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Mnemonic Bones

Mnemonic’s new iteration uses a lot of the bones from Forged in the Dark, but because I’m not calling it FitD I feel a lot more freedom in breaking the structures to do what I want them to do.

for example:

Trying the same thing again is an explicit move for the player to take if they fail, with explicit mechanics associated with it. If you fail, you can try again by escalating the situation. Your position worsens by one step but you basically get to just roll again.

Normally when you take action, you have to play a card out of your hand to do it, and that card has to match the suit (or category) of the skill you’re using.

So if you’re using “Fight With Hands” you have to play a Heart. If you don’t have a Heart, you can’t use that skill.

The other limit on skills is that once you use a skill, you can’t use it again that session.

So being able to Try Again when you fail is important; it lets you pursue your objective immediately without having to spend extra cards or skills.

If your position is Risky or Desperate, you can also ask the world to help you in the form of a “weaving”. You accept the offered die, and it gets added to your dice pool as an extra die. Your position also improves by one step when you do this.

The downside of weaving is that when you roll, the weaving die also yields an effect from its associated table.

A 1 is weak, barely noticeable. 2-3 is powerful but nothing too wild.

a 6 is a catastrophe.

But that 6 also means you succeed, because a success happens on anything higher than a 3.

So when you weave, you’re saying “I’m willing to accept dire consequences in order to succeed in this.”

And if you weave and you still fail, that means your weaving was relatively weak too.

And it means you can try again, with worse position.

But with worse position, you can weave to improve your position and get an extra die.

So you can fall into a dangerous cycle of weaving, where you keep rolling that Fire Die but you keep getting a 3 and failing, and by the time you finally do succeed you’ve started fifteen big (but not “wild”) fires that you now have to contend with.

But you might be willing to do that. Because as many attempts as it took, you still only had to spend one card, and one skill.

So you have more resources left for later. But you paid a cost to keep them.

Another example: pushing yourself costs stress, but breaking 10 stress doesn’t take you out of the action.

Instead, it makes you Vulnerable. And failing an action while Vulnerable means you also suffer an injury. The worse your position, the more serious your injury.

So you can spend stress to get an extra die for your action, or to avoid the narrative consequences of your action, but once you become Vulnerable you have to be careful or you’ll end up getting hurt.

If you fail while vulnerable you take an injury.

But unless your position is Desperate, you can still escalate and try again.

And if your position IS desperate, you can always improve your position…by weaving.

You might notice here that so far I haven’t mentioned what happens when you get knocked unconscious, and that’s because losing your ability to act isn’t tied to injuries, because injuries are tied to dice rolls, and you shouldn’t have your character taken from you by a bad roll.

Instead, you become incapacitated when you run out of cards. And it’s not so much “You die” as it is “your character has done enough, time to let someone else have a turn.”

You always have a choice whether to play a card. So it’s up to you when you’re done for the day.

There’s other things too, like how everything is “roll a pool of dice and keep the highest result” but the skills are completely open-ended instead of a fixed set of twelve actions. So you can have a skill like “Wearing Suits” that’s directly relevant to your character.

But mostly I’m just happy for this breaking of concepts. The whole thing feels more cohesive, knowing I don’t have to come up with analogs for Heat or Coin or XP or Claims or even Playbooks.