If you intend to use the combat system at all, you should consider this section to be absolutely mandatory reading. While we strongly urge that players read all wiki documentation, if you especially don't read even the basic instructions, we cannot guarantee a fun and fair experience with our combat system.
AGE and Mantles
MCM's combat system (csys) uses the AGE system as its basis, and so uses several functionalities core to the AGE modular framework. Ours is, in fact, the progenitor of the "core" version of AGE. The most important thing to immediately understand is the Mantle system.
A "Mantle" is a cohesive package of combat data that contains all the necessary parts to be thrown into the combat system and run, analogous to a "stat block" or "loadout", and is what a player uses when interacting with the csys. They are named Mantles because the prime function of the Mantle system is the ability to exchange and put on different Mantles to allow for a player to represent entities other than their own character in combat, primarily in the case of scene and plot runners.
All character bits have a private player character Mantle which represents the character itself, which is applied for alongside the character. Mario wears the Mantle of Mario, Cloud Strife wears the Mantle of Cloud Strife, etc. This Mantle is effectively their core combat sheet, and is made to be customized, as well as to keep track of upgrades and injuries. All players also have access to a list of public, staff-created Mantles that can be picked up on the fly for use in scenes as needed. For instance, a scene runner with a character with low combat power may temporarily don the Mantle of a tremendous boss monster to present a challenging battle for a large number of combat-focused PCs.
A character Mantle is automatically assigned to the character as the default. When you feel the need to try on another, use +mantle/claim to see a list of all available Mantles. From there, use +mantle/claim <ID or Name> to pick one from the list, and add it to your personal list. Your personal list can be viewed with the +mantle command, where your claimed Mantles can be managed. Finally, select a Mantle to load with +mantle #. The next time you ready for combat, you will don the selected Mantle. Using the +reset command will load the Mantle you currently have claimed.
It goes without saying that in all scenes where you are participating as your character, that character's Mantle should be the one loaded and applied. Public Mantles exist to spoof other kinds of characters as needed, especially for GMing purposes. Mantles added to your list are effectively copies of the public template, and can be used non-exclusively. Unlike your personal character Mantle, they are non-customizable, and cannot be upgraded, but they also don't take any time to recover from damage. A player may have any number of Mantles claimed, and may use any number or combination of them in a scene, so long as they're clearly being used to the benefit of RP.
The central aspects that comprise a Mantle, or any combat entity in general, are the Archetype, their Quirks, their Signature, their Stats, their Weight class, and any Enhancement bonuses. These six elements together build up most of a character's combat ability, and most heavily influence how they will play in combat. All of these elements can be viewed by using the +stats command, however not all of them will be visible unless the target is your own character (no target defaults to your character).
A list of all Archetypes, Quirks, and Signatures can be found in this article: Archetypes, Quirks, Signatures
Archetype: A character's Archetype is roughly analogous to a "character class". It is a large, static package of abilities and bonuses that is chosen or assigned at combat profile creation. For player character Mantles, these as chosen by the player in their application. For public Mantles, these are assigned by the Mantle creator (pretty much always staff). The Archetype typically defines the broad strokes basics of how a Mantle plays in combat, essentially forming the base of their fighting style and initial build options. Once chosen, an player character's Archetype may be changed once in the case that the original just doesn't isn't their style, but otherwise, an application is required to change an Archetype. Archetypes are visible to other players.
Quirks: Any Mantle may have up to three different Quirks assigned to it at any given time. Quirks amount to smaller packages, or individual instances, of abilities and bonuses, which are added on top of the Archetype. Quirks may be changed at any time by the Mantle owner until a battle has begun, without an application or any special rules, meaning that players are free to use them to customize their character as they wish. Quirks comprise the core tool by which players are able to put their character's own unique stamp on their Archetype, or explore different playstyles and put original twists on existing ones. Quirks are invisible to other players.
Signature: Any Mantle may additionally have a single Signature assigned to it, in the same manner as Quirks. A Signature is a much more powerful option than an individual Quirk, and typically has an active, player controlled component to it. Signatures may be changed at any time a Quirk could, meaning players are likewise free to customize their character and experiment as they like. Signatures are the most robust means by which players can "season their combat experience to taste", granting them a great amount of leeway to emphasize their favored aspects of their character's playstyle, diminish or eliminate the aspects they like least, or open up new ways to play them entirely. Signatures are invisible to other players, but usually announce themselves in combat.
Stats: All Mantles have four base stats: Power, which represents the character's ability to deal large amounts of damage, Precision, which represents the character's ability to consistently apply and maximize their damage, Endurance, which represents the character's ability to resist damage, and Mitigation, which represents the character's ability reduce their exposure to damage. Stats are visible as a collection of descriptive tiers: Poor, Average, Good, Great, and Excellent. These descriptive terms largely represent the balance of how and where a character invests their basic capabilities. They don't account for Archetypes, Quirks, buffs, debuffs, or similar modifiers, and they don't strictly correspond to a fixed value. One character's Average Power may commonly deal more damage than another character's Good Power. These terms exist to give an idea as to the character's raw stat pool and how they've chosen to distribute it with what weight. Stats are invisible to other players.
