Prototype Play Test Release 3 – Spells of Life and How to Learn Spells

This is the third in the prototype series, working toward the creation of a Magic system for use with All Us Gamers and specifically for the Adventure Cycle.

The first article in the series lays the foundation.

As with all the prototype pieces, this is unlikely to be the final form of these rules. So when the magic plugin for the adventure cycle is released much of this will probably have changed. This is just the current direction that development is taking. Play tester feedback may change it. Your feedback may change it.

This part has been slowed down by various events related to the pandemic, so its slightly cut down from the original intent. We’ll try and get expanded spell collections out later but there are still some important pieces of the magic system yet to come.

To recap the general structure of magic, it revolves around sorcery specialisations. Each specialisation is needed for a small set of spells. Each spell can have a number of ways to be cast, each with differing complexity. Spells can also combine with other spells to achieve additionalforms of casting. The specialisation provides aptitude for the casting of the spells that belong to it. The sorcery profession provides aptitude to the casting of any spell.

This prototype introduces how a character goes about learning spells.

Learning spells involves getting an “inkling” about a spell, followed by study or training and building your own spell scroll, or tome pages. Your writing can be useful when casting spells or when correcting memorisation errors with the spell.

At character creation, if your character has any magical specialisations then you may choose one, and only one, appropriate spell to have learned already, with an appropriate parchment containing your spell notes.

For a spell, where you have at least 1 aptitude in the specialisation for that spell, then the process of learning a spell is summarised as follows:

  1. Gain an “inkling” about the spell
  2. Complete 10 points of “learning” for the spell.

After those two steps are complete you will then have mastered the spell and may begin casting it. After you have an “inkling” about a spell you may try to cast it but the difficulty is always +2 more than normal casting of the spell, and failure should produce serious spell backfires.

Getting an “Inkling”

The easiest method is to spend an episode with someone who knows the spell and is willing to teach it to you, or reading the notes from a sorcerer about a spell that they know.

Other ways to gain an inkling is through experiencing the spell being cast or finding “natural clues” to the spell. (see below).

Completing Spell Learning Points

Once an inkling is gained the sorcerer must write it down. If an episode was spent gaining the inkling then the writing occurs at that time. If the inkling is gained by experiencing the spell or by natural clues then an episode in the same session must be spent writing it down. Inklings take 1 page of a tome or the a half a scroll.

It then takes the accumulation of 10 learning points to gain the spell as a known spell. Each learning point can be gained in the same way as an inkling, an episode with a knowledgeable sorcerer, reading from a sorcerer’s tome or scrolls, or by having a study episode and writing notes after having experienced the spell in the field or finding further natural clues.


Clues are something a sorcerer gains in the field about spells, and then takes home to spend an episode incorporating it into their knowledge about a spell.

The first type of clue is when the sorcerer experiences a spell being cast. When this happens during an adventure a sorcerer notes down they have a clue for the spell.

The second type is natural phenomena that give clues to spells. Here the game master decides what such clues are, making them somewhat magical and related to specific spells. For example a clue for weather spells may be an outcrop of rock that is struck by lightning when the sorcerer is present. A clue for a spell of awareness may be an enchanted cocoa tree that grows in a dark grotto. Some clues may be encountered multiple times by the sorcerer, others may be more ephemeral.

Whatever the cause, when the sorcerer gets back to the village they may use an episode to write up an inkling or a learning point for the spells they have new clues for, doing some deliberation and mental exploration at the same time. No matter how many clues are encountered for a spell during a single adventure they only count as one when the sorcerer is writing her notes. The clues don’t carry forward, and more clues will need to be gained in the next adventure. If they are not written up they are lost. So a sorcerer should often retain an episode for after the adventure.

For example the rock being struck by lightning when a sorcerer is present gives them a clue, which they go home and write up. In subsequent adventures they may visit the same rock and take note of the landscape, or the weather that day, returning home with yet another clue. And so on.

Episodes with another Sorcerer

Most sorcerers charge the equivalent of 1 gold crown (100 pennies) per episode spent learning from them. Estimate other costs for learning tools accordingly. e.g. A complete set of scrolls about a spell represents about 10 gold crowns worth of learning. However because of their reusable nature they will probably fetch at least twice that when sold privately, five times that when sold publicly.

Spell Casting Failures

When a spell casting is failed with a Miserable Failure or Disaster result then there are some negative impacts for the spell caster. To determine the impact make a Spell Failure Save.

Spell Failure Save. Difficulty based on level of spell failure : Mis = DN 12, Dis = DN 14. Use mentality. Results:

I – Immune to spell cast failure effects for this spell during the rest of this session.

X – no effect.

S – Spell misremembered and unusable. 1 learning point must be achieved to re-learn this spell.

F – Spell misremembered and unusable. 2 learning points must be achieved to re-learn this spell.

M – Spell misremembered and unusable. 4 learning points must be achieved to re-learn this spell.

D – Spell misremembered and unusable. 6 learning point must be achieved to re-learn this spell. Additionally there is a spell backfire


Backfire applies the spell effects to the caster, or to targets the caster would not want to effect, at the game master’s discretion. If focus is possible then the backfire forces focus. The duration, unless otherwise broken, will be random d20/2 moments and the spell caster cannot release the focus for that time.

Struggles may still be used to cancel or take over the backfired spell. The sorcerer who cast the spell cannot avoid struggling to keep the backfire going, but is not required to use focus on the struggle. An ally may choose to take over the back fire via a struggle just so they may dismiss it.

Spells Marked “No Save”

Many spells are marked as “No Save”. This means, if unopposed in a struggle, they affect the target as described. Magical struggles can still be used to oppose such spells.

Spells That Require Touch

Some spells are cast to effect a target that must be touched by the caster. Some spells allow touch to be a choice when cast, touch always being less complex than distance casting.

A touch spell does not need to be immediately applied after casting. It can be held ready on the fingertips by allocating a focus to keep it active until the spell is dismissed or discharged. As usual the focus is not used up by this, but may only be applied to one spell casting at a time.

If the target is trying to avoid the touch then there is a physical struggle, with the touch landing only if the sorcerer gains an Advance. The sorcerer must maintain focus until that time. If the target gains an Advance then the spell breaks and the casting is lost.

Spells That Require Focus to Maintain Once Cast

Several spells can keep their effects going against a target only by the use of focus. If the spell is initiated by touch or at targets within line of sight then if the caster wishes to be able to maintain focus when the target is no longer in line of sight, the casting of the spell is +1 complexity. If the spell is not cast with extra complexity then the focus breaks when the target is out of line of sight.

