Universalis 1

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This is Universalis playtest which started here. To reply, use edit button and add your reply under the text. Sign it with ~~~~ (this will turn automatically into your signature).

Story so far: link

Players (listed in turn order): EvilCat, Neonwhite, GiacomoArt, davina



  • Naval adventure.
  • Lovecraft-esque horror. (Details, 2)
  • Pseudo-historic setting of Elizabethan time. (Details)
  • Moral choice between sin and virtue.
  • No supernatural facts or components can be introduced into the game until there are 3 or 4 characters marked with "sympathetic character" trait. (Details)
  • No interrupts in mid-narration.
  • Try to challenge only such details and/or in such way that preceding text wouldn't have to be overwritten.
  • If a player doesn't act on his turn for a day, the next player can take the turn for free, or any other player can take it for Coin.gif1.
  • Refresh rate for each scene based on the number of players who get refreshed: Coin.gif12 for 2, Coin.gif8 for 3, Coin.gif6 for 4, Coin.gif5 for 5 or more.
  • When newly created Components are introduced to the Scene, Events describing their discovery are free.

Scene #5: Morbid Discovery[править]

Framed by GiacomoArt.

Rocky promontory (G) Nicole Tissot, pirate queen (G)
- {{#replace:sympathetic character, French, red hair, veteran of many battles, blademaster, deadly accurate, fights dirty, sleight of hand skill, strong spirit, cruel, beautiful, seductive wiles, strong stomach, off-hand dagger, clothes are soaked, promise to aid Santiago, doesn't give a fig about unfair promise, wants Santiago's blood x2, sore, tired, thirsty|, |
- }}
Santiago, former prisoner (N)
- {{#replace:sympathetic character, skilled with sword, practiced in stealth, calculating mind, deceptively strong, lightning fast reflexes, highly perceptive, adventurous, teasing nature, recently betrayed, nightmare and sense of foreboding, has saber, has wineskin, ...with fresh water, attracted to Nicole x2, alert to risk of Nicole's betrayal, hungry|, |
- }}
Coconut palms
- {{#replace:a patch|, |
- }}
Coconut thief crab
- {{#replace:large, holds a coconut|, |
- }}
Barrel Master component:
Dog corpse
- {{#replace:dog thing, stench, contagious|, |
- }}
Tropical beach
- {{#replace:lines the land, clear blue sky, littered with flotsam, littered with rotting dog things|, |
- }}
, |
- }}
? armed sailors #1 and #2 (N) , |
- }}

Coin count: EvilCat - Coin.gif0, NeonWhite - Coin.gif7, GiacomoArt - Coin.gif9, davina (currently inactive) - Coin.gif25 .

Dagger complication dice pools: GiacomoArt (Nicole's side) - Dice.gif10, NeonWhite (Santiago's side) - Dice.gif6 (probably 10), EvilCat (Santiago's side) - Dice.gif1

Infection complication dice pools: EvilCat (disease's side) - Dice.gif8, (probably 10), NeonWhite (characters' side) - ?, GiacomoArt (characters' side) - ?

Previous scenes[править]

Scene #1: Sea Battle[править]

Framed by GiacomoArt, continued to Scene #2.

Scene #2: During the Storm[править]

Framed by EvilCat

Scene #3: Separated[править]

Framed by GiacomoArt.

Continued to Scene #5.

Scene #4: Isle of Teeth[править]

Framed by NeonWhite.


Reply under this header, please.


Return to the end of scene #3 (Coin.gif1)


  • beautiful (Coin.gif1)


  • adventurous (Coin.gif1)
  • attracted to Nicole (Coin.gif1)

Event: Nicole spies (and starts toward) higher ground (Coin.gif1)

Coin.gif5 from my current Coin.gif20 leaves me with Coin.gif15.

Coin.gif5 from my bid Coin.gif15 leaves me committed to spending Coin.gif10 more.

Nicole moved on up the beach, satisfied that she didn't want to tangle with a beast the size of that crab in her present condition, and that the coconut trees would still be there if she couldn't find an easier source of fresh water soon. Best, for the moment, to follow the coast -- get out from this inlet, maybe find a promontory to climb, and look for any signs of a stream or even a settlement.

Behind her, as Santiago continued to follow quietly along, he couldn't help but feel that his luck in the light of this new day had continued to hold. If he was going to be shipwrecked, better to be shipwrecked with someone. And if he was going to be shipwrecked with someone, well... despite her bedraggled condition, there was no mistaking, this was a fine figure of a woman. Dangerous, too, to be sure -- not some damosel who'd been held captive on the sloop; her attire and movements, even the determined set to her jaw, clearly marked her as a full member of the crew -- but he hadn't set out for the New World because he liked to play things safe. No matter how things played out from here, she would certainly provide an interesting twist to this latest adventure.

