Glossary of Terms
(Back to the Rule Reference)
These are generated by a character’s primary action during each round of a Conflict. Action Dice are used to form a pool when acting and may alternately be used to defend; any Action Dice left over after acting become Defense Dice.
You earn Advancements for accomplishing things important to your Hero and raising the caliber of the game. You may spend them to improve your Hero’s abilities and occasionally add new abilities as well. Advancements may only be spent during a Long Breather.
A character has three Attributes — Physique, Charm, and Wits — which gauge his or her innate ability with physical, social, and intellectual tasks. Each Attribute is rated from 2 to 6 dice, with more dice representing more ability.
The ongoing conversation that serves as the engine of the Mistborn Adventure Game is divided into time periods called Beats. Generally a character may act once in each Beat. The actual length of each Beat is arbitrary and chosen by the Narrator, based on the needs of the situation at hand (when more detail is needed, the Beats get shorter). Beats can range from a few seconds each to minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, or even years (if, say, the Crew focuses on prolonged actions that don’t require much description).
This is a break in the story that can happen during or between game sessions. The Narrator periodically calls for Breathers to summarize long periods when not much is happening, and to give the Heroes a chance to regroup and recover resources. Short Breathers typically last an hour to a day of game time, while Long Breathers can last multiple days, or even weeks or months. Players may spend Advancements to improve their Heroes during Long Breathers.
Most commonly acquired in a Conflict, a Burden is a negative Trait assigned to one character by another. Burdens represent significant physical, social, or mental injuries like broken bones, public embarrassment, and lasting depression. Burdens only add dice to applicable rolls — commonly to enemies but characters can sometimes take advantage of their own as well — and they have three levels of severity: serious (adding 1 die), grave (adding 2 dice), and mortal (which are permanent and add 3 dice). Each Burden also awards an Advancement the first (and only the first) time it’s applied in each session.
When a character attempts something risky (i.e. makes a roll), and that attempt isn’t opposed by another character, it’s handled with a Challenge. An opposed roll is a Contest, and some elaborate and dangerous competitions between characters become Conflicts. Character: Every person in the game world is a character, and each is also a Hero, Villain, or Extra (though each character is only ever one of the three).
Circumstances are various contributing factors that may impact a roll’s chance of success or failure. Circumstances cover all the myriad things that may come up that aren’t already covered by a character’s Traits or the Tools at his or her disposal. When two or more Circumstances help a character’s roll, a single die is added to his or her pool; conversely, when two or more Circumstances hinder a roll, a single die is removed. As with Tools and Traits, the Narrator approves and in some cases decides how Circumstances are applied.
When a character rolls a negative Outcome (Result minus the roll’s Difficulty), he or she suffers one or more Complications chosen by the Narrator. Each point of negative Outcome is one Complication, or with an Outcome of –3 or worse the Narrator may apply a single Complication to the character and every Crewmate and ally in the area.
When one or more characters compete with the intent to hurt each other — physically, socially, or emotionally — the situation becomes a Conflict. One common (physical) Conflict is combat, though Conflicts can also cover violent chases (another physical form), debates (a Social Conflict), honor duels (another Social Conflict), tests of will (an emotional Conflict), emotional Allomancy, and many other situations.
When a character attempts something risky (i.e. makes a roll), and that attempt is opposed by another character, it’s handled with a Contest. An unopposed roll is a Challenge, and some elaborate and dangerous competitions between characters become Conflicts.
The Mistborn Adventure Game is played by having a casual discussion with your friends. Many parts of the rules refer to this discussion as “the conversation.”
This is a band of two or more Heroes, united by a common cause (see page 81).
Whenever a character is harmed he or she suffers damage, which reduces one Resilience: Health if the damage is physical; Reputation if the damage is social; or Willpower if the damage is mental. A reduced Resilience can make it harder for the character to succeed at related activities, and with enough damage a character may suffer a Burden or even be defeated (temporarily or permanently removed from play).
