About the Awesome-Sauce Conflict Resolution SystemEdit
The Awesome-Sauce Conflict Resolution System (ASCRS) is a tool for guiding role-players to interesting outcomes in both moment-to-moment actions and overall resolution of a conflict. It is inspired by the Prose-Descriptive Qualities (PDQ) system by Atomic Sock Monkey Press, and shares its love of simplicity and story over complex simulation and competition.
Things the ASCRS does well:
- Quick and easy character creation
- Gives role-players important choices to make at every turn
- Lets lower-level characters do awesome stuff in the same conflict as higher-level characters
- Makes teamwork count -- two or three characters working together can overcome a powerful character that would wipe the floor with any one of them
Things you should NOT expect from the ASCRS:
- High-level characters being nigh-untouchable to low-level characters (although a few extra levels do make you a lot more likely to win a one-versus-one in the long run)
- Detailed rules for simulating every aspect of a world or type of conflict
- Complex statistics and abilities that support building characters with mechanical advantages over others
- Predictable outcomes to conflicts
Creating a CharacterEdit
There are just two parts to an ASCRS character: their level, and their abilities. The character's level is just what you'd probably expect: a single number showing how strong that character is in a general sense. The higher the character's level, the more damage they can take, and the better their dice rolls tend to be -- although it doesn't make as much difference for rolls as it does in most role-playing systems, for reasons we'll talk about later.
To decide a character's level, first you need an idea what the lowest and highest levels in your role-playing world look like. The lowest level is typically 1, and should match with the weakest characters you'd ever want to represent in a conflict -- for example, a slime monster that can be reliably defeated with a single blow. The highest level depends on how large of a difference in power you want between the weakest possible character and the strongest possible character; I would recommend 10 for most worlds and rarely more than 20, although if you really want, say, a gigantic dragon that takes an army of hundreds to bring down, you could set them at level 100 or more. Experiment with it! You can always adjust things later.
Once you have the ends of the scale established, try to think of five or ten characters of varying strength -- a random civilian, a common monster, a mid-level hero, a legendary beast, etc. -- and place them at appropriate levels. You can decide a new character's level, whether they're an NPC or a starting hero, by comparing them with those archetypes.
Examples for Zelda RPG:
- Level 1: Octorok, stalchild,
- Level 2: Bokoblin,
- Level 3: Typical civilian, lizalfos
- Level 4: TODO
- Level 5: Common soldier, moblin
- Level 6: TODO
- Level 7: TODO
- Level 8: TODO
- Level 9: The Six Sages, TODO
- Level 10: Link, Zelda
With your character's level decided, next you should think about what abilities they have and what Rank each of those abilities should be at. Abilities in ASCRS are very broad, like "Boxing", "Swordplay", "Fire Magic", "Computer Hacking", etc. Things like "Sucker Punch" or "Flying Slash" are too specific to be ASCRS abilities, although they could certainly be techniques your character is capable of within an appropriate ability.
The rank your character has in any given ability describes how proficient they are in it and how advanced of actions they can do with it. You can theoretically have as many ranks available as you want, but I recommend making the highest ability rank possible be about half of the highest character level possible, or maybe a little higher. Here's the suggested default of ability ranks and what they might represent:
- Rank 0: No especial skill in this ability, maybe even unable to use it at all (for example, magic abilities may require at least Rank 1 to use). If can use it, can only do the most simple of actions, like a straightforward punch or sword swing.
- Rank 1: Basic skill in this ability, with a tiny bit of talent and/or training. Can perform some slightly more demanding actions, like a one-two punch combo or a feint strike.
- Rank 2: Intermediate skill in this ability, having learned the ropes and some useful techniques or tricks. Can do some impressive actions, like a spinning kick or a fancy parry.
- Rank 3: Advanced skill in this ability, easily in the top half of those who use this ability world-wide. Can pull off some amazing actions, like dodging with a backflip or thrusting a sword through a tiny weak spot in a moving target.
- Rank 4: Master-level skill in this ability, with only a small percentage of practicioners who could rival you. Can do things that seem almost superhuman, like punching too quickly for the eye to follow or cleaving through armor.
- Rank 5: Legendary skill in this ability, with nobody in the world able to claim definitively that they are better, though there may be some close equals. Can perform feats that stretch the bounds of reality, like smashing a brick wall with a well-placed kick or slicing from afar with the compressed air from a sword swing.
The types of actions possible at each rank needs to be adjusted to match your role-playing world, of course; in some worlds, things like acrobatic dodges and even air-cutter techniques might be almost mundane.
