Paradox Rules

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The following rules explain the Paradox System, an alternative rules system being used for certain games set in Witiko Falls. Players interested in these rules should also refer to the system’s unique character creation rules. The following rules explain how to play once players’ characters have been created.

Dice Rolls


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Here’s how dice rolls work. You describe how your character tries to overcome a Challenge, and what you’re trying to accomplish. The GM may ask for more details if he thinks the situation is unclear, or may clarify if circumstances make something actually rather than only almost impossible. Otherwise, you as a player roll a number of d6 dice equal to the Attribute plus Skill you are using. If there isn’t any suitable Skill, only roll for the Attribute. Every six rolled is a success. In most cases, only one success is needed to overcome Challenge.

In rare cases, more than one success is needed to overcome a Challenge. You might be trying to do something extremely difficult (e.g., outrun a rabid grizzly, convincing a vengeful ghost to forgive its murderer) or almost impossible (e.g., hack into the Spooks’ encrypted teledementia database, jump from a bridge down through the sunroof of a car passing at full speed). Extremely difficult Challenges require two successes; almost impossible Challenges require three successes. Except for these extreme cases, Challenges usually only require one success (i.e., at least one 6 rolled on a d6).

Extra Benefits


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If you roll more successes than you need, leftover success can sometimes be used to “buy” beneficial bonus effects. Sample effects are described for each skill. The same effect can be bought several times. The GM decides which effects, if any, are suitable in any given situation. For, example, if there isn’t any risk of collateral damage (see below), you can’t choose “You avoid any collateral damage.” In summary, you don’t need to buy Effects to achieve what you set out to do. Instead, they are a means of getting more than you asked for originally.

Failed Rolls


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If you roll no or too few successes (i.e., for an extremely difficult or almost impossible Challenge), your action fails. An unsuccessful attempt to overcome a Challenge never means that nothing happens. Somehow the situation changes–probably for the worse. What happens is up to the GM to decide. Your character might take Trauma (see below), be confronted with a new Challenge, or you might suffer a Complication. In the latter case, you still succeed with the most crucial part of your attempted action, but something goes wrong along the way.

Example: You attempt to steal the research notebook from a Project Bluebook scientist. You roll Dexterity plus Stealth, but get no successes. The GM declares that your character succeeds in snatching the scientist’s notebook and run, but the scientist spots you last moment and makes a violent grab for the notebook, inadvertently causing the precious notebook to get torn in half.

Trauma


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When your character tries to overcome a Challenge but fails, or if you push a dice roll, you may experience Trauma. Traumas come in two categories: minor and major. Minor Trauma imposes a –1 penalty on all dice rolls until it is resolved or healed. Examples of minor Trauma include: Scared, Fatigued, Embarrassed, and Injured. Major Trauma imposes a –2 penalty on all dice rolls until it is resolved or healed. Examples of major Trauma include: Terrified, Exhausted, Humiliated, and Crippled. The exact interpretation or narrative flavor of traumas can vary and can be adapted to the situation at hand (e.g., eating spoiled food and failing a Stamina roll might make your character Sick, a minor Trauma).

Trauma is cumulative. Specifically, two minor Traumas give –2 on all dice rolls, a minor and major Trauma give –3 on all dice rolls, two major Trauma give –4 on all dice rolls, and so forth. If your cumulative Trauma penalty ever reaches –5, you become Broken. Broken means your character is severely mentally, socially, and/or physically hurt by repeated, debilitating trauma. Broken characters automatically fail all dice rolls until healed. If a Broken character experiences additional Trauma, they may die, became insane, or suffer a similarly long-term or permanently incapacitating fate.

Grit (Willpower)


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When you fail a roll, you may choose to immediately retry the task, by mentally or physically pushing yourself to the limit of your abilities. This is called spending grit. Immediately following a roll (regardless of failure or success), you can spend Grit (or Willpower if you prefer). To do so, you pick a minor Trauma that you feel fits how your character is pushing their mind or body to its limits. Then, you reroll all the dice except those that were successes (i.e., everything but 6s). The GM then describes the outcome. Regardless of whether you succeed or fail, you gain the aforementioned Trauma–in addition to any other Trauma associated with a failed roll on the Challenge.

Characters begin each session with 1 point of Grit to spend. GMs may award players an extra point of Grit for acting in character, making particularly evocative descriptions, or choosing strategically subpar actions that are nonetheless in line with the character’s personality.

