Each player should come up with a name, concept, the reason they were drawn to the Last City, and the goal they are willing to die for.
Grundar Olafson, a Viking Berserker seeking revenge for the death of his family in a tragic accident. Grundar has spent countless lifetimes stalking Death, waiting for the moment when he might be able to destroy him - Grundar is willing to die for the opportunity to face Death in one on one in combat.
Next, the player should come up with three epic exploits they performed on their way to the Last City.
Grundar Olafson single-handedly bested the dragon Sigflandadorn to gain access to the stream that grants eternal life to those who drink its water and survive. Sigflandadorn was not destroyed, and has been tracking Grundar ever since. Until the end of days, Grundar was known as Grundar the Eternal Warrior.
From this example, we pull a few facts:
* An adversary, Sigflandadorn the dragon
* Grundar has a Skin: ‘The Eternal Warrior’
* Grundar drank of the water of life and survived
* Grundar has bested a dragon in mortal combat
The first fact provides a useful adversary or flaw for the GM to use. The second fact is special: As a Skin, it can be pushed harder than other facts in accomplishing goals, and possibly lost if pushed too far (over the Edge). The last two facts can be pushed to gain a slight advantage in GM-approved situations. For example, Grundar will be more effective against other dragons the gang of heroes encounter, and might heal quickly from wounds not delivered by Death itself.
Every player starts with a pool of six dice. This represents their life and their ability to do things. It can go down by losing a roll.
The players determine how invested in a roll they will be. After the GM declares the number of successes needed (for an unopposed roll) or the number of dice he will be using (for a contest with Death) the players respond with the number of dice they will be using individually. Each involved player character must win independent of the group. Dice can be used to assist another character, but those dice cannot be reassigned. Success on an unopposed roll gains the player a single die, added to their pool. Failure, similarly, causes the loss of one die. For Contests with Death, the stakes are higher. Failure results in the loss of half (round up) of the dice rolled. Success results in the gain of half the dice rolled.
Special rule: Overkill. If one party (either a PC or the GM) has more than double the successes of the opposing party, all the dice rolled are lost, and the winning party gains half (round up) the number of dice rolled. Any dice gained in this fashion are D10s.
Doing Things (unopposed rolls)
Not every roll must be a direct contest with Death. For a simpler and quicker resolution, the GM can declare a target number of successes that the player will need to match to succeed. The GM is the best gauge of these values - if the players are routinely failing Easy and Moderate challenges, it may make sense to throw some softballs to the players. Conversely, if the players start mocking the ease of the challenges, it is time to ramp up the difficulty. Given that caveat, a good starting scale for challenges would be:
* Trivial (1 success)
* Easy (3 successes)
* Moderate (5)
* Difficult (7)
* Heroic (9)
* Epic (11)
* ... and so on.
Contests with Death
Dice can only be used once per round, with a round defined as every party having one action. There can be multiple parties on Death’s side, but it should be kept cinematic - a mob of thirty (or three hundred) cultists should be one party; individually, the cultists are of no consequence. To keep things moving, Death should have no more parties than the PC group. This isn’t a hard rule, just a suggestion. Order of action is determined by having each party roll a D10 + Power (number of dice in pool). Lowest goes first, highest goes last.
Grundar Olafson, Viking Warchief
Grundar Olafson is a Viking Warchief seeking revenge for the death of his family and tribe in a tragic accident. Grundar has spent countless lifetimes stalking Death, waiting for the moment when he might be able to destroy him. Grundar is willing to die for the opportunity to face Death in one on one in combat.
Grundar Olafson single-handedly bested the dragon Sigflandadorn to drink from the stream who’s water grants eternal life to those who survive the experience. Sigflandadorn was not destroyed, and has been tracking Grundar ever since. Until the end of days, Grundar was known as Grundar, the Eternal Warrior.
Grundar Olafson led an army of one thousand warriors to victory against the million strong Nazi horde led by Grand General Otto von Klaus of the Thousand Year Reich. The victory cost him his left hand, but earned him the name Grundar, the Iron General.
Kaltax Keeton, Martian Alchemist
Kaltax Keeton is a Martian Alchemist seeking redemption for his role as a priest of Death in the decadent, declining Martian empire. He is willing to die for the chance to make Death answer for his crimes against Mars and Earth.
Kaltax Keeton acted as Death’s avatar on Earth sixty five million years before the rise of humanity. It was his arcane magics that summoned the meteor that decimated life on the planet at the time, including the dinosaurs. From that point on, Keeton was haunted by his crimes, and by the name Keeton, Bane of Life.
Kaltax Keeton forsook Death, fighting to keep his dark influence from completely overwhelming Earth. He turned his back on Mars, and for that he gained the enmity of his people, who ever after sought to destroy him and all he loved. Those on Earth who knew of his secret war gave him the name Keeton, the Glorious Benefactor.
Abraham Lincoln Mark IV, War Machine
Cloned from illicit DNA stolen from a historical figure, Abraham Lincoln Mark IV is a war machine of the great Kandian Empire, circa Earth, 10,093 AD. After breaking his indoctrination, he seeks freedom for himself and others. He is willing to die to gain the greatest freedom for the living, freedom from Death.
Abraham Lincoln Mark IV led the great revolt against his Kandian masters; destroying thousands of fellow war machines, freeing the human remnants of the empire, and causing the empire the be conquered by neighboring nations. Until the end of his days, he was hunted by rogue war machines, primarily Abraham Lincoln Mark III. For this act of treachery Abraham Lincoln Mark IV was known as the Kinslayer.
Abraham Lincoln Mark IV, wanting to understand himself better, devised a time travel machine that he used to meet his namesake. This did not turn out as Abe Mark IV intended, as the original Abraham Lincoln was shocked and stunned by the stories his future iterations told. Abraham Lincoln Mark IV was ashamed of himself and what he represented to his progenitor, and for that, gave himself the name Abraham Lincoln Mark IV, the Paradox.
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