Rounding the mouth of the inlet, Nicole did indeed spy high ground up ahead. Catching a second wind at the sight of it, she moved on with a renewed sense of purpose.


Don't you need to pay to exit the crab from the scene? Neonwhite 22:03, 23 April 2009 (UTC)

Not if he wants to leave the focus of the scene wide, he doesn't, I think. EvilCat 23:41, 23 April 2009 (UTC)


  • corpse (3 coins)
  • crabs (1 coin)

Event (1 coin): The smell wafted to Nicole.
-5 coins, Coin.gif3 left.

Complication: a morbid scene to instill dread, 5 dice. Traits drawn: corpse, stench, ugly, crabs, tired.

The way to the cliff's top was a gentle slope, easy enough for aching legs. It was a sure walk. Then, the wind has turned, and Nicole noticed a strange smell. After a few steps, it became more evident, and grew overwhelming another few steps later: a rotting stench with a hint of sweat. It obviously came from a pile at the surf. Casting her tired eyes to the shoreline, Nicole noticed a busy movement...

The pile turned out a decomposing corpse of some hairy creature. Two black crabs, smaller than the last one, was nipping its crimson flesh. The only eye, the color of gold, was staring back at Nicole, and uneven teeth grinned in a crazy smile.



  • Strong stomach (1)

Change Location to…

  • rocky promontory (1)

Exit: Coconut palms, Coconut thief crab, Barrel, Corpse, Crabs
Total cost: Coin.gif7. Coin.gif21 remaining, Coin.gif2 still to committed to the scene.

I don't have the book at hand to refer to, but thought I should do my best to keep things moving. Hope I didn't overlook anything with the resolution...

"Tough luck, pooch," Nicole muttered, unmoved by the gruesome sight, but happy to put more distance between herself and the stench as she headed on toward the high ground.

--GiacomoArt 20:31, 27 April 2009 (UTC)


  • 1 coin to make "dog corpse" a master component.
    • Contagious (1 coin)

New traits:

  • Tropical beach (2 coins) - littered with rotting dog things, lines the land (replaces "along the inlet"?).

Coin.gif4 spent, 4 left. Neon's turn.

From the high point, Nicole could see a long beach lining the land she was washed to. The bleached color of sand was spoiled here and there with dark spots: flotsam, coconuts, seaweed, the late pooch... And one more at the other side of the cliff... And what might have been several corpses piled together, considering the number of crabs feasting there... Something took lives of these beasts, easily a plague.

EvilCat 20:59, 27 April 2009 (UTC)


(No successes hmmm, some implications for Nicole then!)

Traits: (3)

  • Nicole - promise to aid Santiago (1)
  • Santiago - teasing nature (1), deceptively strong (1),

Events: (5)

  • Nicole hears the stone dislodged by Santiago (1)
  • Loose ground gives way at her feet when she spins and Nicole falls over the cliff (1)
  • Nicole holds onto the rocky slopes (1)
  • Santiago initiates dialogue (1)
  • Santiago rescues Nicole from the cliff (1)

Coin.gif8 used. Still at Coin.gif13 altogether.

Nicole continued to trek uphill, eventually reaching a rocky promontory where she paused for a moment to look out at the sea. Santiago likewise followed her in the climb. When the stone slipped its clattering down the hill clearly carried across the short distance separating Nicole and him.

Nicole spun in surprise and laid eyes directly on a startled Santiago. In doing so, however, the same ground that had betrayed Santiago, betrayed her. The loose ground at her feet gave way and, with a scream, she slipped backwards and over the edge of the cliff.

Though fearing the worst, Santiago's approach and glance over the edge showed that she had managed to grab hold of the rocky slopes and was holding on grimly. A smile played over Santiago's lips as he considered the possibilities. "Of course I will help you up, as I would any maiden in such desperate need of a man's help, but first you will swear only to aid me until we are off this cursed island."

Nicole's eyes burned hot with fury at his patronising tone but seeing no other choice, she nodded once in agreement to his demand.

Bracing himself, Santiago leaned forwards and, taking hold of Nicole's arm, swung her onto the clifftop with a single fluid motion.

"And I.... am Santiago" he said, with just a hint of mockery in the tone of his voice and the formality of his slight bow.

