Quickstart Rules

From Obscura

These are the rules you need to begin playing the game. After reading this, and the safety rules, you're ready to make a character or crew.

  • You start with 3 hits.
  • You lose one hit when hit by a melee or thrown weapon, unless accompanied by a damage call.
  • You can only make one call or successful attack per second.
  • If reduced to 0 hits you are Incapacitated.
  • While Incapacitated you are conscious and can talk, yell, etc, but are immobile, should act as though in pain, and can’t perform any actions unless it's a skill explicitly usable while incapacitated. After 30 seconds of being incapacitated, you take a WOUND (only once)FAQ. This count is paused if someone performs roleplay on you with both hands that looks beneficial (for example First Aid). You can move short distances for safety reasons while Incapacitated.
  • Calls delivered by melee and thrown weapons do not take effect if blocked or parried, unless specified in the call description.
  • If a call has no effect and RESIST isn’t called (because e.g. the target didn’t notice your call, or it was blocked or parried or missed) then any resources used to make the call aren’t expended.
  • Ranged calls have a range of 5m.
  • Arrows and crossbow bolts hit for implicit TRIPLE STUN. This doesn’t take effect if blocked by a buckler or shield (including the STUN).


A call is a sequence of words that has a special meaning in the game rules. They are the means by which players communicate that they're performing feats that they can't do physically, such as a sword swing of great strength, or conjuring and throwing a fireball. it is important you know how to react to at least the damage calls and simple effect calls; if in doubt, you can always respond to a call by “falling over screaming, then seeing a ref for clarification”.

Melee and thrown calls require you to hit with the weapon followed by saying the words that make up the call (*weapon hit* "TRIPLE"). Ranged calls need you to identify the target and then follow with the rest of the call (*pointed finger* “You in the white mask, STUN” or *arms wide* “MASS REPEL”).

A call can be a composite call of multiple effects (for example "TRIPLE STUN"). This counts as a single call for the one-call-per-second rule.

Out-of-game Calls

Anyone can call this. There has been a sort of emergency, it could be quite serious. Please call this if you are injured, or lose your glasses, or see someone else is injured. When you hear this, stop moving your feet (unless it’s unsafe not to) or roleplaying, and if people continue roleplaying, repeat the call. Ascertain the nature of the call, and respond appropriately (by looking around for someone’s glasses without moving your feet and stepping on them, or by letting any first-aiders tend to the harmed person). After things are dealt with, a ref will call TIME IN. If there are no refs during this interaction, for some reason, then by mutual consent play can start again. If you hear “MAN DOWN” then respond as if it were “STOP THE GAME”.
Anyone can call this if you are hit too hard. If someone calls this after you hit them, it isn’t a indictment of your abilities as a roleplayer, but hit them less hard please, as you just hurt them. If you are consistently being hit too hard by somebody, see a ref.
Called by refs to indicate play starts or resumes.
Called by refs to indicate play ends.
Called by refs to pause play. This is usually to give the refs time to react to something or change something that can't be done in real time.
Called by refs on linears if the party is proceeding too quickly and things aren't ready yet. Continue roleplaying, but do not move forward. Feel free to invent an in-universe reason to take a break.

Game Calls

Lose 1 hit.
Lose 2 hits. You should roleplay a visible reaction, so the caller knows you've taken the call.
Lose 3 hits. You should roleplay a visible reaction, so the caller knows you've taken the call.
Lose all hits.
Restore N hits. N may be a number or "ALL".
Move away for 3 seconds at at least a brisk walk. On encountering an obstacle or unsafe terrain you are pinned against the obstacle for the rest of the repel duration. For 3 seconds afterwards, move at most as fast as you were repelledFAQ. This call takes effect if blocked or parried.
For 3 seconds you cannot attack or use active skills and can only move at walking pace. This call takes effect if blocked or parried, unless delivered by arrow or crossbow bolt.
For 10 seconds you cannot make calls with melee weapons other than SINGLE, and any call or attack that is aimed at your person that you block or parry affects you as if it hit youFAQ. You should roleplay a visible reaction, so the caller knows you've taken the call.
See a ref at the earliest convenient time and tell them you took this call.
Ask a ref for a mortal wound at the earliest convenient time. If the number of mortal wounds you have and need to ask for exceeds your capacity, you immediately become Terminal.
The effect stated after the call applies to you.

Unless otherwise specified, EFFECTs last 5 minutes.

Try your best to fulfill the given order. You can RESIST by taking EPIC CRUSH WOUNDFAQ.

Unless otherwise specified, COMPELs last 30 seconds.

If you RESIST a COMPEL by any means then you may RESIST all further non-EPIC COMPELs from the same source for the rest of the encounter at no cost.

Called to indicate you took a call, but it didn’t apply as expected for some reason. This is not subject to the one second rule.


Affects everyone in a 5m radius circle or cone indicated by outstretched arms.

