Tales from the Frontier
Use the discover action to learn new information about environments, obstacles, and characters in a scene.
The discover action allows your character to get new information about what’s going on in the current scene without creating a new aspect. Sometimes you’ll need to dig deeper into a situation to discover answers, but other times a quick glance is all you need to start learning more about the situation.
When you try a discover action, you get the chance to ask the GM a question about the situation through the lens of the skill you’ve chosen. The GM answers honestly, but failure results in your question pushing you into danger, revealing unpleasant information, or costing you precious time or resources. If you’re successful, however, the GM may reveal aspects that were previously hidden. It’s ultimately the GM’s call on whether or not to reveal an aspect, but if you’ve learned new information that’s juicy and useful, it usually means you’ve learned a new aspect.
After you finish your discover action, you may want to create an aspect on the scene—or create a free invocation on an aspect the GM revealed—by creating an advantage with your new knowledge or taking advantage of the boost you created if you succeeded with style.
- When you fail using discover, you either ask a question of the GM related to the skill you used at a major cost, or the opposition asks questions about your character, delving into your secrets and weaknesses. It’s the GM’s choice which happens.
- When you tie with discover, you ask one question of the GM related to the skill you used and at a minor cost.
- When you succeed with discover, you ask one question of the GM related to the skill you used.
- When you succeed with style, you ask one question of the GM related to the skill you used, followed by either another question or the creation of a boost.
Tales from the Frontier makes use of the following skills: Academics (see below), Athletics, Combat (combines Fight and Shoot), Contacts, Crafts, Deceive, Pilot, Insight (replaces Empathy), Investigate, Larceny (replaces Burglary), Mythos (see below), Notice, Physique, Provoke, Rapport, Resolve (replaces Will), Stealth, Survival (see below).
Replaces Lore (along with Mythos).
Academics covers the observational study and description of the material world, and the application of that knowledge. In the Frontier, this includes knowledge of things like history, engineering, chemistry, biology, meteorology, and other sciences. Science is of no help when dealing with the otherworld, or with the actions or effects of spirits or spiritual interference. Science can rule out natural explanations or help with fixing the consequences of a spirit’s meddling, but that’s as far as it goes.
- Overcome: Apply academic knowledge to remove an obstacle. While flexible, Academics always requires tools specialized for the task at hand, unlike more personal skills such as Athletics and Physique, and using Academics to solve problems often takes a lot of time.
- Create an Advantage: Academics is much more suited to creating advantages. This usually means making an observation about the material world and drawing some conclusion about it, which can then be leveraged by using another skill.
- Attack: Academics isn’t normally used to attack.
- Defend: Academics isn’t normally used to defend.
- Discover: XXX
Replaces Lore (along with Academics).
Mythos covers abstract, general knowledge of spirits and the otherworld. It’s perfectly possible to get by without this skill, so not all mediums will have a high Mythos, or even any at all. It’s of little use in direct interaction with spirits, which is governed by the common skill set. It’s most useful for noticing or taking advantage of hidden characteristics of the otherworld—common properties that happen to be present, clues to its nature, or weaknesses an upset spirit might be trying to hide.
- Overcome: Discover or recall hidden or obscure facts about the otherworld and spirits, along with their applicability to present circumstance.
- Create an Advantage: Capitalize on hidden or obscure facts about or properties of the otherworld or spirits that are relevant to the current circumstance.
- Attack: Mythos isn’t normally used to attack.
- Defend: Mythos isn’t normally used to defend.
- Discover: XXX
Survival involves getting by in the wild and coming back home to tell the tale of it. In certain parts of the Frontier, nature itself can be an enemy, and the long trip across the wastes can kill you just as dead as an angry raider or spirit-possessed beast. Major and minor costs associated with Survival should reflect the privations of wilderness travel: starvation, disease, and injury. GMs, don’t be afraid to demand that the PC take consequences to represent these costs, especially if it’s major. It’s a jungle out there, after all…
- Overcome: Use Survival to conduct a lengthy journey in the wilderness or between pockets of civilization without incident and keep yourself fed, hydrated, and sheltered throughout. This is a good way to make the effects of travel tangible without getting too overburdened by minutiae; make it a contest if you want things to be especially gruelling, or incorporate this skill into a challenge if you want several PCs to influence how the trip goes. You also use this skill to weather the obstacles presented by a particularly hostile environment, or to hunt and track prey.
