You are on page 1of 183

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


A ROOM 209 GAMING PUBLICATION
www.room209gaming.com
contact@room209gaming.com
@Room209Gaming on Twitter
Facebook.com/Room209Gaming

FORTHRIGHT OPEN ROLEPLAY


Copyright @ 2017 Room 209 Gaming, LLC
All rights reserved.

All text in this book is © 2017 Room 209 Gaming, under a


Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license: https://
creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
All art in this book is © 2017 Room 209 Gaming, under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives
4.0 International license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/
by-nc-nd/4.0/

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN IN PEOPLE-SPEAK?


You are free to use and photocopy this book and all art and text
within for personal use. You are free to make a derivative of the
text of this game commercially or otherwise, and can use the text
of this game for commercial purposes. We encourage all of this.
But you can’t use the art in this book, or derivatives of it, for your
own commercial purposes.

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


For our nautical fathers
Thank you, for everything

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


C  REDITS
GAME DESIGN COVER
Bryan R. Shipp Arthur Asa
Jackie Ray Watters, Jr. INTERIOR ART
Sarah Perry-Shipp Arthur Asa
WRITING Daniel Wood
Bryan R. Shipp Juan Ochoa
EDITING Nathan Nelson
John Adamus FORTHRIGHT LOGO
S. R. Dreamholde Keith Slawson
LAYOUT AND GRAPHIC DESIGN SPECIAL THANKS TO
Nathan D. Paoletta Raleigh Tabletop Roleplayers
Sarah Perry-Shipp Double Exposure
INDEXING Bully Pulpit Games
Sarah Perry-Shipp Ben Keller
Brandon West
ART DIRECTION David Lehmann
Bryan R. Shipp Jonn H. Perry
Justin Jarus
All our magnificent playtesters!

PLAYTESTERS AND EARLY ACCESS CONTRIBUTORS


Robert McMillan, Charles Bowden, John Knight, Joe Donovan, Harry Davis,
Ben Blanks, Alok Baikadi, David Lehmann, Shane Wilds, Robert Menteer,
Jonn H. Perry, Justin Jarus, Meredith Meyer, Charles Harris, Eric Townsend,
Adam Stribling, Josh Becka, Allan McCoy, Christian Eberle, John Nelson,
Scott Lambdin, Jennifer Stewart, Carleton Stewart, Paula Lorenzo, Bryan
Dickson, Kenyon Perry, Kat Miller, Kenneth Hite, Will Hindmarch, Russell
Collins, Rich Flynn, Jonathan Bagelman, Lindsey McCullough, Seth Lipton,
Emily Burton, Jeff Wikstrom, Fred Hicks, Jason Morningstar, Brennan Taylor,
Morgan Ellis, Isa McLaren, Randy Pinion, John Webster, Chris Spivey, Jill
Spivey, Duffy Austin, Tracy, Shawn Roske, Shane Harsch, Jonathan Siregar,
Brad Berenstein, Tony Riviera, Ninotchka Mantrom, ET Smith, Laiel
Shepherd, Seth Alcorn, Lisa Reinke, Timothy Grant, Josh “Level 10 Nerd”
Vega, Dr. Brian Quinones, Peter Petrusha, Diego Madiedo, Maleke Xavier
Perry, Kyrinn S. Eis, Quadratic, Rick Hull, Juan Ochoa, Colin Pittman, Seth
Alexander, Rebecca O’Connell, Richard Wuest, Zack

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


TABLE OF CONTENTS
I NTRODUCTION 7 DISCOVERY AND
What You Need to Play 7 DANGER
Playing the Game 11 C  IVILIZATION 63
Rolling Dice 13 Law and Lawlessness 63
Wealth 64
SETUP AND
CHARACTER CREATION Social Strata 65
Reputation 68
G  AME SETUP 20
Out of Bounds 20 C  ONVERSATION 73
The Gamescape 21 Talk Checks 73
House Rules 23 Mood 77
Game Charter 24 Sacrifice, Risk, and Benefit 78
Influencing Groups 80
T  HE PROTAGONISTS 26 Cross-Talk 80
Description 27
Principles 27 C  OMBAT 81
Starting Stats 29 Initiative 82
Fighting Stances 30 Actions 85
Personas 33 Fight Checks 85
Skillsets 35 Talk Checks 90
Basic Attributes 36 The Battlefield 92
Boosts 37 Retreat 95
Character Templates 47 Restoration 95
Relationships 47 Structure and Vehicle Combat 95
Sanctuary 48 C  HASES 101
Protagonist Sheet 56
M
  ASS COMBAT 103
Advancement 58
Unit Structure 103
Retraining 59
Initiative 104
The End of a Protagonist 59
Fight Checks 104
Changing Team Members 60
The Protagonists 105

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


A
  DVENTURING 106 T  HE GAMESCAPE 146
Athletic Feats 106 Build Out, Not In 146
Crafting 106 Major Considerations 147
Hazards 114 Collaborative Creation 149
Investigating and Tracking 117
A  DVENTURE HUBS 150
Language 118 Plot vs. Story 151
Perception 118 Challenges 153
Performing 119 Complications 154
Piloting and Riding 120 Opposition 155
Security 120
P  RESENTATION 162
F  ACTIONS AND Story Structure 162
DOMAINS 125 Non-Protagonist Characters 166
Factions 125 Show, Don’t Tell 167
Domains 128 Narrative Tension 168
Dominion 129 Pacing 169
GUIDANCE C  AMPAIGNS 171
B  UILDING TRUST 134 Foreshadowing 171
Be Prepared 134 Moral Quandaries 171
Be Fair 136 Enemies Beyond Enemies 171
Be Helpful 136 Multiple Threats 172
Be Respectful 138 Signature Antagonists 172
Pitfalls 139 Societal Shifts 172
Deeper Consequences 172
P  REPARATION 141 Campaign Structure 173
No Preparation 141
Basic Preparation 142 Q  UICK REFERENCE 176
Extended Preparation 143 I NDEX 178
Guidance Sheet 144

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


I NTRODUCTION

 Introduction
Forthright Open Roleplay is an adventure roleplaying game
about shaping and being shaped by civilization in a fictional
world. The game rules inject uncertainty, variety, and tension into
a story that your gaming group discovers together.
As you play, your decisions and actions will change the world.
These changes have consequences that will determine whether
you will be remembered as a hero or a villain.

What You Need to Play


Playing Forthright requires the following:
• This rulebook (each player may want their own copy)
• A group of 2 – 6 players (1 to 5 players to play
Protagonists, 1 player to act as the Guide)
• A Protagonist Sheet for each Protagonist
• A Game Charter for the group
• A Guidance Sheet for the Guide
• A set of roleplaying dice for each player. Roleplaying dice
include at least: 1 four-sided die (1d4), 1 six-sided die
(1d6), 1 eight-sided die (1d8), 2 ten-sided dice (2d10), 1
twelve-sided die (1d12), and 1 twenty-sided die (1d20)
• Tokens (coins, stones, candy, etc.) to represent Boons
• Pencils/pens and paper to take notes

Forthright Open Roleplay • 7

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


The Guide and Gamescape
One player is the Guide. The Guide controls the fictional world of the
Gamescape and plays all the Non-Protagonist Characters (NPCs) to
immerse the Protagonists in an action-oriented and dramatic story.
How You Play: You develop, with the input of the other players, a
Gamescape that has an internally consistent logic. You will present
this fictional world in a manner to pique the interest of the other
players. Because you are their only window into understanding
the Gamescape, you must strive for clarity in your presentation.
You provide the Protagonists with situations that confront and
challenge their Principles (PAGE 27) in a way that will make the
story more engaging for the gaming group as a whole.
You cannot tell the Protagonists to act in any specific way. Instead,
you control the Plots of the NPCs: the actions NPCs will take and
their intended consequences. You ensure Plots and Protagonists
are exposed to and interact with each other, changing the world
and shaping the story.
The information you reveal and the consequences of their actions
in the Gamescape may challenge the Protagonists’ understanding
of themselves, the Gamescape, and their role in the world. This
generates drama and helps create personal and unique stories.
Finally, you understand the rules of Forthright Open Roleplay
well enough to provide a consistent experience. This role requires
a lot of creativity, energy, and a level head.
How You Win: You win when everyone in the gaming group has a
good time, when you present opportunities for all the Protagonists
to contribute meaningfully to the story, when your presentation
excites the imaginations of the other players, and when you keep
the focus of the game on how the Protagonists shape the story.
How You Lose: You lose when you present the Protagonists
with situations they can’t affect, give NPCs more spotlight than
the Protagonists, present the Gamescape in a bland or boring
fashion, and when you try to force the Protagonists to follow the
story you want them to follow.

Throughout the examples in this book, BRAND will be


the Guide.

8 • What You Need to Play

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Players and Protagonists
The other players in the group are playing Protagonists, the main

 Introduction
characters of the game. Like stones thrown into a calm lake, their
actions ripple through the Gamescape. They will be heroes to
some and villains to others.
How You Play: You create and control one Protagonist, whose
information is recorded on your Protagonist Sheet. When
presented with a situation, you imagine yourself in the place of
your Protagonist and react as your Protagonist would, as if the
Gamescape were a real place.
Figuring out how to accomplish what you want is the central
element of play; your Protagonist Sheet will not have all the
answers. Pay attention to what occurs in the Gamescape and
ask questions to help you find solutions, but remember: not
everything is solvable, and sometimes you’ll need to retreat
instead of moving forward.
Don’t worry about telling the best story: your role is to discover
the plans of NPCs that don’t align with your own and thwart those
plans. You shape the story you experience by how you choose
to act – by fighting, making allies, turning enemies against each
other, and so on.
Finally, share the spotlight with the other Protagonists. No single
player is the star of the game, and everyone works together as
a Team.
How You Win: You win when everyone in the gaming group has a
good time, when your Protagonist has contributed meaningfully
to the story, and when you have achieved or made progress
toward your Team’s goals.
How You Lose: You lose when you don’t share the spotlight, don’t
engage with the Gamescape, don’t contribute to the story, and
when you sabotage the other members of your Team.

Throughout the examples in this book, CJ, JAMIE, JULES, and


VIC will be playing the Protagonists.

Forthright Open Roleplay • 9

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Roleplaying
Many players have different ways to roleplay. Some affect accents,
some get deep into character, some just want to roll dice and
have a good time. There is no wrong way to roleplay as long as
you enjoy the experience with the people you’re playing with.

Core Rules
There are three core rules to Forthright Open Roleplay that
everyone in the gaming group should understand before playing.

THE FORTHRIGHT RULE


Expectations are set up front. This begins with the Game Charter
(PAGE 24) and continues with every die roll that you make. This
helps everyone reach a shared understanding of events and
intentions, and is an ongoing process throughout the game.

THE COLLABORATION RULE


You are invested in everyone else having fun, and they are
invested in you having fun. The game is about everyone in the
gaming group, and you are all both players and audience for the
story you will create together. No single person’s ideas, desires, or
goals should take precedence over anyone (or everyone) else’s.
When collaborating, open and clear communication is the best
way to avoid misunderstandings. This is a game of imagination,
and everyone’s internal vision of what’s happening is going to
differ in some ways. Those differences often don’t matter enough
to affect the situation – but sometimes they do.
Always try to identify what is confusing, and don’t be frustrated
when someone is confused: this happens, and it’s no one’s
fault. Clear up any misunderstandings before proceeding. You
may even want to take a break or, if you are on the same page
with a different player, have that player try to get around the
communication block for you.
Finally, provide alternatives when someone suggests something
you disagree with. Keep criticisms of an idea to factual statements
(“that puts our allies at risk”). Avoid value judgments (“that
is stupid”) and especially avoid personal judgments (“you
are stupid”).

10 • What You Need to Play

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


THE COSMETIC RULE
What you do matters, not how you do it. Characters can

 Introduction
accomplish the same action through different means without
using different combinations of rules. For example, MacGyvering
a lock is the same whether done through brute force, delicate
locksport, or magical ritual. This abstraction is built into the rules
in this book and allows for an easy blending of genres.

ETHNICITY, SEX, AND GENDER


These rules assume no distinction of capability
or personality between ethnicities, genders, or
sexualities. Differing social expectations for these
traits should only be included in your game if an
examination of these expectations is a major theme
of the game.

Playing the Game


Forthright Open Roleplay is played in one or more sessions of
one to four hours each. A One-Shot is a short game that can be
played in a single session. A Campaign is a longer game played
over multiple sessions that has a more complex and in-depth story.

Setup
Play begins by setting the stage for the game. The group will
identify their interests and expectations by filling out the Game
Charter (PAGE 24), collaboratively identifying the game’s setting
and dangers. The Protagonist players will next create their
characters (PAGES 26–61).
Everyone should be thinking about the kind of story they want to
tell during Setup. This will inform Principles, relationships, and the
challenges the Guide will need to prepare.
Setup can segue into roleplay immediately (this is typical for One-
Shots), or the first roleplay session can be delayed if the Guide
needs more time to prepare.

Forthright Open Roleplay • 11

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Session
After Setup, sessions primarily consist of roleplaying. To refresh
memories and help get everyone in the zone, sessions typically
begin with a description of how the Protagonists have arrived at the
situation they find themselves in at the beginning of the Session.
Play continues with the Guide describing the situation in the
Gamescape and roleplaying any NPCs involved in the action. The
other players ask for any explanations or clarifications along the
way to help them better understand what is happening and what
they can do.
In moments of dramatic tension, both the Guide and the
Protagonists may need to roll dice (PAGE 13) to determine the
results of their actions on the story.
The Guide describes what is happening around the Protagonists,
and their players describe how the Protagonists respond. Events
escalate as the Protagonists act for or against NPCs. Play continues
through this back-and-forth between Guide and Protagonists until
reaching a satisfying conclusion for the session.
Most of the drama in the story will come from the Protagonists’
interactions with the NPCs and Gamescape. No one individual
is in control of the story: the gaming group discovers the story
together.

Retrospective
At the end of every session, the group discusses how the session
went and what they liked and didn’t like. This is an opportunity for
both sides of the table to reinforce what interests them about the
game and explain their and their characters’ thought processes
during the session.
Everyone wants to do well, so this is an opportunity to highlight
successes. Positive reinforcement gives everyone an idea of what
to strive for.
Likewise, if something was disappointing about the session,
discuss it without recrimination or retaliation. No one needs to
lay blame during this discussion, because no one in the group is
in competition.

12 • Playing the Game

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


The Retrospective ends with the group discussing Protagonist
Advancement (PAGE 58) and determining how many Boost

 Introduction
Points were generated by the session’s adventure.

Rolling Dice
When things could go well or terribly wrong for a character, dice
are rolled to determine the narrative momentum that results
from an action. These are Checks, and there are three types
Protagonists and NPCs will make:

Fight Checks can be made when a character is


attempting to hurt someone or something.
Fight is a measure of tactical prowess, combat
ability, strength, and dexterity when life is on
the line.

Talk Checks can be made when a character is


attempting to sway the mind of another
character or creature. Talk is a measure of
charisma, presence, and ability to
communicate precisely what’s intended.

Skill Checks can be made when a character is


attempting to interact with the environment in
a way that is neither combat nor
communication. Skill is flexibility and
cleverness when solving mysteries and
overcoming obstacles that can’t be fought or
talked around.

Calling for a Check


Players and Guide alike can call for a Check to accomplish an
action. The Guide identifies the challenge and what could
potentially result from failure. These consequences must be
specific: not “something bad will happen,” but what the character
believes will result from failure. The Guide must also specifically
identify what will happen upon a success.

Forthright Open Roleplay • 13

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


DON’T SUMMON TROUBLE
Checks are made due to risks already in the
Gamescape, not to create new risks or dangers. A
Skill Check to sneak is only made when enemies are
present that can be alerted; it is not made to see if
a Setback is rolled so enemies can spontaneously
appear.

The Guide can provide specificity without removing surprise


entirely from the results of Protagonist actions. The key is in the
description’s implications, like so:

Brand: You don’t know what will happen if you slip and fall,
but looking down in the shadows, you feel like something is
moving down there. Something large. Something hungry.

Actions that might be impossible in some games are not


impossible in others. For example, running across a cloud
would fit a superhero game but would feel out-of-place in a noir
detective game. The Guide determines if an action would be
impossible based on whether it fits within the Gamescape and
themes of the game.
If the Guide cannot think of how an action can succeed, no roll is
necessary. The action cannot be attempted or outright fails with
predictable results stated before the action is taken.
If the Guide cannot think of an interesting consequence for failure,
or if the effect of a failure would be that the Team cannot continue
with the story or solve the mystery, then no roll is necessary. The
action succeeds to keep the story moving forward.
Characters may always opt out of performing an action after
hearing the stakes.

14 • Rolling Dice

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Rolling the Check
Rolls are made the moment the action matters to the story, such as

 Introduction
when a disguise is examined. Rolling a Check follows these steps:
1. The Protagonist describes what they want to do or hope
to accomplish. This should be a specific action such as
“climb the wall” and not a larger, more nebulous action
like “take over the empire.” The Guide, if an NPC is
acting, needs only describe what it looks like the NPC
is doing.
2. The Guide identifies any risks in performing the action,
such as “making noise and drawing the guard” or
“falling off the wall and hurting your leg.” The Guide also
identifies the type of Check (Fight, Talk, or Skill) required
and if any Raises or Drops will be automatically applied
to the result. If an NPC is acting, the Guide does not
need to verbalize this step.
3. If the character decides to attempt the action after
learning the stakes, the character rolls 1d20 and
adds the appropriate Check Bonus to determine the
Check result.
4. Apply any Raises, Drops, or Boons (PAGE 16) to the

••
Check result to get the Outcome.
5. There are four possible Outcomes:
Boon (21+): In addition to a Win, the character also
earns a Boon.
▲▲ Win (14-20): The action succeeds without trouble.
●● Exchange (8-13): The action succeeds, but the
character encounters some trouble. This identifies a
complicated benefit, such as finding a rare item at a
high price. This is both a positive and negative result.
▼▼ Setback (1-7): The action fails, and the character
encounters additional difficulty as a result.
6. The story proceeds with the Outcome guiding
the action.

Forthright Open Roleplay • 15

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Vic: I want to jump across the chasm to try and get at the car
before it pulls away.
Brand: Okay, that’ll be a Skill Check. On a Setback, you’ll fall
into the chasm and Injure yourself. On an Exchange, the car
will start pulling away before you can get to it.
Vic: I’m willing to take that risk. I’ll roll a d20 … and I rolled
a 6. But my Skill Bonus is 4, so that’s a total of 10. I rolled
an Exchange.
Brand: The car peels out, spattering gravel over you as you
pick yourself up from where you landed. What now?

This is a general overview of the core die mechanic in Forthright.


More specific Outcomes are found throughout this book.

Raises and Drops


A Raise increases the Check result by one step. For example, from
a Setback to an Exchange. Only one Raise may be applied to any
given Check. Boons cannot be Raised further.
A Drop reduces the Check result by one step. For example, from a
Win to an Exchange. Only one Drop may be applied to any given
Check. Setbacks cannot be Dropped further.

Setback Protection
Some abilities provide Setback Protection in certain situations. If
a character has Setback Protection on a Check, they can choose
to consider a Setback Outcome an Exchange instead. Setback
Protection can only be invoked after any Raises, Drops, and Boons
are applied to the Check.

Jamie: I’m going to leap over the chasm to give Val some help.
Brand: Skill Check, same risks Val had.
Jamie: I rolled a … Setback. That’s fine, I’m an Athlete.
Brand: That was an athletic action, so you’re right – that’s
an Exchange. You have avoided Injury! The car’s pulled far
enough away that there’s no way you can leap onto it like Val’s
done even now that you’re on this side.

16 • Rolling Dice

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Boons
Boons can be spent to gain one of the following results:

 Introduction
• Raise a Check result
• Drop a Check result
• Restore 5 Luck (PAGE 29)
• Deal 5 additional Harm (PAGE 87)
• Remove a Hindrance from yourself or an ally (PAGE 89)
• Shift from current Fighting Stance to another known
Fighting Stance (PAGE 30)
A spender can only spend a single Boon at a time. Only one
Protagonist and one NPC can spend a Boon on a single action.
The Boon can be spent before or after any Check rolls, but must
be spent before the result of the action is described.

Vic: I’m going to try and jump onto the back of the car.
Brand: Bold move. That’s another Skill Check, but the driver’s
going to spend a Boon to Drop your Check.
Vic: Fine. I’ll spend a Boon to Raise it back to a normal Check.
I’m determined.
CJ: I want to spend a Boon to Raise Val’s Check again.
Brand: You can’t. Only one Protagonist and one NPC can
spend a Boon on a single action, and both of those are spent.
Vic: Can I spend a second Boon to Raise my Check?
Brand: Nope. One Boon only.

The Team begins each session with 1 Boon. The Guide begins
each session with no Boons. A Boon token is earned when a Boon
is rolled and is held until the Boon is spent. There is no cap on the
number of Boons available, but all unspent Boons are lost at the
end of the session.

Forthright Open Roleplay • 17

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Representing Difficulty
A Check’s difficulty can be expressed by the severity of
consequences for Setbacks and Exchanges. For example,
MacGyvering a lock could break the lock, but MacGyvering a
bomb could cause it to explode prematurely.
Increased or decreased difficulty can also be represented by a
Drop or Raise, respectively, applied to the Check. The Guide must
announce prior to the roll whether a Drop or Raise will be applied
to the result.

Retries and Teaming Up


Multiple Checks for the same action (like picking a specific lock),
by the same or different characters, are not allowed.
If multiple characters want to work together to accomplish a
single Skill Check, they announce this prior to rolling. If the
Guide decides teaming up would in this case make sense, the
character with the highest Skill Bonus may make a Raised Check
to determine the Outcome.

18 • Rolling Dice

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


SETUP AND  
CHARACTER CREATION
The following pages contain instructions to follow
when starting a new game of Forthright and when
advancing Protagonists through play.

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


G  AME SETUP
Starting a game of Forthright involves first identifying the social
and fictional expectations of everyone in the gaming group.
These expectations are recorded on the Game Charter and are
referenced frequently by the Guide to ensure the game remains
on track.
The Game Charter is the record of the social and fictional
expectations of everyone in the gaming group. This sheet will be
referenced frequently by the Guide to ensure the game remains
on track.

Out of Bounds
The group identifies what they do not want to experience during
the game. Out of Bounds is particularly useful for convention play
and new groups.
The items recorded here should be concrete and specific
enough that everyone in the gaming group understands their
meaning. This can also allow players to add creative restrictions
and protection from clichés to the game. Some example Out of
Bounds items are:
• No mobile device use during the game
• No racial or gendered slurs
• No sexual danger
• No zombies or giant spiders
Any player can add any item to this list at any time. This section is
not majority rule, and players do not need to explain why they’ve
declared an item Out of Bounds.

Enforcing Social Rules


All players are responsible for maintaining civility and respect.
When Bounds are violated, the group discusses the infraction and
how best to handle it. Particularly bad or frequent violations may
require removing a player from the game. Punishment for real-life
infractions should never be meted out in-game: behaviors inside
and outside the game must be handled separately.

20 • Out of Bounds

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


The Gamescape
The Guide identifies the Gamescape that will be used. This can
include details such as geography, playable species populating
the region, world history, and important NPCs and factions.

Brand: The Gamescape is the World of Everos, a swordtech-


and-sorcery world with ancient magic, cutting-edge
technology, and monsters.

 Game Setup
Everos has a pre-industrial society constantly torn apart by war
as portals to other worlds open and invaders rush in to try and
capture Everos’s lush magical resources.
It’s currently ruled by the Emperor-Queen and her Harem-
Kings, and is protected by the Wardens of the Star-Roads:
powerful defenders who are often the first responders when
portals open.
There are dozens of different species in Everos, many left
behind from previous invasions. The Automata are ruled by
the Machine-Princes, the Draconid were some of the earliest
rulers of the world, and the Dwarves are scholars from the
frozen wastes – just to name a few.

Highlights
Players highlight whatever most engages them in the Gamescape,
providing the Guide with additional plot and story ideas. The
players ask about any details that interest them and expand the
world with their own Highlights. In this way, the Guide provides
the framework and the players provide additional ornamentation.

CJ: Tell me about the Automata, they sound interesting.


Brand: The Automata are robots, both humanoid and less so,
who live in the Clockwork Kingdom. Machine-Prince is just
their title for their leaders; they have no gender.
CJ: I want there to be some shenanigans between the noble
houses of the Automata that we deal with as we play.
Brand: Like what?
CJ: Like, maybe they’re jockeying for the position of being the
chief defense contractor for the Empire or something.
Brand: Okay, I can see that.

Forthright Open Roleplay • 21

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


When a player makes a suggestion, the Guide shapes it to fit
within the Gamescape in a believable (or believable enough)
fashion. The Guide must always consider how a suggestion could
work in the Gamescape instead of rejecting it outright. The Guide
must provide an alternative should they reject a suggestion.

Jules: I really like the idea of the invasions. I want to be an


advisor to the Emperor-Queen on how to handle them.
Brand: I think that’s a little high up in the food chain. How
about, instead, you’re a Sage Imperiex? That’s somebody who
works for the Emperor-Queen instead of the Wardens and
who serves as a liaison between them.
Jules: I like it. And I’d like there to be some tension in that
relationship. Maybe the Wardens aren’t entirely under her
control and that’s a bit frustrating for her?
Brand: I like that.

Challenges
The Guide describes the major conflicts that the Protagonists
may encounter. The other players give the Guide direction on
the challenges that they are most excited to experience. There are
three broad categories of challenges that the players will discuss
and rank from most to least interesting:
• Combat: The Protagonists will face more dangerous
opposition when this is their focus. They will need to
be ready to identify appropriate targets, manipulate
battlefield terrain, and understand when to fight and
when to retreat.
• Intrigue: Focusing on intrigue means that the
Protagonists will need to work harder to change NPCs’
minds. They will need to be ready to identify NPC desires,
steer discussions, and both catch and use innuendo.
• Mystery: The Protagonists will need to plan and
investigate more if they focus on mystery. They will need
to be ready to examine clues from multiple angles, work
out puzzles, and find paths to victory that will not be
immediately obvious.

22 • The Gamescape

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Most challenges are not solved by the abilities of the Protagonists
alone; the players must understand when and how to best use the
tactics outlined above.

Jamie: I want to do a lot of fighting.


Jules: I want there to be some Mystery, I’d like to delve into
the secrets of the world. And Intrigue.
Vic: I don’t want to do a lot of talking, so Intrigue is the one

 Game Setup
I’m least interested in. Combat is my favorite.
CJ: Intrigue and fighting, for me. Leave the puzzles to Jules.
Brand: Okay, it sounds like you guys rank Combat highest.
There’s a split on Intrigue and Mystery, though.
Jamie: I’d rather talk than solve puzzles, does that help?
Brand: It does. It looks like Intrigue is in the middle, and
Mystery last.
Jules: Eh.
Brand: Don’t worry, that doesn’t mean there won’t be any,
just that they’ll be more along the lines of reveals rather than
head-scratchers.
Jules: I can live with that.

The Guide can use this ranking of Challenges to help build events,
NPCs and adventures (PAGE 153).

House Rules
Some groups will want to introduce House Rules: modifications of
the Forthright system that change the way the game is played.
Using House Rules to tweak the game to your liking is encouraged.
Discuss House Rules first with all the members of the group.
Write out any the group agrees to use on the Game Charter.
This prevents anyone from being surprised by a rule working
differently than they expect.

Forthright Open Roleplay • 23

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Game Charter
The Game Charter is the record of setup and group expectations.

Game Name

OUT OF BOUNDS HOUSE RULES

Out of Bounds (20)

GAMESCAPE House Rules (23)

Gamescape (21)
Highlights

Highlights (21)
Challenges
COMBAT INTRIGUE MYSTERY

Challenges (22)

MORE HOUSE RULES

House Rules (23)

24 • Game Charter

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Game Charter End

The Powers of Everos


Game Name

OUT OF BOUNDS HOUSE RULES


No sexual danger Superhuman Boosts are OK if described
No racial/gendered slurs like a toy’s “action feature”
No zombies (other undead OK)

 Game Setup
GAMESCAPE
Everos; Ambersol City
Swordtech-and-Sorcery
Invaded frequently
Highlights

Automata Politics
Wardens vs. Emperor-Queen
Challenges
COMBAT INTRIGUE MYSTERY
Mysteries are OK
if they don’t have
to solve them

MORE HOUSE RULES

Forthright Open Roleplay • 25

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


T  HE PROTAGONISTS
The Protagonists are tough, competent members of a team
with a common goal. Protagonists can be good, evil, or just
muddling their way through a complex world – what matters is
that the Protagonists are the heart of the story and will change the
Gamescape for better or worse. Protagonists are created through
the following steps:
• Description: Determine what your Protagonist looks like
and name your Protagonist (PAGE 27).
• Principles: Determine what motivations and goals drive
your Protagonist (PAGE 27).
• Stats: Assign your Protagonist’s starting Check Bonuses
between Fight, Talk, and Skill Checks (PAGE 29).
• Fighting Stance: Select a Fighting Stance for your
Protagonist (PAGES 30–32).
• Persona: Select a Persona for your Protagonist (PAGES
33–34).
• Skillset: Select a Skillset for your Protagonist (PAGES
35–36).
• Boosts: Customize your Protagonist with 3 Boosts (PAGES
37–46).
• Relationships: Identify a person or group in the
Gamescape your Protagonist has a positive relationship
with (PAGE 47).
• Sanctuary: Identify a place within the Gamescape where
your Protagonist feels safe (PAGES 48–51).
Protagonists grow and adapt as they adventure, and you may
discover new things about them as you play. You are not locked
into the choices you make when you create a Protagonist.