Weight: All characters also exist within one of several Weight classes. Weight doesn't correspond to any one specific function or bonus, but influences the character's combat performance in a general sense. Higher Weight classes represent greater increases to a character's combat power, but Weight is assigned independently of all other combat traits, and thus does not summarize a character's total strength. In short: there are powerful Lightweights and weak Heavyweights. A character's Weight class may potentially change, as major events redefine their role as a character concept. Weight is visible to other players.
- Light: Lightweight characters are typically members of the underdog class of their theme. This can mean non-combat characters, but it just as often corresponds to highly competent characters who work harder than others for their wins, due to their theme's inherent cosmology, mechanics, scale, etc. Badass normals, shounen rookies, survival genre heroes, and fighters from low-combat series, are common examples of Lightweight characters.
- Medium: Mediumweight characters are typically the bulk of protagonists, and tends to be the most common Weight class occupied by players. Medium Weight represents the main combat cast of most themes, and is most often used for characters with relatively matured power, who are regularly challenged but still get by with their fighting ability. Medium Weight indicates a character who is well-suited to combat within their theme.
- Heavy: Heavyweight characters are typically the movers and shakers that are responsible for making events happen. Their stories tend to turn away from daily challenges and foes, and towards what they do to the theme as a whole and how the theme deals with them. Action defines Heavy Weight more than raw power, so it's very common to find main villains and boss characters in this class, and rare to find even the most overpowered ensemble heroes.
- Superheavy: Superheavy Weight is only achievable by Heavyweight characters using +keeps. No character sits at Super Heavyweight as a base state. It exists to maintain the consistency of the Keeps system, without allowing Heavyweight characters to become Bosses at the press of a button.
- Boss: A Weight assigned to specific Mantles by staff, mostly for the purpose of plots. Boss weight typically represent entities that are more theme fixture than character, and provides a space for beings that aren't meant to be casually challenged by individual characters, to an extent. Boss Weight is essentially "intentionally overpowered", and it can be assumed that something weighted at Boss is a big deal. Boss Weight Mantles are not mechanically unbeatable, even by single characters. They largely exist to provide tough fights for large crowds at important moments in TPs and more authentic escalation.
Enhancement: Player character Mantles can also benefit from Enhancement bonuses. Through creating roleplay and pursuing character growth, a player can increase the Enhancement Level of their characters, usually representing that the character's power has grown or evolved to a new stage or height. Each level of Enhancement allows a player to emphasize one of five particular traits of their character: Power, Endurance, Precision, Mitigation, or Drive. Once Enhanced, a trait attains a + status, and cannot be Enhanced again. An Enhanced trait provides a small, permanent boost in combat from then on. The maximum level of Enhancement for any character is +5. Enhancement level is visible to other players; which traits have been Enhanced are not, but are easily recognized in combat.
- Power+: Your attacks have a 25% chance to increase their damage dealt by a Standard amount.
- Precision+: A result of Solid Hit on your attack has a 20% chance of becoming a Critical Hit.
- Endurance+: Incoming attacks have a 25% chance to decrease their damage dealt by a Standard amount.
- Mitigation+: A result of Close Call on incoming attacks has a 15% chance of becoming a Miss.
- Drive+: You passively gain 2 more Drive each round.
On Balance, Power, and Matchups
The AGE system is designed with a very high degree of modularity to allow it to be tailored to the audience of an individual MUSH. As far as MCM goes, we've started on the side closer to fair arbitration, as opposed to immediately pursuing a full tabletop/video game system. That means MCM's combat system is heavily tailored to prevent the existence of gimped or overpowered characters, and to prevent players from jobbing accidentally or cheesing out wins, by their OoC mastery of said system. This is intended to minimize the amount of mechanical learning necessary to engage with the community, to establish firm and consistent ballparks for various character concepts, and to allow combat to play out in a low-stress way, rather than be a zero-sum fun mechanic. We've sunk a great deal of effort into cleaning the system of trap choices and secret options that can break a character, and are committed to maintaining the moving parts of the csys as items that don't require spreadsheets to use correctly.
That said, in order to allow for our csys to retain breadth and depth of choice in building characters and in play, our csys is designed with a minimum expectation of common sense when it comes to choices. If a character has rock bottom accuracy, we expect our players are smart enough not to stock up on Quirks that require accurate hits to be useful. Likewise, if a player is sitting at 1 HP and has piles of attack resources, we assume they know better than to throw out their puniest attack for their last ditch effort. The general rule is that if something explicitly says exactly how it works, it is presented as "use at discretion". If an expensive ability says it doubles damage, and you spend it to double your weakest attack, we can't help you.
Overall, MCM does not subscribe to the idea that automatic win/loss should exist between players. All factors being normal, the majority of battles are expected to resolve roughly around a 40% to 60% win chance, and even fairly extreme gaps in power are intended not to reach 90%/10%. The choice not to display a total power level on characters is intentional, as we much prefer that people simply play with each other rather than compare odds, and our csys is designed to make ordinary fights fairly fast and casual.
