IntroductionIt should be stressed that Intrigue in the Clouds is not a combat- or action-based game and the rules mechanics reflect this. Much of the game can be played without reference to these rules and without the need to involve a referee. The mechanics cover areas where the players cannot easily roleplay the situation (eg combat). If you need any clarification, please see a referee.
The mechanics covered are:
If you are used to my games, please note that the mechanics for Intrigue in the Clouds are quite different from those that I typically use in my games.
Skill RollsTo use any skill in the game, you simply roll 3d6 and add their sum to your skill value (some special abilities do not have a skill value, so you simply roll 3d6). You will succeed if your total (roll + skill value) is equal to or greater than the Target Number. This may be a fixed number or a roll + skill value from another character.
Dice will be provided, along with handy containers for rolling them in.
Character BadgesCharacter Badges are an important part of the game. Any player who is currently in game must wear their badge. This has the following information:
NameThe name on the character badge is the name that the character goes by in the game. This is not necessarily their real name.
Character NumberEach Character Badge will have a unique number, which is displayed in the top right hand corner of the badge. This is part of the Perception Envelope system.
Perception EnvelopesAll characters have Perception Envelopes. These are sealed envelopes which contain information about your character that other characters may notice. Please do not open your Perception Envelopes or read the contents of your own Perception Envelopes.
All characters also have the Perception Skill. This enables your character to notice things about other characters. Different characters may notice different things, depending on their individual skills and special abilities. If you wish to use the Perception Skill on a character, go up to the character and start a conversation or stand nearby and closely observe the character for a while. After a minute or two, tell that player that you are making a Perception Check against the character. Roll your dice, add your Perception Skill and tell the player your total.
Most characters will have several Perception Envelopes. Each will have one or more Character Numbers and a Target Number on them, along with a clear instruction (eg "Give to ALL with a Roll of 16 or more" or "Give to Character 12, 20 or 32, if they Roll 14 or more"). The character must give you any envelope that has your Character Number (as shown on your Character Badge) on it or is marked “ALL”, provided that you have matched or exceeded the Target Number given on the envelope.
In the example above, if you are Character Number 15 and roll 18, you will be given the Perception Envelope marked "Give to ALL with a Roll of 16 or more" but not the other Perception Envelope. If you had been Character Number 12 and had rolled 18, you would have received both Perception Envelopes. If you had rolled 13, you would not have received either Perception Envelope, regardless of your Character Number.
When you are given a Perception Envelope, read the contents, but then return them to the Perception Envelope and give it back to the player. If you have learned some shocking information, please remember to roleplay and react appropriately. Some Perception Envelopes may give you directions which you must follow.
If you make a Perception Check against a character, you may not make another against that same character for 15 minutes.
Contingency EnvelopesSome characters will have Contingency Envelopes. These are sealed envelopes which are only to be opened when the condition on the front of them is met. Some will say things such as "Open at nine o'clock" or "Open if shot". You are on your honour only to open them if the condition is met.
However, most envelopes will be conditional on you meeting another character. In this case, only open them if you meet or talk to the character whose Character Number is given on the envelope. Again, the condition will be clearly stated. For example, "Open if you see character 53" is different from "Open if you talk to character 53".
As before, you are on your honour only to open them if the condition is met. Please don't go around trying to find a particular character at the start of the game just because you have an envelope with their number on it. This is not playing the game! However, if the game is well progressed, you find yourself at a loose end and you still have envelopes that say "Open if you meet/talk to/see character xxx" then it might be an idea to make an effort to find them.
LanguagesEvery player in the game speaks English, unless they are told otherwise. If you know another language, you will have an ability card. When speaking in that language, you must hold up that card. Only people who also understand that language may approach you to hear what you are saying.
Other Skills and Special AbilitiesAll other skills not mentioned here are Special Abilities. If you have a particular skill, it will be specifically mentioned on your character sheet, which will include a description of what you can do and how you go about doing it. Most skills will be dealt with off-line, ie see a referee. There are no skills such as "eavesdropping" - if you want to sneak up on somebody and listen to what they're saying, then you'll just have to sneak up on them (although if you can't speak the language they are using, you are on your honour to ignore what you hear).
If you think your character would be able to do something that isn't on your character sheet, see a referee. Don't assume that just because a skill's not on your character sheet that you can't do it. Referees rarely think of everything beforehand. On the other hand, don't keep pestering the referees with speculative requests. If you do, you'll soon find their sympathy wearing very thin...
Combat rulesEventually someone may want to attack another person. If so, this is where the combat rules come in. Please note: at no time may you actually touch another character. While it is preferable to have a referee present, players can engage in combat without the presence of a referee. However, please inform a referee of the results immediately afterwards.