26 •  The Protagonists

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Description
Protagonists have unique personalities, appearances, and
backstories that make them remarkable in some way. They are
dynamic, active, and know what they want. Your Protagonist’s
description is an opportunity to define what makes them cool,
unique, and special.
You don’t have to know everything about your Protagonist before
play begins; as you encounter events in the story, you will discover
new aspects of who they are.

Principles
Every Protagonist has Principles: motivations for adventuring and
lines they will not cross. These are goals, beliefs, and reasons why

 The Protagonists
the Protagonists work together. These Principles are the heart of
characterization and the key to making a Protagonist feel less like
a collection of stats and more like a living being.
The Protagonists work and fight together because they hope
to accomplish something together. The Team’s purpose lets
everyone know what the main goal of the game will be and tells
the Guide what types of situations to present. This should be the
first Principle recorded on every player’s Protagonist Sheet.

CJ: So, why are we working together?


Jules: Because we want to play the game.
Brand: Seriously, though. This is a cue to me to let me know
what you guys want to do, so I know what kinds of adventures
to prepare for you instead of just “hole in the ground, kill
monsters, get loot.”
Jamie: You said there were portals and stuff that opened to
other worlds, and sometimes Everos is invaded? Why not be
something like first-responders?
Vic: Oh, like we try to watch for portals and investigate them to
see if they’re dangerous, and we’re the vanguard if they are?
CJ: Oooh, I like that.
Jules: Let’s call ourselves that. The Vanguard.

Forthright Open Roleplay • 27

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


THE SECRETS THAT YOU KEEP
Even if the Protagonists have secrets from each other,
those secrets should be shared between players to
enhance the drama for everyone. Remember, you
are all collaborating.

Protagonists should have at least 2 to 3 Principles at the beginning


of play. These should be direct and not obvious “every adventurer
would do this” material. A good Principle can be challenged; the
Guide is responsible for bringing these Principles into conflict to
discover which are more important to the Protagonists.

Jamie: Okay, I’m thinking my character would be something


like an adrenaline junkie: you know, a thrill-seeker, that sort
of thing.
Brand: Well, you’re an adventurer, so that’s kind of a given.
That doesn’t really offer me anything to challenge, because
you’re of course going to be doing amazing things.
Jamie: I want to be the very best at what I do?
Brand: Doesn’t everybody?
Jamie: Okay, how about this: I will defend the weak from
the strong.
Brand: That has dramatic potential.
Vic: I want to get rich or die trying.
Brand: Skip the “or” there – that tells me what’s more valuable
to you. You want to get rich.
Vic: But isn’t the “die trying” what gives it tension?
Brand: No, because it means we already know what’s more
important. “I’ll give you a million dollars to cut off your arm.”
Well, a million dollars is rich and cutting off your arm is less
than dying, so grab that knife. Without “die trying,” we don’t
know yet what’s more important; we discover how important
wealth is to you, and finding out becomes part of the story.

28 • Principles

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Keep in mind the Challenges the group wants to focus on when
you develop your Principles. If the group wants to focus on
combat, for instance, creating pacifistic Principles may cause
conflict between the Team and your Protagonist. Talk with your
group to ensure your Principles do not detract from the enjoyment
of other players.
Principles can change over time as Protagonists find new goals
and set aside old motivations. This is an expected part of play
and is essential to both character development and advancement
(PAGE 58).

Starting Stats
The Check Bonuses and Luck the Protagonists begin play with
depend on the level of power intended for the game. The

 The Protagonists
group decides the power level from the following options. All
Protagonists begin play at the same level.
• Mere Mortal: Protagonists at this level of play begin with
a +0 in all Check Bonuses and 20 Luck. These characters
are only slightly more capable than the average person,
and are appropriate for horror, noir, or similar genres
where the Protagonists are in over their heads.
• Heroic: Protagonists at this level of play begin with a +2,
a +1 and a +0 to distribute between Check Bonuses, and
30 Luck. These characters are significantly more skilled
than the average person, and are appropriate for most
genres where the Protagonists can face long odds and
still come out victorious.
• Superheroic: Protagonists at this level of play begin
with a +6, a +3 and a +0 to distribute between Check
Bonuses, and 50 Luck. These characters have great power
compared to the average person, and are appropriate
for epic games with Protagonists standing against god-
like threats.
Luck represents resilience in the face of combat and resistance
to lingering Injury or Damage. Luck is eroded by near misses and
fearful sights just as much as through cuts and bruises.

Forthright Open Roleplay • 29

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Fighting Stances
Fighting Stances define the techniques characters can use to
hurt their enemies in combat. Protagonists begin play with one
Fighting Stance and may learn extra Fighting Stances by spending
Boost Points (PAGE 58).
Characters can only adopt one Fighting Stance at a time. They
can shift from one Fighting Stance to another that they know as an
Action (PAGE 85) or Exploit (PAGE 86), or by spending a Boon.
The available Fighting Stances are:

Deadeye
Deadeye Stance excels at heavy punishment from a distance.
While in this stance, characters will want to remain far from the
line of skirmish, as they cannot retaliate against enemies that
close in on them.
Harm Die: 1d10, Long Range attacks only
Technique: When in Deadeye Stance, the character’s Fight Check
Exchanges do not trigger Exploits.

Jules: I’m aiming at the sniper and hurling a fireball. I rolled


an Exchange and ... 7 Harm.
Brand: The orange-red flame explodes against the wall next
to the sniper’s head, raining pebbles across his vision. He tries
to target you for a counterattack, but he can’t get a clear shot.

Guardian
Guardian Stance protects allies by absorbing attacks. While in
this stance, characters will want to remain near their teammates
so they can jump in and take hits when needed.
Harm Die: 1d8, Close Range attacks only
Technique: When in Guardian Stance, the character can intercept
harmful attacks targeting their allies. The Guardian must be Close
to either the attacker or the target. Harm from intercepted attacks
is halved (minimum 1), but the Guardian takes the damage and
any Hindrances delivered by the attack.

30 • Fighting Stances

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Brand: The ogre roars toward you, Val, and brings his
chainsaw-axe down in a huge arc for ... Ouch. 12 Harm.
Jamie: Intercept. I’m spending a Boon to switch immediately
to Guardian Stance and jump in the way of that attack.
Vic: Thanks, that would have Injured me.
Jamie: “Nooooooo,” I yell in slow motion as I jump between
the axe and Val.
Brand: You hold your long-hammer up to catch the blow,
taking 6 Harm. Val, you take nothing.

Juggernaut
Juggernaut Stance focuses on defeating nearby enemies as
quickly as possible. While in this stance, characters will want to

 The Protagonists
rush to the line of skirmish to maximize their offensive potential.
Harm Die: 1d12, Close Range attacks only
Technique: When in Juggernaut Stance, Harm the character deals
beyond what is needed to Defeat a target can be applied to a
different opponent up to Long Range on the battlefield.

Jamie: Burning-Sky hits him with the long-hammer like he’s a


polo ball. Clock. 11 Harm.
Brand: Since you’re now in Juggernaut stance, you’ve done
2 more Harm than you needed to Defeat him – he only had 9
Luck left. Who do you want the rest to go to?
Jamie: I look up at that sniper who’s been pestering us and
roar at the top of my lungs like he’s next.
Brand: He seems terrified, and takes 2 Harm.

Tactician
Tactician Stance concentrates on optimizing the capabilities of
the Team. While in this stance, characters deal light damage
personally but can ensure their allies are in the best position on
the battlefield.
Harm Die: 1d4, Close and Long Range attacks

Forthright Open Roleplay • 31

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Technique: When in Tactician Stance, the character can Command
allies to take Actions. The Tactician rolls any Checks required for
the Command. The ally rolls their Harm Die if necessary. Setbacks
rolled for Commands do not trigger Exploits. The Tactician suffers
the results of Exploits from Exchanges.

Vic: “Thelan. Target that sniper and fire.”


Jules: Sounds good.
Vic: My Fight Check is an Exchange.
Jules: I roll 7 Harm.
Brand: The fireball hits the sniper square in the chest. He flies
backward, Defeated, but he gets off one last shot – hitting you,
Val, for 3 Harm on the counterattack.

Whirlwind
Whirlwind Stance applies its damage across the battlefield to
overcome multiple opponents at once. While in this stance,
characters can either take down weakened enemies or wear
down strong ones.
Harm Die: 1d6, Close and Long Range attacks
Technique: When in Whirlwind Stance, the character can apply
their Harm to two targets on the battlefield. The player may
decide to roll one Harm die and apply it to both targets or roll
two Harm dice, applying one die to each target.
Whirlwind Stance only applies Harm to multiple targets; choosing
to Hinder instead of Harm (PAGE 89) in this Stance applies the
Hindrance to a single target only. The Hindering Strike Boost
(PAGE 38) enhances this.

Brand: There are three enemies left: two goons are covering
their running leader. One of the goons is in bad shape.
CJ: I can’t let him get away. I run past them, punching the hurt
goon while firing my pulse cannon at the guy running away.
Win. And ... 4 Harm to both.
Brand: As you run by him, you clock the goon and drop him to
the ground, Defeated. The purple-white pulse blast skirts the
leader’s shoulder. He stumbles, but keeps going.

32 • Fighting Stances

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Personas
Personas are how characters present themselves to different
people and in different situations, improving their social capital
in those circumstances. Protagonists begin play with one Persona
and may learn extra Personas by spending Boost Points (PAGE
58).

Players will work with the Guide to identify appropriate choices


for their Personas. For example, “space truckers” may not be an
option for Networkers in a purely fantasy setting.
Unlike Fighting Stances, a character has access to all their
Personas simultaneously and is not limited to communicating
using only techniques that provide them Setback Protection (PAGE
16). The available Personas are:

 The Protagonists
Agent
Agents are members of a Faction within the Gamescape. They
can be commanded by higher-ranking members of the Faction.
In turn, they can call upon the Faction’s resources when necessary.
Technique: Choose a Faction within the Gamescape such as
“Antares Star Navy” or “Wardens of the Star-Roads.” The character
is an Operative of that Faction (PAGE 127), and has Setback
Protection on Talk Checks with other members of that Faction.

Mingler
Minglers are adept at communicating in certain situations.
They often seek out these settings to make the most of
their conversations.
Technique: Choose a setting such as “at a party,” “during a formal
dinner,” “in court,” “before an audience,” or “among a crowd.”
While in that setting, the character has Setback Protection on all
Talk Checks.

Networker
Networkers associate themselves with a swath of people or
creatures that share some general characteristics. They lean on
these associates for aid and support.

Forthright Open Roleplay • 33

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Technique: Choose a loosely defined group in the Gamescape
such as “space truckers,” “animals,” “survivors of the Xeros
Incident,” or a Faction such as “Antares Star Navy.” The character
and that group are Associates (PAGE 70). Additionally, the
character has Setback Protection on Talk Checks with members
of that group.

Orator
Orators excel at a particular style of communication. They will
often speak or gesture this way to get their point across.
Technique: Choose a type of communicating such as “boasting,”
“making a speech,” or even “raising one eyebrow sardonically.”
When communicating in this manner, the character has Setback
Protection on their Talk Checks.

TRUTH AND LIES


Forthright social interaction doesn’t distinguish
between fact and fiction. As a result, “telling the
truth” and “lying” are not appropriate choices for
the Orator’s Setback Protection.

Socializer
Socializers are most comfortable speaking with people of certain
social and economic station. They understand the concerns of
that stratum and how to manipulate those concerns.
Technique: Choose a Social Stratum (PAGE 65) from the
following: High, Middle or Low (whichever is smaller within the
Gamescape), or Outcast. When communicating with people of
that Social Stratum, the character has Setback Protection on their
Talk Checks.

34 • Personas

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Skillsets
Skillsets identify how characters best interact with the
environment. Protagonists begin play with one Skillset and may
learn extra Skillsets by spending Boost Points (PAGE 58).
Unlike Fighting Stances, a character has access to all their
Skillsets simultaneously and is not limited to interacting with the
environment only in ways that provide them Setback Protection
(PAGE 16). The available Skillsets are:

Athlete
Athletes excel at pushing their bodies to their limits. They leap,
climb, hide in unusual spaces, swim, swing on vines, and ride other
creatures without being concerned about hurting themselves.

 The Protagonists
Technique: Athletes have Setback Protection on Skill Checks to
perform athletic feats and Stunts (PAGE 93).

Crafter
Crafters are the most reliable developers of Boosts at low cost,
whether they are making a healing potion, assembling a gun from
spare parts, or creating a faster engine.
Technique: Crafters have Setback Protection on Skill Checks to
invent, MacGyver, and manufacture.

Infiltrator
Infiltrators focus on getting into places they shouldn’t be. From
stealth, to disguise, to making themselves not seem all that
important, they will not be stopped from going where they’re
not wanted.
Technique: Infiltrators have Setback Protection on Skill Checks for
maintaining a disguise and sneaking.

Investigator
Investigators are adept at extracting and extrapolating
information. They have a keen eye for detail, spotting trails and
making deductions that help them better understand what’s
happening around them.

Forthright Open Roleplay • 35

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Technique: Investigators have Setback Protection on Skill Checks
to gather information through knowledge, research, and tracking.

Transporter
Transporters are highly skilled mount and Vehicle operators. Be
it a gryphon, horse-drawn cart, or the most advanced spacecraft
in the system, transporters can make it work and make it dance.
Technique: Transporters have Setback Protection on Skill Checks
to operate a Vehicle or mount, or to MacGyver a Vehicle or mount.

Basic Attributes
Forthright characters have the following attributes before
buying Boosts.
• Fuel: They need to consume fuel from the environment to
survive. Examples are food and water for living creatures,
energy cubes for machines, etc.
• Locomotion: They move along the ground at
approximately 4 miles (6.5 km) per hour and obey gravity.
They might be able to levitate or flutter (if they are fairies,
for example), but still follow the rise and fall of the land.
• Respiration: They breathe the dominant atmosphere
of the Gamescape whether it is air, water, or something
more exotic. This might keep them alive or keep them
cool (if they are robots, for example).
• Rest: They must rest periodically, whether to sleep,
meditate, or recharge their batteries.
• Senses: They have the equivalent of a human being’s
senses: hearing, sight, smell, taste, and touch.
• Social Position: They are free and contributing members
of society, making them part of the Middle Social Stratum
(PAGE 66).
• Strength: They are capable of lifting, carrying, and
dragging significant weight. The specific amount is
left deliberately vague because this only matters when
dramatically appropriate.
These basic attributes enable any character to operate within the
Gamescape without spending Boosts.

36 • Basic Attributes

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


A NOTE ABOUT MEASUREMENTS
Throughout this book, both USC and Metric values
are indicated. The Metric values are rounded for
ease of use. These measurements are provided to
help players visualize distances, and more accuracy
is not needed.

Boosts
Boosts provide characters with additional abilities that set them
apart from everyone else in the Gamescape. Boosts can be innate
powers, special equipment, or secret techniques and may be
magical, psionic, or scientific in nature. All Protagonists begin play

 The Protagonists
with 3 Boosts and can purchase additional Boosts for themselves,
their Minions, or their Sanctuaries with Boost Points (PAGE 58).
Players and Guides must incorporate their Boosts into the fiction
of the game. This is done at the time the Boost is purchased or
can be discovered through play.

CJ: I think Everlasting works for Prince Solenoid. I’m a robot,


so I don’t need to eat or drink.
Jamie: I want Burning-Sky to have Beast Tongue. I don’t know
why I can talk to animals, though.
Brand: Maybe you have a secret heritage, or a magical gift.
Jamie: Maybe. Let’s say it’s a secret magical gift, but I don’t
know how I got it. That should give you something to work
with, Brand.

All Boosts cost one Boost Point. Some Boosts can be purchased
multiple times, with each purchase providing a different option.
The Guide may choose to restrict some Boosts in the following
lists as inappropriate to the Gamescape. The lists on the following
pages do not contain all the possible Boosts that can exist in
Forthright; use them as a model for creating your own Boosts
to record in your House Rules.

Forthright Open Roleplay • 37

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Abilities
These Boosts provide Protagonists with new and unusual powers.

BOOST MECHANIC

Acuity You can recognize targets at Extreme Range


and your Hearing and Listening ranges are
increased by one step (PAGE 118).

Beast Tongue You can speak with animals.

Danger Sense You can feel the presence of and target any
opponents in Close Range even if Blinded.

Darkvision You can see in the dark without issue.

Extra Limb You have an extra grasping limb.

Hindering Choose a Hindrance (PAGE 89). You can


Strike both Harm and Hinder a single target with that
Hindrance. Applying more than 1 Hindrance,
or applying the Hindrance to an additional
target (in Whirlwind Stance), costs 1 Boon per
additional Hindrance or target.

Now You Don’t You can hide in combat as a Stunt.

Persist Harm The target of your Harmful attack continues to


take 1d6 Harm at the end of every Turn until
an Action is taken to end the effect.

Rally Choose a Hindrance (PAGE 89). You can


recover from this Hindrance for free when you
take another Action.

Secret Pocket You can hide objects no larger than your palm
on yourself in an undetectable way.

Strong Like Your Skill Checks to perform feats of strength


Bull are Raised.

Trample You can deal 1d6 Harm to a single target in


Close Range without a Fight Check as you move.

Twist Like Cat You can fit into extremely tight spaces and falls
do not Injure you.

38 • Boosts

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Advancement Only
The Boosts in this list are not available at character creation, but
may be purchased once Boost Points are earned through play. All
Boosts in this list may be purchased multiple times.

BOOST MECHANIC

Eureka Do not choose a Boost. Instead, you may choose


Moment a Boost mid-session to replace this. You may only
purchase one Eureka Moment at a time.

Fighting Choose an additional Fighting Stance you do not


Stance already have.

Increase Choose a Check (Fight, Talk, or Skill) that has suffered

 The Protagonists
Bonus a Setback. Increase that Check Bonus by 1. Check
Bonuses can be increased to a maximum of +7.

Persona Choose an additional Persona you do not already


have.

Recovery Remove an Injury you are currently suffering.

Skillset Choose an additional Skillset you do not already


have.

Wealth Gain 6 Wealth.

Forthright Open Roleplay • 39

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Allies and Contacts
These Boosts provide new options for interacting with NPCs.

BOOST MECHANIC

Boost Choose an Abilities, Environmental, or Superhuman


Friend Boost you have. Anyone else with that Boost who
recognizes you have it will treat you as a Friend.

Confidant Your Comrades and Friends (PAGE 70) come to


you for advice before consulting anyone else.

High and Increase your Social Status to High.


Mighty

Boons
These Boosts provide new options for earning and
spending Boons.

BOOST MECHANIC

Assembly Line Spend a Boon to resolve +1d6 Complexity


in a workweek for a Project (PAGE 112).

Forgettable Spend a Boon on a target of your Talk Check


to prevent them from identifying you, the
Team, or what you wanted after you’ve left.

Inspire Spend a Boon to add a motivation to a


target of your Talk Check that does not
contradict one of their existing motivations.

Moment of Earn a Boon when you Injure or Defeat


Triumph (PAGE 87) an opponent.

Your Lying Eyes Spend a Boon to ensure that your disguise


is remembered perfectly in minute detail by
witnesses.

40 • Boosts

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Environmental
These Boosts provide environmental adaptation and
locomotive abilities.

BOOST MECHANIC

Fast You can travel twice as fast when not in


combat and Raise any speed-based Chase
Checks (PAGE 101).

Environmental Choose an unusual environment for the


Adaptation Gamescape (arctic, underwater, volcanic, etc.).
You can operate in that environment without
ill effects.

 The Protagonists
Unusual Choose an unusual form of travel for the
Locomotion Gamescape (burrowing, climbing, flying,
swimming, etc.). You can travel at your normal
speed in and out of combat when using this
form of locomotion.

Exploits
These Boosts provide new options for Exploiting and being
Exploited (PAGE 86).

BOOST MECHANIC

Marshal the When you can Exploit an opponent, you can


Field allow an ally in Close Range to Exploit your
target on your behalf instead.

Parry When you are Exploited with a Counterattack,


you regain 1d6 Luck.

Retaliate When you Counterattack on Exploit, you deal


an additional 1d6 Harm.

Run for Cover When you Reposition on Exploit, you can


move up to 60 feet (20 meters).

Forthright Open Roleplay • 41

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Superhuman
Players must get permission from the Guide to purchase Boosts
in the following list, as these Boosts provide extraordinarily
powerful abilities.

BOOST MECHANIC

Elemental Choose an element: Earth, Fire, Ice, Water,


Control Wind, or Wood. You can create, disintegrate,
or manipulate a 5-foot (1.5 meter) cube of this
material within Long Range as an Action. You
can take this Boost multiple times to increase
the area of effect or to choose a new element.

Everlasting You do not need to eat or rest.

Ghost You can become immaterial as an Action.


While immaterial, you can pass through solid
objects. You can become material again as an
Action.

Illusion You can create an illusion in a 5-foot (1.5


meter) cube within Long Range. Concentrating
on an illusion is an Action. Your illusion appears
real to all senses while you concentrate and for
up to a minute after. You can take this Boost
multiple times to increase the area of effect.

Increase Luck Increase your Luck by 5, to a maximum of 50


Luck.

Increase Choose a Fighting Stance. You deal one step


Stance Harm greater Harm to a single target when in this
Stance, in this order: 1d4 > 1d6 > 1d8 > 1d10
> 1d12 (Max). You can take this Boost multiple
times to increase the Harm, apply the Harm
to a second target (for Whirlwind Stance), or
choose a new Fighting Stance.

Sense Choose something you would not normally


be able to sense (such as magic or psychic
energy). You can now sense this at vision
distances.

42 • Boosts

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


BOOST MECHANIC

Strong Your attacks can Harm targets with Strong


Attack Defense.

Strong You can only be Harmed by attackers with


Defense Strong Attack or Ultra Attack.

Telekinetic You can move characters and objects at up to


Long Range as if physically touching them.

Telepathic You can mentally communicate with other


creatures up to Long Range.

Teleport You can move from one location to another


without crossing the intervening space. You can

 The Protagonists
move up to 330 feet (100 meters) as an Action.

Ultra Attack Requires Strong Attack. Your attacks can Harm


targets with Strong Defense or Ultra Defense.

Ultra Requires Strong Defense. You can only be


Defense Harmed by attackers with Ultra Attack.

Forthright Open Roleplay • 43

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Minions
Minions are creatures, machines, or people dedicated to
serving a single character. If serving a Protagonist, these NPCs
are controlled by a player but may be roleplayed by the Guide.
Minions begin with a +0 in all Check Bonuses and 10 Luck.
Protagonists can earn Minions through play by befriending NPCs
willing to become their Minions, summoning or constructing a
Minion (PAGE 111), or by spending Boost Points to purchase a
specific type of Minion. Minions can be improved by purchasing
Boosts for them from the Abilities, Environmental and Minion lists.
Minions are limited because they should not overshadow their
master. They do not get their own Actions in combat, but their
master can Command them from the Tactician Fighting Stance. As
a result, Minions use their master’s Fight Bonus. Some Minions are
not trained to fight and cannot be Commanded to do so. Minions
of Protagonists, if Defeated, suffer no Injury and regenerate after
combat (PAGE 95).

DEATH AND MINIONS


If a Protagonist’s Minion is knowingly directed to certain death
(“Shield us from that bomb with your body”), the Minion and
any Boost Points spent on that Minion are lost until the next
Retrospective (PAGE 46). Knowingly sacrificing a sentient Minion
is a Deed of Legend (PAGE 68).
Minions react to forced sacrifice based on their fictional nature.
Living Minions are loath to sacrifice themselves and unwilling to
work for a master who is willing to sacrifice them. Summoned
Minions may not have a choice and be resentful, while constructs
may not care. Protagonists may find themselves unable to acquire
new Minions if they are known for sacrificing them.

44 • Boosts

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


BOOST MECHANIC

Increase Minion Increase a single Minion’s Talk or Skill


Bonus Bonus by 1, to a maximum of +4.

Increase Minion Increase a single Minion’s Luck by 5, to a


Luck maximum of 20 Luck.

Minion: This Minion deals 1d6 Harm in Close


Bodyguard Range and can take Harm from Exploits
on your behalf.

Minion: Emissary Choose a Persona. This Minion has that


Persona and will perform tasks for you,
but will Retreat immediately from combat.

 The Protagonists
Minion: Fighter This Minion deals 1d10 Harm in Close
Range.

Minion: Mount This Minion can be ridden and travels


twice as fast as the Protagonist when not
in combat.

Minion: Choose a Skillset. This Minion has that


Professional Skillset and will perform tasks for you, but
will Retreat immediately from combat.

Minion: Ranger This Minion deals 1d8 Harm in Long


Range.

Minion: Scout This Minion can fly and moves at 2x


default speed. You can see through its
senses, but it will Retreat immediately
from combat.

Forthright Open Roleplay • 45

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Vic is playing Val Darrin, a Tactician. Vic wants to ensure
Val always has someone to command, so Vic purchases the
Minion: Fighter Boost. Val names this Minion “Whip Hartley,”
and commands Whip in battle when it is more advantageous
to command Whip than another Protagonist.
Over time, Vic purchases the “Improve Minion Luck” Boost
twice, giving Whip a total of 20 Luck, to ensure Whip lasts
longer in a fight.

Boost Combos
Characters may want powers and abilities that are combinations of
Boosts. When this happens, they can buy each Boost individually
and “build up” their power, or they can wait and buy all the Boosts
at once.

Jules: I want to be able to shoot a ball of acid. I’m thinking it


would be a Strong Attack that does Persist Harm.
Brand: Okay, that would deal the same damage as your
normal attack and cost 2 Boost Points.

Losing Boosts
If, through play, a character loses a Boost or Boost Combo
(perhaps because it was fictionally tied to a tool that has been
destroyed), any Boost Points spent on it are refunded. Crafted
Boosts (PAGE 111) are not refunded. Refunded Points can be
spent during the next Retrospective.

Through the course of an adventure, Val Darrin’s Minion Whip


Hartley died to protect Val from an explosion. The explosion
also destroyed Prince Solenoid’s jetpack, removing his
Unusual Locomotion (Flight) Boost. For the rest of the session,
those two Protagonists do not have the use of those Boosts.
Vic had spent 3 total Boost Points on Whip, and CJ spent 1
Boost Point on Unusual Locomotion (Flight). At the end of
the session, Vic is refunded 3 Boost Points to spend on new
Boosts, and CJ is refunded 1 Boost Point.

46 • Boosts

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Character Templates
The Guide can help players build their characters quickly by
presenting pre-selected options to represent different species
and careers. Some examples of this include:

Imperial Guard (Career): Guardian Fighting Stance, Agent


(Imperial Guard) Persona, Athlete Skillset
Sailor (Career): Whirlwind Fighting Stance, Networker
(Sailors) Persona, Athlete Skillset
Stormbringer (Career): Deadeye Fighting Stance, Agent
(Stormbringers) Persona, Transporter Skillset
Aven (Species): Fast, Unusual Locomotion (Flight – Wings)
Draconid (Species): Extra Limb (Tail), Strong Like Bull

 The Protagonists
Dwarf (Species): Darkvision, Twist Like Cat

Character templates are a quick character-creation tool and are


not intended to lock Protagonists into specific options: not every
member of a species or every person in a career has the same
skills and talents.

Relationships
All Protagonists have Friends and Associates (PAGE 70) within
the Gamescape. These NPCs can be contacts, family, favored
merchants, and the like. Each Protagonist can create one or
more allies with help from the Guide to ensure they fit within
the Gamescape.
The Guide determines the game stats for these characters (PAGE
155) and is responsible for ensuring they have a role to play in
the Team’s story.

Jules: I want to be a familiar face around the court of Thyre.


Brand: Okay, that means you probably know, say, the
Thunderhead and the High Thunders, his nobles.
Jules: I want to be friends with one of the High Thunders. But
because neither of us like the Thunderhead, we’re like secretly
working against him. Gronthar Kabe is his name.
Brand: I can work with that.

Forthright Open Roleplay • 47

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


The Team, over the course of their story, will develop additional
relationships with NPCs. Some of these will be positive and
mutually beneficial, while others will be negative and mutually
antagonistic. The strength of relationships is defined by how much
characters are willing to risk or sacrifice for each other (PAGE 78).
Relationships between NPCs and the Team are always reciprocal.
If a character is willing to take risks for the Team, for example, that
character will generally also expect the Team to be willing to take
risks in return.