Neonwhite 16:57, 30 April 2009 (UTC)


Not going to bother putting it in prose: just assign a couple of traits to Nicole:

  • Doesn't give a fig about any promise given under duress.
  • Wants Santiago's blood (x2)

That's all Coin.gif3 for the complication. Back to Coin.gif19.

GiacomoArt 01:36, 1 May 2009 (UTC)


  • 1 coin to take control of Santiago.

New traits for Santiago (5 coins):

  • Additional attraction to Nicole (now x2)
  • Hungry
  • Skilled with a sword
  • Practiced in stealth
  • Calculating mind

For an additional coin, I will also nominate him to be a 'sympathetic character' if there are no objections.

Coin.gif7 spent, 13 left. G's turn.

Santiago continued to follow the woman, admiring her fine form even more now that he knew it was not subject to a womanly aversion to death.

His rumbling stomach gave him pause for a moment as he recalled the large crab recently left behind. A sharp thrust of the saber would be child's play and it would be fresh seafood for lunch. Perhaps she would dine with him....

Pushing fantasy out of his mind he focused his attention on the woman and chose his steps carefully to avoid detection. He would reveal himself to this woman when it suited him. And when it favoured him.

Neonwhite 22:50, 27 April 2009 (UTC)


Well, I pass this time. With this coin count, I'm only effective in a complication, and I don't want to start one more in this scene. EvilCat 09:51, 1 May 2009 (UTC)


Traits for Santiago:

  • Alert to risk of betrayal from Nicole (1 coin)
  • Lightning fast reflexes (1 coin)


  • Wineskin contains fresh water (1 coin)

Santiago sees the fury still burning in Nicole's eyes and grips his sabre more tightly. "If she does come for me, I will leave her beautiful corpse for the crabs," he thinks to himself. "Her passing will be so swift and so sweet. For now, I will keep her where I can see her.

Watching her carefully, he sips carefully from his wineskin, sighing in appreciation as the water cools his parched throat. "Want a drink?"

Neonwhite 10:38, 1 May 2009 (UTC)


Sorry for the delay. Very full three-day weekend.


  • clothes are soaked

Event: Nicole converses with Santiago

Coin.gif2. Down to Coin.gif17.

Nicole snorted at the taunting offer, the dry rasp in her voice betraying her thirst even as spoke. "Like I need more water," she said, rolling her eyes, as she reached down to wring the water from the hem of her still sodden shirt. Noticing the interest in his eyes as the maneuver bared a bit of her stomach, she deepened her scowl and turned her back on him, taking a few steps away. "What I really want right now is some dry clothes. So what's a girl supposed to do to 'help' you, anyway?" she asked suspisciously as she continued wringing out her shirt. It crept higher up the small of her back as she gathered more of the material. "Can you at least let me go somewhere I can lay this out to dry without your eyes all over me? It's indecent what you can see through it this way."

GiacomoArt 03:55, 4 May 2009 (UTC)


Neon's turn. You have a dialog, and I would pass anyway. EvilCat 09:28, 4 May 2009 (UTC)


Santiago looked up to the sunny sky, "I wouldn't have thought you were the shy type... You ought to dry soon enough".

"I figure we need to find some way to get off this island. Find some inhabitants, a town perhaps? If not then perhaps a passing ship if we get lucky. Either way I am a stranger to these seas, so perhaps you have a better idea how to proceed than I..."

I suggest we cut the scene shortly, unless there is something more to be accomplished here. I initiated dialogue two turns ago, so it shouldn't cost me a coin this time, nor G a coin last turn. 10:29, 4 May 2009 (UTC)

Thrown Dagger Complication[править]


Nicole muttered under her breath, remaining where she was, but pulling her shirt way up now as she continued wringing water from it, doing her best to stir the man's imagination with hopes of a show. "Just because I'm not overly modest," she scowled, half turning to him in a way that kept her chest hidden as much by her arm as her half-raised shirt, but managed to offer an excellent view of her athletic stomach, "doesn't mean I want you to see it. And besides, it's not really about me," she added as the hand she was intentionally keeping shielded from him behind her half-turned body silently unsheathed her dagger. "I was just trying to give you one more way out."

Rules Gimmick: Coin.gif1 turns a "possessed item" trait into an actual component, still possessed by its owner. (That's the way I always figured it should work, but I don't recall it being formalized anywhere.)


  • blademaster Coin.gif1
  • deadly accurate Coin.gif1
  • fights dirtyCoin.gif1
  • seductive wiles Coin.gif1
  • sleight of hand skillCoin.gif1

Nicole's off-hand dagger Coin.gif1

  • balanced for throwing Coin.gif1
  • masterwork weapon Coin.gif1
  • razor sharp Coin.gif1

Total: Coin.gif9. With the one back from extending the conversation, that brings me down to Coin.gif9.

