To play the When Shadows Rise game, you’ll need:
- 1 four-sided die (per player, ideally), hereafter referred to as d4
- 2 ten-sided dice (per player, ideally), hereafter referred to as d9 (read 0-9)
- 1 poker card deck (or tarot deck)
- 1 game host (a player)
- 1 or more other players (2-5 is best)
- this rulebook (obviously)
- paper and pencils (enough for everyone)
The term “roleplaying game” signifies a mix of storytelling (the roleplaying part) and rules (the game part). Whenever a character attempts a task, the rules determine degree of success or failure. Sometimes success may be automatic (“I cross the empty street”); at others it may be open to question (“I chase the black cat across the busy street”). The When Shadows Rise game uses a “d13″ system to determine the success of most uncertain actions.
First, the host decides a difficulty level for the task, based on the situation (How busy is the street? Is it dry or wet? and so on). Difficulty levels are Easy, Average, Difficult, and Monstrous.
Applicable Ability and Skill
Then the host decides which character ability (Brawn, Grace, Wits, or Will) and what skill are most applicable to the task. (See “Character Creation” for ability descriptions and a skill list. See “Physical Skills” and “Mental Skills” for skill descriptions.)
Next, the player of the character rolls dice to discover how well the attempt succeeds. This is based on adding the result of 1d4 and 1d9, for a total ranging from 1 to 13.
Easy task: The player rolls the d13; any result but a 13 succeeds. The number rolled may be used for effect and timing.
Average task: The player the d13 and (on any result but a 13) may reroll either the d4 or d9 for a better result.
Difficult task: The player rolls the d13 and must keep the rolled result.
Monstrous task: The player rolls the d13 and the game host may force the reroll of the d4 or d9.
Success or Failure: If the dice total is equal to or less than the total of ability plus skill, the task attempt succeeds. If the dice total exceeds the total of ability plus skill, the task attempt fails. The actual dice total may also have other effects (see “Turn Number” and “Damage” in the “Physical Combat” chapter, for example).
Doubles: Whenever a task roll results in doubles (1+1, 2+2, 3+3, or 4+4), the character automatically succeeds. In addition, the player draws a card to his/her hand from the top of the poker deck.
Unclear Tasks: Sometimes a task result may be unclear to a character (“I think I cleared all the viruses from the laptop”). In such cases, the game host may choose to roll the player’s d4 secretly, leaving the player to judge likely success by the d9 result alone.
Using Poker Cards
Number Cards: At any time, a player may choose to discard a number card from his/her hand to replace a dice roll, to change his/her character’s turn number, or to change the effect of the roll (causing more damage, for instance).
Face Cards: At any time, a player may choose to discard a face card to temporarily boost his/her skill rating. This boost lasts to the end of the current “scene.” (Face cards represent either a favor from a present contact or an insight from a “past life.”)
Card Suit: To justify using a card that does not match the suit of the ability being tested (see “Character Generation”), the player should create a storytelling rationale.