Basics of Role-Playing
The core essence of role-playing is to take on the role of a character in an imaginary game. This is something most of us have been doing in one form or another since we were children playing “make believe”. Role-playing has elements of improvisational acting, storytelling, and deductive reasoning in addition to gaming. Your character can be very similar to you, or everything you are not… depending on the world your character inhabits you might be a wise wizard, a cunning vampire, or a noble space marine. The more effort you put into creating a unique persona and acting out that character in the various circumstances in which you find yourself, the more enjoyment you will get out of it.
In a role-playing game, one player takes on the role of the Storyteller (or Game Master, Dungeon Master etc.) with the responsibility of describing the world the characters inhabit and telling the players what they can see, hear, feel, touch, and taste. The Storyteller is also responsible, as the name implies, for coming up with a story to set the players in. This story is not already written with neatly defined roles, but simply a rough framework. The players are the main characters in the story, and their actions determine what happens next. The Storyteller needs to be prepared to adapt to the other players' choices, so the most experienced player in your group of friends should probably start with the role of Storyteller. As the players get comfortable with the game, consider trading off the duties of the Storyteller.
This guide will focus on the role of a player in a game, responsible for a single character in the fantasy world of Lorithandar. For more information about the world of Lorithandar itself please consult the Lorithandar Campaign Guide.
About the Brilliance & Shadow System
Brilliance & Shadow is a tabletop roleplaying system designed for epic fantasy where players take on the roles of powerful characters called Fated in a world of faerie, trolls, and magic spells. What makes Brilliance & Shadow different from many other games is the epic scope of the game. Players begin play with powerful abilities and skills far beyond ordinary mortals, and only become more formidable with time.
Like most role-playing games played around a table, Brilliance & Shadow uses dice to determine the outcome of actions. Anytime a character performs a non-trivial action, the player rolls dice to see whether the action succeeds or fails. This system uses 10-sided dice. We recommend that each player have 10 to 20 dice on hand. The better your character is at performing a task, the more dice you will need. The number of dice rolled to represent an attempt made by your character is referred to as your “dice pool”.
Characters possess a variety of numbers used to describe their natural capabilities, trained skills, and how much injury they can endure before death. These numbers are fully described in the following chapters.
Modifiers are Bonuses and Penalties applied to the dice pool you roll to determine success. In most cases, bonuses add the listed number to the dice pool as additional dice, while penalties remove the listed number from the pool.
Rolling the Dice
When your dice pool has been modified by all applicable bonuses and penalties, the remainder are rolled to determine success. Each die is considered a success on an 8, 9, or 10. Some actions require only a single success, while others improve the result the more successes are rolled. Additionally, rolling a natural 10 (0 on the die) allows you to re-roll that die. Some powerful spells and powers can expand this allowing re-rolls on 9's or 8's as well. Sometimes dice pools suffer penalties that would reduce the dice pool to below 1 die. In these cases your character still gets to roll a single die.
Types of Actions
All actions are classified in a number of different ways, which help to structure what you can and can not do in a given length of time. There are Free Actions, Fast Actions, Move Actions, Standard Actions, and Full Actions. Additionally, you can modify these actions with Readied Actions or Delayed Actions. There are also actions that are much longer, requiring too much time to be included in combat rounds, such as rituals. See the main article link below for details on each type of action.
Combat is treated the same way as other forms of rolls. An applicable Stat and Skill are combined, Modifiers are applied, and the results indicate the success of the attack, or spell. Unlike many other tabletop games, rolls to hit and rolls for damage are combined into a single roll. This helps keep combat moving quickly so players don’t spend the bulk of the game waiting for other players to roll.
See the main article for Combat for details on how combat rolls are determined, modifiers that may or may not be applied, and how resolution occurs.
Player's begin each session with 1 Story Point that may be used to provide 3 bonus dice on a roll. Story Points may also be required to activate certain powers (e.g. Heroism or Legendary). Only one such point can be spent each round. Storyteller's may reward good role-playing with bonus Story Points that must be spent in that session. Any unused bonus Story Points at the end of a session are lost.
Creating a Character
Creating a character is the very first thing you will be doing with the Brilliance and Shadow system. This character will be your representation in the story that the Storyteller weaves for you. It will contain your triumphs, your defeats, your personalities, your interactions, and your memories. Characters in Brilliance and Shadow are far more versatile than in other role playing systems, and it is easy for new players to become overwhelmed with their choices. It is recommended that beginning players choose from one of the Pre-Built Archetypes so that they can really get a feel for how the system works before building their own first character.
Once you have a grasp of how the system works, or if you really want to dive into the vast landscape of possibilities and bring elements together to bring your own idea to life, see the main article on Creating a Character below.
If you need some tips or quick reference, see the article on hints to building a well rounded character
Earning and Spending Experience
At any time in a session, though more commonly at the end of play, you could be awarded with XP that you can choose to spend, or save toward a long term goal. XP can be used to increase the rank of an attribute, learn a new skill, add or increase the level of a merit, and so on. Experience is granted as a combination of General Experience (GXP) and Skill Experience (SXP). Skill Experience may only be spent on raising Skill Ranks while General Experience may be spent on anything.
Typically, XP is awarded per unit of time spent roleplaying, not based on encounter results or things killed, as in other systems. This is done to encourage actual play time and discourage fighting encounters simply for the sake of earning experience.