Core Concepts of Combat
Adjectives: In lieu of filling space with reams of numbers and math equations, AGE uses a ladder of Adjectives to indicate bonuses, maluses, and most things that affect stats and mechanical resolution. Adjectives feature most prominently in Archetype and Quirk selection, but appear in core combat facets too. Though these terms don’t feature precise numbers, they are universally consistent with each other. A Minor bonus is always the same amount of bonus, it has the exact same relative impact as a Minor malus, and both have exactly the same less impact than a Moderate bonus or malus.
The ladder of Adjectives, from least to greatest impact, goes:
Certain effects cannot be quantified in their impact by static and universal means. Instead, they use a second track of Adjectives that denote tight ranges of relative effect. This ladder goes:
Resources: There are three resources that are tracked during a battle. HP, Drive, and Hype. These are universal across all characters and Mantles, and are the most important parts of combat.
- HP: Hit Points. Players of video and tabletop games should be familiar with these. If your HP are reduced to zero, you lose. If your opponent's HP is reduced to zero, you win. Characters have a default pool of 1000 HP under normal circumstances, though this may be raised or lowered by their choice of Archetype and Quirks. Unlike many games, HP on MCM does not correspond strictly to character injury. While we expect all characters to face a reasonable degree of harm in combat, hitting 0 HP does not equate to total incapacitation under normal circumstances, but rather the point at which the character ceases fighting due to being a sane actor who isn't eager to be severely wounded or killed over day to day skirmishes. The amount of HP you have left when you finish a fight factors into Consequences, which are detailed later. HP is visible to other players as a percentage of your maximum.
- Drive: Drive represents a universal concept of attacking resources, whether it be a character's physical stamina, magical reserves, ammunition and gear, tactical positioning, or any combination of elements that suits them. Drive is spent to launch attacks. Retaining high levels of Drive provides passive bonuses, while scraping low levels of Drive begins to penalize the character. Bottoming out on Drive is a loss condition, as the character has spent all their resources and can no longer continue fighting. Characters have a default maximum of 100 Drive, and begin with 70, which is broken up into thresholds.
- 100-81: Primed The character gains a Moderate bonus to Mitigation and Endurance.
- 80-56: Ready The character gains no bonus and suffers no penalty.
- 55-21: Lagging The character suffers a Minor penalty to all stats.
- 20-1: Overextended The character suffers a Solid penalty to all stats.
- <1: Wavering As Overextended, and the character loses 20% of their max HP after each attack.
- -25: Spent The character loses all remaining HP. Their attack aborts, and the character is defeated.
By default, characters recover 5 Drive each time they defend, meaning that Drive constantly refreshes throughout the fight. Managing Drive can be as technical or simple as the player pleases, however it should be understood that it is undesirable to drop to the Overextended tier or below unless you have a plan that justifies the very large penalties. It should also be understood that certain sources of Drive can temporarily push total Drive over the 100 cap, but the next time the character gains Drive, it will be reduced back down to 100 if still over, and so staying over cap is not possible. Drive thresholds are visible to other players.
- Hype: Hype is the resource used to use Pushes --unique actions that modify attacks and defenses, and apply special effects. Pushes consume Hype when used, so Hype can be considered a sort of “special bar” or “super meter” in video game terms. By default, a character regains 2 Hype each time they defend, after the attack is resolved. By default, characters have a maximum Hype of 10. Hype is invisible to other players.
Attacking: Players take turns attacking each other with the +attack command, formatted as +attack <target>=<#>/<Type>:<Description or Title> Attacks come in five levels, which cost different amounts of Drive, and deal correspondingly more damage.
- 1/Light: -5 The character regains 5 Drive.
- 2/Standard: 10 The character loses 10 Drive.
- 3/Heavy: 25 The character loses 25 Drive.
- 4/Massive: 45 The character loses 45 Drive.
- 5/Finishing: 65 The character loses 65 Drive.
Bonuses and penalties from Drive only change after the attack has resolved. In addition to the attack's level, each attack is given a type: Forceful, Consistent, Efficient, or Dramatic.
- Forceful: The attack gains a Moderate bonus to Power.
- Consistent: The attack gains a Moderate bonus to Precision.
- Efficient: The attack costs X less Drive, where X is the level of the attack.
- Dramatic: The attack has a level-based chance to generate Hype.
- 1: 0-1 Hype
- 2: 1-2 Hype, leaning on 1
- 3: 1-2 Hype, leaning on 2
- 4: 2-3 Hype
- 5: 3-4 Hype
The general rule is that level 1, 2, and 3 attacks can be used interchangeably, balancing dealing damage quickly with not falling into low Drive levels. Level 4 and 5 attacks however, represent very large investments of Drive, and have an element of risk/reward to them. Casually spamming them will result in having a bad day.
Defending: When a player is attacked, they must choose a defensive action to use, whereupon the attack is resolved. This is accomplished with the +defend command, formatted as +defend target=type. The types of defense are: Guard, Maneuver, Focus, Bolster, and Rally.
- Guard: The defense gains a Moderate bonus to Endurance against the attack.
- Maneuver: The defense gains a Moderate bonus to Mitigation against the attack.
- Focus: Your next attack gains a Moderate bonus to Precision.
- Bolster: Your next attack gains a Moderate bonus to Power.