Don’t forget that other sorcerers may detect a spell maintained by focus and start a struggle over the spell.

Specialisation: Life Spells

Life Spells are spells that alter or effect living things with corporeal bodies in some way that alters their biology.

Spell of Awareness

Casting: Magical Drowsiness

Complexity : 1 target = 1. 2-3 targets = 2. 4-6 targets = 3. 7 – 10 targets = 4. If all the targets are tired then reduce complexity by 1 (minimum 0).

Target : in line of sight.

Cast Time : 6 seconds.

Duration : as long as focus is maintained.

No save.

While the spell is in effect, any action by the target has the following effect applied to it:

  • the target may not voluntarily use focus.
  • After the results are determined, and the target has at least 1 focus available, then one focus is exhausted with no effect on the result.
  • After the results are determined, and the target has no focus available, then the target must re-roll all their success dice once, and determine if they remain successes or become failures, then recalculate the action outcome.

Casting : Enchanted Sleep

Complexity : 1 target = 1. 2-3 targets = 2. 4-6 targets = 3. 7 – 10 targets = 4. If all the targets are tired then reduce complexity by 1 (minimum 0). If all the targets are under a magical compulsion to be drowsy reduce the complexity by 2 instead (minimum 0).

Target : in line of sight at the beginning of the spell cast and for at least half the spell casting time.

Cast Time : 1 hour : normal complexity, 30 minutes : +1 complexity, 1 minute : +2 complexity, 6 seconds : +3 complexity.

Duration : 1 hour enchanted sleep, extended by maintaining focus even if the target is no longer in line of sight. After enchanted sleep ends target will naturally sleep for 3 hours longer.

No save.

When cast successfully the targets fall into an enchanted sleep. Beings in an Enchanted sleep must make a DN 14 save, worst of determination or health, to respond to being awakened by any normal means.

Casting : Magical Awaken

Complexity : 1 target = 1. 2-3 targets = 2. 4-6 targets = 3. 7 – 10 targets = 4. If any target is in Enchanted sleep and there is a sorcerer maintaining it with focus then a struggle must be used to try and break their spell and advance this one.

Target : in line of sight.

Cast time: 6 seconds.

Duration: immediate.

No save.

All targets come fully awake when the spell is cast successfully.

Casting : Alert

Complexity : 1 target = 1. 2-3 targets = 2. 4-6 targets = 3. 7 – 10 targets = 4. If none of the targets are tired then reduce complexity by 1.

Target : in line of sight.

Cast Time : 6 seconds.

Duration : as long as focus is maintained and target remains in line of sight.

No save.

Target has any exhausted focus restored when spell is cast. While the spell remains focused on them the target need not use focus to re-roll fail dice on a result of failure or success. This applies even if the target has no available focus. Focus is exhausted for use in other results as normal. Focus that becomes exhausted while this spell is in effect remains so until they are restored by some other means such as rest, or a new casting of this spell is applied.

Spell of Bodily Health

Neutralise Poison / Suspend animation / Fertile / Barren

Casting : Lay on Hands

Complexity :

Injury is Minor, Nasty, Painful or Serious : 1

Injury is Incapacitated or Critical : 2

Injury is Mortal : 3

Target : touch

Cast Time : 6 seconds.

Duration : immediate

No save.

Touch a person with an injury. When successfully cast that injury heals by 1 level and sets a new healing check time.

While the spell is being cast any normal healing check is put on hold. If the cast fails then the healing check is made as normal immediately. If the spell is a success the sorcerer may bring on the healing check immediately or have it deferred to the next check time.

Casting : Sting

Complexity : 1

Target : touch

Cast Time : 6 seconds.

Duration : Immediate on touching the target.

If the target is touched they immediately gain a Serious wound as if from a weapon. Armour has no effect.

Casting : Smite

Complexity : 2

Target : touch

Cast Time : 6 seconds.

Duration : Immediate on touching the target.

No Save

If the target is touched they immediately gain a Critical as if from a weapon. Armour has no effect.

Casting : Paralyse

Complexity : 3

Target : touch

Cast Time : 6 seconds.

Duration : Immediate on touching the target, then ongoing saves at intervals.

No Save

If the target is touched they are immediately paralysed. Armour has no effect. A paralysed character may not voluntarily move limbs or speak. They collapse to the ground and are helpless.

The caster may maintain focus to hold them in this state.

When there is no focus being applied then every minute the target may make a save with the worst of health or determination at DN 14. A success breaks the spell.

Casting : Stop Poison

Complexity : 2

Target : touch

Cast Time : 6 seconds.

Duration : Immediate on touching the target.

No Save

When cast on a being that is poisoned the poisoning immediately halts and the target is no longer poisoned. Any lasting effects of the poison up to this point remain and must be dealt with.

Spell of The Senses

These spells alter a targets ability to sense through one of the five senses (sight, sound, touch, taste, smell). The sense to effect must be nominated by the caster when the spell is cast.

Casting : Improve Sense

Complexity : 1

Target : touch, or Line of sight at +1 complexity.

Cast Time : 6 seconds.

Duration : Immediate and focus.

No Save

The target has +2 aptitude when performing an action that relies on the specified sense.

Casting : Diminish Sense

Complexity : 1

Target : touch, or Line of sight at +1 complexity.

Cast Time : 6 seconds.

Duration : Immediate and focus.

No Save

The target has -2 aptitude when performing an action that relies on the specified sense

Casting : Prohibit Sense

Complexity : 2

Target : touch, or Line of sight at +1 complexity.

Cast Time : 6 seconds.

Duration : Immediate and focus.

No Save

The target cannot use the specified sense at all.

Prototype Play Test Release 2 – Magical Struggles

This is a second in the prototype series, working toward the creation of a Magic system for use with All Us Gamers and specifically for the Adventure Cycle.

This prototype relies on The Inner Core rules, On Aptitude, The Book of Struggles, the injury system in the Combat Toolkit and the spell system from the previous prototype article.

As with the previous prototype chunk, this is unlikely to be the final form of these rules. When the magic plugin for the adventure cycle is released much of this will probably have changed. This is just the current direction that development is taking. Play tester feedback may change it.

