Covenant Game Design: Game Time

Covenant Game Design - Game Mechanics - Game Time

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

I said yesterday that I’d talk about how Covenant measures game time – that is, the time experienced by the PCs within the game. Game time is important, because it governs how often characters can use their abilities and regain their Discipline.

Covenant campaigns are broken up into:

  • Scene: A single fight, confrontation, chase, or puzzle. The scenes ends when the action ends or the confrontation or puzzle is resolved. Scenes are separated into rounds. During each round, each character participating gets to take a turn.
  • Interstitials: The time between scenes. Characters usually have a limited number of things that they can do during an interstitial, like gathering information, sneaking into an enemy base, or healing allies.
  • Chapter: A series of related scenes, usually leading to a climax where some plot threads are resolved. You should be able to resolve a chapter during a single gaming session. A one-shot campaign or story usually encompasses a single chapter.
  • Intermissions: The time between chapters. Characters usually have a limited number of things that they can do during an intermission. However, the actions that they can accomplish during intermissions are more complicated than the ones they can accomplish during interstitials, like learning new abilities and crafting or upgrade new gear.
  • Story: A series of related chapters, usually leader to a climactic scene where most or all of the plot threads are resolved.

Your character has four attributes that are affected by these:

  • Discipline: Spent on bids, which is how your character accomplishes tasks. Affected by advantages and disadvantages.
  • Traits: Spent on bids, but more often. Not affected by advantages and disadvantages.
  • Abilities: Gives characters special abilities, storytelling control, or ways to bend the game’s rules
  • Gear: Includes armor, weapons, and other equipment

Traits, abilities, and gear can all be utilized only so often. In addition, abilities and gear can be utilized in more than one way — the more powerful the application, the less often it can be utilized. After being used, they must “cool down” until they recharge, much like your character’s discipline. (And yes, this was inspired by Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition, and thank you for noticing)

All three of these character attributes can be either used, tapped, exhausted, burned, or destroyed.

  • Use: Recharges immediately after use
  • Tap: Recharged when the character’s next turn in a scene starts
  • Exhaust: Recharges at the end of the scene (or if exhausted between scenes, at the end of the next scene)
  • Burn: Recharges at the end of the chapter (or if burned between chapters, at the end of the next chapter)
  • Destroy: Destroys the affected trait, ability, or piece of gear. Your character permanently loses this attribute.

That’s it for now. We’ll look at damage and how it affects a character’s Discipline tomorrow.

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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