Here we are, my friends, in the space between worlds. You overlook a new land, known only as the vestige; an old, dying planet. But it does not look as though it is dying, does it? In fact, it looks very alive. From here, you see blue oceans as vast and as deep as the pacific. You see mountain ranges that stretch across continents, as high and as long the rockies. You see jungles as dense as the amazon, and deserts as great as the sahara. You see something that reminds you of home.

Yes, this looks much like your home, and there’s something comforting in that, isn’t there? Even some of the people seem familiar. Make no mistake, though, the vestige is not your earth; it is something else entirely. Does that make you excited? Are you anxious to feel the dirt between your toes? Curious about what vestigial water tastes like? Or are you nervous, as you anticipate mingling in a world full of strangers? Whatever your feelings are, I assure you that you are safe.

You’re probably wondering, how can this stranger possibly know that? Well, as you enter the vestige, you are all going to become someone new. No matter what happens to your new selves, your old selves will still be here, under my watch, ready to return to earth whenever you are ready. Do not be afraid of the future.

Who might these new selves be, though? They might be someone very different from who you are now, or perhaps they will be very much like you now, save a few differences big or small. Whomever you choose to become, there is already a life down there, living just as you imagine it. Perhaps we should discover who these chosen souls are?

First though, you should elect a guide amongst yourselves. The guide will narrate your lives, linking the earth and the vestige. They are your sight, your smell, your hearing, your touch, your taste. They are the means by which you interact with the world. The guide has a great responsibility, but they are not in control of you. You craft your story together. Your actions, not your guide, will shape what obstacles you will face. Your guide is simply your means of accessing them.

This guide can be one person, who focuses all their energy on maintaining this link between the earth and the vestige, or they might enter the vestige alongside each of you, while still bridging the gap between worlds. Perhaps you will elect more than one guide, or perhaps all of you will become guides at some point and share the responsibility. Before we land, though, the decision must be made.

You should also take a moment to determine what sort of stories you hope to tell together and what you are comfortable sharing. The vestige can be a place for many kinds of stories. Some things to consider: how much death are you comfortable with witnessing? What about cruelty or horror? Will there be abuse, either physical or emotional, in your stories? Sex is a way to enrich stories, but how much sex are you comfortable with hearing about? And in what detail? Establishing your expectations with your group, whether these expectations are what you are seeking or what you are hoping to avoid, is important in building stories and experiences that are enjoyable for everyone.

When you have chosen who your guide is and established what you are comfortable with, it is time to forge your new self. Follow this link to create your character and discover who you are. Return to me when you are done.

So these are your new bodies, yes? Why don’t you introduce yourselves to each other? Where do you all come from? There are four continents that many are familiar with: M’Qara, Lussia, Ezego, and Ren.

M’Qara is an equatorial land. It is warm and dry, and much of it is filled with sand. It contains many independent city states that struggle to survive in the aftermath of a war over water in the Obari Pass. Most of the M’Qaran people have converted to a faith spread by a sect of nomadic monks that worship the sun, Corona. They were the originators of the arlam.

Lussia, the land that was once at war with M’Qara, is a land of technology and progress, and is dotted with universities and academies. This grand socialist union of nations stretches across steppes, forests, mountains, and tundra in the southern hemisphere. Its government, having recently suffered numerous political assassinations, has shifted to a militant governing body under the Lady Vigilant of the Knights-Noble.

Ezego is a land covered in the largest tundras and the highest mountain peaks that rise near the north pole of the world. Wells of vestigial energy — the blood of the planet — are plentiful here, and many people feel comfortable with the supernatural events that occur as a result. Massive harathi colonies were born here, but people of many species and races intermingle, gathering in tightly knit communities as they brave the elements, beasts, and other growing threats in the north.

Finally, Ren, the seaborne land of sovereigns and the dead. For much of its existence, The eight countries of Ren have maintained isolation from the rest of the world, relying on self sufficiency and respect for established borders to keep the peace between nations. After the collapse of the M’Qaran city-state, Verune, trade sprouted up across the globe and Ren opened its ports. Now, sovereign powers fight to establish dominance across this diverse Renian landscapes, but as they quarrel, revenants have begun to rise and wander. There is much unrest.

