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Dying Embers (Terrible Pet Project V0.1)

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Long ago, the sun god ruled over a world that was peaceful, but a small, ungrateful portion of mortals were tempted by a monstrosity that corrupted and convinced them to forsake the light, weakening the solar deity's connection to the world. Suddenly and out of nowhere, the monstrosity severed the sun from the world, sealing him in the heavens and plunging day into darkness. When the sun became unable to return, the monstrosity set out to destroy the world altogether, but was halted temporarily by the brave sacrifice of heroes. The moon continues to give the only light left in the sky, and we retain the gifts of fire, steel, and cunning that kept us alive in the old ages. It is worse now than it was before, but while we breathe, we will undo our mistakes and restore the sun and the peace its light brings.

Campfire light dies in the darkness. It's the middle of the day, but no sun shines to guide us. We must wait on the moon, and hope that it is full.

-Anonymous Flamekeeper

In a world where the sun is gone and terrible creatures walk the night, Flamekeepers, adventurers who walk the earth carrying the remains of the old age on their back are the closest things left to paladins. More than devoting themselves to righteousness or freedom, most dedicate themselves to keeping the remainder of the mortal race alive in its hour of darkness. Supplies and fuel for fire, destroying monsters and evildoers, seeking out another meal and a safe place to sleep.

Character Creation:

Contests in Dying Embers are made using a success system: When a contest is made, a character rolls a number of dice and compares their result to the target number. For a d12, the 'target number' is usually 9. Any of the dice that are equal to or higher than the target number are considered successes.

Ability Scores:

Mettle: Strength, force of will, and a refusal to give up. People with high Mettle are resilient and powerful.
Guile: Cunning, speed, and flexibility. People with high Guile are clever and quick.
Focus: Patience, observation, and precision. People with high Focus are wise and logical.

When creating a character, a player begins with an 8 in each score, and can distribute up to 12 additional points between the scores on a one-to-one basis. No value can be initially higher than 18. These scores are used as pools of points characters can use to bolster their actions (explained later). When spending these points, a character cannot spend more than over half of their maximum ability score rounded down worth of points from that particular ability score during a turn. For example, a character with an ability maximum of 15 in Mettle couldn't spend more than 7 Mettle points in one turn, while someone with Mettle 10 couldn't spend more than 5 points during a turn.
When a character runs out of points in an ability, they become Exhausted in that ability score, which means that they automatically lose the next contest involving this ability. Once this contest has been resolved, they regain one point in that ability. At the end of a long rest (usually 8 uninterrupted hours of sleep or the equivalent), each ability score is restored up to its maximum. At the end of a shorter rest, such as a breather or lunch, each ability score regains one-quarter of its maximum rounded up, up to its maximum. A character cannot benefit from more than four short rests between longer rests.

Skills: Not a lot of knowledge has been kept from the old days, but what has been kept is invaluable. Anyone that can understand a task rolls one d12 by default when testing a skill. Having a rank in a skill gives you an additional d12 to roll when you test that skill (the DM will tell you if a skill is or is not applicable) and one point that you can add to any of the dice when the dice are finished falling. You can spend as many points on a particular die as you want, and points spent this way can change a failure to a success, or negate the effects of a 1 rolled during a New Moon. If by some chance there are no more points to spend on dice (you've rolled or raised all the dice to twelves), you can spend one of these points to roll an additional die. If that die is rolled or raised to twelve as well, you can continue until you've run out of points. When rolling a skill, you also can choose to spend points from an ability score related to the skill, reducing the ability score temporarily as a result.

Skills include but are not limited to:
  • Weapon (Type): Axes, swords, lances, javelins...
  • Armor (Type): Heavy armor, light armor, shields...
  • Lore (Subject): Religion, history, magic...
  • Survival (Environment): Mountains, plains, forests...
  • Craft (Type): Armor, tools, weapons...
  • Persuasion (Method): Intimidation, logic, seduction...
  • Athletics (Style): Acrobatics, lifting, endurance...
  • Camaraderie (Group): Urbanites, soldiers, nobility...
  • Streetwise (Form): Contacts, appraisal, hidden paths...
  • Performance (Type): Singing, dancing, story-telling...
  • Sneaking (Application): Stealth, burglary, pickpocketing...

If a particular skill is not directly applicable to a situation, the DM can request you take a penalty, removing a number of the points granted by a skill you are allowed to spend after the roll. If a penalty is particularly severe, the DM may request you remove a number of dice instead or in addition to the points. If no skill the character possesses is even remotely close to what needs to be used for the challenge, the DM can request that the character spend points from an appropriate ability score instead.

Generally, combat checks are in the form of Weapon versus Armor contests, with the attacker using their Weapon against the defender's Armor. Certain weapons and armor are more difficult to wield, and thus impose penalties to their wielders to use. However, armor or weapons that come with penalties usually also come with bonuses if wielded with enough skill.
When an attacker succeeds in a combat contest and manages to hit a defender, the defender immediately must make a check against wounding. Certain types of armors give bonus dice or bonus successes against wounding checks, while the attacker's weapon imposes penalties.

# of successes - Appropriate challenge intensity
0 - No challenge, only tested in pitch darkness.
1 - Basic task.
2 - Task with moderate chance of failure, can still be reasonably accomplished by the untrained through dedicated effort.
3 - Task where even the trained have a significant chance of failure- the untrained will have to suffer greatly to accomplish their ends.
4 - Extremely difficult task. The untrained will have to pray, the trained grit their teeth.
5 - Functionally possible, but still very difficult. In most cases, it will take significant exertion for the trained to accomplish.
6 - Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.

Moon Cycles:

The moon is the lady of the night, acting as a guardian and aid to the people of the world as an aid against the darkness. Tasks are easier to do by moonlight, and the presence of the moon helps protect even at night. However, when she rests, as she must, the darkness approaches once more. The moon changes at about the following rate, starting back at Full Moon 1 at the end of the thirty days:

Days 1-2-3-4-5: Full Moon
Days 6-7-8: Waxing Gibbous
Days 9-10-11-12: First Quarter
Days 13-14-15: Waxing Crescent
Days 16-17-18-19-20: New Moon
Days 21-22-23: Waning Crescent
Days 24-25-26-27: Third Quarter
Days 28-29-30: Waning Gibbous

The stage of the moon and the difference between dark and light hours (dark hours always come before light hours in the day) affect the way successes are scored. A set of light hours and a set of dark hours each take about 12 hours each. New Moon days replace light hours with another set of dark hours.
A roll of 12 is always treated as two successes rather than one.
Full Moon, Dark: Successes are scored on an 8 or higher.
Full Moon, Light: Successes are scored on a 7 or higher.
Waxing/Waning Gibbous, Dark: Successes are scored on a 9 or higher.
Waxing/Waning Gibbous, Light: Successes are scored on a 8 or higher.
First Quarter/Third Quarter, Dark: Successes are scored on a 10 or higher.
First Quarter/Third Quarter, Light: Successes are scored on a 9 or higher.
Waxing/Waning Crescent, Dark: Successes are scored on a 11 or higher.
Waxing/Waning Crescent, Light: Successes are scored on a 10 or higher.
New Moon: Successes are scored on an 11 or higher, and a roll of one removes a success, to a minimum of 0. The darkness clouds your strength and turns your power against yourself, seeking to ruin the most powerful of the champions of light.

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