Sanctuary
All Protagonists have somewhere in the Gamescape where
they are safe, a home when they are not adventuring. These
Sanctuaries can be Vehicles or Structures.
Each Protagonist can begin with a personal Sanctuary, or the
Protagonists can combine their efforts and have a Team Sanctuary.
The Team may also develop a Sanctuary during play (for example,
if they capture a castle and decide to outfit it as their new base
of operations).

Vic: I want a spaceship that I can pilot.


Jules: How about we all have one really awesome Sanctuary?
CJ: It can be a spaceship, a big one. I’m cool with that.
Vic: But I wanted one of my own, that I can race around in.
Jamie: Why don’t we have like a big flying fortress kind of
thing, with a shuttle or something for Vic? Can we do that?
Brand: You can.
Vic: Let’s do that.

48 • Sanctuary

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


A Sanctuary begins with a single Boost chosen by the Protagonist
from the list of Vehicle or Structure Boosts as appropriate. If the
Team has selected a joint Sanctuary, each Protagonist adds a
Boost to the Team Sanctuary. Sanctuaries can be improved by
spending Boost Points (PAGE 58).

Brand: So, you all have a single Sanctuary, a large spaceship.


Vic, your Boost is your Launch, okay?
Vic: That works.
Jamie: It should have weapons. Like, gun turrets that we can
use to defend the ship.
Brand: Okay, that’s Weapon Turrets and that deals 1d6 Harm.
CJ: We’ll need Sensors so we can target enemies that aren’t
right on top of us.

 The Protagonists
Jules: And it should be our home, so let’s make sure to have
living quarters.
Brand: That’s a given, so go ahead and pick something else.
Jules: Let’s improve those Weapon Turrets to 1d8, then.
Brand: And that’s a Boost from each of you. You should give
it a name.
Vic: Thunderwing.

The Guide may add up to 3 Boosts to a Sanctuary for no cost to


better fit the Sanctuary into the Gamescape or to give it usefulness
in situations the Guide expects the Team to face.

Forthright Open Roleplay • 49

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Structures
Structures are buildings that can act as frames for Boosts.
Structures can be as small as one-room houses and as large as
skyscrapers. Size directly relates to a Structure’s Luck in resisting
Damage. Determine the Luck and Defense of a Structure before
Boosts as follows:
• 5 or fewer Chambers: 10 Luck per Chamber
• 6 or more Chambers and 5 or fewer Floors/Decks:
Strong Defense, 10 Luck per Floor/Deck
• More than 5 Floors/Decks: Ultra Defense, 50 Luck
Larger buildings are more difficult to Damage because they must
be stable and well-built to stand. Some example buildings include:

Medieval Wooden House: 10 Luck


Modern Single-Story House: 10 Luck, Strong Defense
Modern Skyscraper: 50 Luck, Ultra Defense

Structures can be improved through Boosts in the form of


equipment mounted on the Structure such as security cameras
or through chambers that provide specialized functionality.
Available Structure Boosts include:

BOOST MECHANIC

Hangar The Structure has support facilities for


Vehicles, and one Vehicle. The Vehicle defaults
to a single-pilot unarmed Vehicle, but can be
upgraded with Boosts.

Homing The Structure has homing weapons that deal


Weapon 1d4 Harm. Firing requires an Action but no
Check; the weapon will hit the target on the
target’s next Action unless Countermeasures
are used. They are effective in Short and Long
Range.

Increase Increase the Structure’s Luck by 5, to a


Structure Luck maximum of 50 Luck.

50 • Sanctuary

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


BOOST MECHANIC

Increase Choose a weapon mounted on the Structure. The


Weapon weapon does one step greater Harm, in this order:
Harm 1d4 > 1d6 > 1d8 > 1d10 > 1d12 (Max). You can take
this Boost multiple times to increase the Harm or
choose a new weapon.

Laboratory Personnel can get a Raise on invention Skill Checks.

Luxury Personnel can get a Raise on Talk Checks with guests


impressed by luxurious surroundings.

Panic There is a chamber in the Structure that prevents


Room Injury to its occupants in case the Structure is
destroyed.

 The Protagonists
Secret Lair Structure Only. The Structure has been hidden so well
it can only be found by those who already know where
it is.

Security Characters suffer a Drop on Skill Checks when


Sensors sneaking in or around the Structure.

Strong Choose a weapon mounted on the Structure. The


Attack weapon can Harm targets with Strong Defense.

Strong The Structure can only be damaged by Strong Attacks


Defense or Ultra Attacks.

Ultra Choose a weapon mounted on the Structure with


Attack Strong Attack. The weapons can Harm targets with
Strong Defense or Ultra Defense.

Ultra Requires Strong Defense. The Structure can only be


Defense damaged by Ultra Attacks.

Weapon These weapons require a Fight Check from the


Turrets gunner to fire and deal 1d6 Harm in any firing arc.
Each purchase of this Boost provides an additional
turret for an additional gunner. Each turret is effective
in either Short or Long Range, chosen when this Boost
is purchased.

Workshop Personnel can get a Raise on manufacturing Skill Checks.

Forthright Open Roleplay • 51

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Vehicles
Vehicles are mobile frames for Boosts that can transport
characters through the Gamescape. Vehicles can be as small as
motorcycles and as large as interstellar starships. Size directly
relates to a Vehicle’s Luck in resisting Damage. Determine the
Luck and Defense of a Vehicle before Boosts as follows:
• 10 or fewer Occupants: 5 Luck per Occupant
• 11 – 200 Occupants: Strong Defense, 5 Luck per 20
Occupants (or part thereof)
• More than 200 Occupants: Ultra Defense, 50 Luck
Larger Vehicles are more difficult to Damage because their
Subsystems (such as propulsion and communication) are
distributed over a wider area. Some example Vehicles include:

Wooden Cart: 30 Luck


Modern Passenger Bus: 15 Luck, Strong Defense
Modern Jumbo Jet: 50 Luck, Ultra Defense

Vehicles can be improved through Boosts in the form of


equipment mounted on the Vehicle. Larger Vehicles, like airplanes
or spacecraft, can have Structure Boosts as well as Vehicle Boosts.
Available Vehicle Boosts include:

BOOST MECHANIC

Comm Array* The Vehicle has two-way external


communications.

Countermeasures* The pilot can use an Action to make a


Skill Check to maneuver and avoid all
incoming Homing Weapons with the
following Outcomes:
▲▲ Win: Dodge, Vehicle takes no Harm
●● Exchange: Early detonation, Vehicle
takes half Harm (minimum 1)
▼▼ Setback: Hit, Vehicle takes full Harm
*Targetable Subsystem

52 • Sanctuary

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


BOOST MECHANIC

Escape Pods Escape Pods for all passengers and crew,


preventing Injury in case the Vehicle is
destroyed.

Fixed These weapons require a maneuver Skill


Weapons* Check from the pilot instead of a Fight Check
to fire and deal 1d6 Harm. They are effective
in Short and Long Range.

Homing The Vehicle has homing weapons that deal


Weapon* 1d4 Harm. Firing requires an Action but no
Check; the weapon will hit the target on the
target’s next Action unless Countermeasures
are used. They are effective in Short and Long

 The Protagonists
Range.

Increase Increase the Vehicle’s Luck by 5, to a


Vehicle Luck maximum of 50 Luck.

Increase Choose a weapon mounted on the Vehicle.


Weapon Harm The weapon does one step greater Harm,
in this order: 1d4 > 1d6 > 1d8 > 1d10 >
1d12 (Max). You can take this Boost multiple
times to increase the Harm or choose a new
weapon.

Launch* A separate Vehicle is attached to the Vehicle


and can be operated independently. The
Launch defaults to a single-pilot unarmed
Vehicle, but can be upgraded with Boosts.

Maneuverability The pilot can get a Raise on Skill Checks


when maneuvering or performing Vehicle
Stunts.

Multi- Choose an additional environment (space,


Environmental underwater, etc.). The Vehicle can be
operated safely in this environment.
*Targetable Subsystem

Forthright Open Roleplay • 53

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


BOOST MECHANIC

Repair Choose a Disabled Subsystem on the Vehicle.


Damage The Subsystem is restored to full functionality.
This Boost can be taken multiple times.

Sensors* Detect other Vehicles at Extreme range. Target


other Vehicles at Close and Long Range.
Only needed when occupants’ senses are
insufficient.

Shields* Shields prevent other Subsystems from being


targeted. The first time the Vehicle reaches 0
Luck in a combat, Shields are Crippled and
other Subsystems become targetable. Shields
cannot be repaired during combat.

Smuggling There is a secret compartment in the Vehicle


Compartment that cannot be detected when it is sealed.

Stealth Vehicle Only. The pilot can get a Raise on Skill


Checks to sneak the Vehicle past observation.

Strong Attack Choose a weapon mounted on the Vehicle. The


weapon can Harm targets with Strong Defense.

Strong The Vehicle can only be damaged by Strong


Defense Attacks or Ultra Attacks.

Ultra Attack Choose a weapon mounted on the Vehicle with


Strong Attack. The weapon can Harm targets
with Strong Defense or Ultra Defense.

Ultra Defense Requires Strong Defense. The Vehicle can only


be damaged by Ultra Attacks.

Weapon These weapons require a Fight Check from the


Turrets* gunner to fire and deal 1d6 Harm in any firing
arc. Each purchase of this Boost provides an
additional turret for an additional gunner. Each
turret is effective in either Short or Long Range,
chosen when this Boost is purchased.
*Targetable Subsystem

54 • Sanctuary

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


VEHICLE SUBSYSTEMS
Vehicles have Subsystems that can be used by their occupants
and targeted by attackers. Not every Vehicle has every Subsystem.
New Subsystems may be added to a Vehicle by spending Boost
Points. Common Subsystems in Vehicles are:
• Boosts: Vehicle Boosts marked with an asterisk count
as targetable Subsystems. If such a Boost has been
purchased multiple times, each separate purchase
is targetable.
• Life Support: The Vehicle operates in an environment
incompatible with the occupants. This is provided
for free on Vehicles that need it, such as spacecraft
and submarines.
• Powerplant: The Vehicle has enough power to keep all

 The Protagonists
its subsystems operational. This is provided for free on all
Vehicles and cannot be targeted.
• Propulsion: The Vehicle can move through the
environment for which it is designed. This is provided for
free on all Vehicles.

Forthright Open Roleplay • 55

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Protagonist Sheet
The Protagonist Sheet records information about a single Protagonist.

PROTAGONIST:

Description
Principles 21 - 27 Boon
14 - 20 Win
8 - 13 Exchange
1-7 Setback

STATS BOOSTS AND INJURIES

+ Fight
Setback Marker (16)
Luck
Unused Boost
Deadeye d10 Long
Check Bonus (29) Points (58)
Guardian d8 Close

Juggernaut d12 Close

Tactician d4 All Luck (29) Weath (64)


Whirlwind d6 All

!
+ Talk
Fighting Stance, Boosts (37)
Harm Die, and
and Range (30) Injuries (87)
+ Skill

SANCTUARY MINIONS
Name:

Role:
Sanctuary Boosts (48)
+ ! + d
Range

Minion Type (45)


Name:

Role:

+ ! + d
Minion Check Bonuses (44) Range

Name:

Role:

+ ! + d
Minion Luck (45) Range

Name:

Role:

Minion Harm Die (45) + ! + d


Range

NOTES

56 • Protagonist Sheet

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Protag 2

PROTAGONIST: Val Darrin


Human, with dark hair and light blue eyes. Wears a maroon coat
Description and sci-fi goggles
Principles Investigate new portals and deal with their dangers 21 - 27
14 - 20
Boon
Win
Get rich 8 - 13
1-7
Exchange
Setback

STATS BOOSTS AND INJURIES


8
+ 2 Fight
Agent (Wardens of the Star Roads)
Transporter
30 Luck Bum Leg:
Acuity Push vs me
Deadeye d10 Long is raised
Guardian d8 Close

Juggernaut d12 Close


Eureka Moment
Tactician d4 All

 The Protagonists
Whirlwind d6 All

!
+1 Talk

+ 4 Skill

SANCTUARY MINIONS
Thunderwing Name: Whip Hartley

Role: Fighter
Launch
1 1d8 weapon turret + 0! +0 d10 Close 20
Range

Sensors Name:

20 Luck Role:

+ ! + d
Range

Name:

Role:

+ ! + d
Range

Name:

Role:

+ ! + d
Range

NOTES

Forthright Open Roleplay • 57

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Advancement
Protagonists grow and change through the course of their story,
earning new Boosts to improve their flexibility and power. At the
end of every Session, during the Retrospective, the gaming group
collectively determines the answers to the following questions:
• Did a Protagonist have character development? This
includes gaining or abandoning Principles, choosing one
Principle over another, or discovering something new
about a Protagonist.
• Did the Team discover or accomplish something
significant? This includes learning about important Plot
developments or performing any Deeds of Renown (PAGE
68).
• Did the Team collaborate with a Faction or Major NPC?
This requires discovering or accomplishing something
significant in conjunction with or on behalf of a Faction or
Major NPC.
If the group can answer YES to any one of those questions, then
all Protagonists gain a Boost Point that can be spent on a Boost
immediately or saved for later.
If the group can answer YES to all three of those questions, then
all Protagonists gain an additional Boost Point.
Boost Points can only be spent during a Retrospective.
The Guide keeps track of how many Boost Points the Team earns
through Advancement, as this is important when new Protagonists
join the Team (PAGE 60).

Learning from Mistakes


A Check Bonus can only be increased if a Protagonist has suffered
a Setback Outcome from that Check. This Setback cannot have
been mitigated by Setback Protection or by spending a Boon.
During the Retrospective, the Protagonist can buy the Increase
Bonus Boost for that Check. The Increase Bonus Boost for that
Check cannot be purchased again until the Protagonist suffers
another Setback Outcome from that Check.

58 • Advancement

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


CJ: I’m going to spend a point on Increase Bonus for my Fight
Check. I got that nasty Setback that cost me a jetpack.
Brand: Okay.
Vic: I’m going to spend a point on Increase Bonus for my
Skill Check. I rolled that Setback when we were chasing that
space fighter.
Brand: Yeah, but you used your Setback Protection to negate
it, remember? You only learn by suffering the effects of a
Setback, not just by rolling it.

Retraining
If a Protagonist determines that a Boost they possess isn’t

 The Protagonists
satisfactory, they can trade it for another Boost during the
Retrospective. Only one Boost may be traded per Protagonist
per Retrospective. Boosts may not be traded for Boost Points or
to remove an Injury.

The End of a Protagonist


A Protagonist might begin to follow a different path than the
rest of the Team, die, or suffer such grievous wounds that their
adventuring must end. The end of a Protagonist does not mean
their player’s participation in the story must also end.

Becoming an Adversary
Should a conflict between the Protagonists escalate to a point
where a Protagonist begins sabotaging the Team’s purpose or
attempting to hurt the other Protagonists, that Protagonist is
removed from play and becomes an NPC under the control of
the Guide. The group should then assess whether the player will
continue to participate in the game.

Death
A Protagonist can die if their player feels it is dramatically
appropriate. If the player does not want their Protagonist to
die, Player and Guide work together to determine how the
Protagonist survives.

Forthright Open Roleplay • 59

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Retirement
A Protagonist may choose to retire from the story. The character
becomes an NPC and a Comrade of the Team recorded on the
Team’s Relationship list.

Changing Team Members


Whenever the group gains or loses a player, step through Setup
again to determine how the change in membership affects the
Team’s purpose and the other Protagonists.

Creating a New Character


A player can create a new Protagonist to join the Team. The
gaming group works together to ensure the new Protagonist
joins the Team without entirely changing the feel and scope of
the game. This is an opportunity to re-assess and re-emphasize
the Game Charter.
New Protagonists follow the normal Protagonist creation rules,
and begin with extra Boost Points equal to what the existing
Protagonists have earned through Advancement. They may
purchase the Increase Bonus Boost, but only with their extra Boost
Points. They may not have a higher Bonus in any Check than the
existing Protagonists’ highest Check Bonus in any Check.

REPLACING PROTAGONISTS
Death and retirement should not be mechanically preferable to
suffering Injury (PAGE 87). If a player replaces their Protagonist
that has died or retired, the new character should begin play with
one of the following:
• Fewer Boost Points: The new Protagonist has a Boost
Point deduction equal to the old Protagonist’s number
of Injuries.
• Starting Injuries: The new Protagonist has the old
Protagonist’s number of Injuries.
• Fewer Boosts, Some Injuries: A combination of
the above.

60 • Changing Team Members

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Replacing a Protagonist should be an unusual event. If the Guide
feels the Protagonist’s departure was dramatically appropriate
and neatly resolved the Protagonist’s story, the above penalties
may be waived.

CJ decides to retire Prince Solenoid after many sessions. At


the time of Solenoid’s retirement, the Team had earned 23
Boost Points through Advancement and Solenoid had 1 Injury.
CJ’s new Protagonist will enter the game with 25 Boosts: 3
starting Boosts + 23 Advancement Boost Points – 1 Injury.
Jamie’s Protagonist Burning-Sky has the highest Check Bonus
at +4 Fight, so CJ’s new Protagonist can have a maximum of
+4 in any Check Bonus.

Taking over an Existing Character

 The Protagonists
An NPC that the Team has a Relationship with can become a
Protagonist if the gaming group approves.
When an NPC becomes a Protagonist, they are adjusted to
have the same number of Boosts as the other Protagonists. The
Guide should ensure that the Boosts the character has reflect the
character’s depiction so far in the game.
Because the NPC already had existing backstory and motivations,
the Guide must share those with the player to preserve
consistency. Once the character is made a Protagonist, they are
removed from the Team’s Relationship list and the Guide no
longer decides how to play the character.

Forthright Open Roleplay • 61

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


DISCOVERY AND  
DANGER
With Setup complete, the Protagonists are ready to
adventure in the Gamescape. They will change and be
changed by what they encounter in the fictional world.
This section describes the mechanics behind how the
Protagonists’ activities can impact the story.

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


C  IVILIZATION
The people of the Gamescape are more than just quest-givers
to be heeded or opponents to be slain. They have their own
complex goals and motivations, their own histories, and their own
interactions when the Protagonists are away.
Everyone within the Gamescape lives in a society, and those
societies behave in ways that reflect their members. They all
have different social mores, and part of play is identifying what
behaviors are appropriate in these civilizations by picking up on
clues provided by the Guide.
The Gamescape will not accept what the Protagonists do simply
because they are the Protagonists. The more they flout the general
social morality and legal authority, the more damage they will do
to their reputations. The Protagonists are the center of the story,
but they are not the center of the world.

Law and Lawlessness


Societies tend to be organized by rule of law or rule of arms. The
rule of law creates societies where individuals look out for each

 Civilization
other and try to work out their problems through conversation.
The rule of arms creates societies where individuals are out for
themselves and work out their problems through violence. Some
societies may even be stratified, with different rules governing
different social strata.
Orderly societies tend to have structures in place through which
the people have ways of helping themselves. Protagonists may
need to be deputized in order to act with impunity toward their
enemies there, and killing tends to be considered an option of
last resort.
Chaotic societies must often hire mercenaries to handle difficulties,
with a generally weak populace and authority centered around
a few individuals powerful enough to claim it. Protagonists (and
their enemies) are often free to act as they feel appropriate there.

Forthright Open Roleplay • 63

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Wealth
Assets are not tracked on a coin-for-coin basis. Characters have
financial resources appropriate to their Social Stratum and can
afford to pay for the upkeep of their lifestyle in that Stratum.
Wealth in Forthright represents abstracted currency spent on
goods and services that are unusual, story-impacting, or more
expensive than the Protagonists’ Social Strata allow. Wealth is
accumulated through play by providing goods and services to
NPCs.
Protagonists can exchange 6 Wealth for 1 Boost or Boost Point.
Characters can pool their Wealth to directly purchase goods,
services, and Boosts for a Team Sanctuary, but not for purchasing
Boost Points.

RESOURCE TRACKING
To keep the action moving, supplies like ammo,
food, and fuel are not tracked.

Barter
Purchasers who want to try and barter wealth for goods and
services may do so if the provider is willing. If so, the purchaser
can make a Talk Check with the following Outcomes:
▲▲ Win: The price is decreased by 1d4 Wealth to a minimum
of 1.
●● Exchange: The price is unchanged.
▼▼ Setback: The price is increased by 1d4 Wealth.
Bribery
Characters can bribe characters of lower Social Strata without
spending Wealth, but must spend Wealth to bribe characters of
equal or higher Social Strata.

64 • Wealth

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Prices
Prices in the Gamescape are set by the Guide, though purchasers
might barter those prices up or down. In general, services that
require some time and effort or a Check are worth 1d4 Wealth. A
service that puts the provider at some risk is worth 1d6 Wealth,
while grave danger raises the price to 1d8 Wealth.
When being paid for their services, each Protagonist on the Team
earns the Wealth listed above.
The price of goods is determined by the amount of effort required
to make them. NPCs sell crafted goods for a base price of 1
Wealth per Complexity (PAGE 111).

Social Strata
Social Strata in Forthright are abstracted so the same strata can
reflect vastly different societies. Each Stratum has an associated
lifestyle it can afford and operates within different social circles
than the other Strata. There are five Social Strata, listed here from
highest to lowest.

The Sovereign

 Civilization
These are people whose extraordinary wealth or political power
allow them to stand above the law. They might be heads of state,
CEOs of major corporations, or leaders of influential churches.
There are very few Sovereigns in any society, and they typically
act to keep it that way.

The Emperor-Queen of the Free Empire has made it clear she


will tolerate no other sovereigns – even the Money-Barons
bow to her will. Only the Wardens of the Star-Roads operate
without risking her interference.

Sovereigns have one or more palaces or mansions, travel freely


without regard to expense, can purchase virtually anything
they choose, and operate with a staff of potentially hundreds
including bodyguards.

Forthright Open Roleplay • 65

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


The High
People who hold great wealth and social privilege, the High
control most of the resources of any stratified society. They
might hold elected office, operate successful businesses, or be
celebrities or nobles. There are fewer High than there are Middle
or Low.

The High are the nobles of the Free Empire, families of the
Harem-Kings and the Money-Barons of Leer. Some of the
greatest warriors to defend against otherworld invasions are
also counted as High.

The High likely have at least one mansion or estate, travel freely
with little regard to expense, and purchase luxury items without
concern. They frequently operate with a staff of potentially dozens
of personnel.

The Middle
These are free people who hold some wealth and social privilege.
They might work for themselves and be moderately successful,
but they usually work for the High. They or the Low are the largest
Stratum in a society.

The Middle is the largest Stratum in the Free Empire, and


includes most of the workers both in and outside the great
cities. They are the typical people Protagonists will encounter.

The Middle likely own a home and probably a Vehicle, can travel
locally and occasionally abroad, and are unlikely to have more
than one employee (such as a maid or nanny).

66 • Social Strata

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


The Low
Free people who hold neither wealth nor social privilege, the Low
are mostly comprised of the working poor. They are essential to
the operation of society, as they typically hold undesirable but
necessary jobs. They or the Middle are the largest Stratum in
a society.

The Low in the Free Empire are often simple peasants working
the fields or people who have menial jobs keeping the
machinery of civilization running.

The Low might have a home or Vehicle they can call their own,
though they are likely in debt if so. They are often too busy or
poor to travel for leisure, and may need to scrimp and sacrifice
for basic needs.

The Outcast
People who may or may not be free, the Outcast are considered
at best second-class citizens in their own nations and at worst may
be slaves or bonded servants. These are people whom society
won’t give a fair shake for reasons ranging from institutionalized
discrimination to an Outcast’s criminal past. The number of

 Civilization
Outcast in any society varies wildly.

In the Free Empire of Everos, the descendants of offworld


invaders are Outcast. They have difficulty getting work and
are often isolated in their own communities away from natives
of Everos.

The Outcast often own nothing that is not an allowance from


their masters. Any assets the Outcast have can be taken away at
almost any time, for practically any reason, by people in higher
Social Strata.

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Reputation
Performing extraordinary, infamous, or incredible acts earns the
Team a reputation. NPCs talk about the Protagonists when they
are not present and spread word of their actions.

Deeds of Renown
Deeds of Renown increase the Team’s fame and influence NPC
reactions to them. There are three types of Deeds of Renown,
listed here from most to least renowned.

Deeds of Legend: These world-shaking actions


are so momentous that the Protagonists will
not be able to escape tales of them. Examples
include defeating a fearsome monster such as
a dragon, becoming a Sovereign, or reaching a
+7 Check Bonus.

Deeds of Great Repute: These actions are


meaningful to an entire region of NPCs, and
word of them is likely to spread quickly
because they are so important. Examples
include defeating a major drug cartel,
preventing a war through wise diplomacy, or
acquiring a uniquely valuable object.

Deeds of Significance: These actions are


meaningful or impressive to one or more NPCs
within a region, and are interesting enough to
tell stories about around a bar or campfire.
Examples include saving the life of a Major
NPC, bringing a criminal to justice, or crafting
an item worth 6 or more Wealth.
During the Retrospective, the gaming group determines if the
Team accomplished any Deeds of Renown during the session.
If the Team accomplished multiple Deeds as part of reaching a
different goal (for example, saving the life of a kidnapped general
to prevent a war), then only the highest Deed is recorded, but at
a step higher.

68 • Reputation

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Brand: So, this session you guys broke into the Cult of
Flame’s headquarters, beat a bunch of them up, and captured
their Firestone.
CJ: So that’s, what, two Deeds of Great Repute?
Vic: But we kind of did the one on the way to the other.
Brand: I agree. So that’s going to count as one Deed of
Legend: The Capture of the Firestone.

Fame Check
The Fame Check is a tool for the Guide to help identify how the
Team’s Renown spreads through the Gamescape. Whenever the
Protagonists enter a new region (such as a village, city, or space
station), the Guide can make a Fame Check to determine what the
local NPCs have heard about the Team. Fame Checks are made

••
by rolling 1d20 and adding the number of Deeds of Legend the
Team has performed.
Boon: The locals have heard of all the Team’s Deeds. The
Team receives a Boon token.
▲▲ Win: The locals have heard of all the Team’s Deeds.
●● Exchange: The locals have heard of the Team’s Deeds of

 Civilization
Legend and Great Repute, if any.
▼▼ Setback: The locals have only heard of the Team’s Deeds
of Legend, if any.
Unless the Team has unusually fast travel for the Gamescape or
are trying to rush ahead of word-of-mouth, tales of their Deeds
are already present wherever they may go.
The Guide decides how the NPCs react to the Protagonists based
on the Team’s Renown. Some NPCs may like what they’ve heard
about the Protagonists and welcome them with open arms,
while others may dislike what they’ve heard and be cold to the
Protagonists or even try to run them out of the area.

Forthright Open Roleplay • 69

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Rapport
Rapport identifies what characters in relationships are willing to
do for each other. Starting allies of the Team are Friends (if they
are individual NPCs) or Associates (if they are groups or Factions).
All other NPCs begin with Neutral Rapport with the Team.
• Comrades are willing to make sacrifices to help each
other. Tremendous effort is required to make an NPC
a Comrade.
• Friends are willing to take risks to help each other.
Significantly helping an NPC is enough to make that NPC
a Friend. Individual NPC allies are Friends with the Team.
• Associates are willing to help if helping involves neither
risk nor sacrifice. NPC group allies, such as a Faction, are
Associates of the Team.
• Neutral characters are essentially strangers; they are
unwilling to help or harm others unless there is an
immediate incentive or danger.
• Rivals are willing to harm if harming involves neither risk
nor sacrifice. NPC group enemies, such as a Faction, are
Rivals of the Team.
• Foes are willing to take risks to harm each other.
Significantly harming an NPC is enough to make that NPC
a Foe. Individual NPC opponents are Foes of the Team.
• Nemeses are willing to make sacrifices to harm each
other. Tremendous effort is required to make an NPC
a Nemesis.
Factions (PAGE 125) will never be more than Associates or Rivals
of the Team, as they have greater concerns and bigger Agendas
(PAGE 125).

ACCORD AND DISCORD


Accord improves the Team’s relationship with an NPC. Accord
is generated by treating characters kindly and helping them by
performing Deeds of Renown on their behalf.

