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Spirit Chronicles

“A Cracked RPG Experiment”

Welcome to Spirit Chronicles. SC is the first system to use the Pneuma Engine. It takes place in a world of fantasy, where man-kind has grown to harness the forces of the earth known as pneuma. It is a wild world, void of technology, in favor of magic.


What is Pneuma?

The Pneuma Engine is the core mechanics that Spirit Chronicles is based on. Pneuma itself is the inner spirit, or energy that resides in all natural things. All characters have pneuma. It is also channelled by all humans to produce what is known as magic. In the world of Midori, pneuma is known to divide into a spectrum of elements. These elements include: Earth, Fire, Water, Air, and Metal.

Earth is a calming force. It is passive in nature, and exsists on one end of the pneuma spectrum. All pneuma passes through the earth element of the spectrum, and is believed to be where life is birthed, as well as where it goes after death. Plants live very close to the Earth element.

Water is a fluxuating, wise force. Water is a rejuvinating energy, that exsists between the elements of earth and fire on the spectrum.

Fire is a vibrant, expressive force, due to it's exsistance in the center of the spectrum. Because of this, it can be the most destructive in nature.

Air exsists towards the far end of the pneuma spectrum. Thus, it is near intangable to corporal beings. It is very unstable, and will manifest itself as water and fire (rain and lightning) in order to return to the earth spectrum.

Metal is a mysterious force, of which the people of Midori know very little about. Some believe it to exsist beneath the earth spectrum, while others hypothesis that it bonds both ends in a circle. In nature, metal has a tendancy to absorb loose pneuma, and return it to the earth spectrum. Because of this, it makes it difficult for people to channel magic in it's presence. The people of Midori rarely use metal for anything short of the most mundane tasks. Even then, most purists prefer to use wood, or stone instead.


What can a person do with Pneuma?

Aside from the fact that Pneuma is necessary to live, it is also weilded by nearly the entire population of Midori. To channel Pneuma on a specific spectrum, most people need a focus. The environment can be used as a focus, but generally, special tools and equipment is fashioned to be more efficient. There are even believed to be ancient tools with powers beyond that of modern impliments. Sometimes, a person is born a focus. They have a special tie with a certain element, and are more effective with it. On very rare occasions, there has been known to be born Metal Foci. These people have little to no ability to channel pneuma, and are usually looked down upon as inferior.



Characters

You will be playing the role of a person in Midori. Even without the magic of Pneuma, each person is unique. Unlike traditional Role Playing Games, you're character sheet will consist of nothing more than a grid. This is your Aspect Matrix. Any kind of large graph paper will do. As long as you have room to write a little information in each square. Each square represents one skill your character is capable of. A skill is a specific ability your character is trained in doing. For example, climbing is a skill that allows you to scale vertical surfaces. Pickpocket is an ability to acquire items that you currently to not posess. Muscle is an ability to break and lift things that aren't broken or lifted, and so on.

Many skills are related to each other. If I'm good at climbing, than it stands to reason, that if I was also good at lifting heavy objects, then I would be better at climbing than the same person who could not lift heavy objects. Being stronger makes me a better climber. However, in most games, it often becomes an issue of debate, what makes two skills related. Most quantify skills into broad ranges of attributes, such as strength and dexterity. Instead, the Pneuma Engine places this decision on the player. That way, they can decide what skills they want related, and create a unique character. Basically, any two skills that are placed adjacent to each other on the grid are related, and will help the each other advance faster.


Getting Started

First we need a name and concept for our character. For our sample character, we are going to make a stealthy theif type. Quiet and unpredictable, Yari is the very epitomy of the wind element.


Skills

Each skill has three entrees in its block: its name, level, and experience (XP). The name is self explanitory. The higher a character's skill level is, the better he is at that skill. Experience shows a character's advancement in a skill. As the character gains experience in a skill, its level will go up. The amount of experience needed to reach each level is below in the XP Table. When a character is first created, he is given 100 XP to put into any number of skills he sees fit. He could have 10 level 2 skills, 5 level 3 skills, or any other combination.