Statistics (Stats)Each character has a number of statistics which determine how well they fare in combat. These are:
A typical character will have a Stamina Stat of between five and seven. All characters start with the same number of wounds as their Stamina Stat.
Starting CombatTo start a combat, point at the character, or characters, your character is attacking, and shout "Combat" in a loud voice. Then count slowly down from three and shout "start" (ie "three, two, one, START!"). When you shout "Start", anyone in the reasonable vicinity can declare that they are part of the combat, unless it is agreed that you have surprised your target(s), in which case only you and your target(s) may take part. At this point, you, your target(s) and any other characters who have declared that they are part of the combat are in combat. No-one else may join the combat until it has been resolved, unless a referee rules otherwise (eg, if a combat is taking a very long time, then the referee may rule that other characters in the room can become involved. Also, certain special abilities may allow your character to become involved in an on-going combat).
You should then resolve the combat using these rules before playing out the result. Once you have played out the result, other characters may become involved again.
InitiativeEach character gets to act once each turn. In the very first round of combat, the character who started the combat goes first. After that, all characters act in the order of their Combat stat, highest to lowest. Ties act simultaneously. A character can choose to “hold” their action until a later time.
In all subsequent rounds of combat, all characters go in order of their Combat Stat, highest to lowest.
SurpriseIf a character attacks with surprise, +3 is added to the Attacker's Combat Stat for the first turn of combat. The character who was surprised does not get an action during this first turn. The surprised character is the judge of whether he or she is surprised.
Combat ActionsFor their Action, a character may do one of the following:
Attacking: The Attacker rolls 3d6 and adds their Combat Stat. If the total is greater than the Target’s Combat Stat + 10, the attack succeeds.
Grabbing: A character can attempt to grab another. This is resolved in the same way as an Attack, only the Target Number is increased by 1 (ie add +11, not +10, to the Target's Combat Stat). If the Attack is successful, the Target has been grabbed and is considered to be Held. Both the Attacker and the Target are immediately at half their Combat Stat (round up) until the Target is Released.
Once a Target is Held, the Target cannot take any further Actions that turn. No damage is done to the Target that turn.
Squeeze, Throw or Release: If a character starts a Turn Holding a character, they may Squeeze the Target, doing half their Strength Stat in Damage, or Throw the Target, doing their Strength Stat in Damage. If thrown, the Target is considered to have been released at the start of the next turn. If squeezed, a Target starts the next turn Held unless the Target successfully breaks free. Alternatively, the Attacker may Release the Held character, in which case the character is considered to have been released at the start of the next turn.
Break Free: A Held Character can attempt no action other than Breaking Free or Screaming in Terror. If the character tries to break free, both the Attacker and the Character being held must roll 3d6 and add their Strength Stat. If the Held Character’s total exceeds the Attacker's total, the Held Character breaks free and is free to take any Action at the start of the next Turn.
Defensive Action: A character who is taking a Defensive Action adds +3 to their Combat Stat, which makes them more difficult to hit (ie it raises any Attacker’s Target Number).
Screaming in Terror: Technically, a character screaming in terror gains no advantage for doing so. However, at the referee's discretion, a bonus of up to +3 may be added to the character's Combat Stat if they are attacked (after all, someone screaming at the top of their voice can be very off-putting).
Escaping CombatA character can attempt to escape a combat. To escape a character must first succeed in two consecutive Defensive Actions (that is, avoid being hit for two turns) and then beat their attacker with a 3d6 + Combat roll vs their attacker’s 3d6 + Combat. This roll is made at the end of the second consecutive turn. The character has now escaped the combat and may not rejoin it until it has been resolved.
Multiple AttackersMultiple characters (up to four) can gang up and help either side of a combat. A single Attack or Grab is made for each group of characters using the Combat Stat of the character with the best Combat Stat. Each character (whose Combat Stat is at least half of that of the best) adds +1 to the roll. This means that someone who is really good at combat will not be helped by someone who is really poor.
Alternatively, each character can declare their own Combat Action
Doing DamageEach successful Attack does a fixed amount of damage. Hand-to-Hand attacks do the Attacker's Strength Stat in damage. If the Attacker is using a weapon, then the weapon's Item Card will state the amount of damage done. Typically, weapons do three to six points of damage.
Note that this applies to any weapon. Guns are treated in exactly the same way as an other combat (since the game takes place on an Airship, it is assumed that everyone will be close enough to be in hand-to-hand combat, even if using a gun).
Taking DamageIf a Character takes greater than half the Character's Stamina Stat in damage from a single attack, the character is Knocked Out. If the total damage taken by a Character during a combat exceeds the Stamina Stat, the character is also Knocked Out.
Knocked Out Characters can be awakened with a Medicine roll of 14 or more. Otherwise they will recover 5 minutes after the combat ends. In the meantime, the victor can have his or her way with them (search them, rob them, slit their throats…).