- Create an Advantage: Use Survival to use the features of a wilderness area to your advantage, and to identify or create idealized circumstances in which to act, such as finding an ideal camp-site or hunting ground.
- Attack: Survival isn’t normally used to attack.
- Defend: Survival isn’t normally used to attack.
- Discover: XXX
Absorbing attacks through stress means that you twist out of the way of the blow or the angry words, but not without giving up some of your own composure and well-being. You might end up harried, tired, or bruised, but you’re still functioning. In other words, you stay on your feet!
You have a number of stress boxes, each attached to a different condition. By default, you have:
- Winded, with one stress box. Characters who are Winded are out-of-breath, off their game, having trouble paying the necessary attention to what goes on around them.
- Angry, with one stress box. Characters who are Angry are not thinking clearly and sometimes snap at friends and allies or rush into danger without planning.
- Stunned, with two stress boxes. Characters who are Stunned are dazed, confused, or unsure of how to act or react.
- Broken, with two stress boxes. Characters who are Broken are significantly hurt, damaged, not thinking clearly, or affected by pain.
You might have more stress boxes on any of these conditions depending upon your skills:
- If you have a Physique of +2 or better, you get an additional stress box for Winded.
- If you have a Resolve of +2 or better, you get an additional stress box for Angry.
- If you have a Resolve or a Physique of +4 or better, you get an additional stress box for Stunned. If you have both a Resolve and a Physique of +4 or higher, you get two additional stress boxes for Stunned.
- If you have a Resolve or Physique of +5 or higher, you get an additional stress box for Broken. If you have both a Resolve and a Physique of +5 or higher, you get two additional stress boxes for Broken.
You also might have stunts or species abilities that give you more stress boxes on your conditions. Finally, shields can give you the equivalent of more stress boxes.
When you absorb a hit through stress, you must mark a number of stress boxes equal to the number of shifts on the hit. For example, if you take a 3-shift hit, you must mark 3 stress boxes. If you take a 1-shift hit, you must mark 1 stress box. You can mark these boxes on any conditions you choose, spreading them out however you decide. If ever you mark the last stress box for a condition, then that condition becomes true about your character, taking the form of an aspect that can be invoked or compelled against you. There are no free invocations on it, but anyone can create an advantage to create those invocations.
Any stress you have marked does not clear immediately. Your minor conditions, Winded and Angry, only clear once you have accepted a compel on those conditions; in other words, you can only clear those stress tracks after they have filled, and you accept a compel on the attached aspect. Stress that is marked against Angry or Winded but does not fill the track clears at the end of each session.
Your major condition, Stunned, clears entirely at the end of the session in which you accept a compel on that condition; in other words, Stunned clears after it has entirely filled, you have taken at least one compel on that aspect, and the session has ended. Stress that is marked against Stunned but does not fill the track clears at the end of each session. Your critical condition, Broken, only clears after you have received aid or an advancement.
To clear stress from your Broken condition, you have to either get a moderate advance or have a friend make an Insight or Science skill test against a passive Great (+4) difficulty, followed by you making a Resolve or Physique test against a passive Fair (+2) difficulty. Use Insight/Resolve for mental or social injuries, and Science/Physique for physical. If both rolls succeed, the Broken condition clears at the end of the next session after the one in which you receive treatment. Stress that is marked against Broken but does not fill the track clears at the end of each session.
Every character in the Frontier starts with a Resource rating of one. That means that you’ve got almost nothing in the way of coin. Maybe you’ve got enough that you’re set for a couple drinks down at the local watering hole, but that’s about it. You’ll add to your Resource rating whenever you make substantial amounts of coin, whether from payments for a contract or from more… illicit means.