70 • Reputation

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Discord damages the Team’s relationship with an NPC. Discord
is generated by refusing to help characters, mistreating them,
or hurting them by performing Deeds of Renown that interfere
with them.
Accord and Discord are tracked by the Guide to identify the
strength of the Team’s relationships with NPCs.
• Deeds of Legend generate 4 Accord or Discord.
• Deeds of Great Repute generate 2 Accord or Discord.
• Deeds of Significance generate 1 Accord or Discord.
• Refusing to Help an NPC when asked generates
1 Discord.
FRIENDS FROM FOES, FOES FROM FRIENDS
The Team’s actions shift NPCs from neutrality toward friendship
(through Accord) or antipathy (through Discord). Accord and
Discord negate each other.
• An NPC will be a Comrade when the Team reaches 4
Accord with them.
• An NPC will be a Friend when the Team reaches 2 Accord
with them.
• An NPC will be an Associate when the Team reaches 1

 Civilization
Accord with them.
• The Team is Neutral with all NPCs they have generated no
Accord or Discord with.
• An NPC will be a Rival when the Team reaches 1 Discord
with them.
• An NPC will be a Foe when the Team reaches 2 Discord
with them.
• An NPC will be a Nemesis when the Team reaches 4
Discord with them.
If the Team begins generating Discord with allies and Accord
with enemies, those allies will turn into enemies and vice versa.
Relationships should be cultivated wisely, as the Protagonists may
have revealed things to their Friends that they would not want
used against them.
The Team cannot be certain an enemy has become an ally until
the Team gives the NPC an opportunity to betray them, trusting it

Forthright Open Roleplay • 71

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


won’t happen. The Guide must keep in mind that the Protagonists
will have no reason to try and befriend their enemies if the NPCs
always betray the Protagonists, never negotiate, and always fight
to the death.

FACTION AND GROUP RAPPORT


Members of Factions or groups initially treat characters with the
same Rapport the character has with the Faction or group. After
their first encounter, a direct relationship between the characters
is established. As a result, members can have different Rapport
with a character than the character has with the rest of the Faction
or group.

FRIEND OF A FRIEND, ENEMY OF MY ENEMY


Friends of a character’s Friends and Comrades initially treat the
character as if they are Associates. Friends of a character’s Foes
and Nemeses initially treat the character as if they are Rivals.
Enemies of a character’s Friends and Comrades initially treat the
character as a Rival. Enemies of a character’s Foes and Nemeses
initially treat the character as an Associate.
Once characters are introduced to each other, a direct relationship
between them is established.

72 • Reputation

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


C  ONVERSATION
Conflict can often be resolved through conversation before
it escalates into violence. Because combat can lead to Injury
or even death, NPCs will typically attempt to intimidate or
negotiate before taking up arms. Conversation can never force
compliance, though, so some degree of trust is required between
conversational partners.
Conversations always have a goal, which may or may not be
obvious when the conversation begins. These are sometimes
competing, sometimes open to compromise, and sometimes
change midway through the conversation. Conversations end
when the goal is met or determined to be unreachable.
Conversations are structured to provide roleplaying direction
for Protagonists and Guide alike. This gives both sides of a
conversation the opportunity to change each other’s minds
before a situation escalates.

Talk Checks
When a character communicates something to an audience that
the audience disagrees with, the speaking character rolls 1d20
and adds their Talk Bonus. The Outcome of a Talk Check does
not force the audience to agree or disagree, but is instead a
suggestion for how the audience should roleplay their reaction
to what they have heard.
▲▲ Win: The statement seems like a great idea to
 Conversation

the audience.
●● Exchange: The statement seems reasonable, but the
audience will need additional convincing or the speaker
revealed more than intended.
▼▼ Setback: The statement seems like a terrible idea to the
audience, or the speaker reveals more than intended.
Talk Checks do not override character control and the final
decision about how characters behave remains firmly in their
players’ hands (the player for a Protagonist, the Guide for an
NPC). There is no specific number of Talk Check Wins that will

Forthright Open Roleplay • 73

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


convince an NPC in every situation: this amount is determined
by the Guide and the circumstances of the conversation (PAGES
77–78).

That said, if NPCs never seem to react as Talk Checks indicate,


then Protagonists will have no reason to respect Talk Checks
either. Talk Checks only work if players put a good faith effort
into using them as a springboard for roleplaying their characters.
Talk Checks are not made when conversations do not involve
conflict. Exchanges of information and humorous interchanges
do not require Talk Checks unless the audience has reason to
disbelieve or take offense.

Talking Without Words


Talk Checks represent communication in general: a wryly arched
eyebrow, a well-timed cough, and a knowing glance can be just as
effective persuasive tools as words. If you make clear what you’re
trying to say, a character who communicates in a nonstandard way
(such as Groot or Chewbacca) could be played like this:

Jamie: I want to say “Greeble FARB,” in a very intimidating way.


Brand: Okay, roll your Talk Check.
Jamie: I got a Win.
Brand: The guy is intimidated and doesn’t even realize you’re
human and should be able to talk normally. “Okay, okay,” he
says, “you win. Here, take it.”
Jamie: I grin and say “Greeble Farb” by way of thanks.

FACT AND FICTION


How can you tell if someone’s lying? Short answer:
you can’t. Forthright makes no distinction between
telling the truth and telling a lie – the Talk Check is all
about whether what is said is believable. The choice
of whether or not to believe is yours.

74 • Talk Checks

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Corroboration and Contradiction
The Gamescape is filled with facts, beliefs, tempers, and other
evidence which can modify the result of a Talk Check. Hewing
closely to this evidence makes characters seem believable, while
straying far from it may appear insulting or unbelievable.
Corroborating a Talk Check involves some evidence that backs
up a statement. Corroboration Raises a Talk Check.

Jules: “We don’t want to fight,” I say, holstering my gun and


raising my hands.
Brand: Make a Talk Check. Corroborated, so you get a Raise.

Contradicting a Talk Check involves some evidence that belies a


statement. Contradiction Drops a Talk Check.

Vic: “Look, we’ve got no particular love for Thyre, either. Let’s
work together to bring them down.”
Brand: He narrows his eyes. “You’re a Warden, you don’t get
involved. And that one’s from Thyre.” He nods at you, Thelan.
“Do you take me for a fool?” Make a Talk Check. Contradicted,
so you suffer a Drop.
Jules: But I’m working against the Thunderhead.
Brand: Doesn’t matter. He doesn’t know that, so he thinks he’s
got evidence Val’s lying.

 Conversation

Forthright Open Roleplay • 75

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Read Audience
Protagonists can make statements or ask their audience questions
to prompt the revelation of motivations or other information that
can help the Protagonists. This must be declared ahead of the Talk
Check, as it will change the results to the following:
▲▲ Win: The speaker gleans helpful information from
the audience.
●● Exchange: The speaker gleans reliable information that
may or may not be relevant.
▼▼ Setback: The speaker gleans information that they believe
is correct, but which may or may not be reliable or relevant.
Jules: I’m going to try and provoke him to reveal what he’s
hiding. “I take you for a fool if you’d think for a second a
Warden would stand with Thyre.” I roll a … Win!
Brand: He spits in the dust. “The Wardens never did nothin’
when my village was destroyed. My family, all my friends …”
He’s either about to start crying or shooting, and you can’t
tell which.
Jules: “We made a mistake. We should have intervened.
That’s why we’ve come – to try and make things right for your
village and all the others like it. Let us help.”
Brand: Corroborate that Talk Check – you’ve agreed that a mistake
was made and you’re directly appealing to his motivation.

Before or After?
Whether a Talk Check is rolled before or after a player speaks as their
character depends on how the group wants to experience the roll.
Rolling first allows the player to modify what they say to illustrate
the result of the roll. If they roll poorly, for instance, they may speak
haltingly or awkwardly instead of confidently and succinctly. This
may help players stay immersed in the fiction of the game.

76 • Talk Checks

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Rolling after, on the other hand, demonstrates that it doesn’t
matter what the player says or how they said it, the character says it
in a way that reflects the result of the roll. This is particularly helpful
for players who may not be as socially savvy as their characters.
The group can use either style without problems, and may even
use a combination of styles for different players or situations, as
long as it is understood by the players when they will roll.

Mood
Mood is a roleplaying tool the Guide uses to identify how
frequently the Protagonists will need to roll Talk Checks with their
audience. The Guide demonstrates to the Protagonists, through
cues such as manner of speech and body language, the general
Mood of an NPC. Moods are described below:
• Disagreeable listeners will pick apart everything the
speaker has to say, and will need Talk Checks to convince
them of nearly every statement the speaker makes. This is
the default Mood for Rivals, Foes, and Nemeses.
• Neutral listeners will accept or reject the speaker’s
statements based on their personal instincts, knowledge,
beliefs, and the merits of the speaker’s statements. This is
the default Mood for Neutral NPCs.
• Agreeable listeners will give the speaker the benefit
of the doubt, and will only need Talk Checks when the
speaker says something particularly incredible. This is the
default Mood for Associates, Friends, and Comrades.
Entire communities may have Moods which change based
 Conversation

on surrounding events. While NPCs in a town might normally


be Neutral, if the town is under enemy occupation they might
be Disagreeable.

Forthright Open Roleplay • 77

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Sacrifice, Risk, and Benefit
NPCs will generally serve their own interests over those of others,
and will prioritize what they already have over what they can get.
As a result, social conflict revolves around trying to convince
others of the benefit of taking risks, making sacrifices, or serving
someone else’s interests.
• Sacrifice: The character will lose something they value.
This will always require a Talk Check, even between
Comrades. The more highly valued the sacrifice, the more
Talk Checks may be required.
• Risk: The character has a chance to lose something that
they value. A small chance of losing something highly
valued and a large chance of losing something hardly
valued are both very likely to provoke a Talk Check.
• Benefit: The character has something to gain that they
value. Characters do not all value the same things with
the same weight; while a Low character might find a warm
meal to be a tremendous benefit, a Sovereign might
expect the same as the most basic of hospitality. The
more highly prized the benefit, the fewer Talk Checks may
be required.
Sacrifice, Risk, and Benefit modify the number of Talk Checks
required based on an NPC’s Mood and are a way for the Guide
to offer information about NPCs to the Protagonists.

Know Who You’re Dealing With


When approaching NPCs to ask them to take risks or make
sacrifices, the Team should investigate them ahead of time to
learn what they can about the NPCs’ motivations. Aligning your
request with an NPC’s motives can Corroborate your request,
while acting against their motives can Contradict your request.

78 • Sacrifice, Risk, and Benefit

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Asking for Too Much
Speakers who ask for too much from their audience may find that
they shut down conversation altogether as their audience turns
away from them. This may also negatively impact Mood in future
conversations. The audience always decides how much is too
much in Forthright.

Compromise
When speaker and audience compromise, they find a way to
benefit each other while minimizing their own risk or sacrifice.
In these cases, the audience may accept a risk that benefits the
speaker because the speaker is taking a risk or making a sacrifice
on behalf of the audience. The opposite may also hold true. Keep
in mind that characters will always prefer to avoid feeling like
they’ve been taken advantage of.

JUST BECAUSE WE AGREE…


Even when an audience agrees with the speaker, they might still
try to extend negotiations to get some form of concession from
the speaker. Characters will always continue to look out for their
own interests.

Brand: The Emperor-Queen agreed that the Star Navy needs


to be mobilized, but you note she has yet to give the order.
Jules: “Your Highness, what gives you pause?”
Brand: “The Thunderhead’s supply lines remain intact. This
will give Thyre an edge I do not wish them to have.”
Vic: “We’ve got a ship. We could probably sneak behind
 Conversation

enemy lines and cut those supply lines before they realize
what’s going on.”
Brand: The Emperor-Queen smiles slightly, and you know
you have given her exactly what she wants. “I await word of
your success.”

Forthright Open Roleplay • 79

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Influencing Groups
When conversing with a crowd, there may be groups or
individuals within the crowd with different viewpoints. Each
different viewpoint represents a different audience and requires
a separate Talk Check.

Jamie: “Good people, please – there is no need for this


violence. Why are you rioting?”
Brand: You hear several different voices shout from the crowd.
Some of them have had their property stolen, others want
revenge for slain loved ones. All of them are united in their
anger at the Cult of Flame.
Vic: You know, if we weren’t the good guys, I’d say let them
have at it.
Brand: There are two audiences in the crowd: the ones who
want their stuff back, and the ones who want their revenge. If
you want to stop them from storming the temple, you’ll need
to convince both to back off.

Cross-Talk
If the Protagonists have had time to prepare for the conversation,
the players may talk out-of-character and make suggestions
about how to approach the conversation. This allows the action
to keep moving quickly by allowing preparation and action to
occur simultaneously, encouraging teamwork and cooperation.
Everyone must identify when they are talking in-character and out-
of-character. Holding up a hand when talking out-of-character is
common. The Guide should go easy on mistakes: if a Protagonist
makes a statement, an NPC responds, and the player says they
were speaking out-of-character, then the exchange of words
should be forgotten.
In particularly tense situations or in circumstances where the Team
hasn’t had a chance to prepare for the conversation, the Guide
should restrict cross-talk. This will simulate the disorganized and
tense nature of the situation, and can allow for interesting results
as the players find themselves as off-balance as their Protagonists.

80 • Influencing Groups

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


C  OMBAT
Sometimes, conflict erupts into violence. Combat is a very real
and dangerous possibility in a game of Forthright. There are no
trivial enemies, and even the weakest opponents can deliver a
brutal set of Injuries to a seasoned Protagonist.
Fights involve goals that one side or the other thinks they can only
achieve through battle. Perhaps they have been discovered while
sneaking into a fortress; maybe they have been insulted beyond
the ability of words to repair. Characters should stay focused on
their goals and remember that fights need not end in death.
Combat is structured to provide a tactical experience that allows
the Protagonists to determine if the tide of battle has turned
against them and retreat without Injury if necessary.

 Combat

Forthright Open Roleplay • 81

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Initiative
Combat begins when a character takes a violent action requiring
a Fight Check. Initiative is then passed to the Guide (if the first
attacker was a Protagonist) or the Team (if the first attacker was
an NPC). Play steps through combat with the Team and the Guide
taking turns as follows:
• On the Team’s Turn, they may choose any Protagonist to
act. Protagonists may only act once per Round, and do
not need to act in the same order in every Round. Once
every Protagonist has acted, a new Round begins.
• On the Guide’s Turn, the Guide may choose any NPC to
act. The Guide gets one Turn for each active Protagonist
in a Round regardless of how many NPCs are involved in
a fight. An NPC cannot act again until all NPCs involved in
the fight have had a chance to act.
Rounds consume a variable amount of time depending on the
Actions taken during combat. If you need to know how long a
fight takes (for instance, if there is a countdown), consider each
Round to last one minute.
Combat ends when no more combatants on the field of battle
stand in opposition to each other.

MULTIPLE FIGHTING STANCES


When a character knows multiple Fighting Stances,
they declare their initial Fighting Stance in a combat
when they first take an Action, Exploit a target, or
Intercept an attack.

82 • Initiative

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Five NPCs (Cultists 1-3, a Wizard, and their Leader) attack two
Protagonists (Burning-Sky and Sage Imperiex Thelan) who are
sneaking separately from the rest of the Team.
Turn 1: Guide. Available Actors: Cultists 1-3, Wizard, Leader
NPC acting: Wizard
Turn 2: Team. Available Actors: Burning-Sky, Thelan
Protagonist Acting: Burning-Sky
Turn 3: Guide. Available Actors: Cultists 1-3, Leader
NPC Acting: Leader
Turn 4: Team. Available Actors: Thelan
Protagonist Acting: Thelan
Turn 5: Guide. Available Actors: Cultists 1-3
NPC acting: Cultist 1
Turn 6: Team.
NEW ROUND BEGINS. Available Actors: Burning-Sky, Thelan
Protagonist Acting: Thelan
Turn 7: Guide. Available Actors: Cultists 2-3
NPC acting: Cultist 2
Turn 8: Team. Available Actors: Burning-Sky
Protagonist Acting: Burning-Sky
Turn 9: Guide. Available Actors: Cultist 3
NPC acting: Cultist 3
Turn 10: Team.
NEW ROUND BEGINS. Available Actors: Burning-Sky, Thelan
Protagonist Acting: Thelan
Turn 11: Guide. Available Actors: Cultists 1-3, Wizard, Leader
NPC acting: Leader
 Combat

…and so on.

Forthright Open Roleplay • 83

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Surprise and Ambush
A group of characters can surprise their enemies with an ambush
if their enemies are unaware of them. The ambushers must know
their enemies are approaching and have time to prepare the
ambush site by hiding, setting traps, or the like.
The ambushing group initiates combat together, getting all their
Actions simultaneously. Once the ambush is resolved, Initiative
proceeds as normal, with a member of the ambushed group
getting the next Turn.

Brand: The orc storms into the alley, its enormous snout
chuffing and snorting as its beady eyes try to find you hidden
among the dumpsters and trash cans.
Jamie: I’m going to trigger the ambush by jumping down
from the roof and hitting him. Win. 8 Harm.
CJ: As soon as I see Burning-Sky go, I’m going to fire my pulse
cannons at the orc. I Win. Only ... aw, 1 Harm.
Jules: I line up the shot and fire. Exchange, no biggie since
Thelan’s a Deadeye ... 6 Harm.
Vic: I yell down at Burning-Sky to Hit him again. I got a ...
Setback, dang. No extra attack for you, Jamie.
Brand: All right, all of you went, dropping his luck by 15. He
looks surprised, and angry. It’s my turn, now, and he’s going
for you, Burning-Sky. A Win, for ... 5 Harm. New Round, any of
you may go.

84 • Initiative

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Actions
Characters in combat may, with an Action, do one of the following:
• Move up to 30 feet (10 meters) and make a Fight Check,
Skill Check, or Talk Check.
• Move up to 30 feet (10 meters) and remove a single
Hindrance from themselves or another character in
Close Range.
• Move up to 30 feet (10 meters) and shift from their current
Fighting Stance to another known Fighting Stance.
• Move up to 120 feet (40 meters).
• Perform a Stunt and make a Fight Check, Skill Check, or
Talk Check.
• Retreat. Other characters on the same side can join
the retreat.

Fight Checks
When attempting to attack a character or object, the attacking
character rolls 1d20 and adds their Fight Bonus. To keep battles
moving quickly in Forthright, Fight Checks always have the
following Outcomes:
▲▲ Win: The attacker succeeds and is not Exploited.
●● Exchange: The attacker succeeds, but the target of the
attack Exploits the attacker.
▼▼ Setback: The attacker fails, and the target of the attack
Exploits the attacker.
 Combat

Forthright Open Roleplay • 85

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Exploits
Characters Exploit opponents that have targeted them and rolled
a Setback or Exchange on a Fight Check. When a character can
Exploit another, the exploiting character can choose one of the
following options:
• Counterattack: The exploiter Harms or Hinders the
attacker without making a Fight Check. This can only be
used if the attacker is in the exploiter’s Fighting Stance
attack range.
• Reposition: The exploiter moves to another position
within Close Range on the battlefield.
• Shift Fighting Stance: The exploiter shifts from
their current Fighting Stance to another known
Fighting Stance.
• Take Advantage: The exploiter gains a Boon.
• Un-Hinder: The exploiter removes a Hindrance from
themselves or an ally in Close Range.
Exploits happen at the same time as the attack that provoked
them, so both the attack and the Exploit occur even if the NPC is
Defeated by the trade of blows.

Jules: Argh, I rolled a Setback.


Brand: The cultist grins as he drives his dagger forward, just
barely skirting past your ribs for 4 Harm.
Jules: I could’ve dropped him if I’d hit.
Brand: Initiative passes to me, so the cultist is going to press
his attack and ... oof. Exchange.
Jules: Ha. I’m going to shoot him for ... 6 Harm. And he should
be down.
Brand: Except ... he got one last stab out before he fell, almost
catching you in the face for 3 more Harm.

Characters can only be Exploited once per Fight Check; if they


are attacking multiple opponents (as with Whirlwind Stance), only
one of their targets may Exploit them.

86 • Fight Checks

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Harm
Characters can Harm an opponent by rolling their Harm die after
rolling a successful Fight Check or when counterattacking. The
result is subtracted from the opponent’s Luck. Harm isn’t physical
damage; it is an erosion of a character’s ability to avoid grievous
wounds or Defeat.

DEFEAT
When NPCs are reduced to 0 Luck, they are Defeated. The Guide
should ask the Protagonist if they want to subdue or slay when
they defeat an NPC.

INJURY
When Protagonists are reduced to 0 Luck, they suffer an Injury
determined by the Guide and their Luck is immediately restored
to maximum. Protagonists can keep fighting no matter the odds,
though they will get increasingly wounded the longer a fight goes on.
Injuries are significant traumas to a Protagonist’s mind or body
so aggravated that they are unable to heal on their own. Injuries
are obvious and can be targeted by NPCs. Injuries come in two
forms, Vulnerabilities and Weaknesses.
A single Injury can only apply a single Vulnerability or Weakness,
and a Protagonist cannot have multiple Injuries that apply the
same Vulnerability or Weakness.
The Guide keeps a record of all Injuries suffered by the Team to
ensure NPCs can target them easily.
Vulnerabilities
A Vulnerability allows opponents to Raise their Fight Check whenever
they try to use a specific Hindrance on the vulnerable Protagonist.
The Guide determines the Hindrance the Protagonist is vulnerable to.

Brand: His shot catches you in the leg, dealing 3 Harm.


CJ: That’s it, I’m down to 0 Luck.
Brand: Your leg servos begin to spark and smoke, and you can
 Combat

feel something twisted out of alignment in your gyros. You’re


now vulnerable to Knockdown. And you’re back up to full Luck.
CJ: I’m Prince Solenoid the Limping now. Ouch.

Forthright Open Roleplay • 87

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Weaknesses
A Weakness Drops a Protagonist’s Check in a specific situation
or when they attempt to perform a specific action. The Guide
determines the Weakness, which should not be broad enough to
impact the Protagonist more than once or twice a session.

Brand: The explosion catches you both in the blast for


12 Harm.
Jamie: I’m out of Luck.
Jules: Same here; I hit 0.
Brand: Jamie, Burning-Sky is now weak on all Checks when in
the presence of an uncontrolled fire; you’re nervous around
burning buildings and brushfires, but not torches or the like.
Jamie: Oh, that sucks. Ironic, though.
Brand: Jules, Thelan’s burns make you less impressive to the
High, because they’re superficial and you’re hard to look at.
Talk Checks on the High are Dropped.
Jules: Well, at least I’m a Socializer with them.
Brand: You’re both back up to full Luck. It’s you guys’ turn.

Vulnerabilities and Weaknesses should be equally detrimental to


a Protagonist. Guides should rely on Vulnerabilities until they are
confident they can present an appropriate number of situations
that will involve a Weakness.
Healing Injuries
Injuries can be healed by purchasing one Recovery Boost for each
Injury, either with Boost Points or from a Crafter.
Injuries Outside Combat
When Protagonists are not in combat, they suffer Injuries without
first suffering Harm. For example, being hit by a bus mid-
conversation would result in an out-of-combat Injury.

88 • Fight Checks

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Hinder
Characters can choose to Hinder instead of Harming an opponent
on a Fight Check. This does not need to be declared prior to
rolling the Fight Check, but must be declared before rolling Harm.
A character can only be Hindered with a Hindrance they are not
currently suffering. The Hindrances available are:
• Blind: You cannot target opponents.
• Deafen: You cannot be Commanded or Talked Down, and
you cannot hear conversations.
• Expose: Fight Checks made against you are Raised.
• Grapple: You can only target the opponent that you
are grappling with. Both the grappler and the target
are Grappled.
• Knockdown: Opponents may roll two Harm dice and take
the higher when Harming you.
• Knockout: You are Defeated without Injury by an attacker
catching you unawares. This only affects Minor NPCs
(PAGE 155).
• Mute: You cannot issue Commands or Talk
Down opponents.
• Neutralize: Your Fight Checks are Dropped.
• Pin: You cannot move.
• Push: You are moved to any location within Close Range
of your position.
• Snatch: You have had something that was plainly visible
on your person or held by you knocked or taken away.
DURATION AND REMOVAL
Most Hindrances continue to affect a character until removed by
an Action. No Check is required to remove a Hindrance. Push and
Snatch do not have a continuous effect that can be removed by
an Action. Any character in Close Range can spend an Action to
remove a Hindrance.
 Combat

Forthright Open Roleplay • 89

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Talk Checks
Conversation in combat carries its own special risks, since it is
done at sword- or gunpoint. Talk Checks can only be used against
Protagonists in combat if their players agree to it.

Talk Down
Opponents can be Talked Down, causing them to lose interest
in fighting through reason or intimidation. When a Protagonist
attempts to Talk Down an opponent, they roll a Talk Check with
the following Outcomes:
▲▲ Win: The opponent sees the sense in no longer fighting,
and stops attacking the Team.
●● Exchange: The opponent Exploits the Protagonist before
deciding to no longer attack the Team.
▼▼ Setback: The opponent is not convinced, Exploits the
Protagonist, and continues fighting.
If the Guide feels an NPC would be unwilling to be Talked Down,
Exchanges and Wins provide Boon Tokens instead of forcing the
NPC to stop fighting.
Multiple opponents can be Talked Down with a single Talk
Check. The Check may be Dropped if the NPCs outnumber
the Protagonists, have already caused Injury to one or more
Protagonists, or if the Protagonist is attempting to Talk Down more
than one opponent. The Check may be Raised if the Protagonists
are clearly more powerful than the NPCs or have already Defeated
one or more of them.

Vic: I want to try and convince these guys that they should
stop fighting.
Brand: Okay, that’ll be a Talk Check. Since you’re trying to
convince all of them, that’s a Drop ... but Thelan there already
shot two of them down, so that’s a Raise. They cancel each
other out, so it’s just a straight Talk.
Vic: That’s a ... Win. I tell them, “You cannot defeat us, do you
really want to take the beating to prove it?”
Brand: The gang members look at each other, grimace, and
sheepishly shake their heads. They lower their weapons and
step back, letting you pass.

90 • Talk Checks

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Opponents that have been Talked Down will fight back if attacked,
and will not accept being Talked Down again.

Provoke
Opponents can be Provoked, causing them to attack prematurely
or inefficiently, or even confusing them and making them attack
one of their allies. Once the enemy acts on the provocation, they
may return to deciding their own targets. When a Protagonist
attempts to Provoke an opponent, they roll a Talk Check with the
following Outcomes:
▲▲ Win: The opponent is Provoked to attack the Protagonist’s
intended target with their next Action.
●● Exchange: The opponent Exploits the Protagonist, and
will attack the Protagonist’s intended target with their
next Action.
▼▼ Setback: The opponent is not Provoked and Exploits
the Protagonist.
Only one opponent can be Provoked with a single Talk Check.
The Check is Dropped if the Protagonist is attempting to Provoke
the NPC into attacking another NPC. The Check is Raised if the
Protagonist is attempting to Provoke the NPC into attacking the
Protagonist instead of another member of the Team.

CJ: Prince Solenoid’s on the verge of getting an Injury.


Jamie: Burning-Sky will not allow it. I point to the guy attacking
Solenoid and say, “WEAKLING. WOULD YOU RATHER FIGHT
A BROKEN MACHINE THAN A WARRIOR OF METTLE?”
CJ: Uh, thanks? I guess?
Jamie: Sure thing.
Brand: I’ll take that to mean you want him to fight you instead
of CJ. That’s going to Raise your Talk Check.
Jamie: I ... eh ... an Exchange.
Brand: Krog turns to you, sneers, spits on the ground and says,
 Combat

“Fine by me. I can carve you up just as easily.” He swings his


laser-axe at you, almost catching your leather tunic for 4 Harm.
On his next turn, he’ll attack you instead of Solenoid.

Forthright Open Roleplay • 91

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


The Battlefield
When fighting, characters should pay attention to the arena of
battle, as there might be something in the field that can be used
to gain a tactical advantage or change the victory conditions.
Guides should avoid presenting simple battlefields with little
detail in fights. There should in general be trees, barriers, furniture,
pitfalls, multiple levels, or the like to create more appealing
battles. Players should ask questions about what is around them
when a fight breaks out to help detail the arena.

Cover and Concealment


Cover makes a character more difficult to target at Long Range.
Cover is provided by physical obstructions that block attacks from
afar. There are two types of Cover:
• Partial Cover Drops Fight Checks made at Long Range
against the covered character. Partial Cover obscures
one-third to two-thirds of a character.
• Full Cover prevents a character from being targeted at
Long Range. Total Cover obscures more than two-thirds
of the character.
Concealment acts as Partial Cover and is provided by poor
visibility, such as a very dark night or fog. Concealment Drops Long
Range Fight Checks both against and by concealed characters.

Range and Movement


Range is divided into bands of approximate distance measured
from the actor to the target location. The range bands in
Forthright are:
• Close: The shortest range, covering everything from
where a character is standing to approximately 30 feet
(10 meters) away in personal combat. Characters can
move to any location in Close range and take an Action.
• Long: The range indicating a target is distant but
attackable, covering 30 or more feet (10 or more meters)
away in personal combat. The maximum distance is
dependent upon the situation and the attack used, but is
typically around 300 feet (90 meters).
• Extreme: This range indicates targets that are too distant
to be effectively targetable, but which might still be seen.

