EDIT: This system is effectively dead. I really liked it, but the probabilities turned out to be too hard to discern so now the narrator plays makes tests for NPCs the same as players.
In the last post, I went over the basics of test resolution in Nevermore. There, I described tests with no opposition or what we call a static test. (If you haven’t read the post Cards Not Dice, you may want to go back and read that before proceeding further.) Today I’m going to delve into opposed tests. The first thing you need to know is that antagonists in Nevermore have a ranking from 1 to 10 (or possibly higher). This is a simple metric of the strength and power of the antagonist.
When a protagonist makes an action that is opposed by an antagonist (combat being a good example), the narrator plays cards in opposition called foil cards, so-called because they are used to foil successes gained by the player.
Example #1 – Player Attempts a Static Test
As an example, let’s assume that a protagonist is in combat against a ghul. They have a Corpus of 6 and Weaponry skill of Expert (allowing them to draw two additional cards). They are looking for cards that are 6 or under or clubs. They get to draw a total of four cards—a 3 of diamonds, 5 of hearts, 10 of clubs, and a jack of diamonds. That gives them three successes since the 3 and 5 are both under 6, and the 10 is a clubs so it matches the suit. The jack is discarded because it is neither a club or 6 or under.
After the player plays a hand, showing how many successes they earned and spending any Fortune to increase the successes, the narrator then draws a number of cards equal to the antagonists’ rank. The narrator then looks for cards that are the same color as the Quality used by the player. So, if the player’s action was combat, which uses clubs, the narrator is looking for black cards. (if it had been hearts or diamonds the narrator would be looking for red cards.) The narrator can then use any of these cards (in this case, black cards) to foil those played by the player. To foil one of the player’s successes, it must be a black card and equal to or greater than the card it foils.
Example #2 – Narrator Plays Foils Cards in an Opposed Test and Player Wins
To continue the example, let’s assume the ghul is Rank 5, so the narrator gets to draw 5 cards. They draw a 2 of clubs, 4 of clubs, 9 of spades, 10 of hearts, and a queen of diamonds. Both the 10 and queen are red cards, so they are immediately discarded. Looking at the remaining cards, the 2 (even though it’s a black card) is lower than any card played by the protagonist, so the narrator discards that one as well. They then use the 4 of clubs to foil (or cover) the 3 of diamonds and the 9 of spades to foil the 5 of hearts. This leaves the player with one success, the 10 of clubs.
In an opposed test, if the narrator foils all of the player’s cards but does not have any remaining black cards, the test is a draw. If the narrator has additional black cards, they become successes for the antagonist.
Example #3 – Narrator Plays Foils Cards in an Opposed Test and Narrator Wins
Let’s go back in time and change the narrator’s draw a little and give it a different outcome. This time, let’s say the narrator draws a 4 of diamonds, 4 of clubs, 7 of clubs, 9 of spades, and a Jack of clubs. The 4 of diamonds is discarded because it’s red, leaving the narrator with four black cards. The 4 of clubs foils the 3 of diamonds, the 7 of clubs foils the 5 of hearts, and the jack of clubs foils the 10 of clubs. The narrator has one remaining black card, the 9 of spades. The protagonist fails, and the antagonist has one net success.
The system is designed in this fashion to make things easier for the narrator to focus on description and telling the story rather than a bunch of complicated monster stats. Covering successes with the appropriate color card goes a lot faster than if both sides had to play a full hand, allowing combat situations to be resolved quickly and easily. It also gives the players more of a sense of being in control of the story and their own destinies. Even when an antagonist attacks a protagonist, the player plays their cards first, and the narrator then tries to foil them.
Hopefully, you now have a basic understanding of the Nevermore rules mechanics for making both static and opposed tests. I’ll be getting into more detail on the system, exploring aspects such as Fortune, Grit and more in later posts, so check back soon! Also, don’t forget to sign up to receive notifications about future Nevermore related events including the Kickstarter.