Choosing Ethnis Lite
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What do you need to play?
Dice: Fudge (Or Fate) 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. Amazon has plenty of options when it comes to fudge dice starter kits.
Character Sheet: Ethnis 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. You can see an example of the Ethnis Lite Sheet in use here!
Grid: This one is optional, but if you want to keep track of player and NPC positioning, a grid either on paper or digital can help.
You can buy many sizes of grid paper online, or use a virtual table top service!
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All links within this article lead to more detailed sections. Read those for comprehensive mechanics if needed.
If something is hard to read or is underlined, hover it! Small text and icons will grow. Grey Highlighted Text mean tooltips!
Reading Ethnis LiteWithin this guide and all related pages are several different note types. Unadorned text, such as this text, is the text you need to read to run and understand the game. These notes each serve a different purpose, outlined below.
Quotes are bits of flavor used to illustrate the text through storytelling or excerpts from example games.
Narrators: You may already have a campaign and setting in mind that you are recruiting players for. In that case, complete this section on your own and fill out a Narrator Sheet so that players can review the Narrator and understand the game at a glance.
Group: Define the Campaign
In Ethnis, campaign and character creation is a group activity. Session 0 of every Campaign involves everyone working together to define what they want from the campaign and designing their characters. 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.
Narrator:Build the Narrator
Why should players get to have all the fun of having a character to roleplay? Game Masters don a Narrator Persona within E.Lite as well, as much for the joy of roleplay as to act as a guide-rail for how the campaign plays and feels. In a nutshell, a Narrator personifies the game becomes, and becomes a conduit for the tone of play. Start out by taking the Tones, Trials, and Themes from the previous step, and writing them down on your Narrator sheet.
Choose 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.
Build a Narrator PersonalityFrom this, build 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.
Now that you have your campaign prepared, you can start with character creation!
Full Narrator Guide
Below is a full guide on the expectations of the Narrator and how to make one, as well as a catalog of Narrator abilities. If this is your first time creating a Narrator, open it up and have a thorough read.
The composure with which the story is told. This affects things like the voice with the Narrator might speak and the music you would pair the game with.
The narrative arcs you would like to explore within a game. These are the emotional motivations of the story—for the individual, the character party, or the table itself.
The sorts of events the party would like to have happen. Not everyone wants heavy combat, not everyone wants politics.
Here's an outline for how character creation works in E.Lite. This may be adjusted per setting; it's the Narrator's responsibility to provide the players a guide to Character Creation for the chosen setting! If your group is ever uncertain of core mechanics, or needs pointers, Join the Ethnis Discord for clarification on items.
1: Build A Backstory
Character creation begins when the Narrator supplies the Players with Backstory options tailored to the setting. The Players pick one option each from that setting's equivalents to Sophont, Provenance, Banner, and Mantle.
|Sophont||Encapsulates your physiological features|
|Provenance||Encapsulates your upbringing and morals|
|Banner||Encapsulates your cultural norms and ethics|
|Mantle||Encapsulates your primary occupation|
Once you have chosen a Sophont, Provenance, Banner, and a Mantle you may move to the next step!
If multiple Players choose the same options, they should consider tying their Backstory together on that overlap.
For example, if you share Sophont you might be related, or if you share a Provenance you might have grown up together!
2: Spend Plot
Plot is your currency for advancement. It's how you get Materials, Gear, Abilities, and Mantra. It's an abstract currency which represents the experiences and potential outcomes of your actions
For any Plot you spend, relate it to the character by making up a one or two sentence story justifying the acquisition.
Read Leveling and Progression for more.
|Skills||Upgrade Skills to negate the Maluses of Checks|
The suggested starting Plot for the party without much experience is 50 Plot, but your Narrator may adjust this up or down, or provide other limitations, to fit the intent of the story.
3: Calculate Stats
Next, calculate your Stats. Here is a table of the different Stats, what they do, and how to calculate them.
|Stat||Effect / Usage||Calculation|
|Damage Resist||Lowers the damage of incoming attacks||VIT|
|Stamina||Threshold before exhaustion affects checks||VIT + UBS + LBS + RFX|
|Sanity||How much mental strain you can handle||10 + NRV|
|Encumbrance||What you can carry overall, and in hand||UBS + LBS|
|Mana||Your reserve of mana||2*MTP|
Conflict is how Ethnis handles scenarios of danger, discord, and disagreement. Whenever a challenge rises—a long voyage through a lush jungle, a firefight between space pirates, a fiery debate over the fate of a prisoner—the outcome is determined through Conflict.
