The Third Edition of Victoriana continues to progress through layout, ushered into the light by the safe hands of Paul Bourne. A favourite with gamers and Cubicle 7 staffers alike we're really enjoying putting together this new edition. Once again we've dragged Victoriana Line Developer Walt Ciechanowski away from his keyboard to answer some more questions.
Hello again Walt!
Hi! Is it that time again already?
So what can we find in the Cogs and Wheels section?
This Book is all about the engines that drive a session, from the basic mechanics to combat situations to other dramatic systems and, of utmost importance to players, how to spend those experience points that their adventurers have accumulated!
Tell us about the core mechanic in Victoriana, the Heresy System? Has this changed from Second Edition?
The core mechanic is the same. Most tasks involve rolling a number of 6-sided dice equal to your adventurer’s Attribute + Skill ratings and trying to get 2 successes, which is a 1 or 6. Each 6 enables you to roll another die. Difficulties are represented by black dice, which are rolled against you. Each black die success eliminates one of yours. If all of your successes are eliminated and at least one black die success remains, you get a Foul Failure. Fortunately, 6’s don’t explode on black dice.
One area of the core mechanic that we’ve streamlined is that we eliminated negative pool modifiers. All difficulties above Average are rated in black dice, no matter what the source. It keeps things simple and makes it easier for Gamesmasters to adjudicate difficulties on the fly.
Combat is covered in this section, right? How would you describe it?
Combat is fast, furious, and potentially deadly. We gave the rules a shakedown and incorporated changes based on feedback we’ve gotten over the last 5 years. One of the trickier situations was group combats, especially when some combatants brought pepperboxes into the knife fights. We wanted to make everything flow as smoothly as possible.
Can you give us a run down on a typical combat in Victoriana 3rd Edition?
Sure! Let’s say Lady Edwina Talbot walks into an alley while tracking a were-rat. Two ruffians, Peter and Thomas, see an opportunity and confront her with their knives. The Gamesmaster rules that Lady Edwina isn’t surprised, as she is already on alert for things jumping out of shadows.
All three roll their initiative dice. Peter rolls especially well and gets 4 successes. Lady Edwina gets 3 successes, and Thomas gets 0 successes. Peter goes first and decides to attack Lady Edwina with his knife. Lady Edwina, a Guild Hermeticist of some repute, counters with an aetheric bolt. Peter changes his mind and decides to dodge instead. Thomas elects to attack with his knife as well, so Lady Edwina decides to take a second action countering him with a kick.
Peter has Dexterity 2 and Dodge 2, giving him a dice pool of 4. Since he beat Lady Edwina in initiative, he adds 2 extra dice for a dice pool of 6. He rolls and gets 2 successes. Lady Edwina casts her aetheric bolt, using her Resolve 4 and Thaumaturgy 4 for a dice pool of 8. She gets 5 successes, but because she took an extra action she gets 3 black dice rolled against her. There is one black die success, which reduces her successes to 4. She subtracts Peter’s 2, which leaves her with 2 successes. As she hit him, Lady Edwina rolls her aetheric bolt damage dice (8) and gets 4 successes, adding 2 additional successes from her attack roll. Peter takes 6 pips of damage and is very hurt.
Thomas goes forward with his attack. He has Dexterity 2 and Swordplay 1, giving him a dice pool of 3. He rolls 1 success. Lady Edwina kicks him; her Dexterity 3 and Fisticuffs 2 gives her a dice pool of 5, but this is increased to 7 because she beat Thomas in initiative. She rolls 2 successes and this time the 3 black dice against her don’t make any successes. Lady Edwina kicks Thomas with one success. A kick normally does 2 damage and Lady Edwina has Strength 1, so she rolls 3 dice and gets 1 success, or 2 successes after adding her 1 success from hitting him.
At the end of this round we have two ruffians who have discovered that Lady Edwina is not quite the easy mark they took her for!
I also see we have a section called “Dramatic Systems” That sounds encouraging! What’s that all about?
This is all the extra stuff outside of combat! We’ve got rules for drinking, getting poisoned, and using drugs. We also have rules for fires, drowning, falling, lifting things, and recovering from wounds. All of this is familiar to those that own the second edition.
We’ve retooled Reputation and Fate Dice as well as added the Celestial Engine, which tracks an adventurer’s dedication to Entropy or Order. Finally, we have guidelines for awarding and spending experience points.
The Celestial Engine - this is a new mechanical concept for Victoriana 3rd Edition, right?
Absolutely. The basic idea behind the Celestial Engine (Entropy vs Order) has been with the game since its first edition, but we thought we’d qualify it a bit more. We’ve already defined where the archons (angels, demons, old gods, etc) fit along the spectrum, now you can move your adventurers along it as well. The various subspecies start at a given point on the line and can move back and forth by spending Scripting Dice.
If you have cogs in Entropy, then you get benefits when acting in the cause of Entropy. Ditto for Order. There are ‘intangibles’ as well; an adventurer that moves too far along the cogs of Order may find all of her prayers answered by the mechanical Ophanim (rigid angels of order), while someone sliding too far towards Entropy risks getting the attention of Aluminat hunters.
Tell us about the Fate Pool and Scripting Dice? What are they?
Fate Points and Scripting Dice haven’t really changed from Second Edition. Fate Points give you extra benefits during play, while Scripting Dice (equivalent to 6 Fate Points) give you some control over the game.
For example, normally a task roll requires 2 successes. If you only get one, you can spend a Fate Point to give you another. A Fate point can also instantly heal a pip of damage. A Scripting Die may allow you to reroll a bad task roll or make an adjustment to the adventure. Did you fall out of an aerostat? It was very lucky that a rope happened to be dangling beneath the promenade and within reach!
What has changed is how Fate Points are acquired. Since we got rid of Character Ranks, adventurers gain Fate Points as adventure rewards as well as whenever a Complication hinders them in some way during the adventure.
Reputation seems important in the world of Victoriana. How does that work?
We approached Reputation a little differently this time around. We’ve split it into Propriety and Notoriety. The two work against each other; sometimes your good reputation precedes you, sometimes your bad. If your propriety wins out you get bonus dice on social rolls for a scene; if notoriety wins out you get black dice on social rolls for a scene.
You can temporarily boost or diminish Reputation through Puffery and Slander. These represent an adventurer spreading rumours about another during a social scene. Unfortunately, there are consequences for taking advantage of a false reputation!
Once again it's all sounding very exciting! Thanks Walt!
We'll be back again soon with another look at the Third Edition of Victoriana.