AGE and Mantles
MCM's combat system (referred to as csys for short) uses the AGE 2.0 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 2.0 and its various java-based functionalities. The most core concept to the AGE system that is necessary to understand is the "Mantle" paradigm, explained as follows.
A "Mantle" is a single, full, cohesive package of combat statistics and abilities that contains all the necessary parts to be thrown into the combat system and run a fight, roughly analogous to a "stat block", "combat sheet", or "loadout". Mantles individually contain everything a player needs to interact with the csys, and as per their namesake, can be donned, removed, and exchanged, to allow for a player to represent entities other than their own character in combat, primarily for the use of scene and plot runners.
All character bits have a private player character Mantle which represents the character itself, which is applied for inside of the character application. Mario wears the Mantle of Mario, Cloud Strife wears the Mantle of Cloud Strife, etc. This Mantle is effectively their personal combat sheet, and is already made to be customized and 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. These Mantles are impermanent and "owned" by the system itself.
A character comes with their personal Mantle when they are first created, always accessible with >armory/load 0000. When you feel the need to try on another, use >armory to see a list of all available Mantles. From there, use >armory/mantle <List #>/<Mantle #> to load one from the chosen list. The next time you ready for combat, you will don the selected Mantle. Using the >reset command will initialize the Mantle you currently have claimed. Many of these public Mantles have the unlisted Quirk "Encounter" equipped, at I, II, or III. This Quirk totals up all the damage dealt to a character during their defense round, and deals 10%/20%/30% of that damage again. These Quirks exist to speed up players vs NPC battles against foes of lesser consequence.
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, primarily 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 the Mantle of a character or entity are their Archetype, their Quirks, their Signature, their Stats, their Weight class, and if they are a Player Character, their Assist and any Enhancement bonuses they may have. These elements together comprise a character's full combat ability, and most heavily influence how they will play in combat. All of these elements can be viewed by using the >sheet command. An example has been inserted and labeled above.
1: 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, a player character's Archetype may be changed by the player only on a cooldown. Archetypes are visible to other players.
2: Quirks: A Mantle may have up to three different Quirks assigned to it at any given time. Quirks are smaller packages, or individual instances, of abilities and bonuses, which are added on top of the Archetype. Some Archetypes are able to additionally equip a single Prime Quirk, which is a more powerful type of Quirk with particular limitations. Quirks may be changed at any time by the Mantle owner until a battle has begun, taking effect when they next >reset, without an application or any special rules, meaning that players are free to use them to customize their character as they wish. Quirks are a core tool by which players are able to put their character's own unique stamp on their Archetype, prepare to fight other Archetypes they might have a tough time with, or explore different playstyles and put original twists on existing ones. Quirks are invisible to other players.
3: Signature: A 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 almost always announce themselves in combat.
4: 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 to reduce their exposure to damage. Stats are visible as a collection of descriptive tiers: Abysmal, Poor, Mediocre, Average, Decent, Good, Remarkable, Great, Superb, Excellent, Incredible, and Perfect. 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 usually 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. Selecting various Archetypes will automatically readjust the distribution of a character's stat pool within certain bounds to fit the Archetype, which can some adjectives to visibly increase or decrease as individual stats shift over or under measuring lines. Typically "Incredible" and "Perfect" stats don't exist without an Archetype reallocation; most stats on most characters are within a step or two of "Decent". Stats are invisible to other players.
5: Weight: All characters also exist within one of several Weight classes. Weight doesn't correspond to any one specific function or bonus, but subtly 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. Boss Weight is essentially "intentionally overpowered", and it can be assumed that something weighted at Boss is a big deal. Though Boss Weight Mantles are theoretically beatable by sufficiently powerful and lucky characters with significant sacrifice, they mainly exist to be fought as tough fights for large crowds at important moments in TPs.
6: Assist: Player character Mantles come with an Assist, which is set and reset identically to an Archetype. The Assist only comes into play when the character is grouped up into a Party, whereupon the benefit of their Assist is applied to all other members of the Party. Assists are a potent force multiplier that allows for multiple PCs to overcome tough foes, take clean victories over middling NPC opposition, and even to go toe to toe with powerful boss enemies.
