With enough attempts you can pick a lock, write a speech, find something in a room and so forth.
If you fail your roll you may choose to take extra time to make good your attempt, as per an extended test. If time is an issue you will have to roll again, with the risk of failing again. When you are rushed you can attempt your task again, but you have a -1 penalty on each roll as you become more exhausted. This penalty is cumulative. Your second roll has -1, your third -2 and so forth.
Sometimes you will want to make a roll where the difficulty is unknown, or a range of difficulties exist. For example when searching a room there might be easy things to find as well as things that are well hidden. In this case the GM should assign a range of difficulties and have you make a Simple roll. You will find each thing where your roll is good enough to meet the difficulty, but not the others. If your roll fails to meet a difficulty by 1 point you will have a feeling that their may be more to find.
Hammu the Hunter has set out into the Drylands to search for prey. The GM decides that there are Meerkan (Difficulty 12), Uzun (Difficulty 15) and a Windhorn (Difficulty 18) in the area. Hammu has Intelligence 11 and Hunting 5, so rolls against a 16. Hammu rolls a 9, getting a margin of success of 7. He spots a number of Meerkan sunning themselves on rocks (margin of success needed 2), and finds the trail and droppings of some Uzun (margin of successes needed 5). He also sees one strange print in the earth, though he is not sure what it is (he needed 8 to find the Windhorn but rolled 7, so he gets a clue). Hammu would love to investigate further, but needs food, so he forgets the footprint and goes after the Uzun.
Damage inflicted on your character (whether Physical, Mental or Social) is measured against your attributes. When you have taken Damage of a particular type equal to the relevant Attribute then you suffer some significant effect, such as Shame, Insanity or Death. The following table indicates the type of Damage inflicted against each of the Attributes and the effect of having too much Damage.
|Health||Lethal, Stun, Fatigue||Unconsciousness, Wound, Death|
When a character has taken damage equal to the attribute they are in trouble, and may collapse, fall unconscious or even die! A seriously wounded character will need immediate healing to avoid suffering the effect of the damage. Once wounded a character will need magical healing, or must make a slower natural recovery.
Most damage is divided roughly into physical damage (compared to Health or Physical), social damage (compared to Status or Presence) and mental damage (compared to Spirit or Intelligence). Physical damage is the most common type, and usually compared to Health. The following sections describes the types of damage that can be inflicted, the effects of suffering them, and the time required to heal.
Most Physical damage is counted against Health. Your Current Health is your maximum Health minus any Fatigue, Stun or Lethal Damage that you have taken. When your Current Health reaches 1 you are incapacitated. An incapacitated person falls down (if standing up) and can do nothing but crawl and moan each round, unless they can make a Spirit roll for each action they take. The Spirit roll is resisted by 10 + any damage you have taken beyond your Health score.
When you fall unconscious you will remain unconscious until all of your Stun and Fatigue are gone. If you only have Stun Damage then this is only a minute or two, Fatigue will cause you to stay unconscious for longer, although you count as resting while unconscious (see Healing). If you have taken enough damage to be in danger of death (see Lethal Damage) you will not wake up until you heal enough Lethal Damage to not be in danger of death. Other people can waken you before you naturally recover, but if you take any new damage you will have to roll to avoid more unconsciousness (or death). Each extra failure on a roll to avoid unconsciousness doubles the duration. Remaining unconscious for more than a day without medical attention causes 1 Weakening Damage per day.
Fatigue is inflicted by anything that causes Physical, Mental or Magical exhaustion. Fatigue is not normally fatal, but requires extended rest to recover from. You can gain Fatigue from combat, from lack of sleep or water (a failed Survival roll), and from using magic. You will also lose Fatigue if you fail a Marching roll, or ride for an extended period. If your Current Health is 0 or less, you can no longer willingly take actions that cause you Fatigue. If Fatigue is drained from you by magic, or inflicted by poison, when you are at a Current Health of 0 or less, you take Lethal Damage instead.
A rough guide to fatigue gain can be found below. When undertaking prolonged physical activity the fatigue gain is increased by your encumbrance.
|Activity Level||Fatigue Gained|
|Light physical activity (walking, hiking)||1 fatigue per hour|
|Moderate physical activity (jogging, digging, riding)||2 fatigue per hour|
|Heavy physical activity (running, climbing, building)||4 fatigue per hour|
|Intense physical activity (fighting, swimming)||6 fatigue per hour|
Lethal Damage is inflicted by anything that causes actual wounds: swords, axes, falls, burns, and so forth. Most damage is Lethal. Although Lethal Damage is counted as part of your Current Health (to determine if you might fall unconscious), compare it to your full Health for the calculations below.
When you have taken Lethal Damage in excess of your Health, you take a Wound (see below). Each time you take Lethal Damage you must make a roll to avoid death if you now have Lethal Damage in excess of your Health + 5.
Stunning Damage is inflicted by minor physical shocks: bruising, bashing injuries, and some posions. Stunning Damage does not normally carry the risk of death, but enough stun does become dangerous. If you take Stun Damage when you are at a Current Health of 0 or less, you take Lethal Damage instead.
Stun damage wears off quickly. If you fall unconscious from Stun, it will all be gone when you wake up. If you do not, then it will wear off in a couple of minutes. You can try to shake off your Stun damage before this by making a Phys roll (resisted by your current total damage) as long as you have a round to rest.
Weakening Damage represents systemic illness or collapse, and is often inflicted by Poison or Disease. Weakening Damage is counted against your Physical score, when you must make a Physical roll (or count your Physical Bonus) reduce it by any Weakening Damage first. If your Weakening Damage is equal to (or greater than) your Physical then you are entirely incapacitated, bedridden and unable to care for yourself. Each time you take Weakening Damage you must make roll to avoid death if you now have Weakening in excess of your Physical. Each time you have to make such a roll you gain a Wound. Recovering from a serious bout of illness or poison may take a long time.
Exposure to Fear, Horror and life changing events can inflict Insanity, which is damage to your Intelligence (and Spirit) which is counted when you need to resist further shocks or control your emotions and behaviour. Insanity is discussed in the Fear section.
Social conflict inflicts Social Damage, which is measured against Status. Taking Social Damage means that your credibility has been compromised, that insults have hit home, or that your political capital has been temporarily exhausted. If you are reduced to 0 Status or below by Social Damage then you take a Wound (see below).
You can apply damage to Spirit, Presence and Intelligence in a similar way to how Weakening Damage is applied to Physical. Use the same rules as for physical Weakening: reduces the attribute, roll for effect when below 0, inflicts wounds, and heals at attribute bonus -1 per day. A disfiguring illness might cause Presence damage, while exhausting your willpower can cause Spirit damage. Various drugs and poisons might cause Intelligence damage. The consequence of having too much of such damage (over the attribute) depends on the attribute. If the damage carries a risk of death then make a Spirit roll or die, otherwise gain a Flaw.
The shadow of death hangs heavy over all Keldians, and it may come at any time, through illness age and hunger (Weakening Damage) or violence and injury (Lethal Damage). Excessive amounts of either mean that you must made a Death Roll or die. Death Rolls are made against Spirit, resisted by 10 + fatal damage (where fatal damage is Weakening or Lethal Damage in excess of the threshold for rolling : Health + 5 for Lethal, Physical for Weakening).
If you fail a roll to avoid death, then you die. This is the end of your character, unless it lives on as a Ghost or other unhappy spirit. You may use Determination or Desperation to re-roll a failed Death Roll if you wish, but you will still need to make another roll if you suffer further fatal damage.
Alternatively you can spend 3 Desperation (or Determination) to dodge death. If you do this then you ignore whatever instance of damage caused you to make the Death Roll, and are stabilised. If your death was from sudden narrative events (you are crushed by falling rocks, drowned in a whirlpool and so forth) then you make a miraculous escape, recovering from unconciousness some time or distance later as appropriate (for example you are dug out from the rocks, or ash up on shore).
In addition to the cost of dodging death (in either attribute points or Determination points) you gain a Brush with Death Flaw. This Flaw penalises your death rolls (because the shadow of death is upon you) and may make you flee what looks like certain death (apply to fear checks). This Flaw cannot be bought off with CP.
A character who reaches 5 brushes with death can no longer dodge death, and will feel it's shadow upon them at all times. The next time they make a Death Roll they cannot spent Determination or Desperation to avoid, improve or re-roll it. A wise character might well retire at this point, too physically or mentally scarred to adventure. Others will make one final glorious stand before their death.
Menki the warrior find himself facing off against overwhelming odds. In one round he is stuck by blows from many enemies, inflicting 5, 9 and 10 Lethal Damage. Menki has only 15 Health, so he is reduced to -9 Health in a single round. The first blow does not kill him, nor the second (it reduces him to 1 Health), but the third takes him past the fatal threshold of Health + 5, so Menki must make a Death Roll. Menki has a Spirit of 10, and must roll with a resistance of 14 (10 + (24 - (Health + 5))). Menki must roll a 6 or less to avoid death, but rolls a 10.
Menki could now spend one Determination or Desperation to make his death roll again with a +3 bonus, but would still be unconcious and near death in the face of his enemies. Instead he spends 3 Determination to dodge death. He ignores the damage taken from the fatal blow (the last 10 Lethal) and is on 1 Health. As well as losing 3 Determination he gains a Brush with Death Flaw as a constant reminder that for a moment he smelt death. Knowing that death is not easily cheated he decides to flee the battle at once.
When you are taken out of combat, either by Lethal Damage or Social Damage, and are left on negative Health or Status you take a Wound. A Wound is a special type of Flaw (You can record it as Flaw : Wound (crippled) or Wound (crippled)). Like all Flaws a Wound gives you -2 to any active attribute or skill roll when it seems like it would be relevant. Again as with any Flaw Wounds can be cumulative. As with any other Flaw you can pay 1CP to remove a Wound at any time, however Wounds also heal on their own over time.
The character (or monster, or GM) inflicting the Wound gets to pick the description of the Wound, as long as it is suitable for the type of damage that inflicted it. Suitable Wounds for Social conflict might include: Wound (blackmailed), Wound (shamed), Wound (humiliated), Wound (exposed). Suitable Wounds for Physical conflict might include: Wound (crippled leg), Wound (bedridden), Wound (scarred), Wound (broken).
Wounds heal slowly. At the end of each Cycle make a simple Spirit roll. Remove 1 Wound for each success.
Taking a major wound, even one that doesn't kill you, is enough to stop you in your tracks for a moment. If you take damage over half you Health (or other relevant Attribute) in one go (for example from a single blow) then you are shocked. Any roll you make on the next combat round has a -4 penalty.
The Warrior Marak (Health 15, Spirit 10, Physical 12) is having a bad day. He has been hiking for hours through the Poison Jungle, and has taken 4 Fatigue (he failed a Marching roll, and is Encumbered). Now he has been attacked by a pack of feral Frians, and has taken 7 Lethal Damage. His Current Health is now 4 (15 - 4 - 7). Running away from the Frians he slips and tumbles down a slope, crashing into tree roots on the way down. He takes 5 Stun damage from this fall. This reduces his Current Health to -1. Since the last point of Stun is dealt at a Current Health of 0 it becomes Lethal instead. Marak now has a Current Health of -1, 4 Fatigue, 8 Lethal and 4 Stun. Marak must now make a Spirit roll to remain conscious, resisted by 11 (since he is on -1 Health). He needs to roll a 9, but rolls a 13. Marak falls unconscious.
Luckily the Frians do not find Marak while he is unconscious, and he wakes up half an hour later. All of his Stun damage and Fatigue is now gone, since he was Resting and thus recovers Fatigue at 4 times the base rate (Phys Bonus -1 times 4 = 4 per half hour). Marak now has a Current Health of 7 and 8 Lethal Damage. Picking himself up Marak heads deeper into the Jungle. Sadly his luck does not improve. Pushing himself through a bush he find himself face to face with a Bog Hound. The Hound sinks it's venomous teeth into Marak, causing 5 Lethal Damage. Marak must now make a Physical roll vs. 16 to avoid the poison. Sadly he rolls a 10, and takes another 8 Lethal. Marak now has a Current Health of -6 and 21 Lethal. Because Marak took Lethal Damage in excess of his Health he takes a Wound. Because he has taken Lethal Damage in excess of Health + 5 he must now roll Spirit to avoid death. This Spirit roll is resisted by 11, because Marak has taken 1 damage more than the Lethal threshold. Marak needs to roll a 9, and rolls a 7, he lives. Because Marak's Current Health is now below 0 he also needs to make a Spirit roll or fall unconscious, resisted by 10 + his negative damage (16). Marak needs to roll a 4 and rolls a 12, he falls unconscious. Luckily for Marak the Bog Hound has no interest in him once he stops moving and leaves him where he fell.
