Excelsior

EXCELSIOR CHEAT SHEET

Custom_Rules_Button.png This top section allows you to quickly access the meat of what actions you can spend Excelsior on.

Invoking an Aspect

[This differs from FATE]
Whenever you’re making a skill roll, and you’re in a situation where an aspect might help you, you can spend an Excelsior point to invoke it to change the dice result.

This allows you to either:

Before you roll:
• Gain Advantage on a roll before it is made.
• Automatically succeed on a DDM roll, but the chance still goes up by one.

After you’ve rolled the dice—if you aren’t happy with your total:
• Add +2 to the attribute score involved with a roll.
• Turn a Terrible Failure into a Failure.
• Allow the expenditure of a Reroll Pool die for rolls not usually allowed to be rerolled (combat, or a roll without the relevant skill or background).
• Attempt a failed action with a subsequent retry action: Retry the roll even if the situation has not changed in a favorable way. This is not from the reroll pool. The character must attempt the action again, simply without needing justification (other than invoking an aspect).

You may never spend more than one Excelsior, Luck, or Reroll Pool on any single roll.

Excelsior, a Latin comparative word often translated as “ever upward” or “even higher”

Custom_Rules_Button.pngThe following house rule is taken, in part, from the FATE system’s Fate Points. Players may feel free to suggest additions to the uses of Excelsior points.

Defining Excelsior

Starting Excelsior

Earning Excelsior
Defining Aspects
Assigning Aspects
Compels

Spending Excelsior
Invoking an Aspect
Declaring a Story Detail

Defining Excelsior

Excelsior, for our purposes, means excellence in role-playing or actions.

Golden_Token.pngExcelsior Tokens are a system of rechargeable ‘points’, represented by doubloon tokens. They represent a rewards system for the players, who may earn them in-game or out-of-game actions (if it helps the game or makes the experience better for everyone), as well as for playing their character well or letting their character be put into complicating or disadvantageous circumstances.

Starting Excelsior

Characters start each session with as many tokens as they had at the end of the last session, up to a maximum of 3 (three). Excess tokens are lost (this is to keep this optional system a bit more balanced so that players do not hoard them). Excelsior points are meant to be used sparingly, and usually only once per combat round or scene – unless agreed upon by the table in any given circumstance.

Earning Excelsior

A player can get Excelsior for writing up the session or helping create part of the world.

Excelsior may also be earned for in-game actions, such as exceptional role-playing (especially when playing flaws and backgrounds, or increasing the tension in the narrative).

Alternatively, the GM may suggest a complication for your character which will, if agreed upon, earn an Excelsior. This is called a compel.
There are ways of earning extra tokens during a session, with no maximum number of tokens available during any given session, but at the beginning of the next session, the total will be reset to a 3 token maximum (or fewer, based on how many the character had at the end of the previous session).

Definition: Aspect – [from FATE]

Aspects are phrases that describe some significant detail about a character. They are the reasons why your character matters, why we’re interested in seeing your character in the game. Aspects can cover a wide range of elements, such as


personality or descriptive traits, beliefs, relationships, issues, and problems, or anything else that helps us invest in the character as a person, rather than just a collection of stats.

Think about your character, their strengths and weaknesses. Aspects can describe things that are beneficial or detrimental—in fact, the best aspects are both. More information about Aspects.

Also, aspects don’t just belong to characters; the environment your characters are in can have aspects attached to it as well. Therefore you may earn Excelsior based on external complications or situations.

Assigning Aspects

Please assign the following TWO main Aspects for your character:

Compels

Sometimes (in fact, probably often), you’ll find yourself in a situation where Aspect complicates your character’s life and creates unexpected drama. When that happens, the GM will suggest a potential complication that might arise. This is called a compel.

Sometimes, a compel means your character automatically fails at some goal, or your character’s choices are restricted, or simply that unintended consequences cloud whatever your character does. You might negotiate back and forth on the details a little, to arrive at what would be most appropriate and dramatic in the moment.

Once you’ve agreed to accept the complication, you get doubloon for your troubles. If you want, you can pay an Excelsior to prevent the complication from happening, but it is not recommended that you do that very often—you’ll probably need that Excelsior later, and getting compelled brings drama (and hence, fun) into your game’s story.

Players, you’re going to call for a compel when you want there to be a complication in a decision you’ve just made if it’s related to one of your aspects. GMs, you’re going to call for a compel when you make the world respond to the characters in a complicated or dramatic way.

Anyone at the table is free to suggest when a compel might be appropriate for any character (including their own). The GM has the final word on whether or not a compel is valid. And speak up if you see that a compel happened naturally as a result of play, but no fate points were awarded.