92 • The Battlefield

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Stunts
Characters can move acrobatically to try and gain an advantage
on their opponents. If a character attempts a Stunt, they roll a Skill
Check with the following Outcomes:
▲▲ Win: The character succeeded; their next Fight Check
may either be Raised or both Harm and Hinder
an opponent.
●● Exchange: The character succeeded, but gains no special
advantage or disadvantage.
▼▼ Setback: The character succeeded but lost their balance;
their next Fight Check is Dropped.
Jamie: Burning-Sky is going to leap from the balcony onto
the chandelier, swing across to the other balcony, and drop
down on the assassin.
Brand: Do you want to get an advantage on the assassin
for that?
Jamie: You know what? Yeah. But I’ve got a decent Fight
Bonus, so I’m going to hurt him and knock him down.
Brand: Skill Check, please.
Jamie: Win. Now the Fight Check ... oh come on, an Exchange?
Can I take the Raise instead of the Harm and Hinder?
Brand: Sure. You jump onto the chandelier and come down
on the assassin, a move so surprising that he doesn’t get to
counter-attack you even though you were open as you leapt
onto the balcony with him.

If a character wants to perform a Stunt without trying to gain an


advantage on opponents, no Skill Check is needed and the Stunt
is considered normal movement.
 Combat

Forthright Open Roleplay • 93

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Terrain Manipulation
Characters can manipulate the terrain on a battlefield to create
advantages and disadvantages. If a character attempts this, they
roll a Skill Check with the following Outcomes:
▲▲ Win: The character succeeded.
●● Exchange: The character succeeded, but left themselves
open to be Exploited by the closest opponent.
▼▼ Setback: The character failed, and they left themselves
open to be Exploited by the closest opponent.
The advantages characters can create vary based on the situation.
The following examples provide some idea of what terrain
manipulation can provide:
• Create cover or concealment
• Create a Hazard (PAGE 114) on the battlefield
• Hinder an opponent
• Provide a Raise to a character advantaged by
the manipulation
• Provide a Drop to a character disadvantaged by
the manipulation
If something hasn’t been described on the battlefield that you can
use, ask if there’s anything that can do what you want. The Guide
may realize that they left something out of their description.

CJ: Is there a cart or something I can try to move between us


and them, to give us some Cover or something?
Brand: No, but there is a pipe that you could try to burst. The
steam cloud should give you Concealment from their long-
range attacks.
CJ: I wish I had Strong Like Bull. I got a ... Exchange.
Brand: A shot sparks off the pipe, causing you 3 Harm, but
you twist it open with a popping of rivets. Steam shoots
out between you and your enemies, concealing you from
each other.

94 • The Battlefield

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Retreat
When a character retreats from battle, they do so as an Action.
Allies of the retreating character can declare they also want
to retreat on the same Action. All retreating characters are
immediately removed from combat and potentially transition to
a Chase (PAGE 101).

Restoration
Once a fight is over, all characters restore their Luck to full and
lose all Hindrances if they do not take strenuous action for a
Restoration period of no more than 10 minutes. The timing of
Restoration is left deliberately flexible.

Structure and Vehicle Combat


Structures and Vehicles are often locations around which combat
takes place and are usually not the direct focus of attacks. When
Structures or Vehicles come under direct attack, they and their
inhabitants take the place of individual characters on Turns.
Everyone within a Structure or Vehicle may act on that Structure
or Vehicle’s Turn.

Brand: The fighter swoops in behind you and fires, dealing 5


Harm to the ship. The controls shudder under your hands, Val,
but hold steady. Okay, it’s the Thunderwing’s turn.
Vic: I’m thinking I swing her around and fire at the cruiser with
the fixed guns.
Jules: If you do that, I’ll use the turrets to try and shoot down
the fighter.
CJ: I’d like to try and improve the targeting on the sensors to
improve Thelan’s chances at taking down that fighter.
Jamie: I’ll do the same thing, but with the maneuvering
thrusters to give Val a more stable shot.
Brand: Okay, here are the rolls I’ll need from each of you…
 Combat

Forthright Open Roleplay • 95

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Subsystem Use
All Protagonists on a Vehicle can act on their Vehicle’s Turn. When
there are more Protagonists than available pilot or weapons
stations, the remaining Protagonists can Empower Subsystems.
Empowering Subsystems takes an Action and requires a Skill
Check with the following Outcomes:
▲▲ Win: The Subsystem is optimized, and the character
chooses another Check that Turn to Raise.
●● Exchange: The Subsystem is optimized at the expense of
another system. The character identifies another Check
that Turn to Raise and a different Check that Turn to Drop.
▼▼ Setback: The Subsystem glitches, and the opposition
chooses another Check that Turn to Drop.
Characters can also use Subsystems to call for help, put on a burst
of speed, and so on. Additionally, if the Vehicle has a Crippled
Subsystem, characters can MacGyver a fix.

Damage
Vehicles suffer Harm as characters, but gain Damage instead
of Injury when reduced to 0 Luck. Damage affects a Vehicle
Subsystem of the attacker’s choice. If an undamaged Subsystem
is Damaged, it is Crippled. If a Crippled Subsystem is further
Damaged, it is Disabled.
The Guide may choose to have NPC Vehicles be Defeated once
they reach 0 Luck, or may (for longer-lasting and more dangerous
Vehicle combat) require NPC Vehicle Propulsion Subsystems to
be Disabled. This should be announced to players prior to the
beginning of combat.
Once all a Vehicle’s Subsystems are Disabled, the Vehicle
is destroyed.

96 • Structure and Vehicle Combat

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


CRIPPLED SUBSYSTEMS
A Crippled Subsystem Drops a Protagonist’s Check whenever
they attempt to use the Subsystem. Once combat ends, Crippled
Subsystems are restored to full functionality after a few minutes.

DISABLED SUBSYSTEMS
A Disabled Subsystem cannot be used.

REPAIRING SUBSYSTEMS
Repairs can be MacGyvered on Crippled Subsystems in
combat. Once repaired, Crippled Subsystems are restored to
full functionality.
Disabled Subsystems can be fully repaired by purchasing the
Repair Damage Boost. Alternately, characters can attempt to
repair Damage outside of combat via Crafting.

DAMAGE OUTSIDE COMBAT


When a Vehicle is not in combat, it suffers Damage without first
suffering Harm. Colliding with another Vehicle in a docking
mishap is an example resulting in out-of-combat Damage.

Vehicles and Range


Vehicles may need broader range bands compared to personal
combat for their speed and weapons to be effective. Range
should be abstracted in Vehicle combat to the following
approximate distances:
• Close Range: A distance roughly equal to how far the
Vehicle can travel in 10 seconds.
• Long Range: From the edge of Close range to no more
than 10x farther away.
• Extreme Range: This range indicates targets that are too
distant to be effectively targetable, but which can still be
seen or detected.
 Combat

Forthright Open Roleplay • 97

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Vehicle Stunts
Pilots can maneuver their Vehicles and mounts acrobatically to
gain an advantage on their opponents by rolling a Skill Check
with the following Outcomes:
▲▲ Win: The maneuver succeeds; the pilot chooses an ally’s
Check to Raise or an opponent’s Check to Drop.
●● Exchange: The maneuver succeeds, but provides no
special advantage or disadvantage.
▼▼ Setback: The maneuver fails; the opposition chooses an
ally’s Check to Drop or an opponent’s Check to Raise.
Vic: I want to do a wingover to try and get this guy out from
behind us and foul his shots.
Brand: Okay, give me a Skill Check.
Vic: That’s a Win! I’m going to Drop his next Fight Check.
Brand: Lasers spit from the front of the starfighter, and …
Exchange, Dropped to a Setback. He misses, and his belly is
open to your cannons.
Vic: Say goodnight, Gracie! 6 Harm.

If a pilot wants to perform a Stunt without trying to gain an


advantage on opponents, no Skill Check is needed and the Stunt
is considered normal movement.

98 • Structure and Vehicle Combat

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Mixing Vehicle and Personal Combat
When Vehicles and characters are in combat with each other, the
individual characters in combat with Vehicles trade Initiative with
the Vehicles. Characters in a Vehicle all get a chance to act on the
Vehicle’s Turn.

Jules: I’m going to shoot at the car as it speeds away. Win.


For 8 Harm.
Brand: Your shot knocks off one of the side-view mirrors. The
driver ducks his head down and slews the car to one side,
trying to throw off further shots. His passenger leans out the
window and tries to get a shot off at you ... Setback.
Jules: I’m trying to crash the car, not hurt the guys inside, so
I’ll take a Boon.
Brand: Vic, Jamie, CJ ... one of you get to go.

Characters inside a Vehicle can attack each other while the Vehicle
is also in combat. In this case, Initiative passes between Vehicles as
normal in Vehicle combat. On the Turn of a Vehicle under internal
assault, the characters inside the Vehicle pass Initiative as normal
in personal combat until one Round concludes. At the end of the
personal combat Round, Initiative passes to the next Vehicle.

 Combat

Forthright Open Roleplay • 99

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Brand: The fighter’s lasers shoot right past the cockpit,
blistering the Thunderwing’s paint for 6 Harm. It’s the
Thunderwing’s turn.
Vic: “Guys, hang onto something.” I’m going to loop-de-loop
to get behind that fighter and hit it with the nose cannon. Skill
Check and ... Win! 3 Harm.
Brand: Smoke billows out of one of the fighter’s three engines,
and you see it starting to wobble in the air. Behind you, you
hear the pirate who snuck on board bellowing some kind of
horrid air shanty as he attacks Solenoid for ... Win, 8 Harm.
Jamie, Jules, CJ?
CJ: I’ll fling a dagger at him and spend one of these Boons
for extra damage. Win, 3 plus 5 is 8 Harm.
Brand: The pirate growls and rips the dagger out of his
shoulder, then swings his monofilament cutlass at you ...
Exchange, 4 Harm.
CJ: Dagger right back at him for 2 Harm.
Jamie: Enough of this, it’s hammer time! Win, 12 Harm.
Subdue if I got him.
Brand: You did indeed. Your hammer cracks against the
back of his skull, knocking him into one of the bulkheads,
and he slides down the wall with a bit of drool and blood
trailing behind.
Jules: Okay, now that that’s done, I’m going to climb into the
turret. Do I still have time for that?
Brand: Yup.
Jules: I target the fighter and fire. That’s another Win, for
5 Damage.
Brand: Val, you see from the cockpit the lasers shooting out
from the turret into the back of the fighter. There’s a flash of
something important going, and you see it’s in trouble. It’s
his turn again, and he breaks off the fight, dropping altitude
and Retreating.
Vic: I won’t give chase, we’ve got to get out of here.

100 • Structure and Vehicle Combat

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


C  HASES

 Chases
The game transitions to a Chase when one side or character
chooses to break off from a conflict and attempt to escape, and one
or more opposing characters give chase. The fleeing characters
are the Prey and the hunting characters are the Predator in a Chase.
If the conflict continues with other characters who are not
attempting to escape, resolve that before entering the Chase.
Characters in a Chase do not restore Luck until the Chase ends.
Chases in Forthright do not measure which characters are faster
than the others. Instead, Chases are a series of single-interaction
vignettes that the Protagonists encounter and attempt to turn to
their advantage. Protagonists roll the dice in Chases whether they
are Predator or Prey.
When an event occurs in a Chase that could allow the Prey to
escape or be caught (such as an alley to hide in or a door that could
be blocked), the Protagonists can interact with it to try and end the
Chase. This usually involves a Check with the following Outcomes:
▲▲ Win: The Protagonist works the situation to their Team’s
benefit, catching their Prey or escaping their Predator.
●● Exchange: Both Predator and Prey must deal with the
situation, but get no closer to capture or escape.
▼▼ Setback: The Protagonist fouls the situation to their
Team’s detriment, getting captured by their Predator or
losing their Prey.
The Chase continues until the Prey escapes, is captured, or until
the Predator breaks off pursuit.

Forthright Open Roleplay • 101

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Brand: Okay, the fight’s done. Solenoid, you took off running
to try and get away from the cultists. Two of them broke off
from the fight to chase you.
CJ: I’m going to keep running until I get away.
Brand: As you’re running, you see a truck pulling out of
an alley.
CJ: Okay, I’m going to try and use that to my advantage. I’m
going to slide under the truck and keep running.
Brand: That sounds like an athletic Skill Check.
CJ: That’s a … Exchange. Hmph.
Brand: You slide between the wheels of the truck and keep
running. Behind you, you hear the cultists start yelling. The
truck driver blows his horn, and you hear an explosion.
CJ: Uh, I’m going to look for somewhere to hide.
Brand: There’s a ton of people coming out now to see what’s
going on with the truck, you could probably try and blend in
with them.
CJ: I’m a seven-foot-tall robot. Unlikely. But can I use them as
cover to completely hide?
Brand: Sure. That’s another Skill Check.
CJ: A stealthy one, so I’ve got Setback Protection as an
Infiltrator. I’ll roll a … Win!
Brand: You duck into another nearby alley and hide behind a
garbage bin. After a few minutes, there’s enough of a crowd
out in the street that you would have heard more explosions
and screams if the cultists were still around. You’ve lost them.

102 • Structure and Vehicle Combat

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


M
  ASS COMBAT

 Mass Combat
Mass combat is invoked when events call for a battle between two
or more great armies. When the Protagonists are not involved,
the Guide is free to choose the victor based on what will be most
interesting for the game or Gamescape.

Unit Structure
Armies on the battlefield should be divided into units of
approximately the same size. If one side significantly outnumbers
another, divide both forces by a common denominator to
determine an appropriate unit size.

The Stormbringers of Thyre are bringing an army 10,000


strong to attack Ambersol City. The Imperial Guard have a
garrison of 4,000 soldiers in Ambersol City. Brand decides on
a common denominator of 2,000, so the units are:
Stormbringers of Thyre: 5 Units
Imperial Guard: 2 Units

Each Unit gets its own Fight Check in battle. The Units have Fight
Bonuses determined as follows:
• Conscripts (+0): These are the weakest forces, such as
farmers armed with whatever hodgepodge of weapons
they can find.
• Trained Army (+3): This is the typical unit, filled with
mercenaries or warriors who are skilled at warfare.
• Elite Troops (+6): These are the most dangerous of
combatants, such as the legendary Spartan Hoplites or
Persian Immortals.
When forces with vastly different capabilities meet (for example,
hoplites vs. space marines), the inferior Unit has 1 subtracted
from its Fight Check Bonus and the superior Unit has 1 added to
its Fight Check Bonus. Units that reach -1 will not fight; they are
Routed before the battle begins.

Forthright Open Roleplay • 103

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Initiative
The defending army (typically, the army that controls this region
of the Gamescape) goes first. Initiative is then traded between
each army. On its turn, an army may act with one or more of its
Units. Units have the following statuses:
• Engaged: In combat with at least one other Unit. An
Engaged Unit cannot move freely on the battlefield and
must make a Fight Check against one of the Units it is
engaged with.
• Positioning: Not in combat, but can move freely on the
battlefield to engage another Unit.
• Captured: This unit has been defeated and can no longer
participate in combat.
• Capturing: This unit is capturing survivors from a
defeated Unit and can no longer participate in combat.
• Routed: This Unit has been defeated and can no longer
participate in combat. Survivors are running for their lives
away from the war zone.
• Retreating: This Unit has not been defeated, but is no
longer participating in combat. It cannot be Captured
or Routed, but it will be available to its army for
future battles.
Mass Combat ends when no more Units on the field of battle can
oppose each other.

Fight Checks
When Engaged with an enemy Unit, a Unit rolls 1d20 and
adds its Fight Bonus. Mass combat Fight Checks have the
following Outcomes:
▲▲ Win: The defending Unit’s Fight Bonus is reduced by 1.
●● Exchange: Both the attacking and defending Unit’s Fight
Bonuses are reduced by 1.
▼▼ Setback: The attacking Unit’s Fight Bonus is reduced by 1.
Boons earned by Armies can only be spent to Raise or Drop mass
combat Fight Checks in the battle at hand.

104 • Initiative

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Units are defeated when their Fight Bonus reaches -1. The winning
Unit can Capture the defeated Unit or allow the defeated Unit to

 Mass Combat
be Routed. Units can Retreat on their Action.

The Protagonists
Protagonists can affect mass combat situations in a meaningful
way by completing Missions. Missions are adventures that allow
Mass Combat to be integrated into the story while also providing
direct benefits to military Units.
A successful Mission against an opposing force can reduce all its
Units’ Fight Bonuses, while a successful Mission for an allied force
can increase all its Units’ Fight Bonuses. The size of the increase or
decrease from a Mission should be no more than +/- 2. Missions
can include:
• Defend against sabotage by finding intruders, guarding
vital locations, ensuring supply lines aren’t broken, and
protecting allied leaders from danger.
• Deliver allied communications, keeping secrets from
falling into enemy hands and improving your ally’s
military effectiveness.
• Intercept enemy communications, reducing their military
effectiveness and learning secrets valuable to your allies.
• Reconnoiter the enemy or the battlefield, discovering
weaknesses in the enemy’s formation or terrain features
that your allies can use to their advantage.
• Sabotage the enemy by breaking their supply lines,
destroying their ammo, or poisoning their food.
• Target opposition leaders either to assassinate them, feed
them false intel, or convert them away from their cause.

Forthright Open Roleplay • 105

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


A  DVENTURING
Much of what Protagonists do interacts with the Gamescape in
ways beyond conflict.

Athletic Feats
When characters strain the bounds of physical capability, they are
performing an athletic feat. These include catching themselves as
they fall, lifting or dragging entirely too much weight, climbing,
swimming, or running faster than normally possible. Skill Checks
made to perform athletic feats have the following Outcomes:
▲▲ Win: The athletic feat is performed.
●● Exchange: The athletic feat is performed, but the
character is Hindered until their next Restoration period
(PAGE 95).
▼▼ Setback: The athletic feat is not performed and the
character is Hindered until their next Rest (PAGE 114). If
the feat was particularly dangerous, the character may
be Injured.

Crafting
Crafting allows characters to create Boosts, repair Damage,
heal Injuries, and develop new effects in the Gamescape
independently of character advancement. Crafting can be
described as magical enchantments and rituals, technological
improvements, medicine, or even invoking the will of divinities.

106 • Athletic Feats

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


MacGyvering
When characters must build something quickly, with only the
common materials they have at hand, they can make a Skill Check
with the following Outcomes:
▲▲ Win: The device works and is available before the
situation escalates. It will only function until the end of
the Session.
●● Exchange: The device works, but the Guide chooses one

 Adventuring
of the following options:
• The device will function until the end of the
Session, and the situation escalates just as it
is finished.
• The device may function until the end of the
Session, but will fail completely if a Setback is
rolled while using it.
▼▼ Setback: The device works, but the Guide chooses one of
the following options:
• The device will function until the end of the
Session, but the situation escalates before it
is ready.
• The device may function until the end of the
Session, but will fail completely if an Exchange or
Setback is rolled while using it.
Brand: You’re trapped in the closet in this warehouse. You
hear their footsteps as they walk away, talking about how
they’re going to use the Firestone to burn the whole thing to
the ground.
CJ: That’s not going to work for me. I start looking around,
what sort of stuff do we have in here?
Brand: Oh, all kinds of junk. Cleaning supplies, some old
hoses, brooms, and mops ...
CJ: Okay, I’m going to try and fashion these into a little bomb
or something I can use to blow open the door or break the
lock, something like that.
Brand: Sure.
CJ: Aww crap. Setback.

Forthright Open Roleplay • 107

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Brand: So, you spend about 20 minutes working on this
thing, setting it against the door and getting the angle right,
making sure you won’t blow your own hand off, when you
start smelling smoke. It’s faint at first, but it’s starting to get
warm in here.
CJ: I gotta get out.
Brand: You trip the tool you’ve made and it goes off, breaking
the lock and busting the door wide open. You look out in
horror to realize half the warehouse is on fire.

MacGyvering can also repair Crippled Vehicle Subsystems or


provide temporary relief to Injuries during combat.
▲▲ Win: The Injury’s effects are not suffered for the duration
of the scene or the Crippled Subsystem is repaired.
●● Exchange: The Injury’s effects are not suffered for the
duration of the scene or the Crippled Subsystem is
repaired, but the crafter or Vehicle is opened to Exploit.
▼▼ Setback: The Injury is not relieved or the Crippled
Subsystem is not repaired; the crafter or Vehicle is
opened to Exploit.
The Guide may decide some things are impossible to MacGyver
(a starship engine from baling wire and rubber bands, for
instance, or something advanced that has not yet been invented
in the Gamescape).

108 • Crafting

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Invention
When a character wishes to invent something completely new,
the likes of which have not yet been seen in the Gamescape, that
character must first make a Skill Check to determine what the
character will need to begin work on the invention.
▲▲ Win: The invention can be made with common materials
costing 1d6 Wealth.
●● Exchange: The invention will require rare materials. The

 Adventuring
character can quest for these materials or spend 2d6
Wealth to acquire them.
▼▼ Setback: The invention will require unique materials. The
character can quest for these materials or spend 3d6
Wealth to acquire them.
Questing for materials allows crafting to be fully integrated into
the story, and Guides can use material quests to expand upon the
Gamescape and introduce new NPCs and Plots.

Burning-Sky wants to invent a new type of long-hammer that will


allow its wielder to crack the earth itself when they slam it on the
ground, knocking down up to 4 enemies in Close Range. Jamie
rolls a Setback, so the invention will require unique materials, and
decides not to spend Wealth to acquire the materials.
Brand decides the hammer will need to be made with the
legendary metal uru. Burning-Sky and the rest of the team
go on several adventures to find this metal: first looking for
information on its whereabouts, then rescuing from villainous
hands one of the only smiths who knows how to work it, and
finally making their way into the perilous depths from which
the ore must be mined.
By the end of their adventures, Burning-Sky has the material to
craft the new weapon and the Team has encountered several
new NPCs and had many new adventures.

Invention is a moment of inspiration and itself takes no time: time


is instead spent gathering the necessary materials to craft the
invention as a Manufacturing Project.
Once the invention has been crafted the first time, future Projects
to craft the invention no longer require an invention Skill Check
or extra materials.

Forthright Open Roleplay • 109

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


INNOVATION ERAS
Advancements in ideas, magic, infrastructure, and technology
are grouped into different Eras. These Eras build on those that
came before and identify what problems the techniques of the
age have worked to solve. Different societies at the same point in
time can stand in different Innovation Eras. These Eras are:
• Primitive: Innovations are focused on basic survival and
agricultural techniques, as well as early developments in
medicine, architecture, and politics.
• Pre-Industrial: Innovations are focused on refinement
of survival tools, the development of the scientific
method, and investigations into the natural world and
its resources.
• Industrial: Innovations are in physical mechanics,
common interchangeable parts, clockwork engineering,
germ theory, industrial assembly, and social class-based
political thought.
• Atomic: Innovations are largely focused on exploiting
quantum phenomena, rocket and nuclear science,
microscopic biology and physics, and early development
of electronics.
• Information: Innovations refine the sciences of the Atomic
Era while shifting focus to miniaturization, quantum
mechanics, pharmaceuticals, genetic engineering, and
widespread dissemination of information.
• Integration: Innovations refine Information Era sciences
further, introducing clean energy, machine intelligence,
bionics, neural networks, robots, nanotechnology,
and biotechnology.
• Spacefaring: Innovations are focused on interplanetary
travel, primitive terraforming, cryogenic sleep, and deep
space resource exploration and exploitation.
• Starfaring: Innovations like faster-than-light travel,
gravity generation, and advances in nanotechnology and
genetics push species further from their biological roots.
• Singularity: Innovations see free energy and easy
conversion between energy and matter. Wishing
machines, beings of pure thought, and violations of
Newtonian Laws are commonplace.

110 • Crafting

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Innovation can be driven by technology, magic, biology, or any
other source of change. As a result, not every Gamescape will
proceed through these eras in the same order.

Everos has been invaded by forces with various Innovation


levels over the millennia, and has a strange mix of Eras,
technology, and magic as a result. Everos’s available Innovation
Eras are Primitive, Pre-Industrial, Integration, and Spacefaring.

 Adventuring
Innovation Eras inform the next likely steps of invention.
Inventors who leap too far ahead of the Gamescape may find
themselves having difficulty realizing those advances for lack of
the infrastructure to develop them.
If the invention is from an Innovation Era outside those available
to the inventor, the inventor Drops all Skill Checks to invent and
manufacture it.

Val Darrin wants to invent an interstellar jump drive for the


Thunderwing. The world of Everos is not Starfaring, so Val’s
invent Skill Check is Dropped. Should Val decide to build
the jump drive, each manufacturing Skill Check will also
be Dropped.

Once an invention from a new Innovation Era has been crafted


the first time, it ushers that Innovation Era into the Gamescape.

Manufacturing Projects
Manufacturing Projects allow characters to create goods or
services that would normally cost Boost Points but instead
cost time and effort. Examples include magical rituals, salves,
pharmaceuticals, weapons, and tools.
Projects always take time and cannot be done quickly under
pressure. To begin a Project, a character must identify the
desired result of the Project and the resources that will be used to
complete it. If the character is inventing something new, they must
make an invention Skill Check to identify the necessary resources.
Once the necessary resources are gathered, the Project may
begin. Project duration is determined by identifying the
Complexity based on the intended result:

Forthright Open Roleplay • 111

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


• Area of Effect: Add 3 Complexity for every target
or 5-foot (1.5-meter) cube after the first affected by
the Project.
• Effect: Add 1 Complexity for every Boost, Poison, or
Disease granted by the Project.
• Harm: Add Complexity for the Harm caused by the
Project as follows:
• 1d4: 1
• 1d6: 2
• 1d8: 3
• 1d10: 4
• 1d12: 5
• Hindrance: Add 1 Complexity for every Hindrance
applied to targets of the Project.
• Range: Add 10 Complexity if the Project can affect targets
in Extreme Range.
• Permanence: The total Complexity is multiplied by 6 if the
Project will be usable more than once.
Project Complexity approximates the number of workdays
needed to complete the Project. Workdays do not need to be
consecutive and work on a Project can be paused at any time.
Upon completing a workday, a manufacturing Skill Check can be
rolled with the following Outcomes:
▲▲ Win: The time was highly productive and resolves
2 Complexity.
●● Exchange: The time was productive and resolves
1 Complexity.
▼▼ Setback: The time was not productive and sets the Project
back, adding 1 Complexity.
Characters can declare any day they do not adventure or travel to
be a workday. If characters spend a week or more crafting, they
instead make a single manufacturing Skill Check per week with
the following Outcomes:
▲▲ Win: Resolve 6 + 1d6 Complexity during the workweek.
●● Exchange: Resolve 6 Complexity during the workweek.
▼▼ Setback: Resolve 6 - 1d6 Complexity during
the workweek.

112 • Crafting

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Up to four Minions can work on a Project at a time, each resolving
1 Complexity per day. Only Professional Minions with the Crafter
Skillset can work on a Project.

EXAMPLE PROJECTS
These are examples of Projects that can be created and how their
Complexities were calculated.

COMMUNE WITH DEITY (11 Complexity)

 Adventuring
This ritual allows the spellcaster to have one conversation
with a divine being. Deities reside on a higher plane of
existence, which counts as Extreme Range (10 Complexity).
The functionality is similar to the Vehicle Boost Comm Array
(1 Complexity).

GRENADE LAUNCHER (84 Complexity)


This weapon deals 1d12 Harm to 4 targets in Close or Long
Range, replacing the Harm of the wielder’s Fighting Stance.
The area of effect adds 9 Complexity, the Harm adds 5
Complexity, and its reusability multiplies the Complexity total
by 6.

WEATHER BOMB (426 Complexity)


This device summons a hurricane for an hour, generating
extreme inclement weather (PAGE 117) over a radius of 1 mile.
This affects targets in Extreme Range (10 Complexity) and
provides effectively a Hindrance (1 Complexity). The hour-long
duration is similar to 60 Persist Harm Boosts (60 Complexity).
The area of effect is large enough that Brand decides to simply
count the effects of the storm as permanent (x6 Complexity)
due to the storm damage, rather than counting the number
of targets affected.

MED PACK (6 Complexity)


This collection of medicines removes one Injury from a
character. This provides the same effect as the Recovery Boost
(1 Complexity) permanently (x6 Complexity) to the character
who uses it.

Forthright Open Roleplay • 113

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Hazards
Hazards are environmental dangers in the Gamescape that can
catch the unwary and make adventuring more difficult.

Falling and Sinking


Dropping from a great height is always dangerous. Characters
may attempt a Skill Check to try and catch themselves if they are
within reach of something they can use to arrest their fall, or other
characters can try to catch them with a Skill Check if they are
within reach.
Regardless of how a character’s fall is stopped, they risk lingering
consequences. Falls of more than 100 feet (30 meters) always
Injure a character on impact, while shorter falls can be mitigated
with an athletic Skill Check (PAGE 106).
Sinking is not dangerous for a character, and they can always
make a Skill Check to start swimming. Unless the character can
breathe the substance they are submerged in, though, they
risk suffocation.

Fatigue
Characters must Rest to maintain peak performance. After 24
hours of constant wakefulness, if a character does not Rest for at
least 8 hours, they will suffer Fatigue until they Rest. Fatigue Drops
every Check made by a character.