Play testers, and a commenter on Facebook, have noted some appearance of complexity in the previous spells notes. Feedback is useful and is so noted. There is already a partially streamlined version and the visual chart in particular is undergoing some tidy up and enhancement to make the fairly simple step of working out a spell casting needed, and its cost, quite obvious with no mental gymnastics required. That will be re-published in a while.

On the To Do list:

0 complexity spells.

Spell Specialisations:

  • Imposition – Getting others to agree or be obedient by overcoming their Will.
  • Enchanting – imbuing things with magical properties and Will of their own.
  • Life – spells that alter or effect living things.
  • Transform – change living and material things to different forms.
  • Knowledge – spells about knowing and informing.
  • Force – spells of physical force to hold, lift, push, or break things.
  • Elemental Force – Manipulating, creating and dispersing elemental material.

Please send detailed feedback to, along with your full name as you would like it to appear on my acknowledgements list in the about page (

This release is about giving characters the ability to interfere with the casting of spells, and of spells that have been cast and are being maintained by focus. A sorcerer can detect spell casting and focus, and may attempt to take over the spell to either close it down or redirect it. Other sorcerers may join in the struggle over a spell to help out either side.

Detection of Spells

When a sorcerer is casting a spell, or actively managing a spell including using focus to sustain a spell, another sorcerer may detect the spell if all of the following apply:

  • the effect of the spell is, or will be, in line of sight of the detecting sorcerer.
  • the detecting sorcerer has at least 1 aptitude in the specialisation for the target spell, or 3 aptitude in the sorcery profession.
  • the detecting sorcerer has at least 1 available Willpower.

Effect of Detection

If there is currently no struggle over the spell, the detecting sorcerer may initiate one against the caster.

If there is a struggle in progress over the spell the detecting sorcerer may join in on one side or the other.

If the detecting sorcerer has no focus available then they don’t know the exact spell being cast, the target of the spell (if any), who is casting it, or their amount of available Willpower.

If one focus is available to the detecting sorcerer then they will know the spell and its target.

If two or more focus are available to the detecting sorcerer then they also know who the spell caster is and how much Willpower they have available.

Struggle Complications

During a magical struggle the complications have these effects:

Savage – a psychic punch – exhaust 3 Willpower as if required for a spell cast.

Painful – a psychic shove – exhaust 1 Willpower

Soft – miscalculate – DN +2 for 1 moment

Setback – fumble the powers – DN +2 for 3 moments

To continue participating in the struggle each moment a sorcerer must have either control of the spell or at least 1 available Willpower.

Pre-Cast struggle

A pre-cast struggle is when the struggle begins before the cast action is resolved. The struggle will be to go ahead with or prevent the spell, or to control the spell from the moment of casting.

If a pre-cast struggle begins within one minute of the time before the casting action is resolved, then the first struggle moment is at the time of the casting action, otherwise the struggle will run in six second moments.

Prior to the cast action itself an advance means either the caster may continue to attempt the cast or the opposition blocks the cast and it must be restarted if the caster still wants to cast the spell.

At the time of the cast, an advance by the caster means the spell is cast at the level of success the caster just achieved. An advance by the opposition means the caster must expend the base Willpower for the spell but the opposition may cancel the spell or take the spell over act as if they themselves had cast the spell. Only one person may be the caster.

If the struggle has not advanced at the moment of casting then the casting is delayed for a six second moment and the struggle goes another round.

If the caster runs out of the necessary base Willpower before the spell is cast, then the spell cast halts immediately with no effect.

Post-Cast Struggle

A post-cast struggle occurs after a spell has been successfully cast and before its effects cease to be actively managed due to spell duration or focus. The goal will be to maintain or take control of the effects of a spell in progress, or to shut the spell down.

The default struggle moment is 6 seconds.

On an advance by the sorcerer currently in control of the spell they may direct the spell behaviour. If they need available focus but have run out then the spell dissipates.

On an advance by the opponent then control of the spell changes hands and the opponent may direct spell behaviour. Again, if they need available focus but have run out then the spell dissipates.

If the struggle continues then the spell proceeds on autopilot, not directed by a sorcerer specifically. If the controlling sorcerer has run out of focus and it is needed to sustain the spell then the spell dissipates.

Recent Updates

As play testing continues there is bound to be some changes to previous releases. Two have recently come up as the magic system has been being tested.

On Aptitude – Slow, Meticulous Actions

This mechanism was designed as a way to avoid dice rolling when someone could just declare they were taking their time to get it right. With the magic system players have wanted to use this to just be sure of a bare success when summoning a weather pattern, however the original values were just too onerous. So we have slimmed down the time multipliers to make it more usable.

The play screen has also been updated with these new values.

The Adventure Cycle – Reputations

The reputation system is great for shaping “in the field” play. However as we played on we found that, as well as generosity and honesty, players wanted reputations for mercy, justice, bravery and a host of other detailed things. Too many of these and things get diluted and nitpicky. So after some variations and trials we have settled on a reputation of “Benevolence”, which encompasses the previous reputations of honesty and generosity and also the other good, or bad, acts in the field.

Reputations like quest, hirelings and companion treatment remain, since they are tied to specific transactions in the game system.

The character sheets have been updated accordingly.

Future System Impact

Part of the future design includes Mysticism, which involves mastering relationships with the incorporeal spirits of the magic world. The initial intent was that fine tuned reputations would be important to them. However this has been revised so that spirits have their own specific behavior likes and dislikes, which they will try to directly observe, enhancing or detracting from the relationship with them.

Prototype Play Test Release – Weather Spells

A prototype part of the magic spells rules. Play test it. Full rules will be released on DriveThru as usual.

This is a first in what I hope to be a series. When developing parts of All Us Gamers I generally restrict revealing work in progress to those people I directly play test with. However the body of players around the world has grown, and this chunk of work is quite large and sprawling, so its time to start releasing playable prototype fragments for anyone to pick up and try out.

This prototype relies on The Inner Core rules, On Aptitude and the injury system in the Combat Toolkit.

This is unlikely to be the final form of these rules. When the magic plugin for the adventure cycle is released much of this will probably have changed. This is just the current direction that development is taking. Play tester feedback may change it.

Additional pre releases may include the 0 complexity spells and magical struggle rules, where competing sorcerers may try to dismiss, divert or subvert each others spell casting.

If you do try this out please send detailed feedback to, along with your full name as you would like it to appear on my acknowledgements list in the About page.

This release is about giving characters the ability to cast weather spells. A considerable amount of the magic infrastructure will not be appearing here.

