I do like narrative systems.
You create a character description consisting of up to 10 facts (maybe related to Quirks, Drive, Flaws) and underline 5 of them. These 5 things are your most descriptive traits which may be objects, skills, contacts, background items and can, in theory, be called into play at any time. If the timing seems inappropriate, the Narrator may require the sacrifice of a Story Point or a card of a significant value from the hand. This really only needs to be one paragraph.
Choose one more to be your Drive – the most fundamental ambition for your character. This is commonly related to the reason why the character is not content to stay home and sow crops or catch fish.
Choose one flaw. This can be physical, mental, spiritual or emotional. It may be how the character perceives the world or how the world perceives the character.
This character sheets is nicknamed a “Charagraph” mainly because Paracter sounds silly.
Traits : “Turi is a shell diver like all of her family. She is tall, thin and wiry and like most in the region is dark, with coppery-brown hair. She lives with her three brothers and her father – an arrangement which has made her tomboyish and she’s a capable wrestler as a result. She carries a steel knife and a diving shell which allowed her to stay underwater for nearly 10 minutes. She has collected a small fortune in pearls and semi-precious stones from her diving exploits. She never knew her but her father claims her mother was a woman of influence from one of the big inland cities. Her family are somewhat devout to the Old One and still have a small shrine to her in their basement.
Drive : She is Driven by her desire to gain wealth and travel to see if she still has family in the cities.
Flaw : Due to an overdive when she was younger which caused her eardrums to burst, Turi is 40% deaf
Idea for card based play:
(You may want to look at the rules for IllusionDev) Everything has a opposition value. You have a hand of 5 cards by default. When you play one and win the conflict, you pick up one. Every task has a single resolution – one card draw blind against the pack. If you lose the conflict you do not pick up.
Optional Rules: Normal conflicts are just a comparison of the numbers, such as Jack versus a 4 in the example here.
The Face card rule would be that if you play a face card and win, you get to choose the outcome. So if Turi had played her 8 here, it would have been a normal win. If she plays the Jack and wins, she can give a narrative of the outcome!
The Hand or Trait rule says that you can increase or decrease your active hand by two by decreasing or increasing the number of traits you have. So, you can have seven underlined traits if you choose to only have a hand of three available to you. Or a hand of seven and only three underlines traits. Essentially hand + traits should equal 10.
Example: Turi has five cards in her hand: 8H, JC, 3D, 7D, 2S. She is fighting against a would-be thug who wanted to rob her of her hard-earned pearls. She wants the conflict over and done with quickly so she plays her highest value card, JC. The Narrator makes a draw for the thug and gets a 4 of Spades. She beats him handily and draws a card, 8D to replace her Jack.
If you win a conflict you pick up again. Advantages and flaws and difficulty are represented by additional cards being drawn and added to the first in a Blackjack fashion. If you have an underlined trait then you can play a SECOND card to bolster the first. If the area is covered by a flaw then the opposition gains an additional card draw.
Example: Turi is fighting again, this time 10 metres underwater, against a Reef Eel, a large and voracious predator. Normally this would give the Narrator the opportunity to draw TWO cards against her one. But she’s a Shell Diver and has that trait underlined so it cancels out the additional draw. She plays her 8D and the Narrator draws from the deck for the Eel. 9H! Ouch. She’s hurt but not down and doesn’t get to draw another card. The Narrator will now decide if the Eel attacks again or retires back to it’s hiding hole. If it attacks again, she only has 4 cards in her hand with which to defend herself.
For one-to-many conflicts: everyone plays their single card. And work out the conflict as normal. Most people and animals will be incapacitated or removed from the conflict with a single loss. Some non-players may rival the Player Characters in their ability to resist incapacitation by having an effective hand of 2, 3, 4 or more!
Example: Turi and her friend Tobin have confronted a hooded stranger who has just dropped something into the village well. All three make their plays. Juri plays a 7D, Tobin a QH. The Narrator draws for the stranger and gets a 9S. Turi is hurt and as she has not rested is down to 3 cards! But Tobin gets a good decisive strike and elects to have staggered the stranger. The Narrator has decided that the Stranger has an effective hand of 3 which means to be incapacitated, he needs to be defeated three times in conflict. Our heroes attack again: Turi plays an 8H and Tobin a 7C. The stranger draws….a 4C! This means he takes two hits, one from each, which brings him down to 0. He falls to the ground…
Everyone starts with one and these can be used to
retcon a narrative scene just played
change the outcome of any single conflict (any single play of cards)
change an item of background to fit
heal one Serious Wound instantly/quickly/turn it into a flesh wound that can be ignored.
Combat and being hurt.
Combat is the same as any other play. Being hurt – every time you lose a conflict you do not pick up a fresh card until you have had time to recuperate. In essence, lose conflicts five times and you’re effectively incapacitated. NB: Your Hand represents how you cope with fatigue, setbacks, defeat and anything that tests your determination and willpower.
Wounds are represented differently. Anything less than a serious wound is dealt with using the Hand reduction described above. If, however a combat ends where the winning card was a face card (and the winner gets to describe the effect) the winning result was more than 10 points higher than the losing result then the loser ends up with a Serious Wound. Serious Wounds are like normal hand reductions but they have a longer lasting impact on the character as hand reductions are made back using sleep or recuperation. Serious wounds can only be removed by proper medical attention (which to all intents and purposes does not exist). A Serious Wound therefore is a potentially permanent and possibly fatal addition to a character.
Until healed, each Serious Wound represents a Hand reduction of 1 for every activity.
It’s possible to “soak” a wound by using Traits or Drive. Using a Trait means making a blind play against another blind draw by the Narrator. If the player wins the draw, then they may explain away the wound. If they lose they take a SECOND wound.
e.g. Ferren has a Drive which describes his hatred of the Saruch Ascendancy, a cult responsible for the death of his father. During a duel, he finds out that his enemy is a member of the Saruchs and when wounded he attempts to soak – rationalising that his drive to defeat the Saruchs gives him strength in battle. He will either ignore the wound or gain a second wound…but it may be worth the gamble.
If a Serious Wound is not bound then every week that passes the character received another Serious Wound. After the character has received three serious wounds, he or she is dead. If a serious wound is bound then in most cases the player can erase the Serious Wound after one month of play. (and it takes two months to remove two serious wounds).
If a character has three serious wounds and then elects to Recuperate rather than Die, then the character may survive but the player must describe how the wounds have permanently affected the character.
I realize this is an old post, but I just stumbled across it. It might be interesting to add some nuance to the cards. One option would be to have suits make a difference. Another option – which I mention as a shameless bit of shilling – would be to use the Decktet.
I did look at Decktet when writing all of this but this is designed to be played with a standard deck of cards. It’s meant to be easy enough to run without a book.