Nearly every action in the ASCRS starts with a base roll. Before deciding on an action (who to attack using what technique, how to defend against an attack against you, etc.), you will do a /roll 1d(5 + level - damage). For example, if your character level is 4 and has not received any damage in the current scene, you will type
The result from this roll will form a large part of determining your success in the action which follows. This means you'll have some idea how likely you are to succeed, and you can use that knowledge to make choices about what to try.
After getting the base roll, next you decide on what type of action to do. The actions you can perform are based on your rank in different abilities.
Your mastery level in the ability you choose to use for your action determines your next roll. Rank 1 mastery gives a /roll 1d2, Rank 2 mastery gives a /roll 1d4, etc. It's possible to make this roll bigger by spending Awesome-Sauce, discussed later. The result of this roll is added to the base roll you made before.
After an attacker rolls for an attack, the target rolls for a defense using the same basic mechanics (base roll, then ability roll). If the defender gets greater than or equal to the attacker, the attack is successfully defended against. Otherwise, the defender takes damage. Damage reduces the range of a character's base roll, thus limiting their effectiveness for the remainder of the scene. Damage dealt is 1 by default, but can be increased if the attacker used Awesome-Sauce. If a character's damage reaches their level or above, they are unable to continue in the conflict.
The exact action you perform using your ability is considered largely a matter of RP fluff; all that matters mechanically is the level of mastery you have in the ability and the Awesome-Sauce you put into the technique. The mechanical effect of attacks is the same regardless of whether their IC intent is to injure, ensnare, trick, exhaust, or gain advantage in any other way; it simply brings the target closer to being incapacitated.
We all want our characters to do awesome things, but the story gets boring pretty quickly if they're always pulling off extravagant stunts, and those special moves no longer feel special. To keep things interesting, there needs to be a restriction, like a limited resource required to do awesome things. In this role-playing system, that resource is called AWESOME-SAUCE. Awesome-Sauce is the narrative juice players use to help their characters perform amazing feats and escape dire pinches. You can refer to it by another name if it would match your theme (mana, nanites, chakra, etc.), but remember that Awesome-Sauce is really there to help guide the narrative and keep exciting moments exciting, not to simulate an in-world concept.
Each character starts the scene with a Awesome-Sauce amount equal to their character level. Each character gains 2 AS at the end of every round. There is no limit to how much AS can be stored.
AS is used to increase the effectiveness of actions. Each point of AS used can be thought of as increasing the rank of the action performed. Note that the mastery level of your character in a given ability has an effect regardless of the rank of action used. For example, a person doing an Rank 0 action (which uses no AS) with Rank 2 ability mastery would /roll 1d4, whereas a person doing an Rank 0 action with Rank 3 ability mastery would /roll 1d6. The highest action rank you are allowed to use in a given ability is the same as your mastery level in that ability.
If used for an attack action, spending a point of AS increases the range of the action roll by 2 and the damage dealt by 1. For example, if you have Rank 2 Fire Magic mastery and do an Rank 0 action, like puffing a little dart of flame, you will spend 0 AS, /roll 1d4 for your action roll, and deal 1 damage if you succeed. If you do a Rank 1 action like throwing a small fireball, you will spend 1 AS, /roll 1d6 for your action roll, and deal 2 damage if you succeed. If you do a Rank 2 action, like creating a lance of flame and swinging it at your target, you will spend 2 AS, /roll 1d8 for your action roll, and deal 3 damage if you succeed. Using AS for attacking is primarily useful for the extra damage afforded, and is best saved for situations where you got a good base roll or you're determined to bring an opponent down a few pegs.
If used for a defensive action, spending a point of AS doubles the range of the action roll. For example, if you have Rank 2 Martial Artist mastery and do an Rank 0 action, like a simple block or dodge, you will spend 0 AS and /roll 1d4 for your action roll. If you do a Rank 1 action, like an augmented block, you will spend 1 AS and /roll 1d8 for your action roll. If you do a Rank 2 action, like dodging in a blur of speed, you will spend 2 AS and /roll 1d16 for your action roll. Using AS for defending gives exponentially larger boosts to your success roll range the more you spend, but it still never guarantees safety.
There are two basic ways in which attacking, defending, and posing can be interwoven in the ASCRS. The first method is the most intuitive one, and looks like this:
At the beginning of your turn, for each attack pending against you, do a base roll, state OOC how you intend to defend against the attack, then roll for an ability (or abilities). If you fail to defend against an attack, increase your current damage by the appropriate amount for the attack before proceeding. Once you have resolved all attacks pending against you, you may take an offensive action (or a supporting action for another character). Do a base roll, state OOC what action you intend to take, then roll an ability (or abilities). Write and post your pose based on the results of your defense rolls and your intended attack or other action, but do not state the resulting effects unless you know for certain whether it succeeds (i.e., you were rolling to overcome a static challenge).