The base pay for a job is usual enough to get you 1 rank in your Resource rating. A higher reward may be offered based on the hazardous nature of a job:
- +1 Resource rank for missions beyond the Frontier
- +1 Resource rank for extremely dangerous missions
- +1 Resource rank for urgent deliveries or rescues
When trying to figure out how much money any other windfall is worth, base it on the following rubric:
- 1 Resource rank per character if it’s decent but not noteworthy pay: a mechanical part, a quality weapon, a crate of goods.
- 2 Resource ranks per character if it’s a sizeable windfall: a good piece of artwork, a box of rare cigars
- 3 Resource ranks per character if it’s a giant horde: the contents of a rich man’s vault, some ancient valuable artefact
Paying someone money simply requires deducting a number of ranks from your Resource rating. This is most useful for when you’re making a bribe, and it’s a good way of paying a major cost in negotiations. Paying for an item works the same—you just deduct the right number of Resource ranks for the item’s cost, and it’s yours!
Sometimes, instead of just buying a piece of gear, you can trade an existing piece for a new one. You can always trade a piece of gear for one worth fewer gear points, as long as you can find someone with the gear you’re looking to get in exchange.
To trade for a piece of gear with the same number of gear points, you enter a negotiation, just like when you’re buying gear:
- On a failure, you can still make the trade, but at a loss, either by deducting a single Resource rank, or by taking a piece of gear with fewer upgrades.
- On a tie or success, you make the trade successfully.
- On a success with style, you get a boost related to how well the trade went.
If you want to trade a piece of gear for something worth more than it is, treat it as a negotiation for a purchase, with the traded piece of gear helping to offset the cost of the gear you’d like to receive.
Notice: New Asset creation rules (covering Allies, Equipment, and Stunts) are currently being trialled in game. Please refer to the section on Asset Creation.
Most weapons in the Frontier aren’t important enough to give any kind of special consideration. If a character has the Combat skill, they probably have a gun of some kind, but it’s nothing special. Just enough to allow them to use Combat. If someone is a knife fighter, then they have knives. But again, nothing special. Important weapons, however, are built by spending gear points. They are divided into three tiers: light (tier one), medium (tier two), and heavy (tier three), and cost a number of gear points equal to their tier.
- Light weapons get an aspect with a free invoke once per session.
- Medium weapons get an aspect with a free invoke once per session. They also bypasses the minor conditions, Winded and Angry, meaning that a target cannot mark Winded or Angry boxes to absorb stress from a hit by a medium weapon.
- Heavy weapons get an aspect with a free invoke once per session. They also bypasses the Winded, Angry, and Stunned conditions, meaning that a target cannot mark Winded, Angry, or Stunned boxes to absorb stress from a hit by a heavy weapon.
Armour, like weapons, is divided into three tiers in the Frontier: light (tier one), medium (tier two), and heavy (tier three). Armour provides additional consequence slots that players can use to soak stress during conflicts. These consequences recover normally, with overcome
actions using appropriate skills to repair the armour.
- Light armour gets an aspect with a free invoke per session. Light armour also has a single mild consequence slot.
- Medium armour gets an aspect with a free invoke per session. Medium armour also has a mild consequence slot and a moderate consequence slot.
- Heavy armour gets an aspect with a free invoke per session. Heavy armour also has 1 each of mild, moderate, and severe consequence slots.
Shields in the Frontier are divided into three tiers, just like weapons and armour: light (tier one), medium (tier two), and heavy (tier three). They provide their wearers with additional stress boxes to soak hits. The bigger the shield, the more stress boxes it provides. When the stress track is full, the shield can no longer be marked to avoid stress. At the end of a conflict, the shield’s stress track will automatically clear.
- Light shields have a 2-box stress track.
- Medium shields have a 3-box stress track.
- Heavy shields have a 4-box stress track.
Weapons, armour and shields can all be modified with additional upgrades with are represented by stunts. Some samples can be found in the Bulldogs! core book (p. 152 onwards).