- Rally: The defense takes a Minor penalty to Endurance and Mitigation against the attack, but you gain 5 Drive.
After each defense, the defender regains Drive and Hype at their passive rate, up to their maximum. Attack/defense resolution is considered the start of a "new turn" overall. The first defender of a battle gains 25 bonus Drive to counterbalance being attacked first. This specific bonus Drive may push them over their Drive cap.
Pushes: Pushes are various action modifiers and special moves that can be activated by spending Hype. They encompass effects such as buffs, debuffs, Hype gain and drain, healing, damage reduction, super attacks, etc. Any Push can be activated at any time, including right before an attack or defense. When you do so, the opponent is notified that you have used a Push, but not which one. The command +push/list displays the complete list of Pushes, their effects, and their associated Hype cost. To activate one, the command is +push <name>/<cost>, sometimes followed with =<option> in the case of Buff and Debuff.
It should be mentioned that Pushes are largely self-balancing; unless they clearly state otherwise, they result in proportionally higher gains when used with lower level attacks, and proportionally lower gains when used with higher level attacks. This is to allow people to spend Hype freely and use Pushes when dramatically appropriate,rather than being required to hoard it to spend optimally.
Support Actions: Some Archetypes have the ability to support and empower teammates in battle. These Archetypes have access to the +support command, which makes an ally the recipient of that Archetype's special support action benefits. If no target is selected, the benefits of +support are applied to your own character until one is. Once a target is set, it cannot be changed until the battle is finished. This is the mechanical compromise that allows support characters to exist without any special rules regarding who they're allowed to support and when.
Consequences: When finishing a battle below a certain threshold of HP, a character receives a lasting malus to their combat performance called a Consequence. Consequences represent that the character has taken a degree of damage that they won't immediately walk off, and are the only real way in which MCM tracks and enforces healing/repair time. Consequences come in three severities:
- Mild: When finishing a battle below 35% HP. Automatically applied when Playing for Keeps. Reduces maximum HP to 90%.
The character has one or more minor but non-superficial injuries, resulting in some degree of pain, exhaustion, weakness, or impaired mobility, which hampers them somewhat in combat. These will typically heal on their own even without medical attention.
- Moderate: When finishing a battle below 50% HP while Playing for Keeps. Reduces maximum HP to 75%.
The character has suffered serious but non-life threatening injuries, which necessitate some medical attention. Broken bones, severe blood loss, damaged muscles, or other heavily impairing injuries are to be expected. The character should try to avoid serious fighting.
- Severe: When finishing a battle below 25% HP while playing for Keeps. Reduces maximum HP to 60%. Prohibits the use of +keeps.
The character has sustained extensive or critical injuries that put them at serious risk and will require prolonged attention to see repaired. The character has likely suffered injuries that came close to killing them, and can expect to probably lose in any real fight until they get better.
Consequences decrease in severity and disappear over time, both with the passage of real time, and by completing scenes. Continuing to RP is the fastest way to clear up a Consequence, because when a character gets into a big fight and takes some heavy hits to show for it, going out into the MUSH and actually playing the result is preferable in every way to not playing them at all until they fully heal, so we reward the former. As a general note, scenes only count towards Consequence timers once they have been closed, so if you're chronically terrible at remembering to hit +scene/finish, improve that habit! Each scene that starts and concludes while a character has a Consequence counts as 1 week of time for the purpose of clearing the Consequence. i.e. Two weeks of real time + two scenes = four weeks of Consequence reduction.
- Mild: Expires after 1 week/scene.
- Moderate: Downgrades to Mild after 3 weeks/scenes.
- Severe: Downgrades to Moderate after 6 weeks/scenes.
Taking further Consequences does not increase their severity, it only refreshes the timer of the existing one.
Playing for Keeps
In most battles, the characters participating will inevitably have a mutually exclusive goal which they've come into conflict over, but not be so invested in that they're willing to die or be seriously wounded for it. No sensible actor, real or fictional, voluntarily fights to the death over anything of less than critical importance or value, and even in the combat-heavy lives of most player characters, these kinds of battles are likely to be in the minority. MCM assumes that as a general rule, player characters fight with self-preservation mind, and will concede the objective when they are persuasively injured. For those exceptional circumstances in which this isn't the case, the player has the option of Playing for Keeps.
Playing for Keeps is activated by the +keeps command, which comes with a <Reason> field, because each time it is activated, the use of +keeps is logged alongside the pressing reason the character had for doing so. When this command is activated, it indicates that a serious tone shift has occurred, and that a player character is no longer fighting an ordinary conflict, but is so invested that they're willing to put everything on the line to win. Different characters will inevitably have different reasons for getting this serious. Some might only Play for Keeps when the lives of their friends or threatened, where others might do so simply out of sheer unthinking fury, and others might do so for a grave insult to their pride or honor. Whatever the case, staff keeps track of this fairly powerful tool to make sure it's being used appropriately, rather than "because the other guy did" or "I just wanted to win". The <Reason> field is visible to staff and logged for this reason; it should be used to clearly communicate the circumstances around Playing for Keeps such that the rationale is obvious. Jokes, memes, references, attack names, five word +summaries etc. do not constitute reasons, and so then have to be looked into by staff.