7: Enhancement Rating: 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. A character gains an Enhancement rating, ranging from +1 to +10, which serves as a total pool of maximum Enhancements they can equip at any one time. Enhancements themselves are equipped just as Quirks and Signatures are, and serve the purpose of small, incremental bonuses to give a character some further wiggle room in their build.
8: 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 1000 HP to start with, though this may be raised or lowered by many different factors. On MCM, Hit Points are not "Meat Points". Hitting zero HP doesn't mean the character is mortally wounded. Strictly, zero HP only means that the character has been roughed up enough to cede the fight; we assume no character is exactly eager to die in a skirmish over a bank heist. The amount of HP you have left when you finish a fight factors into Consequences, which are detailed later, but it should be said that any damage short of a Consequence threshold probably isn't anything more than superficial to the character (though what counts as "superficial" may vary). HP is visible to other players as a percentage of your maximum. Any HP the character has in excess of their maximum is burned after defending, converted to 1 cap-breaking Drive per 4 HP. In addition to a character's "raw" HP, some of their HP bar might be converted into other forms.
- Shield HP: Shield HP absorbs half the damage from all attacks, the remaining half going to the character's other HP (effects that adjust this rate prioritize the highest shield block). Shield HP automatically recharges all by itself, recovering by 20 points after each defense by default. When Shield HP is depleted to 0, the Shield breaks, and no longer recharges. When a character obtains Shield HP, it comes with a maximum their Shield can fill to. The deeper the Shield bar, the easier it is to keep Shields up for longer, and gain the most value out of its steady recharge. Shield HP in excess of a character's maximum Shield is burned after defending, converted to 1 cap-breaking Drive per 5 Shield HP, including passive recharge.
- Armor HP: Armor HP is much sturdier than normal HP, requiring two points of damage to deplete one point of Armor HP. Armor HP cannot be healed by conventional means, but it absorbs Peril HP damage, instead stripping down to normal HP. Gaining Armor HP is more expensive to obtain than greater max HP, but is much more effective in lowering damage below various thresholds. Armor HP in excess of a character's maximum HP is burned after defending, converting twice as much HP to Armor HP.
- Peril HP: Peril HP is much more fragile than normal HP; every one point of damage depletes two points of Peril HP. Peril HP bypasses Shield HP and strips Armor HP back to normal. However, any Peril HP left over from an attack is automatically recovered on the character's next turn. Inflicting Peril HP is a strong means of overcoming a powerful defense with a followup attack. If Peril HP is inflicted to a character with only Peril HP remaining, every two points of Peril damage depletes one Peril HP.
- Fade HP: Fade HP depletes on its own. A character's total Fade HP halves itself at the end of each of their turns. Fade HP bypasses Shield and Armor HP, but it sits at the bottom of a character's HP bar, and is only directly damaged once the character runs out of all other HP. Fade HP damage will cause the character to lose HP every turn regardless of the result of any further attacks, making it a valuable tool for winning difficult fights of attrition. If Fade HP is inflicted to a character with only Fade HP remaining, every two points of Fade damage depletes one Fade HP.
9: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 75, 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 is visible to other players.
10: Hype: Hype is the resource used to use 10a: Pushes --unique actions that modify attacks and defenses, and apply special effects. Pushes consume Hype, so Hype can be considered a sort of “special bar” or “super meter” in video game terms. Some Pushes consume their Hype and activate instantly, while others enter an activation queue to be triggered by an attack or defense, whereupon the total Hype of the queue is consumed. 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.
11: Unique Resources: Specialist and Savant Archetypes may have access to a unique, Archetype-specific resource that they manage in combat for additional flexibility and control. These displays appear only when the character has the corresponding Archetype equipped.
12: 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. If a bonus is applied unspecified to an attack or defense, it is split between the two relevant stats.
The ladder of Adjectives, from least to greatest impact, goes:
1: Attacking: Players take turns attacking each other with the >attack command, formatted as >attack <Target>=<Level#>/<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/Deadly: 45 The character loses 45 Drive.