Once injured it can take some time to recover from the damage. You can only heal naturally if the damage source is removed. For example you do not start to heal Weakening Damage caused by illness until the illness is cured. Without any outside intervention damage recovers at the following rates.
|Wound||Roll Spirit to remove success Wounds per month|
|Lethal / Weakening||Phys Bonus -1 per day (min 1)|
|Social||Pre Bonus -1 per day (min 1)|
|Fatigue||Phys Bonus -1 per half hour (min 1)|
|Stun||Recover all when you rest or make a Phys roll|
You can recover Fatigue faster by reducing your activity level, or by using the Meditation Skill.
|Heavy Activity||Marching, Combat||No recovery|
|Normal Activity||Walking, Talking||Base recovery|
|Light Activity||Reading, Eating||Base Recovery x 2|
|Resting||Lying down, sleeping||Base Recovery x 4|
|Meditation||Successful roll||Base Recovery x 6|
Lethal and Weakening damage can also be healed faster if you have outside help (such as a Healer, Stonetalker or Mage) or if you can take rest. Each of the following categories of help can only be used once per day : Rest, Medicine Skill, healing from a Stonetalker, Healing Magic. i.e. you cannot benefit from having two healers use Medicine on you in a day, or a Mage casting two spells on you. An exception applies if you are wounded, healed, and then wounded again, in which case Healers and Stonetalkers can treat the new wound.
|Heavy Activity||No recovery|
|Normal Activity||Base recovery|
|Bed Rest||Base Recovery x 2|
|First Aid||Skill / 2 Lethal can be restored|
|Medicine||Recovery rate increased by Skill / 2|
|Herbs and Stones||Heal a fixed amount immediately|
Bad conditions can make it harder to heal. You cannot claim the increased healing rate due to rest if you are short of food, water, sleep, or adequate comfort (for example you cannot claim rest for being lashed to the back of a Crdlu, or for being carried on the open road in a rickety cart). If conditions are bad enough to require a survival roll then your healing rate is actually reduced by 1. The same happens if you fail a Survival roll, are suffering from a disease, are poisoned, and so forth (reduce healing rate by 1 for each condition that applies). Apply these reductions after any bonuses. If this sort of bad condition reduces your healing rate below 0 then you take Lethal damage in place of healing.
When your Current Health is less than 0 you are in constant danger of falling unconscious. You must roll Spirit each round to avoid doing so. You can stop rolling when your wounds are stabilised. This happens when you receive a successful First Aid roll, or any healing from an external source. You also stabilise on your own if you fall unconscious from injury and then wake up naturally. Note that any further injury at this point will make you start rolling again, and require further stabilisation. Some injuries (for example wounds from a Stenon) continue to bleed until stabilised.
The Warrior Marak (Health 15, Spirit 10, Physical 12) is unconscious in the Jungle, having been mauled by a selection of Ur. He has a Current Health of -6 and 21 Lethal Damage, and has taken 1 Wound (mauled). He will not recover from unconsciousness until he heals enough Lethal damage to be under the death threshold (20 Lethal in his case). His Physical counts as 10 when figuring his Physical Bonus (because of his Wound), meaning that he heals 1 Lethal Damage per day. This means it takes 2 days for him to recover enough to move, spending the rest of the time in a feverish haze as his body fights the venom. This causes him 1 Weakening Damage.
After two days Marak is conscious. He has a Current Health of -4, 19 Lethal and 1 Weakening. The most he can do is crawl through the Jungle, and he must make constant Spirit rolls to continue acting. Things are looking bad! Luckily Marak is found by a passing group of Twilight Hunters, who carry him back to their village and hand him over to their shaman to heal. This Shaman has Healing 2 / Medicine 5, giving them a Medicine Assist of 3. The Shaman puts Marak in her hut, and tends him each day with herbs, chants and water. Marak's recovery rate is now 3 (His Base Rate is 0, due to the Wound and Weakening). After 2 days Marak has a Current Health of 2, and is able to take and move about. He also recovers the 1 Weakening damage. From the 3rd day onwards he heals 5 Lethal a day if he still gets medical care, 2 a day otherwise (Base Rate x 2) so long as he keeps resting. After another 3-7 days he is back to full Health, though he still has a Wound from his experience.
One Cycle later (16 days after being wounded) Marak makes a simple Spirit roll to try and recover his Wound. He needs a 10, but rolls a 15, so he remains wounded for another cycle.
Termite Sun Keld uses an abstract wealth system based on your character's Wealth attribute. Your Wealth attribute is derived from your choice of Paths and Qualities (rather like Status), but can be increased in play by spending CP, or by finding treasure. It can also decrease in play, any time you are forced to stretch your finances to buy something. Your Wealth attribute represents a mixture of coinage, barter, mercantile skill, influence with the Empire Bureaucracy and reputation. Depending on your Wealth score some items may be easy to buy, some affordable but have a risk of draining your resources and some out of reach without significant sacrifice. The Property Quality allows you to own items you might not be able to afford, as well as ones that can increase your Wealth over time.
Anything you might want to purchase using Wealth will have a value rating (a dirt cheap item might be rated 1 or 2, a near priceless treasure could be 20 or more). To assign a value rating you can take a look at the price lists. Local conditions can easily raise the value of an item. A Thorn dagger is a cheap item in the One-River, where Thorn trees grow, but much more expensive in Nagash, a thousand Klegs away. During a famine food might have it's value doubled, while during a war almost every item will be more expensive.
Note that in the rules below you are sometimes forced to lose Wealth levels (e.g. for fumbling a Wealth roll). You can always choose to lose a level of the Merchant Trait instead of Wealth when required to lose a Wealth level. You sacrifice some of your reputation and Merchant contacts to hang on to your material wealth. Naturally you cannot sacrifice Merchant Trait levels that you don't currently have.
For example price lists see the Price List.
If an item's current value is less than (or equal to) half your Wealth rating then you can afford it with ease. Buying it doesn't strain your finances at all. You either have the money on hand, can trade an item you don't care about, or are given it as a gift due to your status. For high Wealth characters all sorts of resources, food, lodging, clothing, transport and even weapons may fall into this class. If so you can mostly just assume you have such things available without actually having to go out and buy them. At Wealth 15, for example, you can usually assume that comfortable rooms, fine food, new clothing, and fresh mounts are easily available whenever you need them. At Wealth 4, in contrast, anything more than the cheapest of foods are a struggle to obtain.
If an item's current value is greater than half your Wealth rating, but less than (or equal to) your full Wealth rating then it is Expensive, but still something you should be able to get your hands on. Make a buying roll, as follows:
Wealth Roll = 10 + Wealth - Value
If you succeed you have managed to find the resources to purchase the item without any long term impact on your Wealth. If you fail then you can't afford it without stretching your finances. You then have the choice of giving up on your purchase, and trying again at a later date, attempting to Bargain for a better price, or stretching your finances. If you fumble your Wealth roll you fail to buy the item and your Wealth is immediately reduced by 1. You have somehow damaged your reputation, wasted cash, or devalued your trade items. If you don't want to stretch your finances you will have to try again somewhere else or at a different time.
If an item is just out of reach you might try bargaining to adjust the price. Make a contested roll of Pre / Bargain versus the merchant's Pre / Bargain. If you win the contest then you reduce the price of the item by 1 per success. If you fail the price actually goes up by 1 (which may take it out of your price range entirely). If you Fumble your bargaining attempt you lose a Wealth level!
If you have failed to make your Wealth roll to buy an Expensive item you can try and stretch your finances to afford it. You can sacrifice one or more Wealth levels, and then roll again. For each Wealth level you sacrifice you have +2 Wealth for that roll alone. For example if you have just failed a roll against Wealth 10 you can sacrifice 1 Wealth level and then make a Simple roll against a Wealth of 12. After the roll your Wealth is 9. You can keep trying to stretch multiple times if you are desperate. As above, fumbling a stretched Wealth roll will immediately cost you another Wealth level.
Although buying an expensive item (without stretching) doesn't have a long term effect on your Wealth it still uses resources. If you need to make multiple expensive purchases at once (perhaps you are outfitting an expedition in a hurry, or buying the whole stock of a travelling sword smith) then you may find your on-hand resources flagging. After making an expensive purchase count your Wealth as 1 lower for each subsequent expensive purchase you have to make right away. Having a little time to raid your stores, gather some coin, visit a merchant banker, get paid, and so forth returns your Wealth to it's normal level.
You can get new instances of the Property Quality in play, if you have CP to spend and it makes sense in the story. You can also sometimes obtain them using Wealth instead, if the circumstances come up (such as an auction). In this case you can directly sacrifice Wealth levels to get a Property Quality of equal value to the levels scarified, so long as the value is equal to or less than your Wealth / 5.
If an item's current value is greater than your Wealth rating then you simply cannot afford it without significant effort. It is beyond your disposable means. To trade for, or purchase it, you will have to sacrifice a significant degree of your personal Wealth. To purchase such an item you must stretch your finances, as described above. You must sacrifice at least enough Wealth to raise your Wealth to equal the value of the item, and then make a buying roll. Failing this roll means you still didn't get the item, while Fumbling means you lose yet another Wealth!
Dancius, a Bonded One with a Wealth of 11 wants to buy a value 15 item. Since this is more than his Wealth the item is Unaffordable, and he must raise his effective Wealth to at least 15 before he can try and buy it. Dancius could sacrifice 2 Wealth for a +4 bonus, making his effective Wealth 15, and then try and roll 10 or less (10+15-15) to buy the item. Whether this roll passed or failed he would have Wealth 9 afterwards.
Treasures are items defined primarily by their trade value, rather than their use. There are countless types of treasure: caches of ancient coins, golden crowns stolen from old tombs, sparkling stones extracted from the heads of Nagas, broken weapons scavenged from battlefields, stacks of Tancred tablets, delicate vases, a pearl comb given as a gift from a superior and more. Adventurous characters will often find themselves in possession of treasures like these. A single large treasure is more valuable than multiple smaller treasures. For example a tomb containing a single treasure 7 crown is far richer than one that contains three treasure 3 shields. The value of a given treasure is generally at least twice the value of a similar non-treasure trade good. So for example a pottery vase might be value 2 at market. A rare pottery vase from a notable ancient artist would be at least value 4.
There are two main uses for Treasures (apart from displaying them, giving them as gifts, and so forth), using them as trade items for important purchases, and converting them to a form that can permanently increase your Wealth. To use them as a part of a purchase you can convert a Treasure into a straight bonus to your Wealth level equal to the Treasure's value for purchasing one item. This can allow you to convert an Expensive item into an Affordable one, or gain a bonus to the Wealth roll needed to buy an Expensive or Unaffordable item equal to the value. Multiple Treasures do not stack when used in this way. Extra Treasures only add +1 each, and only if they are within 2 Treasure levels of the best item used.
Dancius, a Bonded One with a Wealth of 11 is given a magnificent gift of a headdress decorated with feathers and turquoise by a pleased superior. This is a Treasure 7. Dancius also has a bag of ancient coins (Treasure 2) and a Naga Eye (Treasure 5).
Alternatively you can convert the treasure to Character Points that are spent to increase your Wealth attribute. If you do this you get Treasure -1 CP towards Wealth. You don't need to convert enough for the next level of Wealth all at once, and can keep any excess CP noted down until you can afford to raise Wealth, either by converting more treasure, or spending the CP you receive when you go up a level.
Dancius could convert his headdress into 6CP towards the 12CP required to raise his Wealth by 1. He could convert all three of his Treasures into 11CP, one short of what he needs to raise his Wealth permanently, but this is probably a bad use of the small Treasures.
The Bestiary will sometimes suggest a Treasure value of a monster's hoard, e.g. Treasure 6. You can replace any Treasure with 3 treasures of one level less, so for example your Treasure 6 hoard might actually be made of 3 Treasure 4 items, and 2 Treasure 5 items. You can also estimate a treasure rating from the monster's wealth. They likely have a treasure equal to half their wealth rating available.
