Play the Game: Survival

  1. Time
  2. Play the Game
  3. Contests

Regaining survival and healing injuries

When a character gets hit by a weapon or otherwise takes damage, they lose survival or verve, and possibly gain injuries. They may restore survival, up to their normal amount, by resting. Each night (eight hours) of rest restores level survival points or removes one injury point on a successful health roll. Otherwise, only one survival point is regained. Each full day of rest restores level survival points or removes one injury point with no reaction roll necessary.

For example, Toromeen, a 2nd level warrior, fights an Orc. The Orc has +1 to damage and uses a short sword, which does d6 damage. Toromeen has 7 survival and 17 verve. In the first round, the Orc hits Toromeen and the Guide rolls 4 on d6. This means five points damage. Because fighting is archetypal for warriors, Toromeen loses 5 verve, and drops to 12 verve. The next round, the Orc misses. Toromeen loses no verve or survival. In the third round, the Orc again hits Toromeen. The Guide rolls 5 so Toromeen loses six verve. Toromeen is now at six verve. In the fourth round, the Orc hits for seven points. Toromeen is at zero verve and also loses one survival. In the next round, the Orc hits for four points. Toromeen loses four survival and has only two survival. Finally, Toromeen kills the Orc.

Toromeen ends the encounter with 2 survival and no verve. He will have 2 survival points in any future encounters that day. Toromeen’s verve will fully restore to 17 tomorrow. If Toromeen rests tonight, Tony will roll Toromeen’s health. If the roll is successful, Toromeen’s survival will increase by two, to 4. Toromeen might also receive healing aid through magical, divine, or psychic means.

No matter how much Toromeen rests or how much healing aid he receives, his survival will not increase above its maximum of 7, nor will his verve increase above its maximum of 17.

Using verve

Because verve returns more quickly than survival, players will want to use verve rather than survival for their characters when possible. Verve can only be used for damage due to archetypal actions. What kind of a survival point loss counts as from an archetypal activity?

1. Loss from a source or action that requires a roll against the character’s archetypal reaction.

2. Loss from a source or action that requires a roll against the character’s archetypal ability.

3. Loss that is the direct physical or rule consequence of an archetypal action, including specialties.

4. Loss to a warrior when the warrior is in combat.

When you are being your archetype, you get to use verve. So, for example, warriors use verve in combat. Thieves use verve if they fall after failing to climb walls. Monks use verve for survival point losses incurred because of a failed perception roll. On the other hand, warriors cannot use verve for damage unrelated to being a warrior. A warrior in combat can use verve to defend against spells cast into the combat. (Almost any damage in combat is relevant for a warrior, because damage is what combat is for.) A warrior playing poker with a mage cannot use verve against spells that mage casts unless one of the other criteria comes into play.

A thief tossed off of a thirty-foot wall cannot use verve points to defend against that damage, even though they could use it if they’d been climbing that wall and failed their Climb Walls roll. Climbing walls is an archetypal activity for a thief. Being tossed off a wall is not.

Being ambushed is probably not archetypal for a warrior. Triggering a trap accidentally isn’t archetypal for a thief—unless they set it off while using their thief fields. Nor is being hit by a spear from that trap archetypal for a warrior.

For all purposes verve points are survival points if the survival point loss meets the criteria. For example, characters run the risk of death if they receive injury points in excess of their survival point total. Under rare circumstances characters can gain injury points even when they still have survival points. If the injury points were the result of archetypal damage, verve points count toward the survival point total that is compared against the injury point total.

Verve is fully restored at the beginning of each game day, the moment the character awakens to begin the day’s planning and adventuring. Verve is partially restored when characters engage encounters outside of conflict within the adventure. Each character (regardless of whether they take part in the encounter) will regain up to their own level in verve once the encounter has definitely begun. An encounter must have been part of the adventure and must involve non-conflict engagement. An encounter can only be engaged once per adventure for the purpose of restoring verve.

When your damage comes from verve, you can look cool doing it even when you fail. Yes, the rope you were trying to swing from snapped, but you made a perfect land-and-roll and came up ready to fight.

Injury points (zero survival points)

Once survival reaches zero, further damage adds to the character’s injury points. There are also times when a character will take injury points before survival reaches zero. Whenever a character gains injuries, the character runs the risk of unconsciousness and death.

When a character has injuries, those points are a penalty on any attack rolls, reaction rolls, and ability rolls. Sorcerors can’t use spells of higher level than their level minus their injuries. A fifth-level sorceror with two injuries could continue to cast first through third level spells normally, but is unable to cast—or memorize—fourth and fifth level spells.


A character who drops to zero survival or who gains injuries must make an immediate fortitude or willpower roll at a penalty of the character’s current injury total, as normal. If failed, the character goes unconscious at the end of the round for a number of minutes equal to their injuries. If successful, the character may continue acting as normal, with their injury point penalty. (You may also choose to have your character lose consciousness.)