- 5/Finishing: 60 The character loses 60 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 twice the level of the attack, but has a Minor penalty to a Precision and Power.
- 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 Light, Standard, and Heavy attacks can be used interchangeably, balancing dealing damage quickly with not falling into low Drive levels. Deadly and Finishing 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. Likewise, players should expect that most combat encounter will last 4-6 rounds, and that attempting to finish an opponent from half health is very likely to fail.
2: 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>:<Description or Title>. 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.
3: Resolution: The resolution of an attack and its paired defense is considered the end of the attacker's "turn" and the start of the defender's. The first defender of a battle gains 20 bonus Drive, and the first attacker of a battle gains 2 bonus Hype. This specific bonus may push them over their cap.
When an attack resolves, all characters in the room are able to see the actions chosen by both sides, any actively triggered effects that factored into it, the Hit Result, resources gained as part of the resolution, and the Heat of both the hit roll and the damage roll.
Hit Results range from Miss, which deals no damage and typically applies no effects, through Close Call, which deals a moderate portion of the attack's potential damage, Solid Hit, which deals most of the attack's potential damage, to Critical Hit, which deals the maximum amount of the attack's potential damage, though all damage is still mildly randomized. These grades are often referred to as Hit levels. The likelihood of any given result is influenced by the attacker's Precision vs the defender's Mitigation, but the result itself can be changed by a number of abilities. In terms of roleplay, these Hit levels don't strictly mean anything more than how relatively effective the attack was at pressuring or harming the character. A Critical Hit doesn't necessitate a character taking a bullet straight through the heart any more than a Close Call necessitates it grazing their cheek. Use common sense and taste.
"Heat" refers to the color that the Hit Result and damage value are displayed in. Heat ranges from cool, subdued colors at its lower, to hot, bold colors at its higher end. A lower Heat displayed on the Hit Result indicates the attack had a poor roll, while a higher Heat indicates the attack had a high roll. A lower Heat displayed as damage indicates that the attack did lower than expected damage for its level, and higher Heat displays that the attack did higher than expected damage for its level. The Heat display exists so that players are able judge at a glance how much of an offensive or defensive advantage either character has, both in terms of accuracy and power, when they feel it relevant.
Under perfectly average circumstances, the majority of Heat results will maintain a neutral yellow color, however expensive Pushes applied to low level attacks have a relatively more dramatic effect on Heat, and should be noted by players who prefer to pay close attention to Heat.
4: Pushes: Pushes are various action modifiers and special moves that can be activated by spending Hype. They encompass effects such as buffs, debuffs, Drive gain and drain, healing, damage reduction, super attacks, etc. Any Push can be activated at any time, including right before an attack or defense. Some Pushes have an instantaneous effect and kick in immediately, announcing their result. Most Pushes are instead loaded into a queue, where they will trigger once an attack/defense exchange is resolved. Queuing up more Pushes than you have Hype will result in Pushes at the end of the list failing to activate. Using these Pushes creates a visible notification, which will tell anyone in the room that you have used one, but most don't name the specific Push itself. This allows players to anticipate which attacks and defenses are the most heavily enhanced, without divulging all details. 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.
EX: 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. The Support target can be changed in battle, but cannot be changed a second time until the character has attacked and defended again; it isn't possible to cycle through every single character in a Party to give them all the benefit of a Support Action in the same turn.
Strain and Continuity
The natural expectation of MCM is that characters will, across their career, get into plenty of battles for all sorts of reasons, and that the vast majority of those situations will be of the tone that's most regularly seen in pulp, cape, shounen, and ensemble hero fiction; the kind wherein characters have come to blows over some conflict of interests or ideals, or some other immediate problem, but are looking to settle it without going all out and dying. Even when it comes to characters who spend most of their time fighting, we assume that they have a limited amount they're willing to risk or suffer based on how important something is, and so we overall expect that player characters generally aren't out there spilling their guts over the pavement for the sake of an old lady's purse. Because MCM's intended band of roleplay is that our characters have a sense of self-preservation and will normally concede an objective when they're persuasively beaten or cornered, however that looks to them, we commit to the standard that HP does not represent lethal physical trauma, otherwise known as "Hit Points are not meat points". Day to day battles should mostly result in PG-13 amounts of damage that don't require anything like extensive hospitalization, and we firmly encourage players to not oppressively turn their character into a blood puddle every time they go out, because of the unhealthy sense of obligation it creates.