In general we assume that anyone with an income (for example a Gladiator working for a stable, a Clerk working for a City, a craftsman working at her trade) makes enough money doing their job to cover the day to day expenses of their lifestyle (food, housing, fuel, clothing). Increased income generally just results in a more expensive lifestyle, not an excess of Wealth. Indeed failing to spend enough money on your lifestyle can hurt your Status (see the Spendthrift Quality). However some Keldians have extra sources of income over and above that provided by their normal occupation, such as shares in a trading ship, merchant house, or gladiator stable. These sorts of properties can provide enough income to actually make you richer, if properly managed.
Each appropriate instance of the Property Quality with a level of at least 4 that you possess can provide an income. If you spend a full month managing the property, and make a Simple Int / Administration roll, you gain CP towards your Wealth equal to the level of the property. Alternatively you can delegate this to a trusted underling (see the Underling Quality) and roll their Administration, in which case you are free to do something else. If you don't have an Underling to assign to the task you can leave the job to unnamed assistants (see the Faceless Assistants Quality) who will produce CP equal to half the Property level. An unmanaged Property normally neither produces nor consumes Wealth, although it may become a source of plots and adventures if left unmanaged for too long.
You can also accumulate CP in Wealth by crafting individual valuable items and selling them on. If you do this the item you create can be treated as a Treasure when you sell it (giving you value-1 CP).
If you are interested in mercantile activities you may want to deal with Wealth levels directly. A character might invest some number of Wealth levels in a trading mission or venture, and get more levels back if successful (or lose them if it fails). Wealth levels can also be given to other characters. This represents a transfer of contacts, coinage, goods and goodwill, and is not an instant process (like handing over a bag of money). If you have to pay someone Wealth immediately (say you are hiring an assassin), you lose 1 Wealth more than you transfer to represent the difficulty of gathering raw coinage.
When a rich character gives Wealth to a poor character they will gain entire Wealth levels, but the same is not true of the reverse, because Wealth level 15 (for example) is worth a lot more than Wealth level 4. When a poor character gives a Wealth level to a richer one, convert the Wealth to CP, subtract 1 for every 5 Wealth levels of difference, and apply the remainder to the Richer character's Wealth. The resources of a low level character mean little, but not nothing, to a richer character.
Dancius, having decided that he cannot afford the things he want even by trading in his Treasures, decides to ask his friends for the money. The Merchant Axu offers to lend him a Wealth Level, but expects interest in return. Axu has Wealth 12, so Dancius would get a full Wealth Level, but would have to give Axu back 1 and a half Wealth (in the form of Treasure worth at least 6). The hunter Mazura also offers to help, and will give him a Wealth in return for help with his hunting. Mazura has Wealth 4, so Dancius would only get 4CP towards increasing his Wealth in return for his service.
The Status Attribute measures your social importance and your place in the Eternal Hierarchy. A character with high Status can give orders to lower Status NPCs, obtain significant resources from their city or Order and expect gifts, promotions and rewards from their superiors. A character with low Status can be ordered around by many NPCs, may find it hard to obtain official help and are passed over for promotions or social favours. Your character's starting Status is derived from your choice of Caste, Paths, and certain Qualities (such as Distinction or Disfavoured).
Status interacts closely with Caste. Castes (Slave, Freeman, Clerk, Bonded-One, Mage) are broad distinctions of social standing, while Status measures finer graduations of importance. In general a higher Caste outranks a lower one, even when the lower Caste character has higher Status, but the character with higher Status may be able to get more things done, or even compel the higher Caste character to follow their instructions when it does not violate the law. Within a given Caste small differences (1-3 points) of Status between two characters do not clearly place one above the other, but larger differences clearly indicate who should be the superior.
Although a Freeman out-ranks a Slave, and a Clerk a Freeman, the hierarchy is not so rigid that every Clerk must obey every Bonded-One, or every Bonded-One every Mage. When dealing with characters from your Caste, or the Castes immediately above and below it, social rolls are appropriate to get your way. Clear inferiors (those two or more castes below you) should simply obey you, while clear superiors (those two or more castes above you) can simply ignore you.
A character's caste is Freeman, unless a Birth Caste or Path choice overrides this.
Nahun is a Bonded-One with a Status of 12, while Balzoon is a Mage with a Status of 10. Balzoon is of a higher Caste than Nahun. If Nahun commits a crime, Balzoon may judge him, while the converse is not true. Similarly Balzoon can legitimately give orders to Nahun (whether they are obeyed is a different matter), while Nahun would have to resort to requesting things of the Mage. Nevertheless Nahun is of a higher Status. Nahun finds it easier to get jobs done than Balzoon, and others may readily defer to Nahun in ways that they would not to Balzoon. If Balzoon gives Nahun orders he does not want to follow he has a fair chance of ignoring them (he gets a +2 bonus to resist command rolls), and he has a reasonable chance of coercing the Mage into doing what he wants.
Amhara is a Clerk with Status 6. She is inferior to both Nahun and Balzoon in both Caste and Status. While Nahun might still have to make a social roll to get her to do something (he is only one Caste above her), Balzoon can simply issue orders and expect them to be obeyed, even though his absolute Status is lower.
Status is commonly used to get what you want from other members of the Hierarchy. You can roll Presence + Status to gain access to councils and libraries, get invitations to social events, or overawe your lessors. Your social rolls (e.g. Presence, Seduction, Graces, Politics) may be resisted by the Spirit + Status of your targets. Alternatively you may make an opposed Status roll to argue your point with another person who is attempting to resist you on the grounds of rank or position.
Crucial or involved social conflicts should use the Social Combat rules instead of simple rolls.
Nobles, politicians, Mages and similar groups are intensely conscious of their own relative Status. When two individuals interact who are close enough in Caste that they are not simply expected to obey any order given to them, relative Status makes all the difference. When making a contested social roll both characters add their Status. When making a resisted roll gain a bonus (or penalty) equal to the difference in Status. This does not apply when dealing with your inferiors (those of 2 or more castes below you) or superiors (those of 2 or more castes above).
If you have more than twice an inferior's Status then you may ignore the effects of their social or political rolls on you. They are so far beneath your notice that their words, however persuasive, are meaningless to you. You can not do this if you have any Quality relating you (such as Dependant), and you may not ignore rolls taken during a Social Combat. If an inferior has more than half your Status then you half to listen to them, but have a bonus equal to your Status Bonus.
When delivering orders to those with leass than half your Status you will normally be obeyed without having to make a command roll (remembering that your effective Status has a -2 penalty when dealing with people you would not normally command). However if an underling choose to disobey you then you must make a Command roll as normal, claiming only your Status Bonus as a modifier; when an inferior chooses to defy you in the first place, your status means much less.
Balzoon wants to order Nahun to arrest his own brother and send him to the Obsidian mines. Although Balzoon is of a higher Caste than Nahun he is not 2 castes higher, so Nahun is counted as an equal. Nahun does not wish to carry out the orders, so he makes a contested roll of his Presence + Culture / Politics against Balzoon's Presence + Oratory / Command to try and talk him out of the Order. Since Nahun has 12 Status compared to Balzoon's 10, Nahun has a +2 bonus in this contest. As has happened many times before, Nahun gets his way over his technical superior.
Amhara wants to get the Mage Balzoon to induct her nephew into the ranks of the Clerks, but sadly chooses to do so just after Nahun has defied him once again. Amhara is Balzoon's inferior (2 castes below) but has more than half his Status, so he cannot just ignore her out of hand. Amhara can make a Personality + Oratory / Persuade roll against Blazoon's Spirit to try and talk him round. Because she is still an inferior Balzoon gets a bonus equal to his Status Bonus (+2) to his Spirit and she fails to make any headway with him.
You can use Status rather like Wealth, to obtain resources from official sources, such as: requisitioning a boat from a merchant house, borrowing troops from the Red Order, getting paperwork or food from the Black Order, or getting information from a Sage.
Follow the same rules as for Wealth. Assign a value to the service you wish to make use of. If the value is below half your Status you should be able to easily obtain it. If the value is half your Status or more, but less than your Status, you may be able to obtain it on a Status roll. If it is greater than your Status then you must sacrifice Status levels to obtain it. Note that sacrificing Status is generally a lot worse than sacrificing Wealth, as it can easily result in you losing your social rank entirely.
Obtaining goods or services with Status is not the same as getting them with Wealth. Wealth purchases things which you then own, while Status allows you to borrow (or command) the resources of organisations for a temporary period. Status will often allow you to get hold of things you couldn't possibly buy, such as units of troops, or the assistance of Magi. Status also allows you to use the resources of others at short notice, such as commandeering the town guards of a village to chase your enemies.
Some suggested Status values of various services are given in the equipment list.
You gain Status when you achieve the aims of your superiors, are celebrated in the public eye, or attract the approval of people of much higher Status. You can also gain Status from shaming or socially defeating opponents with similar or greater Status. When you do these things the GM can award you Character Points in Status. Like CP spent on Wealth you do not need to gain enough to raise your Status in one go. Excess CP are accumulated until you have enough to raise your Status (as with all attributes this costs CPs equal to the new level).
As an alternative to Status awards a superior may give you valuable gifts in the form of Treasures. In this case the Status award should be reduced.
A list of suggested Status awards appears below.
|2||Small errand for a superior, a task that takes a couple of days|
|4||A task with a minor risk of loss or injury|
|6||Moderate errand or official task taking weeks|
|8||A task with a significant risk of injury or disgrace, a major expense|
|10||Significant task lasting months with major risk or rewards|
|12||A task involving almost certain death and huge dangers|
|14||Winning a war, saving a city, ruling a city, discovering new magics|
|1+||Winning a public Status Combat, CP equal to the loser's Status / 5|
Any character can award Status to those of lower castes. Magi may award Status to any caste (including other Magi). The awarding character must be at least 2 Status higher than the character recieving the award. The maximum award that they may give for any one service is Status CP equal to their own Status Level. Awards of Status must be public to be counted, if no one knows you have been commended or promoted your Status does not change. If no superior is available to award Status, but your deeds are being celebrated widely in the public eye, then you gain half as much Status CP as suggested above from public acclaim.
Player Characters may find themselves in a position where they might award Status to their own followers, or even to other Player Characters. The character may award Status any time they like, but awarding Status to someone you have a close relationship too is dubious and has an impact on your own Status. If you are awarding Status for deeds that would not commonly attract public reward, you lose Status CP equal to half the award you give. If you make a habit of giving Status to your cronies then they must take the Favoured Quality (for no benefit) at their next opportunity.
These restrictions are reduced when the higher status character is being awarded Status for some deed. They can choose to acknowledge their assistants and companions. If a character does this then their status award is reduced by 1 for each other character they acknowledge. Those characters gain Status CP equal to 1/2 (round down) what their superior is gaining. Each character can only gain 1 award of Status per event in this way.
Failure has its own cost. Failing at an assigned task can cost you Status as easily as success can award it. Failing a significant or prestigious duty, especially one in the public eye (or under the scrutiny of your peers) can cost you CP in Status equal to what the task might have awarded. This reduces any unspent Status CP you have accumulated. If you are forced to lose more Status CP than you have unspent, the lower your Status by one, convert that level to CP and reduce that in turn. A large enough loss can wipe out more than one level of Status at once!
It is also possible for a superior to simply award, or remove a level of Status, from someone over whom they have control, by publicly rewarding or shaming them. A superior can make a Status roll resisted by 10 + the difference in Status with an inferior to award or dock one level of Status. If that fails the roll then the promotion (or demotion) is currently outside their power. On a fumble the superior loses one of their own Status levels!
During play it is possible for a character to change caste. A slave may be freed, a freeman employed as a Clerk, or any sort of Keldian raised to the Bonded-Ones by a Mage who binds them. Similarly any Keldian, even a Mage, can be reduced to the status of a slave if they are convicted of a serious crime.
Magic on Sun-Keld is the process of channeling magic from and external source and then releasing it to create a magical effect. Only the most mighty of energies can be tapped in this way, the Eternal Sun, the Brilliance, the Passing, or the Frozen Dark Side. Each of these sources of power can be channeled through a Keldian soul (living, or in some cases dead), and then released. Only a Mage, one born with the Gift to channel, can do this properly.
