Ethnis Lite RPG
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Starting the Adventure
What do you need to play?
DiceFudge Dice to be Specific. These Dice are 6 sided, with 2 sides blank, 2 sides with '-', and 2 sides with '+'. Ethnis Lite requires having at least 8 of these dice per participant.
Character SheetEthnis Lite's character sheets are all available on World Anvil under the Ethnis Lite RPG system, you can also print them out for use away from the computer.
A GridThis one is optional, but if you want to keep track of player and npc positioning, a grid either on paper or digital can help.
Creating the Narrator Character
1: Collaborate DesiresTo create a Narrator, first gather everyone and review what Themes, Tone, and Trials everyone wants to see in the game. Have everyone, Narrator included, write a prioritized list of three things they want from each, then discuss. Combine the lists together and pare them down to 2 Tones, 3 Themes, and 4 Trials—this will become the basis of how the Narrator approaches the design of the Campaign.
2: Narrator AbilitiesNext, comb through the Narrator Abilities and choose 3 of the Abilities which align with the Tones, Themes, and Trials everyone has agreed upon. Announce which abilities you have taken.
3: PersonalityFrom this, built the personality of the Narrator. This determines how they approach scenarios and what they can do to interact with the party. Personifying your Narrator helps you fall into the role of Game Master, and brings you into the act of play as well.
ToneThe tone of the story is the composure with which it's told.
Upbeat • Grim • Gritty • Hopeful • Somber • Melodramatic • Subtle
ThemesThe themes are the sort of narrative arcs you would like to explore within a game. They are the emotional motive of the story.
Sacrifice • Family • Expression of Self • Exploring the Unknown
TrialsThe sorts of events the party would like to have happen. Not everyone wants heavy combat, not everyone wants politics.
Combat • Puzzles • Negotiations • Survival • Dungeoneering • Vehicular Combat
Player: Creating your Character
InstructionsFollow the instructions under each header. Some will link you off to other pages with their own instructions. This article is your core guide through character creation, so if you're ever unsure of where to go, refer back to here, as your Narrator for help, or Join the Ethnis Discord for clarification on items.
For Higher-Level CampaignsIf the Narrator has told you that this will be a more high-level campaign, ask them how many more points of Plot you will have to spend. This will be relevant going forward.
For Lower-Level CampaignsNarrators may choose to omit any steps of Character creation, down to having just a Sophont and a Provenance. They may represent characters who are younger, less experienced, or amnesiac.
1: Building Your BackstoryAs a character, you were born as a Sophont, raised within a Provenance, and either chose a Banner or had one chosen for you by the circumstances of your birth. As you reached maturity you adopted a Mantle, perhaps by choice or perhaps by necessity, and set out into the world. This step of character creation is called the Backstory. Every E.Lite setting will have different options for each part of the backstory. Choose one of each and follow any special instructions within. Once you have chosen a Sophont, Provenance, Banner, and a Mantle you may move to the next step.
SophontWhat Sophont you choose affects your starting Attributes, Traits, Scale, and Abilities, and may change how characters in the world view and treat you.
ProvenanceYour Provenance is where you hail from. Hub worlds are the most common, but space stations and colonies crop up as well. Your Provenance determines a starting Ability and Value.
BannerYour Banner is the major societal influence you grew up within. Each comes with its own unique societal codes and philosophies. Your Banner determines a starting Ability and Value.
MantleYour Mantle is your chosen Profession. There are many to choose from, from the laborious, to the dangerous, to the academic. Your Mantle determines some of your available Abilities and reflects your playstyle.
Choose Your SkillsEvery Character is given a selection of Skill Points to spend on Skills and Attributes. These complement their Abilities and are how they make their Skill checks to complete actions.
Choose Your GearEvery Character is given a selection of Plot Points to spend on acquiring Gear. Gear includes weapons, armor, vehicles, and augments, and affects all aspects of play.
2: Choosing Attributes
I am putting one point into Vitality. Working the mines made all of us tough, but they started calling me Canary because I was the first into any new pit.
I took a shining to the name, so I'll put my second point into Nerve because whenever I get stressed I whistle a pretty song, just like a canary, to keep my mind straight.
3: Calculating Stats
Damage ResistLowers the damage of incoming attacks
Vitality (Minimum 0)
FatigueThreshold before exhaustion affects checks
VIT + UBS + LBS +RFX
SanityHow much mental strain you can handle
10 + NRV
EncumbranceWhat you can carry overall, and in hand
UBS + LBS
MetaYour reserve of meta
2*MTP (Minimum 0)
4: Finalizing Mantras
Determining Turn OrderTurn order is determined by RFX from highest to lowest. If two Belligerents have the same RFX, players take precedence. If all else fails, settle by dice, coin toss, or fist fight.
RoundsEach round is 5 seconds long. Each active participant—those can can make actions and choices, regardless of whether or not they are a player—is a Belligerent. Their turns are resolved first, then the Narrator takes the remaining dice for their own turn.
1) Belligerent Turns
Everyone indicates how many dice they will throw by placing that many dice before them. Once everyone had committed, they throw their dice together. These dice become their check pool for the rest of the round, and will be used for actions and reactions. You Ante even if the Scenario resolves in a single round. Action
Starting with the Belligerent with the highest Reflex and working to the Belligerent with the least, everyone takes their Actions and the Narrator resolves them. You may choose to Hold your Turn instead when yours comes around. While holding, you may interject at the beginning of another Character’s Turn and take yours first, so long as their Reflex is lower. You do not have to play your entire pool, but if you are targeted you must use your dice in defense.