Instead, MCM tracks the mid to long term consequences of combat with the Continuity Bar. Continuity is an abstract representation of how much the character is strained and whittled down by repeated tests to their plot armor and extreme extensions of their power. Damage to a character's Continuity can be considered an amalgamation of significant injuries, stress, exhaustion, depleted resources, and anything else that should slow them down. It's important to note that Continuity is all of these things at once, in whatever balance makes sense; character with a heavily depleted Continuity Bar cannot elect to have exclusively spent resources, for instance. Otherwise, we only expect that the degree to which the character is compromised should roughly match the depth of their Continuity loss.
By default, all characters have 30 points of Continuity, represented as a 10 point bar with 3 layers, starting green, then yellow, then orange. A character's Continuity is visible to everyone. As Continuity is lost, the character takes a stacking penalty each point missing, roughly equivalent to a Minor penalty to all stats for every 5 points of Continuity they drop below maximum. This penalty is applied and updated whenever a character >resets; losing Continuity in the middle of a fight doesn't update the penalty. Continuity is always lost in one of two ways: It is Strained, turning red on the Continuity bar, or it is Broken, and the point disappears from the bar entirely. Strained Continuity recovers at a rate of one point per three days of real time. Broken Continuity recovers at a rate of one point per finished scene the character participates in, with a minimum of a few poses. If the character's Continuity is only Strained and not Broken, a finished scene restores a point of Strained Continuity instead. Under ordinary circumstances, Continuity is only lost in the form of Strain, by dropping to 40% of the character's maximum HP, and for each 10% below, including negative HP. If the character has only Strained Continuity remaining however, any other source of Continuity Strain becomes Broken instead. If a character's entire Continuity bar is Broken, they're instantly defeated and can no longer fight at all.
For the most part, characters won't see their Continuity drop very far without engaging in a large number of strenuous battles over a short period of time. The primary use of Continuity is to be spent, via the use of >strain commands. These commands are a tool given to all player characters to decide when they want to deviate from MCM's default combat tone, and to escalate how hard their character is willing to fight. Using them incrementally increases a character's combat power, representing the benefits of the greater efforts they're making and the greater risks they're accepting, but comes with an equivalent cost to their Continuity bar as they strain for a more implausible outcome. In other words, MCM gives every player the ability to decide that their character's theme music is playing at any time, and impartially regulates it by how much Continuity they have to spend. Most fights just aren't the final boss of the entire arc or a character's heroic speech moment, but we let you decide when they are. Once a >strain command is activated, it cannot be turned off without a >reset. The commands are:
>strain/keeps switches a character to "Playing for Keeps" mode. It upgrades a character's Weight class by one step, slightly increases the random accuracy and damage of their attacks, and slightly decreases the random accuracy and damage of attacks against them. It provides a very substantial and visible power up, and traditionally represents when the character is ready to push themselves much further and accept much more bodily harm than usual. Playing for Keeps Breaks and Strains 1 point of Continuity for every 15% of your maximum HP you have remaining, plus 2. Fractional increments of 15 become an equivalent chance to lose that point of Continuity. Since Playing for Keeps gives large benefits every single turn, getting more turns of use has a higher cost. When you >reset, you get back 1 Strained and 1 Broken point of Continuity for each 15% of your maximum HP you still have, in the same way. When are KO'd while playing for Keeps, you incur 1 Strain and 1 Break.
>strain/stat <stat> empowers either Power, Precision, Mitigation, or Endurance for the rest of the fight. The chosen stat gains a Minor bonus, and an associated minor benefit: Power slightly increases the random damage of your attacks, Precision slightly increases the random accuracy of your attacks, Mitigation slightly decreases the random accuracy of attacks against you, and Endurance slightly decreases the random damage of attacks against you. Any stat strain Breaks 1 and Strains 2 Continuity. Upon >reset, another 1 Continuity is Broken and another 1 Continuity is Strained. Multiple stats can be strain-enhanced at once, but the same one cannot be strain-enhanced multiple times.
>strain/reinforce instantly Reinforces your Signature (as many times as you have opponents). This works identically in all respects to any other source of Reinforcement. You also gain an extremely small benefit to random accuracy and damage; this is a small bonus that mostly helps even out the utility of Reinforcing "honestly" and Reinforcing only right when you need to. You Break and Strain 3 points of Continuity for Reinforcing, and can only strain-Reinforce once per battle.
>strain/continue restores your HP and Drive at the cost of Continuity, which can revive you from a KO state. When used, 15 points of Continuity are Broken from the top of your bar, and converted to 20 HP and 1 Drive each. A Strained point of Continuity gives Peril HP. Being defeated by a very large amount of damage does mean that you gain less effective HP when Continuing, due to the greater resources expended to take you out. After Continuing, you also gain a very small random accuracy and damage bonus equivalent to strain-Reinforcing. If you have 15 or less Continuity remaining, this command Breaks only as many points as would leave you with 1 Continuity. When you >reset, every 40 points of HP you have remaining converts back to 1 Strained Continuity, up to a maximum of how much was originally Broken. It should be noted that Continuing is an inefficient use of Continuity. Using other >strain commands up front gives better returns for investment. This is to prevent "waiting to see if you lose and then hitting the Continue command" from being the best strategy.
Additionally, a character may voluntarily Strain or Break some of their own Continuity, using >continuity/<strain/break> <#>. This provides no mechanical benefit, but is useful to underscore a dramatic moment in RP and indicate that a character is willing to expend extra resources and suffer meaningful harm to achieve something. GMs and other players are naturally encouraged to respect voluntary strain, within the bounds of reason. A character's maximum Continuity may grow by one per point of total Enhancement that character has, represented as a partial blue layer on top of their green layer. This extra Continuity has no special benefits; the character is still penalized for losing it, and requires the same amount of time and scenes to get it back. Finally, because Continuity is publicly visible, it is acceptable for characters to be able to recognize that another character in the scene is not at the top of their game, and act accordingly; Continuity loss is a meaningful consequence that stems from the result of meaningful roleplay, and shouldn't just be ignored.
Public Mantles do not have Continuity, cannot take Continuity damage, and cannot use >strain commands. Continuity is a resource unique to player characters, and part of their special combat advantage over NPCs.
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
When fighting multiple opponents, a player uses the >boss command, defining the number of opponents, and a grade of /casual, /normal, or /serious. e.x. >boss 3/normal to fight 3 opponents simultaneously. If no grade argument is entered, /normal is the default. These commands multiply the character's HP, Drive, and Hype bars to correctly handle the extra opponents they're fighting, and inform certain Archetypes, Quirks, and Signatures to expand on their behavior to be equally useful against multiple enemies. Abilities expanded by >boss are usually those that provide a one-time benefit, static starting bonus, which have a limited number of uses per battle, or which have a maximum resource cap, which would rapidly diminish in usefulness against more than one opponent, so it's important not to undershoot how many people you're actually fighting. Most articles that increment in terms, or after attacking or defending, do so once the full number of attacks or defenses have been resolved, so don't skip people.
When a player is part of a group arrayed against a single boss, they should use the party/start <name> command to create and name a Party, or the >party/join <name> command to join an existing Party of that name. >party/leave exits the Party. >party/view shows all active Parties to join. Using a Party is important to get the benefit of all Assists of involved characters. >reset after everyone has joined to guarantee that all Assists are affecting all members of the Party.
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. These grades help narrow or widen the gap created by a full Party's combined Assists.
- Casual: The player's HP, Drive, Hype, and resources are multiplied to match the number of the opponents, and that's it.
- Normal: As above, and the player's passive Drive gain is increased by the number of extra foes, and their passive Hype gain is increased by 25% per extra foe.
- Serious: As above, but the player's passive Drive gain is increased by twice the number of extra foes, and their passive Hype gain is increased by 50% per extra foe.
- Casual: The player's HP, Drive, Hype, and resources are multiplied to match the number of the opponents, and that's it.
Boss Usage: Due to the amount of resources that a boss can accumulate from being attacked by so many players, we expect a soft level of respect in how those resources are allocated. 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 actually go up, so the act of 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. We encourage the bossing player to instead split their resources evenly across the Party as much as possible, with some wiggle room for players who have experienced runs of unusually bad luck. Trying to go soft on fragile characters and go hard at tough characters, or trying to use only strong defenses against powerful attackers and frail defenses against weak attackers, only serves to make everyone's results look the same, and generally suck the joy out of building and specializing a character.
Importantly, >boss 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 should be adjusted down. If a PC is simply KOed, there is no need to do so. Undershooting the number of players to try and make for an easier fight is an unnecessary kludge, and >boss/casual and use of GM Commands will 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.
- <Type> can be Raw, Armor, Shield, Peril, or Fade HP. No Type defaults to regular "raw" HP.
You lose that much HP of the specified type.
- <Type> can be Raw, Armor, Shield, Peril, or Fade HP. No Type defaults to regular "raw" HP.
You regain that much HP. Not useable with your personal Mantle. Use is logged..
>HPgrant/<Type> <Name> <#>
- <Type> can be Raw, Armor, Shield, Peril, or Fade HP. No Type defaults to regular HP.
- <Name> references the name of the targeted character.
The target regains that much HP. Not useable with your personal Mantle. Use is logged.
You lose that much Drive
- <Name> references the name of the targeted character.
The target gains that much Drive. Not useable with your personal Mantle. Use is logged.
You lose that much Hype.
- <Name> references the name of the targeted character.
The target gains that much Hype. Not useable with your personal Mantle. Use is logged.
The next attack you take will have somewhat greater accuracy, or, the next attack you use will have somewhat worse accuracy. Doesn't announce to the room.
The next attack you take will have much greater accuracy, or, the next attack you use will have much worse accuracy. Doesn't announce to the room.
The next attack you take will have almost perfect accuracy, or, the next attack you use will have abysmally low accuracy. Doesn't announce to the room.
Cancels any active sell commands.
Increases the damage of the next attack you take by about 10%, or decreases the damage of the next attack you use by about 10%. Doesn't announce to the room. Use >HPloss for announced damage.
Increases the damage of the next attack you take by about 20%, or decreases the damage of the next attack you use by about 20%. Doesn't announce to the room.
Increases the damage of the next attack you take by about 30%, or decreases the damage of the next attack you use by about 30%. Doesn't announce to the room.
Cancels any active weak commands.
Drops your Weight class by one.
Resets your Weight class back to normal.
- <Adjective> can be Minor, Moderate, or Solid. Using none in place of an adjective will turn it off.
Decreases all of your stats stats by the specified Adjective. Using the /none switch cancels any active pull.
- <Name> references the name of the targeted character.
- <Cost> references the Hype cost of the Buff Push you're copying.
- <Stat> references the stat the Buff will apply to.
The target gains a Buff equivalent to the Push. Not useable with your personal Mantle. Use is logged.
- <Cost> references the Hype cost of the Buff Push you're copying.
- <Stat> references the stat the Buff will apply to.
You gain a Debuff equivalent to the Push.
- <Type> can be either Burn or Venom.
- <Cost> references the Hype cost of the Buff Push you're copying.
The next attack you take applies DoT equivalent to the Push.
Purges all of your Buffs.
Applying and Upgrades
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 of players who want to make a goal of 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".
While a character will most typically gain an Enhancement as part of a planned, roleplayed arc that involves them increasing their personal power, the only valid metric towards gaining an Enhancement is creating content for the community, rather than taking or passively absorbing RP. Our desire is that players who wish to have their characters grow in strength over time do so by creating roleplay 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. 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.
Because we consider Enhancements to be of middling significance, and a luxury rather than a necessity to make a character a credible combatant, we judge 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. Our default stance on borderline RP is a preference towards maintain the integrity of effort and reward for the sake of fun in pursuing them.