When +keeps is activated, the character who is now Playing for Keeps receives an immediate boost to all their combat stats, and visibly increases one Weight class, for the entire length of the battle. If +keeps is activated partway into a battle, they gain a boost to their next attack and defense proportionate to how many turns the battle has already progressed, so as to enable dramatic triggers to happen in battle without wasting most of the command. Pressing +keeps is a considerable advantage, and will either significantly tilt a battle in a character's favour, or significantly even out one slanted against them. In exchange for this temporary surge in fighting ability, the character opens themselves up to much more grievous injury, by going past their ordinary limits and prioritizing victory over their safety, reflected in the Consequences system.
It should be noted that this boost in power is not absolute, and users should be warned that it is still entirely possible to lose after hitting +keeps. The tool doesn't exist as a win button with drawbacks, but a way to have some control over the narrative of their character, to pick out and underscore pivotal moments, and to have some extra say in the outcome of a battle with important ramifications. So long as there is a solid reason for a character to Play for Keeps, any mechanism by which they do so is up to the player. Whether it's a dramatic transformation or simply trying their absolute hardest, all player characters can Play for Keeps. Public Mantles do not have access to this command.
Fighting Multiple Opponents
Frequently, a character may end up in a situation where they are outnumbered by their foes, either because a squad of PCs is responding to an action they've undertaken, or because the sides of a team conflict are mismatched and someone will end up taking on multiple opponents. The combat system has special functions for these scenarios, as otherwise the outnumbered character would very quickly run out of Drive, and have their HP obliterated by multiple attack per round. The combat system's functions for fighting multiple opponents are broadly and colloquially referred to as "boss" functions, or "bossing", though they may be used equally well in fringe scenarios, such as a round in which a character suddenly engages or is engaged by a second enemy, or a hypothetical free for all where each side is attacking each other side. In all cases however, for all the tools available to the player to function at their full intended capacity, the bossing player should launch all of their attacks on their turn, and wait for all of their opponents to launch all of their attacks before attacking back. There is no need to strictly order who is attacked or defended against first, but it should be understood that fighting many small individual battles at once can be difficult and hard to keep track of for a boss player.
When fighting multiple opponents, a player uses either the +boss or +scale command, each defined by the number of opponents after. e.x. +scale 3 to fight 3 opponents simultaneously. These commands multiply the character's HP, Drive, and Hype bars to correctly handle the extra opponents they're fighting, and inform certain Archetypes and Quirks to expand on their behavior to be equally useful against multiple enemies. Archetypes and Quirks expanded by +boss or +scale are usually those that provide a one-time benefit or static starting bonus, which would diminish in usefulness against more than one opponent, so it's important not to undershoot how many people you're actually fighting. +boss and +scale function similarly; each level of +scale will increase the character's maximum and current HP, Drive, and Hype parameters by 100%, giving them twice the resources vs 2 players, thrice the resources vs 3 players, et cetera. +boss gives half as much HP, but compensates by buffing the user's attack and defense, which helps contribute to fights wrapping up in a timely fashion vs large crowds. +boss also takes an argument of +boss/casual, +boss/normal, and +boss/serious. If no argument is entered, +boss/normal is the default. These adjust the attack and defense gains the user receives, allowing them to fine tune the experience they're looking to provide.
Boss Situations: In general, a player should use +boss/casual for situations in which there are no real stakes, such as casual sparring, or no reason the boss should win, such as run of the mill PvE encounters. +boss/normal should be used in most situations in which a PC bosses vs other PCs, and important PvE boss encounters that should realistically take some players out. +boss/serious should be reserved for when a PC is bossing with something fairly significant riding on the outcome, such as a branching path in a plot, or for rare PvE fights wherein it's expected that the boss enemy may actually win, and the plot can continue in a way that is different and still enjoyable if it did. +boss commands go a little ways towards respecting numerical superiority, in that 10 players all fighting a single boss have somewhat better of a chance of winning than 2 players. +scale does not respect numerical differences, and provides no buffs, as it is meant to be a direct 1:1 substitute for a 1vs1 situation, retaining the same win/loss odds as if the character weren't outnumbered, thus +scale should be reserved for PvP situations which require perfectly fair arbitration, or else where it would be unreasonable to expect a character to be at any kind of disadvantage due to turnout. +boss is the favored day to day command.
Boss Usage: Due to the amount of resources that a boss can accumulate from being attacked by so many players, some attention should be paid to the state of the enemies lined up against them, and how those resources are allocated. Though the combat system is technically balanced such that if the boss were to expend all their resources on targeting individual PCs until KO, their odds of winning wouldn't go up, intentionally focusing on eliminating specific players one at a time should be considered playing in ill faith, as all this accomplishes is forcing certain people out of the fight after getting to play very little. It's entirely fine if some PCs are KOed before others, or not at all, and this is in fact an expected outcome, but in the spirit of everyone having fun, spreading resources such that relatively unscathed players face heavier attacks more often than badly weakened players is just good sense. It's natural for a boss to escalate faster and hit harder against a PC already doing so, plausible that a PC with dramatically higher power (or better luck) than the rest of their party might stay ahead, and unavoidable that a glass cannon might disappear a round or two before a dedicated tank, but roughly even damage and exhaustion within the larger party is the platonic ideal of a boss encounter.