The aim is for a weather sorcerer to be able to call on specific spells, like casting a tornado into existence, when the prevailing weather is right. If the weather is not right then the sorcerer can spend will power on altering the weather to windy, and then throw the tornado. Also multiple sorcerers can work together in series, one shifts the weather from still to breezy, another takes it from breezy to windy and then a more masterful sorcerer can take the breeze and build a tornado from it.

Casting spells is an action, so subject to dice rolls normally. However the rules for taking extra time to achieve a result, found in On Aptitude, should be used quite often by sorcerers to avoid the downside of failure when there is no urgency or pressure on the base casting time.

Lets start.

  1. Spells A spell is the method by which a character may impose their will on matter, energy and the will of others at a distance.
  2. Sorcery Characters may have a profession of Sorcery. It will provide for lots of actions eventually, including initiating magical struggles, but here it is only of help with providing aptitude for casting spells.
  3. Force Magic Characters may have a specialisation of Force Magic. That is for providing specialist aptitude for spells that impose the characters will on matter and energy.
  4. Force Magic Spells There are many spells planned to work with the force magic specialisation, but for now I’m only providing three weather related spells. The existence of well defined spells is important for play. In an Adventure Cycle open table network only the published spells can be allowed. This does not mean that play groups at dedicated tables cannot allow the creation of new spells. When they do they should use the published spells as guidelines for the style, scope and power of any new spells they invent. Spells also have to be learned and memorised by characters but the methods for that are not part of this release. Assume the character knows all the spells shown here if (and only if) they take the Force Magic specialisation.
  5. Castings Specific spells enable a broad collection of ways to cast spells. The castings that are detailed are guidelines. It is expected that players may come up with other ways to cast the spells that their characters know, and the GM can adjudicate with the existing guidelines in mind. Castings have a complexity (minimum of 1). (Consider what would happen if summon hail was combined with tornado as a mixed casting. Its not detailed here. A GM should work with players to adjudicate such things)
  6. Will Power Characters have a reusable resource, called will power. Its total is Determination + Presence + 3 x the level of Sorcery + the level of all spell specialisations (in this case only Force specialisation exists). A future profession of Mysticism will exist that provides some will power increases as well, but that is not part of this release.
  7. Cast Action Each casting is performed as a specialist action that will exhaust some will power. Being a specialist action the character not only needs to know the spell but must have at least 1 aptitude level in either force magic or sorcery. They may have 1 skill level in one and none in the other however. Having no aptitude in Sorcery produces a -2 aptitude for the action, as does having no aptitude in Force Magic specialisation.
ResultSpell Effect Activated?Will Power CostCasting Time
  1. Cast Action Will Power Cost When a spell cast action is made the character must have the base will power points available. The base will power required is based on the spell complexity. When the spell is cast the player checks the result at the end of the base casting time. The will power points become exhausted at that time, depending on the results in the table above. If the result causes the exhaustion of more will power than the player has available, then exhaust available focus as a substitute. If focus also becomes totally exhausted and there are will power costs still to be paid, then the caster takes a minor wound and the will power is considered paid. Will power loss occurs immediately on casting. Extra casting time called for will then engage the character in the casting task until it completes, at which point the spell effect may be enacted if the activated result is ‘yes’.
Spell ComplexityWill Power FormulaWill Power Cost
  1. Cast Action Difficulty The difficulty of a cast action is 12 + 2 x spell complexity. Beyond this prototype there will be ways for the spell caster to reduce the difficulty using rituals, scrolls, wands and other adjuncts. For this version assume that the spell caster has obtained a -2 adjustment on the difficulty somehow.
  2. Concentration Some spells allow concentration to be used to maintain some effect in an ongoing manner. A character can concentrate on as many spells as she has available focus points. Concentrating does not exhaust any focus. If, after exhausting some focus the character is concentrating on too many spells the character will have to stop concentrating on some of the spells. Concentration, once released or broken, cannot be regained. A new spell is cast instead. (Future magic struggle rules will allow concentration on a spell to be stolen so someone else manages the spell, or even voluntarily handed over. This is not in this release)

The Spells

Weather spells deal with the natural weather conditions, sub conditions and particular events. There are three weather spells: “Air”, “Water” and “Fire and Ice”. Important details about the spells appear on the chart on the last page.

Dealing with the Main Natural Conditions

On any given day the weather will consist of one “Air”, one “Water” and one “Fire and Ice” condition. (Natural conditions are identified by a light grey background behind the name) Natural conditions are considered regional, an area roughly out to 50km distant from the spell caster. A spell caster may cast a local transition (expanding out from the spell caster for 1km).

A mage who knows the appropriate spell for the condition can transition the existing weather condition to another along the lines on the chart between the conditions for the spell. So the spell of air can transition still air to a breeze, and it requires 1 will power base cost. The weather spell of fire and ice can transition from a warm day to a heat wave with a base cost of 2 will power.

If the caster is making a local adjustment to the weather the base cost applies and the spell cast base time is 2 minutes. When the spell is complete the weather change finishes its transition, the caster may then concentrate on it to maintain the condition, or begin casting another transition which will also hold the current weather in effect. When the caster is no longer concentrating or transitioning then the local weather will drift back to the surrounding regional weather, taking 2 minutes per transition.

If the spell caster has a local condition in effect they may then cast the transition to that condition regionally, at the same complexity that would be required for the local transition and a base casting time of 15 minutes.

Regional transitions may also be cast directly, at 1 extra complexity for the transition cost marked on the chart, and base casting time of 10 minutes.

When regional weather has been set it will change naturally for the season. If the weather produced is unseasonal then it will drift into seasonal ranges, taking 1 hour per transition. Concentration or an additional transition casting can be used to prevent the weather drifting naturally at the regional level.

Note that some conditions can only be produced by casting at a regional level as shown on the chart. In addition some conditions can be produced locally but if not changed to regional or held in place by concentration they will rapidly dissipate.


The weather is Breezy, Clouds, Mild Day. A caster wishes to make a local transition to overcast. That has a complexity of 1, a base cost of 1 power and 2 minutes to cast. The difficulty would be 12 + 2 = 14, however for this prototype we subtract 2 so it stays at DN 12. The sorcerer has 1 skill level in Sorcery and 1 in Force Spells. That means there are no specialist skill losses to aptitude and they cast with an aptitude of 2. They roll dice and get a success result, so they spend 2 power and the casting time is 4 minutes.

