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Omnifray:- fantasy roleplay in the mysterious Enshrouded Lands, "a thousand worlds in one", where magic bubbles away beneath the surface, beyond the ken of the common folk, with a unique, detailed, highly flexible rules system

Omnifray Tips

Postby Omnifray » 1:39am on 26 Mar 09

A few tips for playing Omnifray may appear on this thread.
Looking for playtesters for the Implodarc Tabletop RPG. If you'd like to playtest it and post public feedback or an AP thread, ask me for the private link to download it, or I can e-mail it to you. At least compared to my usual stuff, it's meant to be simple and quick to play with quick CharGen.
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CharGen & Feats

Postby Omnifray » 1:49am on 26 Mar 09

Having difficulty selecting a list of feats?

1. Consider "borrowing" a list of feats from a pre-written player character. At the character generation stage lists of feats are generally freely transferrable between characters of the same level, regardless of your traits or ability scores, with three main provisos. First, the feats must be appropriate to your character's background, but that is a matter for the referee's discretion. Second, some feats depend on traits, but these are few in number - chiefly bardic abilities (which may require Instrumental Expertise, Singing and/or Poetry, or the non-standard Dancing trait) and herbalism (2 CGPs' worth of Plant Lore). (If you want feats of holy magic you ought really to have the appropriate traits of goodly characters too - the Holy Faith trait, resistance to unholy magic and immunity to holy magical psychic attacks - but most or perhaps almost all goodly characters should have these traits. Likewise characters with unholy magic should have the trait of vulnerability to holy magic. But many evilly aligned characters may have that trait.) Third, some feats depend on your spiritual alignment. Of course, the usefulness of feats can depend on you having suitable ability scores to benefit from them, but as long as your ability scores are broadly reasonable, you will be OK. It's very hard to get a list of feats which fits your ability scores so badly that the character is hamstrung. The most likely example would be having lots of magic but a very low Willpower or Understanding score, but that should be pretty obvious.

2. Consider the Military Specialisms in Sundered Space. These can make your life a lot easier. For a 1st level player character choose one Primary Military Specialism at Rank 1 plus a Secondary Military Specialism at Rank 1, or choose a Primary Military Specialism at Rank 2. Each time you go up in level to an EVEN-numbered level, add a Rank of Military Specialism (in your existing Primary Military Specialism, in an existing Secondary Military Specialism or in a new Secondary Military Specialism). Use the energy points from Omnifray proper.

3. Use this simple approach. Use the published Omnifray rules, but on no account attempt to min-max and "beat the system". There is no point. Firstly, you would have to try extraordinarily hard to gain any kind of min-maxy sort of advantage. I wrote the damn system and it is very hard even for me to min-max on feats. Secondly, even with no effort at all, you will not choose a duff list of feats. It actually takes effort to make a duff character in Omnifray - you have to be pretty deliberate about it. I am not necessarily talking about being optimal for combat, but be realistic. If you want to be super-optimal for combat, you will be choosing things like Animal Intelligence, the Unattractive trait, Roleplaying Restrictions etc., to the point where your options as a character are seriously limited. That's not difficult, but overall the character will be no better than anyone else's - you may be the combat king, but you will have little say in how the adventure goes. So don't even try to min-max it. Just choose the feats that you want from a flavour point of view, the ones that you think fit the character as you imagine him to be. Put them in order according to how much you want them. Then spend your versatility points until you run out. That will give you a list of feats, and the character will be just fine in terms of power. Honestly, this system is built to thwart min-maxers. You can optimise for particular kinds of combat, but you will end up heavily, heavily penalised in other areas, and overall your character will be balanced - not overpowered as you may wish, but balanced. So, forget trying to create a competent or powerful character. Just pick the powers that feel right for your character, and go with it. No head-aches about whether you can spare the points for this, that or the other - just put your feats in priority order according to how important they are to your fundamental character concept as a matter of flavour, and you're away. Honestly. It works. If your character ends up making a suboptimal contribution, it's probably because he's not optimal for the particular style of campaign your ref is running, but it's up to the ref to vary things and mix them up a bit so that no character ends up being suboptimal. Sure, there might be the odd area where the rules can be abused and min-maxing can pay off, but I wouldn't bank on finding them if I were you, so forget min-maxing and just go with your heart. Really. Make the character the way you imagine him to be, and on no account worry about how the numbers stack up in the sense of how powerful you are overall. Overall, you will be balanced, pretty much whether you want to be or not. And sometimes if your character gets left behind it may be because you're not exploiting his powers to the full. If that's the case, you may prefer to pick characters with nice simple abilities which individually cost lots of versatility points, like Charmed Life, or which can be used in any fight. Burst of Speed and Burst of Strength are easy to use. But really, the only thing that matters is that the character has the feats which feel right for him, so that you can imagine him more easily. In terms of power, the game will sort itself out, provided the ref sets things up so that everyone gets the chance to shine. DO NOT EVEN TRY TO MIN-MAX IN THE NAIVE BELIEF THAT YOU WILL WANGLE SOME OVERALL ADVANTAGE OF POWER. YOU WON'T. You'll just end up superspecialised, really good at your niche thing but sucking in other areas so overall you'll be balanced. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

