From Othenar Wiki
Othenar is a game that requires few dice. A full polyhedral set (four-sided die, six-sided die, eight-sided die, ten-sided dice, twelve-sided die, and twenty-sided die) per player should suffice, though dice can be shared in a pinch. Unlike some games, it is very rare to roll multiple dice of the same type at a time while playing Heroes of Othenar.
The basic premise of Othenar is that characters have four governing Traits: Charm, Guile, Physique, and Magic. Beyond this, characters get specializations in skills and various abilities as they are created or advanced during play.
The basic action roll, used when a character attempts something that wouldn't be guaranteed for them, involves a central 20-sided die (the "Core Die"), a smaller die based on their appropriate Trait (the "Trait Die"), and a modifier from their applicable skill (the "Skill Modifier").
|Trait Rating/Trait Die|
Traits are characters' underlying general proficiencies. In Othenar, they have a particular rating, which is directly linked to the die that is rolled when an action roll calls for the trait.
The first Trait in alphabetical order is Charm, which is a measure of a character's social skills as well as their ability to interact with the gods and Primordials.
The second Trait is Guile, which represents a character's ability to think rationally and process information quickly.
The third Trait is Physique, which measures a character's physical ability, their agility, and their ability to interact with the physical world using their own body.
The fourth Trait is Magic, which is a character's affinity for the mana that pervades Othenar and their ability to use it with most of the forms of spellcasting.
Traits are increased as characters advance through Paths. A Trait rating of 1 represents a baseline level for a heroic character, while a Trait rating of 5 is the peak of mortal perfection. Only rarely will a character's abilities modify their Trait rating, such as the Kithiks' inability to benefit from the Magic of Othenar.
An Action Roll in Othenar is the primary way that a character will interact with the world. While not every action a player might declare requires a roll, Action Rolls are called for when a character attempts something dramatic that they have a chance of failing.
The core formula for a successful Action Roll is as follows:
Most Action Rolls are declared by players (e.g. "I want to climb the cliff"), at which point the GM will specify the mechanical details of the roll ("Okay, make a Physique+Athletics Action Roll with a Target Number of 18."). This is not always the case; the GM may ask for the players to make an Action Roll (for instance, to spot a trap), and may choose not to reveal the Target Number of the roll.
Failure on an Action Roll should have consequences: if there would be no consequence for failure, and the action is not time critical, then the Action Roll should be omitted and the action should just unfold. For instance, a character wanting to find out who the mayor of a town they are in is does not have to roll Politics; this knowledge is available for the asking. The GM is the final arbitrator of what requires a roll and what doesn't: if the mayor is just the puppet of another figure, he may have the character make a Politics Action Roll to determine who controls the real power in the town, but he might not want to tell the players this information ahead of time.
In Othenar, the Core Die is always a d20, unless a spell or magical effect changes this. Some effects may require that the Core Die be rolled twice and the highest or lowest result be taken instead of the result of a single roll.
The Trait Die represents a character's aptitude in a general field. The Trait Die is based on the Trait's value (see Traits above), and typically ranges from a d4 (four sided die) to a d12 (twelve sided die).
Some abilities may modify the character's Trait Die, especially by increasing its value or, in rare cases, doubling the roll's results.
A character's Skills contribute their rating directly as a modifier to most rolls.
Some special effects may increase or decrease the benefits from skills, and abilities can even double the skill modifier for certain uses of skills.
For example, a character trying to use their Forestry skill with a rating of 2 will add that amount to the result of any Action Roll that involves the Forestry skill.
The Target Number is a measurement of the difficulty of an action. Othenar focuses on heroes of legend and myth, and target numbers fluctuate wildly.
As a general rule, any time a roll would have a TN less than 5, it should be skipped. The upper limit for characters in Othenar is theoretically unlimited (for characters who have pursued a theoretically infinite number of Paths to increase their skill modifiers), but the general rule is that the TN that challenges a character in their field of specialty follows the following formula:
This is not necessarily representative of tasks in the real world, however. The GM is encouraged to diversify the TN for rolls to ensure that gameplay remains fluid, either assigning fixed values to certain actions (as is the case for spellcasting) or by determining the percentage chance that a character will succeed and then selecting a TN that works.
One thing to note is that as a character's Trait Die increases in size, the level of variation that will be exhibited by their rolls increases: a character with a Trait Rating of 5 and no skill modifier gets results from 2 to 32, while the same character with a Trait Rating of 1 will get results from 2 to 24.
Variant Action Rolls
On rare occasions, an Action Roll will specify that it either does not have an applicable trait (which is rare) or an applicable skill (which can be relatively common).
These rolls are referred to as either Trait Rolls or Skill Rolls. An Action Roll with only a Core Die is referred to as a Luck Roll, as there is no room for the character's abilities to impact the roll (barring, of course, magical abilities that influence the Core Die).
Since Trait Rolls, Skill Rolls, and Luck Rolls are still Action Rolls, any rule that says that it impacts the Action Roll is valid, though rules that would alter something not found on the final Action Roll have no effect (i.e. you cannot gain a Skill Modifier bonus on your
Opposed rolls can be handled two different ways in Othenar, and are typically resolved as normal. When two or more characters are in opposition, there are two possible roll types: the Either/Or Roll, where only the highest result matters, or the One/None roll, where both characters can fail and an entirely different result can occur.
Typically, each character involved declares their desirable result and makes an Action Roll, then compares their roll result to the other roll results or any TNs determined by the GM.
Although Opposed Rolls often involve characters making identical Action Rolls, any two rolls can factor into an Opposed Roll.
Either/Or Roll results will come up in favor of one character involved in the Opposed Roll. They are simply a direct comparison of characters' roll results. The GM may provide a penalty to characters if they feel that one character has an easier task than the other.
For instance, an Either/Or Roll could be the result of a character attempting to keep an unlocked door shut while another character attempts to open it. Whichever character makes the better Physique Trait Roll will be the victor.
One/None Rolls have a TN set by the GM (which may vary between the individual parties), and the GM decides upon an additional possible outcome: the result of all parties failing. The character whose resulting Action Roll is the greatest has their desirable result occur only if they are able to succeed on the TN. Otherwise, the failure result occurs.
For example, two characters attempting to catch an object falling from above would have a One/None roll: either one catches the object, or the object falls to the ground.
Action and Combat
As a mythic fantasy roleplaying game, characters in Othenar tend to get into a good deal of trouble. The Action and Combat page details various game rules for handling hazards and confrontations that adventurers face. The Action and Combat section doesn't handle all of the rules for taking actions; a lot of that is up to the Gamemaster, who will determine the TN of most actions (for instance, there is no dedicated stealth section), but rather focuses on making sure that there are consistent rules for keeping the action going when it happens; this way you can know how much damage a 20' fall does.
Combat in Othenar is based off of a turn-based system that allows characters to take actions in order.
Valor Points are used to represent the sundry resources a character has acquired during their travels: contacts, fortune, knowledge, secrets, and treasure. They can be spent to create magical items, purchase important gear, introduce NPCs, and avoid nasty fates.
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