During a Conflict, whatever Action Dice are left over after a character takes an action become Defense Dice. The character may use Defense Dice to resist incoming attacks, potentially avoiding damage.
Most of the conversation that runs the Mistborn Adventure Game consists of the Narrator and other players describing things: details about their characters or places those characters visit; things their characters do or say; and ways they try to further their personal causes and those of their Crews and allies. Many parts of the rules talk specifically about how to describe various types of actions.
Every Hero has a higher calling or purpose, which he or she is committed, drawn, or obliged to fulfill. A character’s Destiny is a very personal story, chosen by the player at the start of the game, though it’s usually the Narrator who decides how that story ultimately unfolds. Like any good story a Destiny has a Beginning, Middle, and End, and each of these stages has progressively more impact on actions that help the character realize his or her true place in the world. Fulfilling one’s Destiny is a great accomplishment worthy of praise (and Advancements). As the Narrator is the only one likely to know when a character’s Destiny comes into play, further details are provided in Book 3.
The Mistborn Adventure Game uses traditional six-sided dice (the cube-shaped ones you find in most family board games), which are rolled to determine the success or failure of a challenging or risky action.
Some rolls are tricky enough that a character may fail, and in these cases the Narrator chooses a Difficulty ranging from 1 (easiest) to 5 (hardest). When a roll has a Difficulty, the player must roll a matching set (a Result) that also beats the Difficulty (so, with a Difficulty of 3 the player must roll at matching set of 3’s, 4’s, or 5’s). Subtracting the Difficulty from a Result gives you the Outcome, a number that’s often used to help describe what happens when several consequences are possible.
Every character who isn’t a Hero or a Villain is an Extra, a fancy name for any non-heroic “background” character without a Destiny, Tragedy, or more than a peripheral background. Extras can’t use Nudges and are typically defeated when they suffer even a single point of physical, social, or mental damage. As most Extras fall under the Narrator’s control, further details are found in Book 3.
A protagonist or starring character in your story is a Hero, and every Hero is controlled by a player other than the Narrator. Heroes are called “player characters” in many other roleplaying games.
The Narrator controls the world and characters around the Heroes. He also sets the Difficulty and judges the outcome of actions, and creates and reveals key plot points in the story. In most roleplaying games he’s called the Game Master or Storyteller.
When rolling the dice, every natural 6 is a Nudge. A player may spend Nudges to make a success more impressive or eliminate any Complications (setbacks) that may come with failure.
The Outcome of any roll is found by subtracting the Difficulty from the Result. Outcome may be positive or negative and represents how well the roll succeeded, or how badly it failed. It isn’t always important to use Outcome but it can be a great tool when you need a handy measurement to inspire your description. Even when Outcome isn’t used to help describe what’s happening, a negative Outcome generates Complications.
Each player takes a role in the game. Most become Heroes (the protagonists of the story), while one becomes the Narrator (creating and controlling the Villains and Extras).
This is the number of dice used in a roll, equal to the Attribute, Standing, or Power being used, plus applicable Traits, Props, and Circumstances. A dice pool cannot be smaller than 2 dice, or larger than 10 dice.
Powers include the magic and superhuman abilities of Scadrial, including Allomancy, Feruchemy, Hemalurgy, and kandra Mimicry. Each Power is rated from 2 to 10 dice, with more dice representing more power.
A piece of equipment most commonly associated with a character, which is replaced for free during Long Breathers.
Each of a character’s Powers has a rating, which determines the number of dice he or she adds to a pool when the Power is used in a roll. A Power’s rating can be improved by spending Advancements, assuming the Hero has a proper story justification,
A character’s physical, social, and mental fortitude — his or her ability to withstand damage of each type and keep going — is called Resilience. Every character has three Resiliences: Health (the amount of bodily harm he or she can withstand), Reputation (the amount of shame he or she can withstand), and Willpower (the amount of temptation, trickery, and intimidation he or she can withstand). As each Resilience drops the character becomes less effective with related activities, and at 0 or below the character is defeated in a fashion appropriate to the damage suffered (e.g. falling unconscious or dying when physically attacked, withdrawing from society when shamed, or fleeing or surrendering when mentally broken).
