Author’s Diary for October 2, 2020

Author's Diary - Update for the Week of October 2, 2020

(Don’t forget to contribute to our Patreon campaign or join us on the Radio Free Covenant Discord server! Don’t forget to tune in to the Radio Free Covenant podcast every Saturday at 4 p.m. Eastern (1 p.m. Pacific) on our Twitch page and get a summary of the game rules!)

Featured Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

We’ve got a lot to talk about Covenant’s playtest rules this week! Keep reading below the fold to find out more.

Here’s what we’ll be covering today:

  • The completion of the Dirty Tricks chapter
  • The completion of the Building and Fixing Items chapter
  • The start of the Items appendix
  • Our progress on Covenant’s playtest rules
NASA's Kepler Mission Discovers Its First Rocky Planet (Artist Concept) (Image Credit: NASA)


We finished editing the Dirty Tricks chapter on Monday. It’s the unconventional warfare chapter, with the rules for sneaking past enemies without being seen and then hitting them where it hurts.

The rules were in flux for a bit, but they’ve settled down into the following:

  • Hiding Your Character: Hiding your character and items from other characters
  • Disguising Your Character: Creating and wearing disguises and pretending to be someone else
  • Counterfeiting Items: Making counterfeit papers and money, as well as making items look like other items (spy gadget stuff, in other words)
  • Sabotaging Items: Damaging an item or piece of machinery without attacking it
  • Setting Bombs and Explosives: Placing explosive charges so that they’ll do the maximum amount of damage
  • Setting Traps and Alarms: Placing items that can damage and slow down other characters or warn you of their approach
  • Disabling Items: Disarming bombs, traps, and alarms, as well as picking locks
  • Hacking Computers: Accessing computers that you shouldn’t access and doing things on them that you shouldn’t do

All of them use opposed bids against another character’s bid, either a perception bid or a bid to create or place an item, to speed up play. They also have plenty of stunts and fail forwards that let you and your FM tailor them to the situation.


This chapter, finished on Thursday, allows players to make and maintain items. It’s separated into the following:

  • Crafting New Items: Creating new items from scratch
  • Upgrading Items: Adding new features to an existing item
  • Debugging Items: Finding out what’s wrong with an item, similar to diagnosing a patient
  • Repairing Items: Restoring Discipline to items
  • Overhauling Items: Removing flaws and conditions from items

Again, these all boil down to a single fixed bid, either against the item’s purchase price (the cost in Discipline to buy or craft it) or the bid that created a flaw or condition in an item.


The Items appendix has all the rules for designing items like weapons, armor, and gear. It was supposed to be part of the Building and Fixing Items chapter, but we decided to put them into their own appendix for clarity’s sake.

The Items appendix has three sections:

  • Weapons: How to make weapons
  • Armor:  How to make armor
  • Gear:  How to make miscellaneous items

Each of these sections will in turn be separated into three subsections:

  • Creating X: The actual item creation rules
  • Features: A list of features that you can add to your item to make it more powerful
  • Flaws: A list of flaws that make the item less effective, but that also let you put more features onto it

We finished editing with the Creating Weapons subsection today. It has six sub-subsections:

  • Templates: Whether the weapon is one-handed, two-handed, and heavy, which in turn affects its base purchase price, base damage, and the number of flaws you can put on it
  • Damage Severity: Whether the weapon does scene damage (stun) or chapter damage (lethal)
  • Tech Level: How sophisticated the weapon is, ranging from 1 (muscle-powered) to 5 (indistinguishable from magic)
  • Energy Type: How the weapon hurts your opponents, whether it’s through kinetic energy, ballistic energy, chemical energy, electrical energy, or something else
  • Features: How to apply features to the weapon
  • Flaws: How to apply flaws to the weapon to get more features


The redpenning on the Items appendix is going faster than we expected. That means that, knock on wood, we’ll be done with that by next Friday.

After that, we have four more appendices:

  • Predesigned Items: A list of items that are ready for your character to buy and use
  • Traits: A list of traits that your character can take
  • Abilities: A list of abilities that your character can take
  • Conditions: A list of conditions that can affect characters during play

These four appendices are just lists, so we expect to get editing on those done, knock on wood, before the end of October. That means that, Lord willing and the crick don’t rise, we’ll have the playtest rules edited and rewritten before our Feb. 28, 2021 deadline.

That’s it for now. Talk to you next week!

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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