Also, what do you all think about using this map for the town, which we'll sketch in during Session Zero? Alternatively, we can start with a blank canvas and place everything from there, but I kind of like this one, and there are some fun details that get me thinking. The noble manse is more villa than keep -- perhaps Vesper's family has fallen on hard times, and the ancestral keep has been abandoned, providing a nice ruin nearby ... Also, no cemetery for Jaenelle, though what I take for a mine at the bottom left could be a community crypt ... Anyway, opinions wanted.
When we get into any actual dungeon exploration, or even in the wilderness, I want to avoid lots of wasted posts deciding on direction. I also want to avoid the problem, which is common to lots of RPGs, where you all roll individual Notice checks for everything, which almost guarantees someone will Ace and Notice pretty much any secret or ambush. I don't want to stack the deck against you, but I'd like there to be some actual risk. So, for exploration:
Marching Order and Group Leader
Prior to any excursion, either the group (or I) will set a marching order, with scout(s), vanguard and rear-guard. One PC will be designated the "caller." That character (probably whoever all the other characters consider to be "in charge") will be responsible for deciding which direction the party moves and including those "next steps" in their posts.
Passive Perception when Exploring
The group will designate a lead scout, as well as a rear-guard. When there's an enemy or other obstacle that might surprise you, I'll roll Stealth against the designated character's Passive Perception, calculated as Notice die + relevant modifiers + 2. So a scout with Notice d8 and Alertness would have a Passive Perception of 12. (This is set up in a similar fashion to Parry, Toughness, etc., with the +2 ensuring you're better off than an average roll). You'll roll Notice as normal whenever you want to actively search a room, etc.
We'll do full combats at least once a quarter, when there's something interesting fight to fight in a dynamic environment, but Quick Combats will let us do combats with rooms full of goblins or cairn-wights or bands of murderous redcaps without getting bogged down. The modification below creates a little more opportunity for injury, with some options for resource management, too.
Modified Quick Combats:
A set number of successes will be required for victory, based on quantity and quality of enemies.
Each player rolls an appropriate skill (typically Fighting, Shooting or Spellcasting/Faith). Each Success contributes +1 to the total (+2 on a Raise, but no more).
Regardless of success or failure, each character risks injury during the fight -- how much depends on how they approach the fight.
- Full Defense: Staying out of harm's way is your priority. You suffer a -2 penalty to your Quick Combat roll, but take no damage if successful. On a failure, you suffer a level of Fatigue from Bumps and Bruises.
- Cautious: You fight carefully, but don't hold back. On a failure, you take a Wound, which can be Soaked as usual. With a success, you only suffer a level of Fatigue from Bumps and Bruises, and on a Raise you emerge unscathed.
- Fast and Furious: You attack like a wild berserker. You gain a +2 to your Quick Combat roll. On a failure, you suffer 1d4 Wounds, or 1 Wound with a success (Wounds can be Soaked normally). With a Raise, you suffer a level of Fatigue from Bumps and Bruises instead.
I'm a big fan of game currencies that reward the kind of behavior that's iconic to the game. For example, old-school D&D gave XP for gold pieces recovered, encouraging PCs to snag the treasure and at times avoid fights. Later editions changed to XP for defeating monsters or completing story milestones, which changed the focus.
The move away from XP in SWADE takes away one form of in-game currency, leaving us really only money/stuff, Bennies and Conviction. I'm going to focus on the latter (with a few tweaks) and use it to also power the former.
In-game, your characters will be able to amass Discovery Points, which you'll acquire by Unearthing Secrets and Resolving Mysteries. So, finding the lost village of Urtwell in the eastern reaches of the Weald might earn a point; recovering the journal of the Crusader-Knight Taglyn, which lays out the eventual fate of the village garrison, might earn another. Finding Taglyn's missing sword, which the journal mentions was lost in the Hagmere, could earn a point, while returning it to his heir in a distant village could do the same.
You'll be able to use Discovery Points in a few ways: At any time, a PC can expend a Discovery Point to gain Conviction. (You'll also be able to earn Conviction through Tragedy/failure, as outlined in the core rules, but Discoveries will replace the option of gaining Conviction through Triumph).
You'll also be able to spend Discovery Points as a group to purchase an advance (for everyone) during the downtime that occurs between adventures. I'm planning to include some narrative passage of time -- a season, or even a year -- between adventure arcs. I've got a table I'm working on that could help determine what happens to your characters in that time. If the group decides to expend enough Discovery Points (I'm thinking 5 or so, to start) you'll all gain an advance during the downtime, as well (which would be in addition to the advance you'll get at the end of each quarter).
Finally, you'll use Conviction (earned via Tragedy or through Discoveries) to "reveal" the power of magic items. While I may occasionally hand out items with already-discovered powers -- a mace that glows like a torch, or a jar that fills with restorative honey under a full moon -- most start out as mysteries. You'll activate them, discovering an ability, by spending Conviction at an narratively appropriate time. So, say your character finds a fire-blackened spear carved with ancient sigils in a faery grove. Later, while fighting an ogre (and faring poorly), you decide to "activate" the spear, spending your Conviction. Based on the circumstances, you and I decide it's particularly deadly to giants and their kin: It gets a +1 to hit and the Giant-Killer Edge. Or maybe you're beset by nighthaunts, and you spend Conviction and discover that the shield you found in the church catacombs can emit a sunlight-trapped damage field. Maybe being bathed in the blood of two score goblins rekindles the power of an ancient blade, or perhaps you just have enough downtime to figure out that pointing the bone wand and saying skippy causes it to shoot lightning.
Special starting items you gained from your playbooks can be handled this way (beyond any minor abilities we've talked about, like being exceptionally light or counting as a magic weapon,etc.) and I'll probably set a limit of no more than two "reveals" per item. But I'll make a point of including lots of strange and intriguing items for you to claim and potentially turn into implements of power.