Trigger Discipline

Trigger Discipline

Beta Playtest Rules, version 0.4; prior version found here.

Created by Dagda. Credit goes to Steve Darlington for the There Is No Spoon rules, and to the residents of 4chan's /tg/ board for the original game concept; thanks are particularly due to Henrich Keselman for all his feedback and suggestions.

INTRODUCTION 

What is this game?

    Trigger Discipline is an tongue-in-cheek RPG where you play as characters in an anime- not people in an anime-style setting, but actual fictional characters in a TV show. This means that the world they're in operates according to the laws of dramatic storytelling rather that logic- in other words, "million to one chances crop up nine times out of ten."

The person running the game is known as the Director; one way to interpret the game is that the players are characters in the Director's imagination who have become a little *too* well-realized. With a set of motivations and desires that shrug off outside attempts at revision, they pursue their own course even when doing so threatens to disrupt both the planned plotline and the Director's sanity (which clearly isn't doing too well to begin with).

    From a metagame view, Trigger Discipline's focus is rules-light fantastic action, with a large emphasis on character roleplaying and cool player-narrated stunts. The goal is a game where you can laugh at how crazy and over-the-top events are, while still cheering because the over-the-top nature of what's happening doesn't make it any less AWESOME.

 

Play Structure

    Games in Trigger Discipline are divided into episodes; the default definition is that one episode equals one session of play. Episodes are in turn composed of individual scenes, with a new scene usually beginning whenever there's a significant change of setting and/or location. Each scene can contain one or more challenges that the characters must overcome; these sequences can be anything from explosion-filled battles to an attempt to sneak into the girl's locker room.

With each new episode the scale increases further, with the eighth episode being time for the epic final battle (meaning that an eight "episode"-long Trigger Discipline game actually resembles a 26-episode TV season). Directors who want to run a more sustainable game can treat new episodes as other games treat new character levels, gained after reaching new story milestones or completing a certain number of challenges.

 

CHARACTER CREATION

Character Statistics

-Characters choose an Archetype and Role at character creation; the former determines the type of personality they're rewarded for roleplaying, while the latter provides a benefit to actions that reinforce a certain kind of relationship to others in the group. The only time these stats might change is if a player, with Director approval, swaps out a chosen archetype/role for another to reflect a change in their character's personality.

-Characters have 3 kinds of scores: A GAR score, a Power score, and a collection of different Trait scores. These scores improve over time and reflect a character's odds of succeeding (though not necessarily their level of ability).

-Lastly, there are 3 kinds of points that characters can gain (up to a limit), lose and/or spend in a variety of ways: Fanbase (Starts at 1/1), GAR Charge (Starts at 0/2)) and Plot Armor (Starts at 3/3).

Archetype

Your archetype is the main way you can build up your GAR Charge- once per scene, a player can receive a point of GAR Charge from the director for fulfilling their archetype in a cool/interesting fashion.

The ____ character must impress, shock, frighten or otherwise unnerve others in a way that hinges on them being ____:

1: Antisocial- Incapable of interacting with others in a normal fashion.

2: Brainy- Knowledgeable on subjects well over others' heads.

3: Coldblooded- Cold and emotionless.

4: Crass- Heedless of social decorum and proper conduct.

5: Hotblooded- Rash and enthusiastic.

6: Idealistic- Determined to interpret whatever happens in a certain way.

7: Laidback- Relaxed and easygoing.

8: Psycho- Demented and potentially dangerous.

9: Uncertain- Prone to self-doubt and introspection.

10: Scheming- Prone to making complex plots and manipulating others.

Role

Your role provides an improved chance of success when you play a certain part in the team dynamic.

The ___ receives a free point of GAR Charge every scene, that can be spent on ___.

1: Caretaker- Any roll being done to benefit another member of the team.

2: Lone Wolf- Any roll for an action being done on his own, without any help

3: Mentor- Any roll being made by a teammate that falls under one of the Mentor's traits.

4: Renegade- Any roll for an action being done in defiance of authority figures.

5: Rival- Any roll for an action that's also being taken by someone else in competition with the Rival.

6: Rookie- Any roll where the trait score is less than the relevant trait score of another character who's providing the Rookie with guidance.

7: Servant- Any roll that fulfills orders/directions given to him by another character.

8: Specialist- Any roll that uses specific trait, chosen at character creation.

9: Strategist- Any roll for an action that's part of a plan conceived prior to the start of the current Challenge.

10: Veteran- Any roll where no teammate possesses a higher score in a relevant trait.

GAR Score

    Your GAR score starts at 1 and can never exceed the current episode number. GAR is an internet slang term meaning "Manly Badass"; since scores represent the odds that a character will succeed in a way that hinges on the aspect associated with that score, rolling a GAR success means your character has succeeded in a way that involves them being a manly badass. Just to be clear, "manly" in this case refers to the wide variety of positive virtues associated with the term (such as honor, strength, confidence and skill).