Fire and Smoke


Fire spreads quickly and causes tremendous damage. Characters
caught in a fire during combat take 1d6 Harm at the end of every
Turn until an Action is taken to extinguish them. Characters set on
fire outside of combat suffer an Injury.
Fire spreads at 30 feet (10 meters) per Round across combustible
material such as lumber, living beings, cloth, and furniture. It can
spread twice as fast per Round across tinder such as dry kindling
or straw. Fire does not spread across non-flammable material
such as dirt, stone, and metal.
Fire is accompanied by smoke, which provides Concealment but
is not breathable. Smoke quickly fills indoor spaces and covers an
area roughly four times the size of the fire itself outdoors.

114 • Hazards

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Holding Your Breath
Characters can hold their breath for 2 minutes outside of
combat (or for 1 Round during combat) before needing to
make a Skill Check. Characters make a Skill Check to hold their
breath at the beginning of their Turn in addition to their Action,
or as appropriate outside of combat. This Skill Check has the
following Outcomes:
▲▲ Win: The character can continue holding their breath for

 Adventuring
2 more minutes or 1 Round of combat.
●● Exchange: The character can continue holding their
breath for 2 more minutes or 1 Round of combat, but they
are Fatigued until they are able to breathe normally again.
▼▼ Setback: The character begins to breathe, and is both
Fatigued and cannot attempt to hold their breath again
until after a Restoration period (PAGE 95).
A Protagonist that breathes non-breathable liquid or atmosphere
(such as water, toxic fumes, or vacuum) suffers 1d6 Harm per
Turn in combat. Outside of combat, they suffer an Injury for
approximately every 5 minutes spent suffocating. NPCs die after
suffocating for about 5 minutes.

Intoxication
Characters can become intoxicated from consuming any number
of substances: alcohol, drugs, concentrated pixie dust, and so on.
The amount required for intoxication varies by substance, and is
abstracted into Servings for smooth play.

Alcohol (1 Serving = 1 Pint/Shot/Glass)


Positive: Improves Mood to Agreeable
Negative: Drops Talk Checks

Pixie Dust (1 Serving = 1 Line/Puff)


Positive: Raises Talk Checks
Negative: Acts last in a Round

Forthright Open Roleplay • 115

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Characters can consume one Serving of an Intoxicating substance
per hour without risk. For each additional serving consumed
within an hour, the character must make a Skill Check with the
following Outcomes:
▲▲ Win: The character gains the positive effect of
the substance.
●● Exchange: The character gains both the positive and
negative effects of the substance.
▼▼ Setback: The character suffers the negative effect of
the substance. If already suffering a negative effect, the
character falls unconscious.
Characters remain unconscious from intoxication for 8 hours
and cannot be roused. Upon awakening, the character will be
Fatigued until their next Rest.

Poison and Disease


Poisons and Diseases apply unique Injuries ( PAGE 87)
to a character that negate Boosts or otherwise reduce a
character’s capability.

Black Rose Poison: The victim’s Luck is reduced by 5.


Blinding Sickness: The victim has the Blind Hindrance.
The Sweate: The victim is filled with fear, and will immediately
Retreat from any conflict.

Poisons take effect immediately when consumed, inhaled, or


applied to the victim with a poisoned object. Poison can be
applied to an object as an Action. The first target Harmed or
Hindered by a poisoned weapon also suffers the effect of the
Poison. Poison is consumed upon delivery and more must be
applied to a weapon before another target can be poisoned.

116 • Hazards

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Characters exposed to a disease for a day or more must make
a Skill Check every day to ensure their precautionary measures
prevent them from contracting the disease. This Skill Check has
the following Outcomes:
▲▲ Win: The character does not contract the Disease.
●● Exchange: The character’s precautions are insufficient;
further Checks to avoid the disease are Dropped.
▼▼ Setback: The character has contracted the Disease and is

 Adventuring
now contagious.

Terrain and Weather


Adverse terrain and weather can make travel and activities more
difficult. Smooth terrain and normal weather do not impact
Checks. Rough terrain and inclement weather, however, can have
the following effects as selected by the Guide:
• Drop Checks: Conditions Drop Skill Checks for precise
activity, such as for athletic movement or driving.
• Fatigue: Conditions cause characters to suffer Fatigue.
• Reduced Awareness: Conditions reduce perception
distance by one range band (PAGE 118).
• Reduced Speed: Characters must move at half their
normal speed or risk Injury.

Investigating and Tracking


While the Protagonists are automatically given clues by the
Guide that they can use to advance their story, the players may
not immediately recognize their significance. When players want
additional hints to interpret clues, they can make a Skill Check to
extrapolate information with the following Outcomes:
▲▲ Win: The Protagonist knows where to get the information
easily or already knows it, and can use this information
before the situation escalates.
●● Exchange: The Protagonist knows where to get the
information or can figure it out given time, and will be
able to get it just before the situation escalates.
▼▼ Setback: The Protagonist must go through difficulty
to get the information – something either unpleasant
or time-consuming – and may not get it before the
situation escalates.
Forthright Open Roleplay • 117

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Investigation always gives the Protagonists what they need while
also being a tool for generating story complications. Perhaps the
Protagonists will need to visit a mob boss to get more info on a
Setback. Maybe they follow a trail through the woods, only to see
their quarry boarding a ship leaving dock.

Protagonist vs. Player Knowledge


Protagonists are presumed to be at least as smart, clever, and
capable as their players. If a player can solve a mystery or
piece together a chain of clues presented in-game, then their
Protagonist can do the same.
Protagonist knowledge is what Protagonists know about the
world they inhabit, such as facts about magic, mythology, and
technology. The Guide shares this knowledge freely with the
players, and should not try to trick the players into having their
Protagonists do something they would not logically do as people
living in the Gamescape.
Player knowledge is what players know thanks to their education
or a quick Internet search, such as facts about science,
mathematics, and other topics that aren’t necessarily available
to the Protagonists. Players should not try and force their own
advanced knowledge into a Gamescape that lacks it.

Language
Characters can generally communicate with each other in the
same fluent language. In situations where characters cannot
speak the same language, they can still use their Talk Checks to
communicate with each other non-verbally.

Perception
In Forthright, characters do not make Checks to determine if
they are aware of something. Instead, if something such as a clue
is within their range of awareness, they are aware of it.

118 • Language

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Hearing and Listening
There are two degrees of auditory awareness: Hearing (being
aware of a sound) and Listening (being able to understand
the words or meaning of a sound). The maximum distances for
hearing and listening are:

HEARING LISTENING

 Adventuring
Whisper Close Adjacent

Speech Long Close

Shout Extreme Long

Battle or Horn Extreme Extreme

Seeing and Recognizing


There are two degrees of visual awareness: Seeing (being aware
of a sight) and Recognizing (being able to discern minor details
on a sight). Characters can see targets at Extreme Range and
recognize them at Long Range. Darkness and fog reduce these
ranges by one step.

Performing
Performance entertains and informs an audience through a
combination of talents represented by Fight, Talk, and Skill
Checks. Acting out a convincing swordfight, or hitting a mark
precisely to drop a prop wall, could require a Fight Check.
Communicating a message through art, or convincing the
audience of the sincerity of an emotion, would require a Talk
Check. Impressing an audience with technical prowess such as
stunt riding or acrobatics could require appropriate Skill Checks.
The Guide calls for different Checks to build tension during a
performance and give the spotlight to the performer.

Forthright Open Roleplay • 119

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Piloting and Riding
When characters ride a mount or pilot a Vehicle through a tricky
maneuver, such as jumping over a chasm or lining up a shot
with nose-mounted cannons, they make a Skill Check with the
following Outcomes:
▲▲ Win: The maneuver is successful.
●● Exchange: The maneuver is successful, but the mount or
Vehicle is out of position in some way.
▼▼ Setback: The maneuver fails, and the mount or Vehicle
is out of position in some way. This could be a spin out,
a stall, an opening to being Exploited, or some other
temporary detriment described by the Guide.

Security
There are various locations in the Gamescape that will not be
freely accessible to everyone. Characters can use different
techniques to infiltrate secure locations.
The response to intrusion by security guards will be dependent
on the degree of secrecy they must maintain. At some locations,
guards will demand out-of-place characters leave the area at
once. At others, possible spies may be attacked outright.
Guards will summon help when they meet resistance, usually
with a horn, whistle, or radio. Responding guards tend to leave
other areas unguarded, opening the possibility of resistance as
a distraction.

Disguises
Characters can mask their identity by changing their appearance,
clothing, body language, and voice so they can appear as a
different individual.
Putting on a disguise takes time whether illusion, costuming, or
shapeshifting is involved – from a few seconds for a very simple
disguise to several hours for a more complex disguise.

120 • Piloting and Riding

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Characters in disguise make Skill Checks to maintain their disguise
only when interacting with or being viewed by observers:
▲▲ Win: The disguise passes muster and no suspicion
is raised.
●● Exchange: The disguise is not seen through, but
something about the imposter seems off. The observer
may demonstrate concern or suspicion, and will keep an
eye on the imposter.
▼▼ Setback: The disguise is seen through, and the imposter

 Adventuring
is recognized as a fake.
Disguise Skill Checks are Dropped if the imposter is impersonating
a specific character and interacting with someone who knows that
specific character.

Hacking
Hacking is a common infiltration technique that requires a
combination of talents. Getting past digital security might require
a sneaking Skill Check, while identifying as a different user might
require a disguise Skill Check. Entering new functionality might
be a MacGyvering Skill Check, while simply shutting down a
system might require a sabotage Skill Check. The Guide calls for
different Skill Checks to build tension in a hacking scene and give
the spotlight to the hacker.

Legerdemain
Another common technique used to bypass security is sleight
of hand: picking pockets to get wallets or security passes, for
instance, or planting an eavesdropping tool in an inconspicuous
place. These require sneaking Skill Checks to avoid notice. The
Guide may also call for a Skill Check for athletic feats if the object
being manipulated is particularly large, or an investigation Skill
Check if the object needs to be particularly well-positioned.

Forthright Open Roleplay • 121

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Sabotage
Characters may encounter locks to pick, or they may attempt
to disrupt Vehicles, bombs, or other devices so they work
improperly. When a character attempts to sabotage an object,
they must make a Skill Check.
▲▲ Win: The character sabotages the object and describes
what they do.
●● Exchange: The character sabotages the object and
describes what they do. The sabotage took long enough
for the situation to escalate, or is noticeable to anyone
who comes within recognition range.
▼▼ Setback: The object is not sabotaged as the saboteur
intended. The Guide may choose one of the
following options:
• The object jams or detonates.
• The situation escalates.
• The attempted sabotage is noticeable to anyone
who comes within recognition range of the object.
Vic: I want to cut their brake lines.
CJ: I’ll help.
Brand: Val, you and Solenoid slide under the car. Who’s got
the higher Skill Bonus?
CJ: Val does, +4 to my +2.
Brand: Val, roll a Skill Check, Raised because
Solenoid’s helping.
Vic: Win. I cut the brake lines so that if they start chasing
after us, the first time they make a sharp turn or brake they’ll
crash instead.

122 • Security

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


FIGHT OR SKILL?
Some actions may seem like they call for a Fight Check instead
of a Skill Check to sabotage. If the action could logically be taken
outside of combat, use a Skill Check; if not, use a Fight Check.
“Bashing down a door” does not strictly require characters to
drop the door’s Luck to 0, though if the characters are in a battle
and are trying to get through the door to escape, this could add
interesting tension.

 Adventuring
Sneaking
Characters can attempt to avoid notice or hide from view
altogether. This may mean walking stealthily in the open, lurking
unseen in shadows, hiding behind curtains, or appearing like an
irrelevant part of the background. Hiding when being directly
observed requires breaking line of sight with the observer. When
a character is within perception range of an observer, they must
make a Skill Check to sneak.
▲▲ Win: The sneak is not noticed.
●● Exchange: The sneak is not noticed, but the observer has
become suspicious. The observer may delay the sneak by
searching the area more carefully or may instruct others
that someone could be lurking around.
▼▼ Setback: The sneak is spotted.
There is no Skill Check to counteract sneaking. If a character’s
Skill Check is successful, they are not noticed. Characters can
voluntarily stop sneaking at any time, and are immediately noticed
if they perform any attention-grabbing action such as attacking
or speaking.
Characters who attack from stealth Raise their Fight Check.

Forthright Open Roleplay • 123

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Traps
Traps exist to discourage infiltration. While some may be hidden
from view, they are typically obvious to dissuade potential
intruders from even attempting entry. There should always be
signs that a trap is present in an area before it is triggered.

ALARMS
Alert guards that an intruder is present. Alarms may be broadly
audible or audible only to guards.

CAPTURE TRAPS
Attempt to Pin or Knockout intruders so they can be captured by
guards. These traps are created like Minor NPCs (PAGE 155) and
roll Fight Checks to Hinder intruders.

KILLING TRAPS
Attempt to prevent entry by killing intruders. These traps
are created like Minor NPCs and roll Fight Checks to Injure
Protagonists or kill NPCs.

MARKING TRAPS
Mark intruders, Dropping their disguise and stealth Skill Checks,
and Raising Skill Checks to track them.

SENTRY TRAPS
Force intruders to make Skill Checks to sneak past them.
Traps in well-traveled areas will be designed to prevent them
from being triggered by the people who are allowed in that
area. Examples of such bypasses include code-locked keypads,
magical amulets provided to vetted personnel, or secret, non-
trapped entrances to secure areas.

124 • FSorthright
ecurity Open Roleplay • 124

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


F  ACTIONS AND DOMAINS
Factions and Domains provide an extra dimension of play for
Protagonists and are a tool for the Guide to determine events in
the Gamescape.

Factions
Factions are organizations of like-minded individuals larger than
the Team that control significant wealth, land, or power in the
form of Domains to further a specific Agenda. Factions can be as
small as corner gangs competing for respect in an overcrowded
borough or as grand as a pan-galactic empire. Factions, unlike
the Team, can act to achieve their Agendas without involving

 Factions and Domains


the Protagonists.
Factions provide specific benefits to their members such as
contacts, additional training, and extra resources when characters
are on a mission that benefits the Faction. Characters can also rise
through the ranks of a Faction if they prove loyal and valuable.

Establishing a Faction
To establish a Faction, a character must accumulate 10 Comrades
who share the same Agenda and are willing to belong to a
Faction led by the character. Once these Faction members are
available, they must acquire or build a Faction Headquarters and
establish the Faction Agenda, Membership Requirements, Ranks,
and Regalia.

Agenda
The Agenda defines a Faction’s goals and operational methods.
A Faction’s Agenda can shift over time as the Faction changes
leaders and achieves its goals.

Forthright Open Roleplay • 125

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


The Wardens of the Star-Roads have one goal: to close
portals that open into Everos as quickly as possible. To that
end, they will combat any invasion forces from portals as well
as groups that try to open portals.
The Wardens provide members with Shutter Bombs that can
close any portal they’re thrown into. They have operatives all
over Everos, and try to stay politically neutral.

Membership
Every Faction has different membership criteria. Some Factions
will demand that an applicant perform a task or series of tasks that
forward the Faction’s Agenda to prove the applicant’s loyalty to
the cause. Other Factions will simply require paperwork.
The criteria for membership are established when the Faction is
created, and can change over time to reflect different situations
the Faction has encountered.
Characters can be members of multiple Factions, but a Faction
will not allow a character to join if it knows they are currently a
member of an opposing Faction.

The Wardens of the Star-Roads only accept applicants who


have performed at least one Deed of Renown defending
the peace on Everos. They are currently in conflict with the
Cult of Flame, so any cultists who try to join the Wardens will
be declined.

FACTION VS. TEAM


Protagonists can be members of a Faction as well as the
Team. Being in a Faction does not override being in the Team.
Factions understand that Protagonists have a deep bond with
their teammates that cannot easily be shattered, and will in
general not ask a Protagonist to act against the interests of the
other Protagonists.
If the Team has members of multiple Factions in it, those Factions
will likely use the Protagonists to try and gain intelligence on
the other represented Factions. This will certainly be true if the
Protagonists are members of competing Factions.

126 • Factions

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Rank
Rank indicates the amount of power a Faction member wields
within a Faction. Factions are societies writ small, so Ranks are
Faction-specific Social Strata. Higher-ranked characters can give
orders to lower-ranked characters in the Faction. The three Ranks
from greatest to least are:
• High Command: High Command can spend the Faction’s
Dominion freely and can initiate Faction Missions.
• Officer: Officers can spend no more than 1 Dominion at a
time and can initiate Faction Missions. They cannot spend
Dominion again until they or a Faction Mission they
initiate generates Dominion for the Faction.
• Operative: The most common type of member,

 Factions and Domains


Operatives do not control Faction resources themselves
but can complete Faction Missions and request aid from
the Faction.
There may be several grades within these Ranks: for example,
several generals and a supreme commander might exist within
the High Command. Add more Ranks to a Faction only if jockeying
for position within the Faction will be a major part of play.

PROMOTIONS AND DEMOTIONS


Characters who push their Faction’s agenda successfully are likely
to increase their Rank, while characters who fail to push their
Faction’s agenda are likely to stagnate or even decrease in Rank.
Characters advance by completing Faction Missions and earning
Dominion for the Faction. Each Faction requires different numbers
of successful missions or Dominion for promotion, sometimes for
each Rank.
Characters that fail 3 Faction Missions in a row lose one Rank.
Operatives who are demoted are drummed out of the Faction,
culling the Faction of less skillful personnel.

Regalia
The specific uniforms, insignia, or colors that Factions use to
identify their membership are Regalia, and are provided to every
member of the Faction. Regalia can also identify a character’s rank
within a Faction.

Forthright Open Roleplay • 127

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Regalia does not need to be worn constantly; characters should
only wear Regalia when they wish to be identified as a Faction
member. Secretive Factions may limit when and where their
members wear Regalia.

Domains
The infrastructure controlled by a Faction is its Domain. A Domain
can be as small as a single building operated by a cooperative,
or it can be as vast as a multiple-planet conglomerate operated
by an interstellar empire.

Headquarters
A Headquarters is the seat of power and the first infrastructure
element for a Faction and its Domain. Every Faction must have a
Headquarters from which it can exert its power.
Headquarters are Structures or Vehicles that begin with 3
Boosts chosen by the Faction’s High Command. Factions can
further improve their Headquarters by trading Dominion for
Boosts to spend on the Headquarters. A Faction can move their
Headquarters to a new Structure or Vehicle in their Domain at
any time.
If a Faction’s Headquarters is lost or captured, the Faction
loses all unspent Dominion and must immediately establish a
Headquarters in a new location or be dissolved.

Everwhere Tower is the headquarters of the Wardens of the


Star-Roads. This 50-story tower is surrounded by five great
domes at its base and rises out of a bowl-like crater. Despite
its vast technology and sophistication, it is said that Everwhere
Tower has existed since the first dawn of Everos.
Because the Tower is so old, it has many Boosts, including
multiple Hangers, twenty Weapon Turrets improved to 1d12
Ultra Attack, Ultra Defense, and numerous Laboratories
and Workshops.

128 • Domains

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Dominion
Dominion is the currency used by the Faction to improve itself
and make Dominion Checks. Factions begin with 1 Dominion and
grow by facing Faction Challenges and furthering their Agendas.

Faction Challenges
A Faction is challenged whenever a situation threatens its power
and influence or whenever an opportunity arises to expand that
power and influence.
Every Faction Challenge provides a potential benefit to the Faction:
either 1 Dominion or an Infrastructure improvement. The Guide
determines the benefits of overcoming the Faction Challenge.
When a Faction faces a challenge, it can attempt to overcome the

 Factions and Domains


challenge with a Dominion Check. Alternately, it can choose to
send Protagonist members out on a Faction Mission, minimizing
its own risk and providing story opportunities for the Team.

DOMINION CHECKS
Dominion Checks allow a Faction to roll a single Check to
resolve a Faction Challenge. Making a Dominion Check costs a
Faction 1 Dominion. Factions can make three different types of
Dominion Checks:

Force is a Faction’s ability to use military action


and violence. Military organizations generally
focus on Force more than Influence and Labor.

Influence is a Faction’s ability to use diplomacy


and politics. Governments, secret societies,
and churches generally focus on Influence
more than Force and Labor.

Labor is a Faction’s ability to provide goods


and services to others. Merchant guilds and
manufacturers generally focus on Labor more
than Force and Influence.
Starting Factions have a +0 Bonus in Force, Influence and Labor.
Factions can increase their Check Bonuses by earning and
spending Dominion. Factions that have been around a while

Forthright Open Roleplay • 129

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


will have higher Bonuses, such as a +3 for a skillful and capable
organization and a +6 for a Faction that is at the peak of its power.
Faction Check Bonuses are capped at +6.
Dominion Checks may be Raised or Dropped based on how
the Faction is attempting to handle the situation. An Influence
challenge, for example, may be Dropped if the Faction responds
with Force because it demonstrates an inability to maneuver
subtly. The Guide determines if the Check is Raised or Dropped.
Dominion Checks have the following Outcomes:
▲▲ Win: The Faction meets the Challenge and gains 2
Dominion, 2 Infrastructure improvements, or one of each.
●● Exchange: The Faction meets the challenge and gains 1
Dominion or Infrastructure improvement.
▼▼ Setback: The Faction fails to meet the challenge and does
not gain Dominion or an Infrastructure improvement.
The Duchy of Thyre is making a political challenge against the
Wardens of the Star-Roads, claiming they are overstepping
their bounds in investigating Thyrian nobility for Cult of
Flame activity.
The Wardens are old and powerful, and have a +6 Influence
Bonus. Brand decides they continue their investigation and
discover a Thyrian noble conspiring with the Cult. The Wardens
turn this noble over to the Thunderhead triumphantly, with
a Win on their Dominion Check. They gain 2 Dominion as
the people of Everos are once again reminded the Wardens
are incorruptible.

130 • Dominion

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


FACTION MISSION
Faction Missions are adventures that send the Protagonists into
the middle of a plot by or against the Faction.

The Wardens of the Star-Roads have a mission for the Team:


the Eye of Aarakoa, a magical artifact once wielded by avian
invaders, has been stolen from the Wardens’ vault in Ambersol
City. The Wardens would like the Team to retrieve it and find
out who was responsible for the theft. If the Protagonists are
successful, they will earn 1 Dominion for the Wardens and
recover an artifact that is said to grant powers of teleportation.

If the Team resolves the situation in a way that benefits the Faction,
the Faction overcomes the challenge and earns its reward. If
the resolution does not benefit the Faction, Protagonist Faction

 Factions and Domains


members will be at risk of demotion.

Improving the Faction and Domain


Dominion can be spent on building up Faction or Domain
Infrastructure improvements. All Faction improvements cost
1 Dominion.

Forthright Open Roleplay • 131

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


IMPROVEMENT MECHANIC

Boost Points Gain 3 Boost Points to apply to Faction


members, Structures, or Vehicles. Can be
taken multiple times.

Decentralized The Faction Headquarters cannot be


Command captured.

Diplomatic Corps The Faction gains +1 Dominion when


making an Influence Check.

Increase Force Increase the Faction’s Force Bonus by 1 to


a maximum of +6. Can be taken multiple
times.

Increase Influence Increase the Faction’s Influence Bonus


by 1 to a maximum of +6. Can be taken
multiple times.

Increase Labor Increase the Faction’s Labor Bonus by 1 to


a maximum of +6. Can be taken multiple
times.

Military Order The Faction gains +1 Dominion when


making a Force Check.

Secret Signs Faction members have markers, code


words, handshakes, and the like to secretly
identify themselves to each other.

Secret Society Regalia can be worn openly and only


Faction members will recognize it.

Structure The Domain has an additional Structure.


Choose 2 Structure Boosts to apply to the
Structure. Can be taken multiple times.

Union The Faction gains +1 Dominion when


making a Labor Check.

Vehicle The Domain has an additional Vehicle.


Choose 2 Vehicle Boosts to apply to the
Vehicle. Can be taken multiple times.

132 • Dominion

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


GUIDANCE
The Guide cannot be shy when running the game. Your
confidence builds your group’s confidence in you. This
section should help give you the confidence you need
to be a great Guide.

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


B  UILDING TRUST
The Guide is essentially the leader of the gaming group. It is
from you that players will gather cues as to what is and is not
acceptable at the table. You wield the most power but also carry
the most responsibility, because your power derives entirely from
players willing to experience what you have to offer.
You act as the Protagonists’ eyes and ears in the Gamescape.
You must play fairly with them and make reasonable judgment
calls about the rules and the Gamescape. They must feel you are
respectful of them and not simply using them as an audience to
tell a story they cannot change. If your players trust you, they will
be less likely to become frustrated or disengage when situations
are against them.
Once trust is broken, it is extremely difficult if not impossible to
restore. Players will give you the benefit of the doubt; it is up to
you to show them that this trust is not misplaced.
Open, honest, and respectful communication among the
gaming group is the best way to solve problems and foster both
collaboration and trust. As the Guide, you facilitate communication
to produce an enjoyable and entertaining experience for the
group as a whole.

Be Prepared
If you have your gaming materials organized and are ready for
your game on time, you are already taking steps to build your
players’ trust. Running a game session without any preparation
can be frustrating for the Protagonists, as you might forget to
mention vital clues or leave out key steps.
If you don’t have time to prepare, try to use a session structure
that doesn’t build off intricate details. Combat-intensive sessions
with obvious enemies and no mysteries are good for this.

134 •  Building Trust

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Collaborate
Forthright is built on cooperation between Protagonists on the
Team and between the Team and the Guide. This will often require
you to be clever and flexible, able to develop new story elements
and ideas on the spot in response to unexpected actions by
Protagonists or unexpected results on Checks.
But if you find yourself stuck, or just want to give the other players
a bit more say, ask for assistance. This works especially well when
you are asking about Protagonists’ off-screen activities.

Brand: You turn the corner and almost run head-first into a
broad-shouldered, angry-looking Draconid. His sneer says
very plainly that he hates you and wants to break you in half
... why?
Jamie: He likes his personal space, and we’ve invaded it.
CJ: Maybe he has babies back there?
Jules: We robbed him of his life savings during a card game,
and then spent it all on blackjack and booze. Why are you
looking at me like that?
Vic: Honestly, I kind of like that one. Maybe we overheard him

 Building Trust
making some nasty plans, so that’s why we did it.

Collaborating with your players helps invest them in the


Gamescape and in shaping the story. Even though you as
the Guide will make the final decision about which of their
suggestions is true, this investment helps keep players engaged
and in tune with the game.

Know the Rules


The common framework of the rules allows players to understand
where they might succeed or fail independent of the Guide’s
decision-making.
As the Guide, you must know and apply the rules consistently.
Not doing so, or regularly making up new rules on the fly, will
strip your players of their ability to reasonably determine the
consequences of their actions. This is a source of frustration that
can be easily avoided.

Forthright Open Roleplay • 135

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Be Fair
The Gamescape is by its nature unfair to the Protagonists: it is
challenging them, causing them strife, and forcing them to
encounter drama. The Guide directs this, not always with input
from the players.

The Team is on a space station that is struck by an asteroid,


killing hundreds before anyone has time to react.

Despite this, the Guide must be fair to the players. Never take
resources away from the Protagonists without giving them an
opportunity to respond.

As sparks fly and smoke chokes the air, the Team learns their
Friends on the station weren’t in the destroyed area.

Threatening their resources and forcing the Team to act to


preserve them is a prime source of drama. As long as this isn’t
your go-to source of drama, the group should consider this
fair play.

Unfortunately, their Friends are on a part of the station


that’s losing life support. Only the Team is close enough to
save them.

Be Helpful
The more helpful the Guide is, the more fast-paced the game will
run in general and the happier the players will tend to be with the
amount of action they’ve gotten.
If a player doesn’t have information, look for ways to share that
information and not reasons to hide it. Step in and provide
information if the players have forgotten it, or if their Protagonists
would know it. Freely share information that is relevant
or interesting.
Avoid inserting clues that will deliberately lead the Protagonists
astray. Players will often think up plenty of their own red herrings
without your assistance. It’s okay to tell them when they’re chasing
a red herring; this can help keep the Protagonists focused and
minimize the effect of misunderstandings.

136 • Be Fair

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Ask Questions, Rephrase Answers
If you don’t know why your players are asking a question or taking
an action, or if they seem to be floundering or unsure of what to
do next, ask them what they’re trying to accomplish, what they
hope to learn, or what they’re expecting will happen.
After they answer, rephrase their answer in your own words to
make sure you have a clear understanding of the situation. This
will help you frame your responses appropriately and minimize
your risk of giving them accidentally misleading information.

Make Revelations
To circumvent player frustration, some situations may call for you
to reveal more information than you originally intended. Rather
than derailing the session by allowing the player to stay frustrated,
acknowledge that there is more to the situation than meets the
eye, and let them know that this is in fact a clue for progressing
the story.

Brand: The cloaked figure runs past you and slams the door.
Vic: I rip open the door and charge in, ready to tackle him.
Brand: When you open the door, you see the room is empty.

