Covenant Game Design: Advantages and Disadvantages

Covenant Game Design - Game Mechanics - Advantages and Disadvantages

(Don’t forget to tune in to this week’s episode of the Radio Free Covenant podcast!)

So, in Covenant, your character has Discipline and traits, and you can use these to make bids and accomplish tasks. However, you also need to keep track of the circumstances surrounding your bid, too.

Most roleplaying games keep track of these circumstances with numerical modifiers like bonuses and penalties. The problem with this method, though – at least in my opinion – is that there has to be a different modifier for every circumstance, and often several to represent different levels of severity. This creates modifier bloat: long lists and tables of modifiers that are difficult to memorize and can slow down a game. The game master can make up modifiers on the fly to speed things up, of course, but that just increases the GM’s workload, and they have enough work to do as is.

We wanted to do something different. So, after a lot of thought, we came up with advantages and disadvantages.

An advantage in Covenant is anything that benefits a character during a bid or makes that bid easier to accomplish. This could include:

  • Having an advantageous position
  • Holding the high ground
  • Attacking from concealment
  • Using superior weapons, tools, or parts
  • Having plenty of time to accomplish a task
  • Interacting with a friendly NPC

A disadvantage, on the other hand, is anything that hinders a character during a bid or makes that bid harder to accomplish. This could include:

  • Being outflanked or outmaneuvered in a fight
  • Attacking or defending from a lower position
  • Being attacked from concealment
  • Using inferior weapons, tools, or parts
  • Performing a task quickly or cutting corners
  • Interacting with a hostile NPC or an NPC from a different species

Each circumstance affecting a bid adds either 1 advantage or 1 disadvantage to the bid. Some specific circumstances, like an attacker’s relative size to its target, may contribute more, but this is rare.

Unlike traditional modifiers like bonuses and penalties, advantages and disadvantages don’t directly affect your bid. Instead, you count up the number of advantages and disadvantages affecting your bid. This affects the cost to raise your bid.

  • More Advantages than Disadvantages: Your bid is at half cost. Every 1 Discipline you spend raises your bid by 2.
  • More Disadvantages than Advantages: Your bid is at double cost. Every 2 Discipline you spend raises your bid by 1.
  • Equal Advantages and Disadvantages: Your bid is at normal cost. Every 1 Discipline you spend raises your bid by 1.

Advantages and disadvantages don’t affect traits, though. Traits always add 1 to your bids, no matter the circumstances. They each represent a level of expertise and training in a field or subject that you can always call on, no matter what.

That’s it for now. Visit tomorrow to see how game time is measured during a game of Covenant.

Published by radiofreecovenant

A podcast about the science-fiction roleplaying game "Covenant" and the urban fantasy novel "Crossing the Line", soon to be published by Black Opal Books.

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