Sunday, September 6, 2020

Playing Pandemonium!


The essential rule mechanic for Pandemonium! is to roll 1d10, “add the appropriate numerical ability” to create an Action Sum.  By consulting the Fate Table, the Action Sum indicates a result.  The Fate Table is not especially complex.  An Action Sum of six or greater represents success; the higher the number, the greater the success.  Conversely, when the Action Sum is less than six, a lower number represents a more profound failure.  An Action Sum of one or less indicates a “Total Screw-Up – your inept blundering results in the worst possible consequences.”  An Action Sum of ten or greater is an “Excellent result!,” meaning, “Your expertise results in the best possible consequences.”

In May, we learned that Pandemonium! has E-Z Rules and Very Complicated Rules.  Under the E-Z Rules, P.I.s have a maximum value of three for attributes, paranormal talents, hobbies, and mundane professions.  Additionally, P.I.s can use a maximum of three points of Instant Karma to influence Fate Table die rolls.  Under the Very Complicated Rules, these maxima become ten.  The Very Complicated Rules also introduce the concept of the Degree of Difficulty Rating (or DDR).  The DDR is a numerical value applied to the Action Sum before consulting the Fate Table.  A positive DDR represents a circumstance that makes the action easier (e.g., 'Hitting someone from behind' is +1) while a negative DDR represents a circumstance that makes the action more difficult (e.g, 'Climbing a wet slope... while carrying a friend on your back' is –7).  The combined DDR for any given action must fall within the range of –10 through +10.

In Pandemonium!, the term for “gamemaster” is Editor.  According to page 7, the terms “El Exigente,” “Grand High Pooba,” and “Enlightened One” are also applicable to Editor.  Page 39 supplies the following caution with regard to determining DDR:

If the Editor makes things too hard for the P.I.s they will quickly get discouraged, and may not tell all of their friends and relatives to buy a copy of this game – in which case the makers of this game will have to send somebody named Knuckles to pay a little visit to your house.

Pandemonium! characters have three attributes:

Body – “Anything of a physical nature, including running, dodging, lifting, climbing, breaking free of physical Restraint, tests of endurance, resisting disease or exposure, etc.”

Mind – “Anything of an intellectual nature, including comprehension, memorization, mental endurance, intuition, mental stability; also includes the ability to process information perceived through the senses...”

Spirit – “Anything of a spiritual nature, including the will to live, spiritual strength and endurance, the ability to resist temptation or coercion, willpower, etc.”

Body is the attribute used for physical combat, but concepts of combat can be extrapolated to Mind (as in Mind Control) and Spirit (as in Astral Assault).  A successful attack inflicts damage equal to the final Action Sum minus five.  Damage is subtracted from the applicable attribute.  Should any of the attributes be reduced to –10 or below, death will result unless prompt treatment is received.

Regardless of the applicable attribute there are “three basic types of combat.”

Injure – inflicts damage as described above.

Restrain – attempts to control or restrain the opponent's Body, Mind, or Spirit.

Special Effects – maneuvers “of the type that one generally sees only in the movies, on TV, and in comic books.”  Examples include one-shot knock-outs, acrobatic moves, spectacular leaps, creating a diversion, and “running through a hail of bullets or laser beams without suffering so much as a scratch – as long as someone is covering you...”


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