Now they decide to expand the local effect to regional. Complexity is still 1. Difficulty is 12, base power cost is 1, casting time base is 15 minutes. Again they get a success so this will cost 2 power and take 30 minutes.

The total power cost has been 4 and it has taken 34 minutes.

If they had decided to go directly to a regional transition from clouds to overcast the complexity would be 2, base power cost would have been 3 and base casting time 10 minutes. On a success that would have been a total power cost of 6 and a casting time of 20 minutes. There is a lower chance of failure overall since there is only one action check, compared to the two checks the other way. On the other hand the two step casting might only fail at step two, leaving the local weather to leverage again.

The Secondary Conditions

Main weather conditions may have secondary conditions. So a still main condition may have a mist or fog secondary condition, and an overcast main condition could have rain or snow secondary conditions.

Creating or removing a secondary condition works just as the castings for the main conditions. However secondary conditions are additional to the main condition, not a replacement. Also secondary conditions depend on the main conditions they can transition from. If the main condition changes to one they could not be created for then the secondary condition also dissipates. So a downpour needs a storm in progress and snow needs wither overcast weather or at least clouds.

Also note that there are main conditions in the fire and ice spell area that can determine if secondary conditions in the water area are valid. So for drizzle, rain and a downpour, it must NOT be a freezing day or a Heat Wave. For dusting of snow, snow and a blizzard it must be a freezing day.


Its a cloudy, but not overcast day. The weather is freezing. To summon snow is a complexity 2 casting under those conditions. To make it snow locally only, base power cost is 3 and base casting time is 2 minutes. To go direct to regional the complexity becomes 3, base power cost is 6 and base casting time is 10 minutes.

Weather Indoors

Note that some spell casting can be done to change the conditions inside an enclosed space like a building or cave system. In such a setting then local is considered to be whatever room or chamber you are in and regional is adjoining spaces. This allows a sorcerer to summon a mist inside a dungeon, create an air blast in a room with windows open to a breeze outside, or a splash if the weather outside rainy and the splash can be brought in through a nearby opening.

The Events

Events are consequences of natural conditions pushed by will power to an extreme of effect or unexpected development. Some are momentary, others may linger naturally after the sorcerer has summoned them.

From a role play perspective these are the main game.

The events are:

Air Blast



Fire Storm

Flash Flood


Mud Slide

Regional Flood

Snap Freeze


Summon Hail

Summon Lightning


Air Blast

Summon a strong gust of wind, capable of knocking over a strong and well balanced human.

Line of sight

Requires access to moving air such as the Breeze condition.

Base casting time 6 seconds.

Duration 6 seconds or concentrate to hose around.

Living targets may save or be knocked over.

Tables and chairs etc. may be thrown about 5m and act as non-lethal projectiles.


Cause a large build up of snow to cascade destructively down hill.

Line of sight

Requires at least a small build up of snow which can be amplified.

Base casting time 30 seconds.

Duration as long as it takes for the avalanche to find its resting point.

The progress of the avalanche may be guided somewhat by the sorcerer as long as they maintain concentration.

The snow from a tree can be dropped on targets near it and built to a non-lethal attack that will probably constrain the targets for a moment.

Small amounts of snow can be built into a downhill cascade that will knock targets off their feet and carry them along some distance causing non lethal damage. The spell amplifies the amount of snow and ice in the avalanche.

Larger volumes can be turned into destructive slides that will smash building, cause highly lethal damage to living targets, carry them along great distances and probably bury them, itself a deadly situation.


Cause some tinder to catch fire using a small lightning spark from dry air.

Line of sight

Requires dry and combustible material and at least warm, dry weather condition.

Base casting time 6 seconds.

Duration as long as the fire has material to burn

The caster may constrain or accelerate the spread of the fire as long as they concentrate.

Fire Storm

Cause a small fire and then whip up flames and burning embers into a wall of flame and sparks.

Line of sight

Requires dry and combustible material and at least warm, dry weather condition. May transition between a fire and a fire storm.

Base casting time 30 seconds.

Duration 1 minute without concentration or a natural source of flammable materials.

The caster may constrain or accelerate the spread of the fire storm as long as they concentrate. It does not need more than the initial combustible materials to maintain its size, but does need new material to grow.

Most beings will need to make a determination save to move through a fire storm, saving against lethal damage at DN 12 as they step through. On a fail or worse then anything combustible they are wearing or carrying catches fire and adds to the size of the firestorm.

If the sorcerer is concentrating they may part the fire storm for one creature at a time to pass through safely.

Flash Flood

Cause a large volume of water to cascade through an area. It will erode a small path, knock over and carry items up to carriage size.

Line of sight

Requires rain or a downpour at the source of the flood.

Base casting time 30 seconds.

Duration as long as it takes for the flood to find a resting point or to spread out enough to lose its force.

The progress of the flood may be guided somewhat by the sorcerer as long as they maintain concentration.

The water from a pond can be caused to flow out at targets near it and its flood built to a non-lethal attack that will probably knock the targets over.

Streams and dry riverbeds can be built into a rushing torrents that will knock targets off their feet and carry them along some distance causing non lethal damage. The spell amplifies the amount of water in the flood.

Larger volumes of water, and smaller flash flood spell castings, can be turned into destructive slides that will smash building, cause highly lethal damage to living targets, carry them along great distances and probably drown them.


Throw a flurry of snow at a target making it hard for them to see, possibly confusing their sense of direction, and disrupting concentration and coordination of a delicate task.

Line of sight

Requires snow or a dusting of snow. In a blizzard or gale it won’t hold and is ineffective.

Base casting time 6 seconds.

Duration 6 seconds after concentration ceases.

The flurry may be moved about at twice human running speed by a concentrating sorcerer.

Flurries can be used to douse small flames like candles or lantern lights.

Targets will need to make DN 16 saves.

Mud Slide

Cause a large build up of sodden earth to cascade destructively down hill.

Line of sight

Requires at least a small build up of mud which can be amplified.

Base casting time 30 seconds.

Duration as long as it takes for the slide to find its resting point.

The progress of the mud slide may be guided somewhat by the sorcerer as long as they maintain concentration.

The mud from an overhang can be dropped on targets near it and built to a lethal attack that will probably also constrain the targets for a moment.

Small amounts of loose mud can be built into a downhill cascade that will knock targets off their feet and carry them along some distance causing lethal damage. The spell amplifies the amount of soil and water in the mud slide.