Releasing such power without a structure, or spell, to guide it is supremely dangerous. The unguided chanelling of Magic is known as Wild Magic, and poses a danger both to the Mage and to everything around them. The Orders hunt dilligently for young Keldians born with the Mage's Gift not simply to begin their training as soon as possible, but also to prevent the damage that they might create with Wild Magic.
To control channeled power a trained Mage uses a spell, which is a mental pattern stored in the Mage's mind (or a Matrix). By channelling power through a Spell the Mage controls it's release, creating a pre-determined effect and, hopefully, preventing the power from lashing out of control. Even with a spell the act of channeling magic is very dangerous, requiring a massive effort of will and physical resilience, and Mages are frequently scarred and damaged by the energies they try to control. Even if they control the power carefully, casting a spell is still very fatiguing. On the other hand a desperate Mage can allow more power to flow through them than can possibly be safe, trading their own body for extra power.
Earth Clerics follow the same rules, although they are invoking the aid of spirits and ancestors rather than channelling power directly. In this case failing a casting roll reflects the dangers of angering the spirits. Spirit magic of this sort is considerably weaker than Order Magic.
Normally a Mage will cast their Magic using a spell, but see Wild Bursts below for an alternative.
Each type of spellcaster uses a distict set of spells. Red Order Mages use Red Order spells, Earth Clerics use Earth Cleric Rituals, and so forth. It is not possible to cast a spell of a different type to your own (although spells of the Grey Order are shared between Black and Red Order Magi). All spells are divided by Rank and Energy Level. Higher Rank spells require more raw power and mastery to use, while higher Energy Level spells are more complex and take longer to cast. Spells can be written down as a set of instructions (words to recite, materials to use, gestures to make, mental forms to visualise) allowing a Mage to construct the correct mental pattern that will realise the spell. The spells a character can use normally are restricted by their Level, as follows:
|Caster Level||Rank 1||Rank 2||Rank 3||Rank 4||Rank 5|
You can cast (or attempt to cast) any spell that you have on hand, that is of the correct Rank and Order. A spell on hand is one of the following: a spell you have bound in memory; a spell you have written in your own spellbook; a spell that you have a copy of, in a language that you can read. A familiar spell is quicker to cast, and one you have in your mind quicker still, while a spell you have never seen before can take quite a while to cast. Some spells are also more challenging than others. Each spell's complexity is measured in Energy Levels (EL). Spells of a higher Energy Level take longer to cast. Earth Clerics are not capable of binding spells, or creating spellbooks. All their rituals count as being cast from a copy (even if they commit the rituals to memory).
Although you can cast a spell merely by reading it from a text, and performing the correct rituals, this is not the same as learning it properly. To learn a spell you must study it closely, until you understand all of its intricacies. In the process you make a copy of the spell and transfer it into your own Spellbook (which may be a set of scrolls, a pile of tablets, a collection of books, tattoos on your own skin, patterns in your fur). To learn a spell you must have an Int + Sorcery equal to the Spell's Rank + 10. This process generally takes 1 day per Energy Level of the spell per Rank. Thus the simplest Rank 1/1EL spells takes 1 day to learn, while a Rank 5/3EL spell would take 15 days to comprehend and copy.
You can attempt to speed up this process by making a roll of
Int / Sorcery roll vs. 8 + (days reduced x 3)
Failing this roll increases the time by the specified number of days instead. Earth Clerics commit their rituals to memory, rather than a Spellbook (so their spells cannot be taken away) but otherwise follow the same principles.
All spellcasting characters begin play with a stock of spells (see Starting Spells), but can acquire more during play. In general a Mage in good standing with their Order will be permitted to learn any spell of suitable Rank on request, provided that the time spent doesn't interfere with their duties. In the great cities copies of all standard spells are easily on hand. In the provinces it can be harder to find the less common spells, and you might have to persuade a fellow Mage to let you see their own copy or do without. Earth Clerics can obtain new rituals directly from other Clerics in a similar manner.
Occasionanly the spell you want may be denied to you, because it is secret to a given group, or because you are out of favour. An Order Magi (but not a Wizard) can attempt to claim such spells by right, but this is generally seen as an admission of weakness. To claim a spell by right pay Status levels equal to the Rank of the desired spell. Sometimes the spell you want is simply not avaiable. In this case your only options are to look elsewhere or attempt to invent it from first principles using Sorcery, something that might take years.
Once you have learnt a spell it is in your Spellbooks (or memorized in the cast of Earth Clerics) and you can cast it faster. Should you lose your Spellbooks you may attempt to re-create them by writing new copies of the lost spells. If you have a bound copy of the spell available then re-writing it is trivial. Otherwise make an Int + Sorcery roll for each spell, resisted by (EL+Rank)x4. If you fail this roll you cannot write a new copy and have lost the spell.
Elasaar is a Red Order Mage with an Intelligence of 10 and a Sorcery score of 4. She wishes to learn Explosive Arrow which is a Circle 3 spell with 3 Energy Levels. This takes 9 days. Elasaar would like to learn this in 7 days instead. She needs to roll Int + Sorcery (14) against a resistance of 14 (8 + (2x3)), needing a 10 or less. Instead she rolls a 12, so learning the spell takes 11 days instead.
Once you have learnt a spell you can bind it. A Bound Spell is one that you have partially cast and then placed in a Matrix. So long as the spell remains in the Matrix the Mage may cast it in moments simply by channelling energy through it. Once bound a spell stays in this state until the Mage needs the matrix for something else, or if they lose consciousness through injury. Casting the spell does not remove it from the Matrix. Should a Mage fail a Spirit roll to stay conscious from Fatigue or injury, roll a Simple Channelling Total roll (see below) for each spell they have in a matrix. On a failure the matrix is erased.
The following rules cover the process of casting a spell in detail. The steps are as follows:
The first step to casting a spell is to select the spell to be cast. You may cast any spell on hand (as defined above). Casting begins by framing the spell in your mind, forming the correct patterns into which the energy you Channel will be forced. The time required to do this depends on where you are casting the spell from (a matrix or a text) and how familiar you are with it (learnt or unfamiliar). As follows:
|Bound in Memory||1 combat round per Energy Level.|
|In your Spellbook||5 minutes per Energy Level.|
|From a copy||15 minutes per Energy Level.|
Framing a spell requires concentration. If distracted while framing your spell make a Spirit + Faith / Meditation roll or lose your concentration. If you lose your concentration you must start over. If you cast a spell in combat and are forced to make a concentration roll (for example you are attacked) then normal modifiers for Shock and Movement apply.
The next step is to channel energy into the spell, forcing the magic to take effect. The Mage opens himself to the energies of his Order, drawing power from the Light Side (Red Order) or Dark Side (Black Order) through his own body and into the spell. This process is dangerous and exhausting. Out of control the channeling can destroy the Mage's body in an instant. More difficult spells require more energy, and therefore more control. The higher the complexity of the spell the more the Channeling roll is penalised, and the more Fatigue must be expended controlling the energy.
To channel energy make a Simple roll of your Channelling Total. Your Channelling Total is equal to your Spirit plus any modifiers (such as the Mage Path, the Fire Word Quality, the Shadow Word Quality or the Familiar Quality). Your Save is reduced by the spell's casting difficulty (varies per spell, but is roughly Rank + (2 x EL)) and any power levels you added through Overcharging (see below). If you make the Save you gain Fatigue equal to the spell's fatigue cost and the spell is cast. If you fail the Save then the power goes out of control, you suffer a backlash, take the fatigue, and the spell may or may not be cast (see below). Each extra success on the Channeling roll reduces the Fatigue cost by 1. If you roll a critical then you do not take any Fatigue from casting the spell.
Earth Clerics do not channel energy from the outside world, rather they entreat spirits and ancestors to provide the power for their rituals, but the risks are the same. The Cleric must still open himself to these energies, and can suffer the effects of failure as much as any Mage, though they tend to operate at far lower power levels than their Order superiors.
Losing control over the energy you are Chanelling is a bad idea. A backlash can easily maim or kill you. Most Magi will go to great lengths to avoid a backlash, and there are a number of ways of increasing your Channelling Total before you roll, including favourable time and location, taking extra time, or invoking various Qualities. It is safer to cast spells in your own part of the world (both Orders cast as normal in Twilight) or during the Brilliance or Passing. You can also make your spells safer by significantly reducing their power level, or by taking more time to cast them.
When you take more time to cast a spell you reduce the penalties to your Channelling Total and the fatigue you take by 1 for each cumulative increment of casting time that you spend. This cannot cause you to heal fatigue (at best the fatigue taken is reduced to 0) or to gain a Channelling Total modifier better than the spell's starting modifier, or 0, whichever is higher. The following table shows long it takes to get each bonus.
|+1||-1 penalty / -1 fatigue|
|+3||-2 penalty / -2 fatigue|
|+6||-3 penalty / -3 fatigue|
|+10||-4 penalty / -4 fatigue|
|+15||-5 penalty / -5 fatigue|
|+21||-6 penalty / -6 fatigue|
|+28||-7 penalty / -7 fatigue|
|+36||-8 penalty / -8 fatigue|
If you are really desperate you can take 1 Lethal to increase save by 1. You can only do that once per spell.
The following table summarises these time and location effects.
|Effect||Red Order||Black Order||Earth Cleric|
|Light Side||+2 Save||-2 Save||n/a|
|Dark Side||-2 Save||+2 Save||-2 Save|
|Passing||-1 Save||+1 Save||n/a|
|Brilliance||+1 Save||-1 Save||n/a|
|Sacrifice Health||Add 1 Save|
|Extra Time||Add 1 Save per cumulative increment of casting time, reduce Fatigue by 1|
|Low Power||Add +6 Save|
|Bound or Silenced||-4 Save|
|Maintained Spells||-1 Save for each spell you are maintaining|
|Familiar Quality||+1 Save||n/a|
|Fire Word Quality||+1 Save||n/a||n/a|
|Shadow Word Quality||n/a||+1 Save||n/a|
|Totem Quality||+1 Save per 5 levels|
If you cast a spell with low power, which is also known as attenuated, demonstrative or breath-cast magic, then most of the energy is taken out. The spell has only a shadow of it's normal effect. A spell that normally conjures a ball of flame might produce a brief flash of light, while one that summons a bat might just make a shadowy flicker for a second. Casting a spell in this way increases the Channelling Total by 6 and reduces the Fatigue cost by half (rounding down).
Once you have channelled for the spell's casting time (as described above) you can release the energy and cast the spell, but you do not have to do so. Instead you can continue to force more power into the spell, Overcharging it. The amount of Overcharging you do is measured in Power Levels. Each extra Power Level boosts the effect of the spell (each spell tells you what Power Levels do for it). Many spells can have their effects significantly enhanced with a certain number of Power Levels.
To add Power Levels to your spell you may either :
You may combine these methods if you wish, starting by adding power slowly and then switching to quickly if you suddenly need to get the spell cast. There is no limit to how many Power Levels you may add. You may even add Power Levels that take your effective Channelling Total below 0.
If you successfully control the magical energies (pass your Channelling roll), then the spell is ready to cast. In combat a spell will happen on your Initative in the round that you finish casting, although you are assumed to spend the whole round Channeling (i.e. if you move more than one step while casting, you must apply the movement penalty of -1 per additional step to your Channeling roll). A one round spell (such as a 1EL spell in a Matrix) will therefore happen on the turn you begin casting it. A two round spell (such as a 2EL spell in a Matrix) would happen on your initiative the round after you begin to cast it, and so forth.
A spell with the Fast kewyword may be used to interrupt another spell, or alter another character's Initiative total before actions for the round are determined. If you cast a Fast spell then determine the effects at the start of the round, before any other player acts.
When your control fails the energy you are attempting to channel goes out of control and grounds itself through your body. This is called a Backlash. Order Magi are trained to try and limit this damage by reflex. If you do this then the spell you were trying to cast automatically fails (you shut down the energy that would power it), and the effects on you are minimised. Alternatively, if you are desperate for the spell to succeed you can just let the energy flow. In this case the spell is cast as if you have made the save, but the effects on you are worse.
