Translated by Alain Coubart
Warning: these simplified rules are the BETA version of the game system. It has since been reviewed and improved and will soon be translated into English, I promise!
All the rules and the game system are available at www.chantsdeloss.com. You may download it for free and read it as you wish. We will only present the basic principles of the game system of the Songs of Loss.
In The Songs of Loss, the Role-playing game, everything is rated out of 10. Virtues, Traits, Talents, even the abilities and the level of Legend follow the same logic in the game mechanisms. It only uses one type of die: the ten sided die (d10), though more can be rolled in some occasions. A few tokens may also be useful.
Actions are resolved by simply adding a trait, a talent and the result of a d10 against a difficulty estimated either by the game master or by the player who wants to try and exploit. An exploit is when one chooses to have a better result than a simple success to her test. Most of the time, an action attempted by a character has a difficulty of 15. It will be reduced to 10 if it is very easy, or increased to 20 if it is regarded as a difficult task.
The explosive die: rolling a d10 and obtaining a 10 allows to roll again and add the results. When a 1 is rolled, the die is rolled again and the new result is substracted. This rule does not apply to damage nor to the initiative of characters in combat.
There is no exceptional success, nor dramatic failure determined by chance alone in Loss. It is the player who chooses to try an incredible success, an exploit and gambles on her success. If she fails, that is when the going gets tough.
Trying an exploit
A player character may wish her action to be more than simply successful, but to provide her with other effects to her advantage. She wants to make an exploit: for example, deal more damage after an attack, create an object with a better quality, dominate or frighten an interlocutor durably. For that to happen, the player chooses to endorse one exploit or more. They add up to the original difficulty of the test he wishes to take.
An exploit represents an +5 to the difficulty of the test.
Then, three exploits represent a +15 to the test to succeed with her die roll.
It is not possible to declare more than 5 exploits for a test on an action.
If the player succeeds her test, each exploit becomes a special effect she may use under various forms, including a +5 bonus for a subsequent test. This is what we call “Free Augmentations”.
If the player fails her test, two things happen :
if it was an action against opponents, they gain as many +5 bonuses (or Free Augmentations) as the player would have gained if she had succeeded. And they may keep them for use during the following instants.
And what if there is no opponent at that moment? The failed exploits become disasters: disagreeable, embarrassing, or comical consequences the player character who failed the exploits will have to face. The greater the amount of failed exploits, the more dangerous, or serious, the consequences.
This rule also works for the game master : if a non-player character (NPC) tries an exploit, the same principle applies and the player(s) gain a +5 if the NPC misses his test.
A single exploit has a small beneficial effect. Three exploits can change the course of events at the appropriate moment. Five exploits are the kind of things that are told in the legends.
Keeping track of the Free Augmentations and disasters
A few tokens or dice are sufficient. They can be exchanged between the players and the game master to know how many bonuses can be used for their tests.
Permanent Free Augmentations
The character archetypes, specializations, and also some pieces of equipment provide permanently available Free Augmentations (+5 bonuses). These Free Augmentations are never counted with tokens, as they are permanent bonuses.
Time limit in the usage of tokens
The Free Augmentation and disaster tokens have a limited duration of one scene (see the in game time in the Role Playing Game). Whatever happens, at the end of the scene in which the players are committed, all the tokens of the players and the game master disappear and are set back to zero.
EXPLOITS AND TYPES OF ACTIONS
An exploit allows to succeed an action once and a half as well as without it. If one wants to run faster, a successful exploit increases one’s speed by 50%. Likewise, if a character wants to jump over a wide ditch, knowing that a long jump with a normal difficulty is 2 meters, she will have to try an exploit, and be successful, in order to jump over a 3-meter wide ditch.
An exploit allows to obtain one piece of information more than the one originally sought. A tracking test with a succeeded exploit will allow to follow the track, but also to choose between knowing the speed, the weight, or even the health status of the tracked target.
The principle also applies in a discussion in order to obtain information. A result may also be negociated by combining the principles above, that is an augmented by 50% or one more piece of information per successful exploit.
A character who is hiding or moving stealthily may try exploits to make her detection more difficult. She may also do so to hide things, or even her feelings, to lie in a particularly convincing manner or to try acting. All these action are made to be unnoticed.
In these cases, the characters who try to discover the dissimulation, the deception or to find the hidden object make a “blind test” : the character must decide which exploits she tries without knowing how many are necessary to succeed. But if she succeeds with one exploit less than the one who tried to dissimulate, she will have a clue or an intuition.
One may try a test with exploits in order to obtain Free Augmentation tokens. As you may have noticed in some examples above, it is possible to try exploits in order to facilitate future actions (see the time limit above).
