From Obscura

This is a system-specific FAQ. for a more general FAQ about LARPing, click here.


What happens if I break a bargain made with an elemental?

Chances are something bad will happen to you. If you believe you've violated a bargain with an elemental, see a ref.

Can I define my own elementals?

Not explicitly no, though if you try to summon an elemental with a particular agenda, you may well find that a compatible one answers. This is far more likely to work if you inform the refs of the sort of elemental you're looking for in advance (through downtime minor actions or in person).

With no bleeding out, what happens if we all go down?

For starters, everyone will take their WOUND from being down for longer than 30 seconds. After that there may be further immediate consequences, such as the PCs being looted, having harmful EFFECTs applied, or have further non-mortal wounds inflicted upon them. There will almost certainly be knock-on effects on later linear encounters or plot due to the NPCs succeeding at their goal. After that the enemies will leave the encounter (or kick the PCs out), and the party will get back up with a ref-called WIDE CURE 1, which should be interpreted as natural recovery.

It's possible there will be high stakes encounters where a party wipe will mean execution or conversion to DPCs. These cases will be telegraphed beforehand.

So is it possible to actually die in this game?

Yes. The injury and death system is designed to make character death a result of personal choices, usually several of them, rather than a sudden or random occurrence by bleeding out. Most ways in the game to push yourself beyond normal limits come at a cost in mortal wounds, increasing your chance of becoming terminal. If you play it safe, your chances of dying are indeed very low, but if you strive for your goals, you will naturally be pushed towards more risky play and higher chance of becoming terminal. Also, should you seriously tick off NPCs or other PCs, they may decide it's worth trying to assassinate you.

Should you become Terminal, that's not necessarily the end of your character. Making a pact with an elemental can let you continue playing that character. However, making a pact to come back from terminal will always require a major sacrifice, and will likely involve new restrictions or even completely changed character goals. Some players may decide they don't want to take the offer. The cost may be lessened if you make the pact with an elemental you already have a good relationship with. Should you become terminal a second time, it's highly likely you'll be rendered an NPC unless you have a very good relationship with a patron.

It's basically impossible for me to kill other PCs! What do I do if they're blatantly evil or an obvious foreign agent?

The guidelines for the task force allow for extensive social and political PvP, and even non-lethal physical PvP as long as you can justify it as "internal security". The game is designed to make the primary forms of conflict between PCs social and political, so it is indeed by design hard to kill other PCs and get away with it, but there are ways.

The first is to contact the Council and convince their representative that your target agent is (truly or falsely) working against the interests of Clare. If you're successful, their Council protection may be restricted, or even revokedFAQ. In this case, it will be legal for you to act against them, either immediately, or if they try the same tricks in future. Essentially, by winning at social and political PvP you can open up legal physical PvP as an avenue.

The second is to report (or frame) them for a serious crime against another agent. This could result in the magistrate sentencing them to death.

But even that only makes them Terminal, so they can just make a pact with an elemental and keep going? Or worse, get revenge?!

A terminal character can indeed make a pact with an elemental to stay in the campaign, but any pact that brings someone back from terminal will involve a dramatic change to their character, and likely new restrictions and character goals. Chances are they'll have other things on their mind (or possibly have a completely different mind...), at least for a good while. In any case your actions will definitely cause a major change in their character.

The Council can revoke my status as an agent? Does that mean I can't play the character any more?

No, but it does put you at a sizeable disadvantage - you lose your legal protection from other agents, your license to break the law, and potentially some or all of your income. It doesn't, however, bar you from attending interactives or linears, so long as other PCs tolerate you (since you no longer have a legal right to do those things). It's theoretically possible to renounce your own status as an agent and keep playing, but there's little reason to do so.

Can I capture people?

Yes, but not easily, and you must pay attention to your captive to prevent them escaping. If you incapacitate someone and then distract them sufficiently with interaction they will not recover from their incapacitated state. If you ignore them for long however they may be able to gather their strength and make a run for it. A terminal character can be restrained with appropriate roleplay, preventing them from leaving or performing any actions. You should inform the refs if you intend to take a character captive, and should inform a ref as soon as possible if you spontaneously take a character captive.

Non-resilient NPCs will be in no fit state to cause trouble after taking one mortal wound, so if after defeating a group you leave them to recover from incapacitation naturally they're unlikely to bother you again with no further action on your part.

If you have a character captive at the end of a session, the refs will decide what happens. It's not guaranteed you'll be able to keep a character captive for an entire downtime, especially a character as resourceful as a PC.

How do I poison people?

The only poisons in the setting are alchemicals. All player characters have Sense Magic so can see that a thing you're offering them is treated with an alchemical, but many NPCs do not, so poisoning most NPCs should just be a case of trying to get them to drink or eat something that appears mundane to them. Poisoning another player character is harder, but remember just because you can see it's an alchemical, that doesn't reveal what alchemical it is, and there are plenty of beneficial alchemicals you can convince them it might be. Recreational use of benign alchemicals is also a fixture of the setting.

How extensive should my marking be for Brush With Element?

Your marking(s) should be noticeable, but we'd rather you not go too overboard on Brush With Element so as to allow more substantial elemental touches to stand out in comparison. For reference, generally less than a Breaking Worlds fey heritage.