When a player makes a roll, his or her Result is the number shown on the highest matching set of dice, not counting 6’s (so 1 to 5). The Result of a roll with no matching set from 1 to 5 is considered 0 (a failure). Natural 6’s are Nudges and are not counted for success or failure.
When a character attempts a challenging or opposed action, you roll dice to determine success or failure. A matching set of dice showing a number from 1 to 5 is a success. A roll which shows no matching dice from 1 to 5 is a failure. Natural 6’s are Nudges and are not counted for success or failure.
Crews live and die by their plans, which in the Mistborn Adventure Game are called Schemes. Most of the time the Heroes will devise their own Schemes but the Narrator may occasionally introduce some that come out of the story. Completing Schemes not only pushes the story forward, it’s one of the ways characters can earn Advancements, which they use to improve and grow. As Schemes almost always require Narrator input, they’re further detailed in Book 3.
Every Secret in Scadrial has inherent power, sometimes impacting the story (a Secret might reveal the only safe path along the base of an ashmount), sometimes impacting the rules (a Secret might reveal a unique mistwraith’s only weakness), and many times impacting both. Characters collect Secrets in play and may use or reveal them to gain great advantages when facing various obstacles and opponents. As Secrets are almost always introduced by the Narrator, they’re further detailed in Book 3.
A single uninterrupted period of play is called a session. Sessions can be any length, but most tend to be between 2 to 4 hours of play time. A few game rules “refresh” once a session (gaining an Advancement when a Burden is applied, for example).
A character has three Standings: Resources (wealth and privilege), Influence (political power and contacts), and Spirit (personal fate and ability to survive against the odds). Each Standing is rated from 2 to 10 dice, with more dice representing more status.
One of the ways a character can improve his or her Powers is with Stunts, which either improve what a Power already does or introduce new ways to use the Power. Not all Powers have Stunts, and most Stunts are unique to a single Power.
Whenever a character has a piece of equipment that’s particularly well suited to an action, he or she gains a die with related rolls. Conversely, a character loses a die when making rolls without a necessary piece of equipment. As with Circumstances and Traits, the Narrator approves and in some cases decides how Tools are applied.
All Heroes (and most Villains) are haunted by regrets, mistakes, and other personal demons. A character’s Tragedy is a very personal story, chosen by the player at the start of the game, though it’s usually the Narrator who decides how that story ultimately unfolds. Like any good story a Tragedy has a Beginning, Middle, and End, and each of these stages has progressively more impact on actions that force the character to face his or her demons. Eventually a character may overcome his or her Tragedy, which is a great accomplishment worthy of praise (and Advancements). As the Narrator is the one most likely to bring a character’s Tragedy into play, further details are provided in Book 3.
Traits are one of a character’s most defining features,
chosen at the start of the game or sometimes added later. Each Trait is a word or phrase that describes a particular skill, specialty, characteristic, quirk, knack, profession, relationship, or other facet of the character not already defined elsewhere in the rules. Traits can be applied in many situations, adding or subtracting dice from a character’s pool when he or she makes a related roll. As with Circumstances and Tools, the Narrator approves and in some cases decides how Traits are applied.
Critical or climactic moments in the story, when the Crew or individual Heroes are profoundly tested or forced to make important decisions, are called Turning Points. The Narrator builds Turning Points into the story and uses them as a way to control the flow of the narrative and reward characters for their actions during crises. As Turning Points are entirely the province of Narrators, they’re further detailed in Book 3.
The antagonists and big bads of your story are called Villains. They use all the same rules as Heroes but are controlled by the Narrator and typically oppose the Crew. Given this relationship and the role of Villains in the story, further details are found in Book 3.