Larger volumes can be turned into destructive slides that will smash building, cause highly lethal damage to living targets, carry them along great distances and probably bury them, itself a deadly situation.

Rock beds and tree roots will hamper mud slides, making the cast more difficult. Trees may end up coming along for the ride, making the slide more deadly.

Regional Flood

Bring about a flood in a region around 6 meters deep.

Region about the sorcerer.

Requires rain or a downpour, and will collect in valleys. Various key outlets for the water may become magically blocked or constricted by trees and boulders.

Base casting time is 2 hours.

Duration is 8 hours after the sorcerer has cast and ceased to concentrate.

Such floods are very destructive, ruining crops, damaging buildings, drowning people and livestock. Use real life flooding as a guide.

Snap Freeze

Cause a target to become frozen. This is lethal to living things and preserves food stuff. Small ponds and buckets of water may be frozen solid.

Line of sight

Requires a blizzard for lowest complexity, otherwise a cool to freezing day will do.

Base casting time 6 seconds.

Duration is as long as it takes for a target to naturally thaw in the conditions present.

Saves against this casting are at DN16, best of health or determination. Any level of success results in non-lethal damage only. A fail gives the target hypothermia (incapacitating injury). Miserable failure and disaster both result in the target freezing to death.


Gather a litre or so of water and hurl it at a target.

Line of sight

Requires rain, or a downpour.

Base casting time 6 seconds.

Duration instant.

The water flies at the target and can knock objects from someones grasp, topple items of shelves and douse flames like those in a fireplaces or on a torch. The splash can also hurl rainwater into a waiting receptacle like a bucket.

Summon Hail

Produces hail that can injure and break things like windows and pottery.

Visible area around the sorcerer or a specific 20m radius area in line of sight.

Requires a storm.

Base casting time 6 seconds.

Duration 30 seconds after the sorcerer has cast and ceased to concentrate.

Creatures hit by the hail can make DN 16 saves against non lethal damage.

When concentrating the sorcerer can get the hail to make lethal or damaging attacks against specific targets in line of sight every 6 seconds.

Summon Lightning

Lightning spears out from the storm to strike a target.

Line of sight.

Requires a storm.

Base casting time 6 seconds.

Duration instant.

Creatures hit by lightning make a DN 16 save against lethal damage using the best of health or agility. If the save is a failure or worse they are also knocked unconscious after being thrown 5 meters in a direction the sorcerer chooses.


Create a tornado of destructive power that can be moved about as desired.

Line of sight.

Requires Windy or Gale conditions.

Base casting time 6 seconds.

Duration 6 seconds after ceasing to concentrate.

The tornado is 5m in diameter at its base.

The tornado may be moved by the caster at double human running speed.

The tornado will hurl creatures it strikes 10m away, requiring a DN 16 lethal damage save.

Small structures like test and thatched huts will be knocked over or shattered.

Loose objects struck by the tornado will be hurled about and may be hazards in their own right.

Download this as a PDF :

The Open Table Chassis

Having thrown together an old school style of play for running the Combat Toolkit play tests, and having 15 players regularly continuing with open table play, it seems like time to make the game structures for this type of open table into a product.

For those interested in some detailed philosophy of open table play I recommend the Open Table Manifesto.

Just as an aside, the Stealth and Investigation Toolkits are also being worked on. As with the Combat Toolkit they will be a mix of mechanics and ruling guides. We are using the Call of Cthulhu (7th Edition) RPG as a framework for play test, obviously with the AUG mechanics swapped in for the Basic Role Play mechanics.

The Open Table Chassis is a set of rules structures to allow groups of multiple players, with multiple characters to casually play with multiple game masters, potentially each with multiple home regions in a single game setting.

For this to work each play session has a single GM, using one of her home regions, and whoever is available to play, each using only one of their player characters. A fairly “board game like” rules structure is used to break an adventure down into a cycle of 3 parts.


The players have episodes in their home location where they do things covered by fairly mechanical rules: go shopping, do training, spend growth points to grow a skill, hire people to guard treasures or accompany the group on an adventure, socialize, build reputations, acquire companions and gain quests.


The players go off to role play in a world slightly artificially structured into areas of increasing risk, and with treasures to be gained, hazards to be faced, and factions to be dealt with.

Wind Down

The players return home, gain growth points for the adventure based on treasure gained, risks and difficulties, and for quests completed based on commitment of time, risks overall and encounters braved.

In a given session of play there will be one or more complete adventure cycles. Any adventure in progress when a session runs out of time comes to an abrupt end and the wind down is flicked through.

The chassis comes with some simple book keeping, tracking which characters are the primary quest bearers for which home town, and what the character reputations are there, and tracking things that may be transferred between GM home regions, like magic items, pieces of technology, or global rank.

The first Chassis will have a baked in fantasy genre. Its treasures will be coins, gems, jewels and works of art. There will be some generic sorcery and mysticism rules (aimed at eventually being used for Mists of the Carpathians) and a collection of play structures for dungeon, wilderness, ocean and city adventuring.

A second Chassis under development will have a baked in space opera genre, with aliens, high and low tech worlds, space ships, interstellar corporations and nations and super tech artifacts left behind by “the ancients”. This will be used to lay some ground work for the Shadow Over The Galaxy setting.

Fun times!

Much in the Way of Combat and Dungeons

I’m play testing the Combat Toolkit and trying to ensure that the way it gets used is explained clearly. Its difficult because of the dominance of the wargame style of the big mainstream game. I attack, I get a hit, you take hit points, you attack, you miss, I attack etc etc.

Here is a write up of a brawl from one of the play tests of All Us Gamers, I have added some “mechanics” and “fiction” labels to highlight the interplay. The Book of Struggles has most of the key mechanics in it other than the injury and healing rules:


Player Characters

Mike – Doctor with aptitude 4, combat aptitude 0

Daph – Martial artist with combat aptitude 4

Frank – Ex military Private Investigator, combat aptitude 5

(average combat aptitude 3)

Game Master Characters – Gang

2 gang thugs, combat aptitude 3

Gang tough, combat aptitude 5

(average combat aptitude 3)

Game Master Character – Non Participant

Keith, bar keeper. Has a baseball bat behind the bar and his friend Dave the policeman on speed dial.


The players annoyed the gang earlier but moved on. They are in Keith’s bar, discussing their next step in the mystery they are unraveling. The gang members have decided to rush in and give the players a good pounding to “teach them a lesson”, then leave.

