Break is a game about breaking rules. All the rules. Even the rules of the game.
It is currently being developed based on Earthflame's ideas and under his supervision.
You have six stats, one of which will be discussed later. For now: Brawn, Agility, Wits, Smarts, and Charm.
- Brawn is physical strength.
- Agility is physical finesse.
- Smarts is mental strength.
- Wits is mental finesse.
- Charm is the necessary social stuff.
Stat six is what makes you tick. It's the heart of you, the fire in your belly, the shining spark in your mind. A generic term would be willpower, but you know what? Fuck that. Come up with a cool name for it, stick it on your sheet. That's your sixth stat. And if you wrangle it right with your GM, it might be more useful than you'd think.
You get 14 points to distribute among your stats, with a minimum of 1 per stat. You can choose to keep some unspent points as well (they might come in handy later).
In addition, you have traits. Traits are anything that your stats aren't. Pretty simple. Special equipment or techniques, special abilities and mundane skills, certain aptitudes or aspects of your character's personality. If it's broad, your GM might reduce the value, if it's narrow, they might increase it.
As a possible guideline, although it all depends on your GM, a common trait, more or less as useful as a stat (for instance, Marksmanship (Rifles)) would give you a bonus of 1 for 1 trait point spent. If it is significantly narrower and less useful than a stat (for instance, Marksmanship (ZZ-722 Lazer Rifle)), 1 point for a bonus of 2. If it's significantly broader and more useful than a stat (for instance, Marksmanship), 2 points for a bonus of 1. If it expands or increases your capabilities in a way which is beyond the norm, it can cost additional points (1-3, GM arbitrates).
You may also take traits that do not grant bonuses, but simply provide additional capabilities; as mentioned earlier, it could be some special equipment your character owns and that you wouldn't normally start with.
You get ten points to distribute among your traits. If you like, you can choose to save some of these points (they too could come in handy later).
The system is simple. Rolls are 1d6 + stat + trait vs DC. Nothing special.
Combat was purposefully left vague, first because the system is designed to be kept simple and the GM can choose how they wish to handle this. Another reason is that you can easily discard the previous sections and implant Break into an existing system.
If you want to play a pure Break game, a basic example of dealing with combat would be to set HP equalling twice Brawn, which, if reaching a value equal to negative Brawn, implies serious injury or death. An opposed Agility roll could be used for attacks and defence, and a Brawn roll for damage, with Breaks allowing various advanced combat options, sudden recoveries, et cetera.
This is where it gets interesting. This is the core of the game.
Breaks are like drama points, action points, and all those other things, turned up to 11.
Breaks do what they say on the tin. Break stuff. See the rules in the previous section? Spend a Break, you can break them. Want to roll 2d6? Go for it. Want to change the DC? Fine. Say you're doing it, toss in your Break, and describe it in an awesome way. For larger and more difficult impossible shit, you might need to spend multiple Breaks. As long as you've got the requisite Breaks, it's cool. Assuming your GM's an awesome dude/chick (and they should be, for running this game), it'll be cool.
Breaks aren't just for mechanics either. A steel door is in your way? Break. It's down. A tall obstacle in your path? Break. Holy shit, you're fucking Superman. You're going to die? Break. Oh shit, you're Jesus/John McClane.
You start the game with one Break. Your Lucky Break. The Break which causes the cracks which you'll keep breaking open as time goes on. Because, with that one Break, you earn more Breaks. Cue exponential growth and crazyness.
In some games, they'll be awesome points, gained by doing awesome things, spent to do more awesome things. In others, they could come in at specific times, or through specific actions or types of actions. You could earn two Breaks every time you spend one, but they only come in after the current scene.
An optional rule would be scaling Breaks. Basically, at the start of a scene, everyone drops to one, and has to build up again, simple stuff before the crazyawesome stuff. It works with certain tropes better than others, so do what you think is best. (This can be broken too.)