An unconscious character may awaken or be awoken as normal after unconsciousness ends, except that any rolls to awaken an injured character are at a penalty of the character’s injury point total.

A player whose character is unconscious may choose to spend one mojo to bring their character to semi-consciousness.

A time to die

At the end of any round where a character gained injury points and their injury total exceeds their current survival (and verve, if the latest injuries were gained as the result of archetypal activity), the character runs the risk of dying. Player characters must overcome their injuries in a contested endurance roll against their total injuries. Their injuries are the acting side of the contest: the Guide rolls less than or equal to their injuries, and the player rolls less than or equal to their endurance (with normal penalties, including injury point penalties). If the player’s roll fails and the injuries’ roll succeeds, it is time for the character to die.

Death normally takes place after endurance minus total injuries minutes. If the character goes unconscious, the remaining minutes become hours. If the character’s injury total drops to zero before the character dies, death is canceled.

Death rolls are archetypal for all player characters. Death rolls while unconscious are at a bonus of two. Characters can go unconscious while making the roll in order to gain that bonus. Field bonuses also apply if the field includes an appropriate skill, such as falling.

After a player character’s time runs out, they will die by the end of the current scene, and even healing cannot help them. At any time before the end of the scene, the character can make one heroic last effort to do anything other than stay alive. The player can have the character try to attack the enemy one last time, try to assist their comrades in some way, make a stirring speech to influence the senate—or stir the mob to riot.

The player will gain a bonus of their level on that roll; the character’s injuries will not apply. They may bid any remaining mojo on that roll. Other players may also contribute mojo to the dying character’s heroic last effort if they wish to do so. For all purposes, a heroic last effort is archetypal for all player characters who contribute, and each character gains experience and possible skill/field bonuses as if they had spent the full mojo, not just what they personally contributed.

At the end of their final scene or at the end of their heroic last effort if they choose to perform one, the character dies.

Non-player characters

Non-player characters often do not have a known endurance score. If the endurance of a creature or other encounter isn’t known, use 10 plus half level as an estimate. If they have a per-die survival bonus on their level number, that bonus will also apply.

Non-player characters do not have verve. NPCs with archetypes gain d6 survival per level, unless they’re warriors, in which case they gain d10 survival per level. NPCs regain level survival each night without rolling.

Injury points (zero survival points): Example

Toromeen, after fighting an Orc and a few of the Orc’s friends, has four survival points. One more sword-thrust from the remaining Orc does six points damage to Toromeen. Toromeen is now at zero survival points and he has two injury points. Toromeen has to make an immediate fortitude roll to stay conscious.

Toromeen is a second level warrior. His fortitude is 11. Tony (his player) must roll 9 or less (fortitude 11, -2 for his two injuries) to stay conscious. Tony rolls 6, and Toromeen is still conscious. He has, however, a penalty of two to his attack rolls (and most other rolls).

Toromeen also might die: two (his injury points) is greater than zero (his current survival and verve). The Guide rolls a 1; this meets Toromeen’s injury total, so Tony needs to make an endurance roll for Toromeen. Toromeen’s endurance is 15 and he is at 2 injury points (-2), so Tony needs to roll 13 or less. Tony rolls 20; Toromeen is dying. He will die in 13 minutes: his endurance of 15 minus his 2 injuries.

Fortunately, Toromeen successfully hits and kills the Orc on his next action. He crawls underneath a tree and goes unconscious. While he is still dying, the remaining time for his death increases from 12 minutes to 12 hours. If someone can heal his injuries before 12 hours are up, he will live; otherwise, he will die.

Temporary bonus pools

Some spells, specialties, and spirits can grant their targets a temporary bonus pool of survival points. This temporary pool is separate from the character’s normal survival points. Eligible damage is removed from the temporary pool first; only when the pool is exhausted (or the spell or spirit’s effect ends) does the character begin to count damage against their real survival points.

For example, Gralen casts Fighting Prowess on Toromeen, and Toromeen gains a temporary bonus pool of seven survival points. Six rounds later, Toromeen enters combat. In the next round, a goblin hits Toromeen for three points of damage; the temporary bonus pool is reduced to four. In the eighth and ninth rounds, the goblin misses. In the tenth round, the goblin hits for three points again. The bonus pool is reduced to one. At the end of the tenth round, the spell’s duration ends, and the bonus pool disappears. Toromeen has taken no real damage; if the goblin(s) had done more than seven points over those ten rounds, he would have taken real damage.

Your character is dead; now what?

Take a deep breath. Don’t disengage until the end of the current scene. You can offer advice and moral support to the other players for as long as you wish. When you are ready to create a new character, wait until whatever scene they’re currently in plays out and roll the dice. Work with the rest of the group to choose your character’s archetype. Ask the Guide how many experience points your new character has and how many mojo your new character has. Then follow the instructions for creating a new character.

  1. Time
  2. Play the Game
  3. Contests