Skills may be placed anywhere on the aspect matrix. However, to place two skills adjacent to each other, they must have some relation. For example, one could not place a Muscle skill next to a Musical Performace skill, that is unless the player can rationalize it for their character. Perhaps, the character's instrument of choice is a heavy drum that he carries around and beats with his hands. However, a flute-playing bard couldn't make the same rationalization, just so he could improve his strength. How you place your skills says a lot about your character.

For our sample character, we are going to focus on his Stealth skill a lot, putting 40 of our 100 XP into it, and placing it in the center of the aspect matrix. This brings Stealth up to level 4. Next, we will give him the Dagger and Sleight of Hand skills. Since both could be rationalized as stealth related for this character, we are going to place them on either side of stealth, and give each 16 XP. That puts both at level 2, and leaves us with 28 XP. We decide that Yari would make one awesome Wind Focus, so we use the next skill as Wind Focus with 20 XP. We rationalized that stealth could benefit from Wind Focus, but decided that maybe it would be useful for taking new skills later, so we place it off to the side. This means it will advance slowly until we can get a second skill next to it. Lastly, we decide to give him a little money. We take the Wealth skill with the last 8 XP. It's not enough to get to level 2, but its a start. So, how does Yari make his money? He steals it of course, so we will set it next to Slieght of Hand. Now we have a playable character. To see how it looks, look at the Sample Aspect Matrix.


XP Table

Level

Experience Needed

1

0

2

10

3

20

4

40

5

80

6

160


Skill Advancement During Play

During play, players will not be given XP, but instead Advancement Points (AP). One AP can be put into any one skill. When an AP is put into a skill, it gains an amount of XP equal to the highest skill adjacent to it on the aspect matrix. In our example character below, if we put one AP into his Sleight of Hand Skill, it would go up by 4 XP, because the highest skill adjacent to it is Stealth, which is a level 4 skill. If we put one AP into Stealth, it would go up by only 2 XP, because the highest skill level adjacent to it is two. Our Wind Focus skill would only go up by 1 XP, because it has no adjacent skills to build off of yet.

If you decide to learn a new skill, all you need is to do is decide on a place for it, and raise it as though it started at level one with 0 XP. For example, if Yari started training in the Jump skill, he could place it adjacent to the Wind Focus skill (Wind can help you jump, right). Then, he puts an AP into it, raising it to 3 XP, because the Wind Focus skill has a level of three.


Sample Aspect Matrix
Yari







Wind Focus
Level 3
XP 28/40








Sleight of Hand
Level 2
XP 16/20

Stealth
Level 4
XP 40/80

Dagger
Level 2
XP 16/20




Wealth
Level 1
XP 8/10












Game Play

Congratulations, you have a character. Now it's time to go adventuring. This section covers the basics of in-game play.


Skill Resolution

Most things your character does are assumed to succeed. Even the mystical forces of Pneuma will follow your commands fairly reliably during mundane, daily activities. However, there will be times when you just aren't certain of the outcome of some action. Leaping from rooftops, duelling with an opponent in a knife fight, and other elements of adventuring life always contain some element of chance. For those times, you will have to rely on your skills and luck to pull you through.

Anytime, a character needs to resolve an action, first they choose a skill that acceptable for the challenge. Hitting a rope with a dagger could be accomplished with the Dagger skill. Jumping from one rooftops to the other could be accomplished with a Jump skill. The character then rolls a number of ten-sided dice equal to his level in that skill. Yari, for example, would roll 2d10 if he was using his Sleight of Hand skill to try and steal some money. Any dice that roll less than or equal to 3 are considered successes. The 10 on the ten-sided dice are considered zeros, and thus succeed. Many ten-sided dice already have a zero on the side representing ten, so it shouldn't be to hard to remember.

Player characters have one advantage over other characters, though. When ever a player performs a skill roll, he also rolls 1d12 in addition. This actually serves two purposes. If you roll a three or less, then it counts as an additional success. However, if you roll a twelve, you receive one AP to be spent on that skill. This way, skills that get used more frequently, will receive more points.


More to come...