Author’s Diary, February 7, 2020

We’re starting to get into overt player control over the game in today’s rules writing. Click through for more.

Going to make this post short and sweet. I’m tired and did a lot of writing today.

Today’s rules give the players greater control over the game. It’s the theme of this entire chapter, but it starts to get conspicuous and even fourth-wall-breaking today. I might have given away a little too much power today. I can see how these can be easily exploited to break the game.

But that’s what playtesting is for.

Today’s rules are:

BANKING ADVANTAGES: You can bank 1 advantage from each bid you make, then spend banked advantages on future bids until your next turn in a scene. My thinking was that, if some of your actions are easy, then you’ll have more resources to spare on your other actions.

INCREASING BID DIFFICULTY: You can be flashy and make a bid harder, or you can deliberately fail one bid to improve your chances with another one. Both of these give you one of several benefits, including making a future bid half-cost, making an opponent’s bid double-cost, inspiring your allies, or intimidating your foes.

ROLEPLAYING EFFECTS ON BIDS: You can vividly roleplay your character’s actions or, if xi fails xir bid, show a flashback from xir earlier life. Both give you one advantage to your bid.

COMPLICATIONS: Some characters and gear have complications. You can trigger the negative effects of these complications by setting up the right circumstances.

Here’s what I wrote today.


  • If a character accomplishes one task easily, it stands to reason that xi can devote more time and resources to other tasks.
  • If a character succeeds at a bid, xi can bank 1 advantage from that bid, assuming that the bid has any advantages.
  • Banked advantages can be “spent” on other bids that the character makes.
  • Spending 1 banked advantage on a bid reduces the character’s banked advantages by 1.
  • A character can spend xir banked advantages all at once on one bid or spread them out over many bids.
  • A characters loses xir banked advantages that they have by the start of xir next turn.


  • A character can increase the difficulty of an easy bid or even deliberately fail a bid to gain benefits.
  • Increasing the difficulty of an easy bid is called stunting.
    • A stunted bid must start out as a normal cost or half-cost bid.
    • Stunting a bid automatically increases the bid’s cost to double-cost.
  • Deliberately failing a bid is called sacrificing.
    • Any bid can be sacrificed, even a bid that has no chance of success.
    • The character sacrificing her bid must suffer the full consequences of losing the bid, including damage.
    • If a character sacrifices a bid during xir turn in a scene, then xir turn ends immediately after the bid is resolved.
  • A character who sacrifices or stunts a bid can choose 1 of the following benefits:
    • Automatically turns 1 bid into a half-cost bid
    • Automatically turns 1 bid made by 1 opponent into a double-cost bid
    • Inspire allies, giving 1 advantage on all their bids until the character’s next turn in the scene
    • Intimidate opponents, imposing 1 disadvantage on all their bids until the characters’s next turn in the scene
    • Preventing an opponent from moving until the character’s next turn in the scene
    • Any other benefit that the FM thinks is appropriate
  • The sacrificing or stunting character can save this benefit for later instead of using it immediately. If xi doesn’t use this benefit by xir next turn in the scene, the benefit is lost.
  • The sacrificing or stunting character can transfer this benefit to another character. However, if the receiving character doesn’t use the benefit before the sacrificing or stunting character’s next turn in the scene, the benefit is lost.


  • A player can improve xir characters’ chances of success with good roleplaying and a good backstory.
  • A player can describe xir character’s actions in a particularly vivid way when making a bid. This is called characterizing.
    • When characterizing a bid, the player should confine xir description to no more than 3 sentences or 1 paragraph to save time.
    • The player should decide how to describe xir character’s actions before making any bids or taking xir turn in a scene.
  • A player whose character fails or loses a bid can try to change the bid’s outcome by flashbacking.
    • When flashbacking, the player describes a scene from xir character’s earlier life that may help her with xir bid.
    • The player should confine xir flashback to no more than 3 sentences or 1 paragraph when flashbacking to save time.
    • The player can flashback a bid after xi knows the xi has lost or failed the bid, but before the bid is resolved.
  • Characterizing or flashbacking a bid gains the character 1 advantage on that bid.
  • The player can characterize xir character’s bid, then flashback it if xir character loses or fails the bid.
  • The advantage a character gains from flashbacking may change reduce the bid’s cost (see Section 2.5.2, Bid Costs) and therefore the bid itself. This can potentially turn a losing or failing bid into a winning or successful one.
    • EXAMPLE: 
      • A character has 3 advantages and 4 disadvantages on a bid with a target of 9, making it double-cost.
      • Xi spends 10 Discipline, but this only gives xir a bid of 5, since the bid is double-cost. This isn’t enough for xir to succeed at the bid.
      • Xi flashbacks the bid, which increases xir advantages on this bid from 3 to 4.
      • Since xi now has an equal number of advantages (4) and disadvantages (4), the bid is now normal-cost.
      • Since the bid is now normal-cost, the 10 Discipline xi spent on the bid gives xir a bid of 10, which is enough for xir to succeed at the bid.


  • Some species and gear have complications, or flaws of which opponents can take advantage.
  • Complications are negative effects that can be triggered under certain circumstances, called the complication’s requirements.
  • Discovering a character or piece of gear’s complications and their requirements usually requires either:
    • A fixed knowledge bid about the character or piece of gear
    • A fixed social bid to gather and collate information about the character or piece of gear
    • An opposed perception bid against the target’s stealth bid

That’s it for now. Stop by tomorrow for more.

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.

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: