Friday, June 14, 2013

An intro to Itza

Welcome to the calmecac, the Aztec school. Today's lesson is a quick intro to the Itza RPG. Itza is based on the Era rule set I developed last year. As the game has split it two, Era has become Imperium & Maleficium a Roman RPG and Itza its Mesoamerican counterpart. In this post I will go over the basic points of the character sheet and mechanics so players can get up to speed with the game rules.

Itza is a 2d10 game, that means that a 2d10 is used where usually a d20 would have been used in other d20 based games. All other dice are also used and in some cases in large numbers.

Attributes & Skill Use

Characters have two sets of attributes, primary which the player rolls and secondary which are calculated from the primary and can be improved over time through training. Skill and attribute checks can be called for by the GM for any of the attributes, primary or secondary, although secondary attributes are most commonly used with skills as they represent the actual training of the character.

Skill checks require the player to roll bellow the attribute associated with the skill. Skills have ranks that can be increased through training. Each rank grants the character a +1 bonus to the associated attribute. For example a character with an expert rank at something gains a +2. If the associated attribute value is 13, the player would need to roll 15 or less to succeed.

Power Points

Characters have three types of power points that represent the mind, body and soul of the character. These are Q'ort, Stamina and R'ho respectively. Power points represent the capacity the character has to affect the world, they are the energy that powers the characters special abilities. To make a common analogy to other games, Q'ort is mana for magic user powers, Stamina is endurance to physical punishment and strain, R'ho is mana for cleric powers, those involving the conscience/spirit (stress, mind spells, mind effects, psionic attacks etc) or activities demanding great concentration.

Spells, powers (like the wayob powers) and skills require power points. When attacked characters will suffer damage to stamina first and then if the damage is too high this will overflow to hit points (see combat below). Magic use will require Q'ort points to cast and skills and wayob powers will require R'ho. Skills can be turned on by notifying the GM. For example some find traps, detect ambush, or remove mines can be called on by the player so the character is particularly aware of such events. These type of skills put a great deal of stress on the mind of the character and will require rest to recover lost R'ho points invested in keeping this activity up.

Wayob powers are a special power characters have in Itza. All are born with an affinity to an animal. A character may develop this affinity through training and gain more powers from the animal. But be careful as this may consume the character and let the animal take over. Turning him into a nahual. Some of the more powerful animals also have the most treacherous spirits. So be careful with your wayob.

Character Templates, Collegiae & Training

Itza is a point buy system disguised as a class based game. Character templates are quick starts based on selected collegiae. Collegiae in turn are "schools of training" to which characters can "subscribe" and then progress by gaining new skills and powers under each collegiae. Multiclassing becomes possible by simply buying into different collegiae.

As characters progress in a collegia, they gain more and more skills and powers. These have an ongoing cost. That is, part of the gained XP in every adventure must be paid in upkeep. Each skill and power has a percentage upkeep cost. The sum of all these is the character's upkeep cost. For example it may be 22%. That means that out of each 100 XP points 22 are spent in upkeep and the character only accumulates 78 XP points. XP is then converted to role point (at 500 XP per role point). Role points are then used to buy skills, training and acquire entrance into new collegia.


Combat in Itza puts skill and tactics above weapons and armor. That means you don't want to be hit! An attack is resolved by both the attacker and defender rolling 2d10. To hit the attacker must beat the defender's parry/dodge roll. If the attacker succeeds then damage is rolled. A weapon's damage roll is matched by the armor's soak roll. If damage isn't soaked by the armor it goes on to deplete stamina, but only a fraction of it at a time. Only the amount given by the character's pain threshold can be soaked as stamina, all remaining damage overflows to hit points and causes a wound. Wounds can disorient, slow down or even drop a character unconscious, so hit point damage is something you want to prevent at all costs. Stamina can be increased through training, hit points can't. Hit points are fixed for life. Stamina recovers at an hourly rate given by the stamina recovery rate, hit points recover at one per day.

Combat takes place in time spans of 10 seconds called rounds and actions are limited by the character's action points and the fatigue table. Each character has a set amount of actions points given by the current tactical build (setup of weapons and armor). Each attack and dodge requires 2 action points, a parry requires 1 action point (it costs less, but not all attacks can be parried). It is the player's responsibility to allocate these points into attacks and defenses. Too hasty an attack may leave your character without action points to properly defend. As action points are used, fatigue rises and penalties are incurred. So keep enough to defend yourself without running out of breath.

Each round simply represents the reset of the action points and it does not mean a break in the continuum of actions. That is, a new round will not call for initiative rolls and action definition. As a player you go with the flow as the encounter is taking place. Initiative is a skill check against the mettle attribute. Mettle represents the character's decisiveness and coolness in combat. A higher mettle means the character will have better control and greater situation awareness. In an encounter whoever succeeds the mettle check by the highest margin has the initiative and is in greater control of the situation. Winning initiative may still mean attacking last, that depends on your strategy for combat. Holding back and wearing your opponent out is a very valid tactic in this game. Sometimes it makes sense to wait.

Now, going deeper into damage and soak rolls. Each weapon and armor has a roll defined by say 2d8 vs 3d6. This means the weapon rolls 2d8 (4, 7) and the armor rolls 3d6 (4, 6, 3). The rolls are ordered from highest to lowest and compared. The weapon's 7 vs the armor's 6, the weapon wins and adds 7 points of damage. The weapon's 4 vs the armor's 4, the armor stops the damage, and finally the 3 is not used. The weapon succeeded in delivering 7 points of damage to the character.

As you can see the higher the dice the more penetrating power the weapon has, and the higher the dice the more stopping power the armor has. Some attacks may have many dice, for example a fireball may do 6d4. That's a lot of small dice rolls. Armor may easily roll over a d4, but it can't stop all 6 of them, so at least 3 will do damage. This represents the cracks and gaps in the armor where such damage can seep through.

Well you're all set, looking forward to seeing you this weekend at the game sessions!

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