Limitless Worlds

Limitless Worlds

Friday, June 1, 2012

Narrative Powers in Pulpwood!

So, I'm not gonna talk about attributes today, because that is BORING.

Instead, I'm going to talk about the narrative powers system in Pulpwood!, also known as Fortune.

Narrative powers have become the new 'thing' in RPGs, giving players temporary control over the story. You have seen it in games like Savage Worlds or Spirit of the Century, and Fortune basically functions the same way. You may also notice a little bit of 4e D&D in there.

Also note that 'Darbs' are the new term for the upgrades each class ability gets. 'Darb' is 20s slang for something cool or awesome, so the word seemed appropriate.


 Though all pulp heroes rely mainly on their skills to get by, they also need a little help from Lady Luck every
once in a while. When the odds are stacked against them, and it seems like there is no way out, a little bit of
good favor usually swings their way. This favor is called Fortune.

All important characters, namely PCs, important NPCs, and important Villains, have Fortune. This is what makes them stand out against mooks and other unimportant goons. Every character, regardless of class, nationality, gender, etc, has 3 Fortune. This will never increase in a permanent sense, but can in a temporary sense (see Gaining More Fortune below).

This Fortune is replenished at the beginning of every session. Fortune can be used and spent at any time, on a characters turn, to create a wide array of Fortune Effects. Multiple Fortune Effects can be used at the same time, such as spending 2 Fortune to use Third Try's the Charm on a failed Moment of Inspiration roll. Each effect has a different cost depending on its usefulness.

Once Fortune is used, it is gone until the beginning of next session.

When Fortune is used, the player must describe what the character does that brings about the Fortune. Maybe upon using Moment of Inspiration to read some ancient alien hieroglyphs, they remember seeing such glyphs in a college textbook. Second Wind could be a rallying cry or a snappy one-liner. It's up to the player, and the more creative and flavorful, the better.

Fortune can be spent in the following ways, with the cost of that effect being listed beforehand:

1 Fortune Effects

Moment of Inspiration - Sometimes, characters need to do something outside of their expertise. While this is usually accomplished through skills, a character may need to go beyond their normal abilities.

When you spend 1 Fortune for Moment of Inspiration, your character can attempt to use the Level 1 ability of any other class, including their Darbs. This requires an Action Roll with the second classes class skill being
the modifier.

However, no matter how powerful you are in your skill, you are still not as masterful as the other class. Thus,
Darb multipliers are always in effect. So, if you wanted to do the Gamma Darb for the Arcanist Class Skill, you would have a -9 modifier, even if you had the Gamma Darb in your own class skill.

This allows parties that lack a certain class to do some of the things other classes can, e.g. a party without
a Pilot could still pilot a spaceship at the cost of a Fortune.

Grace Under Pressure - When you spend 1 Fortune for Grace Under Pressure, you can apply a +2 bonus to any Action Roll. This can be used multiple times on the same roll, to a maximum of +6 if you spend 3 Fortune.

However, this Fortune must be spent before you do an Action Roll, not after. It can't be used after the use of a Third Try's the Charm, but the modifiers do apply for any subsequent rolls made with Third Try's the Charm.

Also, this modifier can not be applied to damage rolls, only Action Rolls.

Third Try's the Charm - When you spend 1 Fortune, you can re-roll any Action Roll or damage roll in hopes for a better result. This can be used multiple times on the same roll, to a maximum of 3 re-rolls if you spend 3 fortune.

The drawback to this is that you must keep the new result, even if it is worse than the first one.

2 Fortune Effects

Second Wind - Sometimes a character will come under severe physical strain, and his only hope to succeed will be to buckle down, catch his breath, and head back into the fray.

When you spend 2 Fortune for Second Wind, your character automatically regains 1/4th of their maximum HP. This is useful if the party is on its last legs, but the enemy is also close to dying.

This Fortune effect can only be used in battle, and only after taking damage.

Edit - Edit is the first of two Fortune Effects that allow players to alter the story in a metaphysical sense.

When you spend 2 Fortune for Edit, you can alter the current scene in a minor way. For example, instead of
shotguns, the enemies may have pistols instead. Instead of a room being pitch dark, it is lit by torches. The
change should be temporary and not overly gamebreaking. All changes are subject to the GMs approval too make sure none are imbalanced, by players and GMs are encouraged to work together to meet a common ground

3 Fortune Effects

Rewrite- Rewrite is basically a more powerful and far reaching version of Edit.

When you spend 3 Fortune on Rewrite, you can change a major aspect of the current scene, usually in a permanent way. So, the bad guy may get away, but a lucky shot tears through his ankle, leaving him crippled come the next battle. A monster may eat an important artifact, but after retrieving it and discovering it has been eaten away by acid, you can do a Rewrite and say it is in perfectly fine condition.

Once again, the GM and player are encouraged to work together to get to a common ground. A Rewrite should not alter the entire story that the GM has planned, but it still has a lot of power

Gaining More Fortune

To gain more Fortune, you must be good at roleplaying. Throughout a session, a GM is encouraged to give out additional Fortune to players who roleplay well. This provides a good incentive for more engaging play, and it is also a more immediate reward than experience. It is suggested that the GM never give more than 3 additional Fortune to any given character in a session, with 2 being more conservative.

Take note though, that this additional Fortune does not carry on between sessions, so use it while you can.
When a new session rolls along, every character is returned to their base of 3 Fortune.

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