 Building Trust
No other doors, no windows ... no way out.
Jules: I look for a secret door or something.
Brand: You don’t find any.
Vic: Of course. That guy had all the clues we needed, but the
universe wasn’t ready for us to have the answers yet. So now
we’ve got to jump through hoops.
Brand: There’s definitely something weird here, guys, but I
promise I’m not screwing you over. This is a clue.
Jamie: OH SNAP. Doesn’t the Eye of Aarakoa let you teleport?
Brand: That’s one of the powers you’ve heard it has, yes.
Vic: Oh … sorry, Brand.
Brand: No worries.

Forthright Open Roleplay • 137

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Be Respectful
While you are responsible for setting challenges in front of the
Protagonists for them to overcome, you must never yourself
become antagonistic to the other players.
Under no circumstances may you bully, mock, or abuse your
players. This can happen unintentionally; all words are weighted
with connotations that you might not be aware of. Keep in mind
that just because you are not offended does not mean that what
you have said is not offensive.
Don’t let interpersonal conflicts cross over into the game. Solving
an issue with another player by attacking their Protagonist is
inappropriate. If you don’t think you can keep the two separate,
you should discuss your conflict prior to play – and if you can’t
resolve the issue, then don’t play together until you can.
Be ready and willing to apologize when you make a mistake, and
make a genuine effort to not make the same mistake again. An
apology cannot be sincere if you don’t try to do better. If you cross
the line often enough, your players may find they have something
better to do with their time.

Handling Disagreements
When there is a disagreement, really listen to what others are
saying and try to determine what you can do to resolve it.
Interrupting isn’t listening; don’t interrupt.
Players who are heavily invested in the game care deeply about
the story and characters; it is common for players to have an
occasional flare of temper. This only becomes problematic when
it happens frequently or becomes disruptive to the game. If it
becomes problematic, you can counsel the player or even stop
inviting them to the game.

The Nuclear No
Saying “No” to your players is the most powerful tool in the
Guide’s toolkit, and you must endeavor to use it wisely.
Before you turn down another player’s idea, ask why they think it
might work and consider the explanation carefully. Think about
the implications of allowing the idea. This can be an opportunity
for you to fill out more details about the Gamescape.

138 • Be Respectful

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


By listening to your players’ ideas, giving them a fair shake, and
explaining your decision fully, you will build trust. Building that
trust will leave your players more willing to accept and defend
your logic.

Pitfalls
As the Guide, you won’t always be right and you won’t always
have all the answers. Should you stumble into any of the following
pitfalls, clearly and honestly communicate with the rest of the
group and work to improve. That will mark you as a Guide who is
always growing and learning from mistakes.

Aiming for Failure


Should the Protagonists find a way to accomplish something
you did not anticipate, let them have the victory. The ultimate
consequence of removing or reducing the success of your players
when they are clever is that they will stop trying to be clever.
Players learn behaviors based on what you teach them. If you
appreciate a type of play or behavior and would like to encourage
it, you can incentivize it by providing a bonus such as a Boon
or Raise.

 Building Trust
Appeasing
You should not give the Protagonists everything they want; they
must put forth the work to earn it. Players almost universally
love a challenge. If you give them too much too soon, they will
quickly gain so much power that the game will become boring
for everyone.

Destinies
Having Protagonists with destinies might sound interesting, but
it robs you of narrative flexibility in case your gaming group
undergoes changes. Destinies can also sap the story of tension,
because the end of the story is already written.

Forthright Open Roleplay • 139

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Jobbing
Do not take on the role of the Guide just because someone in the
group needs to. You should only Guide if you enjoy creating new
worlds and adventures for your friends to enjoy, and if you enjoy
reacting to the unexpected quickly and smoothly.

Overdoing It
You might become so enthusiastic about building the Gamescape
and new adventures for the Protagonists that you do not leave
time in your life for anything beyond gaming. This can lead to
burnout. Don’t lose sight of the fact that you should be having
fun, too.

Playing Favorites
You should not single out any player or character for special
treatment. While the tale of the single hero and their group of
loyal companions is common in fiction, in a collaborative game
it means players will not be able to share the spotlight equitably.
Likewise, you don’t want NPCs to get too much spotlight, or you
risk the Team becoming sidekicks in their own story.

Railroading
Railroading is the act of trying to force your players through the
story along a very specific path. This can involve presenting them
with illusory choices (no matter which path they take, they end
up at the same place) or shutting them down when they find a
way forward that you did not anticipate. Railroading has a cooling
effect on creative gameplay. You are not the author of a novel; you
are facilitating a story everyone is writing together.

Tyranny
You become a tyrant when you don’t listen to your group’s
concerns and generally need to have things your way instead
of embracing a spirit of collaboration. This tells your players that
you don’t respect them or have their best interests at heart, even
if you think you do.

140 • Pitfalls

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


P  REPARATION
Preparation helps the game feel believable and provides the
Guide with enough information to continue play even when faced
with the entirely unexpected. Preparation is especially important
in games where mysteries play a central role.
The key to preparation is that you don’t need a lot: you need just
enough to provide an immersive experience. You never want your
players faced with the question, “Is that part of the mystery, or did
the Guide make a mistake again?”
There is no set amount of preparation required to run a game of
Forthright well. You will eventually find the amount that feels
right for you and your group.

No Preparation
When you have no opportunity to prepare before a Session, you
will need to improvise more heavily than usual. Ask your group to
tell you what their Protagonists are planning and doing. Rely on
their input to help define their conflicts with NPCs.
Additionally, you can roll on the Challenges (PAGE 153) and
Complications (PAGE 154) tables to flesh out the situation they’ll
encounter during the Session.
You may want to avoid elements of mystery or worldbuilding
when running an unprepared Session. Unplanned mysteries may
not provide consistent enough clues, frustrating players. Likewise,
improvised worldbuilding may result in broader than intended
 Preparation

consequences. You never want a glib remark to force you to


retcon some aspect of the Gamescape.

Forthright Open Roleplay • 141

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Basic Preparation
You want a general sense of how the Gamescape will react to
different events, so you can improvise during the Session based
on the actions of the Protagonists. Focus your preparation on
the following:
• Important NPCsand their motivations should be known,
but you don’t need to define their stats ahead of time.
• Plots let you know what the NPCs are up to.
• Inciting Events engage the Protagonists with one or
more plots.
• Clues and where to find them, to give the Protagonists
the information they’ll need to keep the story moving.
You do not need to prepare specific scenes, transitions, or battles
before a Session. These should be improvised during play as the
Protagonists and NPCs react to each other. This will also help
prevent you from unintentionally railroading the Protagonists.

142 • Basic Preparation

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Extended Preparation
More preparation allows you to add more details and setting
flavor to the Gamescape. Select these details based on your
gaming group’s probes to reward them for their interest in the
Gamescape. If they ask about local cuisines, for example, you can
have descriptions of different foods available. Names of minor
NPCs and illustrations of people and places are also common
requests from gaming groups.
Most of your extra preparation will be spent world-building
by detailing Adventure Hubs (PAGE 150). Adventure Hubs are
springboards for multiple adventures, allowing the Protagonists
to feel at home in familiar locations filled with familiar faces.
Avoid inserting so much detail that you cannot be spontaneous.
You should avoid pausing play while you look up some minor fact,
figure, illustration, or name.
Having a richly detailed Gamescape allows you to reduce your
Session-specific prep time. This level of planning also helps
you weave themes through different adventures and provide
foreshadowing of future Plots.

 Preparation

Forthright Open Roleplay • 143

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Guidance Sheet
Guidance End
Sheet
The Guidance Sheet helps the Guide keep track of story progress.

Game Name

DEEDS OF LEGEND INJURIES

Deeds of Legend (68)


Boost Points earned
as Advancement (58)
DEEDS OF GREAT REPUTE

Deeds of
Great Repute (68) Protagonist
Injuries (87)
DEEDS OF SIGNIFICANCE

Deeds of Significance (68)

RELATIONSHIPS

Relationships and Rapport (70)

144 • Guidance Sheet

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


The Powers of Everos 23
Game Name

DEEDS OF LEGEND INJURIES


The Capture of the Firestone Prince Solenoid
Thunderhead Regime Change Vulnerable: Knockdown

Burning-Sky
DEEDS OF GREAT REPUTE Drop all Checks when near
uncontrolled fire
Prevented Gang War in Ambersol

Thelan
Drop Talk Checks vs. High

DEEDS OF SIGNIFICANCE
Exposed Jarod Grinning-Laugh Val Darrin
Vulnerable: Push

RELATIONSHIPS
Thunderhead (former) - Nemesis
High Thunders
High Thunder Gronthar Kabe - Comrade
Thunderhead (new)
Emperor-Queen
Chief Greeble
High Librarian Omeran
Jarod Grinning-Laugh - Nemesis
Cult of Flame - Rivals
Wardens of the Star Roads - Associates
Master of Order - Associate Comrade
Ebon Vol
THE GAMESCAPE

Krol Arand
Holland Fyre

Forthright Open Roleplay • 145

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


T  HE GAMESCAPE
The Gamescape can be as varied or unusual as you would like it to
be, provided it has an internally consistent logical structure for the
fictional world and the characters within it. The Guide is the chief
auditor of the Gamescape’s continuity, a role vital for player buy-in.
Players will naturally assume that physics works similarly to real life
and that NPCs will behave similarly to real people. If any of these
things are different in the Gamescape, make sure to identify the
differences ahead of time to the players so they can assimilate it
into their suspension of disbelief.
If the Gamescape is too different from your group’s lived
experience, though, they may feel paralyzed because they do
not know how to act in such a strange place.
Your goal when crafting the Gamescape is to make it believable,
not realistic. A realistic setting would not have magic or elves or
faster-than-light drives. You must ensure you have just enough
reality so the Gamescape is approachable and understandable
by players.
Finally, remember that the Gamescape exists in service to the
story; the story does not exist in service to the Gamescape.
The fictional world is meant to be changed by the actions of
the Protagonists. And if something in the Gamescape doesn’t
promote interesting and engaging storytelling, remove it.

Build Out, Not In


When creating the Gamescape, keep the setting small at first: a
single town or city with the major NPCs and Factions therein, and
perhaps one or two outlying areas. This will allow you to get a feel
for the world you are creating, as it is more difficult to create an
entire Gamescape and then narrow your focus than it is to start
small and expand out.
As the game continues, begin expanding the Gamescape
outward by adding more NPCs, Factions, regions, and Plots. As
you grow more confident with the Gamescape, expanding it and
adding complexity will become easier.

146 • Build Out, Not In

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Major Considerations
Fill the Gamescape with potential stories. Find the places
where there is friction in the Gamescape: between society and
individuals, between societies with different cultures, between
society and nature, and so on. That is where the Protagonists’
adventures await.

Race and Species


Avoid creating races and species where everyone looks the same
or has the same beliefs. Focus on a species’ biology to find the
resources they need and the behaviors they are likely to exhibit.
No race or species should be depicted as intrinsically good or
evil; people are individuals and should be treated as such.

Resources and Geography


One major reason people band together is to protect the
resources available to them. This could be food, farmland, mineral
wealth, or even knowledge. Trade can also be a major resource:
the only bridge between major towns would likely support a
thriving community dependent upon migrant trade. People will
generally place their towns near these resources in order to better
work and defend them.

Society and Culture


Groups of people band together to form tribes and societies
where like-thinking is rewarded and unlike-thinking is ostracized.
This works at any scale, from high school cliques to world-
spanning empires. Think about why people are working together
and what they expect from each other.
Learning about different cultures in the real world is a great way
to get a different perspective on people and society, and provides
great source material for world-building.
Because your goal is to create a believable Gamescape, every
 the Gamescape

culture should feel different. Avoid monocultures where everyone


behaves the same way, for instance. Build functional societies with
strong foundations. You can then remove different elements from
these societies to examine how they fracture and collapse under
different pressures.

Forthright Open Roleplay • 147

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Religion
Religions can involve one or more deities or philosophical
principles, and usually cross resource-related or politically
drawn boundaries. Doctrinal differences between worshippers
of the same deity, worshippers of different deities, and non-
worshippers do not often comfortably mix, creating subdivisions
within societies. There will be true believers, apostates, those who
only give lip service, and those who are trying to use religion to
increase their own prestige. Religions will often attempt to impose
their viewpoint on others through apology, evangelism, forceful
conversion, or conquest.

Civics
As societies grow, they develop rules to preserve order and a
standard of behavior. Such rules also require that someone be
charged with enforcing those rules. This is the foundation of
government and law enforcement.
Any society of more than half a dozen people is likely going to
have a governing structure. This structure can either enforce rules
the people have mutually agreed upon (such as in a democracy
or republic), rules laid out by the rich and powerful (such as in
an oligarchy, magocracy, or technocracy), or rules imposed on
society by force of will or arms (as in a dictatorship). Life under
each of these types of government will feel very different, from
egalitarian to dispirited to oppressed.

148 • Major Considerations

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


History
History is the cause behind the effects the Protagonists will
encounter. Knowing this history will help highlight how the
Gamescape came to be and what the Protagonists may need
to do to resolve some issues. History can enrich the Plots of
your villains and the plights of your victims, and can make the
Gamescape more morally gray than it otherwise would be. For
example, the invading army could be led by someone with a
legitimate claim to the throne, or the order of the world’s greatest
pugilists could have learned their fighting techniques because
they are the descendants of slaves who fought off their owners.

Collaborative Creation
The Guide doesn’t have to go it alone in developing the
Gamescape. The other players likely also have ideas for and
about the Gamescape and will frequently share them during play.
Use their ideas whenever you can. They benefit you because
you can use them to enrich the Gamescape or modify them as
jumping-off points for your own ideas. Seeing their feedback
enliven the world will give your players more investment in it
and help them feel like they both understand and have a role in
shaping the Gamescape.

 the Gamescape

Forthright Open Roleplay • 149

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


A  DVENTURE HUBS
Adventure Hubs are clusters of NPCs, generally local to a specific
region, whose Plots impact each other. Regional attributes (such
as resources and culture) combine with NPC motivations to drive
Plots. Plots, in turn, intersect with the Protagonists and create the
game’s story.

Ambersol City is known as the Western Jewel of the Free


Empire. A shining metropolis of 300,000 souls, Ambersol
is built around a great spaceport and is populated with the
spellcasters, merchants, and machinists needed to support the
rich trade opportunities here.
Ambersol is governed by the Council of Four: The Wardens
of the Star-Roads, the Reign Coalition, House Titaniun, and
the Duchy of Sandiir. These Factions represent its protectors,
its civil government, the Machine Princes who run its industry,
and the nobles who first founded it.
The Spaceport is powered by the Quantum Pyramid, a resource
of nearly limitless power that keeps electricity flowing not just
to the spaceport, but through the neon streets of Ambersol.
The dark underbelly of Ambersol is home to a tenuous détente
between the Scuttlers, Crawlers, and Walkers: three criminal
gangs trying to hold onto their turf while keeping the Biters, a
gang of Draconid, to a small corner of Northside.

150 •  Adventure Hubs

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Plot vs. Story

 Adventure Hubs
NPCs in Forthright are actively trying to shape the world to their
will. Plots are what the NPCs are attempting to accomplish and
how they plan to do it. Plot is completely under the control of
the Guide and, without interference, will be what happens in the
Gamescape. Plots should always answer the following questions:
• Who is driving the Plot? This will be one or more NPCs,
either individually or as a Faction.
• What are they trying to accomplish? Each NPC always
has a goal. Knowing the goal can help open alternate
solutions for the situation.
• Why are they doing it? Each NPC always has reasons for
what they’re doing, and the Guide must understand those
reasons fully, again opening alternate resolutions for
the situation.
• Where is it going to be done? The Plot may involve one
or more locations where different parts of the Plot come
to fruition.
• How is it going to be done? The farther-reaching the
goal, the more likely there are multiple steps to the Plot
with different activities required to resolve the Plot.
• When is it going to be done? There must always be an
overarching time pressure to force the Protagonists to act
and give the story tension.
• Why do the Protagonists care? All Plots should confront
the Protagonists’ Principles or involve their Relationships
in some way if the Protagonists are expected to interact
with them.
Story is what happens when the Protagonists interfere with the
NPCs’ Plots. This is explicitly their role in the Gamescape: to act
as kingmakers and choose what changes to the world they will
and will not support and accept.

Forthright Open Roleplay • 151

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Jarod Grinning-Laugh is a wealthy Thyrian who has taken up
residence in Ambersol City. He has been manipulating the
gangs in the city to destabilize the Council of Four. Once the
Council has proven ineffective, the Stormbringers of Thyre
will enter the city and destroy the gangs, bringing peace and
capturing the city for the Thunderhead.
Jarod is ready to launch his initiative by having Yebben Theef,
leader of the Walkers, assassinated by a Draconid and Vral
Brak, leader of the Biters, assassinated by a human. Once
they’re dead, their lieutenants will call for blood and a gang
war will explode in the lower city.
The Vanguard are members of the Wardens of the Star-Roads,
which will call on them to help quell the violence as soon as
it erupts.

NPCs will evolve their Plots as they realize they must deal with
the Protagonists to accomplish their goals. Sometimes this will
involve attacking the Protagonists, sometimes compromising with
them, sometimes attempting to pay them off. Whatever the case,
NPCs will remain firmly focused on their Plots until they become
impossible to achieve.

152 • Plot vs. Story

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Challenges

 Adventure Hubs
The Guide always presents combat, intrigue, and mystery to the
group to fully confront both their strengths and weaknesses. The
Guide can use the group’s preferences recorded on the Game
Charter to identify the potency of these challenges.
The Guide can roll 3 unmodified d20s, one each for Combat,
Intrigue, and Mystery. The Team’s preferred challenge is Raised,
and the Team’s least preferred challenge is Dropped. The results of
these rolls can identify what you should include in the adventure:

COMBAT INTRIGUE MYSTERY

Win Harder than Disagreeable Multiple


Fair Fights NPCs puzzles or
mysteries

Exchange Fair Fights Neutral NPCs One puzzle or


mystery

Setback Easier than Fair Agreeable No puzzles or


Fights NPCs mystery

Brand generates Fair Fights, Neutral NPCs, and No Puzzles and


Mysteries for the adventure to stop Grinning-Laugh’s plan. As
a result, the Wardens of the Star-Roads will have figured out
Grinning-Laugh is behind the assassinations, but not why. The
gang NPCs will be neutral to the Protagonists because they
really didn’t want this gang war, either, and won’t attack them
unless they appear to be teaming up with the other gangs.

Forthright Open Roleplay • 153

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Complications
Complications can be inserted into Plots to make them more
interesting or tense. The following list is provided for inspiration,
and is not exhaustive of all the possible complications that could
be introduced.
1. A friend becomes unfriendly
2. An enemy becomes friendly
3. A known enemy is plotting
4. A hard-to-acquire MacGuffin is needed
5. Violence erupts, but why?
6. It’s all the fault of the Protagonists or their allies
7. An old acquaintance disappears
8. Not everyone is who they appear to be
9. An ultimatum is given
10. Mistaken identity
11. Fake, forgery, or fraud is involved
12. Someone is trying to be impressive
13. Someone needs a favor
14. Someone is keeping a secret
15. An enemy-occupied location must be infiltrated
16. An escort is required
17. Enemies are fighting each other, others are
caught between
18. Principles are set against each other
19. A mysterious stranger arrives
20. Dangerous weather

Brand wants a complication since there’s no mystery, and he


rolls to discover a known enemy is plotting. The lieutenant of
the Walkers, Holland Fyre, just has too good a name to not be
involved with the Cult of Flame ... which may get involved if
the Protagonists attack the Walkers.

154 • Complications

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Opposition

 Adventure Hubs
NPCs will oppose the Protagonists because their goals and Plots
don’t align with the Protagonists’ goals and Principles. Every
conflict is an opportunity to reveal information about NPC Plots
and advance the story. Often, this conflict can be resolved through
conversation and compromise. When that fails, characters will fall
back to combat.
Combatants in Forthright are trying to achieve goals beyond
fighting. Perhaps they are trying to break into a fortress, or defend
their homes, or protect an artifact of unlimited power. Enemies
will fight to the death only when doing so achieves their goals.
NPCs are built in a streamlined fashion to make them easy to
reference for the Guide. The Guide does not need to pre-define
Boosts for NPCs; these may be selected during play to best meet
the needs of the situation.

Minors
Minor NPCs are the most common characters, comprising about
75% of the population of the Gamescape. These are background
characters who may not have names or be important to the story,
who may be weak and defenseless against more powerful forces
around them, or may be standard footsoldiers in an army. They
are minions, lackeys, commoners, and goons, and have a +0 in all
Check Bonuses, 10 Luck, and deal 1d6 Harm in both Close and
Long Range. Minors may have up to 3 Boosts.

TOWN GUARD
+0 Fight, +0 Talk, +0 Skill, 1d6 Harm, 10 Luck
Agent (Guards), Investigator, Parry

GOON
+2 Fight, +0 Talk, +0 Skill, 1d6 Harm, 10 Luck
Agent (Gang), Increase Fight Bonus (x2)

Forthright Open Roleplay • 155

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Mobs
Up to four like Minor NPCs can band together into one Mob.
Mobs combine the Luck of their Minors, gain a +1 Fight Bonus for
every Minor in the Mob, and act as a single fighting unit. Acting in
Mobs makes Minor NPCs dangerous even to veteran Protagonists,
as the Mob is only Defeated when all the Minors comprising it are
Defeated. Mobs can be targeted multiple times (as with Whirlwind
Stance), up to the number of Minors in the Mob.
The Guide should combine Minor NPCs into Mobs when the
number of Minors on the battlefield would otherwise outnumber
the Protagonists.

MOB of 2 TOWN GUARDS


+2 Fight, +0 Talk, +0 Skill, 1d6 Harm, 20 Luck
Agent (Guards), Investigator, Parry

MOB of 3 GOONS
+5 Fight, +0 Talk, +0 Skill, 1d6 Harm, 30 Luck
Agent (Gang), Increase Fight Bonus (x2)

Majors
Major NPCs are more recognizable than Minor NPCs and drive
most of the Plots in the Gamescape. They have names and
backstories and are important to the story either as major figures
in their own right or as functionaries of more powerful masters.
They are politicians, guard captains, renowned crafters, and major
names. They have a +3 in all Check Bonuses, 30 Luck, and choose
a Fighting Stance, Persona, and Skillset. Majors may have up to
6 Boosts.

KROL ARAND (Guard Captain)


+3 Fight, +6 Talk, +3 Skill, 1d8 Harm Guardian, 30 Luck
Agent (Guards), Increase Talk Bonus (x3), Investigator, Parry,
2 Unspent
Motivations: Serve and protect, Uphold the law

156 • Opposition

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


HOLLAND FYRE (Gang Leader)

 Adventure Hubs
+3 Fight, +3 Talk, +3 Skill, 1d12 Harm Juggernaut, 30 Luck
Agent (Gang), Athlete, Infiltrator, Networker (Criminals),
Retaliate, Socializer (Low), 2 Unspent
Motivations: Increase personal wealth, Increase personal
power, Be respected, Keep the Draconid out of Eastside

Masters
Masters are the greatest powers in the Gamescape. They are
well-known and have names, backstories, and goals. They are
characters as fully realized as the Protagonists. They may operate
multiple Plots at a time, and generally use Major NPCs to run
Plots for them. If a character is a leader of others, has a lair, or is
otherwise in charge of one or more groups in the Gamescape,
that character is a Master. Masters have a +6 in all Check Bonuses,
50 Luck, and choose a Fighting Stance, Persona, and Skillset.
Masters may also have up to 12 Boosts.

EBON VOL (Guard Commander)


+6 Fight, +6 Talk, +6 Skill, 1d10 Harm Deadeye, 50 Luck
Agent (Guards), Investigator, Parry, Socializer (High and Low),
Transporter, 8 Unspent
Motivations: Serve and protect, Uphold the law, Duty to the
Emperor-Queen, Keep Ambersol City great

JAROD GRINNING-LAUGH (Criminal Mastermind)


+6 Fight, +6 Talk, +6 Skill, 1d4 Harm Tactician, 50 Luck
Infiltrator, Networker (Criminals), Socializer (High and Low)
Bodyguard: +0 Fight, 1d6 Harm Close, 20 Luck
Fighter: +0 Fight, 1d10 Harm Close, 15 Luck
Emissary: +4 Talk, Socializer (Outcast)
Motivations: Rule Ambersol City from the shadows, Reduce
the power of the Emperor-Queen, Personal vendetta against
Ebon Vol

Forthright Open Roleplay • 157

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Multihazards
Multihazards are single enemies or Vehicles with multiple
components, all acting on the Multihazard’s Initiative. They are
larger and more dangerous than typical opponents.

Excavations near the Mountains of the Sun have exposed an


ancient Titan standing hundreds of feet tall. It has torn through
several towns and is now marching toward Ambersol City.

Multihazard components are Majors. Each individual component


of a Multihazard can be Defeated separately. Multihazards can
Exploit opponents with any of their components, not just the
component that was attacked. Once a component is Defeated,
further attacks on that component do no Harm to the Multihazard.
The number of components should be related to the number of
attack vectors on the Multihazard.

The Titan is humanoid, so it has 2 arms and 2 legs that act


as components.
TITAN ARM (2)
+3 Fight, +3 Talk, +3 Skill, 1d8 Harm Guardian, 30 Luck
Retaliate, Strong Attack, Strong Defense, Strong Like Bull, Ultra
Attack, Ultra Defense
Motivations: Protect the Soft Spot, Protect the Core
TITAN LEG (2)
+3 Fight, +3 Talk, +3 Skill, 1d12 Harm Juggernaut, 30 Luck
Retaliate, Strong Attack, Strong Defense, Trample, Ultra Attack,
Ultra Defense
Motivations: Protect the Soft Spot, Protect the Core

158 • Opposition

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Multihazards have a tougher core unit that, when Defeated,
defeats all the components of the Multihazard. This core unit is

 Adventure Hubs
a Master.

TITAN CORE (Head and Torso)


+7 Fight, +7 Talk, +7 Skill, 1d12 Harm Deadeye, 50 Luck
Athlete, Increase Bonus (x3), Increase Stance Harm (x1),
Moment of Triumph, Orator (Intimdation), Retaliate, Strong
Attack, Strong Defense, Ultra Attack, Ultra Defense, 2 Unspent
Motivations: Protect the Soft Spot, Destroy Everos

SOFT SPOTS
Multihazards, if they are armored with Strong or Ultra Defense,
may have a Core with a Soft Spot that does not have improved
defenses. This soft spot might be able to suffer Injury from a
magical artifact, or it may expose the Multihazard to Harm from
Dropped Fight Checks. Multihazards are aware of their Soft Spots
and try to protect them.

POWER SHUNT (Soft Spot, on neck)


Attacking the Power Shunt requires a Dropped Fight Check
and allows attackers to bypass the Strong and Ultra Defense
on the Titan Core. The Power Shunt can only be targeted in
Close Range.

Forthright Open Roleplay • 159

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Fair Fights
There are no fair or “balanced” fights in Forthright – the
Protagonists cannot be killed. Fortunately, the NPCs don’t know
that and will fight when they think they can win. NPCs will typically
attack the Protagonists with the following numbers on their side:
• 2-3 Minors per Protagonist; or
• 1 Major per Protagonist; or
• 1 Master per 2 Protagonists; or
• 1 Multihazard
Minors, Majors, and Masters can be combined in a single fight
by determining the appropriate number for the number of
Protagonists in the Team. Vehicle involvement in a fight does not
change these numbers.

There are 4 Protagonists in the Team for Brand’s game, so


Brand determines that the different combinations of NPCs he
can battle the Protagonists with are:
1 Multihazard
2 Masters
4 Majors
12 Minors (Divided into 3 or 4 Mobs)
1 Master and 2 Majors
1 Master, 1 Major, and 3 Minors
1 Master and 6 Minors (Divided into 2 or 3 Mobs)
3 Majors and 3 Minors
2 Majors and 6 Minors (Divided into 2 Mobs)
1 Major and 9 Minors (Divided into 3 Mobs)

160 • Opposition

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Combat should feel dangerous, with the Team’s Luck being almost
entirely exhausted by the end of a fight. If the Team’s tactics are

 Adventure Hubs
weak, they roll lower than the odds, or if the Guide rolls higher
than the odds, a fight may even see one or more Protagonists
getting Injured.
If the Protagonists face fewer than these numbers, they will have
an easier fight with fewer Injuries and more protection from rolling
streaks. Greater than these numbers will lead to a more difficult
fight with more Injuries and less protection from rolling streaks.
There should be no “filler fights” – fights just to have action – in a
game of Forthright.

MISSING PLAYER FORMATION


When a player is unable to attend a session, their
Protagonist should continue adventuring with
the Team to ensure that, when the player is again
available, no convoluted story antics are needed to
explain the absence.
Protagonists of absent players are not included
when determining the number of enemies in a
fight, but instead act as part of the background
(perhaps even narratively fighting their own
shadow-enemies). They do not earn Advancement
or suffer Injury while the player is absent.