Can't Hack Medium/Long-Term Energy Points?

Finally, if having short- and medium-term energy points is too much of a drag, you can forget the medium-term ones for physical and concentration energy. It really doesn't make TOO much difference most of the time. I will be peeved that you can't hack it, but the game won't be dramatically unbalanced. You ought however to make one adjustment if you get rid of medium-term energy points:- when you use the Equilibrium of the Fates rule, physical and concentration energy points will only count for half-value (so you need twice as many of them as of any other kind of energy points). Normally this would only be applied to medium-term energy, but if you are dropping medium-term energy, as a quid pro quo you should apply that rule to short-term energy instead. Under no circumstances should you drop the requirement for tracking long-term energy for magical or mystical power or true fate points, at least unless you want the game to be horrendously unbalanced and very high in magic and the supernatural. If you insist on dropping long-term energy for magical and mystical power and for true fate points, as well as dropping medium-term energy for physical and concentration energy, then to prevent the game from becoming unbalanced characters with magical or mystical energy points or true fate points should probably have those scores halved. Sundered Space uses a different approach but it has a very different setting with high-tech stuff.
Looking for playtesters for the Implodarc Tabletop RPG. If you'd like to playtest it and post public feedback or an AP thread, ask me for the private link to download it, or I can e-mail it to you. At least compared to my usual stuff, it's meant to be simple and quick to play with quick CharGen.
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Weapon Reach, Combat & Tactics

Postby Omnifray » 4:20pm on 31 Mar 09

Weapon reach can be very useful in Omnifray if used correctly, but to prevent abuses, remember that the referee is in charge, and, allowing for a healthy dose of realism, common sense should prevail!

If you have a weapon set to receive your foe's charge, you attack the instant he moves in incautiously to attack you. Almost but not quite simultaneously, he then gets to attack you. Once that has happened, you can start your next action, normally counting time from when your foe acted.

If however you are controlling an NPC who is part of a unit of troops in mass combat, your NPC will act when his unit acts. That unit will typically be making ongoing speed of action rolls and when it next acts will not usually coincide with when the charge is received. If only some of the troops in a unit have received charging enemies in this way (with their weapons set to receive them), you would not want to make those troops alone start their next speed of action rolls from that point in time. The critical purpose of dividing troops into units is so that they act together, reducing the number of speed of action totals that you have to keep track of in a large fight. This means that you cannot split the unit up for time-keeping purposes by letting the troops make separate speed of action rolls counted from different points in time. To stay true to that purpose, your referee could keep your NPC in line with the rest of the unit for time-keeping purposes, in effect letting him act when his unit next acts (as if your NPC had not received the charge), or could make the whole unit delay its next action (counting speed of action from when the charge was received), or perhaps impose some intermediate delay on the unit as a whole. Conceivably, some NPCs within the unit might be allowed an extra action or part-action when the unit comes to act, but the critical thing is that the unit keeps acting together, even if occasionally some members of the unit might get an extra full action or part-action (or might only get a partial action instead of a full action). Don't overegg the pudding in terms of details. Putting troops into units is an approximation and a necessary evil to maintain speed of play for mass combat.

