Author’s Diary for November 13, 2020

Author’s Diary - Update the Week of November 13, 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’re still working on Covenant’s playtest rules, in particular the game’s basic rules. Find out more below the fold.

Here’s what we did this week

  • What we’ve done this week
  • Why we’re spending so much time on the Basics of Play chapter
  • Our progress on the playtest rules
  • How to become a playtester

Remember, if you want updates every weekday, instead of just Wednesdays, become a patron! It only costs $1 a month! You’ll get early access to the playtest rules and the ability to comment on them as we write them!


We are still working on Chapter 3, Basics of Play this week. We’ll explain why below. Anyway, here’s what we got done this week:

  • Damage: Your character has free discipline. If your character takes damage, it goes into one of three groups: scene damage (heals automatically, or recharges, at the end of every scene), chapter damage (recharges the end of every chapter), and long-term damage (recharges only under special circumstances, like after your character completes a side quest).
  • Incapacitation: If your character runs out of free discipline, xi is either disabled (reduced to 0 free discipline by scene damage, wakes up at the end of the scene) or devastated (reduced to 0 free discipline by chapter or long-term damage, must be healed before the end of the scene or xi is permanently removed from the game).
  • Conditions: Conditions impose negative or positive effects on your character for more than one bid. Conditions that damage your character’s discipline are also called drains.
  • Complications: Complications impose temporary negative effects on your character or an item if they are triggered by certain circumstances.
  • Traits and Abilities: Traits each give your character an advantage on your current bid or impose a disadvantage on your opponent’s bids. Your character’s items are treated as traits, and your character can use xir ties as traits as well. Your character can also have traits called goals; xi can either accomplish a goal and gain a reward or fail to accomplish it and lose xir stake in the goal. Abilities are special skills or talents. You use traits and abilities either by tapping them (recharges at the start of your character’s next turn in the scene), expending them (recharging them at the end of the scene), exhausting them (recharging them at the end of the chapter) or destroying them (what it sounds like).
  • Character Movement: Scenes are separated into areas. Characters in these areas can hit everyone in the same area with close attacks. Areas also allow your to calculate the range of ranged attacks, which target single characters, and area attacks, which target everyone in a single area. This section also has rules for determining line-of-sight rules for ranged and area attacks.
  • Modifying Bids: This section lets you make bids more easily, add effects to them, or fail forward if all else, well, fails. We’re still working on this. Here’s what we have done far.
    • Stunts: Impose 1 disadvantage on a bid per stunt to make it more effective or add beneficial effects.
    • Shortcuts: Make a bid less effective or add negative effects to add 1 advantage per shortcut.


We’ve spent two weeks on this chapter, and expect to spend more on it.

The reason’s simple. Covenant is a diceless game in a genre full of dice-throwing games. We had to come up with a lot of mechanics from scratch to make it work.

Because of this, we decided that we had to spend more time on explaining the game’s basic rules as clearly as possible. Yes, Covenant has a steep learning curve. Once the players and the Force Majeure has those basics, though, we think it’ll be worth the time they spend in this chapter.


We’ve been writing an average of just under four pages a day. We really don’t know how long the rules will be anymore, but we can say this: the Basics of Play chapter will be the longest chapter in the game by far. Once we finish that, everything will go a lot faster.

Long story short: we have a deadline of Feb. 28, 2021 for the playtest rules, and we think we’ll make it.


Do you want to become a playtester? Just drop us a line at, and we’ll put you on the list when the rules are finished at the end of February.

That’s about 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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