Earth Clerics do not have this option. When their rituals go wrong it means that either the spirits were angered by the request and punish the Cleric, or that the Cleric mis-handled the energy he was given. In either case the ritual always fails, and the Cleric suffers the effects. However Earth Cleric failures always count as 3 lower (to a minimum of 1) on the table below.
The effects of a failed Save depends on how badly you failed the roll by. A Fumble counts as at least five degrees of failure. Subtract the target number from your roll and look up the result on the following table. For example if your Save for a spell is 10 and you roll a 16, look at line 6 of the table. If you try and limit the damage (so that the spell is not cast) reduce the effect by 5, to a minimum of 1. If you let the energy run free increase the effect by the Energy Level of the spell you were casting. It's also possible that your backlash will affect others. On a Fumble people around you suffer an effect 5 less than you do.
|5||4 Lethal, 1 Wound|
|6||5 Lethal, 1 Wound|
|7||5 Lethal, 2 Wounds|
|8||5 Lethal, 2 Wounds, lose 1 Health|
|9||5 Lethal, 2 Wounds, lose 1 from a physical attribute|
|10||5 Lethal, 2 Wounds, lose 1 from a mental attribute|
|11||5 Lethal, 2 Wounds, lose 2 Health|
|12||5 Lethal, 2 Wounds, lose 2 from a physical attribute|
|13||5 Lethal, 2 Wounds, lose 2 from a mental attribute|
|14||5 Lethal, 2 Wounds, lose 4 Health|
|15||5 Lethal, 2 Wounds, lose 4 from a physical attribute|
|16||5 Lethal, 2 Wounds, lose 4 from a mental attribute|
|17||5 Lethal, 2 Wounds, lose 6 Health|
|18||5 Lethal, 2 Wounds, lose 6 from a physical attribute|
|19||5 Lethal, 2 Wounds, lose 6 from a mental attribute|
Whenever an effect results in you losing an attribute level, you may choose to permanently impair your Magic Ability instead. You gain a level of the Quality Magic Scar instead of losing the attribute point.
The effort of framing and channeling a spell imposes a huge drain on the Mage, which is measured in fatigue. Each spell has a Fatigue cost (listed with the spell) which the Mage suffers when the spell is cast. Depending on the amount of fatigue, or the state of the Mage, this might easily force them to test for unconsciousness, but even if the Mage falls unconscious the spell is still cast. Unlike Fatigue from exertion Fatigue from spellcasting happens whether you want it to or not. Specifically this means you can cast spells when below 0 Health, but the Fatigue cost is then converted to Lethal.
A spell normally has a fatigue cost of it's EL x 3 + Rank (so most Rank 1 spells cost 4 Fatigue), though some major magics cost a lot more. Taking extra time to cast your spell reduces the Fatigue cost (as well as increasing the Channelling Total) but it never reduces the cost below 1.
A Mage can reduce the Fatigue cost by using a Matrix (see Matrix Quality), spending the Fatigue stored in the Matrix instead of using his own (Earth Clerics cannot use a Matrix). You can do the same if you have a Familiar, or certain stones (which can absorb a fixed number of Fatigue before crumbling to dust). If even this is not enough then you can have others share the cost using spells such as Strength Lending (Black 1). Each extra success on the Channelling roll reduces the Fatigue cost by 1, and a critical means that the Mage takes no Fatigue.
The Mage Ammorok is Level 3, and has a Spirit of 12. This gives him a base Channelling Total of 15. Ammorok is a Black Order Mage, and is in the Twilight Jungle, so he has neither a bonus not a penalty based on location. Ammorok urgently needs to cast Darkness Shielding (to block the onrushing Night Goblins) from a Matrix. Darkness Shielding has a Difficulty of 5, so he needs to roll a 10 or less to cast the spell. Ammorok could raise his Save by spending extra rounds channeling (since it is in a Matrix) but doesn't have the time. Instead he takes 1 Lethal damage to raise his Save to 11 and rolls.
Unfortunately he rolls a 14. He cannot control the flow of power from the Dark Side and his spell runs amok, with a margin of failure of 3. He has two choices, to clamp down on the energy and end the spell, or to let the power flow and cast his spell. If he clamps down the spell is treated as failing by 1 (1 Lethal), but instead he forces the spell through. The margin of failure is increased by 1 (the Energy Level of Darkness Shielding). Looking on the failure table we can see that Ammorok takes 3 Lethal and casts his spell. Finally he takes the 6 Fatigue for casting the spell.
Some spells conjure a physical attack, and require you to control the magic sufficiently to hit your target. These have the Aimed Keyword. In this case you must make an attack roll to hit your target. This roll uses your normal Attack + the Weaponry (ranged) / Special (Magic) Skill. Some spells conjure magical weapons (such as the flaming spear from Sunspear). You weild these with the better of your Special (Magic) Skill and the normal skill for such a weapon.
Some spells apply a Burden to the Mage that casts them. A burden is a magical effect that remains on the casting Mage, maintaining the spell in the long term by making the Mage contine to bear some of the cost of it. A burden is visible to other Magi, as a magical object weighing down the Mage's aura. Some spells allow burdens to be passed to others, in which case the burden is visible on them instead. Others allow a burden to be shed. In this case the spell maintained by the burden is immediately ended. Generally burdens allow a spell to have greater effects than would otherwise be possible at it's Rank.
Each burden a Mage carries has a significant effect. When you take a burden pick one of your attributes, the attribute has a -1 penalty as long as you carry the burden. You may penalise different attributes for each burden, or stack them on one attribute as you prefer. If you have at least 1 burden you have Flaw : Burdened, which may hinder sorcery checks or other magical operations. If the spell that applied the burdern ends, the burden is also removed.
Almost all spells that apply burderns are survival spells, allowing communities to exist in the harsh landscape of Sun Keld. For this reason a Mage weighed down with burdens is one that is contributing significantly to the survival of the Empire. Characters with visible burdens have their status increased for Order Mages. The first burden adds 1 Status when dealing with such people. Count further burdens as CP towards increasing this bonus (e.g. 3 burdens give +2 status, 6 burdens give +3 and so forth).
Normally a Mage can only cast spells of a suitable Rank (as outlined above), but with effort it is possible for a group of Magi to cast a spell of higher Rank than any of them can cast alone. To do this the following requirements must be met :
Most spells, even those with an Instant casting time, are not fast enough to use with a Wait action to interrupt someone else's action. Spells with the Fast Keyword, however, are fast enough. If you take a Wait action with a Fast spell you should make the Channelling roll even if you fail the Reaction roll. In this case the spell happens just after the action you were trying to interrupt. Fast spells can alter a character's initiative before they act. If not used with a wait action a fast spell should be resolved at the start of the round before other actions are taken.
Occasionally spells or Magic Items may provide Magic Defence. Magic Defence makes a target resistant to all spells cast on them. If a spell conjures a direct force that attacks the target for damage then the damage is reduced by the Magic Defence score, as if the target had armour that affects only magic. This can stack with normal armour if relevant. A spell that allows any sort of reistance roll gives the target a bonus on their roll equal to the Magic Defence Score. For any other effect that directly targets the creature with Magic Defence roll a D12. If the result is less than the creature's Magic Defence - Spell Circle then the spell does not effect them. Other Magical effects (including area of effects, wall spells and the like) are not affected by Magic Defence.
D'arkir has Magic Defence 4 when he is targetted by a Black Order Mage. The Black Mage attacks him with Dark Power. The spell hits, inflicting its normal 2D4 damage, but this is reduced by both D'arkir's normal Hide armour (Armour 3) and the Magic Defence of 4, so no damage is inflicted. Frustrated the Black Mage Shadow Bonds, successfully hitting D'arkir. Shadow Bonds does not inflict damage and has no resistance roll, so D'arkir rolls a D12 instead. If the result of the roll is 3 or less (MD4 - Rank 1) then the spell is negated. Sadly D'arkir rolls a 10 and is bound by the shackles.
The Matric Quality gives a Mage a Matrix. A Matrix is a magical construct that holds a spell. Matrices are invivisble in normal circumstances, but are visible to Magi or anyone with the ability to see Magic. A Matrix cannot be physically touched except by it's owner (who touches it to place spells in it or to charge it with Fatigue), but may be targetted by spells.
All spells have a duration, which measures how long the magic lasts. Durations are as follows :
Spellcasting is normally a fairly unsubtle business. The Mage must make the right gestures, and adopt the right frame of mind (often by chanting ritual words), to channel energy, and the gathering of power is usually visible even to non-mages, as black or red energy flickers around the Mage's body before rushing out into the spell. Nevertheless spells can still be cast even if the Mage must be still or silent (at a -4 penalty) or if they wish to be subtle.
To cast a spell without someone else who can observe you noticing, you must first make a Presence + Subterfuge / Deception roll resisted by the observer's Intelligence + Observation. You have a penalty on this roll equal to the Energy Level of the spell you are trying to cast. If your spell takes longer than a few combat rounds to cast (for example you are trying to conduct a 15 minute ritual from a tablet without alerting the man sitting across the room) then a contested roll is more appropriate. Of course if the spell still has obvious effects once cast (such as explosions, or summoned demons) then it will be clear that you cast it no matter how subtly you channel energy. If you must be still and silent while casting your spell subtly you suffer an additional -4 penalty.
Spells with the Subtle keyword are much easier to conceal. They do not have overt outward effects, and channelling the energy for them is not apparent (even to another Mage). You only take a -2 penalty for casting such a spell while still and silent. Another Mage can still attempt to detect that you are casting a Subtle spell, but must roll Int + Sorcery versus your Presence + Sorcery.
In almost any circumstance a Mage will use a spell to achieve their aims, directing their channelled energies through it's structure. This is what they are tought to do in their long years of training. However the option to channel magic and release it in a massive unstructured burst still exists. This is a Wild Burst. When a Mage creates a Wild Burst they drag every ounce of power they can into their body and release it in a raging burst of fire or shadow.
To make a Wild Burst simply make a simple Channelling Roll. You may use any number of Power Levels so long as this does not reduce your Channelling target number below 0. Then roll a 2D10+5. Subtract 1 for each success on your Channelling roll. Add 1 for each failure. You suffer an immediate Backlash equal to the result of the roll.
Everything within your Level + 5 strides suffers the effect of the Wild Burst. Anything adjacent to you, or which you are touching, takes Lethal damage equal to the Backlash result plus any Power Levels. This damage is halved for targets a stride further away, halved again 2 strides away, and so forth. The Wild Burst ignores physical armour, but Magic Defence protects as normal. Note that although you do not take the damage from your own Wild Burst your equipment, and any companions in range, do.
Magical theory suggests that magic could be empowered by drawing on some other source of energy, if one could be found. Forbidden myths and legends of the days before the Empire say that once Mages channeled the power of mighty demons, and it's clear that Blue and White Order magic draws on other power sources than the Sun and Dark Side. If other sources of magical energy were to be found they would surely produce magic with distinct effects from those known, in the same way that Black and Red Order magic produce distinct effects. Although Earth Cleric magic is clearly distinct from that of the Orders, most Magi give it little thought, regarding it as little better than an alliance with monsters and ghosts. Nevertheless Earth Cleric rituals follow the same basic principles, power is channeled from another source (spirits) to produce distinct effects.
As mentioned above Earth Clerics may employ a limited form of magic (generally referred to as rituals or ceremonies) by drawing on the power of earth spirits and Keldian ancestors. These magics are slow, and low key, compared to Order Magics. Usually a Cleric will use their rituals only in their Satvani, and make use of connections to the ancestors, such as bones or preserved remains. Acting without these things increases the difficulty of their rituals (as shown below). Similarly Earth Cleric magic is weak in places where the earth spirits are also weak, or ancestors are few, such as the Twilight or Darklands. Earth Cleric rituals do not have power levels, but can still be cast with extended time to reduce the difficulty and fatigue cost. Since most Earth Clerics have low Channelling Total almost all rituals will be cast with extended times.
|Casting inside Satvan||+2|
|Casting away from home||-1|
|Casting without ancestor remains||-2|
|Neglecting the Spirits||-2|
|Angering the Spirits||-4|
As well as casting their formal spells most Earth Clerics spend much of their time tending to the spirits and the Satvans. This involves leaving offerings of food and water, keeping the Satvans clean, conducting ceremonies (birth, marriage, death), telling tales of the dead, and caring for sites beloved of the local spirits. Because of this attention the Clerics have some limited communication with the spirits, occasionally receiving signs and portents from them, or being able to request special aid. Even hostile spirits may hesitate a little before attacking a Cleric.