Now suppose you have set your weapon to receive your foe's attack, but your foe starts to move in cautiously instead of charging, meaning, crucially, that you don't get a free attack when he reaches you. Well, I would let you simply attack when your next action would be due, or alternatively (if I am taking a more detailed approach and your character is not part of a unit) you could have to start a new speed of action roll from when your foe first reaches you before getting in past your guard (as from that point in time your foe will be deemed to have been trying to get in under your guard, so you could see that he was doing that rather than charging you), or, (in theory though unlikely to be relevant in practice) if you have just disengaged from combat with him, from when you disengaged.

From a Spoiler Block in a post of mine in Asklepios' Actual Play thread on (slightly edited here):-

Suppose your foe has a long hand-and-a-half sword and shield (with weapon specialisation and fairly good reach) and you have a double-handed long spear (excellent reach). You are both Size 6 with Alacrity 7, rolling d12+14 for speed of action (i.e. average 1st level adventurers). You have a 3-category reach advantage, so he needs a half-action to step past your guard, unless he moves incautiously taking -2 to Defence. You need a quarter-action to disengage from melee (you can also disengage incautiously as part of an ordinary incautious movement action and move double your movement rate).

You roll 6 on d12 so your first action is on 20. Your foe rolls a 4, so he will step past your guard on 18/2 = 9.

On 9 your foe steps past your guard. He rolls a 5 for his next speed of action roll and will strike you on 19+9=28.

On 20 you strike at your foe.

You then declare a quarter-action to jump out of reach. You roll a 7 for Speed of Action, so your action takes 21/4 rounded up = 6 segments. You will step swiftly back out of reach on 26.

So on 26 you disengage and roll for your next speed of action, for a strike. You roll an 8, and will strike on 22+26 = 48.

On 28 your foe was going to hit you but instead he finds that you have moved out of his reach so he cannot strike you unless he moves incautiously. If he moves incautiously, he will have a -2 Defence penalty. Suppose your foe doesn't have the gumption to take this risk.

Your foe needs to spend a half-action moving cautiously inside your guard. The referee is very fair and lets him count the time for that from when you began your quarter-action to move out of reach, i.e. from 20. This means in effect that from the 20th segment your foe stopped trying to swing a blow because he saw you stepping out of reach, so he followed. The ref could be an a**hole and make him count time from the 26th segment, or any time between the 20th and the 26th, but in the circumstances I think a fair ruling is to start on 20.

Your foe rolls a 6 for speed of action, meaning he takes 10 segments to step under your guard. He steps under your guard on 20+10=30. If he completed the action to step under your guard before 26 I would in effect rule that you have failed to disengage, and he times his next action from 26 but you time yours from 28, i.e. when each of you completed your action.

Your foe rolls a 6 for his next Speed of Action and will strike you on 30+20=50, which is after you strike on 48. Fortunately [for your foe, and for game-balance], that is before you can next disengage, which won't be before the 52nd segment.

This means that you fairly reliably get two attacks before your foe even attacks once. Did you notice that in this example your foe is rolling consistently slightly better than you? - and yet you still get two attacks before he gets one.

Your foe can completely negate this tactic by moving incautiously from the very start of combat but then suffers a -2 Defence penalty ... in effect you can force your foe to keep accepting -2 Defence [...], provided that you can keep moving backwards.

In fact I have employed a very similar "tactical withdrawal" manoeuvre in LARP myself, using a double-handed lightweight latex + foam spear in a chopping motion (for LARP-safety reasons) against countless enemies using shorter weapons. If I can keep moving back, I keep hitting them, and unless they bite the bullet and charge in regardless, I will rarely get hit.

If you think a player is taking the mick with these tactics (and especially if it is becoming tedious), remember that common sense and realism are the key. You have a number of important tools at your disposal. Firstly and most importantly you can use the rules on "Holding or Accelerating your Action" on page 56 of the Basic Handbook to let a shorter-weaponed character have his strike early, just before the longer-weaponed character disengages. Secondly and less importantly, you can refuse to let the long-weaponed character have separate speed of action rolls for quarter-actions, although frankly that's a bit of a cop-out. I suppose a third option would be to rule that cautious disengagement takes a half-action instead of a quarter-action, and that incautious disengagement in a quarter-action gives you a Defence penalty --- that might discourage blatant mickey-taking. Finally, if you want to be a real git, two short phrases relevant to combatants moving backwards during a fight:- pot-holes and balance checks!