And, as everyone knows, the more damaged something gets, the easier it is for it to get further damaged. Basically, the more Breaks you use, the more Breaks you should get. You should never be left with none, and you shouldn't be left with few for too long.
[Note: For people wanting to tone down the general level of what the fuck crazy, you might want to set a theme or structure for Breaks. However, the basic system is not going to, since it's pretty easy to work out on your own and if we made one, it wouldn't work as well as one a group came up with on their own. Oh, and by the way, these themes? Yeah, they can get broken too.]
[Note for GMs: In Break, you are not in control. That's one of the first things that will be broken. You can't really say no, and you can't really stop them. They will Break you. So, stop trying. Go with the flow, and break some things of your own. Break down your archetypes, break down your clichés, break down your plots. Break out, and have fun.]
Remember we mentioned you don't need to spend all your stat and trait points earlier? Here's why.
[PLACEHOLDERNAME]. It's equal to all your points left, plus three, times three. The first time you gain a number of Breaks equal to your [PLACEHOLDER], you hit a Breaking Point.
You can hold on to a Breaking Point for a while, but if you're hitting the number of breaks it takes to get one, like as not you'll need it.
Breaking Points are absolute. They cannot be Broken. If you use a Breaking Point, you succeed. Whatever you're trying to do works.
The downside? You can't break the cost. It works, and there will be consequences for it. You might cause untold harm, you might fail a secondary goal, or people might die. Hell, you might die. It's a Breaking Point. Shit will get fucked. Up.
You can choose to die. If the negative consequences would be too terrible, your character can die to succeed without them. But your dude's dead. Tough shit. No breaking it, no bringing 'em back. Dead.
If you survive a Breaking Point, you're Broken, for now. No Breaks, you're basically wiped out. Soon enough though, you'll be back on your feet, and sooner if a friend Breaks your condition.
However, keep a note of how many Breaking Points you've had. The more you have, the worse the consequences get. The more you might have to sacrifice to stay alive, to keep going, to succeed.
Even in Break, some things are unbreakable; if it were not so, the game couldn't possibly last ten minutes. There are some rules that should not be broken. For instance, using your first Break to directly acquire more Breaks. And you cannot break stuff in real life just because the game allows you to.
"I can fix it."
Note: This section was built from an anon's contribution, but I'm leaving it out of the suggestions since Earthflame mentioned he was already planning something very much like this.
Fixers. Entities whose sole purpose is fixing things. Srs bznss types of the real world whose JOB it is to fix the things (and ideas) the PCs keep breaking. But some of them, a select few, do more than just repair, they really REALLY FIX stuff. You break something minor and temporary, it's no big deal, but that alarm you Broke that needed to stay Broken to keep the cops off your tail? Sad fact son, the fixers fixed it, and the man is on the way. Re-break it? No no no kid, that shit is FIXED. Fixed like a fixed point in space. Fixed like a basic law of the universe. You want to save your ass, you better find something else to Break.
This section sums up the suggestions for modifications of the system. Discussion about this article should be kept in the usual Discussion page.
Most of the following are written in the present tense for clarity, but are all suggestions. For now, each section is listed according to their order of appearance in the discussion threads.
These suggestions all have their pros and cons. Note that for the sake of clarity, everything in this article uses the original names: the more breaks you use, the closer you get to the [PLACEHOLDERNAME]/Breaking Point, which grants you a Breaking Point.
- The regular breaks could be called "bends", as you distort reality moderately. The ones you earn at the Breaking Point would then be the actual "breaks", which really tear things down.
- The [PLACHEOLDER] thing could named Twist. Insomuch as that you Break the world enough that it Twists, and instead of catching a Break the DM gets to Twist it on you.
