This is a quick rundown of the absolute basics of the alternity system
attributes are basically similar to those in pathfinder, but are rated on a scale where 4 is the Human minimum, 14 is the human maximum, 9 is human average and 10 is the “heroic” average
STR = Strength – used for melee combat, heavy weapons, sports, armor use
DEX = Dexterity – used for acrobatics, driving, stealth, and ranged combat
CON = Constitution – directly determines durability (HP) and used for endurance
INT = Intelligence – determines skill points and used for technical skills
WIL = Willpower – psionic power, healing, mental resilience and observational skills
PER = Personality – people skills
The general mechanic of alternity is to roll a d20 and attempt to get less than the associated skill score. It also includes an integrated margin of success system:
A natural 20 is a critical failure, or indicates some form of bad luck
Rolling higher than your skill score is a FAILURE unless it is something you cannot fail at (like initiative) in which case it is considered a MARGINAL success.
Rolling less than your skill score is an ORDINARY success.
Rolling less than half your skill is a GOOD success
Rolling less than a fourth of your skill is an AMAZING success.
Rolling a 1 is automatically at least an ORDINARY success regardless of skill score and situation die results, unless the penalty on the roll is +5 or more, or the GM determines success cannot be automatic
Skills are represented on your character sheet as three numbers separated by slashes so you can tell at a glance what type off success your rolled. e.g. Pistol 14/7/3
Bonuses and penalties are applied using what is known as a SITUATION DIE. This is another die that is rolled along with the d20 and either added to or subtracted from the result. The dice are arranged into a ladder like arrangement and start getting bigger as they go both up and down (d0, d4, d6, d8, d12, d20, 2d20, 3d20…) hence it is called a STEP system. While you can start at your base die, work out the modifiers and move up and down for each, I usually just eyeball it and give you the modifier. Because of the need to roll low, bonuses are negative and penalties are positive, which is a bit counter intuitive at first
Alternity is a skill based system with skills divided into BROAD and SPECIALTY skills.
You must know a broad skill before you can learn specialty skills associated with it.
untrained skill checks are made at half the value of the governing attribute, and with a +1 step penalty – many skills cannot be used untrained
Broad skills checks are always made at the value of the governing attribute, with a +1 step penalty – knowledge of a broad skill will allow most uses of the associated specialty skills, but some specific specialties cannot be used unless trained.
Specialty skills are the only skills with ranks. These ranks are added to the governing attribute to determine the skill level, and are made with no penalty
Durability is divided into 4 “types” of hit points, roughly corresponding to the success types, and directly determined by constitution:
FATIGUE damage represents exertion, and shows how far you can push yourself, as fatigue builds, you begin to take penalties to all actions
STUN damage is very slight wounds that only impede upon your abilities as they begin to accumulate, and usually come back with just a few minutes rest
WOUND damage is more serious, causing more severe penalties more quickly, and requiring medical care or long term rest to heal
MORTAL damage is instantly life threatening, even one point of mortal damage means that YOU ARE DIEING! Mortal damage quickly escalates as it instantly incurs penalties, and you must make a check every turn to see if you get worse from mortal wounds. Mortal wounds can ONLY be cured through surgery
weapon damage codes are written so as to correspond to an ordinary/good/amazing result from the skill check and show what type of damage they do on a hit. e.g. a 9mm pistol’s damage code is d4+1w/d4+2w/d4m which means on an ordinary result it does d4+1 wounds, on a good result it does d4+2 wounds, and on an amazing result it does d4 mortal damage
weapons are further categorized by damage type and quality the qualities are the same as skill checks, ordinary, good and amazing, and are used to represent more or less overall powerful weapons… personal equipment is usually ordinary quality, vehicular scale equipment is good, and starship scale equipment is amazing, each step up or down the scale steps the damage type up or down from stun to wound to mortal, so the best hand weapon will scratch the paint on a starship but not much else, while even a glancing blow from a starship weapon will tend to reduce a person to ashes.
the damage type is how weaponry interacts with armor and is divided into LIGHT IMPACT (LI), HIGH IMPACT (HI), and Energy (E). Light impact is generally muscle powered weaponry like knives, bows, etc, high impact is projectile weapons, and energy is lasers, gravitons and the like – different armors protect against each damage type to varying degrees
Initiative is handled by a special skill check known as the ACTION CHECK. Each round is divided into 4 phases, that go in order: Amazing, Good, Ordinary, Marginal. Each character has one or more actions available per round, but you are limited to one action per phase, you can take your first action in the phase corresponding to your action check result, and any actions you have not used by the end of the round are lost. Then the next round starts over again with the amazing phase
e.g. you have an action check of 15+/14/7/3, 3 actions per round and roll an action check of 8, which is an ordinary success, therefore…
you cannot go in the Amazing or Good phases, you can take one action in the Ordinary phase, and one action in the Marginal phase. Since you did not roll low enough to go in the good or amazing phase your 3rd action per turn is not available and is therefore lost.
that is a quick summary of all the main points of the rules for alternity – don’t worry it seems weird at first, but you will learn it very quickly once you play… and it lets you use all of your low rolling dice!