Stance on Combat RP
Builds and Matchups: The AGE 2.0 system is designed with a very high degree of modularity in mind, to be tailored to the audience of an individual MUSH. For MCM, our implementation leans heavily towards being broadly fair, and away from a complicated game simulation that rewards mastery and punishes ignorance, and so our AGE csys is 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. This is an important choice to minimize the learning curve necessary to engage with the community, to establish firm and consistent ballparks for various character concepts, and to provide low-stress fun in combat.
That said, we expect a certain amount of common sense when interacting with the combat system, and we accept unusual wins and losses that may come from players declining to use any. If a character is obliterated for sitting on 1 HP while throwing out nothing light attacks with a pile of unspent resources and Quirks that obviously don't help them, they've failed the common sense test; the csys has not failed them. Likewise, most parts of a character's build can be freely changed for a reason. If a player walks into a fight with an Enhanced, Heavy, high-Endurance Immovable character, neglects to use any damage-increasing Quirks or Signatures, has no teammates who can help deal damage, and mostly just bounces off of them, especially if they're tepid about using their Hype, Drive, and defense actions on "not bouncing off", the system is still working as intended.
In terms of PvP, 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 what is often the case where players remotely compare numbers and skate around each other, looking to avoid bigger fish and prey on littler ones. Our csys is designed to make ordinary fights fairly fast, casual, and low commitment for this reason.
Lethality and Consequences: This is mostly covered in our Continuity section, but bears explaining a little further. MCM and its csys presume that player characters are very good at defending themselves, that damage and injury to player characters is handled with cinematic logic, and that all PCs are able to access necessary recovery supplies in some way. We do this because a status quo of characters all being routinely ground to bloody paste on a weekly basis despite their alleged competence, and yet always miraculously surviving and being gung-ho ready for more, badly strains suspension of disbelief, fosters an unnecessarily grim tone, and creates an unpleasant atmosphere of unspoken obligation where players have to "race to the bottom" of getting the most bloodied up, or else feel like they're being disrespectful. Fights ending because one side has a convincing reason to stop is normal, whether that be because one or more characters has reached the point of risking serious injury, realized they aren't going to win, that circumstances have changed, their objectives are no longer valid, or the players ran out of time and had to make up an excuse.
To reiterate: Hit points are not meat points. We don't want players stressing over each individual combat pose, worrying if they're giving each individual attack the precise amount of respect they think their opponent thinks it hypothetically deserves. The only time this can be considered abusive is when a character isn't respect the overall genre conventions of what they're playing (i.e. we expect Batman isn't deflecting artillery shells by flexing his abs, even if the artillery attack only dealt 100 damage in csys code). It's fine for characters to play out combat in a way that reflects their source (for instance, a regenerator is probably going to take more gory damage so they can show off their regeneration), but it should serve to remember that lasting Strain isn't even incurred until below 40% HP.
The requirement to make this freedom work is that players respect the Continuity bar. Repeated, cumulative skirmishes should take their toll on a character, and >strain commands represent a tonal shift where a character has chosen to fight with greater emphasis and a more serious genre of presentation. Characters with damage on their Continuity bar are expected to honour the state of strain that they are in, and roleplay the associated drawbacks of being injured, exhausted, stressed, or depleted of valuable resources. This is something we consider really crucial to validating roleplay, maintaining the authenticity of conflicts, and preserving a valuable sense of scene to scene continuity; hence the name. We recognize that it is possible, from extreme use of >strain/commands, for a character to reach a level of Continuity that might take a very long time to recover from, or they may simply have not played a character for a while and come back to a chunk of Broken Continuity that still hasn't healed. Regardless of real time passed, that character is still strained, overextended, suffering the after-effects of an injury, stuck with some stubborn problem, or generally off their game in some RP-validating way; if it bothers the player, it's on them to figure out something that satisfies them.