Power Score

    Your power score starts at 2 and can never exceed the current episode number by more than one. A Power score represents some resource or ability at a main character's disposal that puts them on another level when compared with those who lack it. Specifically, it represents the end performance of this aspect, rather than just its raw strength or the skill with which the character uses it. The nature of this aspect depends on a given game's premise- Trigger Discipline is meant for fantastic action, and the Power score is in turn meant to represent whatever makes that action fantastic. "Mecha" (for a game where you pilot giant robots), "Magic" (for a "school fighting" game set in a wizard's academy) and "Ki" (for your classic superpowered martial-arts setup) are all possibilities. Other games might use two or more distinct "power sources" for heroes and villains, such as Heart and Cruelty for a magical girl setup. For games in which the nature of peoples' abilities vary widely, the director has two options: Have each character select their own "Power", or tie it into an important thematic value for the series such as Friendship, Determination, or Luck.

Trait Scores

Your various trait scores represent whatever aspects of your character are relevant to how they overcome obstacles- skills, equipment, personality, desires, habits, quirks, flaws, and so on. You start with 10 trait ranks, which can be spent now or once the game is underway- this is always allowed so long as you can adequately justify the in-game character development in the eyes of the Director. A trait's rank cannot exceed the current episode number. By default a trait's score and rank are one and the same, but there are two factors that can change this: First, during a given challenge a trait's score is reduced by one for each previous use, to a minimum of 1. Second, when picking a trait you can increase its score based on in-game factors that limit how often your character can/will use it.

To provide a +1 limit bonus a trait should be usable in less than half the challenges a character faces and/or fewer than 5 times per session. To provide a +2 bonus the trait should be used an average of about twice per session. To provide a +3 bonus the trait should be used an average of less than once per session. Normally, traits dealing with a character's personality and style will have little to no limitation since they can apply to almost any situation, while "special techniques" and other traits dealing with specific actions will be less broadly applicable (and thus more powerful when they do get used). But this is hardly set in stone; a character who tries to address any and all problems with the liberal application of their trademark Forbidden Soaring Knee Strike (using it to open soup cans and so on) would probably not give that trait a limit. Meanwhile, a cowardly character who struggles to overcome his fear in combat might take Courageous with a +3 limit bonus; thus, on the rare occasions when he does overcome his fear his courageous action will have a very high chance of success.

PLAYING THE GAME

The Core Mechanic

    Trigger Discipline uses a roll-under system- a roll counts as a Success if the die result is equal to or less than the associated score. Players decide which Trait they'll use, then say which Goal they're trying to achieve- "I'm going to try and scare him using my Swordsman trait", or "I'm going to attack the big one using my Screaming Loudly trait". Next, they roll to see whether they succeed or fail (and which scores were key to their success). Based off this, they can then narrate in detail what their characters do and how it plays out, with the Director helping out and vetoing them if details get out of hand. There are no official turns- out of game, all participants are considered to be rolling simultaneously.

    Rolls are usually made with three dice, one for each score- the Power die might not be rolled if the character isn't going to use the associated in-game aspect, and a player *could* hypothetically decide not to roll the GAR die if they can't think of a way their character could accomplish the goal in a badass and manly fashion (Boooo!). A roll that gets 1 success means that your action succeeded in an adequate way; good for you. A double success means you succeeded in an exceptional way that makes everyone go "wow". A triple success means a crowning moment of awesome that establishes your character's unquestionably badass nature.

Challenges

    As mentioned above, a challenge is what happens when the player characters have one or more short-term goals they must work to achieve (rather than a matter you can resolve with a single action). Goals can range from "fend off bandits" and "sneak into the villian's headquarters" to "catch the eye of my love interest" and "persuade the commander that her second-in-command is a traitor." Each goal is achieved by acquiring a given number of successes, and each goal has one or more conditions for failure- triggering these conditions might cause the characters to fail a challenge or just make completing the other goals much more difficult. (If they don't have different loss conditions, the only other reason to track in-game problems as separate goals is if something prevents a player character from switching from one to the other from round to round).

    Loss conditions are assigned by the Director, who does not have to give the players exact details regarding their progress through a challenge. Loss conditions are meant to reflect in-game ways the players could fail; possible examples include:

-Goal is failed after a set time limit of X rounds.

-Goal is failed after X failed attempts by the players (rolls that produced 0 successes)

-Goal is failed if rivals succeed at their own goal first.

-Goal involves opponents who work against the players- see below.

Opponents

    Most NPCs will not have stats like those of the players. A hundred-strong mob of easily-destroyed amatuers might be defeated as a goal necessitating 10 successes, while a major villian might require an entire episode of challenges to finally take down. However, any party that actively works against the players rolls dice in the same way that they do; minor NPCs will only have a handful of Trait scores, while a GAR score means you're facing a notable enemy.

