|playing the game.
traits and aptitude.
Any Mnemonic character is free to attempt to do anything the player wishes. Your ref may disallow some actions, ruling, for example, that only those with a special gift may cast magical spells. Similarly, normal humans shouldn’t be able to fly unless there’s something very unusual about the setting or the character. If such actions are attempted the ref can rule that they fail automatically.
However, there’s nothing to stop characters from trying. Except in those cases where the ref simply rules an action impossible, most of which should be fairly predictable, success or failure will be determined primarily by the character’s Talents and Life Roles. The exact Talents and Roles that are used in any particular action are chosen by the ref. A randomizing factor is also used, to represent the effect of pure luck and circumstance; the default randomizer is a 12-sided die, but there are several other choices.
When you want to have your character do something let the ref know. After you’ve described the action the ref will choose two traits, usually a Talent and a Life Role, that she believes are most relevant to the action you’re attempting. These two traits will tell you how likely the character is to succeed, based solely on his own attributes.
When the ref tells you which Talent and Role to use, check the ratings for each of these traits. Remember those numbers that were listed with the rating levels, +0 through +6? Those become important now. Add the number values for the ratings you have in the Talent and the Life Role that are being used. The result is a number between 0 and 12, the character’s Aptitude for the attempted action. Aptitude is a numerical representation of how talented and skilled the character is at whatever he’s trying to do.
Example: Deputy Thomas is trying to break up a fight between two inmates at the jail. The tougher prisoner throws his opponent against a wall and turns on Andrea, who draws her baton and tries to immobilize him by striking a pressure point. Her most relevant Role is Martial Artist, which is rated as Fairly Skilled and is thus worth +4. The most appropriate Talent for such an action is Dangerous; Andrea is rated as Very Dangerous, which is worth +5. Adding both Rating numbers we find that she has an Aptitude of +9 for her attempt to subdue the rampaging prisoner.
Sometimes the ref will choose not to use a Role to determine Aptitude. If this happens he will explain how to calculate Aptitude using the Primary Role.
A character’s Aptitude at a task is only part of what determines his success or failure. Actions can be inherently more or less difficult, such as the differences between climbing a smooth wall or a craggy one, or fighting an experienced opponent vs. fighting an unskilled one. The likelihood of success can be affected by other factors, such as whether or not the character is injured, lighting conditions, the character’s attitude, and so forth. Anything which has an effect, positive or negative, modifies the acting character’s Chances.
Chances means exactly what you would expect it to; how likely it is that the character will successfully accomplish the task he is attempting. In Mnemonic, Chances are rated in one of seven categories:
The mnemonic device for Chances is, “Three Bad People Mauled Four Good Guys.”
Your ref will select Chances rating for the actions your character attempts. When he does, he’ll consider your character’s Primary Role and the Life Role you’re using to calculate your Aptitude, as well as any other factors that would have an effect. The ref may or may not tell you what your character’s Chances are to succeed at a given action, depending on how well informed the character is about his situation.
To find out whether an attempted action is successful or not, you need to conduct a Success Check. The method discussed here is the default Mnemonic resolution mechanic; other techniques are provided in the Referee’s section.
When required to make a Success Check, roll a 12-sided die (or d12) and subtract the roll from your character’s Aptitude. Tell the ref the result. He will add or subtract a modifier, based on your character’s Chances, to determine if the action succeeds or fails. The ref will then describe the results of the attempted action based on your character’s perceptions.
Status is used to track a character’s condition as he is injured, sickened, or fatigued. This is an optional rule, as some gaming groups de-emphasize combat and physical challenges to the point that tracking Status is unnecessary. For many others, though, it is helpful for providing a bit of structure in assessing characters’ health.
The main distinction in Status is between characters who are capable of taking actions and those who are not. Characters who are totally incapacitated by their injuries, who are unconscious, or who are dead, obviously are incapable of affecting their surroundings. While there are certainly distinctions between different types of inactivity, as far as the rules are concerned the characters are simply “out of the action.” True, some won’t be getting back into the action any time some (or ever), but as far as Status is concerned they are simply considered inactive.
Active characters are those who, to a greater or lesser degree, still have the capacity to take actions. They are at one of the 6 levels of Status, listed below:
Fading: The character is on the verge of passing out, being overwhelmed by pain and shock, or even dying. With a little discipline he should be able to speak coherently (more or less), but even crawling across the floor or pressing a few buttons will require a major act of willpower.
Reeling: The character is still on his feet, but probably shouldn’t be. This Status denotes one or two major injuries or a great amount of general damage. It’s a struggle to get up and perform even simple tasks.
Battered: The character has been pounded on. A Battered character typically has a couple of fairly serious injuries or a large number of minor ones. Concentrating on tasks requires substantial effort.
Hurt: The character is in pain. It’s bad enough to prove distracting, but most normal tasks are still possible. Think of a bad bruise or shallow cut.
Staggered: A Staggered character has been hurt, but only mildly. This is similar to having the wind knocked out of you, or feeling a brief wave of dizziness or pain
Fine: The default Status. A Fine character is not suffering the effects of any notable wounds.
The mnemonic device for remembering Status Levels is; “Foxes Run Between Huge Smoking Fires.”
When your character is injured, the ref will let you know what Status the character is at. Afterward, he may ask you to remind him of the character’s Status, so that he can better rate the difficulty of actions the character is attempting. Your referee will also inform you of changes in Status, as characters who are given a chance to recuperate return to Fine Status. When the injuries suffered were of a temporary nature this recovery will be quite rapid, as in the case of a fistfight. At other times healing is much slower, as when the character has suffered life-threatening wounds.
If you’re going to be a Mnemonic player, you’re ready to go. Just check with your ref to see if he’s using any optional rules you need to know about, then find out how he wants you to go about making a character. Once you’ve done so you’re ready to play. If you’re going to ref Mnemonic, you’ve still got a bit of work to do. Read the Referee’s Guide to find out what goes into running a game.