The exploits depending on the actions undertaken are detailed in the role-playing game in the “actions” chapter.
Exploits in fight
They have their own mechanics. The opponent may still parry or dodge the attack, but will have to take into account the difficulty endorsed by his opponent’s exploits (though there are exceptions).
The exploits in fight have very various effects, like aiming a target, disarming an opponent, make him fall or immobilize him, or even to kill him in a single blow. The most frequent exploit consists in adding 1d10 to damage per successful exploit.
When an individual acts directly against another one, he opposes him. There are two kinds of oppositions: passive and active:
The opponent simply resists passively. The test made by the character will then be made against the most suitable Virtue or trait of the target multiplied by three (trait or Virtue x3). If the character succeeds the test, the action is successful. Supplementary exploits allow, for example, to improve the quality of the action.
The two opponents compete directly : in an verbal jousting, in front of a chessboard, in an armwrestling, etc. by both rolling a trait+talent or Virtue+trait. The goal is to get the highest result in order to win. An active opposition usually compare two similar talents, but it can also compare a trait+talent versus a Virtue+trait. The two opponents don’t always roll the same test. The detailed list of certain oppositions will be covered in the role playing game book at the “Actions” chapter.
Exploits can be tried during an active opposition: the one who rolls the active opposition declares an exploit to her test. Her opponent then has a choice : either she decides not to overbid, and both opponents roll the die with the difficulty of the declared exploit to obtain, or she overbids and the the first opponent now has to make the same choice. Only a maximum of five exploits can be declared. Therefore, one opponent will only be able to declare two exploits and the other one three, which always gives a slight advantage to the one who starts the opposition.
The one who may not declare exploits rolls the die. If she fails, the opponent does not need to roll a test and will be the one who decides the special effects for all the tried exploits. If she succeeds, the opponent has to roll the die. If noboody obtains a higher score, the opposition is a draw. If there is a higher and a lower score, the higher score (winner) then decides the special effects of all the tried exploits.
First of all, a character of the Songs of Loss is a hero. Even if she is a beginner, even lost and looking weak, she is still a character above the norm and is able to do exceptional things. Unlike the common protagonist, named “henchman”, the hero of Loss has more resistance and alternatives against danger and death, plus an archetype. It designates the type of hero she is playing and the domain in which she is the best.
Finally, a hero of Loss has a legend… and she is going to shape it, and it will evolve and grow. Legend incarnates in new abilities and the means to make a hero out of a character, they are the legend abilities of each archetype.
A character in the Songs of Loss is defined by four concepts which, put together, determine what she is and what she can do :
There are four of them and their nature is described above. Most of the characters have no access to the Virtue of Faith but only to Honour, Courage and Wisdom. These virtues have an effect on the whole character: they are the foundations of her values and her interpretation, they partly define her traits and, through inspirations, have an influence on all the talents and abilities of the character.
There are six of them. They represent the character’s social, physical and mental capabilities. As a test is based on trait+talent+d10, they have a strong influence on the game. They are:
– Power: the charisma and the ability to influence. It is the apanage of leaders, military officers, great politicians, diplomats and gurus.
– Empathy: the ability to sense and share emotions. It is the apanage of advisors, observers, seducers, psychologists, shamans, and the most devoted servants.
– Might: the strength, the endurance and the stature of the character. It is the apanage of warriors and legionnaires, woodcutters and dock workers.
– Agility: the body flexibility, the manual dexterity and speed. It is the apanage of cat burglars, acrobats and also martial artists.
– Spirit: the scholarship, reasoning and willpower. It is the apanage of savants and scholars, ascetic and wise people.
– Instinct: the sum of the five senses of the character, and the ability to sense danger. It is the apanage of hunters, woodsmen, shadowing specialists, musicians and singers.
There are 15 hero archetypes in the basic rulebook of Loss, which gather all the varieties of roles a player would like to play. Each archetype is unique and encompasses the talents, abilities and advantages a hero has. An archetype is not a profession, but a role which determines in which domain and in which talents the character is better than most of the people, is able to achieve exploits, and how she will evolve and write her legend in the world of Loss.
A detailed list of the 15 archetypes can be found at www.chantsdeloss.com, but a few examples are mentioned below, such as the captain, the fighter, the genius, the shadow, the singer of Loss…
Finally, the talents are, to sum up, the knowledge, the trainings, the abilities, all the things life has taught a character to do. The talents are influenced by the Traits, the Archetype, but also the culture and the social origins of the character. The standard for a talent is that a level 5 is that of a beginning professional and a level 7 is that of a seasoned professional. It is not possible to have more than 7 in a talent when creating a beginning character.