So, once again, where are you all from? And where will your story begin? Together, choose a land and imagine how you arrived there, if you were not already living there. Do you live in a city or in the countryside? Perhaps you have all joined an order of some sort? Perhaps you have known each other for a very long time? And where is this settlement located? If there is no city or town that matches your desires, don’t fret; there is one now. Why don’t you give your new settlement a name?

Once you have chosen the setting for your arrival in the vestige, you should also imagine what sort of bonds you have already formed with everyone around you. Each of you should select one person with whom you have gained strong feelings towards. This person can be anyone, from one of your comrades, to someone you miss back home. It can be your lover, your sibling, your enemy, or even your child.

What is their name? Introduce them to your comrades and choose one relationship facet to have established with them: intimacy, solidarity, or rivalry. Mark this bond down on your character sheet next to your inventory and fill in the three segments that correspond with your chosen relationship facet. Together, you are bonded.

These many faces are the sparks that will let this story burn brightly. Your guide should make a note of each of them. It will be your job, when you begin, to bring these people to life. Your relationships will change as they act upon their desires and you act upon yours, but you will form new bonds, with your friends and with the world around you. It is up to you to decide what you will do with them.

Guide, it is your turn now to take these faces and put together a scene for us. Take a few moments to prepare for your arrival. Your preparations shouldn’t be too thorough; you will have to be spontaneous as you respond to your friends and the world they interact with. Consider what we have covered so far and come up with a conflict and tease out possibilities. Involve your friends in this conflict, and see where their choices take them. When you have fleshed out this scene which begins your story, return to me so I can give you the last of the tools that you require.

It is almost time for you to depart from this liminal space and cross over into the vestige. Before you go, though, it is important to understand exactly how you might interact with this foreign land. For this, you will need to gather a few objects and lay them out before you.

It is helpful to have a pencil and some papers, to sketch out things that you see, rough maps of the places you visit, and to make notes if you need to. If you know that you will be getting into a fight, it is also helpful to gather some grid-paper and some pawns to keep track of your place on the grid. Each square in this grid is a 1m square, so if you are able to move 5m, as most people are, you will move 5 squares on this grid.

You will also need some dice. Whenever you try to do something that requires skill, you will roll a dice to determine if you are successful or not. In particular, you will need a ten sided die (d10) for non-combat rolls, a twenty sided die (d20) for combat related rolls, and percentile dice (usually two d10’s) for a few special chance rolls.

Your guide will assign a difficulty class (DC) between 1 and 10 to most rolls that you will have to roll equal to or greater than in order to succeed at performing a given action. For reference, a DC of 3 equals a 70% success rate, while a DC of 6 equals 50%. Many things can modify your roll, increasing or decreasing the value to give you a greater chance of success or failure, but if a 1 shows up on your roll, regardless of the modifiers, you automatically fail your attempt. Conversely, if you roll a 10 on a d10 or a 20 on a d20, regardless of the modifiers, you succeed your attempt so long as it is possible. These are what are known as critical failures and critical successes, respectively. Once you have attempted a roll, however, it can not be reattempted under normal circumstances unless you alter your strategy to approach the situation.

Some actions require special skills to perform, however, and unless you are trained in the appropriate skills, you will suffer a -5 to your roll and, furthermore, will be unable to get a critical success. These special skills are learned through disciplines, as you may already be familiar with. At any time you can make use of the skills you have already learned as long as you have the materials or are in the appropriate situation.

Some actions can be performed without skills however. For instance, jumping, bluffing, hiding, and harvesting materials are all rolls that don’t require any skills to perform.

  • To jump, roll a d10 and divide your result by 5, rounding up. The result is the number of metres you are able to jump. If you get a running start, divide the result by 3 instead.
  • To bluff, roll an opposed check with the person you are trying to convince. An opposed check requires that both parties roll the dice, and the party that rolled higher determines the outcome. In the event of a tie, the person who instigated the roll (in this instance, the person trying to lie) is the victor. The same roll can be made to try to discern honesty, if you believe someone is lying to you.
  • Hiding, similar to bluffing, also requires an opposed check as long as someone is aware of your presence.
  • Finally, to harvest materials, you must find a “node,” or a place that the materials are naturally found. Materials, unless otherwise stated, are always in abundance. For every hour spent harvesting materials with an appropriate tool, roll at d10. The DC to harvest for each hour is 7. A success yields 1 bundle of materials.

There may be times in your adventures, though, that you will be asked to fight whether it be for a cause or survival. When a fight begins, place each marker on the grid to mark your location at the beginning of the conflict. Then, have each person present roll a d10. The highest roller goes first, followed by the second highest, and so on and so forth. Your guide should make a note of this order.