The advantages of this method are that it keeps everyone's rolls confined to their own turn and makes the process easier to understand.
The second method, which may be preferable for more advanced players, goes like this:
At the beginning of your turn, do a base roll, state OOC what attack or other action you intend to take, then roll for an ability (or abilities). If another character needs to defend against your action (including characters using their next action to support another character), they should immediately do their own base roll, state OOC how they intend to defend, then roll for an ability (or abilities). Write and post your pose based on the results of any defenses you had to make during previous character's turns and the results of your own action.
The advantages of this method are that it provides full information to pose writers about the effects of their actions and allows defenders to begin writing their poses before their turn arrives.
When NOT to follow the ASCRSEdit
Always remember, especially if you are the scene-runner, that the ASCRS is a tool to make role-playing more dynamic and fun. There are situations where strictly following the rules of the system may actually make that goal more difficult. For example, it's quite possible for a scene to go several rounds without anybody taking a hit. If it starts to feel like things are dragging on, you might try doing several rounds of actions between writing actual poses and summarize what's been going on instead of detailing the blow-by-blow. You could also simply decide based on how the scene has gone so far (and/or what would be the most plot-supporting conclusion) what the outcome should be, and have the players clinch the conflict with the next round of poses, no rolls required.
Sometimes it may be better to forego using the ASCRS altogether, or at least put some restrictions on it. For example, suppose there is a scene where some player characters encounter the biggest bad guy of your world, and they are not (yet) prepared to take him on. The ASCRS being what it is, if you give the players the option of trying to take the villain down, they might actually manage it -- which could be interesting, but it could also flush tons of potential plot down the drain. So it may be best to not use the ASCRS during that scene, or at least let your players know that any attacks they make against the villain will not deal any damage through the villain's plot armor. You could still use the ASCRS to let the players defend against the villain's attacks, and make success about surviving a number of rounds and/or until they figure out a means of escape.
Bottom line, if you're a scene-runner, try to be smart about how you use the ASCRS, and if you're another player, don't be too shy to mention if the ASCRS is starting to feel like a burden.
Another option for Awesome-Sauce usage is to combine additional abilities into an action. Combining abilities provides a higher and more reliable boost to success than increasing action rank, at the cost of not dealing extra damage. By spending a point of AS on an offensive action, you can apply a second ability roll, even if you are already using AS to boost the rank of the action; however, the rank bonus applies only to the highest-level ability in use.
For example, suppose you have Rank 3 mastery of Swordplay, Rank 2 mastery of Illusionary Magic, and 2 AS points to spend. You could choose to spend 1 AS point to use a Rank 1 Swordplay attack, boosting the roll from 1d6 to 1d8 and the potential damage to 2, and spend another AS point to add in a 1d4 roll from your Illusionary Magic ability. You could pose this as rushing in for a sword strike while projecting the illusion of several swords, making it more difficult for your opponent to defend against.
For many fictional worlds, there is an important concept of different types having advantages and disadvantages against other types. One of the most common expressions of this is an elemental wheel, like Water beats Fire, Fire beats Wood, and Wood beats Water. If you want to include type advantages in the ASCRS, you can do so by modifying defensive action rolls.
If the ability used for a defensive action is a type which beats whatever it is defending against, the range of the action roll is increased by half -- in other words, take half of whatever the roll's range ordinarily would be and add that to it. For example, suppose you had Rank 2 mastery of Water Magic and you used an Rank 0 action in it to defend against a Fire Magic attack. Ordinarily this would roll 1d4, but because Water beats Fire, in this case it rolls 1d6. If you choose to spend 1 AS point to bump it up to a Rank 1 action, the defensive doubling bonus and the type advantage multiply together, resulting in 1d12.
If the ability used for the action is a type which is beaten by whatever it is defending against, the range of the action roll is decreased by half -- in other words, take half of whatever the roll's range ordinarily would be and subtract that from it. For example, suppose you had Rank 2 mastery of Water Magic and you used a Rank 0 action in it to defend against a Wood Magic attack. Ordinarily this would roll 1d4, but because Wood beats Water, in this case it rolls 1d2. If you choose to spend 1 AS point to bump it up to a Rank 1 action, the defensive doubling bonus and the type disadvantage multiply together, resulting in 1d4.