Complication: Nicole is throwing her dagger from several paces away, trying to bury it in Santiago's flesh.

Toward Nicole's Dice Pool:

1) Named character (1D)

2) Surprise Maneuver (4D)

  • seductive wiles (toward surprise maneuver)
  • beautiful (toward surprise maneuver)
  • fights dirty (toward surprise maneuver)
  • sleight of hand skill (toward surprise maneuver)

3) The Dagger (3D) I'm not counting it's role as a weapon, since that's what allows her to attack from a distance at all)

  • balanced for throwing (from the weapon)
  • masterwork weapon (from the weapon)
  • razor sharp (from the weapon)

4) Weapon Skill (2D)

  • blademaster
  • deadly accurate

5) Ferocity of the Attack (2D)

  • wants Santiago's blood (x2)

6) Physical Condition (-2D) As I'm sure it'll be brought up to counter the dice-pool penalty Santiago's going to get… :oD

  • sore
  • tired

Total: 10 dice

Against Santiago's Dice Pool:

1) Vulnerable to Nicole's Seductive Wiles (-2D)

  • attracted to Nicole (x2)

Also, unless the rules state I have to (again, I don't have them with to check), I'm not relinquishing my turn with this complication. There's more important stuff to come, it just can't be resolved until this has been.

GiacomoArt 16:18, 5 May 2009 (UTC)


Here's my rules evaluation:

  • In revised RAW, you can separate a possession trait and cross the ownership with a coin (pg.66). Separating it without breaking ownership should cost one coin less, but you've actually separated them via throw (this, or an event, should signify Nicole's action). I'd say one more coin is required from you.
  • "After the complication starts, turns proceed normally, except for..." (pg. 93 of revised rules, didn't change across editions). So, your turn actually ends.
  • But - you can draw upon dagger's role, there is a very similar example in the book, pg.113 %)

I have nothing more to add, Neon's turn. EvilCat 19:13, 5 May 2009 (UTC)


I'm willing to go with that possessions interpretation. Dropping the rules gimmick and paying another coin for the separation, then, still leaves me at Coin.gif9, and adding the dagger role to Nicole's dice count brings it up to 11. GiacomoArt 22:59, 5 May 2009 (UTC)


Alert to the danger and on-edge from vivid memories of recent betrayal, Santiago will try to see the threat, beat her to the draw and foil her throw with a slash of his sabre. I figure she is clearly in sword range, neither of them having moved since he pulled her up from the cliff, and also presumably being close enough for him to offer her a drink.

As such, I see the following for Santiago:

  • named character (+1)

Detecting Nicole's attempted deception:

  • alert to risk of betrayal (+1)
  • recently betrayed (+1)
  • calculating mind (+1)
  • attracted to Nicole (-2)
  • highly perceptive (+1) (new)

Pre-empting her attack:

  • lightning fast reflexes (+1)
  • skilled with a sword (+1)
  • sabre (+1)

Total: 6 dice for Santiago

In the above, I have purchased 'highly perceptive' for a coin for Santiago (10 - 1 = 9 coins left).

I will also spend 2 coins to introduce two armed sailors (9-2 = 7 coins left).

Two armed sailors suddenly emerge from the foliage nearby. Armed with pistol and sword, they brandish them at the pair and order them to surrender.

armed sailors (intimidation effect):

  • melee weaponx2
  • pistolx2

Total: 4 dice for the sailors.

10 dice in total for my side of the complication.

7 coins left for me.

Also, I challenge the two dice for 'wants Santiago's blood' as not being relevant to a dagger throw (if anything it should help Santiago read her intent more clearly and might offer her penalty dice). I say we leave it at zero for that trait. This would bring Nicole's pool back to 9 dice.

Finally, this might be splitting hairs, however razor-sharp for Nicole's dagger would only come into play if it actually hit. What do you think?

Neonwhite 11:25, 6 May 2009 (UTC)


Now I have something to add on my turn, but I have a bus in a half-hour. I will reply in less than 24 hours, please, don't resolve the complication without me. EvilCat 14:25, 6 May 2009 (UTC)


Things I'd like to hear EvilCat's opinion on:

  • I read "calculating mind" as careful planning, not being perceptive. Don't really think it applies.
  • Likewise, I have my doubts about "recently betrayed". That's not the same as saying he's alert for further betrayal in general, or that he's suspiscious of Nicole in specific.