The White Order is a curse and a bugbear, a tale whispered amongst junior Mages, and denied by senior ones. White Order Magic draws on no known part of the world, but something else, which is both sentient and hostile. White Order Magic is easy. It requires no natural ability, no years of training, and no ordered structure of Mages. It does nothing to serve the Empire, and exists only for the twisted pleasures of the ones who use it, and the unknown goals of whatever supplies it. Anyone can become a White Order Mage, from the lowliest slave to the wisest Sage, provided their need is great enough and their spirit sufficiently debased. It can never be stamped out, because whatever empowers it can always seek out new followers even if all the others are gone. White Order Magic offers amazing rewards but at a terrible price, tainting the ones who use it until they become mindless pawns of the power. Avoiding this fate requires the corruption to be given to others, spreading the taint still wider.
The exact nature of White Order Magic, and it's source, are a mystery. It is deliberately left vague because the answer can (and should) be different for each campaign. Perhaps White Magic is a sentient force, perhaps it is the emanation of evil Outer Gods, perhaps it is the legacy of the Ancients, perhaps it is the work of Demons, or perhaps it doesn't exist at all. Casting White Magic might cause dirty white light to pour through the Mage's eyes and mouth, it might be accompanied by the scent of burnt flesh, it might require lying words and unwelcome contact, it might lift them in the air as the fire silhouettes their bones, or it might be nothing but a parlour trick.
Accepting the White Gift must always be an explicit choice. If someone does not accept the Gift, they cannot become a White Order Mage (though they can be corrupted by one). Usually the subject must know exactly what they are accepting, but see Passion Magic below. Accepting the Gift might require no more than a prayer or a promise, or the Mage may have to own an object or complete a quest. The methods of acquiring the gift are as varied as the possible explanations for what it is.
White Magic is an easy and seductive path. A White Magic spell involves no Channelling Total, no Fatigue, no long-winded learning. A White Mage only needs to pray to their Gods for a new power to be granted (Roll Spirit + Level - Rank of the spell each day till it is), and it is theirs. Lesser Magi, failed Wizards and jealous warriors alike may seek out the White Gift if they learn of it. The only cost is corruption, the lingering effect of the outer magic on the Keldian form. Every spell learnt, every spell cast, exacts it's toll in corruption points (each spell lists the cost to learn and cast). A White Mage needs to track permanent and temporary corruption points. One of the corruption gained each time a spell is learnt is permanent, the rest are temporary, and can be shed using various spells. So long as the total corruption remains below the White Mage's Integrity, they are fine.
Integrity = Physical + Spirit + Intelligence + Insanity + Level
Like other forms of magic White Order spells can be boosted when they are cast, by adding Blood Levels. A blood level requires the Mage to take a point of Lethal damage as they allow their own being to be consumed to power the magic. This is normally deliberate, the Mage bites his tongue, cuts a paw, or slashes himself with a spine, but it may also be instinctive. Normally Blood Levels are added as the spell is cast, but the Mage may choose to spend Blood Levels instinctively after casting. In this case 1 additional Lethal is inflicted. Instinctive Blood Levels take effect when sacrificed, allow the spell to (for example) continue for another round, or get a bonus to the next roll made. However you cannot spend a Blood Level between a hit roll and a damage roll.
Unlike spells of other Orders it is possible for a White Order Mage to petition for spells from above their Rank, so long as it suits the purpose of the Dark Ones for them to have it. If the Dark Ones agree that the Mage seeks a spell for reasons they agree with then they may grant a single use of it (at the normal cost in corruption to learn) or a permanent one. In the case of a permanent granting the Mage takes twice the normal corruption for learning the spell, and pays twice as much to cast it until they reach the correct level.
If corruption ever exceeds Integrity the Mage is lost. Their body warps in a final spasm, their fur bleaches white, their eyes become milky and blind, their flesh becomes ragged and filled with ash. They have become a Ghebbeth, a corpse animated by the Outer Gods, to be used to spread corruption and then discarded. Gehbbeth retain the spell casting abilities of the Mage that they once were, as well as the following attribute modifiers, but act with a bestial ferocity. Using White Order magic after their transformation no longer incurs corruption, instead the Ghebbeth takes 1 Lethal damage for each corruption.
A:+3, Phys:+2, Agility:+2, Health:+5, Spirit:-4, Ar:+4, Barehanded attacks do d6 base damage
Corruption takes a toll even when it remains below Integrity. For every 5 points of permanent corruption that they gain, the Mage acquires a stigmata, a physical sign of their spiritual corruption. These stigmata reflect the path to the Ghebbeth. Fur becomes white, eyes milky, claws elongated, teeth sharpened, flesh scaly, mouth black, scent sharp and bitter. The more corruption accumulates the more stigmata are gained and the harder they are to conceal. Nevertheless White Mages are superlative liars and confidence tricksters, able to worm their way into the hearts of others and corrupt them in turn.
Temporary Corruption can also cause temporary stigmata. For each 10 points of temporary corruption that the Mage holds for more than 1 day per (White Order) level a stigmata will manifest. These temporary stigmata fade when the temporary corruption is shed in some way.
White Order Magic is more powerful, and more dangerous, when it meets the dark and unhappy emotional needs of the one who casts it. Some White Order spells require a particular Flaw or negative Quality to learn. These have the Passion keyword. A Keldian with a desperate enough need, or a sufficiently twisted desire, can gain Passion Magic without even knowing that they have accepted the White Gift or become White Order Mages. Usually this happens when a White Order Mage meets them and senses their Passion. After that the White powers can offer the passion magic in an obfuscated way (a dream, a vision, a sly promise). If the subject accepts the magic is theirs.
Sometimes White Order magic may even cast itself, if the character has a Flaw and knows a spell that would satisfy the flaw urgently. This is not restricted to spells with the Passion keyword, any spell might do this if the character is consumed by a dark or desperate need and the spell would resolve it. The character still gains corruption as normal if this happens.
There is no Blue Order, rather this is a name given by Sages to the otherworldly power of the Halfmen. It is theorised that they draw power from their immaterial halves, obeying the magical rules of some other reality. Blue Order Magic primarily effects the air and the power of storms. Casting a Blue Order spell requires the expenditure of Magic Points, an energy currency that each Halfman has a stock of. Once they are out of Magic Points they cannot use their powers, but new Magic Points regenerate at Midnight each day. A small minority of spells also have a Fatigue cost.
Any Halfman may cast spells of Blue Order Rank 1. Halfmasters may also cast spells of Blue Order Rank 2. Rank 3 Blue Order spells require multiple Halfmen to cast. It appears that all Halfmen know all of the spells appropriate for their rank. Sages suggest that what they call spells are not even spells at all, but just a manifestation of a single unified power with many uses. The Halfmen are not saying.
Each spell requires a number of combat rounds to cast equal to it's Energy Level. Spells can be boosted by adding extra Magic Points, up to a maximum of the base cost. Each extra magic point spent is described as a Boost, and each spell describes the effect of each Magic Point's worth of Boost.
Although Stonetalking is not a magic skill in the same sense as those described above (it does not use a list of powers, or require a channelling roll), is is one of the most variable of Gifts.
To use their magic a Stonetalker must first find a suitable stone. Without any stones they can do nothing. Basic healing stones can be found the world over, and should always be available with the expenditure of time. Other stones are listed in the Magic Item List (see list of magic stones). Finding these stones requires the Stonetalker to be in a particular part of the world and spend a much longer time searching. Once equipped with a stone, however, the Stonetalker may use it as often as he likes, until it runs out of charges. Allowing a particularly powerful stone to run out of charges is somewhat akin to killing it, and some Stonetalkers feel enormous guilt at doing so. (If a Stonetalker character feels this way, then being forced to kill a stone in desperate circumstances should be worth XP).
As well as the stones listed above there are many unique rocks with which a Stonetalker can attempt to communicate. These earth spirits communicate poorly, usually with little more than sense impressions or emotions, which a Stonetalker may sense empathically by touching the stone. Notable stones with strong spirits may be venerated locally, or known to Stonetalkers in distant places. Sometimes the work of Keldians may transform a mundane stone into one with power. For example the obelisk of Nastrim's Code in Ur has it's own spirit.
Some stones contain spirits that are far from friendly. Often these will be stones that fall from beyond the world (although Star Iron stones almost never have a spirit). Communicating with these stones may lead a Stonetalker down the same path of corruption as a White Order Mage (though the mechanism is different). Once a Stonetalker accepts the offers of such spirits and gains one or more points of corruption, they become corrupted, and may use their skills to make poisons (see Drugs and Poisons list) or to use the stones marked as 'corrupted stonetalkers only' on the magic item list.
Corrupted Stonetalkers gain corruption slowly compared to a White Order Mage, but have few ways to shed it again. It is possible for a Keldian to be both at the same time, of course.
All of the rules in this section are suggestions for how to handle some specific situations. You will certainly encounter other situations in play for which no rules appear here, in which case you should make your own. The general principle for such rules is that if you feel that there is a significant chance of failure (and failure bears a significant risk) then you should require a dice roll on an appropriate Attribute or Skill. If the situation is opposed by a passive force then use a Resisted roll and assign a difficulty. If the situation is actively resisted by someone else then use a Contested roll against an Attribute or Skill of the foe. Serious failures should apply some damage to the character, either in the form of Fatigue or attribute damage.
Keldians live alongside many domesticated animals, such as Frians and Crdlu, and rely on the ability to train them to ensure their survival. Those with the Beastmaster Gift are capable of making even hostile creatures tame, although they will only answer to the Beastmaster that trained them.
For a creature to be tameable it must meet two conditions. It must have an Intelligence score between 3 and 7, and a Ferocity less than 5. A creature with an Intelligence below 3 is too stupid to understand instructions (or even to tell one Keldian from another), while one with an Intelligence over 7 is self-aware and cannot be trained in this manner. A creature with a Ferocity of 5 or more is too fierce, predatory or bloodthirsty to accept training. You cannot train a creature with any of the following keywords : Demon, Plant, Spirit, Summoned, Undead.
Training an animal requires two stages. First the animal must be broken in, taught to fear, respect, or like the trainer. Then it must be taught tricks or behaviours over time. A creature with the Domestic trait is easier to train (both because of it's nature, and because they are well understood by trainers), the trainer gains +2 on all rolls to break in or train it. All training involves rolls against the creature's Wilfulness, which is a measure of how likely it is to obey instruction, or to turn on it's trainer.
Wilfulness = Spirit + (Ferocity x 2) + Level
Until an animal is broken in it is still wild, and will be hostile or docile as normal depending on it's Intelligence, Spirit and Ferocity. To break an animal in the trainer must befriend it (such as by feeding it) or intimidate it (using physical control), and teach it to respect, love or obey the trainer. The trainer must have a place to interact with the animal, and make a contested Presence + Farming / Husbandry roll against the beast's Wilfulness. If the trainer chooses intimidation then add +2 Wilfulness for an Intelligence 6 creature, and +4 for an Intelligence 7 one. Each contested roll takes 3 days. If the trainer wins then the animal is broken in and it's Wilfulness is reduced by 1 (2 on 3+ successes). If the animal wins it has a bad experience and gains 1 Ferocity (2 on 3+ successes). If this process raises an animal's Ferocity to 5 or more it is untrainable. If the trainer fumbles he likely gets attacked.
Once an animal is broken in, and receptive to instructions, it can be trained. A beast's Intelligence measures it's capacity for training, and it's Ferocity and Spirit the chance that it will obey instructions. A creature with very low Intelligence cannot be taught much, even if willing, while one with a high Ferocity or Spirit may simply ignore instructions even once it has been taught to do something. To train an animal the trainer should roll Presence + Farming / Husbandry resisted by Wilfulness (this is an extended task, taking a base time of 3 days). Once complete the animal will understand a set of basic instructions suitable for it's intelligence (see the table below). Extra failures on the training roll will increase Willfullness.