Dummy Testing: 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 in the future. For that reason, we aren't going to take kindly to players sitting around banging on spreadsheets trying to reverse engineer its nuts and bolts. This is mainly for the benefit of hypothetical future users who may want to use the tech; the AGE 2.0 system is running on fifteen layers of black magic under the hood to organically balance its many moving components, designed to require minimal staff adjustment to change later, and no need for advanced game knowledge, and so "reverse engineering" the particulars not only isn't going to go very far, but isn't going to help win any battles. Intensive exploratory testing of the system is a huge waste of time, and will be taken as a sign of bad faith. That means running csys battles between a player's alts, sitting in rooms bashing public Mantles as test dummies, or any other use of the csys for something other than RP. Staff can see notices every time the csys is used.
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 combat power divides between characters is intentionally within 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 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 as a culture, because it indicates how MCM is 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 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", milking a victory or rubbing a loss in someone's face for months or years. 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 with our narrowly banded power scale.
Shows all Mantles you currently have in your possession, along with their name, ID, Archetype, and stats.
- <ID> references the number seen next to the Mantle in your armory.
Dons the specified Mantle. Will initialize upon >reset.
- <Assist> references the name of the selected Assist.
Sets the Assist of the character's Personal Archetype (ID 00) to the specified assist. Mantle must be reset to take effect.
- <Archetype> references the name of the selected Archetype.
Sets the Archetype of the character's Personal Archetype (ID 00) to the specified assist. Mantle must be reset to take effect.
>reset Resets your HP, Drive, and Hype to their starting values. Clears all status effects and refreshes all abilities. Applies any Consequences you may have incurred.
Gives a quick summary of combatants in the room. Shows Archetype, Assist, Weight class, and Enhancement level, as well as Drive, current HP as a percentage, and Consequences.
Gives a detailed view of your currently initialized Mantle. Shows HP and its current percent, Drive and its threshold, Hype, Quirks, Stats, Archetype, Assist, Weight Class, Enhancement level, as well as any Consequences you may be under, all bonuses and penalties that are currently applied to you, all special resources you may have, and all Pushes that you currently have queued.
- <Quirk> references the name of the selected Quirk.
Used for setting Quirks. Only works for player character Mantles. Mantle must be reset to take effect.
- <Quirk> references the name of the selected Quirk.
Used to clear individual Quirks. Only works for player character Mantles. Mantle must be reset to take effect.
Removes all currently equipped Quirks. Only works for player character Mantles. Mantle must be reset to take effect.
- <Signature> references the name of the selected Signature.
Equips the designated Signature, replacing the current one. Mantle must be reset to take effect.
>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 a full turn has passed.
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.
Cancels all of your pending attacks and Pushes you used on your turn. Doesn't work after the opponent defends and the attack is resolved.
Activates "Playing for Keeps". Your Weight class increases by one step, you gain a minor bonus to the random accuracy and damage of your attacks, and a minor penalty the random accuracy and damage of attacks against you, and the expense of a lot of Continuity, based on how much HP you have remaining, and more upon KO.
- <stat> is the name of the stat you are strain-enhancing.
You gain a Minor bonus to the chosen stat for the rest of the battle, and a minor bonus to the random accuracy or damage of your attacks, or a minor penalty to the random accuracy of damage of attacks against you, depending on whether you chose Precision, Power, Mitigation, or Endurance, respectively. Strains and Breaks Continuity upon use and upon KO.
Instantly reinforces your Signature at the cost of Strained and Broken Continuity.
Breaks up to 15 Continuity and refills your HP and Drive for each point Broken. Consuming Strained Continuity fills up only Peril HP instead of normal HP. Can revive you from a KO state.
- <#> is the number of opponents you intend to fight at once.
- <Strength> must be Casual, Normal, or Serious.
Multiplies your maximum and current HP by the number of opponents, and adjusts the usages and behaviors of limited or stacking Archetype, Quirk, Signature, Push, and Enhancement traits.
- <Name> is the name of the Party you are creating.
Creates a party by the designated name.
- <Name> is the name of the Party you are joining.
Joins a Party by the designated name.
Leaves the party you are currently joined to.
Shows currently active parties, their participants, and their health levels.
Shows all of your incoming and outgoing attacks pending.
Mantle and Combat Resources
Now that you've read the above, here is the current range of:
All available Archetypes, Assists, Quirks, Signatures
All available Pushes
All available Enhancements
Our current set of Mantles
If you didn't read the above: go do it.