Tilt I focused on the fledgling town of Relief. Most characters headed there after reading this stuck to a communal noticeboard:
I have recently founded a new settlement in the twisted countryside along the main trade route between the cities of Vardell and Reason’s Folly. A settlement named “Relief”, for the rest and sanctuary I hope it will provide travellers along the wild and winding routes.
Relief has been established around the largest core of refined stallic to have been created thus far. Rapid construction is underway, and we have already created a central meeting hall, basic facilities, and enough accommodation for our burgeoning population, which will soon be in the hundreds. We are well supplied with food from the farmers in the village of Stone nearby.
It is my dream that Relief will not be another town ruled by petty kings and councils, but rather become a community of equals, thriving and prospering together to build a town that will last the test of time. Though I have taken the position of Arbiter to ease Relief through its birth, it is a title which I pledge to lay down as soon as the town is properly established.
What are you waiting for? I’ll see you in Relief!
– Charles Thomson
Leader of Thomsons’ Caravans
Temporary Arbiter of Relief
Everyone has heard a story of The War. Many hundreds of years ago two rival powers came to blows, one wielding immense arcane power, the other utilising devices of unmatched complexity. The War destroyed them both and left the land and everything in it tainted. Or maybe the land had always been this way, and the powers disagreed on how to deal with it. Or maybe it was one power tearing itself apart- the stories tend to disagree on the details.
Regardless of the reasons for it, Tilt is woven into the fabric of this world. It is a complex phenomena with straightforward rules, known to even the simplest peasant. Casting spells ‘tilts’ the caster, the area, and the target of their magics, spellwards. Likewise, utilising technological devices tilts techwards, in the opposite direction. Tilt accumulates over time, much like radiation, and makes it increasingly difficult to use the opposing power- magic acts chaotically in tech tilt, and vice versa. High levels of tilt cause reality itself to become less stable and more dangerous. This makes magic and technology wholly incompatible, and makes both a threat to everyone.
Most of the land is heavily tilted- indeed, the vast wilderness outside of the small pockets of civilisation is often simply called ‘The Tilt’. Walking over tilted land in particular is like walking over a minefield, with injury or any number of bizarre effects possible as pockets of energy are disturbed. The flora and fauna of the Tilt has been drastically altered. While domesticated animals such as horses and cows are commonplace, out in the Tilt most animals which can survive have been changed and mutated to such an extent that the idea of a ‘species’ ceases to apply, replaced by a more immediate concern for the capabilities of the rampaging beast bearing down on you. Rumours persist of Tilters, men who have been similarly warped to the point of insanity, though few claim to have ever actually seen one.
All the land would be absorbed into the Tilt, were it not for the remarkable properties of a rare mineral known as ‘Stallic’. Stallic has the invaluable ability to draw tilt from its vicinity and dissipate it over time. In this blasted world most people must spend several hours a week near a large deposit of stallic in order to safely go about their business. Settlements can only be established in areas which have a natural abundance of stallic ore in the ground, or around a core of refined stallic.
Travel is a risky proposition at the best of times. The routes which seem to be most stable and therefore safest are long and winding through hazardous terrain. For any journey longer than a few days it becomes essential to bring enough stallic to clear any accumulated tilt, even through these relatively stable areas. Unfortunately several tons of refined stallic are typically required, and so caravans are huge affairs, in many respects like self-sufficient mobile towns. These obstacles mean news travels slowly- lone couriers which deliver small numbers of messages or parcels directly through the Tilt exist, but it’s an extremely hazardous job.
Nowadays, both mages and technologists are viewed with a combination of anger and fear by most common folk. Mages are typically seen as a sort cross between medieval witches and simple thieves. They are accused of spoiling harvests, manipulating minds, and putting entire villages under their power using invisible magics. They act only for personal gain and think of nothing other than their own power. Dealing with mages is roughly equivalent to dealing with devils- you may get want you want in the short term, but the mage will inevitably get the upper hand and use it to twist you into his unwilling pawn.
Technologists are looked on slightly more favourably, perhaps as the connection between common tools and technological devices is rather more direct. They are well-meaning idiots, dabbling with infernal powers which should have been lost hundreds of years ago. It is said that, if you are going to be foolish enough to seek the aid of a technologist, you should at least be as specific as you can with your request. For to a technologist told to simply ‘make a hole here’, the most direct course of action which comes to mind may be to leave a smouldering crater where your town once stood. There are some relatively simple technological devices which are not uncommon and in high demand- such as guns. But by and large, people prefer simple, reliable tools in preference even the simplest technology.
There are certainly no ‘Guilds’ to speak of, and those foolish enough to advertise such abilities too openly quickly find their welcome exhausted. That said, both mages and technologists can be found if you know where to look in most settlements, and both can usuallyfind enough work to support them from the more open minded- or less scrupulous- in their communities.
