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Basic Mechanics

Matrix: Revelations is slightly different from other role-playing games in that it uses a deck of playing cards to resolve actions, rather then dice. These decks have the Kings, Queens and Jacks stripped out of them.

Attribute/Skill Score

Level

Cards Drawn

Target Modifiers

1

Feeble

1

0

2

Underdeveloped

2

0

3

Average

3

0

4

Good

4

0

5

Superior

5

0

6

Maximum Unaugmented

6

0

7

-

6

-1

8

-

7

0

9

-

7

-1

10

Maximum Available

8

0

There are three types of tests a player may make.  The first, and most common, is a straight Target Test. When the player needs to test a Skill or Attribute, they draw a number of cards shown next to their ability level above, with the aim of drawing cards with a value equal to or higher than the Target set by the GM. If a character needs to use a skill that they don’t have, they can revert to either of the Secondary Attributes that make up that skill, with a penalty of +1 to the Target.  The basic Target for all draws is 6, which gives the drawer a 50/50 chance of succeeding with any one draw.

Engel, with Lockpick: 4, is trying to pick he lock of the cage she is currently trapped in.  She is working in cramped conditions, with only a bobby pin, but the lock is old, so the GM sets the Target at 7 – hard, but not impossible, by any stretch of the imagination.  Engel’s player draws 4 cards: a two, two sevens, and a nine.  Three of these cards are equal to or more than the Target of 7, so Engel succeeds in picking the lock in record time.

Occasionally, the task may by so hard that the Target may exceed 10.  This is where the Patron Rule comes into play.  Each player chooses a Patron suit (Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs or Spades) on creation.  In a situation where the Target is more than 10, a player who draws a card from their Patron suit immediately draws another card, and adds its value to that of the first one.  If this second card is also of the player’s Patron suit, they may repeat the process, until they draw a non-Patron card.

Hypnos (Patron: Spades) needs to break out of a pair of handcuffs, which, as you’d expect, is no mean feat.  The GM takes into account the fact that Hypnos has taken a few Wounds, and decides that the task will require a draw against Hypnos’ Strength, with a Target of 12. Hypnos has a Strength of 5, which allows his player to draw five cards: he draws a two of Hearts, a seven and nine of Diamonds, and a nine of Spades.  He draws again on the nine, producing a five, for a total of 14, which is more than the total.  With a rebel yell, Hypnos heaves at the cuffs, which snap under the pressure.

The second most common type of test is the Skill Contest.  A Skill Contest occurs when two characters wish to pit their skills against each other.  This occurs most commonly in close combat, but it may happen in any circumstances.

A Skill Contest is resolved in a similar way to a regular skill test.  Each character involved draws card equal to their score, with a target of 6, modified by the situation.  The person with the most successes wins.

Engel, Mary and Crunch decide to have a foot-race to see who is the fastest crewmember.  The GM decides that the contest will involve the characters’ Athletics skill.  Crunch has Athletics: 5, which gives him 5 cards to draw against the Target of 6. Mary has Athletics: 3, which gives her three cards against the same Target as Crunch. Engel doesn’t have Athletics at all, so she has to default to Dexterity: 5, which means that she has 5 cards to draw – the same as Crunch – but at the increased Target of 7.  Crunch draws two successes, Mary one, and Engel three; from this, the GM tells the players that, although Crunch is in better shape than Engel, her natural quickness put her past the post first.

The third test, which occurs least often, is the Opposed Test.  It is used for skills such as Disguise and Camouflage, when the character's actions will affect the Targets of people around them.  In an Opposed test, the character draws cards as designated by their skill score, with the Patron Rule active (if the player draws a card of their chosen suit, they draw again, and add the second card to the first).  The highest value from this draw is the Target that other people need to beat in order to best the character.  In this case, modifiers are reversed; ie, a character with a skill score of 7 or 9 may add one to the final score, whereas defaulting will subtract one from the final score.

Not content with losing to Engel, Crunch want a rematch, this time in shooting prowess; and because she’s bored, Mary decdes to join in as well.  The GM rules that this will be an Opposed Test, with each character using their Pistol skill.  Crunch has Pistol: 4, and Mary has Pistol: 2, but Engel doesn't have the skill at all; she decides to default to Dexterity: 5.  Crunch draws a two, an eight, a nine, and a Patron six; drawing on the six again, he picks a five, for a final score of 11.  Mary lines up, and draws a seven and a nine – Crunch is still in the lead.  Engel draws her five cards, picking two threes, a seven, an eight, and a Patron seven.  Drawing on the seven again, Engel draws an eight, for a final total of 15.  Even with the –1 penalty to the total, Engel’s 14 is enough to win the contest.  Her bullet strikes closest to the dummy’s heart, and Crunch stomps off, defeated again.

 

Fate Cards

Now, I bet you’re wondering what to do with all of those spare Court cards, aren’t you?  Well, each player should keep the King, Queen and Jack of their Patron suit: these are their Fate cards.  At any point, the player may substitute these Fate cards for one card they have just drawn in any Test.  These Fate cards count as a Patron card (so the player draws again) with a value of 10.

 

Ideally, each person should have their own deck, preferably of different colours.  If this is the case, the player discards their drawn cards to a separate pile.  The deck may be re-shuffled on three occasions: at the end of a Combat Round (that is, the last person has acted in the last pass); at the end of a ‘scene’ (when the action jumps visibly from one place and time to another); and when the character physically runs out of cards.

 

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