Note that type advantages and disadvantages don't necessarily have to work in a strict this-beats-that way. You could have types that BOTH have an advantage or disadvantage against EACH OTHER. For example, suppose you want to have physical fighters be susceptible to magic attacks, and at the same time have magic-users be susceptible to physical attacks. You could express this by having physical defenses be at a disadvantage against magic attacks, and magic defenses be at a disadvantage against physical attacks. Conversely, you could have physical defenses be at an advantage against physical attacks, and magic defenses be at an advantage against magic attacks. OR BOTH, although that could get a little extreme. These sort of mutual-advantage/disadvantage types may seem a little pointless at first, but they do have an interesting gameplay effect: they encourage players to have abilities of different types so that they can choose the best ability for the current situation. Whether that's a good thing or bad is up to you.
If you have both elemental-wheel and mutual-advantage/disadvantage types, I recommend trying to keep them separate. For example, treat Fire Magic as a Fire type, but not a magic type, even though thematically it's both.
If you defend against an attack that involves more than one ability (see Combining Styles), fully apply whatever advantage or disadvantage your abilities might have against any of the attacking abilities, but only one advantage and one disadvantage per ability you are using.
At times you may want to attack more than one target on your turn. This is allowable, but it of course comes with a cost. For every extra target, you must /roll 1d3 and subtract it from your success. Note that you must declare who you are targeting before you make your ability roll. The final success of your attack must be defended against individually by each of your targets, and any target who fails their defense will be damaged in full, as though they were the sole target.
Also, the attack has to make sense as a single action that affects multiple targets, with the scene-runner as judge. For example, you could attack two targets standing close together with a powerful sweeping kick, or try to catch them both in a wide fireball. You could maybe even get away with throwing a spread of knives that affects targets a few meters from each other, or trying to trap everyone within three meters of you in an illusion. You'd probably have a hard time convincing the scene-runner that punching one target and then flipping across the battlefield to kick another counts as a single action, though.
Everyone loves to be the one to pull their friend's fat out of the fire, right? ;) If you believe that someone will need help to avoid an attack, you can make a rescue attempt. Rescue attempts work in the exact same manner as regular defense rolls: do a base roll, state your intention, then roll for abilities, with the roll maximum doubled for every AS point spent. Even if you fail, the defender can then do their own defense, and directly add any rescue rolls to their defense roll. Note that rescue rolls must be done before defense rolls, though; once the actual target rolls their defense, the results are determined.
The downside of rescues is that they count as your action for that turn. You will be unable to attack or take any other proactive actions on your turn after you do a rescue, and you can only do one rescue per round, though at the discretion of the scene-runner, your rescue could have multiple targets, with the associated penalty. Also, the scene-runner may decide that rescues cannot be used against some dangers. For example, if a single ninja attempts to disarm a trap and triggers it, their team-mates may not be given the option to intervene against the sudden "attack" from the trap.
To provide a means for higher-level battles to proceed more quickly and involve more spectacular actions, tension levels may be used. Tension levels reduce the AS consumption of higher-ranked offensive actions, allowing them to be used more frequently as long as the tension level is maintained.
Tension levels are reached by having the following amounts of AS points in reserve:
- Level 0: 0-4 AS points
- Level 1: 5-10 AS points
- Level 2: 11-20 AS points
- Level 3: 21 or more AS points
You do not need to spend anything to activate a tension level, only reach the appropriate amount of reserve AS; however, if you spend enough AS to put you below a tension level's threshold again, you revert to the appropriate level immediately after your action is done. This means that if you spend AS on a defense, it may prevent you from using a given tension level to attack.
The effect of a tension level is to reduce the AS usage of all attacks by the number of the level (although you cannot get a negative cost). For example, if you are at tension level 1, Rank 0 and Rank 1 attacks are free, Rank 2 attacks cost 1 AS, Rank 3 attacks cost 2 AS, etc. Defensive techniques are not affected by tension level, and you cannot give up a rank on an attack in order to combine abilities. You could pose tension levels as being related to transformations or other special abilities which require significant effort to activate, but an IC explanation for the mechanical effect is not strictly required.
Special Bonuses and PenaltiesEdit
While simplicity is one of the goals of the ASCRS, it's often fun to throw in special bonuses or penalties according to the situation the players are facing and how they handle it. For example, there could be a bonus for attacking from a good vantage point, or a penalty for trying to do something while carrying a heavy load. Whether bonuses or penalties apply is up to the scene-runner, although other players can certainly suggest them.