Few people know much of the world beyond their community save the news the caravans bring, which tends to be from the two major cities they trade between. To the east, at the foot of the Grey Mountains, lies the ‘Grand Republic’ of Vardell. The people here are hard-working and honest, and many visitors from outside the city visit regularly to exchange their wares for the work of talented Vardellen craftsmen. This previously peaceful city came under the rule of Commander Verper several years ago. Since then it has pursued a policy of increasing expansion, bringing several nearby settlements into the Republic, offering protection and order in exchange for allegiance to Vardell.
Across the vast wilds on the western coast, is the town of Reason’s Folly. Though a city council theoretically holds power here, nothing happens without the approval of the Church of Folly. This religion holds that, in this cruel world where life is hard and even that can be snuffed out at a moment’s notice, the only true power is chance. Their rituals involve randomly determining who receives favour and disfavour. The priests frequently journey out into the smaller villages in the wilds, advocating their beliefs in place of the many diverse and unstructured beliefs which tend to prevail there. Reason’s Folly grows annually thanks to the steady trickle of immigrants this evangelism generates.
Relief is a new settlement, recently established roughly halfway along the busiest trade route from Vardell to Reason’s Folly. It was founded by Charles Thomson of Thomsons’ Caravans, one of the largest trading organisations, as a place of rest and sanctuary along the long and treacherous path between the cities. It currently has no significant infrastructure aside from a large meeting hall built around a huge slab of refined stallic, though rapid construction is underway. News of its creation has spread relatively quickly along the major trade routes, and the fledgling settlement is growing quickly.
There is no true currency to speak of, though there have been several attempts to introduce them by travelling caravans. Vardell has begun to use a system of hand-written chits, and some villages use small, finely-made items such as glass beads. Most people view these as untrustworthy though, and prefer to rely on the barter system. The world is populated by a myriad of other people with all sorts of different professions. Traders, doctors, builders, lawmen, councillors, farmers, herbalists, couriers, craftsmen, writers, entertainers, and many others are common sights all across the land.
The general feel and aesthetic is somewhere between ‘medieval’ and ‘western’ for most people, though those in positions of power can obtain finer apparel and equipment. Any device more complex than a crossbow is almost certain to arose suspiscion from those who fear technologists. There is no particular naming convention- everything from Mark to Mazzarok is acceptable, although one should take care not to reference famous characters, whether real or fictional.
In addition to the basic A.N.T.I.C.S system, Tilt utilises the following:
New Call Quality- Energy
Calls may be prefixed with TECH, indicating the effect is technological in origin, or SPELL, indicating it is magical in origin. These types have no effects by themselves, though various abilities and effects may interact specifically with TECH and/or SPELL calls. Roleplay-wise, unless you know otherwise, you can assume TECH effects are caused by electricity whereas SPELL effects are caused by invisible force, should you be need to.
More formally, the grammar for calls is: ‘Target [Silence] [Energy] [Damage] [Effect [Modifiers]]*’. This means that all calls have a target, which comes first. They then may or may not have the words SILENT, SPELL/TECH, and a damage number, each element of which will appear in that order if present. Finally, there may be multiple effects, each of which may or may not have a modifier.
New Call Type- TILT
Modified by Tech, Spell, or Balance, moves you one step closer to that position on the tilt continuum. This has no immediate mechanical effect, but may affect your vulnerability to further tilt effects, and empower or weaken any technological or magical abilities you may have.
Items are represented by small cards. This typically includes a name, description, and bulkiness. Anyone who can see the card can see the item- you should read the description of items near to you if asked. Items may also come attached to props, in which case the card must stay attached to the prop. Items can be carried, given to other players, and so forth- but do not do anything with item cards you couldn’t do with the appropriate item.
Tilt uses an invisible skill system, which means that players will not be directly aware of the skills they have. For example, if your backstory indicates you are tougher than average we may give you additional hits, but you will only be told the number of hits you have. You may have some special abilities, but you won’t know the behind-the-scenes structure of your characters skills which grant these abilities. The refs will always attempt to give each new character at least one skill which is initially unique to that character.
These are small folded cards which can be owned by players or attached to items.. Packets have conditions for opening them written on the front- if you meet the conditions, you should open and read the packet as soon as possible. You must never look at the contents of any packet you haven’t been instructed to open. If you open a packet because of something you’re doing, such as eating or drinking, you’re committed once you open it. You can’t consume/use/etc only a part of something, although you can roleplay doing the whole thing gradually. Packets are O.O.C and invisible to characters- if you see packets instructing you to open them when an event occurs, you must not specifically try to trigger or avoid that event.