On awakening, characters have their Stamina reduced by their number of wounds. One Wound is taken for each point of damage taken in the combat in excess of their Stamina Stat. Mark off Wounds on the appropriate part of the Character Card. When all of the Wounds are marked off, the character is dead.
For example, ScarFace, a well-known American businessman, has a Stamina Stat of five. He takes two points of damage in the first turn of combat. This is less than half his Stamina Stat, so he isn't knocked out. Had he taken three points of damage (in a single attack), then he would have been knocked out.
In the next turn, ScarFace takes five further points of damage from a single attack, making a total of seven. Since this exceeds both half his Stamina Stat is a single attack and the total exceeds his Stamina Stat, he is knocked out. Furthermore, when he comes around, he has two wounds (total of seven damage minus five Stamina).
Mental CombatNo character can attack with Mental Combat unless they have a Special Ability that permits them to do so. Unless the Special Ability states otherwise, Mental Combat requires no movement and is not noticeable by anyone. There is therefore no need to declare combat in the manner described above. Simply take the target character to one side, resolve the outcome of the combat using these rules and then roleplay the outcome.
An attack in Mental Combat is resolved in exactly the same way as an Attack in ordinary combat except that the Mind Stat is substituted for the Combat Stat (although in some cases, there is a set Target Number as opposed to using the Target's Mind Stat). Some Mental Combat skills cause damage as normal, but others can have more subtle effects when an Attack is successful. Each Mental Combat ability will have a description which explains both the details of the ability and its outcome.
Many mental powers will not even be noticed by the Target regardless of whether they succeed or fail. If the attack fails and has not been noticed, the characters should carry on roleplaying as though the conflict had never occurred. If it succeeds, then the outcome, if any, should be roleplayed. However, some Special Abilities have no noticeable effect even if successful.
For example, while talking to Lady Rich, the Amazing Krockin hands her a Special Ability Card. The card states that if he succeeds in a Mental “attack” then he will be able to read her mind without her realising. Krockin succeeds in his roll against Lady Rich’s Mind +10 and he asks her to tell him the combination to her safe. She tells him and then continues to roleplay as though the exchange had never occurred.
Mixing Mental and Normal CombatIn general, the Mental Combat special abilities are subtle and one-off. However, some of them are more violent and obvious. These are treated as normal combat attacks and mental and normal combat can be mixed using the normal combat rules. Certain mental combat abilities cannot be used during normal combat (it will usually say so in the description, but common sense also comes into play: if in doubt, consult a referee prior to using the ability in combat).
When using a mental combat ability in a normal combat, the Attacker determines initiative using the Mental Stat instead of the Combat Stat and then declares and carries out Actions in the normal way. If the Attacker is using an obvious mental attack (again, use common sense or consult a referee), then the Attacker must declare combat in the normal way.
For example, ScarFace has pulled a knife on the Amazing Krockin, a move the Amazing Krockin was expecting, so there is no surprise. ScarFace declares combat and counts down from three. No-one else cares to step in, so it's just the two of them. Since ScarFace initiated the combat, he goes first and delcares his intention to stab the Amazing Krockin, who decides to Dodge. The combat is resolved normally and ScarFace misses.
For the second Turn, initiative must be determined. ScarFace has a Combat Stat of two, but the Amazing Krockin has an amazing Mind Stat of three, so he declares first. He uses his Energy Bolt special ability to attack. ScarFace, who had been going to attempt to stab the annoying magician again, doesn't like the sound of this, so he attempts to dodge (a defensive action). Normally, it's not possible to dodge a mental attack, but since this attack does actual physical damage, the referee allows ScarFace his +3 bonus for dodging.
The Amazing Krockin rolls, adding his Mind Stat and subtracting three for ScarFace's dodge. He needs to exceed a fixed Target Number of 16, but only totals 15. A blast of pure energy sizzles past ScarFace! For the next Turn, the same happens again: the Amazing Krockin declares first and goes for the Energy Bolt, while ScarFace goes for the dodge. As before, the Energy Bolt misses. ScarFace has now successfully avoided being hit for two consecutive turns, so he decides to attempt an escape.
ScarFace must beat the Amazing Krockin with a roll, adding his Combat Stat against a roll from the Amazing Krockin, who also adds his Combat Stat. Fortunately for ScarFace, he succeeds and runs away.
The combat is now over and the two players quickly agree a version of events which they describe to the other characters who watched the combat. ScarFace's player acts out pulling his knife on the Amazing Krockin, missing with his first slash of the knife and then dodging a couple of Energy Bolts, while the Amazing Krockin's player provides a sound-track of "Take That!" and "Run, you cowering fool!".