I have added a short ruling to the Improvised Rules for Combat thread on this Hosted Forum to the effect that setting your weapon is only effective if it was your immediately previous action (not just your current one), and will errata it too.
Looking for playtesters for the Implodarc Tabletop RPG. If you'd like to playtest it and post public feedback or an AP thread, ask me for the private link to download it, or I can e-mail it to you. At least compared to my usual stuff, it's meant to be simple and quick to play with quick CharGen.
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Thanks: 182 given/235 received

Scriptural Knowledge

Postby Omnifray » 8:46pm on 31 Mar 09

From a spoiler-block I posted on Asklepios' Actual Play thread on

Certainly you could have a non-standard trait for special academic expertise in the area of scriptural knowledge, but I think that would be inappropriate for most adventuring clergy-types:- how detailed would scriptural knowledge of a mundane variety need to be before it adds value to your character?

I would rather handle such a trait at least for some clergy simply as a +/-0 CGP minor trait as part of the character's general upbringing, on this basis:- any character will have special knowledge of the local area where they were brought up, their own family connections, etc. For a clergyman, assume that that includes a reasonable minimum dose of scriptural knowledge which has limited game relevance. It wouldn't impact on his ability to use holy magic (if any) or on his use of the Holy Worship downtime feat (if he has that feat). To be honest I struggle to think of a context in which it would be useful, except for running religious services (which can be done out of a book in any event), or identifying others who know scripture.

The quid pro quo for this trait is that the clergyman has less knowledge of local gossip and tittle-tattle than other similar characters.

This scriptural knowledge is not directly related to whether the character has the Holy Faith trait:- that trait represents inner purity and faith, not scriptural knowledge.

This may seem a bit of a cop-out but I can't see how scriptural knowledge would be as useful as, say, Traditional Lore. Of course Traditional Lore might be flavoured to include a certain amount of stuff from scripture of any religion common to your locality. On that basis I would say that, as many clergy have the Traditional Lore trait, for clergymen that includes more detailed knowledge of scriptural tradition, which may be relevant to adventuring.

Being able to apply scriptural passages to the interpretation of magical phenomena etc. would be a question of having a trait such as Arcane [Holy] Lore, Arcane [Unholy] Lore etc., and having a +/-0 CGP minor trait of scriptural knowledge would do little more than add flavour to your arcane knowledge in that regard. Having Traditional Lore and being of a particularly religious background would probably mean that you have some knowledge of scriptural lore which may be relevant to understanding magical phenomena when you witness them, but you are engaging in some serious guesswork, and have no definite knowledge of magical principles. Traditional Lore is, after all, a common trait for common folk who have no definite knowledge of magic whatsoever.

And from another spoiler-block I posted on Asklepios' Actual Play thread on

Scriptural knowledge:- minor trait / component of Traditional Lore (half a CGP),
EXCEPT obviously for Church law (see below), which as you say is important
Religious doctrine:- as per scriptural knowledge
Church structure:- minor trait +/-0 (part of your general cultural background)
History of the Holy Faith:- flavoured Historical Lore (1), common for clergy

Church politics / politics of the Holy Faith:- viewed as purely factual knowledge (rather than interpretative skill or academic study), this is transient - basically, recent history, and constantly evolving. Having Church-flavoured and recent-flavoured Historical Lore would account for knowledge of recent politics. How up to date you are will depend on what happens to your character during the campaign and how you use your downtime. A temporary advantage in the form of recent insider knowledge could be accounted for via temporary fate points.

This also covers names of important figures within the Church.

Church law is a tough nut to crack. I think it would best be understood as Juridical Lore (Talean or Zhoranian law, as appropriate). That gives you a full understanding of the Codex Taleanis in its pure form, or of Zhoria law, at a sufficient level to advise professionally. Lesser knowledge might amount to a non-standard trait for 1 CGP. Unfortunately I have missed this out of the list of suggested traits for Holy Priests in the Expert Manual - it should be mentioned at least as an uncommon trait. However I did manage to include it for Holy Imams.

Looking for playtesters for the Implodarc Tabletop RPG. If you'd like to playtest it and post public feedback or an AP thread, ask me for the private link to download it, or I can e-mail it to you. At least compared to my usual stuff, it's meant to be simple and quick to play with quick CharGen.
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Thanks: 182 given/235 received

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