Importantly, +boss and +scale can be adjusted downward as well as upward, without resetting, and will preserve the percentage of damage taken and resources gained or spent when doing so. If a PC has to leave the scene for some reason, or can no longer contribute, the number of opponents assigned to +boss or +scale should be adjusted down. If a PC is simply KOed, there is no need to do so(though, no restriction against it). Undershooting the number of players to try and make for an easier fight is an unnecessary kludge, and +boss/casual and use of +sell and/or +hardsell do the job better and without complications. Overshooting the number of players to make a fight artificially harder will be squinted at very seriously, and all but definitely involve disciplinary measures if used to gain an edge in a PvP fight.
Applying and Upgrades
For characters existing before the implementation of the AGE combat system, please use this form to update from your Unshaped Mantle to a personalized Character Mantle.
When characters are initially approved for play, a large part of their combat toolset is set by staff, partly to the player's specifications, and partly as staff can best judge from the information the player gives us that informs us of the character and contextualizes their role in combat narrative. These aspects set at chargen are relatively set, and expected not to change unless the character as a concept is changed in a very significant way. Anakin Skywalker's fall to the Dark Side and becoming Darth Vader, Magus relinquishing his crusade and joining the side of the heroes, Krillin gaining power from the Dragon Balls, learning techniques like the Kaioken, and becoming part of the main crew; these are examples of character-defining changes that are hashed out with staff, universally as a result of substantial RP arcs, and altered on the back end.
In most cases, a character increasing in power, experience, and ability, is an incremental process. They acquire legendary weapons, learn secret techniques, undergo intense special training, and similar things. All player characters have universal access to the Enhancement system, which exists to allow players to pursue and acquire this kind of power growth within the mechanical realm of the combat system. In some circumstances, staff or facheads may actually suggest player characters to be put up for Enhancement (and notify the player), but in the vast majority of instances, Enhancement Levels are applied for, so the player knows exactly what they're asking for, exactly what they're getting, and can have a clean yes or no.
The application for Enhancement Levels or other upgrades is here: Enhancement Application
Enhancement Criteria: MCM's standards for Enhancement approval can't help but be somewhat subjective, since there are countless kinds of RP that could merit or justify them. As a hard and fast statement however, Enhancements are not participation awards. They aren't given "for going to stuff and being around a while", but are a progress track and grippable, attainable goal that exists for the enjoyment and satisfaction of players who want to go for them. There is an expectation of credible and sustained effort before Enhancements are approved, and it should not be taken personally if staff says "Put in a little more work first". A character's first Enhancement will involve a moderate amount of effort, but each successive Enhancement Level requires more work to achieve.
Though the most typical case for gaining an Enhancement Level is a character concretely and demonstrably increasing their combat ability in some way due to RP, the only RP that is a valid towards an Enhancement is RP that gives to the community, rather than RP takes or passively absorbs. Our desire is that players who wish to have their characters grow in strength over time do so by creating content for other players to invest in and enjoy, rather than simply pilfering loot from scenes or just training off screen. This results both in a net gain in RP, and a tangible way for other characters to get involved, leading to a greater degree of communal validation and legitimacy to a character's growth, rather than nobody having any reason to care while they power up in a corner. This kind of content creation can come in many forms, such as running a plot, GMing scenes, taking a lead position as a co-runner or director of events, or playing an active catalyzing role that creates scenes which the character is the primary architect or driver of. It is sometimes possible for more than one player to claim credit for content that is a clear joint effort, and it is always acceptable for a player to claim credit for scenes they created and ran, but which their character was not featured in, as otherwise prolific plot runners would rarely get the chance, due to their lessened time to play their own characters.
In general though, Enhancement Level is of fairly mild significance, to be considered a luxury rather than a necessity to make a character a credible combatant, or capable of elevating characters to whole new tiers of power. Because Enhancement Levels don't have a large impact on a character, we consider upgrades of this kind to be milestones that are there for the enjoyment of building towards and achieving them, and not something anyone needs to stay competitive and have fair odds. We prefer to maintain the integrity of effort and reward for the sake of fun in pursuing them, rather than consider external factors.
Stance on Combat RP
Lethality and Sell: As far as MUSHes go, MCM's csys presumes that damage and injury to player characters is handled with a certain degree of cinematic frequency and logic, and that all PCs are able to access Multiversal healing and repair some way or another. We also presume that any sane and rational character isn't eager to have their guts spilled over the pavement to get a granny's purse back from an alley robber, and have some basic concept of self-preservation. Because of this, we don't assign a strict or particular value or correlation to HP, nor do we strictly demand that players portray damage to their characters in a highly regulated way. Our default tone for combat can roughly be considered "pulp action", so players have some liberty deciding how gritty or how Star Wars they want their fights to be.