Each of you and all of your foes will have a turn in combat in which you can perform three actions which are divided up into two types: the first two actions are standard actions, and the third is a readied action. You can do various things with these actions. Start by executing your two standard actions by selecting them from the following list.

  • Skills: Skills are usually special attacks that require you to have a specific weapon type equipped and require that you spend energy points (ep). Each turn, by default, you regain 1ep. When activating a skill, subtract the cost from your ep and follow the instructions as described. You may also activate a skill from a discipline in this way. Unless otherwise noted, you consume 1ep when doing so.
  • Attack: Execute a basic attack at any enemy within your range and line of sight. Roll a d20 when attacking. Accuracy values affect your roll, and you can spend energy to improve it even more. If the result is equal to or greater than your target’s agility score, deal damage equal to your might. If you are on the receiving end of an attack, subtract your protection value, if you have one, from the damage you have suffered. If an attack is made with a bow or a firearm, it consumes the ammunition stored in it and must be reloaded before firing again.
  • Move: By default, people are able to move 5 metres with a move action. Moving over difficult terrain, like leaping over a fence for example, takes up two metres instead of one. If you are locked in melee range with an enemy, moving will provoke a basic attack from that person, so be careful about where you are trying to move.
  • Shift: A shift is a sidestep or a backstep that allows you to move 1 metre without provoking attacks. Useful in close combat situations.
  • Swap: In the heat of combat swapping weapons will consume either one action or 1 ep. It is your choice which it consumes.
  • Reload: After firing off a physical projectile, bows and firearms must be reloaded using an action.

Now that you have executed your two standard actions, you can choose to spend 1ep at the end of each turn to ready an action. Readied actions, unlike standard actions, can happen at any time during combat; just announce that it is happening. If an opponent is trying to attack you, a readied action can be used to shift out of the way, or to make a basic attack to interrupt them. By default, readied actions take precedent over other actions until they are resolved, but actions that have “initiative” will occur before a readied action, unless that readied action has initiative too. Use your readied actions to change the tide of a battle, but be careful: if you run out of ep, you will be vulnerable.

After you have chosen if you will ready an action or not, your turn ends and the next character’s turn begins. If someone is reduced to zero health over the course of the fight, they are not out of the fight quite yet, but they are “at the brink” and may choose to forfeit. They can continue to act as normal, but taking additional damage will trigger a roll at the brink. When all combatants forfeit, die, or are otherwise unable to fight, combat ends. The victors are granted 1 point of morale for their victory, and the defeated lose 1.

Fighting, like anything in the vestige, is bound to impact your morale, which in turn can impact how quickly you develop new skills and can be spent to boost your chances of success. If you react positively to things, your guide can grant you additional morale, and when you react negatively, your guide can take it away. Make good use of morale and treat yourself well to move swiftly on the path of personal progress.

Now, my friends. You have all the tools you will need to begin living a new life in the vestige. Arrive in this new world, and when you are done for the day, return to me. I have one final task for you.

Welcome back, my friends. How have you enjoyed your time in this new world so far? My final task for you is the most important task of all. At the end of each session, it is your responsibility to take some time to come back to earth and reflect on your experience. Who did you bond with? Who did you grow more distant from? It is your chance to make your case that your relationships have developed. If you have sufficiently built up the relationship and the relationship satisfies your affinities, your guide can grant you one point in the appropriate facet of that relationship. Once you reach three points, you are bonded and can use that relationship to manipulate your morale in different ways.

Intimate bonds allow you to gain morale whenever your partner would. Solidarity allows you to share morale bars to boost rolls, restore your resilience, and reroll. Furthermore, you can split damage between you and your bonded ally. Finally, bonds over rivalry grant you the ability to boost your rolls against your rival even more, spending two morale for a +2 bonus instead of one.

After you have made the appropriate adjustments, one of the people you have advanced your bonds with will mark one of your affinities or your aversion for change. It is your responsibility, then, to choose a new one for yourself. Which affinity or aversion will replace your old one? As long as you maintain three affinities and one aversion, you are free to choose any that are available to you. Refer to this list to choose your new affinity or aversion.

Finally, you are done. I look forward to seeing how you all develop over the course of your lives. Enjoy your time here in the vestige. This world is yours to shape.