Aiding Others


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One player character may help another overcome a Challenge if it seems plausible in the situation. To help, you describe what your character does, and roll the relevant Attribute and Skill dice pool. Any successes you roll become extra dice the aided character can roll. When your character aids someone, both characters are bound to the outcome of the roll. If the final roll fails, your character also suffers the same effects, including Trauma.

In some situations, all of the player characters need to overcome the same Challenge at the same time (e.g., PCs are trying to walk home through a blizzard or sneak past the principal). In these cases, PCs cannot help each other as noted above. They can, however, give each other successes from Bonus Effects (below).

PC vs PC


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When two or more PCs fight each other, wrestle, haggle, hide from each other, or ask the same person to prom, the involved players each say what they want their PCs to do and roll the dice at the same time. The one with the most successes wins and gets to say what happens.

You can all push your rolls. If you get equal numbers of successes after the push, you may buy extra successes by checking Conditions, one success for each checked condition. You can make yourself Broken to win if you want to. If there still isn ́t a winner, something happens that interrupts the situation – a parent walks in, the rain starts falling, or the lunch break is over.

Extended Challenges


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Sometimes, at a crucial moment of a story, a Challenge can be so climactic that the player characters have to come up with a plan and work together–a single dice roll is not enough to portray the Challenge they are in. Each PC will have their part to play in the plan’s final success or failure. This is called an Extended Challenge, and it includes five parts.

1. Stakes: The GM declares that a scene will be played as an Extended Challenge, and will determine (but not necessarily declare) what will happen if the PCs collectively succeed or fail.

2. Challenge Level: The GM determines (but does not necessarily declare) the total number of successes that the PCs collectively need to beat the Challenge. A Challenge Level of twice the number of PCs is normal, three times the number of PCs is extremely difficult, and four times the number of PCs is almost impossible.

3. Plan: The players decide what the PCs want to do, agree on which skill each one will use, and in what order they will then act to make their roll. The players get to choose which skills their PCs use, but the GM, as usual, can disallow any clearly unreasonable skill uses.

4. Play & Rolls: Each PC gets a scene to act and rolls for their chosen skill. Successes go towards reaching the Challenge Level, but can also be used for bonus effects. Each PC rolls once (unless they spend Grit, in which case they can also reroll).

5. Outcome: When all the scenes are over, the total number of successes (i.e., 6s) is compared to the Challenge Level of the Extended Challenge.

• If the final sum of successes is less than half of the Challenge Level, the PCs have failed completely. 

• If the number of successes reaches half or more of the Challenge Level (but still less than half the Challenge Level), the PCs can check additional Traumas to get more sixes, in order to reach a compromise. Each added Trauma counts as an extra success. PCs can make themselves Broken to succeed if they want to. If the PCs reach the Challenge Level this way, they will achieve a part of their goal. Details are up to the GM.
• If the PCs’ successes equal the Challenge Level without checking extra Traumas, the PCs achieve their goal, and overcome the Extended Challenge.

Experience


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At the end of each session, the GM will distribute Experience Points (XP) to the PCs based on their accomplishments. These can be used to gain or improve various character abilities, including Attributes, Skills, Anchors, Iconic Items, and Powers (coming soon).

Attributes & Skills: Raising Attributes and Skills requires an increasing amount of XP. Below are the XP points necessary to buy each additional point in an Attribute and Skill:
Attribute: 2 (4XP), 3 (6XP), 4 (8XP), 5 (10XP)
Skills: 1 (1XP), 2 (2XP), 3 (3XP), 4 (4XP), 5 (5XP)

Anchors: Additional Anchors can be purchased, either to replace lost Anchors or to gain additional emotional–physical resources to help one recover from Trauma. Either way, each Anchor costs 5 XP.

Iconic Items: XP can be spent to gain new Iconic Items, replace lost ones, or improve ones already possessed by your PC. Buying a new Iconic Item (that grants a 1–die bonus) costs 3 XP. Improving an Item so it grants 2–bonus dice costs 6 XP, and Improving an Item so it grants 3–bonus dice costs 9 XP.

All XP expenditures should be reviewed by the GM. Additionally, all XP expenditures should make sense narratively. For example, buying the Mayor as an Anchor would not make sense narratively if your PC has never interacted with her or only had neutral and/or negative interactions. Similarly, buying 2 points of Athletics may not make narrative sense if your PC has spent most of her time being sedentary or playing video games.

Paradox Rules

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