Below is a copy of the "Instruction Manual" (one, two-sided page) I have handed out to people during playtests. It was written with people who have never played a table top RPG in mind, so a lot of it's pretty basic - but it should give you a good idea of where the game builds up from.
BREAK!! Instruction Manual
Who am I?
You’re an Adventurer! OK, so if you want Specifics…
- Portrait - This is just a cool picture of your character.
- Rank - Nearly everything in BREAK!! has a rank; this is a measure of your power and experience.
- Name - Left blank, so it’s up to you!
- Calling - This is the biggest factor on your Character Sheet. Along with your Rank, it determines your Aptitudes, Attack, and Abilities.
- Species - Which one of the Outer World’s people do you belong to? This decides your Innate Ability!
- Homeland - What part of the world are you from?
- History - What did you do before all this?
- Description - A brief paragraph to introduce your character.
- Languages - Which of the Outer World’s languages do you speak and read?
- Purviews - These are important to remember; these snippets provide insight into your character’s skills and training. They should be interpreted both literally and metaphorically, and though they do not provide any supernatural powers, they can be used to increase your Aptitude on some Rolls. Just let the GM know when you have to roll and you think one applies!
Whenever you roll the dice, usually a d20. We’ll cover it more in a bit.
Right, OK. What about this other stuff right here?
Oh, your Quirk and Abilities!
- Your Quirk is a unique thing about you. It may be a magitech prosthetic, or the fact that you're really jumpy. Regardless, it always has an Upside and a Downside, as marked on your character sheet.
- Abilities are the really fun stuff about your character. These are special perks you get from your species, Magic Spells and special forms of attacks you learn from your Calling. Read them carefully, since they may really help out while adventuring.
Great - But how do I do stuff?
If you want to do something simple - move a small rock, open an unlocked door, say hello to someone nearby, then you can just do that stuff. Just let your GM know and try not to shout over people.
Of course, if you want to do something hard, you’ll need a d20…
- Whenever you attempt to do something where failure is possible and significant, you need to make a Check. This entails rolling a d20 and hoping you get a result below the Aptitude related to whatever it is you're doing. More on Aptitudes in a bit.
- If you are working against or competing with another individual or some other dynamic force while doing something, it becomes a Contest. This works just like a Check, except everyone involved makes one. Whoever rolls the highest without going over their Aptitude comes out on top.
- Sometimes, you can leverage one of your Purviews or something in the situation to your advantage. Bring this up to the GM! They should trying to be notice this stuff themselves, so you won’t be alone.
Wait, you said you were going to talk about Aptitudes.
Right, your character has Five Aptitudes. They are all connected to different tasks, and you may have to use them to resist the effects of certain Abilities and Attacks.
- Might represents physical strength and raw athleticism. This Aptitude comes into play when doing things like lifting something big and heavy or leaping across a chasm.
- Deftness represents dexterity, grace and skill. You use this Aptitude when crafting something delicate or trying to move without making much noise.
- Grit is how tough you are, and how strong your willpower is. This one is more reactive than other Aptitudes. You generally use this to see if you’re able to withstand harmful effects or attempts to influence you.
- Insight represents your perception and ability to analyze information. You generally to use this to read another individual, notice a hidden object or know something in game that you (as a player) may not.
- Aura is your charisma and raw presence. This is the Aptitude to use when you are trying to convince someone you’re an OK sort, tell them what to do, or strong-arm a Relic into letting you use it.
So what if I want to wreck someone?
Hey, fighting is dangerous, so be careful about when you start stuff. Still, if you have too…
- Your Attack score is how good you are at fighting. When attempting to strike or otherwise assault an enemy, you roll a d20 and add this bonus. If your roll is higher than their Defense, you’ve hit them!
- Defense as mentioned before, is how hard you are to hit. It can be increased by Armor, your Speed, or abilities.
- Your Heart Total is really important! Whenever you take damage in combat, you lose a Heart. You can survive without them, but if you’re damaged when you have no Hearts left you can be injured or even killed. Your Hearts are restored at the end of every fight, but any injuries you sustain will remain until they heal.
- Speed is how fast you move. Normally you just need to know the rating, but being very fast means you can move multiple areas in combat and get a Defense bonus. Characters with a slower speed will have a harder time moving around the battlefield.
Wait, I can die? Oh crap…
Like I said, fighting is dangerous. Of course, other things can kill you too but you should be OK if your friends are around to help. Also, don’t forget you can always try to sneak around, trick or even talk with enemies and monsters - assuming they have a way of understanding you.
How do I do that?
Most of that stuff would be handled with Aptitude Checks and Contests. Some things like long chases or intense negotiations have a certain procedure to them, but worry about that if and when they come up.
Anything else I should know?
Just a few things…
- If you want to do something cool that nets you a special effect, like knocking an enemy over with Attack or climbing a steep wall with a friend hanging off your back, mention it to the GM. This is called a Stunt. The catch is that if you want something extra to come with success, you need to add a Wager, which is something extra bad that happens if you fail. For example, if you try to knock an enemy's sword out of their hand while attacking and miss, you may drop your own instead.
- You can also try a Trick while fighting, which is like a Stunt but the Wager is that you don’t do any damage either. There are also Assists you can attempt if you would rather help out your friends and engage an enemy directly.
- Sometimes your Quirks or Abilities mention an Edge or Snag. The former means that you roll two dice in the circumstances stated, and pick whichever result is better for you. The latter means the same thing, except you pick whichever result is worse.
- Your character’s Inventory will have some neat stuff in it. Make sure you ask if you you’re not sure what something is, as it may become useful during the game!
- Just remember that you can only carry so many things. You have a certain amount of Inventory Slots based on your Species size and various Abilities. Most characters have 10 slots, and a little extra if they have a Traveler's Bag or Backpack. Some items take up more or less than 1 Slot as well, so you may need to pick and choose carefully.
Whew. Is that everything?
Probably not, but it should get you started. Certain new things will come up in game sooner or later.. Experiment, ask questions, and have fun!