Goal Engine

Originally Published at Rob.BearSwarm.com on 2012-01-20.

Goals: Every character has five goals, each with a different rating from D4 to D12. Every goal also has a number of slots equal to the die size, so a D4 has four slots while a d12 has twelve slot. As characters gain and spend points they fill in these slots. Once all the slots have been filled that Goal is now achievable, if not already achieved. Goals can be any existing or new attribute. If a new goal is set based on an existing attribute that Goal starts with a number of bonus Goal Points equal to it’s previous rating. Once a Goal is achieved it becomes a permanent attribute for the character. If the Goal is not an applicable attribute it becomes an Asset for the characters at its Die Rating. On any successful check a player may sacrifice their victory to add one point to any applicable Goal, they simply have to explain how that check helped them further their Goal at the cost of their current situation. The GM is also encouraged to award Goal Points whenever a character achieves a milestone that would progress them towards their goal.

Statements: Some attributes have Statements, short sentences that encapsulate how the character feels about the subject. Typically attributes can only be used when a Statement is being proven correct. However, once per statement per game session, a player may Challenge or Enforce a statement. If the situation arises that irrevocably proves the Statement false it can be Challenged. The player permanently lowers the value of the associated attribute by one die type but may gather three dice from that attribute to be used on the current test. If the situation arises that proves the Statement true beyond the shadow of a doubt it can be Enforced. The player permanently raises the value of the associated attribute by one die type (to a maximum of a D12, attributes already at a D12 can no longer be Enforced) and may use that attribute in the current test as normal. You can only ever Challenge or Enforce a Statement once per session. You can not both Challenger and Enforce the same Statement during a single session. Multiple Statements can Challenged or Enforced but the same Statement can not be targeted twice.

Definitions: Similar to Statements, Definitions are the scope of an attribute. Unlike Statements Definitions can not be Challenged or Enforced, they are simply facts. Definitions are not limited to a single sentence either. An attribute may have multiple Definitions that increase the scope of when that attribute would be useful. A general rule of thumb is to limit Definitions to no more the one per die size, but this is by not to be considered a hard rule. Just keep it reasonable. An attribute can not be added into a die pool in any situation that doesn’t match the attributes’ Definition.

Motives: In order to reach their goals, characters need Motivations. For characters living the bold and daring life of adventure there are four common motivations; Money, Ideology, Coercion, and Ego. There are other, less common but still common enough to mention, motivations like Grudges, Lineage, and Sex. Every character has three major motives for everything they do. Motives are rated between D4 and D12. Motives also have Statements that explain how the character feels about their Motive. Whenever a character is going along with their Motives they can add that Motive’s rating to their check.

Professions: Are broad sets of skills, training, knowledge, or talents that a character has to draw on for gathering dice pools. The name Profession is a bit of a misnomer as it doesn’t only representing job training but any hobby or interest the character might have learned valuable life skills from. Professions are rated from D4 to D12 and are Defined. Whenever a character is doing something that is Defined with their Profession they may add a Profession die to the pool. Professions can have multiple Definitions.

Relationships: Any connection to other characters, factions, organizations, teams, groups, etc are considered Relationships. Relationships all have a rating between D4 and D12 and include a Statement. Statements are short phrases about how the character feels about the particular relationship. In any test that a Relationship’s Statement would be useful a character may add that Relationship’s rating to their pool.

Assets: Anything else that character has to draw dice from are considered Assets. Assets are Rated from D4 to D12 and are Defined. Assets can only be used in circumstances in which they are Defined. Assets can have multiple Definitions.

Abilities: Characters also have a number of special abilities that give the character ways to manipulate the game system. Abilities allow characters to bend the rules by re-rolling dice, rolling extra dice, keeping extra dice, or any number of other things.

Corruption: A type of Ability that acts like Corruption from Unhallowed Metropolis.

Trouble: Acts like the Trouble\Doom Pool from Smallville\Marvel.