Conflict is resolved using the Fudge Dice and Narrator Discretion.
Conflict is broken into Rounds wherein each Actor is a Belligerent. Players Ante first, then all Belligerents act in order of highest RFX score to lowest, and finally the Narrator takes their turn. Once the Conflict is resolved, the final Round continues until all characters have acted.
Rounds are approximately 5 seconds long
Belligerents act in series, not parallel
Belligerent turns are ordered by their RFX
Turn Order Ties
If two Belligerents have the same RFX, players take precedence. If all else fails, settle by dice, coin toss, or fist fight.
Every player who elects to Act this round places between 1 and 8 fudge dice on the table. This is their Ante.
Every Action is played from your Ante. You are helpless once you've used up your Anted dice, so choose how many you Ante carefully! A larger Ante means more dice to put towards Actions, but also means a higher risk of perilous failures!
Once everyone has placed their Ante they roll together. The dice do not change for the rest of the Round.
2) Belligerent Actions
Starting with the Belligerent with the highest RFX and working to the Belligerent with the least, everyone either Holds or takes their turn. On your turn, you declare your Actions and the Narrator resolves them.
NPC Belligerents do not use Dice. Instead, the Narrator resolves each according to their Statblock. All NPCs have fixed values for Skills, Attributes, and Behavior to guide the Narrator on how to handle them.
PC Belligerents may use any number of dice for their Actions, but must use at least one per action. You may only declare Checks during your turn, but may React to anything which Targets you on any turn.
Once all Belligerents have taken their turns, The Narrator takes all unused PC dice. This is the Narrator's Pool.
3) Narrator Actions
The Narrator uses the Narrator's Pool to invoke their Abilities or the Abilities of any Belligerent NPCs in play. This can be beneficial or detrimental to the players, depending on what dice they left at the end of a turn. The Narrator must use up as many of the dice as possible.
All dice are returned to their owners and the next round begins with the same turn order.
Even if a Conflict is a single, unopposed PC doing a single action, follow the above format. Declare an intent, place down an Ante of Dice, make your check, resolve it, and give the Narrator the remaining dice.
If something Targets you first, such as a surprise attack from a Belligerent or trap, RFX determines if you are able to React. If your 1/2 of your RFX is greater than the Belligerent's RFX or the trap's danger rating, you may Ante and React as though it has taken the first turn.
Your Speed is 1 Space per point of LBS, so if you have 3 LBS your Speed is 3 Spaces. You first movement is a partial action unless there are Check Factors. Beyond that, you may move as many spaces as you like, but each divisible of your Speed adds another Malus.
Abilities are gained through Backstory or adventure and broaden the capabilities of your PC. Some Abilities are Passive and Some are active—read each for info on how to invoke it, and read the Abilities section for more information
Your PER is a constant Passive for noticing things, but if you want to be more thorough, declare an Investigation Check using one of your Skills.
The most important part of understanding any RPG is understanding how to do anything in it. In Ethnis, this is handled with Actions. An Action is declared against something or as a reaction to another Reaction, and it uses the Dice you rolled in the Ante phase of a Round. Once you have spent all your Dice on Actions, you cannot take any more Actions that round.
Follow these steps to Declare and Resove an Action.
When you know you want to accomplish something, or react to something, you declare an intent to do so. You do this by telling the Narrator what you want to do and what Skill or Ability you wish to use to accomplish it.
2: Resolve against Check Factors
E.Lite uses Fudge Dice to resolve Conflicts. All Actions are affected by Factors, which are divided into Maluses and Bonuses, and into three types: Environmental, Skill, and Oppositional.
Environmental Factors come from the outside world and extenuating 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.
