Costing Character Actions

By Jim Keats, Aayko, Van Colins, Ronald A. Bond Jr., Edi Birsan, John Boland and Jop Vlaskamp.


Some character orders will still cost a character action if they for some reason fail, while others will not. Note that ‘fail’ is not the same as ‘being unsuccesful’. In the latter case, the action will be done, but your chances of success (by lack of sufficient skill level for example) were just not high enough to get the result you wanted. By ‘fail’ we mean here that you just weren’t in the position to do the order (the order was irrelevant, you didn’t meet its requirements), but by oversight (or bad luck, or even cunning planning) you did give the order anyhow.

The following orders do NOT take an action:

  1. Trying to Escape (C10) when you are not a prisoner
  2. Failure to do Public Works (S28)
  3. Trying to Influence (D2) a character that you already own
  4. Trying to Cast a spell (S8/9) you don’t have
  5. Trying to Learn a spell (S13) from someone who doesn’t have it
  6. Trying to Gift a Mark (S30) you do not have
  7. Trying to Influence (D2) someone who is not in the same province
  8. Failure to Train troops (T1) [because the town, that held the population, or was supposed to receive the troops, was taken away by another player, or because the trainer didn’t have the spell to train the entered status, or because the trainer was not in the same prov as the force in which he was to train, or….etc. etc.]

Some of these are very important to know:

* A lot of players will give blind Escape orders first, in case they could have been kidnapped in between turns, and after that write down their normal orders. If they were not kidnapped, the Escapes will just fail and the character actions will be spend on the normal orders; if they were kidnapped the Escapes will be done and consume the character actions (possibly leaving none for the normal orders). Also thieves do issue blind Escapes after each Steal attempt, “just in case”. 

* When Influencing, you normally spend three actions on Diplomacy with one tough NPC. But you always should give several reserve orders, for there is always a chance that the first attempt was succesful, then the other two will fail (see point A.3 above), and the remaining character actions will be spend on the reserve orders. When your Main e.g. has 5 character actions, this could mean writing down 5+4+3+2+1= 15 D2 orders by your Main for targets A, B, C, D and E respectively. With BIG luck you end up with 5 new characters under your control… (yeah, dare to dream!)

* With View you can see if an NPC has a Mark (message: “aura”); to know what Mark it exactly is, you will need a Read Character spell, but that needs to overcome MAR, which can be very costly. So it is better to Charm/Geas the character right away (after which you can let him do ONE character action, and not more than ONE, that month!), and then issue for the charmed/geased character a Gift Mark order for every possible Mark type he may have; thanks to point A.6 above you will always give an order for the Mark he actually has. NB: the sponsor of S30 may get crushed by the gods for taking divine gifts for granted, and Mark transfers may fail.

  1. The following orders DO take an action:
  2. Trying to Read/Examine (S20/21) an item you don’t have
  3. Trying to Teach (S12) a spell you don’t have
  4. Researching (S11) a spell you already know 
  5. Teaching (S15) a Production Secret that you do not know 
  6. Teaching a skill you do not know.

Note that spells, if cast but not having the effect you want, do cost an action – as you DID cast them, they just blew in your face… For example, if you try to summon a creature, that is not available ’cause already summoned by another player’, then this will cost you your action. Also you will ALWAYS use up any spell ingredient used. Whether also your full invested mana will be wasted depends a bit. This is a grey area, but the bottomline seems to be:

(i) most spells that fail, will only cost you 1 mana point from your mana pool (so free mana does NOT protect you here!). Two exceptions:

(ii) failure for ANY(!) reason (so also failing to beat MAR or taking a non fitting target) means loss of ALL mana in case of:

(a) spells that bestow a status (#85-89,122,186,491,492,283), and

(b) spells that summon some supernatural being (#106-109,112-125,259-279).

Wanting to play god, or pooking in the supernatural planes, is punished fittingly.

This was player consensus (Dean Johnson, me), and seem to be confirmed now by the New Rules page 85: Strategic and One Use spells give the 1 mana loss. What a One Use is remains obscure, but it seems to point at Immediate Duration Strategic spells. Which would mean that any spells that have a duration of Phase [like summonings!] or Long or Infinite [like status bestowing!] drain the full mana. The book thus implies that also other non-immediate spells than summon/status will cost all mana – anyone seen it happen?

Note that the effect of point B.3 above is, that you should not Research the same spell more than once per turn. If the first attempt was a success, then the second attempt will still cost a character action. And if that second attempt was succesful you’ll get a second copy of the spell, and if it was unsuccessful you’ll just get the wounds and curse (even though you already knew the spell thanks to the first attempt)!


This article is reproduced with kind permission from “Aayko’s The Legends Corner”.

Jim Keats listed A.1-5 and B.1-2,4,5, Aayko added A.6, Van Colins and Ronald A. Bond jr. added A.7, Edi Birsan added A.8-9. John Boland added B.3 and Jop Vlaskamp added B.4.