GM: The front door to the pub burst opens and the gang you were having words with earlier rush in with obvious intent to attack, no weapons visible. This is a struggle with two action groups, they have surprise giving them the advantage. What is your operation?


(GM notes to herself that the thugs operation is to match up one on one and start clobbering, so they press the advantage my running at each player swinging fists hard and yelling, -2DN to them (10), +1DN to the players (13) )

Mike: I don’t want to fight, I will duck behind the bar.

Frank: Fair enough, we’ll screen Mike.

Daph: I’ll sweep up my chair as a shield.

GM: Mike, your still in the struggle unless your side advances. Weak link for group results on both sides.

The GM rolls for the thugs, its a poor result given the advantage and aptitudes:

Gang tough: Success, Thug 1: Failure, Thug 2: Dismal Failure

Success point pool 2, failure point pool 5. Group result is Dismal Failure.

The players do OK:

Mike: Failure, Frank: Success, Daph: Success. Success point pool 4, failure point pool 2. Group result is Success.

The players side advances.


GM: Ok, Mike freezes for a moment but then dives sideways behind the bar. Daph has grabbed the chair and swung it in front of the two young thugs, making them flinch back. Frank, you have got into it with the older beardy guy.

Mike: What’s the guy behind the bar doing?

GM: He has stood back away from the fight with an annoyed look on his face.


GM: The attackers have used up their advantage, its on the table. Mike is not in a struggle, Frank is in a struggle with beardy guy, and Daph you are in a struggle with thug one and thug two. Daph, what is your operation?

Daph: I want to smash Thug one out of the way, holding off thug two.

Frank: And I’m going to gut kick the beardy guy so I can help Daph.

GM: OK, Mike what are you doing?

Mike: I’ll look up at the bartender and hassle him to call the police.

Daph vs Thugs

Thug one: Extra Success, Thug Two: Success. Equates to Extra Success.

Daph: Incredible Success

GM: Its a Hot Struggle. Daph, you swing hard with the chair. It shatters on Thug two, sending him reeling toward the bar with a bloody nose, Thug one gets a hit in giving you a minor wound but you strike back giving him one too. You have the advantage now, how would you describe it?

Daph: I’m free to be in fighting stance for a good kick and balanced to easily deflect thuggish blows and turn them against my opponents.

Frank vs Gang Tough

Gang Tough gets Extra Success.

Frank Gets success.

GM: Another hot struggle. You lay into each other and each get a minor wound, but the tough pushes you back over your chair and you fall prone. He now has the advantage.

GM: Mike, the bartender hasn’t called the police, but he has tossed you a baseball bat.

Daph: Mike, take a swing at Thug Two and keep him off my back.

Mike: Alright.

GM: Ok, Mike and Thug Two are a new struggle. Thug Two is dazed with a serious wound. (Thug two’s operation is to rejoin the attack on Daph from behind, unaware of Mike)

Mike: I’ll just swing for his head and knock him out.

GM: Thug one appears to be trying to push you back toward Thug Two Daph, what’s your op?

Daph: I’ll press the advantage to take his momentum and throw him to the floor with it.

GM: Frank? (The tough’s op is to press the advantage and kick Frank hard while he is down)

Frank: I’ll roll to my left and stand up.

Mike vs Thug Two

Thug Two: (aptitude loss from injury, -1) Failure

Mike: Extra Success

GM: The thug needs to save against the attack, he gets a miserable failure. That’s a knock out and a serious injury. As he is already seriously injured it escalates to incapacitated.

Mike: Oops. Barkeep, maybe an ambulance?

Daph vs Thug One

Thug One: Failure

Daph: Failure

GM: A cold struggle – Thug one rushes in, Daph grabs him to throw down but Thug One pulls Daph down with him. Your both on the floor in a grapple.

Frank vs Gang Tough

Gang Tough: Failure

Frank: Failure, uses a focus which results in Extra Success

GM: Frank the beardy guy tries for a kick, but your roll avoids him and your up on your feet facing him. You have him off guard and gain advantage.


GM: The guy at the bar is on the phone, talking to ‘Dave’ and suggesting an ambulance might be a good idea.

Mike: I’m a bit worried about the guy I brained, I’ll check on him using my medical aptitude.

Daph vs Thug One

Daph: My operation is to get the guy face down in an arm lock.

GM: Ok the Thug’s operation is to push you off and stand up.

Frank vs Gang Tough

GM: The beardy guy looks like going for some kind of kick.

Frank: I’ll press my advantage and go for a straight punch at his jaw.


Thug One: Failure

Daph: Failure

GM: Cold struggle – you’re both rolling about on the floor trying to get at each other. The thug has a black eye, Daph your jacket is pushed up over your chin and getting in the way.

Gang Tough: Failure

Frank: Success

GM: You land a blow Frank, the beardy guy needs a save. A minor wound. He already has one so it escalates to painful.


GM: Frank, you can see he has been knocked about and is in some pain. He looks like he is going to run for it. Mike, your guy looks concussed. You start doing some first aid to keep him ok until the ambulance arrives. Daph and Thug One are still struggling on the floor under the table now.

Frank: if he runs for it I’ll let the main guy go and help Daph.

GM: The beardy guy backs off, and when he sees you aren’t following he runs for it out the door.

Frank: Daph, need a hand?

Daph: I’ve got this.

GM: The Thug seems to be trying to break off now, what’s your operation Daph?

Daph: I want to slam his head into the floor and knock him out.


Thug One: Miserable Failure

Daph: Failure, uses a focus but it stays a failure.

GM: you both are banged about a bit, getting caught up in your own clothes, smacking into table legs with your shins.


Frank: I’ll tap the thug with my foot and yell “Oi! Time to give up!”

GM: You can hear a siren in the distance. The Thug scrambles away from Daph.

Daph: No way! I grab him and keep wrestling.


Thug: Failure

Daph: Success


GM: Daph, you grab the thug as he rolls away and push him face down to the ground, and climb on top of him pinning him down. He is yelling incoherently.

Frank: I lean down and say “Stop struggling buddy, or she might break something”

At this point the combat struggle is over. Daph and Frank both have minor wounds. Thug one has a serious wound. Thug two has an incapacitating wound, but the approaching ambulance means he will be ok. Mike has another beer.

So anyway, we’ve been play testing this sort of battle, another we have is some guys charging into a room with swords to take on a slightly larger force, and it just occurred to me there and then. Classic Dungeon.