In typical, day to day skirmishes, the ground assumption is that characters will fight until they have a convincing enough reason not to. This most commonly takes the form of hitting 0 HP and picking up a Mild Consequence, which is where real people usually look to get out of a fight they're not highly invested in, but can also be due to the circumstances they're fighting over having changed, one or both characters withdrawing before any decisive blow happens, or players simply running out of time. Whatever the reason, the presumed state of affairs is that combat ends with one side conceding the goal and breaking off to fight another day, as most properties go when they have a limited cast of core characters expected to fight many times, and indeed as most real life battles go. Playing for Keeps is the exception to this, as hitting +keeps indicates a tone shift from an episodic skirmish to a serious moment where the character is putting their life on the line. Hitting 0 HP while Playing for Keeps indicates being physically unable to fight any longer, and in real (albeit hypothetical) danger of being killed.
The one big demand we have in how players treat the combat system, is that when they take Consequences, they own them and play to them. If your character takes a Consequence, they were meaningfully injured in some way, and not only is that not up for argument, it is mechanically incarnated. Rather than demanding our players be ultra serious and measure their combat sell turn by turn, have their characters mangled half to death by every attack to properly respect how big a deal other characters are, or enforce a codified set of healing downtime in which a character can't be played, we can afford to allow people to have ownership of how they want to portray their characters in combat, and we can incorporate the idea of a "casual fight", by boiling the hurt that matters down to Consequences. Be good with them. Engage with them in good faith, and treat them with some respect. Consequences are the evidence that a fight happened between two characters (at least more than a quick exchange of blows), and playing one out is a great way to legitimize the RP that happened. If players can do that, then we need ask nothing further of them, and combat shouldn't be a stressful exercise.
Team Fights: It is far from uncommon for fights to break out between numerous player characters in the same scene, arranged in two or more groups. The much preferred way to handle this is by pairing off into one on one battles that can happen simultaneously; at the moment, the tools for handling multiple vs one are still in the works. When team battles arise, people should prioritize choosing matchups they think would be interesting and fun. Where fairness is a strong concern, matchups can be judged "close enough" by letting characters of a lower Weight class, Enhancement level, and significantly base lesser stat adjectives (shared at player discretion) take first picks.
Dummy Testing: Because MCM's csys is effectively the foundational installation of the AGE system, and its tech is intended to be partly reusable by other combat systems, we simply can't have players sitting around with spreadsheets and whiteboards trying to reverse engineer its nuts and bolts. The combat system is already pulling off fifteen layers of black magic behind the scenes to ensure that it is tightly balanced regardless of advanced game knowledge, so not only is attempting reverse engineering incredibly unlikely to go very far, it also yields no significant benefit for doing so. We prohibit intensive testing of the system not so we can protect a pot of secret gold at the end of a mathematical rainbow, but because it infringes on the freedom of future installations of AGE on sister MUSHes to construct their combat systems in a sterile environment and in a way they like, and is generally a huge waste of people's time besides.
That means we do not allow players conducting coded battles between their own alts, sitting in rooms bashing on public Mantles as dummy targets, pairing up with a friend to fiddle with stats and weights, or other applications of the csys that have nothing to do with RP. There's no reason for it to be used outside of an actual scene where a fight is happening, period. This is really easy for us to notice with our back end tools and will be considered extreme ill-faith interaction with system, and concerning not just MCM. This is something we will punish.
Alchemists: The mechanical minutiae of the combat system are boiled down to a simplified user end experience for a few reasons. One primary amongst them is to lower the barrier to entry for players who aren't big into tactical systems as hobbyists, and to generally provide an intuitive "what you see is what you get" handle on its interactions. That means that trying to sell claims of secret insight into the system or special patented mastery over its mechanics, is behaviour antithetical to the environment we want to foster. Peddling a mythical guru status with all the associated tips and exploits and pro strats accomplishes nothing but making other players doubt their grasp of a fundamentally simple system and encouraging/spreading a perception of hierarchical system mastery. Helping people out and giving advice is perfectly fine, especially when asked for, but we want to pre-empt the eventuality of combat system being misrepresented as rocket science to the detriment of the enjoyment of other players.
Long Memory: The way that MCM incorporates power divide between characters in combat is intentionally in the realm of fighting games and ensemble comics, wherein characters of ostensibly vastly different capabilities come together in some roughly balanced whole where everyone is relevant to some degree. This absolutely means that it is possible for Krillin to defeat Cell/for Peter Quill to take down Thanos/etc. with only some pretty good luck, and this further means that fights between more evenly matched characters are going to be even less predictable. Nobody should win all their fights all the time. Nobody should lose fights to the same person over and over forever.
This is something that should be understood and internalized by players in regards to combat RP as a culture, because it indicates how MCM is intentionally set up to avoid a calcified pecking order of combat power. No matter the character, who won or lost a fight is a fact that is ultimately transient. It is meaningful in the short term, but soon enough it confronts the reality that the loser still has the same solid shot of being the winner the next time they meet. There is a known behaviour when it comes to combat RP in many places, for players to hold these things in long memory and milk a victory or rub a loss in someone's face for months or years, often because one win or loss can be indicative of a character's overall chances on some roleplays. This is absolutely not the case on MCM, and so we discourage this kind of thing not only on the grounds of it annoying people and making ordinary fights carry enormous social pressure, but also because it will quite frankly bite you in the ass when they take another swing at you and get a couple of good rolls. Once a fight is a little ways in the past, it should stay in the past. Defining a reputation by a couple of cherry picked wins or losses is poor interaction that discourages people from trying their hand, makes people feel like they're gambling their career on every casual clash, and also just doesn't really work very well with our narrowly banded power scale.