Additional abilities : To teach an animal something above it's intelligence (or an extra ability it already knows, such as multiple tricks) another training attempt is required, with the Difficulty increased by the difference in intelligence levels (up to a maximum of 3 levels above). If this roll succeeds pick one ability from the higher intelligence level to have taught the creature. A creature can learn a number of additional abilities up to half its Intelligence (rounding down). Fumbling the basic training roll raises the creature's Wilfulness by 2. Fumbling an extra training roll means the animal cannot learn that ability.
Once an animal knows an ability it will generally do it with little complaint, but this is not always the case. When commanded in stressful (or distracting) circumstances, or by someone who is not its normal master, or to do something it has not been trained to do, the animal may resist or disobey. Make a Presence + Farming / Husbandry resisted by the beast's Spirit + Ferocity. An animal with high Spirit and low Ferocity will simply ignore you if it resists, while one with high Ferocity may turn on the one giving the orders.
|1||Recognise owner, know where to sleep.|
|2||Tell what to eat, tell what not to eat.|
|3||Know it's name, recognise friends of owner, move when asked, pull something.|
|4||Attack on direct command, come when called, push something, remain calm in combat.|
|5||Run into danger, move someone, chase something, poop where instructed, stop fighting, use a special attack on command.|
|6||Attack a distant target, hunt something without eating it, feed itself, track something.|
|7||Guard an area, fetch an object, open something, perform tricks.|
Beastmasters have significant advantages when training animals: they can attempt to train a creature with 1 or 2 Intelligence, though such creatures have +2 Wilfulness; they can attempt to train a creature with a ferocity over 5; when they break in a creature it loses 1 additional Wilfulness; and their trained animals act as if they had 1 more Intelligence, and can learn at least 3 extra abilities (regardless of their intelligence). Beastmasters do not get +3 Husbandry when breaking in or training an animal, but they do get it when giving a stressed animal an instruction.
Bahun the Beastmaster has captured a Devil Bird, a vicious predator with Intelligence 3, Spirit 8, Ferocity 5 and Level 3 (Wilfulness 21). Seeing it confined in a cage, and watching him with yellow eyes, he decides to try and train it. He must first break it in, beating it in a contest of Husbandry vs. Wilfulness. Bahun has Presence 13, Farming 2 and Husbandry 4, giving him a total of 18. Bahun spends some days speaking to the beast and feeding it, then rolls, getting a 14, while the Bird rolls a 17. Neither have won, so the contest continues. After 6 more days (2 more rolls), much interaction, and a bitten hand, Bahun finally beats the Bird. Bahun gets 2 successes to it's one, and the creature is broken in, having it's Wilfulness reduced to 19.
Now Bahun must actually train the beast not to attack his friends (or him). He makes a Husbandry roll resisted by the Bird's Wilfulness of 19. Bahun needs a 9, but rolls a 15, extending the time required to 21 days (3 days + margin of failure 6). Because Bahun is a Beastmaster his trained bird acts like it has Intelligence 4. After this the Devil Bird knows how to recognise Bahun, sleep beside him, eat what it's fed, not eat Bahun, attack on command, come when called, and move when he tells it.
Bahun wants his new pet to stop attacking when he commands as well, but this is a task above it's intelligence. He must make a new training attempt against Wilfulness 20 (1 Intelligence more difficult). He rolls a 7, and after 3 days the Devil Bird will also stop attacking. He can teach the Devil Bird 3 more additional tricks (Intelligence 4 / 2, minimum 3 for being a Beastmaster).
By using crafting skills (Armoury, Art, Cooking, Craft, Forgery, Music, Poisons, Smithing, Sorcery, Writing) you can attempt to make useful or valuable items. Crafting attempts fall into two basic types, open ended, when you always succeed but the question is how good an item you make, and to a design, when you are trying to make a specific thing and might fail if you don't do well enough.
To make an opened ended crafting roll, such as cooking a meal, writing a poem, composing a song, painting a picture, and so forth, simply make a Simple Skill check. Your margin of success is the quality of the item you create. The higher the margin of success (i.e. the lower the roll) the better the thing you have made. If you roll a critical success then add 5 to the quality. You can use the quality to estimate the value of the item for sale, or to derive a skill bonus (1/5th of the quality) such as using an artwork to impress someone with a Status roll.
Making an item to a design, plan or goal is more difficult, because you may fail to achieve what you set out to do. The GM must assign a difficulty for your project (see below for some suggested difficulties).
Crafting requires materials to attempt. If crafting is your day to day job you probably have most of them materials available in your place of work, but you probably need to be selling the item to make your living. For exceptional crafting (the ones you will be rolling for) the GM will also need to set a cost for the materials involved which you will need to cover. In general most items consume materials equal to half of their normal sale value, but this can vary a fair bit. If a project requires a special material to make (e.g. Slow Dragon Hide to make Slow Dragon Armour) then you cannot attempt it without getting the material in game, but the value of other materials required is halved. If your crafting fails you will use up some of these materials, but you will likely have some left as well. To try again you will need materials with 1 value less.
Roll an extended test of your crafting skill resisted by the difficulty to succeed. Additional successes on this test will produce a better than normal example of the item, or reduce the time it takes to complete (your choice). In general each extra success will give +1 on the bonus provided by the item (if any) and increase it's value by 1, or reduce the time by 1 time unit (if the time is already reduced to one unit, halve it instead). As well as adding time as normal for an extended test each additional failure raises the cost by 1, if this raises the cost too high you have to abbandon the project. If you fumble the crafting roll the item is ruined and all your time is wasted. In addition if the materials were expensive, lose 1 Wealth (and 1 Status, if the failure is large and public).
Large Projects are things beyond the reach of a single character, such as the building of fortifications, roads, canals, and the like. These sort of projects will take cycles or longer to complete and require the co-operation of multiple people. Once you reach this level of crafting you will have to pay costs in Status as well as Wealth (because you must get large numbers of people to work for you).
A Large Project has a cost equal to it's Difficulty, split between Status and Wealth. The character in charge can choose how to pay these costs, and if they can divide it such that both Status and Wealth costs are Affordable they can do so. A project with a Difficulty of more than 15 requires spending Wealth or Status levels in addition to this cost. The total levels spent is Difficulty - 15, and can only be spent by someone with Wealth (or Status) equal to half the Difficulty or greater. Large projects require administration as well as building skill. Use the lower of Int + Administration or Int + Craft amongst the managers to determine the skill used.
When a Large Project overruns time and cost can easily spiral out of control. For each failure someone must spend 1 Wealth and 1 Status, and extend the construction time by the base time (this overrides the normal extended time rules). This does not automatically complete the project however. After this time has passed make a new crafting roll against the Difficulty -2, and continue in this fashion until the project is built or abandoned. Naturally different administrators and builders can (and usually will) be brought in for different stages. If this process reduces the leaders to a Wealth or Status level where they can no longer Afford it, or where they fail a Wealth or Status roll to meet the cost, then they must abandon the project or seek patronage (or get replaced).
Extra successes on a Large Project can award Status or Wealth to the builders.
To set a difficulty for a crafting task you can use the following guidelines for an item on the equipment lists.
The following general guidelines can also help choose a difficulty.
|8||Crude basic items, bucket, letter, wooden plate, clay bowl, bronze nail, club||hours|
|10||Standard items, cookware, eating knife, thank you letter, soft shoes, simple clothing, arrow, plough||-|
|12||Normal items, daggers, shields, clay plate, glassware, gold and silverware, coracles, barrels||-|
|14||Challenging items, swords, helmets, wine glass, locks, cut stones, small boats, small house, fine clothing||days|
|16||Polearms, breastplates, cut gemstones, boats, houses, caravans||-|
|18||Large house, fine versions of normal items, barges, small fortifications||cycles|
|20||Large projects, mansions, trading ships, bridges, roadways, fortifications||seasons|
|22||Large fortifications, canals, large bridges, fine versions of challenging items||short years|
|24||Huge projects, castles, paved roads, town walls||-|
|26||Palaces, castles, major fortifications, paved roads, city walls||long years|
Mergun the crafter wishes to make a Naga Axe. He has Agility 11, Craft (Bronze) 4 and Wealth 6. A Naga Axe has a base value of 8, so he has a crafting Difficulty of 16 and a cost of 4. The guidelines suggest the time unit for a Polearm is days, so it will take 3 days to make. A crafting cost of 4 is Expensive for Mergun (more than half his Wealth) but he has a Treasure 1 Bronze Ingot on hand, so he halves the cost to 2, it is now Affordable and he doesn't worry about the cost.
Mergun must roll 9 or less to make the Axe (Skill 15 vs. 16). If he rolls 4 or less he will get an excellent Axe (+1A or +1D or +1Init). Instead he rolls a 17. This means he has failed with a margin of 8, and an extra failure. The cost goes up to 3 and the time taken to 11 days. Luckily cost 3 is still Affordable for Mergun, so he goes ahead with the work.
Aedile Nammur wishes to build a grand fortified tower at the gates of his town to awe and cow the Tribal scum that trade with his people. He hires Stonemasons with a skill of 16, but uses his own Administration of 14 to run the project. The suggested Difficulty table tells us that a small fortification has a Difficulty of 18 and a base time of 3 cycles (48 days). The cost is 18, split between Wealth and Status. The Aedile has Status 11 and Wealth 8, so the project cannot be affordable for him. Instead he splits the cost as 8 Wealth and 10 Status and makes a buying roll of each. If these rolls fail the project cannot even begin, but they succeed, so the building begins. Nammur must now pay 3 Wealth or Status in total. He does not have the Wealth to absorb the cost (needs at least Wealth 9) so he calls in his public support and pays Status. He now has Status 8 (if his plan succeeds he will likely get this back in prestige).
Nammur and his craftsmen must roll 6 or less to complete the project on schedule (Administration 14 vs. 18). Instead they roll a 17. This means the project has gone badly over time and budget, failing with a margin of 11 and 2 extra failures. The building time stretches to 12 cycles (3 + the 3 failures), and Nammur pays 1 Status and 1 Wealth to continue (he now has Status 7 and Wealth 7). After this time the builders must roll an 8 or less (Skill 14 vs. 16) to finish building, but only if Nammur can still meet the costs. Nammur must pay Status 9 and Wealth 9, more than his reduced standing can afford. Nammur stretches his Status and Wealth to 12 each (by sacrificing 2 Status and 2 Wealth) and rolls two buying rolls. Sadly while the first succeeds the second fails and Nammur abandons the project amidst public shame and derision. With his Status and Wealth reduced to 5 each Nammur is quickly replaced as Aedile and demoted to Clerk of Dung Accounting.
Being heavily laden, whether with baggage, weapons, or the loot you are hauling from a dungeon, can slow you down, both in combat and in travel. Heavy or awkward items have a load rating. The higher the load, the more cumbersome the item. If the sum of the Load ratings of what you are trying to carry exceeds your Physical Attribute then you are encumbered. For every 5 points by which total Load exceeds Physical add another point of Encumbrance. If you need to figure Load you should assume that a typical Keldian probably carries Load 7 or 8 when out in the wild before exceptional items.
Here are some sample Load ratings.
|1||Normal clothing, small weapon, bulky knapsack item|
|2||Medium weapon, item of leather armour, satchel, cloak, quiver, small spade|
|3||One-handed load, cold weather clothing, sack over the shoulder, spade, small shield|
|4||Heavy one-handed load, carrying camping gear, pickaxe, large shield|
|5||Long weapon, item of metal armour, over the shoulder load|
|6||Two-handed load, bag of money, straining animal on a leash, carrying a kit|
|7||Carrying a body, bar of metal in a sack, carrying a chest on the shoulder|
|8||Very long weapon, carrying a dead body, hauling a chest|
While the Combat chapter, Bestiary and Spell List describe damage taken from spells, monsters and weapons, there are many other sources of damage to be had in Sun Keld, such as that from dust storms, fire, drowning, falling, excesive cold and heat, and so forth. This section gives advise on how to adjudicate such damage.
|Mild poison||13||2 Lethal|
|Weak poison||13||D6 Lethal|
|Moderate poison||14-16||D8-D10 Lethal|
|Strong poison||16-18||1D10-2D10 Lethal|
|Deadly poison||18||3D10 Lethal|
|Small flame, lamp, hot or freezing water, mild acid||2 Lethal|
|Cooking fire, burning clothing, boiling water, salt, strong acid||D4 Lethal|
|Camp fire, blazing clothing, burning building||D6 Lethal|
|Furnace, boiling oil, hot sand, strong acids||2D6 Lethal|
|Molten metal, Dayside, lava||4D6 Lethal|
|Dust Storm, Deadlands gale||2 Lethal||Drylands|
|Fire Storm||4 Lethal||Deadlands|
|Rain Storm, flooding||2 Lethal||Twilight|
|Snowstorm, Glacial winds||4 Lethal||Nightlands|
To climb a surface with footholds and handholds, or to scramble up a steep slope where there is a danger of falling, make a roll of Agility + Movement / Climb. Particularly long climbs (up a 40 Legat cliff for example) should be broken into multiple pitches, each requiring it's own Climbing roll. When a climb is simply a matter of hauling weight (such as when pulling yourself up on an overhang, or scrambling up a rope) use Phys + Movement / Climb instead. A complex climb may involve some pitches based on Agility and some based on Physical.
