Component Creation Add-ons
Some optional rules that change the way the Components Get Created, including
three variants on the oft requested "PC Add-on".
Greater Control Over Created Components
Submitted by Bob
Add a Trait to any Component you Created called
"Controlled by _player name_" (as in "Controlled by
Bob"). This doesn't prevent other players from Controlling
Component's that you've Created but it is a Fact that gives your Coins
double value to Challenge for Control.
---I call this the PC-lite rule. It is by far
the simplest means of gaining a degree of traditional Player Character
like authority over a particular character in the game.
---Note the possibility for a "hostile
takeover" as other players attempt to remove and replace a
"Control" Trait and this attempt is Challenged.
Allow this Add-on to apply only to characters not other types of
Components. Allow each player to buy this Trait only once, limiting
each player to a single controlled character. Allow this Trait to be
applied to a Component even if the purchasing player didn't Create it.
Disallow "hostile takeovers" by ruling that Control Traits can
never be eliminated or altered.
Public Domain Trait
Submitted by Kirt
This add-on is something of the reverse of the Greater
Control add-on above. Instead of adding a "Control
Trait" that makes it harder for others to take Control of a
Component, the player adds a "Public Domain" Trait to the
This Component can now be Taken Over for free, without
spending a coin to do so. The Take Over can be Challenged as usual.
---This gimmick would be useful in a variety of
situations such as: Large complex locations like a castle or city
that every player wants to be able to add Traits to at any time without
having to spend a Coin to Take Control each time, reoccuring villains so
that any player can initiate a Complication using that villain without
needing to pay to control him.
---See also the Friendly
Control Add-on for a similar way of handling this.
Submitted by Ralph
Must first be playing with Bob's Control Add-on
above. This Add-on allows players to take Control of a Controlled
Component without fear of Challenge if they first play an additional 1
Coin from Wealth, directly to the player named in the Trait.
---Royalties were actually a concept from way in
the early days of Universalis, whose intention was to motivate players
to Create interesting Component, by paying them if they were something
other players would want to use. This motivation proved completely
unnecessary and so the rule was scrapped; but it fit so nicely with
Bob's clever Control rule above that I resurrected the concept just for
Player Character Add-on
Submitted by Mike
A player can, once during the game
(across all sessions), spend 5 Coins, and permanently Take Over a
single character. This character becomes the Player's Character
(PC). Add a Trait to the character of "_Player Name's_
Character" (as in "Mike's Character".
can only thereafter be Controlled by that player. Further Take Overs of that character
are not allowed. The PC can not be altered in any way (such
as buying Traits for the character) by any player other than the
owner, except through the use of Coins received from a
Complication in which the PC was a participant.
includes being Introduced into scenes. The PC can only be
Introduced to a scene with the
agreement of the owning player (who still retains Control despite
not having Introduced the character). If a player wants to
Introduce a PC against its owner's will, he can frame a Mini-Scene
in which the PC is involved in a relevant Complication and use
Coins won in the Complication to Introduce the PC into the main
player is also solely responsible for all of the character's
---This Add-on can
really alter the game in subtle, but powerful ways. Shifting
the player's emphasis from the story as a whole to a specific
character, can lead to player myopia and disinterest in parts of
the story not involving the PC. It is suggested that not all
player utilize this option at the same time. It is perhaps
best used to give the hero of the story to a particular player as
a PC, and perhaps the major villain of the story to another player
as a PC, but for the rest of the players to remain unattached to
---See also the Judgment
Challenge Variant Add-on for a way to bring a more GM like
influence to the game. Ralph
The PC Endowment Pool
Submitted by Mike
When a player adopts a PC he gets an Endowment of 25 Coins, which
are kept in a separate pool. These Endowment Coins can only be used to give
Traits to the PC, or to add to Complication Pools in the case of
Complications in which the PC is involved. These Coins are
never Refreshed. When they are spent they are gone.
Set the number of Endowment Coins at a different amount based
on the character's importance to the story and the level of
realism in the game.
PC Plot Protection
Submitted by Mike
With this option it takes double the normal number of Coins to
eliminate a PC by reducing Importance.
rule has the interesting effect of causing players who are
determined to eliminate a protected character to concentrate first
on removing the character's Traits, thereby lowering the PC's
Importance before having to pay to reduce it. I recommend considering
this sort of protection for major villains or other
important Component as well. Ralph
Allow this Add-on to be purchased individually for any important
Component, not just PCs (even in a game that isn't using the PC
players can make it illegal for any player except the owner to reduce
a PCís Importance. Thus only the owner can decide if and when itís time for
the PC to be eliminated.
PC Descriptive Paragraph Add-on
Submitted by Ralph
This is a special method of generating Player
Characters which should be used in conjunction with the
Endowment Add-on above. Players must write a paragraph
(or several) describing who their character is and what heís
like. Game balance issues are not important here (they will come
into play below) but players should strive to keep their
description limited to 100 to 200 words. This will help ensure
that the description is tightly worded, and focused on the most
essential aspects of the character. Sentences that are merely
lists of things the character can do are to be discouraged.
Key elements of a paragraph would be cultural and social
background, occupation, personality, important possessions,
friends or contacts, hobbies or things the character does
exceptionally well. Take this paragraph and use it as a source to
draw the character's Traits from. Pay for those Traits (or
at least as many as possible) out of the character's
---This Add-on is inspired by
several RPGs such as Hero Wars which use just such a descriptive
paragraph to create their characters. Ralph.
PC Story Drivers
Submitted by Ralph
This Add-on should be used in conjunction with
the Endowment Add-on above.