If I WEAKEN someone can I then attack the tip of their weapon for easy hits?

No, the attack must be "aimed at their person", so if you don't make a credible attempt to hit them they don't have to take it.

What does the stuff mean about only moving as fast as you were repelled after a REPEL?

In simple terms, come back as fast as you went away. We specify a low minimum speed for REPEL for accessibility reasons, but we'd like you to move as fast as you sensibly can. If you sprint away, you can sprint back. If you walk away you can walk back. What you can't do is walk away and then sprint back.

I just got hit by EFFECT Fear, but I'm very brave! It wouldn't be in character for me to be afraid!

It's up to you how you respond to roleplaying effects, but they should change your behaviour; you can't just push through them. These effects represent particularly strong influences that require an equally strong effect to counter them, such as a skill or counter effect. If you want to play a character who isn't rattled by anything, take the Iron Will skill to back up your characterisation.

I just got hit with EFFECT Anger. Do I have to charge around being angry for 5 minutes straight?

Roleplaying effects will have a strong effect on you immediately and then often recede, to recur at dramatically appropriate times. This means you don't need to roleplay being angry constantly, but should become angry immediately, then, while still under the effect, become angry again at appropriate times.

Is the decision to drop to RESIST a COMPEL in- or out-of-character?

Either. You can heroically resist the compulsion in character, or decide that your brain involuntarily short-circuited. You can also decide the compulsion was too strong and you were unable to resist in character.

Can I RESIST an EPIC COMPEL by dropping and taking a WOUND?

Yes. Though note you aren't immune to further EPIC COMPELs from the same source, while you are immune to further non-EPIC COMPELs.

What do I do if I'm given a COMPEL or EFFECT that I'm uncomfortable with out of character?

If you're given a COMPEL that you're OC uncomfortable with you can always RESIST it, and speak to the refs afterwards if you have concerns. If you're given an EFFECT you're uncomfortable with, see a ref and we'll change it.

How deceptive can you be when performing rituals?

It must be clear to a close observer that you are doing something magical or ritualistic, but you need not make it clear what kind of magic or ritual that is. Another character with Insightful Observer can determine the true intent of a ritual by examining it. You can't use other skills while participating in a ritual, so you can't use Insightful Observer on a ritual you're participating in. Explicitly calling upon themes that are dissonant with the effect (such as emphasising strengthening the target, while actually harming them) may have adverse effects.

What happens to my Hits when I take off and put on armour?

You begin each event with your maximum hits in whatever you're wearing. When you lose maximum hits, you lose the same number of hits, to a minimum of 1. When you gain maximum hits, if you're currently on maximum hits you increase to your new maximum hits. If you're not on maximum hits, or your maximum hits was 1, you don't gain hits. Your maximum hits cannot be reduced to less than 1.

What do magic and alchemy effects look like?

Interestingly, no one can agree. When an invoker unleashes a Destructive Bolt, some see a bolt of lightning, others see a jet of flame, others may see a dark aura decaying armour and flesh. The result of an elemental effect is universally agreed upon, but how it happens seems to vary depending on the observer.

Will more skills (such as more powerful combat abilities) be added in the future?

No. New formulaic rituals can be developed in play, but otherwise there's no intent to add new skills to the game. It is however possible to gain new abilities through other means, many ideas for which are described on the advancement page.

I see this is an old-timey setting. Can I play a gay or transgender character in it?

Yes. Obscura is a fantasy setting, not a historical one, and has a relatively modern view of relationships, gender and sexuality. Discrimination based on these attributes and most other kinds of historical oppression are forbidden by our out-of-character policies.

Discrimination is banned? That seems a bit boring, and what if I want to play an oppressed character?

Discrimination based on out-of-character attributes is banned. Discrimination based on in-character attributes and choices such as nationality, culture, in-character religion and other beliefs is totally fine, and if you want to be oppressed, you can play up some of these to get singled out. If you're Elementally Touched that will get you looked upon with suspicion by many people, at least at the start of the campaign.

What calendar is used in Clare?

The date in Clare is intended to be the number of years since the Sealing. The calendar was retroactively calculated several centuries after the Sealing from several sources however, so the date of the Sealing is very approximate. The date IC is the date OOC with 1000 taken off the year number, so the campaign will take place late 1019 and early 1020.

What languages exist in the setting?

Everyone speaks a common language, physrepped by English. There are no other languages in the setting. Language is not really a theme of this game.

Does print exist in the setting?

Yes. Printing is less advanced that you might expect for the renaissance period, but it does exist and you can freely produce printed materials. Producing small runs of printed materials to be distributed in uptime is within the means of all player characters, but organising and running a large influence campaign is the domain of the Smooth Talker skill.

How does news travel around? Are there newspapers?

There are no newspapers. News travels mainly by word of mouth via contact networks, letters to friends and talking in taverns.

Can I use the Obscura system myself?

Yes. Obscura is licensed under CC-BY-SA.

Can I run player events in the Obscura universe?

Yes, though those events will only be canon in the main campaign with the agreement of the main campaign’s refs.