Lists all available Mantles.
+mantle/claim <Name or ID>
Copies a Mantle to your personal list.
+mantle/release <Name or ID>
Removes a Mantle from your personal list.
Shows all Mantles on your personal list.
- <#> is the number shown next to the Mantles on your list.
Loads the targeted Mantle. Will be initialized and loaded when you use +reset.
Resets your HP, Drive, and Hype to their starting values. Clears all status effects. Applies any Consequences you may have incurred.
Gives a quick summary of combatants in the room. Shows Archetype, Weight class, and Enhancement level, as well as Drive Threshold and current HP as a percentage of max. It also shows Consequences, if any are currently applied.
Gives a detailed view of your currently initialized Mantle. Shows HP and its current percent, Drive and its threshold, Hype, Quirks, Stats, Archetype, Weight Class, Enhancement level, and Enhancement Stars, as well as any Consequences you may be under.
<Target> is the name of the opponent. Defaults to user if left blank.
Shows all status effects applied to the target and their number of remaining turns. When used on yourself, it also shows HP, Drive and its threshold, and Hype.
- <Quirk> references the name of the selected Quirk.
Used for setting Quirks. Only works for player character Mantles. Does not work during a battle.
- <Quirk> references the name of the selected Quirk.
Used for removing Quirks. Only works for player character Mantles. Does not work during a battle.
Removes all currently equipped Quirks. Only works for player character Mantles. Does not work during a battle.
- <Signature> references the name of the selected Signature.
- +meister/set <Signature> may be used instead for the Meister Archetype's second Signature.
Used for setting a Signature. Only works for player character Mantles. Does not work during a battle.
- <Signature> references the name of the selected Signature.
- +meister/wipe <Signature> may be used instead for the Meister Archetype's second Signature.
Used for clearing a Signatures. Only works for player character Mantles. Does not work during a battle.
- +meister may be used instead for the Meister Archetype's second Signature.
Causes the currently equipped Signature to activate.
+attack <Target>=<#>/<Type>:<Description or Title>
- <Target> is the name of the opponent you are attacking.
- <#> is the attack level, either 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5.
- <Type> must be either Forceful, Consistent, Efficient, or Dramatic. F, C, E, and D work.
- <Description or Title> is free text space to add whatever name or description to the attack you wish. Optional field. Accepts ANSI.
Attacks an opponent. Costs are deducted. Your turn "ends" when the attack is resolved.
- <Target> is the name of the opponent who is attacking you.
- <Type> must be either Guard, Maneuver, Bolster, Focus, or Rally. G, M, B, F, and R work.
Defends against an incoming attack. The attack resolves at this step. Your turn "begins" when the attack is resolved.
- <Target> is the name of the ally you wish to support.
Applies your Support action to a targeted ally. Once you choose a target, it cannot be switched until the battle concludes.
Undoes your currently pending action and resets your status to the beginning of your turn. Cannot be used after an attack has already resolved. Otherwise, all of your resources and switches will return to how they were when your turn started. Does not undo +keeps.
Lists all available Pushes.
- <Name> is the name of the Push from the list.
- <Cost> is the Hype cost on the list. This specifies which level of the Push you're using.
Activates a Push. This can be done at any time, including right before an attack or defense.
- <Option> must be Power, Precision, Endurance, or Mitigation.
Applies to Buff and Debuff.
- <Reason> must be filled in with the circumstances surrounding the use of the +keeps command. Use of +keeps is logged with its attached reason.
Activates "Playing for Keeps". Your Weight class increases by one step, and it becomes possible to suffer Moderate and Severe Consequences. If +keeps is used partway through a battle, you gain a bonus to your next attack and defense to make up for lost turns.
- <Severity> must be Mild, Moderate, or Severe.
Automatically applies the chosen level of Consequence to yourself when the current scene closes. Has no other mechanical interaction. This is just a tool to use to underscore a dramatic moment or intense fight in non-coded RP for the fun of it, or possibly to show a scenerunner that you mean business with your pose.
Applies a slight penalty to your combat stats overall. Stacks with +pull.
Lowers your Weight class by one step. Has no effect for Lightweights.
Lowers your defense against the next attack used on you, or lowers your attack on the next attack you use, whichever comes first.
As +sell, but with a much stronger penalty. Does not stack.
- <Strength> must be Casual, Normal, or Serious.
- <#> is the number of opponents you intend to fight at once.
Multiplies your maximum and current HP by 50% per extra opponent, and your maximum and current Drive and Hype by 100% per extra opponent. Increases your attack and defense based on the number of players, and by the level of strength selected. If # is set lower than its current value, these values will be reduced proportionally.
- <#> is the number of opponents you intend to fight at once.
Multiplies your maximum and current HP, Drive, and Hype by 100% per extra opponent. If # is set lower than its current value, these values will be reduced proportionally.