Forthright Open Roleplay • 161

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


P  RESENTATION
Presentation is how you transform your preparation into an
adventure, make the Gamescape a living world, and turn NPCs
into people. When presenting the Gamescape, focus on giving
players the feeling of living in the fictional world. Describe sights
and smells and sounds to give the Gamescape personality.
The way you present information defines the story structure and
pacing of the adventures the Protagonists face, and is ultimately
how you shape the collection of events that occur in the game
into a story.

Story Structure
The story structure for adventures is broken into five phases,
each with a different function in the story. These phases can be
rearranged to provide different types of story arcs, but are here
presented in general chronological order.
This structure is not built into adventure hubs, but instead is a
framework for presenting Gamescape elements and NPC Plots
so events in the game form a cohesive story.

Expository Phase
During the Expository Phase, the Protagonists discover the
situation and Plots they must confront. Combat can occur in this
phase, establishing the threat by having the Protagonists come
upon a battle, being attacked, or attacking others.

INCITING EVENT
The Inciting Event is the event that introduces the situation and
entices the Protagonists to follow up on it. This can be framed
as the Protagonists learning about the event from others
(least personal), happening upon it, or being directly involved
(most personal).

162 • Story Structure

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Always frame the Inciting Event in a way that doesn’t remove
player control of Protagonists.

The Vanguard will be landing at the spaceport when an


explosion rocks the platform they’re on. They’ll see several
people fighting on the landing pad in different gang colors.
Around that same time, they’ll get a call from the Wardens of
the Star-Roads welcoming them back to the city and asking
them to stop the gang violence, with a brief explanation

 Presentation
that two gang leaders were killed and the gangs are now all
fighting with each other.

Investigation and Planning Phase


In this phase, the Protagonists learn more about the situation they
are confronting and determine how they should respond to it.
This phase follows the Protagonists as they establish the threat
by identifying who and what is at risk, who and what benefits
the most, and what kind of danger they or others will be facing
depending on the actions they take.
The Plots of the NPCs should be revealed through the course of
the adventure regardless of whether the Protagonists spend a lot
of time investigating and planning or instead rush headlong into
the Execution Phase.

CLUES
Clues help structure a story by providing the Team with hints on
where to go or what to do next. Protagonists must always have
some clue of where to go or what to do in order to keep the
action moving.
You are obligated when presenting a mystery to provide clues
that lead toward its solution. This doesn’t make the mystery too
easy, because the Protagonists must still figure out what the clues
mean and what to do with them.
Aim to provide each clue at least three different times or in three
different ways. Once might not be noticed and twice can be
dismissed as coincidence. Three times sets a pattern that canny
players will pick up on.

Forthright Open Roleplay • 163

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


If the players appear to have missed a clue, reiterate a clue they
can follow by highlighting its importance. Alternately, if they have
picked up on so many clues that they’re dizzy with possibilities,
rank the priority of the clues to help spur them to action.

Brand decides on the following clues:


◆◆ Each of the gang leaders, if spoken to, will know that they
had secret dealings with Jarod Grinning-Laugh.
◆◆ The Cultists of Flame will know they are attacking
everyone but the Walkers.
◆◆ The Biters will know they did not attack the Walkers first.
◆◆ The Walkers will know they did not attack the Biters first.
◆◆ The assassins have not been found.
◆◆ The only reason anybody’s fighting right now is because
the leaders of the Biters and Walkers were killed.

PUZZLES
Create puzzle challenges with the possibility of more than
one path to success. This helps you avoid declaring what will
and will not work beforehand and inadvertently railroading
the Protagonists.
Be open to the players’ ideas and solutions. Reward their creativity
by allowing them to find their own solution rather than requiring
them to discover yours.

Execution Phase
The Execution Phase sees the Protagonists enact their plan to deal
with the situation, and is where much of the traditional “action”
takes place. This is when they defend the fortress, try to sway the
nobles, or storm the villain’s lair.
Introduce roadblocks to challenge the Protagonists and create a
more interesting story; if they succeed without difficulty, they may
feel less satisfied with their accomplishments. These roadblocks
should never just kill time without adding fun.

164 • Story Structure

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Do not require Protagonists to perform specific actions to
continue the story. Progress should never hinge on the result of a
single die roll, and every narrative setback must still allow a way
to advance the story.
Failure is an opportunity to improvise. Improvisation forces
Protagonists to think outside the box, increasing tension and intensity.

Twist Phase

 Presentation
The Twist Phase may not always be present in an adventure. This
occurs when the Protagonists learn something after beginning the
Execution Phase that may change what they want to do. Perhaps
someone they thought was a bad guy is actually a good guy, and
so on – the Complications list can provide inspiration for twists,
which can then trigger new Investigation and Execution Phases.
Twists should be used sparingly. If there is always a twist, then it’s
not a twist, it’s a formula, and formulas get old fast.

Resolution Phase
An adventure is resolved when the opposition or the Protagonists
achieve what they set out to accomplish. Resolving an adventure
must have some feeling of progress for players: either their
Protagonists overcame an enemy, built something worthwhile,
developed their personal stories, or failed against incredible
odds. No matter what, they effected change.
The consequences of what Protagonists have wrought can be
summed up at the end of a Session in the case of a One-Shot or,
if the group is playing a Campaign, can play out over the course
of several adventures.

Forthright Open Roleplay • 165

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Non-Protagonist Characters
NPCs are all different types of people, with different interests,
motivations, and personalities. The more important an NPC is,
the more extensive the description and motivation for that NPC
should be.
You can use a combination of the following general techniques,
applying them in different ways to different characters, to help
make the NPCs you present more memorable and lively.
Not all of these techniques are going to work every time. Try each,
find what works for you, and move on from there.

Accents
Not everyone needs an accent, but using accents helps your
players hear the variety in the Gamescape and better identifies
different characters through just your voice. Avoid using the same
accent for everyone; different characters from different regions
should have different accents. And if your accent isn’t getting the
result you want – if it sounds strange or funny – abandon it before
it becomes distracting.
Good ways to learn different accents are to watch movies with
actors portraying those accents and then talking to yourself
while attempting to mimic them. Many professional actors have
a key phrase or two that they say when they’re preparing to
speak in another accent, to get their mouths used to the different
word shapes.

Body Language
Most of our communication is nonverbal, and you can use this to
help complete the picture of an NPC. Articulate the characteristics
of your NPCs with your whole body: in tiny mannerisms with your
hands, through facial tics and expressions, via your posture and
the way you move. Exaggerate your body language to make
it obvious.
Practice this outside of sessions in front of a mirror so you can
be sure what you’re presenting is what you want to display. Do
this often enough and you get muscle memory working on your
behalf, allowing you to switch between different NPCs without

166 • Non-Protagonist Characters

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


having to tell the players who they’re speaking with. If players can
follow who you are just by watching your body, you are pulling
them fully into the Gamescape.

Rhythm and Vocabulary


The rhythm and pacing of speech expresses disposition.
Characters who are rushed, busy, or curt will talk rapidly and use
shorter words, while characters who are more rural or easygoing
have a slower pace and take longer pauses when they speak.

 Presentation
Vocabulary similarly expresses character. His Royal Majesty is
probably not going to refer to vassals as his “peeps.” Likewise,
the illiterate street urchin probably wouldn’t discuss “the potential
political ramifications of the current border crisis.”

Juxtapositions
Combining the expected and unexpected can reveal
idiosyncrasies and expose Plots, and overall provides a richer and
less predictable Gamescape.
If His Royal Majesty did refer to his “peeps,” it could indicate
he was recently raised from a lower social station. Or that he’s
an imposter.
That supposedly illiterate street urchin, on the other hand, might
have a finger on the pulse of the nation because they’re actually
an information broker posing as someone less threatening so
they can better overhear secrets.

Show, Don’t Tell


Personality is a combination of behaviors. When describing
NPCs and events, provide imagery of these behaviors instead
of drawing conclusions on the Protagonists’ behalf. This will
create a richer experience and pull your players further into
the Gamescape.
Compare ”The surly town guard looks at you impatiently” with
”The town guard looks at you and takes a deep breath, releasing it
in a huff as he walks toward you briskly, hooking his thumbs in his
belt.” The more detail you provide, the more your players are able
to visualize and the more likely they will engage with the scene.

Forthright Open Roleplay • 167

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Balancing “show” and “tell” also allows you to help steer player
behavior. If you don’t want the Team to strike off on a tangent
with an unimportant NPC, provide more “tell” statements, subtly
discouraging interaction. Conversely, if you want to draw them in,
provide more elaborate “show” statements.
By giving extra detail early, you can call back to that detail later.
This offers a wealth of storytelling possibilities if those details
change, as attentive players will notice and attempt to learn more.

Narrative Tension
Tension can be generated by presenting the Protagonists with
any situation they don’t want to see escalate. Tension doesn’t
require maiming or killing either the Protagonists or the people
they know and care about.
Not having control of events will increase Protagonist tension.
For instance, when the Protagonists don’t know what the NPCs
are up to or what they’re capable of, they are more likely to
operate cautiously.
Tension is also increased when the Protagonists, knowing the
stakes in a situation and knowing something will go wrong,
don’t know when the situation will go wrong. This can work well
in individual scenes, but also for longer stretches such as escort
missions or during political manipulations.
Protagonists release tension by acting upon the situation they are
in and reasserting their control over or understanding of events.

Escalation
Enemies will generally take the easy way first, trying to handle
the Protagonists while minimizing the risk to themselves. Pre-
emptive strikes are only used by the most dangerous of enemies
or enemies who have come to hate the Protagonists.
Most NPCs prefer to avoid calling attention to their Plots, and will
generally only attack the Protagonists when the Protagonists are
a threat to their goals. Even then, their focus will mostly be to get
the Protagonists out of their way. Withdrawing or misdirecting
pursuers are common delaying tactics used by NPCs so they can
continue the work needed to bring their Plots to fruition.

168 • Narrative Tension

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Capture
Should the Team surrender to their enemies or fail to escape
during a Chase, they will be captured and detained. Detaining
the Team allows NPCs time to advance their agendas without
interference, and can escalate tension without directly threatening
the Protagonists.
Captured Protagonists will often be incarcerated, interrogated,
or trapped in a remote and dangerous location. This gives the

 Presentation
Team the opportunity to play out a prison break, interact with
their enemies without a combat option, try to use their capture
as a chance to gather information about their enemies, or even
be rescued themselves.
There will also be times, such as capture by a ravenous beast or
particularly monstrous enemy, where the Team’s detention comes
in the form of being Injured and left for dead. This leaves the
Team at a significant disadvantage, as the NPCs continue their
Plots in the Team’s absence and the Protagonists have a reduced
capacity to stop them.
Mix and match villainous techniques to keep the game fresh
and interesting.

Pacing
Scenes are the core pacing element for your sessions. Every
scene combines a location, a set of characters, and a catalyst
that makes action happen within a scene. The catalyst could
be gathering information, trying to stay alive in the face of an
aggressive enemy, or anything else that gives the scene a goal.
In every scene you present, you need to push the scene toward
the goal to keep the action moving.
Don’t leave your players with nothing to do while they’re waiting
for something to happen. When a scene begins to lag, end it
or escalate it by introducing a new complication. If your players
ask you to wait because they weren’t done, let them finish the
tasks they’ve set for themselves. Strategizing is part of gameplay;
only try to outpace the players when you want to illustrate crisis
events or events that are moving too quickly for them to calmly
and fully respond.

Forthright Open Roleplay • 169

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Be ready to make something happen. Perhaps as the Protagonists
are sneaking into the imperial base, they come upon a surprise
patrol. Maybe while waiting for the Duke to arrive, someone
comes and asks for their help in a not-so-trivial matter. Giving
the players exciting events and choices will keep them engaged
and entertained.

Cut Scenes
Cut Scenes are short scenes that occur when you shift away from
the Protagonists to show something happening in the Gamescape
outside their awareness. This could be done to show the
antagonists’ preparations to deal with the Protagonists (increasing
tension), or it could show minor characters in a comedic scene
(decreasing tension).
Cut scenes are for the players as the audience of the fiction
(rather than as participants), and should always be used to build
or release tension. If your players have difficulty distinguishing
between what they know and what their Protagonists know, you
may want to avoid using Cut Scenes altogether.

Player Engagement
You should try to keep all the players engaged by moving the
spotlight (your narrative focus) between all of them. If a player
has not had anything to say or do in five minutes or so, check in
with that player to see what their Protagonist is thinking, feeling,
or doing.
Also watch for when players get excited: this tells you where they
want you to take the story, so follow their lead. If they become
engaged and you switch tracks to something else, you risk
sapping the energy from the game. A session that is going badly
is recoverable, and unhappy players can be made happy, if you
keep a close eye on how engaged they are.

170 • Pacing

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


C  AMPAIGNS
Campaigns are a series of adventures that the same (or mostly
the same) Protagonists encounter and overcome. Campaigns
can have a single overarching Plot (a Metaplot) or be a series of
episodes in the adventuring career of the Team. Campaigns allow
Protagonists to grow more fully and experience the benefits of
the Boosts they earn through play.
Campaigns can require more planning from the Guide to fully
engage players. Guides can use several techniques in Campaigns
that can’t be fully taken advantage of in One-Shots:

Foreshadowing
Foreshadowing gives hints about events happening in the

 Campaigns
Gamescape, but shouldn’t be so obvious as to reveal exactly
what’s coming or how to handle it. Foreshadowing can be
provided by rumors in the town bar, news reports on television, or
tales from interstellar refugees about some of the horrors they’ve
seen. The key to foreshadowing is that not every rumor, news
report, or tale is important.

Moral Quandaries
Making Protagonists question themselves helps them grow
as characters. A central dramatic conflict in any campaign can
be whether the Protagonists are truly in the right. The Guide
should interrogate the Protagonists’ Principles through the
choices they have made and the opposition they may face from
otherwise-friendly NPCs (or help they may get from otherwise-
unfriendly NPCs).

Enemies Beyond Enemies


Major antagonists often employ subordinates to carry out
smaller parts of their overall plan. Over time, the Team can
discover that several of the adventures they’ve had are related to
a more important, shadowy figure manipulating events behind
the scenes.

Forthright Open Roleplay • 171

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Multiple Threats
When the Gamescape is threatened by multiple events at
once, the Team can find itself stretched to its limit or forced to
make tough decisions about what they can do or who they can
save. Their enemies can also take advantage of multiple-threat
scenarios by setting up distractions for the Team. Be ready for the
Team to call in favors with their Relationships to help them deal
with multiple threats.

Signature Antagonists
Some enemies, like the Team’s Foes and Nemeses, are Signature
Antagonists. These Major or Master NPCs are recurring opponents
and will generally flee from combat when the situation turns
against them or, if Defeated, will return later with Injuries. These
NPCs can advance and gain 1 Boost Point every time they face
off against the Protagonists. They gain an additional Boost Point
if they succeeded in what they were attempting to accomplish.

Societal Shifts
The society and culture around the Team can undergo massive
shifts over the course of a Campaign. Such shifts could be part of
a villainous plot to take over the reins of power or make certain
activities more acceptable to the general public. This can even be
an effect of the Protagonists themselves: if they are considered
great heroes and are known for brutally destroying their enemies,
an otherwise-peaceful society might start considering such
behavior to be okay.

Deeper Consequences
The Team’s actions during their adventures have effects which
ripple out to affect the Gamescape in ways both great and small.
These consequences flow from the actions of the Team, through
the Guide and the Plots and themes being focused on in the
game, into the Gamescape, and back to the Team. If their actions
have had consequences they did not intend, this is an opportunity
for the Team to face the music and decide if they need to fix what
they’ve done.

172 • Multiple Threats

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Campaign Structure
Campaigns are structured around the Team’s place in the
Gamescape, whether an overarching plot drives the smaller
in-game events, and how important maintaining the Gamescape’s
status quo is to the Protagonists.

Home and Travel


The basic structure of a campaign is defined by how much the
Protagonists will be traveling through the Gamescape. Less travel
leads to tighter campaigns, with fewer NPCs, and plots that
revolve around that core group. More travel dramatically expands
the story scope and dramatis personae.

HEARTH AND HOME


The Team stays mostly in a specific region of the Gamescape, facing

 Campaigns
escalating threats and defending their home against enemies
from within and without. This structure particularly emphasizes
the status quo, societal shifts, and deeper consequences.

The Team will mostly operate around Ambersol City, with


occasional ventures into Thyre or other nearby locales. The
main conflict here is that Thyre is trying to capture the city
while the city leadership is busy infighting.
The Team will want to organize the city leadership properly
while trying to resolve the inequities that might lead the
poorer citizenship to rebel against the Free Empire. Thyre,
meanwhile, will be secretly trying to push those inequities
even further.
Things will probably escalate to the point where Thyre invades
Ambersol or the Free Empire gets tired of Thyre and attacks.

Forthright Open Roleplay • 173

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


ROAD TRIP
The Team faces new adventures in new locations, always moving
on once they have done their bit. This structure should not
become a visit to the zoo – the Team isn’t just encountering new
people and their problems and watching the show. They must
intervene to make the story theirs. This structure de-emphasizes
consequences by having the Protagonists always moving on.

The Team has the Thunderwing, so they only start in Ambersol


City. Instead of a Metaplot, the Team will face different
situations across the world of Everos – a new problem, and a
new place, every session.
The people with generally look up to the Team as potential
saviors (or potential enemies) because they’re obviously
traveling adventurers with members from several species and
a well-built Vehicle.
Sometimes they might even travel through portals or into
ancient ruins to fight invaders or capture forgotten artifacts.

HEROIC JOURNEY
The Team starts at home and enters the world to face greater
threats and protect the status quo from danger before
returning home (or other places they’ve been before) to reap
the consequences of their accomplishments. This is the most
common campaign structure for epic fantasy.

Combine Hearth and Home and Road Trip. The Protagonists


start in Ambersol City, but after the war with Thyre they decide
to broaden their horizons and fight other battles across Everos.
In the end, a new threat appears in Ambersol City: somebody
manages to open a portal, and now everything the Team has
fought for in trying to stabilize Ambersol is in jeopardy. The
civil government is smashed, Ambersol is in ruins, and the
Team must go back and fight one last time to save the people
and their legacy.

174 • Campaign Structure

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Metaplot
Metaplot Campaigns see the Protagonists encounter a series
of Plots that are all somehow related to a single background
Metaplot. The Protagonists can be working against a Metaplot
long before they realize it exists. While there will be some
situations that don’t tie into the Metaplot in these campaigns,
once the Protagonists are aware of the Metaplot they should
be few and far between as the Protagonists will often see them
as distractions.

Status Quo
Protagonists are always present to either upset the normal order
or preserve it. This determines the direction threats and Plots will
usually come from. The status quo is generally only important in
campaigns, as it is only in campaigns that Protagonists will be able

 Campaigns
to fully experience the changes they have wrought.
If the Protagonists are upsetting the status quo, they will be facing
threats from within the civilization that established it. Many of the
people within the society will feel threatened by the Protagonists,
so establishing allies will be very important. Secrecy and intrigue
will be more common in these games, as the Protagonists will be
outnumbered and have little backing.
If maintaining the status quo, the Protagonists will be facing threats
from outside the civilization that established it. Not everyone from
outside the society will be a threat, but many (even most) will
be. Not everyone from inside the society will be safe or an ally,
as there may be spies and traitors. This lends itself well to heavy
combat and mystery, as the opposition is more clearly established
and the Protagonists will have the backing of society at large.
A more complex campaign structure could see the Protagonists
trying to hold civilization together against outside threats while
trying to rearrange the status quo. Their status as protectors of the
normal order can lend them the clout they need to make internal
changes to society. This structure often requires full engagement
by players and is not ideal for a simpler game over beer and
pretzels.

Forthright Open Roleplay • 175

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Q  UICK REFERENCE
••
Checks (1d20 +   Boons
Fight / Talk / Skill Bonus) • Raise a Check result
Boon (21+): As Win, • Drop a Check result
earn a Boon • Restore 5 Luck
▲▲ Win (14-20): Success • Deal 5 additional Harm
without any trouble • Remove a Hindrance
●● Exchange (8-13): from yourself or an ally
Success with trouble • Shift Fighting Stance
▼▼ Setback (1-7): Failure to another known
with trouble Fighting Stance

Combat Actions
• Move up to 30 feet (10 meters) and make a Fight Check,
Skill Check, or Talk Check.
• Move up to 30 feet (10 meters) and remove a single
Hindrance from themselves or another character in
Close Range.
• Move up to 30 feet (10 meters) and shift from their current
Fighting Stance to another known Fighting Stance.
• Move up to 120 feet (40 meters).
• Perform a Stunt and make a Fight Check, Skill Check, or
Talk Check.
• Retreat. Other characters on the same side can join
the retreat.

Exploits
• Counterattack: The exploiter Harms or Hinders the
attacker without making a Fight Check (if attacker is in
Stance range).
• Reposition: The exploiter moves to another position
within Close Range on the battlefield.
• Shift Fighting Stance: The exploiter shifts from their current
Fighting Stance to another known Fighting Stance.
• Take Advantage: The exploiter gains a Boon.
• Un-Hinder: The exploiter removes a Hindrance from
themselves or an ally in Close Range.

176 •  Quick Reference

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Hindrances
• Blind: You cannot target opponents.
• Deafen: You cannot be Commanded or Talked Down, and
you cannot hear conversations.
• Expose: Fight Checks made against you are Raised.
• Grapple: You can only target the opponent that you
are grappling with. Both the grappler and the target
are Grappled.
• Knockdown: Opponents may roll two Harm dice and take
the higher when Harming you.
• Knockout: You are Defeated without Injury by an attacker
catching you unawares. This only affects Minor NPCs.
• Mute: You cannot issue Commands or Talk
Down opponents.
• Neutralize: Your Fight Checks are Dropped.
• Pin: You cannot move.
• Push: You are moved to any location within Close Range

 Quick Reference
of your position.
• Snatch: You have had something that was plainly visible
on your person or held by you knocked or taken away.

NPCs
• Minor: +0 to all Checks, 10 Luck, 1d6 Harm, up to
3 Boosts
• Mob: 2 to 4 Minors combined, +1 to Fight Check for
each Minor
• Major: +3 to all Checks, 30 Luck, Harm as Fighting Stance,
1 each of Fighting Stance, Persona, Skillset, up to 6 Boosts
• Master: +6 to all Checks, 50 Luck, Harm as Fighting
Stance, 1 each of Fighting Stance, Persona, Skillset, up to
12 Boosts
• Multihazard (2+ Components, 1 Core)
• Component: As Major
• Core: As Master, may have vulnerable Soft Spot

Forthright Open Roleplay • 177

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


I NDEX
A Combat: 81-100
Accord: 70, 71 Command: 31, 43
Action: 30, 84, 85 Complexity: 65, 111-113
Advancement: 12, 58-58, Complication: 154, 165, 169
161 Concealment: 92, 94, 114
Adventure Hub: 143, 150 Contradict: 75, 78
Aid Another: see Teaming Up Core Rules: 10-11, 135
Ambush: 84 Corroborate: 75, 78
Athletic Feat: 35, 106, 114, Counterattack: 86, 87
121 Cover: 92, 94
Attribute: 36 Crafting: see MacGyver, Project

B D-E
Balancing Combat: see Fair Fight Damage (see also: Harm):
Barter: 64 96-97
Benefit: 78, 79 Death: 44-44, 59
Boon: 7, 15, 17, 86 Deed of Renown: 44, 58,
Boost: 26, 37-46, 68-69, 70
49-55, 58-61, 132 Defeat: 87, 89, 96,
Bribery: 64 104-104, 172
Discord: 70, 72
Disease: 116
C
Disguise: 36, 120-121,
Campaign: 11, 171-175
124
Capture: 101-101, 169
Domain: 128, 131-132
Challenges (see also: Faction
Dominion: 129-131
Challenge): 22-23, 153
Dominion Check: 129-130
Character Template: 47
Drop: 16
Chase: 95, 101-101
Check: 13-16, 58 Exchange: 15
Bonus: 15, 29 Exploit: 86
Difficulty: 18
(see also: Dominion Check,
Fame Check, Fight Check, Skill
Check, Talk Check)

178 •  Index

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


F I-K
Faction: 125-132 Initiative: 82-83
Faction Challenge: 129-131 Influence: 129
Fair Fight: 160-161 Injury: 38, 87-88
Falling: 114 Recovery: 38, 88
Fame Check: 69 Innovation Era: 110-111
Fatigue: 114, 115, 115, 116 Intoxication: 115
Fight Check: 13, 85, 104 Invention: 109
Fighting Stance: 26, Investigation: 117
30-32, 38, 42, 86
Shift Stance: 17, 30, 86 Knowledge: see Investigation
Fire: 114
Force: 129 L
Labor: 129
G Legerdemain: 121
Game Charter: 7, 20, Listen: 119
24-25 Luck: 29
Gamescape: 8, 21-23, Minions: 44, 45
63-67, 146-149 Protagonists: 29, 42
Guidance Sheet: 7, Structures: 29, 50
144-144 Vehicles: 29, 52, 53
Guide: 7, 8

 Index
M
H MacGyver: 35, 36, 96,
Hacking: 121 97, 107-108, 121
Harm (see also: Damage): 87, Manufacturing Project:
111 see Project
Hazard: 94, 114-117 Mass Combat: 103-105
Hear: 119 Metaplot: 171, 175
Hinder: 89-89 Minion: 44-46, 113
Hindrance: 17, 30, 32, Mission
86, 87, 89-89, 111 Faction: 131
Hit Points: see Luck Mass Combat: 105
Hold Breath: 115 Money: see Social Strata, Wealth
House Rules: 23 Mood: 77

Forthright Open Roleplay • 179

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


N-O R
NPC: 8, 155-161, Raise: 16
166-169, 172 Range: 92, 97
Mob: 156 Rank: 127-127
Major: 156-157 Rapport: 70-72
Master: 157 Read Audience: 76
Minor: 155 Recognize: 119
Multihazard: 158-159 Regalia: 127
Relationship: 47-48,
Out-of-Bounds: 20 70-72
Outcome: 15 Indirect: 72
Repair: see MacGyvering
P Reposition: 86
PC: See Protagonist Reputation: 68-69
Perception: 118 Retirement: 60
Persona: 26, 33-34, 38 Retraining: 59
Pick Pockets: see Legerdemain Retreat: 85, 95
Piloting: 36, 98, 120 Retry: 18
Plot: 8, 143, 149, Retrospective: 9, 46,
151-152, 168-169 58-58, 68
Poison: 116 Riding: see Piloting
Performance: 119 Risk: 78, 79
Preparation: 134, 141-143
Principle: 8, 27-29 S
Project: 109, 111-113 Sabotage: 105, 121,
Protagonist: 7, 8, 9, 122-123
26 Sacrifice: 78, 79
Protagonist Sheet: 7, 26, Sanctuary: 48-49
56-57
See: 119
Provoke: 91
Session: 12, 141
Setback: 15
Setback Protection: 16
Setup: 11, 20, 60
Shift Fighting Stance: See
Fighting Stance
Signature Antagonist: 172

180 •  Index

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


Skill Check: 13 Talk Down: 90-91
(see also: Athletic Feat, Team: 9, 60, 126
Disguise, Hacking, Invention, Teaming Up: 18
Investigation, Legerdemain, Terrain: 94
MacGyver, Performance, Tracking: see Investigation
Piloting, Project, Sabotage, Traps: 124-124
Sneaking, Stunt) Turn: 82-83, 84,
Skillset: 26, 35-36, 38 95-96, 99-100
Sleight of Hand: Vehicle: 95-96,
see Legerdemain 99-100
Smoke: 114
Sneaking: 35, 121,
123-124, 124
V
Vehicle: 52-55
Social Strata: 65-67
Vehicle Combat: 95-100
Soft Spot: 159
Vehicle Subsystem: 55,
Starting Stats: 29
96-97, 108
Stealth: see Sneaking
Crippled: 97, 97, 108
Structures: 50-51, 95
Disabled: 97
Stunt: 35, 85, 93, 119
Vulnerability: 87, 88
Vehicle: 98
Subsystem: see
Vehicle Subsystem W
Weakness: 88

 Index
Wealth: 64-65
T
Weather: 117
Take Advantage: 86
Win: 15
Talk Check: 13, 73-80,
90-91, 119

Forthright Open Roleplay • 181

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)


You Are In Control
Blend genres effortlessly with these easy-to-
use rules, building the world you want to play.
Be a barbarian starship pilot in the wild west, a
magic-wielding crime buster in the far future, a
mastermind with an army of undead followers,
and more. Will you be remembered as the hero
of your story ... or its villain?

◆◆ Fast play and light preparation

◆◆ Know the consequences before you roll

◆◆ Build your own playbook / class

◆◆ Assemble minions to do your bidding

◆◆ Quick, intense combat

◆◆ Accept death on your terms

◆◆ Invent new rituals and devices

◆◆ Create your own sanctuary

◆◆ Control your own faction and domain 2–6 Players


1 + Sessions
◆◆ Make friends of enemies and enemies of friends
1–4 Hours / Session
◆◆ Manage your fame to become a legend Action & Adventure

Spencer Reed (Order #16031853)