The Story Driver is some compelling feature
about the characterís personality or motivations that serves to
provide interest. The Story Driver is the reason why the character
is part of the story being told. It is the reason the character is
a protagonist of the story and is the motivation that drives the
character through the story. If the character does not have a
Story Driver it probably isnít compelling enough to be a player
character and is best left as an NPC.
The Story Driver is that facet of a character
that makes him of interest to the audience. It may be tied to the
characterís role but this is not necessary. It answers the
questions: "Why should we care what happens to this
character?", "What makes this character suitable as a
protagonist?", "What keeps the character moving forward
through the story?", and "Why is this character worth
telling a story about in the first place?" It may be a quest
to complete, a vendetta to pursue, a mystery to solve, a promise
to keep, or a destiny to fulfill. It may also simply
be an interesting situation that the character is in that requires
immediate action to respond to. For supporting characters,
it may be largely tangential to the main story line (which should
be concerned with the Story Driver of the protagonist) but it
should provide the opportunity for subplots, and exciting
narrative in its own right.
The Story Driver should not just be a static
tag line. It should be an ongoing theme in the characterís life
which become more developed as the story progresses both from the
characterís perspective and the audienceís. The player should
make an effort to work elements of the Story Driver into his
narrative where appropriate and keep in the back of his mind the
potential for its ultimate resolution or fulfillment, if such is
The Story Driver for a player character can be
altered and changed during play as the character evolves and the
details of the surrounding world and events get filled in.
In this way a character whose Story Driver includes following in
the footsteps of his dead and heroic father, can, later in the
story, latch on to the idea of making the main villain of the
story his father, who is not dead after all.
The elements that make up a Story Driver
write-up are not considered Facts for game purposes. They are
merely the perceptions of the character whose actual veracity may
vary. Elements of the Driver that the player wishes to be
irrefutable can be purchased as Facts normally.
Whenever the player manages to focus attention
on his Story Driver he can earn Coins from the Bank. For
each scene in the game that addresses some aspect of the
character's story driver, the owning player may draw 1 Coin from
the Bank and add it to the character's Endowment Pool.
Whenever the player manages to actually resolve
his Story Driver (if such is possible) the owning player may draw
a number of Coins from the Bank equal to the total number of game
sessions that character has participated in with that Story Driver
in place and add them to the character's Endowment Pool.
---This Add-on is inspired by features found
in many games, such as Sorcerer's Kickers. Ralph
Submitted by Bob
This is an add-on designed to make it more difficult to remove Traits
or Eliminate Components from play.
When Components are Created, they can be designated as
"Durable". This is a special Trait that costs 5
Coins and cannot be Removed from the Component. For the rest
of the game it takes 2 Coins instead of 1 to Remove a Trait of
that Component or reduce the Component's Importance. This
will make killing Characters, destroying Locations, etc much
harder. It will tend to skew things toward making existing
things gain Importance, since it is cheaper to add a Fact to
something than to destroy a Fact from it.
A combat example...
Bob's has character A attack B. Character B is Durable.
After resolving the Complication. A side wins with 10 coins, B
side gets 3. B is an Importance 6 character. With this Add-on,
instead of reducing Importance to 0 and describing the 6
"coin moves" and keeping 4 Coins- killing B like the
normal rules, Bob can't kill B (he would need 12 coins to reduce
the importance), so he adds 6 Coins worth of Facts (like...Flesh
wounds x2, Weak with Blood Loss x2, Broken Nose, No match for
Character A) and keeps 4 Coins. These added traits will have the
effect of acting against B in other Complications, but they also
increase the Importance of character B to 12. These
"negative" Facts are also difficult to remove from B.
(and perhaps Bob will destroy one or two trait Facts and add a
couple wounding traits etc instead of using them all one way)
If you want to make sure that the groups creative work hangs
around longer, this might be a good Add-on for you.
---Mike and Bob worked on this Add-on on our Discussion
Forum. I added a couple small tweaks to it before posting it
Submitted by Christopher
This rule allows players to conceal
the hidden facts about a character or other Component. You can buy
Traits for Components that are not known to the other players,
although they do have to be written down, and cannot be used for
Complications or Challenges until revealed.
You have to pay 2 Coins for an
Enigma Trait (essentially 1 Coin for the Trait and 1 for the
privilege of keeping it secret). The Trait is written down
and not revealed to the other players. At any point the
player desires he can reveal the Trait and bring it to bear in a
Complication or Challenge or simply refer to it in narrative.
The purpose of an Enigma Trait is
to allow a player to secure "first dibs" on an idea but
yet still keep it secret to "spring" on the other
players at a dramatic moment. Players can always add
"surprise" or "plot twist" Traits to
Components via the normal rules. But by waiting for the
right moment to purchase those Traits other Facts may be purchased
by other players in the mean time that invalidate the player's
For instance. Dave might
really want to add a Trait to Elton Frakes that he is, in fact, a
werewolf. He decides to wait to a suitable moment to buy the
Trait and reveal Elton's secret. Before he gets the chance,
Ed buys "Immune to Lycanthrope" as a Trait for
Elton. Now Dave could Challenge this, but in addition to the
expense it may make his announcement anti-climactic. Using
the Enigma Trait rule Dave buys the Werewolf Trait for Elton but
records it in secret. Now if Ed tries to render Elton
"Immune" he will be too late. Dave can now
challenge Ed with the weight of the newly revealed Enigma Trait
serving as Fact.
These traits work well for mystery
stories, noir stories, heroes with undiscovered powers, and soap
operas. Memento comes to mind as a movie that would incorporate this very well.
---This Add-on was first
proposed in our Discussion Forum. I tweaked it a bit before
posting it here. Ralph
Making Protagonists Special
Add-ons suggest a few ways to mechanically make the main
characters of your story more involved and influential than the