Conflicts: Whenever a character runs into opposing forces there is a Conflict. Unlike other games where you can roll to simply achieve tasks, we are only concerned with actions that have opposition. Conflicts are a back-and-forth exchange where dice are bid back and forth until there is either a winner or someone gives up. To start a Conflict all involved parties will gather their dice pool and roll. You’ll then need to determine who starts the bidding. Sometimes it’s better to make the first bid and other times you’ll want to see the cards before you play your hand. Every participant pulls one die from their pool in secret and offers it for their Bid Order. Bids are place in numeric order from 1 to 12 with 1’s Bidding first. In the case of a tie characters compare die size with larger sized dies going first. In the event there is still a tie players roll their Bid Order die again, whoever rolls lower acts first. Once the Bid Order is determined the first Bidder slides forward two dice of their choosing from their rolled pool. The Bid Dice are added together and set the current Bid. The next character in the Bid Order then needs to beat the current Bid. The second Bidder pushes forward two dice and the total of those Bid Dice become the new Bid. Bidding continues until everyone has made one Bid and then Bidding returns to the first Bidder. If at any point a Bidder can’t match the Current Bid they are removed from the conflict and earn a Complication. At any point in the conflict a Bidder can fold and walk away without a Complication. If they fold before making their first bid they simply walk away at no cost. If they have already made one or more Bids it costs them a point from one of their Goals to abandon the Conflict.

Complications: Complications are a special type of trait that other characters can use against your character, adding dice to their pool based on the Complication Rating. After any Conflict in which a player earns a Complication the winner of the Conflict re-rolls their dice pool and assigns the die type of the highest result to the losing player as a Complication. In Conflicts with multiple participants multiple dice are assigned in the reverse order that the losers withdrew from the conflict, meaning that the last person out gets the highest roll, the second to last person gets the second highest roll, and so on. There are three possible Complications a character may have; Physical, Mental, or Social. What Complication a player receives is decided by the group or GM based on whatever is the most appropriate. Complications are rated from D4 to D12 and are Defined. Complications can only be used in circumstances in which they are Defined. Complications can have multiple Definitions. When a player is assigned a Complication they have a choice to make, either they take it or the story takes it. If the story takes the Complication that die size is added to the Trouble Pool and can be used against the players per the normal Trouble rules. If the player decides to take the Complication it is added to their character sheet and can be used against them in any future Conflicts. The winning player gets to decide where the Complication goes, either stepping up an existing Complication, adding another Definition, or creating a completely new one. New Complications are rated at whatever the die size of the Complication was. If the Complication is being stepped up it is either bumped up one die size if the Complication size is less than the existing Complication or it is brought to the size of the new Complication size. If at any point a Complication is stepped up above a D12 the character gains Trama. Whenever a Complication is used against you it steps down one die size at the end of the Conflict. At the end of a game session all Complications are also stepped down one die size.

Trama: Trama are unique traits that permanently scar your character. Like Complications, Trama are used by other characters against your character, adding dice to their pool based on the Trama Rating. Trama have a rating between D4 and D12 and include a Statement. Statements are short phrases about how the Trama effects the character. Like normal Statements Trama can be Challenged or Enforced, but the opposing player using the Trama gets to lobby for the Challenge or Enforcement. Challenging a Trama is the only way to reduce or Remove Trama from a character.

Game Session: A common unit of time measurement used throughout the game is the Session. Sessions are considered to be roughly three or four hours long. If you find  yourself gaming for longer periods of time feel free to increase the allotment accordingly. For example, an ability that can be used once per Session can be used twice if you game for six hours. Establish these new limits prior to the start of a session, some GMs may prefer that an ability can only be used once in the first three hours and once in the second. Others may not allow multiple uses regardless of the length of the game. However, I would suggest simply allowing multiple uses at any time during the game session. This save on bookkeeping and can put character into interesting situations when they burn through their Session abilities early on.

Setting Creation: Start by determining how many Kingdoms\Nations\Empires\Districts\Etc you want your setting to have. We’ll call them Kingdoms for the sake of communication. The more Kingdoms you have the less detailed each Kingdom will be. If you’re looking for a larger scoped game, bouncing between exotic locations then use a higher number of Kingdoms. If you’re looking for

Posted in Mechanics and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .


  1. Any chance you could provide some additional context? Could you be explicit in what type of game or system this(es) mechanics target? Finishing out the last paragraph would be a nice addition as well.

    • Honestly, I have no idea what the context was or what that last paragraph was suppose to say. I wrote all of this about three years ago, haven’t looked at it since, and just found the old notes. I think there are a couple ideas in here that I could re-purpose but this is far from a complete idea.

Leave a Reply