So I am revisiting the truly classic dungeon crawl with a new game mechanism. The nearby town is a menu for purchases and quests, and the place to return to after each delve. The dungeon is a vast maze, with levels that are harder to deal with as they get lower underground. Intelligent denizens have little fiefdoms and conflict with one another. Unintelligent beasts wander the corridors. And there are traps. Yes, old school traps, only the game rules make them interesting.

I’ve been designing it to help combat play tests but I think I will polish it up and put it out there.

Combat Toolkit Enters Playtest Phase

The Book of Struggles gives a complete mechanism for handling character to character conflicts. However its possible to have more detailed rule extensions for specific situations, and extended examples of using the struggle rules in those specific situations. Hence the value of the Toolkits.

The Combat Toolkit gives examples of the struggle mechanism in use for Brawling, Close Combat, Firefights and Rearguard Actions. It explains conditions that might be pertinent and complication examples.

In addition to the combat situations being fleshed out it provides some extended mechanics for handling injury and death, natural healing and medical intervention. The injury levels are Minor, Serious, Incapacitated, Critical and Mortal. Each injury level has a natural healing cycle during which the injury may worsen or improve. The medical interventions are defined as First Aid, Field Care, Hospital Care, and Surgery. Characters use their related aptitudes to carry out the interventions and if done well will improve the healing process.

This extension can add a mild layer of complexity onto combat struggles. The play testing is focusing on ensuring that these things hang together well with the narrative style of play and can be operated smoothly during the session when used.

Book of Struggles Released

After a long struggle, and much virus dodging, we are pleased to announce The Book of Struggles is now available in a pdf format as a “pay what you like” item at DriveThruRPG.

This adds an abstract mechanism for conflict between characters, whether its a combat, a chase, a game of cat and mouse or a stand off, a social struggle or even a battle of wills between wizards.

This release will be followed by a series of toolkits with rules extensions, examples and extra ideas for specific conflict situations, beginning with combat between individuals at close quarters or in a missile exchange.

Work has also begun on “Mists of the Carpathians”, a historical / fantasy adventure setting. It is set in the mid 1400s, the time of Vlad III, the Impaler, Dracula and Voivode of Wallachia. Stay tuned for more on that!

Book of Struggles Toolkits

I have again reorganised the work. It is now broken out into The Book of Struggles and The Struggle Toolkits: Combat, Stealth, Manoeuvre and Social.

For a while the Book of Struggles seemed to be expanding in scope faster than I could write or play test it. Then I realised that the main new work was all specific to different types of struggle and example cases. So I have again reorganised the work into The Book of Struggles and The Struggle Toolkits.

My readers will have worked out by now that I am developing this game using a Lean/Agile process. I’m putting the parts out there as they become “good enough” and then refining them. That is why I haven’t tackled print yet, and I am only doing PDF for now. That way I can release improved versions for free at no loss.

So I will soon publish the Book of Struggles PDF, again as a Pay What You Like download at DriveThru. Hopefully I will also release the Struggle Toolkit for Combat at the same time. Then later toolkits for Stealth, Manoeuvre and finally the big one, Social. The Social Toolkit may need to be split further if it grows too much, but we shall see.

Here is the current directory for the Toolkits:

Combat Toolkit

Struggle Types

  • Combat: Brawling
  • Combat: Close Combat
  • Combat: Firefight

Combat Extension Rules

  • Rearguard Action
  • Injury and Healing
  • Injury Levels
  • Gaining Injuries
  • Heroic Action When Injured
  • Medical Intervention
  • The Attack Action
  • Attack Action Difficulty and Aptitudes
  • Attack Action Success and Saves

Stealth Toolkit

Struggle Types

  • Stealth: Cat and Mouse
  • Stealth: Infiltrators and Sentries

Stealth Extension Rules

  • The Sneak Action
  • The Lookout Action
  • Alarms and Alarm Triggers
  • The Disable Trigger Action

Manoeuvre Toolkit

Struggle Types

  • Manoeuvre: Chase
  • Manoeuvre: Race

Manoeuvre Extension Rules

Not yet defined

The Social Toolkit

Struggle Types

  • Social: Competitive Lobby
  • Social: Investigation and Deception
  • Social: Scam and Detect
  • Social: Bribe and Bargain
  • Social: Stand Off Dance

Social Extension Rules

Not yet defined

This work has also resulted in some minor refinements to the other core books. Mostly presentation of the rules rather than functional changes. The updates will release shortly after The Book of Struggles.

Then its on to some settings. I’m working on a new setting set in the Carpathian Mountains at the time of Vlad III Dracula, a.k.a The Impaler. There will be some sorcery in the setting but its very low fantasy. Should be fun.

Combat Toolkit Enters Playtest Phase

Now Working on The Mists of the Carpathians Setting.

Reorganising the Work

Originally I had the rules body of this game in two outer core parts – Character and Action. However it became obvious this was not the right way to deliver the rules to players and game masters, even though it was analytically neat.

On Aptitude is now about character aptitude and character development, along with with those parts of the action cases that support or flow from the character structures. That means taking the initial materials and chopping them about a lot.

At the same time The Book of Struggles is gathering to it the core part of Actions about conflicts. Having now become a focus its getting easier to expand the cases in a nice, fluid, easy to remember way.

All Us Gamers relies on player knowledge about how things are in reality. The structures let players interpret between their understanding of the situation the characters are experiencing through action resolution and back again. This means much can be implied and players don’t have to learn lots of new rules about things they already mostly understand anyway. The rules can be holistic. (You might want to read Dissociated Mechanics – A Brief Primer.)

However, some ordinary but complex things its helpful to have guidance on, and in the book of struggles I’m shifting in the structure for damage to machines, and repair, and extending from that to injury to people, natural healing  and medical treatment. These rules need more play testing but they are managed, again, by general method. Things have a worsening condition. At crucial moments saves are made or they get worse, leading to eventual break down or death. In the case of living things saves can also lead to improvement even without intervention.

Settings are the places where rules and game structures will be found for fictional things like magic, faster than light space travel and time portals, because these are things that don’t have real world obviousness to them, all though they have bodies of work and  traditions that need to be considered.

In every case for an extended rule, its anticipated that players will want to apply them in detail to their characters and character actions. The game master is more likely to use all these more sparingly for game master characters, instead opting for the inner core generalisations much of the time. This should make the game both enjoyable, fast paced, and low prep.