- Or the [PLACEHOLDER] thing could be called "Tolerance" () which allows some leeway to imperfection before something ultimately breaks as characters are breaking game mechanics (the main reason why this name is picked), the world, reality, and other characters. Characters could be considered Tools (see where I'm going with this?) that break and bend stuff, however every time they do, they begin to bend themselves until they have reached past their Tolerance level and reach their Breaking Point. Bends are temporary breaks (and thus allow characters to reach the breaking point) but the effects fade after a while depending on what the target of the bend is (poles can be bent permanently or snapped in half with a break (also permanent), whereas space can be bent to create a temporary wormhole (because space is folding in on itself), or broken to create a permanent wormhole (like bending space in on itself and stapling it together at that point). -Anonymous (SC) 08:49, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
- You may want to limit Breaks to exaggerated things the players COULD DO. You can break down a soft door with your Brawn, you can break down a reinforced steel door with a Break. You can't turn metal into gold. You can't turn metal into gold with a Break. It's unclear and rather suggestive whether this really is a suggestion or if it's actually what Earthflame intended from the start.
- If you acquire a Breaking Point while you already have an unused one, it gets activated immediately.
- Once you reach the Breaking Point, you can no longer earn Breaks (or even use them?) until you use your BP. This also has some role-playing value, implying that those who are weaker (having spent less stat and trait points) are less capable of jumping to Breaking Points quickly.
- Breaking Points could be used like a genie's wish: if you don't state it insanely precisely, you know that something will go awry, although your wish will be fulfilled in some way.
- You could also make it so that whenever you reach the Breaking Point, it activates immediately. No stacking, no delaying.
- An interesting role-play idea would be to leave the Breaking Point unknown to the player, so that he never knows when his Breaks will suddenly get crazy. This would encourage a philosophy like "I've used a lot of Breaks already so maybe I'm in trouble, but fuck it, Break anyway!" instead of "My next Break is a BP, I'd better hold onto it until I really need it!".
- The number of fixes the DM gets to use could depend on the number of Breaks used by the players. For instance, that number could be the amount of players in the group.
- Jed's system: When a normal stat+trait roll can't break it, you must make a Break roll against a certain DC, and every Break you spend lets you roll a d6. For example, you may be confronted to a DC 6 challenge and choose to spend 2 Breaks to roll 2d6 instead of only one, which wouldn't leave you much chances to succeed. On a miss, you still get a favorable effect, but your objective isn't quite satisfied. Also, if your roll exceeds your Breaking Point number, you trigger an undesirable effect like the standard Breaking Point consequences. Lastly, you gain a number of Breaks equal to half your score on the roll, rounded. This means after using a Break, you always get at least one back.
- Anonymous tester's changes: Breaks become Bends, the world gets a Crack stat, and what is being called the Breaking Point becomes a Break. Being where the players bend reality (possibly letting them do it freely, just to push the limit), and based on just how far they're pushing reality they add a number from one to ten to the area's Crack stat ("I break down the door", 2; "I make him stop existing", 10 (rough numbers)). When reality is Cracked enough, it Breaks and bad shit goes down. Gravity turns off, earthquakes, or whatever. Thinking about it now, I think that the amount of crack generated would be dependent on the player's sixth stat.
An attempt to put some form of 'rulebook' out for the system so far, BREAK-R is the result of BSRaven - one of the Break Mecha playtesters - deciding to take the rules used for Break Mecha and balance them somewhat. Currently in Alpha 1.75, with Alpha 2 on the way after a near-total rewrite. Alpha 1.75 download link
I'll post a list of contributors here in case it's wanted in the future. Can also serve to mention those I quoted without quotes to make this page.
- Earthflame - Mastermind.
- S - Created this page and kind of proposed the "bend/breaking point/break" nomenclature.
- Gamerfag - Twist.
- Some anon who knew Earthflame - brought up fixers in an awesome way.
- Why is this box filled in - Examples on traits.
- Jed - Jed's similar system.
- Cypher - general discussion, testing and bumping.
- BSRaven - BREAK-R
- Others and anons - discussion and ideas.