Each player has a number of hits. If you take damage, you lose an equal number of hits. Players must roleplay the effects of any and all damage they receive- for example, if cut by a sword across their chest, they should clutch at it as if in pain. Healing a wound mechanically is unlikely to instantly remove these additional roleplaying effects. If you have 0 hits you are ‘incapacitated’ and helpless. You can no longer stand, hold any objects in your hands, use any skills, or shout. You are not necessarily unconscious, though you should be if you feel it is appropriate to your injuries. Further damage has no mechanical effect, but should continue to be roleplayed. You do not die unless affected by SLAY- however, you should see a ref at the next convenient point if you are reduced to 0 hits or lower.
If you are reduced to 0 hits or fewer, you are ‘dying’ in addition to incapacitated if no clear effort was made to limit the injury you received, or you took any damage call higher than a ‘ONE’. If you’re not sure, you may assume you are not dying. If you’re dying, start counting once per second in your head. If you reach 100, you die. Other characters can see that you are dying- you may appropriately NARRATE this. Any character can stop this count by roleplaying any suitable attempt to prevent you from dying. This attempt can be interrupted as normal, or if they try to move you- if this occurs, resume your count from where it was stopped.
If you die, roleplay your corpse for as long as its relevant. Please don’t talk or comment on the game, tempting though it is- you are encouraged to spend this time relaxing and reflecting on the ultimate futility of life and the insignificance of personal achievement. You should convey the basic state of your corpse to anyone who examines you closely and asks ‘What do I see?’.
A character with ‘Carry X’ can have X points of bulky items on their person without inconvenience. Characters may move at a slow walk, dragging excess bulky items behind them, if they have 1 bulk more than they can carry. Characters with 2 or more bulk than carry cannot move. Corpses have 3 bulk. Bulky items may not be concealed on your person. By default, characters have Carry 2.
Any act which requires delicate physical manipulation or investing time may be interrupted by a non-helpless character within 1 meter (approximately 2 arm lengths) saying ‘No’, ‘I stop you’, ‘Interrupting’ or otherwise unambiguously indicating opposition. Combat, moving away from a required item or location, beginning another action, or becoming distracted for more than a few seconds also interrupt.
Regardless of what abilities you have, you may make, at most, one call per second. Similarly, you may never attack faster than one strike or one shot per second. This does not include meta-calls such as PAUSE, NOTED, NO EFFECT, etc.
Any items hidden in the environment will be discoverable without needing to move or rearrange out of game items, although you may have to move your head around and look carefully. Players may hide items in the game area, so long as they meet the above criteria. Searching a willing or helpless character takes 30 seconds and reveals all the items they have on them. Any visible item cards or props indicate visible items in character.
A willing or helpless character can be restrained by anyone who spends 1 minute doing so and has appropriate materials, and can be freed in the same way. The restrainer specifies the manner in which the captive is to be restrained at the beginning of the timer. Regardless of skill or materials, all restraint applied in this way is completely inescapable unless the captive is left unsupervised for 5 minutes or more. In this case, the captive may free themselves after one minute of obvious struggling.
If for any reason your character is not in the same place as your physical body, keep one hand in the air. Anyone with their hand in the air, or wearing a coloured headband, is invisible and intangible, cannot sense anything, and so forth. Take care when using this so as not to obstruct players. If you need to go to the toilet, get food and so forth, so does your character.
If at any point during combat you’re not sure what is mechanically going on (for example, you lose track of hits, or aren’t sure how to take a call in a split moment where you can’t ask for clarification), you should immediately fall unconscious. You don’t lose hits from this, and can rouse yourself or be roused by another character at will (once you work out what’s going on). If asked IC what happened, you should comment on ‘dizziness’.
There are seven levels of tilt which form a continuum- extreme magic, moderate magic, slight magic, balanced, slight tech, moderate tech, and extreme tech. All characters begin at balanced unless otherwise specified. All people are intuitively aware of their own tilt and the tilt of their immediate vicinity- ask a ref if you’re unsure. You are ‘magictilted’ if your tilt is one of the first three, and ‘techtilted’ if it’s one of the latter three.
Some items and/or abilities have different effects depending on the level of tilt in their user and the surrounding environment. Such items/abilities will be written in three forms, labelled ‘-‘, ‘/’, and ‘+’. Unless you have been told otherwise, you can only use the ‘-‘ power level on such effects.
Tilt is designed to avoid situations where characters who have been playing for a long time are much stronger than new characters. Character advancement is possible, but is handled at the discretion of the refs. New skills may be awarded for consistently interesting roleplay, completing significant character goals and/or awesome player action, and will be thematically related to the action taken.
Players are encouraged to discuss the game with each other O.O.C. Players must not use knowledge gained of any part of the game or its workings to gain an advantage for their character. Conversely, players should take reasonable steps not to tell details of plans against specific characters to their players.
These rules exist as a basic outline to play. The refs may tell you to do something not covered in these rules. Should you have an idea for a course of action not covered in these mechanics, find and ask a ref.