    When opponents work against each other, they're making opposed rolls; successes of the same type cancel each other out, and a GAR success trumps a Power success trumps a Trait success. So if my enemy rolls a GAR success and I roll a GAR success and a Trait success, I score a single success; in-game our characters were both badasses but my trait gave me the edge I needed. Characters should generally "face off" in pairs each round (even if one "side"  is rolling to represent the actions of a large group); alternately, one enemy can face off against multiple opponents and use the same die results in opposed rolls against each of them. Enemy successes can be counted towards a loss condition or subtracted from the players' own success total; when the opposed roll involves serious attempts to harm a player character, an enemy success depletes their plot armor.

Plot Armor

    A character's maximum plot armor is equal to 3 plus half the current episode number, rounding down. Points of plot armor are lost as described above, and regained at the rate of 1 for each scene and challenge a player completes. A character who is out of plot armor will lose the use of one of their scores (their choice) with each subsequent success aimed at harming or disabling them. When a character has no usable scores left, they are helpless until they regain points of plot armor to "heal" their different scores and will die if hit with just one more success.

Fanbase

    Your maximum fanbase is equal to the current episode number. The Director awards you with a point of fanbase whenever you roll a triple success and come up with a sufficiently awesome explanation to win over the viewers; if you already have the maximum number of points you instead receive an extra trait rank to spend. The director can choose to provide moments of deus ex machina (usually to protect the players from the nasty consequences of a failed challenge) at the cost of a point of fanbase each.

GAR Charge

    A character's maximum GAR Charge is equal to twice their GAR score. Points of GAR Charge can be earned at the rate of 1 per scene via one's archetype; characters can earn further points by choosing not to roll during a round of a challenge and spend the time acting out their archetype instead (two sides can "face off" by both doing this at the start of the battle, perhaps even literally "powering up" at the same time). A Director can award a point of GAR Charge to a player who comes up with a particularly cool and inventive description of their actions. The value of GAR Charge is that you can spend points before a roll to gain extra rolls with a chosen die. Though multiple successes of the same type are not worth anything extra, they can serve as backups when the first success is canceled in an opposed roll.

RUNNING THE GAME

Increasing Scale

In the first episode of Trigger Discipline, all die rolls are made using four-sided dice. The die size increases by one category every even-numbered level after that, up to d12s for the climactic episode #8. Players' scores (and possibly those of recurring villians) will increase at a similar rate, but most NPCs retain the same scores all the way through- so early enemies' chances of rolling a Success become increasingly low while a more powerful enemy might be wholly out of the player's league during their first encounter but then become fallible as the game goes on.

Character Advancement

    At the start of each new episode, player characters' Power and GAR scores increase by one and they receive trait ranks equal to the next episode number plus five; players are always free to hold onto unspent ranks and use them to improve or purchase traits as a part of in-game character development.

Running Challenges

To speak plainly, the big reason this game is still considered a beta is that the following numbers are all fairly untested and should be taken as rough approximations. As the Director, you'll have to ad hoc things to keep the game from being too easy or hard for the players; the bright side is that the difficulty of a given challenge isn't directly tied to character advancement (i.e. you won't have estimate a battle's "Challenge Rating" in order to calculate how much "Experience" to award the players). Don't hesitate to send feedback my way way regarding your own estimates of what constitutes a challenge of a given difficulty; until then:

    An average-difficulty challenge requires successes equal to the current episode number plus 3, multiplied by the number of participating player characters. That second factor can be reduced by 2 for every antagonist you include with stats 1 below the player characters; defeating the antagonists is a separate goal tracked against their plot armor. The main goal has a loss condition of accumulated faliures equal to half the number of requisite successes.

    Increasing the difficulty of a challenge can be done through as many as several of the following factors: Antagonists with stats equal to or 1 higher than the PCs, total success requirements calculated as though there was another participating party member or two, and more easily triggered loss conditions. The inverse can be achieved via antagonists with stats 2 lower than the PCs, antagonists with no GAR or even Power score, fewer requisite successes and more forgiving loss conditions.

What Next?

So the players have gotten through eight "episodes" (conceptually the equivalent of a TV season, but tracking 24 episodes would needlessly complicate the math) and defeated the villian. What if you want the story to continue? Trigger Discipline's system does not normally lend itself to extended campaigns, so my suggestion is simple: Mechanically revert to square one. Maybe the characters wind down somewhat by the time the next threat comes around, or maybe they just go up against a whole new league of foes and a Power score of 2 in this season is the equivalent of a Power score of 12 in the last one.

Alternate Die Rules

    An upcoming revision will significantly alter Trigger Discipline's core mechanics, but until then here's a suggested variant for the results of victorious enemies: Single successes by the enemy count towards the players losing a challenge. Double successes also cost the player a point of GAR Charge. Triple successes also cost them a point of Plot Armor. Losing a challenge will also deplete Plot Armor if the stakes were 'serious' (Director's call, should apply to the majority of challenges).

P.S: "Trigger Discipline" is just a working name, it confuses everybody. Suggestions for a new title are welcome.

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