If you have a skill that allows you to make a MASS call you can choose to cone it or not, unless the skill specifies otherwise.

The caller can choose if they are affected by the call or not.

Affects everyone in a 10m radius circle centered on the caller, or the whole interactive. You cannot cone WIDE.

The caller can choose if they are affected by the call or not.

Indicates the call is elemental in some way. Elemental calls are more dangerous to some creatures, but are less effective against or can be countered by others.
Indicates this call is particularly powerful or of an unusual nature. EPIC calls can’t be resisted by most skillsFAQ.

Visual Cues and Tags

One hand in the air Anyone with one hand in the air and their index finger pointing upward is not present IC and should be ignored. If you are monstering, you should use this when moving between encounters.
Hand shading the eyes If you are feeling uncomfortable OOC and don’t want to continue roleplaying, shade your eyes with one hand and leave the IC area when you feel able to do so. This is a cue that you are dropping out of character and other players and crew should respect this by not starting any interactions with you.
Off-white robe / White tag Refs wear distinctive off-white robes or occasionally white tags when reffing in play. This indicates they are playing Keepers. Keepers can't make or receive calls in character, and cannot knowingly lie or mislead.

If a Keeper makes a call, it will be to deliver an effect from another source, such as an environmental effect or ritual fallout. Hopefully the source will be clear from context, otherwise you can ask for clarification.

Flourescent yellow band This person is non-contact and cannot be hit by weapons. To apply a melee call to a non-contact player, close to melee range, point and make the call. Do not actually swing your weapon. To throw a weapon or fire a bow or crossbow at a non-contact player, aim then call the effect then discard your ammunition.

Some characters may wear tags to indicate their resistances.

Nimble Yellow Can RESIST non-melee calls.
Sturdy Light Blue Can RESIST STUN and/or CRUSH.
Magic Resistant Magenta Can RESIST MAGIC calls.
Mundane Resistant Black Can RESIST non-MAGIC calls, or will take extra effect from MAGIC calls.

Mortal Wounds and Terminal

Characters have a limited number of Mortal Wounds they can sustain before dying.

  • PCs and resilient NPCs will become Terminal once they take 4 mortal wounds
  • Most other NPCs will die immediately after taking 2 mortal wounds.
  • Mortal wounds are marked with red, pink or orange marker.
  • Not all wounds are mortal wounds. Wounds that aren't mortal don't contribute to your death track.

Mortal wounds are generally given out with the WOUND call. If you have, and need to ask for, more mortal wounds than you are capable of sustaining, then you immediately become Terminal. If you take your final WOUND as a direct result of performing a skill (such as a ritual causing fallout) the skill still works and if applicable you can deliver its effect before becoming terminal as long as you do so immediately. Becoming terminal removes all wounds.

While Terminal you should act as though dying, and can’t take any actions unless it's a skill explicitly usable while terminal. You can't be healed from this state by any normal means. You can move slowly, or can move at normal speed if assisted, or can be restrained by another character with continuous appropriate roleplay. You will die at a dramatically appropriate time of your OC choice before the end of the next interactive you attend, unless you can find some way to avert your fate.

When playing an NPC and you haven't been briefed otherwise, you should die immediately when you receive your second mortal wound rather than becoming Terminal. This means an otherwise healthy NPC human should survive simple incapacitation with a wound to commemorate their defeat, but will die if wounded further.

All treated wounds fully heal at the end of each event.

Calls and Combat

  • Calls are spoken out of character, but you are aware in character of any calls you witness around you, including RESISTs, unless it's an EFFECT that specifies you're unaware of it. For example, if someone strikes with a sword and calls "TRIPLE!", you can see by looking that it was a much more damaging blow than usual.
  • If two mutually incompatible calls affect you, other than EFFECT, then take the most recent one. If two emotion EFFECTs clash, you can choose which affects you more strongly. If two other EFFECTs clash, see a ref.
  • Touch range calls can only be made when you are able to touch the target. You do not actually need to touch the target to apply the call.
  • You can’t carry thrown weapons or a bow or crossbow at all unless trained.
  • Inform a ref if you plan to engage in physical PvP. If you PvP without a ref present and there’s contention, the benefit of the doubt will go to the defender.

Non-combat and non-contact

You can always remove yourself from a combat scene entirely by putting your finger in the air, moving away and then dropping to zero hits and becoming incapacitated. Call STOP THE GAME if you're unable to safely move away. Some combat scenes may have in-character mechanisms to allow non-combatants to stay out of the encounter.

Players can also decide to be non-contact. A non-contact player wears a flourescent yellow band, which indicates to other players they shouldn't hit you. You cannot wield weapons while non-contact, but can use other abilities, including offensive ones. Non-contact is distinct from non-combat; there is a procedure for other characters to attack a non-contact player, and you should feel free to attack a non-contact player using this procedure if you deem it appropriate.