Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Resolve (and Spirit)

This is the first post in a series on the stress subsystems of what I'm still calling Project Tarragon Oubliette.
This post details the Resolve and Spirit pools, what they are (miiiind hit points!), what they do (stuff!) and how to use them.
The next post should have the Delirium and Dementia table.
That should be followed by the dementia tables in a series of posts due the graphical capacities of my laptop being weak sauce.


Resolve is a measure of a character’s mental and emotional fortitude. It is a pool of points that are depleted when a character is subject to stress or converts their resolve into wyrd or psi to fuel certain abilities, such as spell casting and psychic powers.
Resolve is calculated by rolling a number of dice equal to a character’s level. This is usually done by adding a single dice roll to the pre-existing resolve pool when a character levels up. But some players, and GMs like to re-roll the entire pool every level, or in the case of some games, more often.
The number of sides the dice has is defined by their Wisdom score, limited by their origin, and further modified by their class.
Thus a character who rolls a d6 for resolve and gains +1 from their class would roll 1d6+1 per level.
Some GMs permit a starting character maximum resolve at first level. In the example above, such a character would have 7 resolve.

Resolve is typically used to activate and boost dice rolls, specifically saving throws, but can be used to increase other dice rolls at the discretion of the GM. It is also be converted into “magic points” to activate/power any unusual abilities.

  • Saving Throws: Every time a character has to make a saving throw they lose one resolve. Irrespective what the save is against. This is to simulate how general danger and struggle can wear at someone.
    • They can increase their roll by spending a point of resolve per +1 to the roll. This can be done after the roll has been made and represents the mental effort to overcome whatever effect the save was against. This is in addition to the resolve cost above.
      • Typically resolve can only boost saves against effects that influence the mental, spiritual or psychological aspects of a character. In [Tarragon Oubliette] this means saves versus Madness, Mystery, or Misfortune. In other games it would be Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma saves. Or whatever seems appropriate; Adding it to saves versus Breath Weapon would be weird, but not necessarily so against Paralysis.
      • Some GMs may insist that a character with sufficient resolve to boost a saving throw up to a success do so. This is perfectly fine in a horror setting. However I feel that should be the choice of the player, in other settings, with the repercussions of a failed saving throw being enough in themselves.. 
  • Boost Rolls: A point of resolve can be used to increase any one dice roll (GM’s discretion) by +1. As above.
  • “Magic Points”: Called Wyrd or Source in [Tarragon Oubliette], and including Psi if psychic powers are used. One point of resolve can be converted into one point of another at a rate of 1 per second/segment (adjust to your system).
    • Wyrd/Source (they’re essentially different names for the same thing; could also be called “essence”, “mana” or anything else similar) is spent to activate/fuel supernatural abilities. It can also be used to cast memorised spells. Instead of forgetting a spell when it is cast a number of points of wyrd equal to the level of the spell are spent to retain the spell. However many, if not most, characters lack inherent wyrd (naturally having zero wyrd)or have actual “wyrd debts” (negative wyrd) that must be overcome. This is where resolve comes in. Characters without wyrd based abilities/spellcasting can’t access or use them. Spent wyrd points are lost and a character’s wyrd reserves reset to their natural levels at the beginning of the game day.
    • Psi points are used to activate psychic/mystic abilities and powers. This whole thing is optional and still a work in progress. 

Resolve is also lost due to injury; when a character is injured they lose an amount of resolve equal to the wound penalty, which is related to the degree of injury. This resolve cannot be recovered until the injury is healed.
Resolve can also be lost as damage due Psychic or Spiritual attacks. Or rather and resolve loss caused from outside a character (such as the point lost from rolling a saving throw or from some other source) is classified as psychic or spiritual damage.
As an example: A spell that causes fear would, instead of just causing a fear effect, roll a number of dice the total of which would be applied as psychic/spiritual damage. Characters afflicted by the spell would lose resolve up to that amount, in much the same way they’d lose stamina/hit points from other attacks.
Resolve never drops below zero. If it would go below zero for any reason then the excess is applied as damage to Spirit (see below)and/or is added to a roll on the Delirium and Dementia table.

Spirit (Optional).

Spirit gives an upper limit to the amount of psychic and spiritual damage a character can take. Without it a character can just keep taking damage to their resolve, make low rolls on the Delirium and Dementia table below and keep on going endlessly. From certain perspectives this can be seen as a good simulation of mental health; it is certainly hard in reality to judge when someone will break mentally or emotionally. However from a gameplay perspective this removes player agency as they can’t judge their breaking point accurately.
Spirit equals the totals of character’s Intelligence and Wisdom attribute scores. Additionally, if you don’t want a static spirit score, add the resolve bonus from class per level.
Spirit has all the same functions as resolve but can’t be used to boost rolls or be converted into magic points. Instead all spiritual or psychic damage depletes spirit.
When Spirit reaches zero a character’s soul dissolves into a number of fragments equal to their maximum Spirit score and are lost, dead forever, unless the character is bound to a Spirit Womb, Familiar, Soul-Cist or similar. Their body, if it still retains Vitality, is an empty catatonic husk ripe to be taken over by any passing disembodied spirits.

Recovering Resolve and Spirit.

Resolve is recovered at 1 point per 10 minutes rest. However Stamina cannot be regained at the same time. Furthermore:

  • It can also be restored to full after a good night’s sleep (of roughly 6 to 8 hours, which don’t need to be consecutive) in a comfortable bed, or after a night sleeping rough following a day without stress (a day when no resolve is lost)
  • A night’s rough sleeping, after a day of adventuring; or a night spent carousing will restore half a character’s resolve.
  • Every time a player rolls a maxed die their character regains 1 point of resolve or spirit.
  • Whenever a character defeats a foe in battle they regain a number of points of resolve equal to that foe’s level or Hit Dice.

Spirit is recovered at one point per hour. This is irrespective of activity.
Just as resolve recovery is capped by penalties from injuries, spirit recovery is capped by penalties from dementia. As long as they are suffering from dementia a character cannot recover their full spirit.

  • For example, if a character with a maximum of 21 Spirit is suffering from dementia with a total score of 6, their Spirit would be capped at 15 until they recover.

This ‘spiritual weakness’ could, in some settings, open the character up to possession and other afflictions similar to katochic and melancholic dementia.

Next post on this topic will be on the Delirium and Dementia table.

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