Landon has the aspect The Manners of a Goat. He is attending the annual Grand Ball in Ictherya with his friends, courtesy of the royal court.

The GM tells the players, “As you’re milling about, a sharply dressed young lady catches Landon sticking out of the crowd. She observes him for a while, then goes to engage him in conversation, obviously intrigued by how different he looks among all the stuffy nobles.”


Then to Lenny (Landon’s player), “What do you do?”

Lenny says, “Uh… well, I guess I’ll ask her to dance and play along, see what I can find out about her.”

The GM holds up an Excelsior Doubloon and says, “And is that going to go wrong, given Landon’s excellent command of courtly etiquette?”

Lenny chuckles and replies, “Yeah, I presume Landon will offend her pretty quickly, and that’ll get complicated. I’ll take the fate point.”The GM and Lenny play a bit to figure out just how Landon puts his foot in his mouth, and then the GM describes some of the royal guard showing up. One of them says, “You might want to watch how you speak to the High Duchess of Ictherya, outlander.”

Lenny shakes his head. The GM grins the grin of the devil.


Spending Excelsior

Invoking an Aspect

[This differs from FATE]
Whenever you’re making a skill roll, and you’re in a situation where an aspect might help you, you can spend an Excelsior point to invoke it to change the dice result.%

This allows you to either:

Before you roll:
• Gain Advantage on a roll before it is made.
• Automatically succeed on a DDM roll, but the chance still goes up by one.

After you’ve rolled the dice—if you aren’t happy with your total:
• Add +2 to the attribute score involved with a roll.
• Turn a Terrible Failure into a Failure.
• Allow the expenditure of a Reroll Pool die for rolls not usually allowed to be rerolled (combat, or a roll without the relevant skill or background).
• Attempt a failed action with a subsequent retry action: Retry the roll even if the situation has not changed in a favorable way. This is not from the reroll pool. The character must attempt the action again, simply without needing justification (other than invoking an aspect).

You may never spend more than one Excelsior, Luck, or Reroll Pool on any single roll.

You also have to explain or justify how the aspect is helpful in order to get the bonus—sometimes it’ll be self-evident, and sometimes it might require some creative narrating.

You cannot spend more than one fate point on a single roll, but you may spend a point from your reroll pool. And you may save your Excelsior point to add to that reroll.

Cynere (played by Lily) is trying to covertly goad a merchant into describing the security features of his personal vault by posing as a visiting dignitary. They both roll, Lily against her Cha (Persuasion) 14, and the merchant against his 12 intelligence to see if he realizes Lily’s ploy.

Lily rolls a 9, giving her a margin of success of 5. The merchant, however, succeeds by 6 (ouch), meaning Lily fails her roll by 2 (a tie result would mean the status


quo remains, and she would need to beat the roll by 2), not enough to get the information she wants.

She looks at her character sheet, then to the GM, and says, “You know, long years of being Tempted by Shiny Things (her Trouble Aspect/Flaw) has taught me a thing or two about what’s in a treasure hoard and what’s not. I’m going to impress this merchant by talking about the rarest, most prized elements of his collection.”

The GM grins and nods. Lily hands over a doubloon to invoke the aspect, and gets to add +2 to her Attribute chance, which now exceeds the opposition by 1. The duly impressed merchant starts to brag about his vault, and Cynere listens intently….

Declaring a Story Detail

Sometimes, you want to add a detail that works to your character’s advantage in a scene. For example, you might use this to narrate a convenient coincidence, like retroactively having the right supplies for a certain job (“Of course I brought that along!”), showing up at a dramatically appropriate moment, or suggesting that you and the NPC you just met have mutual clients in common.

To do this, you’ll spend an Excelsior point. You should try to justify your story details by relating them to your aspects. The GM has the right to veto any suggestions that seem out of scope or ask the player to revise them, especially if the rest of the group isn’t buying into it.

Zird the Arcane gets captured with his friends by some Thuel tribesfolk from the Sagroth Wilds. The three heroes are unceremoniously dumped before the chieftain,

and the GM describes the chieftain addressing them in a strange, guttural tongue.

Ryan looks at his sheet and says, “Hey, I have If I Haven’t Been There, I’ve Read About It on my sheet. Can I declare that I’ve studied this language at some point, so we can communicate?”

The GM thinks that’s perfectly reasonable to assume. Ryan tosses over a fate point and describes Zird answering in the chieftain’s own speech, which turns all eyes in the village (including those of his friends) on him in a moment of surprise.

Ryan has Zird look at his friends and say, “Books. They’re good for you.”


Back to Hero Creation
Back to Library

Excelsior

Nothing Ventured... PhoenixMark