The rules for Specter are designed to be easy to understand, modular in nature, and complex in implication. This page describes the basic ideas of the game, and how things work in general. It is broke down into the following parts: Numbers and Such, Dice and Rolling, Verbs and Context, Character Definition, System in Action. You can start with the last part and work backward if you'd like, links are provided to make that easier.
To maintain simplicity, this game uses the simple range of 1 to 10 for numbers. Like most situations using numbers, context is king. Specter uses numbers in a few different ways: Effort, Blocks, and Thresholds. Effort is primary here, and both Blocks and Thresholds work with Effort to determine what it means in play.
While I'm going to dig into the three values individually, if you've played games before and are ok with math, here is the system in a nutshell:
When your character is tries to determine the weakness of an attacking Psi-snake you will generate a number called effort. Effort tells us how effective they were at the task. The higher the number, the greater the effort and the more likely success. Looking at it this way, some assumptions can be made based on the number you end up with. An effort of 1 is weak sauce, you probably won't accomplish shit. Effort of 4 is ok, you did something, it might succeed. You managed a 7? Now we are talking. Things are looking good! A 10? Goddamn right. Pretty sure it is in the bag. With few exceptions: effort results from dice rolls.
Blocks are the antithesis of Effort. While more Effort makes it more likely an action will succeed, more Block does the opposite. Here is how you apply a Block:
Is the Block rating higher than the Effort?
A Threshold is the amount of Effort you need to exceed to earn success for an action. Since (with few exceptions) effort is always involved with actions, a Threshold or more than one Threshold is given. There are action specific Thresholds, and one implicit Threshold we just call Getting By.
Getting By has a value of 3. If you can't muster even 4 effort, you've done bad. You haven't even gotten by, as the name implies. Efforts of 3 or less just aren't going to get it done, and always fail. If the situation is Risky, then a roll will be made to see if things go pear shaped.
Actions may have additional Thresholds. Usually one is given in addition, the Difficulty. This is how hard the action is to achieve. Here is a rough idea of the numbers and what they mean:
The graphic above is known as The Arrow, and is the core of Specter's dice and rolling rules. The center is an arrow, heading from left to right, punctuated by numbers. Those numbers are the Threshold values, as listed above. The green outlined dice on top are Plus dice, these generate Effort. The bottom red outlined dice (and initial number) as Minus dice, and they generate Block.
So in this way the Arrow works in steps, you start from the left, and have five steps:
Note that the last step is special. It has no minus die listed, as you can't have a minus die higher than d10 for any roll. Also the number needed to reach it is C, and denotes paying a Clutch. You have effort above 9 and pay a Clutch to reach this level of result.
When you roll dice in Specter, you'll be rolling a single die (a plus die: d6, d8, d10, or d12). In general this die will result in Effort. usually you roll a die for your character's actions. When your character does something dramatic the GM will tell you one of three things about what your attempting:
As you can see these are progressively easier (or more likely to result in a success). The GM determines the situation above using the rules and their discretion. After the GM tells you the situation above, you can always back out of the situation. You have the right as player to decline.
The GM has rules to determine the response to any dramatic action, see Means and Risk.
When you roll, you roll a die and take the result as Effort. If no rule tells you otherwise, you will roll a six-sided die (d6). Specter uses four dice in the game: d6, d8, d10, and d12. It is also possible to have a bonus to the roll itself. If so, that will be listed as +1, +2, etc. You just add that to the result of the die after it is rolled. Gold provides such a bonus to a roll.
There are two currencies at play when you roll dice for your character, the first of which is Boost. You can spend these currencies to override the normal rules in specific ways. They are currencies, meaning you can have more than one of each for a roll. There are unicode symbols that represent them.
Boost↑ is the easy to understand. It is very simple: Each boost increases anything in the Arrow one step. This means one boost turns a d6 to a d8, level II to level III, etc. For rolls made for your character, each boost can also be used to reduce a block one step on the arrow (reducing the size of the minus dice). This reduces, but increases the change of success for your character, since blocks work against them. If a Block is reduced below 2 this way, it is simply removed as a Block at all.
The second of the two currencies in play for rolls is Clutch. This is a powerful force, and a little more tricky than a Boost. It also has a unicode symbol:
You can spend a Clutch in the following ways:
Common sense advice: Exploit when you roll low, Advance when you roll high.
When you have Gold, you get a bonus to your die roll. 3 Gold, marked as g3, would add 3 to the roll of the plus dice. Gold is not cumulative, but additional Gold (after the first highest Gold) compounds like so:
Using the compound rules, if you earned g3, g2, and g2 for a roll: You have +3, 4 addtionial = +2 for +5 total.
The one rule of Gold: It may only ever double a die result. So if you roll a 2, you can only get a 4, even with +5.
Means does not interact with dice like Boost, Clutch, or Gold, but instead acts on the initial type of roll. Here is how it works:
Creating one of the humankind in Specter is an easy process:
Your human's heritage is their culture:
Your human is:
The contract of a human is the bond they make with their Spark, the lite energy source tied to their very essence. The contract will give you an ability that you can use at any time, and a power you can use when fully charged from a Stardive. There are five contracts open to a human, based on their culture: