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Glossary of Terms

Brilliance & Shadow has a variety of special terms that may be confusing for new players. Here is a description of the most important ones.


Statistics, or "Stats," include the six core attributes (Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Willpower, or Charisma) that help determine a character's strengths and weaknesses. They are used to determine a number of secondary statistics such as the following:


A representation of the physical well-being of a player or creature. Missing points of Health indicates substantial injury. Players may act without penalty until they reach 0 Health at which point they become disabled. They are unconscious and unable to perform actions, move, or communicate. If a player takes damage that would reduce them below 0 Health, they are reduced to negative Health and additionally suffer 1 point of lethal damage per round as they bleed out. If a player is reduced to negative Health equal to their maximum Health they die. Some powers or benefits, such as the Toughness benefit allow players to stay conscious (and avoid bleeding) until a specified negative Health.


A representation of a player or creatures ability to shrug off minor wounds such as bruises and blunt impact. Non-lethal damage reduces Vigor, and when reduced to 0 Vigor any additional non-lethal damage is instead applied as lethal damage to Health.


A representation of the ability to throw off, struggle through, or ignore effects that would impact the target’s mind or body directly such as poisons, diseases, and magical illusions and compulsions. Some powers and spells can

Physical Defense

A representation of the ability to avoid, block, or reduce incoming physical harm. Physical defense reduces the dice pools of incoming melee and ranged physical attacks such as swords and bows. Physical defense is comprised of a combination of Armor, Dodge, and Shield bonuses.

Armor Value

A defensive bonus that reduces the dice pool allotted to incoming physical attacks. Physical armors have a maximum dodge they allow, a minimum strength requirement, and a penalty to movement and some physical skills.

Armor Piercing

An offensive bonus that reduces the benefit of a target’s armor. For each point of Armor Piercing (AP) on an attack, the armor is reduced a point in effectiveness. In cases where armor is paired with damage reduction (such as with heavy armor) and the armor bonus is reduced to 0 by Armor Piercing, the Damage Reduction is reduced to 0.


A defensive bonus that reduces incoming physical attacks. Dodge may only be applied when a character is aware of an incoming attack. Many magical attacks ignore dodge, and some physical attacks may as well.

Ignore Dodge

An offensive bonus that reduces the benefit of a target’s dodge. For each point of Ignore Dodge (ID) on an attack, the dodge is reduced a point in effectiveness. Normally Ignore Dodge cannot make a target Flat Footed, however some specific powers may state otherwise.

Dodge Reduction

This effect is a representation of a player or creature’s inability to maintain full focuses while being attacked from multiple sides. Each time a player is attacked within melee range - or with a close-range spell such as Psychic Knife, which rolls against a target’s Dodge as a component of Defense - their Dodge bonus is reduced by 1 to a minimum of 0. A target with a Dodge of 0 is considered Flat-footed.


A defensive bonus that prevents the reduction of dodge. This includes both Dodge Reduction and powers that would reduce dodge such as Viper Strike. Each point of Parry prevents 1 point of Dodge Reduction per round. This "pool" of points resets at the beginning of each round.


A term that implies a target is not aware or able to defend against an attack. A Flat-Footed target does not get to apply their Dodge bonus or any Shield bonus to their Defense against an incoming attack. Some abilities such as Assassination's Sneak Attack deal additional damage or effects to a Flat-Footed target.

Magical Defense

A representation of the ability to deflect, avoid, or reduce incoming magical harm. Magical defense reduces the dice pools of incoming aimed spell attacks such as Fireballs and Lightning Bolts. Magical Defense does not provide any benefit against spells that directly affect the target’s mind or body such as illusions or compulsions.

Damage Reduction

A defensive bonus that reduces incoming lethal damage to non-lethal damage, making it affect a character's Vigor pool instead of its Health. Damage Reduction may be either Physical or Magical, applying to the appropriate form of damage.

Magic Armor

A form of defensive spell which provides bonuses to some combination of Physical Defense, Magical Defense, and Magic Resistance. Sometimes these spells may offer other bonuses such as Damage Reduction.

Special Types of Damage and Healing

Flat Damage

"Flat damage" is a term that is occasionally used to describe damage that does not require a dice roll, but is instead directly applied to a target's health. This is common in cases where the target has failed to Resist a damaging poison or spell.

Mortal Damage

Most damage is either Lethal damage (axes, swords, fireballs) or Non-Lethal damage (falling, weapon damage reduced by armor, sorcerous Backlash). However, some rare and dangerous sources may deal Mortal damage. Creatures take Mortal damage from inimical sources (e.g. Undead take Mortal damage from fire). When a source deals Mortal damage, calculate damage as normal and then double the result. If a Fireball spell would deal 3 damage to a zombie, it would instead deal 6.

Natural Healing

Each day, a character may take a long rest (generally requiring at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep) in an attempt to naturally recover from wounds. This method of healing naturally recovers 1 Health Point per day. Multiple rests do not recover more hit points, however a successful Medicine Skill check may increase the amount of healing to 2 Health Points.

Lethal Healing

Each point of Lethal healing recovers one Health Point or two points of Vigor, with Health Points being replenished first. Some magical effects may exclusively replenish Vigor, but unless otherwise specified, magical healing is always considered Lethal healing.