Each Factor makes a situation more difficult (Malus) or more easy (Bonus). These are applied and Resolved one step at a time, but the summary is:
- The Narrator presents the Environmental Factors for you to overcome, if any
- You apply your Skill to negate any Maluses from the Environmental Factors
- If your Action is opposed, the outcome of the previous step is applied against the Opposing Factors
Ask the Narrator what Environmental Factors you know of when making your Actions, either from your PER or from previous Investifation checks. Your Narrator will present them to you as a set of 4 dice. Narrators, for instructions on how to determine and present these, read Resolving Actions.2: Skill Factors (Player)
Taking the line of 4 Dice from the previous step, you apply your own Dice against it, as well as any related Skill Factors. Spend your dice and Skill Factors against the Environmental Factors one at a time to create the most favorable possible outcome. You want the most
After the Player has dedicated their dice on the Action, the Narrator reveals any hidden Environmental Factors.3: Oppositional Factors (Contest)
When multiple Belligerents take Actions towards opposing outcome(s), those Actions enter Contest. A common example is one Belligerent targeting another with a Check, and the targeted Belligerent defending with a Reaction. Contest is settled by first resolving the Check against any Check Factors, then applying that against the Reaction. For a detailed guide on resolving Contest, read Resolving Actions.
4: Interpreting the Outcome
Outcomes 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.
Actions are your interactions with the world. They are resolved during the Action Phase. You cannot take Actions beyond the Dice you Ante and spend.
A Free Action is one that you can do without thinking or using a Dice. Some Abilities may explicitly turn some Actions into Free Actions.
Single Sentence Communication • Glancing Around
Invoking Abilities • Reloading • Restoring Charge • Using Items • Swapping Weapons • Communication
A Check is an Action made on a Target or with a specific outcome intended, for which there may be a penalty for failure.
Casting • Movement • Attacking • Analyzing Evidence • Climbs • Using Complicated Objects
A Save is an Action made as a response to being the Target of another Action.
Spell countering • Parrying Attacks • Dodging Traps • Veiling Motive • Shrouding a Spell
You may use any dice for a Check or a Save; a
|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 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.|
The party is scaling a cliff slope, it is raining, but there are existing handholds.More
The party is attempting to coax information out of someone. Unfortunately, this person is skeptical because the players broke in to talk to them and reek of monster blood. This could end badly if they aren't very charismatic!More
Abilities are gained through Backstory or adventure and broaden the capabilities of your PC. Some Abilities intentionally contradict base rules.
Active Abilities are Triggered and Depleted. Read each to determine how it works, what it effects, and how to Trigger it.
Passive Abilities are in effect so long as their conditions are true. If there are no listed conditions, they are always in effect.
Triggering an Ability
You may trigger an Active Ability whenever all of its conditions are met. Using an Active Ability Depletes it, and it cannot be used again until Refreshed.
Full Abilities Guide
The Toll of Adventure
It is inevitable that your adventures will take their toll, leaving you exhausted, wounded, or insane.
These, collectively, are known as The Toll.
How these affect you, how you handle them, and what the long term effects are will differ per character, per Toll, and per situation.
Invest into your well-being! 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.
Downtime is broken into half-hour chunks during which the party Travels, Rests, or works on Projects.
Downtime is a good opportunity to break between sessions, and offers you the opportunity to manage and upgrade your Character.
Whether it's a quick drive across town or a massive trek through the stars, travel is an inevitability, and tends to be the limiter on how much downtime you have.
As described in the Stamina article, you can use your downtime to catch some much-needed shut-eye.
Projects are undertakings of Skill to create, upgrade, or repair Gear. They may take between five minutes and several days to complete.
You can take this time to spend Plot on Levels and Gear. For more information on how to do that, read the next section!
You may spend a point of Plot to upgrade any Attribute by 1. An Attribute may never exceed 5.
You may spend a point to either upgrade an existing skill by + (up to a maximum of +++) or to define a new Skill. A Skill may not exceed +++.
Refer to the cost of Gear. You may either buy Gear, upgrade existing, or buy an Augment to attach to the gear.
If any Backstory Aspects can be upgraded or purchased, you may do so with Plot.
While it isn't required, we organizing your game into Beats, Chapters, and Books. It is a helpful way to think about your Campaign, keep things moving, and provide an ebb and flow on how you give your tables rewards. It only really works if your Campaign has a goal.
Narrators: LevelingDuring Downtime, the Narrator can trade their Plot to gain more Narrator Abilities to be used for or against the players.
Welcome to Ethnis
We love making Ethnis content, and have so many more sections and modules planned for it. Below are some of them! We need your help, though—please consider Supporting Ethnis on Patreon to help fund its development!