Things I'm very opinionated about:

#1: Re: the dagger's sharpness, Universalis doesn't separate complications into "to hit" and damage phases -- and if resolving a complication automatically completes your turn, trying to separate "to hit" and "damage" phases without the game's blessing becomes pretty much impossible.

#2: Nicole is ticked. She is royally ticked, right on the verge of a blind, berserk fury. She is a strong willed, bloodthirsty pirate queen, who rose to a position of power and infamy in a world where all the cards are stacked against any woman doing so. She has had to face down and outfight countless men to get where she is, and she's not about to play the good little submissive now just because the ground gave out from under her at the wrong moment. I cannot imagine anything that would anger her more than for some patronizing stranger to pop up out of nowhere and suddenly demand that she now be his servant. I had imagined Nicole and Santiago getting along famously, but ever since a simple stealth roll got turned into this cruel twist, I've been trying to work up ways to justify NOT having Nicole just bury her dagger in Santiago's throat and be done with it.

Anger = adrenalin = strength = easier flesh piercing. The complication explicitly states, "Nicole is … trying to bury [her dagger] in Santiago's flesh." The "wants blood" dice apply.

#3: The complication was specifically worded as "Nicole is throwing her dagger from several paces away…", and I narrated her stepping back as part of the set-up (just as I carefully narrated foreshadowing to her seductive wiles use). Personally, I don't believes it's a necessary to first establish the distance as a separate fact to set up the complication I envisioned, but if EC begs to differ with me, I will now spend the coin needed to do that. Regardless, the saber and the saber skill do not apply.

#4: As a complete "deus ex machina", the sailors should be introduced as their own complication later, if at all. There's no time for them to show up and intercede in the split second it takes to launch the dagger. Absolute tops, you could get 2 dice out of their firearms, and if NW does manage to push through making them part of the complication, I promise that Nicole's own crew will pop up right behind them with guns already blazing.

GiacomoArt 18:36, 6 May 2009 (UTC)

Santiago already got awarded 1D against the surprise attack for Nicole's anger tipping him off, when NW used my narration of it as justification for making him alert for "betrayal" from her. To count the anger against her further for that would just be double-dipping.



  1. In revised rules (pg.100), it's explicitly stated that in case of a two-way trait, the player who first taps it narrates its usefulness or hindrance. So, by the rules, "wants Santiago's blood" is drawn upon by GiacomoArt and he's in his right to interpret it as beneficial. Still, everything can be challenged. Personally, I'd like see more reasoning for that, making it more than just a case of two-way trait which the rules solve.
  2. If the distance is important, it should be paid with a coin, end of the story %) "Record test", or how is it called in the rules?
  3. It's true that complications are no "to hit" and "damage" rolls. I'd say that the matter of this complication is "a dagger thrown and the conflict that follows", or we end up describing its outcome as either dramatical hit or dramatical miss, nothing more. Thus, I think that sharpness and the saber apply as long as NeonWhite won't narrate (if he wins) that Santiago suddenly decided to talk instead of averting the blow with the saber. Outcome should just consider the traits drawn.
    • Also, we can use a "Extended complication" rules gimmick to divide the complication into stages (does the dagger hit? what do they do then? what do they do when men appear?).
    • I don't see why sailors are on the Santiago's side if they're threatening them both and ordering to surrender. Now, if they run like mad to interfere with the fight... And I have a reason for that, see below.
  4. I think that "calculating mind" is relevant to noticing and predicting threats. It's almost my life's philosophy! Incidentally, being recently betrayed pumps paranoid suspicions as well, actually helping in case of real danger.

I'm glad you described emotions of both sides really well, because...

Subtly dominating the surroundings, there was a sweetish smell. Like a high-pitched sound that no one notices even though it gives headaches, the hint of corpses' rotting stench was heating up the minds and the situation.

New component (Coin.gif4):

  • Disease
    • Transmitted by air
    • Especially contagious for those experiencing high emotions
    • Maddening smell

And it starts a parallel complication of infecting the characters.

Dice.gif8, traits drawn: disease (role), transmitted by air, contagious during high emotions (a combat is going on), Nicole's desire for Santiago's blood x2, Santiago's sense of foreboding and attraction to Nicole x2; if sailors will be accepted as an intimidating factor, 2 more dice for them.

I also draw upon "maddening smell" in the dagger complication - in favor of Santiago's side, because Nicole was obviously more exposed to the smell. Since the disease is under my control, Dice.gif1 goes to my Target-side dice pool.

Now Coin.gifzero coins.

EvilCat 12:28, 7 May 2009 (UTC)


The discussion thread moved to Talk page. EvilCat 12:57, 9 May 2009 (UTC)