There are several ways you can give a bonus or penalty to an action. The simplest is to add or subtract a set amount to the action's total. Another is to do an extra roll and add or subtract it to the action's total. The amount, especially if it is set rather than a roll, can generally be pretty small, from 1 to 3. It may not seem like much, but it can have a strong effect on how likely the action is to succeed.
If you give a pose that is exceptional in some way -- a dramatic highlight, a clever usage of abilities (maybe even if the action fails), an entertaining comedic moment, etc. -- the scene runner may choose to award you a fortune point. Fortune points are an expendable resource which can be used to increase the successfulness of actions. For every fortune point used, you will do an additional /roll 1d6 and add it to your action success. The decision to use fortune points is made after making an ability roll, allowing you to possibly save a failed roll. You can even use a fortune point during the same move that you earned it in, making whatever clever idea you had that earned you the point more likely to succeed.
Fortune points are generally better used in Player-versus-Environment situations than Player-versus-Player, but if you trust each other to judge impartially, you may choose to allow awarding of fortune points from yourself to an opponent and vice-versa. Fortune points may be carried from one scene to another in a plot at scene runner discretion, but in general all characters start a scene with 0 fortune points.
Occasionally you may run into a situation which isn't really about defeating an enemy in a violent way. The ASCRS is still capable of handling such situations, with just a few minor changes to procedure.
If the situation calls for attempting a difficult but static task, such as disarming a trap, then you need only meet a set challenge number, determined by the scene runner. If the task is something for which your general level is applicable, then you may do the base roll as normal. The scene runner may decide that you only get some fraction of your typical level bonus. For example, if physical strength is the only aspect of your level which helps with the task, the scene runner may decide that you receive a bonus of only 2, meaning your base roll should be /roll 1d7. The scene runner may even decide that somebody else with the same level as you should get a bonus of 3 because they know that their character emphasizes physical strength, whereas you might receive more of a bonus in a task that requires analytical thought. The scene runner may even decide that your level has no bearing whatsoever on the task at hand, in which case the base roll is /roll 1d5.
After your base roll, you may be able to apply your abilities as normal. For example, if your task is to clear away an obstruction on a road so that travellers can pass through, your destructive combat abilities could come in quite handy! However, there may also be tasks for which most abilities are completely useless, such as solving a riddle. In such a case, your base roll is simply all there is to your attempt.
The consequences for failing a static task are up to the scene runner. It could simply mean that you wasted a little time and have to try again or let an ally handle it. It could mean that you trigger a trap and take damage, or at least have to contend with an "attack" from it. Who knows, maybe even succeeding in a task will have unforeseen results.
There can also be conflict with other players or NPCs which doesn't involve actual combat. For example, two characters could play a board game to decide a matter, or a party could have to convince a suspicious NPC guard to let them through a gate. The procedure is largely the same as for combat-oriented conflict: do a base roll, using as much of your level as the scene-runner deems appropriate for the situation, then add whatever ability rolls are applicable. The conflict is resolved when one side accumulates "damage" equal to their level, or as much as the scene runner deems necessary.
QUICK REFERENCE GUIDEEdit
To do an action:
- Do a base roll: /roll 1d(5 + level - damage)
- Decide and announce the details of your ability roll
- What is the highest-rank ability you will be using for this action?
- How much Awesome-Sauce will you use to boost the ability? (Maximum AS is same as ability rank, i.e. 2 AS for a Rank 2 ability)
- Do you want to spend 1 AS per extra ability to combine more abilities into the action?
- Who is the target of this action?
- Do you want to take a -1d3 penalty roll per extra target to add more targets?
- Determine ability roll(s)
- Rank 1 starts at 1d2, Rank 2 starts at 1d4, Rank 3 starts at 1d6, etc.
- For each point of AS spent to boost the highest-rank ability:
- If the action is an attack, add 2 to the roll range
- If the action is a defense, double the roll range
- Abilities combined into action give an extra roll depending on their rank, NON-BOOSTED
- If the action is a defense and it makes sense for an ability you are using to have a type advantage or disadvantage against an ability used in the attack (i.e. water vs. fire), increase or decrease the roll range of that ability by half
- For extra targets, roll (number of extra targets)d3 and subtract
- Do any special bonuses or penalties (i.e. roll 1d2 for having the high ground) the scene-runner thinks should apply
- If you are not satisfied with the total of your rolls and you have Fortune Points to spend, you may spend 1 Fortune Point to add 1d6 and continue doing so until you run out of Fortune Points
- If you failed a defense, take damage: 1 + (number of AS spent boosting the attack's primary ability)