If you fail your Climbing roll you are in danger. A single Failure leaves you clinging to the rock or otherwise in a precarious position, use Physical to get yourself back on track. Multiple Failures mean you fall, taking damage as follows:
A landing on a soft surface (awnings, vegetation, water), the Lightfall Quality, or a successful Agility + Movement / Acrobatics roll vs. Distance + 8, will each halve the damage suffered (rounding down). Add D4 damage for each additional failure on the roll that made you fall.
Ropes and other climbing gear make it easier and safer to climb. If you fall while using ropes and climbing spikes then roll Int + Movement / Climb. If you succeed your ropes helped soften the fall, reduce the effective distance fallen (for calculating damage) by your margin of success, and end up dangling from your rope or friends. If you are roped to other people get a bonus on your roll equal to the Phys Bonus of each person you are roped to. Each of them must make a Phys + Movement / Climb roll vs. your Health -5 or also fall.
If you are climbing a fixed vertical rope then the Difficulty of each pitch with a rope is 14. If you are climbing a slope with a fixed rope to aid you, then you should not need to roll.
Shocking crimes, sudden ambushes, horrific monsters and supernatural events, all these things can unman the bravest of warriors and send them fleeing in fear. When faced with terrifying circumstances you must make a Fear Save. This is a resisted Spirit + Faith / Bravery roll. The following table suggests some typical fear levels. Remember that a resistance of 10 is the same as a Simple roll. The Stoic Quality gives a bonus here, as would Edges and Flaws such as Brave, Nervous or Coward. The fear level is always increased by your current Insanity level (see below).
A similar roll, for Morale, can be used to determine whether hirelings stick around in a fight, or whether troops stand their ground in Battle. In the later case the Battle Quality adds to your Fear Save.
|Dead body, aggressive wild animals, threats of violence||8|
|See someone killed, ambushed, sudden fright||10|
|Mutilated body, attacked by superior forces, gruesome death||12|
|Dead friend, attacked by monsters, ghosts, trapped in a fire, murder someone||14|
|Watching a murder, torture, severe phobia, routed in battle||16|
|Dead family member, supernatural monsters, unearthly horrors, psychotic break||18|
|Confronting demon gods, near death experiences||20|
If you pass then you are able to hold it together. If you fail then consult the table of effects below, subtracting your target number from your roll to determine which row to use. As usual a fumble counts as a failure by at least five.
|1||Unsettled, -4 to Spirit / Intelligence rolls for 1 round|
|2||Unsettled, -4 to Spirit / Intelligence rolls for D6 rounds|
|3||Shocked, -4 to all rolls for 1 round|
|4||Shocked, -4 to all rolls until you pass a simple Spirit roll (1/round)|
|5||Stunned, cannot act for the next round|
|6||Stunned, cannot act for the next D6 rounds|
|7||Stunned, cannot act till you pass a simple Spirit roll (1/round)|
|8||Flee, if possible, from the source of terror, then make another Fear Save at +4|
|9||Flee, if possible, otherwise Shocked (as 4)|
|10||Flee, if possible, otherwise collapse unconscious (as 11)|
|11||Swoon, collapse unconscious for D6 rounds|
|12||Swoon, collapse unconscious for D6 hours (or till brought round)|
|13||Scarred, gain/change a Quality|
|14||Scarred, gain 1 Insanity point|
|15||Scarred, gain D4 Insanity points|
|16||Scarred, gain D6 Insanity points|
|17||Traumatised, gain/change a Quality and D6 Insanity points|
|18||Traumatised, gain/change a Quality and 2D6 Insanity points|
|19||Shattered, gain a level of Insanity (min Insanity 3)|
|20||Shattered, gain D6 levels of Insanity (min Insanity 3)|
When the table requires you to gain/change a Quality then you must do one of the following : Gain a new Flaw Quality related to the trauma, alter an existing Edge Quality into one related to the trauma, turn an existing Edge into a Flaw. If you change an Edge then you alter an existing advantage into one now tainted by your trauma. So for example after encountering a ghost Edge : Brave might turn into Edge : Foolhardy. You still get bonuses in mostly the same situations, but now that Edge is tainted by the trauma you had. If you don't have an untainted Edge left then you must change an Edge into a Flaw, or gain a Flaw.
Particularly badly failed Fear Saves can result in you gaining Insanity points. Insanity points go to increase your Insanity attribute, which normally starts at 0. (Apply these points like CP, your first point gives Insanity 1, two more points raises that to Insanity 2 and so on.) Having an Insanity score above 0 means that traumatic events have left a mark on your psyche more significant than an Edge or Flaw Quality. Your self-control is lessened (Insanity levels reduce your resistance to future fear), and you will more easily give into temptations to protect yourself (run away when danger threatens, leave your friends in danger, accept a dark gift). If you wish to keep your self-control then roll Intelligence - Insanity to do so.
If your Insanity gets to a higher level than your Intelligence then you have lost your self-control, and your grip on reality, in a major way. There is no additional mechanical penalty to this (though you will need to use Desperation or Determination if you ever need to make a self-control roll), but it is an opportunity to roleplay someone who has gone in some way insane. This might involve hearing voices, suffering hallucinations, or whatever else you and your group feel is appropriate. It does not mean that your character has become unplayable.
You can spend CP equal to your Insanity level to lower it by one level. If you work with a Healer of some sort who can help you with your problems then you can gain CP for this purpose as per the training rules. Long term rest or isolation can count as Practice for the same purpose.
One of the greatest dangers faced by most Keldians is the harshness of the world itself. The burning sun, lack of water, devastating dust storms, the dangers of the Poison Forest and the bitter cold of the Dark Side can all threaten the life and health of even well prepared Keldians. Dealing with these day to day dangers requires the use of the Survival Skill.
Survival is not a problem that occasionally raises itself, but a constant issue for all Keldians. Every environment, from the palaces of the Magi in Ur, to the overwhelming heat of the Light Side, has a survival difficulty rating, or Harshness. The harsher the environment the harder it is to survive there. Harshness is compared to a character's Survival skill to see how well they can manage to the environment. If the Harshness is higher than the character's skill then survival is a significant issue, while if it is lower than the skill then it more under control, as follows:
You can use these guidelines as a narrative indication of how badly a group of Keldians is suffering. For example a village where average Survival is equal to Harshness is on the edge, only just clinging on with poor fields and an exhausted air. You can also use them to assess mechanical penalties when dealing with individual characters. When a character (or group of characters) is suffering the ill effects of the environment (Harshness is greater than Survival), they suffer the following effects:
Only when a character reaches a place of comfort can they really recover from their ordeal. Skill penalties fade at the same rate that Weakening damage does. Thus it will normally take days equal to the previous difference between Survival and Harshness to recover. The same applies when a character moves from an exceptionally harsh environment to a slightly less difficult one, except that here they heal only to the new level.
To calculate the Harshness for an environment where characters spend any significant time start with the base for the part of the world they are in (given below) and then modify this up or down for any mitigating or exasperating factors. For example if the characters are in a settled and sheltered area with available water and housing you might reduce the Harshness by 5 or more. A severe sand or ice storm, on the other hand, will raise it by 5 or more.
|17||Razor Grass Plains|
|25||Deadlands, Ice Hills|
|35||Burning Mountains, Glaciers|
|60||Light side, Dark side|
The town of Wind's Canyon shelters in a series of deep canyons in the middle of the Drylands. To the Turn and Counterturn are open Razor-Grass plains, while to the Sunwards is an area of open desert known as the Sun's Fist. While the Turnwards land is dotted with known water sources, the Counterturn lands are devoid of water.
The base Harshness for the area is 17. Wind's Canyon, with it's sheltered canyons and settled town might have Harshness 12. The Counterturn lands, with no water, would be Harshness 19 or 20, while the blasted Sun's Fist might be as much as 25. The Turnwards lands would be the default 17.
The Survival Trait covers both knowledge of the best ways to travel (such as where to find food or how to recognise shelter) with the practical aspects of hunting, foraging, water conservation, and use of travel gear. Survival rolls are usually based on Agility, but on a long journey should be based on the lowest of Int or Agility (because both sorts of knowledge are important).
When making on the spot Survival rolls you should use the base Skill, modified by any gear that the character might have bought, or other suitable bonuses (such as assistance from another character, or protective spells. When comparing Survival with Harshness, however, you can simplify these bonuses down as follows:
If the character's Survival (modified as above) still isn't good enough for their liking then they may choose to make a roll against Survival to try and improve things. This requires the character to be spending time on actively trying to find wood, seek water, locate shade, and so forth (e.g. if time is of the essence, a roll slows things down). Each success on the roll reduces the Harshness by 1 for that character (and anyone they are caring for). If this roll requires desperation then every character being covered by it must spend one desperation. If this roll fails then a Survival related encounter should happen. Suitable monsters for such an encounter include the Striv, Tarig, Spear Cactus, Tristelle Tree and Bloodvine. Defeating such creatures gives access to a resource (usually water) that will lessen the effects of the failed Survival roll, while being defeated by them likely makes the situation worse.
A group of four characters are making a dash across the Counterturn lands near Wind's Canyon (see the example above). Two of the characters are low status and wealth (4 each), with moderate Survival / Drylands Skills (12). The third has high Status (10) but worse Survival (11). The last is a Lix'xiti Waterfinder with an excellent Survival / Drylands of 16.
The Harshness of the road is 20, a difficult environment for a small group, with a -2 Survival penalty if they choose not to rest properly while riding their Krakaths. While every member can claim a +2 from Wealth (they had time to buy supplies) the group is too small for the third member to claim +5 from Status. The average Survival / Drylands Skill of the group is therefore 12, 8 short of the Harshness level. If the group were to make the normally 1 cycle crossing at this level they run a significant risk of dying (8 weakening + 30 Lethal each).
Instead of each person looking at themselves they turn to the Waterfinder for help. The Waterfinder first makes a successful Survival roll (because of his Water Lore Quality) to give the whole group +2 Survival. Then he lowers his Survival by 3, to care for the other three people. This gives him a Survival of 17, or 15 with the -2 for speed. This still leaves the group taking Lethal damage, so the brave Waterfinder decides to make a Survival roll to try and mitigate this more. If the roll fails the group would be likely to find themselves fighting monsters while already wounded. Luckily he rolls a 9, getting 2 successes. This reduces the Harshness to 18. The group completes their journey with 3 weakening each.
In almost every case the right way to answer the question of whether a character or group can survival long term in a given environment is to use the Survival Guidelines above. If Harshness is above Survival life is a struggle, if it is 5 or more above then sustained habitation is out of the question. Occasionally, however, you may want to assess how well skills such as Hunting or Farming might serve to help a community survive (or to decide if a character lost in the Ice Hills for 5 cycles might still be alive at the end of it).
In circumstances where supplies have run out and no help is at hand a character may try and live off the land. If the Harshenss is already below the character's Survival then this is plausible, and although the character will have to devote time to food gathering, water seeking, fuel collection and the like, it is within their means. If Harshness is above Survival then extended habitation is impossible without special effort. A character in such a circumstance can attempt to use Hunting and Farming skills to provide for themselves. To establish a farm, or a hunting ground, make a roll against Phys + Farming or Hunting (Physical because this is a long term intensive task). If this succeeds then add half the skill level in the relevant skill (Hunting if they have weapons or traps and game to hunt, Farming if they are raising crops or cattle) to Survival, then compare Harshenss to Survival again to find out if they have done enough to survive.