PartialsInvoking Abilities • Reloading • Restoring Charge • Using Items • Swapping Weapons• Communication
ChecksCasting • Movement • Attacking • Analyzing Evidence • Climbs • Using Complicated Objects
SavesSpell countering • Parrying Attacks • Dodging Traps • Veiling Motive • Shrouding a Spell
2) Player Upkeep
After all Belligerents have taken their turn, Players move their unused dice to the center of the table. This becomes the Narrator's Pool, which is used to invoke their abilities in their turn.
3) Narrator’s Turn
The Narrator uses the Narrator's Pool to take their own actions. These actions are the Abilities they purchased during Narrator Creation and whenever they have leveled up. These allow them to spice up the encounter with bonuses or maluses.
Enemy belligerents do not take their turn at this time. Their turn was during the Belligerent Turns.
4) Round Upkeep
All dice are returned to their owners and the next round begins with the same turn order.
Resolving ChecksThe Ethnis Lite Ruleset uses Narrative Dice to resolve Conflicts. Before you make your check you must first determine the Factors—the things which may affect the check for the better or the worse. This includes: Environmental Factors, Skill Factors, and Oppositional Factors.
- Environmental Factors come from the outside world and extenuating factors.
- Skill Factors Skill Factors are how the Players Skills may add-to or detract from the check.
- Oppositional Factors are the Skill checks opposing the person making the check.
A Bonus is any positive adjective which can be applied to the description of a situation
Determining OutcomeOutcomes are the result of a check. The dice serve as an element chaos to overcome or supplement with skill, and because they are Narrative serve more as guideline than rule. Your hand of dice may determine where on the below table you land, but it's up to the Narrator to determine the outcome, perhaps even to enlist the help of the player or party for ideas.
Resolving Contested Checks
|You succeed, demonstrably, such that you manage to pivot off of it and take a Free Action or another Action of the same check with no bonuses. Such as...|
|You succeed and... then some, setting yourself or a friend up for future success by adding a Bonus to play. This bonus might be short-lived or permanently a part of the landscape, but will predominantly favor your goals. Such as...|
|You succeed, but, well... you kick up some chaos in the progress, triggering some event which can help you as much as it can hinder you. This can still work out in your favor if you're careful!|
|Success! You did what you aimed to do and you did it well. This might be a cut-and-dry outcome, a great victory, or one step towards a larger goal.|
|Hmm! Well, that wasn't quite what you wanted but that's not a bad outcome at all! In fact it sets you up quite nicely and it might come out to help you later! A Bonus gets added to play which favors your goals.|
|You succeed but... at a bit of a cost. Perhaps you were a bit zealous in your actions and caused some collateral damage, or perhaps you just sacrificed your footing for the power play. Either way, a Malus is added to play which may impede your goals going forward!|
|Success? Failure? All hangs in the balance. You don't complete the task as you aimed to, and end up making some damaging mistakes in the process, but at least something good comes of it.|
|Hmm! Well then! That's not at all what you expected, and really a bit of a mixed bag. Some good, some bad, and a whole lot of chaos result from this. A Malus or Bonus are/or added to play which may impede or help anyone!|
|Utter Stagnation, somehow absolutely nothing came of the situation. Whatever was going on was postponed for another round with no claim towards victory but no major stepback.|
|You fail but... it's not a total loss. Perhaps you saved it at the last moment, or maybe it was sheer dumb luck that resulted from the commotion of your failure, but you've added a Bonus to play which will help you with your goals going forward.|
|Oops! Well, that wasn't strictly a failure, but is sure doesn't help the situation. You mess up something which might come back to bite you later on in some small way in the form of a Malus.|
|You fail, well, mostly. It's a pretty chaotic outcome and you probably made a big mess, but you might be able to use that chaos to your advantage rather than having it bite you in the butt going forward!|
|Failure! Whatever you were trying to do you fail to do, in a bad way. Retrying the action may not be an option, or perhaps you hurt yourself in the attempt. If you were fighting, you took a hit from this!|
|You fail, and... worse. Not only did you not advance your goal, you introduced a setback to play which can only make things worse for you. It's probably not too late to try to escape.|
|You fail, spectacularly, In the worst display of Murphy's Law. Not only do you fail, but nearby events and obstacles are exacerbated as you irreparably auto-fail another related check or cause a catastrophe which hurts your allies ensures this encounter can only end in some sort of doom.|
It is inevitable that your adventures will take their toll, leaving you exhausted, wounded, or insane. These, collectively, are known as Trauma. How these affect you, how you handle them, and what the long term effects are will differ per character, per trauma, and per situation. Make your choices wisely and invest into your safety, as a bad turn of events can can end in broken limb, shattered mind, or catatonic exhaustion. Read about Health, Sanity, and Stamina to learn more.
The toll of adventure is carved from the minds and bodies of its adherents. Everyone, from faceless commoner to mighty Sovereign, bears the scars of their trials. Some trials punish the body with loss of flesh and limb, others punish the mind with the scars of trauma.
DowntimeDowntime is broken into half-hour chunks during which the party Travels, Rests, or works on Projects. This is also a good opportunity to look more closely at your character and consider spending Plot on upgrades if you're in a good position to do so.
TravelIn all adventurers it is inevitable that there is a bit of travel that needs to be done.
Whether it's a quick drive across town or a massive trek through the stars, travel is what tends to be the limiter on how much downtime you have.
RestAs described in the Stamina article, you can take this as an opportunity to kick up your heels and catch some much-needed shut-eye.
Whether it's a few minutes or a few hours, it can make all the difference to success.
ProjectsProjects are undertakings of Skill and resources done to create, upgrade, or repair something.
Projects are extended Checks played similarly to normal Contests, and can take anywhere from five minutes to several days ingame.
Spend PlotYou can take this time to spend Plot on Levels and Gear. For more information on how to do that, read the next section!
Remember, in order to spend Plot you have to tell a small story justifying whatever you've purchased. Use those creative juices!