E.Lite RPG

Introduction

Ethnis Lite is the condensed spirit and ruleset of the Ethnis Core RPG, optimized for narrative roleplay adventures within the Ethnis Universe. It uses FUDGE dice for play, and requires only that and some Ethnis sheets.  
Ethnis Lite is being developed with live play, World Anvil, and play-by-post all in mind.
   
This is where the pitch for Ethnis will go.

Choosing Ethnis Lite


Want to support Ethnis Lite? You can join the Patreon from the top bar above. Read more about it here.
 

  Getting Started

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!

Navigation

 

Clicking the # at start of each section sets the address bar to link there for copypasting or bookmarking.

 

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 Lite

Within 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.
Mechanic notes are there to tell you another way to use a mechanic or how it's intended to be used.
Secrets are only visible to Patrons or close friends. They contain developer notes explaining the logic behind our game design.
Quotes are bits of flavor used to illustrate the text through storytelling or excerpts from example games.
Sidebars are additional information on the topic that you will need to know to use it in-depth, but don't need on a casual read.

  Beginning a Campaign

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 Abilities

Next, 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 Personality

From 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.

Narrators
Generic article | Jun 15, 2020

The Narrator is the Game Master's Character within the Ethnis Lite RPG. The Narrator represents the Game Master's influence while also subtly guiding them on how to best use the E.Lite game mechanics.

Helpful Terms

Tone

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.

Themes

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.

Trials

The sorts of events the party would like to have happen. Not everyone wants heavy combat, not everyone wants politics.

 Creating your Character

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.

SophontEncapsulates your physiological features
ProvenanceEncapsulates your upbringing and morals
BannerEncapsulates your cultural norms and ethics
MantleEncapsulates your primary occupation

Once you have chosen a Sophont, Provenance, Banner, and a Mantle you may move to the next step!

Shared Backstory

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.

Attributes
SkillsUpgrade Skills to negate the Maluses of Checks
Gear
Mantles

Starting Plot

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.

ExperiencePlot
Novice50
Veteran100
Grizzled200

3: Calculate Stats

Next, calculate your Stats. Here is a table of the different Stats, what they do, and how to calculate them.

StatEffect / UsageCalculation
Damage ResistLowers the damage of incoming attacksVIT
StaminaThreshold before exhaustion affects checksVIT + UBS + LBS + RFX
SanityHow much mental strain you can handle10 + NRV
EncumbranceWhat you can carry overall, and in handUBS + LBS
ManaYour reserve of mana2*MTP
Words

 Conflict

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.

Rounds

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.

Round Begins

1) Ante

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.

4) Upkeep

All dice are returned to their owners and the next round begins with the same turn order.

Round Ends
Singular Checks

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.

Being Surprised

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.

Movement (Walk/Run)

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.

Invoking Abilities

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

Investigation (Spot)

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.

 

Actions

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.

Action Begins
1: Declare

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:

  1.   The Narrator presents the Environmental Factors for you to overcome, if any
  2.   You apply your Skill to negate any Maluses from the Environmental Factors
  3.   If your Action is opposed, the outcome of the previous step is applied against the Opposing Factors
1: Environmental Factors (Gaia)

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.

Dice Interactions
Fudge Minus
+
Fudge Plus
=
Fudge Blank
Fudge Plus
+
Fudge Minus
=
Fudge Blank
Fudge Blank
+
Fudge Minus
=
Fudge Minus
Fudge Blank
+
Fudge Plus
=
Fudge Plus
Fudge Empty
+
Fudge Minus
=
Fudge Minus
Fudge Empty
+
Fudge Plus
=
Fudge Plus
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
Fudge Plus
and least
Fudge Minus
possible! Bonuses and Maluses don't cancel out!

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.

Action Ends

Action Types

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.

Free

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

Partial A Partial Action takes no skill, but still requires your momentary attention. Partials require an
Fudge Blank
.
Invoking Abilities • Reloading • Restoring Charge • Using Items • Swapping Weapons • Communication

Check

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

Save

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
Fudge Blank
does nothing, but still allows you to apply any skill bonus you may have.

The Dice

Dice represent your Actions, Spending a dice represents focusing on something to Act on it.

Fudge Minus

  Negative dice have a negative bearing

Fudge Blank

  Neutral dice have no direct bearing

Fudge Plus

  Positive dice have a positive bearing



Value Outcome
Fudge Plus
Fudge Plus
Fudge Plus
Fudge Plus
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...
Fudge Plus
Fudge Plus
Fudge Plus
Fudge Blank
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...
Fudge Plus
Fudge Plus
Fudge Plus
Fudge Minus
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!
Fudge Plus
Fudge Plus
Fudge Blank
Fudge Blank
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.
Fudge Plus
Fudge Blank
Fudge Blank
Fudge Blank
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.
Fudge Plus
Fudge Plus
Fudge Blank
Fudge Minus
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!
Fudge Plus
Fudge Plus
Fudge Minus
Fudge Minus
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.
Fudge Plus
Fudge Blank
Fudge Blank
Fudge Minus
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!
Fudge Blank
Fudge Blank
Fudge Blank
Fudge Blank
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.
Fudge Plus
Fudge Blank
Fudge Minus
Fudge Minus
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.
Fudge Blank
Fudge Blank
Fudge Blank
Fudge Minus
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.
Fudge Plus
Fudge Minus
Fudge Minus
Fudge Minus
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!
Fudge Blank
Fudge Blank
Fudge Minus
Fudge Minus
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!
Fudge Blank
Fudge Minus
Fudge Minus
Fudge Minus
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.
Fudge Minus
Fudge Minus
Fudge Minus
Fudge Minus
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.

Check Difficulty:
Fudge Plus
Fudge Blank
Fudge Blank
Fudge Minus
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!

Check Difficulty:
Fudge Minus
Fudge Minus
Fudge Blank
Fudge Blank
More

 Managing your Character

Abilities

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.

Refreshing

Abilities are Refreshed by fulfilling a Mantra or taking a rest to sleep. If a Mantra is used, it becomes Depleted until next rest.

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.

Downtime

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.

Travel

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.

Rest

As described in the Stamina article, you can use your downtime to catch some much-needed shut-eye.

Projects

Projects are undertakings of Skill to create, upgrade, or repair Gear. They may take between five minutes and several days to complete.

Spend Plot

You can take this time to spend Plot on Levels and Gear. For more information on how to do that, read the next section!

Leveling

Attributes

You may spend a point of Plot to upgrade any Attribute by 1. An Attribute may never exceed 5.

Skills

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 +++.

Gear

Refer to the cost of Gear. You may either buy Gear, upgrade existing, or buy an Augment to attach to the gear.

Backstory Aspects

If any Backstory Aspects can be upgraded or purchased, you may do so with Plot.


 Narrating the Game

Pacing

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.

 

Beats

Alternatively: Scene
A beat is equivalent to an unbroken scene in a show. Any time there's a fade to a new scenario or a major lull in storytelling, that's a beat. They should take 5-10 minutes to resolve.   Breaking your game into Beats, each with just one or two goals, can help keep your game focused and on-track. This might be a long fight, clearing a room in a dungeon, or so forth.   The reward of a Beat might be finding minor loot (like Materials), learning a useful bit of information, unlocking a new area, or making a new friend.

Chapters

Alternatively: Episode, Act
Chapters are cohesive collections of interrelated Beats all working together to form an arc in a story. Any time Beats are working together towards a climax, that's a Chapter. They should take 5-6 hours to resolve.   Breaking your game into Chapters with one major climax, creates a point of narrative tension you can pivot on. This might be a dungeon with a climactic boss fight or a harrowing investigation and its results.   The reward of a Chapter should be a Plot point.

Books

Alternatively: Season, Movie
Books are collections of Chapters. They are higher-order major questlines towards a major known goal. Any time there's a looming threat of major plot, that's a Book. They should take 40-50 hours to resolve.   A Book might be stopping a big bad or stopping one of the 7 Princes of hell on the way to fight lucifer in Book 8. Usually there's a time skip and some personal progression between Books.   The reward of a Chapter should be 5 Plot points.
 
Some Campaigns might go onto a higher order than that. A plural of Books is a Saga.

Narrators: Leveling

During Downtime, the Narrator can trade their Plot to gain more Narrator Abilities to be used for or against the players.

More Mechanics

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!

Vehicular Combat

Vehicular Combat includes any naval, air, space, or terrestrial vehicles. Maintaining your vessel as it takes damage while trying to bring down an opponent, and teammates all tending to different parts of the vehicle. Think Star Trek, with each crew member doing their own thing!

Survival and Malaise

Survival and Malaise is about surviving against all manner of hostile conditions from the land and from sickness. It encompasses anything from plague-fueled settings to vampires to post-apocalyptic hells.

Group Control/Management

Group Control/Management is about hiring NPCs or summoning minions, familiars, and so forth to do your bidding. Imagine a game with a leadership class who commands NPCs to fight in her stead, or a necromancer with nuanced control over his zombies!

Heists and Chases

Heists and Chases are about elaborate setups to get into a place, evading constant surveillance and not getting caught! All the buildup and planning, flexing with the unknown, and getting away with life and treasure in hand!

Taste of Adventure

Potions, feasts, and effects ahoy. Taste of Adventure is all about putting together ingredients into meals and effects, and how to integrate them into your game. Will feature the Alchemist and Chef classes!


Articles under E.Lite RPG


Comments

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31 Aug, 2019 18:14

This is a very interesting system. I might try to use it for my world; It seems almost perfect. Does it come with spell descriptions like DnD?

2 Sep, 2019 21:55

We will be developing different pages for the different common kinds of magic (Vancian, Ritual, Etc) and will be putting out a vote at some point to prioritize which ones get made first!   I'm glad you like it, feel free to join the discord server to keep up to date on it. :)

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