Will you falter and fall, or rise above the rest?
In the world of adventurous pursuits, fortune and catastrophe are but two sides of the same coin. To reflect this, I’ve designed a supplemental stress system for Adventurous, designed to represent the mental and emotional toll of living on the edge of danger.
As the player characters confront fearsome beasts, navigate complex dungeons, and push beyond their limits they accumulate stress. If left unchecked the stress can lead to doom, or in some rare cases, glorious and heroic deeds!
This system functions as both a role-play aid and a mechanical game feature. As the PC’s stress reaches its peak, the character can become either afflicted or virtuous. Afflictions represent the negative toll of stress, hindering your abilities and altering how you interact with the world. On the other hand, virtues are manifestations of inner strength and resilience, offering powerful boons that can turn the tide in your favor.
Each affliction and virtue presents unique strategic considerations, encouraging players to adapt and react to an ever-evolving narrative landscape. Embrace the tension of high-stakes adventuring and discover how stress shapes your character’s path!
The stress system
Below are the details of the stress system, from sources of stress to recovery and rolling for afflictions and virtues.
1: Accumulating stress
All PCs can accumulate stress, the maximum stress level is 5, when this is reached the player makes a Willpower test, read more about this under “Reaching max stress” below.
2: Sources of stress
- All monster attacks that cause the Frightened status now instead deal W1/S2 stress to PCs (meaning the PC takes 1 point of stress damage on a weak success and 2 points on a failure when defending against the attack)
- The “Stress” effect from the dungeon exploration procedures (see screen shot below) now deal 1 point of stress damage to all PCs instead of causing Disadvantage.
- When an allied PC is killed all PCs in the party take 1 stress damage.
- When resting for the night without food and water a PC takes 2 stress damage.
- If the party runs out of torches mid dungeon all PCs take 2 stress damage.
- The GM is free to improvise stress causing effects as he/she sees fit. Some examples can be harsh weather, extraordinary events or cursed items.
3: Recovering from stress
- Camping (see chapter “Rest & Recovery” in the core rules or quickstart rules) removes 2 stress.
- Proper rest removes all stress.
- Rolling Double Sixes removes 1 stress.
- During rest (Camping or Proper rest) one PC in the party can attempt to lift the spirits of the others by playing a game, telling a story or singing a song. The player makes a CHA test and describes his actions in broad strokes. On a Weak success choose one PC that recovers 1 stress, on a Strong success all PCs recover 1 stress. On a failure, the PC who made the test takes 2 stress damage.
- Having playing cards, a musical instrument or dice pouch gives the PC Advantage on the CHA test.
4: Reaching max stress
When a PC reaches 5 points of stress the player makes a Willpower test.
- On a weak success 1 stress is removed.
- On a strong success 1d6 stress is removed.
- On a fail the PC gains one affliction (roll on separate table) but 3 points of stress is also removed.
- On Double Sixes the PC becomes virtuous (roll on separate table) and recovers from all stress
If an already afflicted PC reaches max stress again, he/she has a heart attack and immediately dies.
Roll 1D6 on the table below whenever a PC becomes Afflicted. Afflictions last until the party either camps or gets Proper rest.
|1||Fearful||Your heart pounds with uncontrollable dread! You have Disadvantage on all tests in combat|
|2||Frail||Your resilience crumbles like dry clay! You have -1 Armor point (but never less than 0)|
|3||Selfish||Your needs eclipse those of others! You have Disadvantage on all tests that directly benefit your allies|
|4||Abusive||Your words cut deeper than any blade! Whenever an ally fails a test you berate them with hurting criticism, causing them to take 1 point of stress damage|
|5||Hopeless||Despair consumes your spirit! Whenever you or an ally fail a test you become Slowed|
|6||Reckless||Your caution is swept away by adrenaline! You always spend Momentum if they party has it|
Roll 1D6 on the table below whenever a PC becomes Virtuous. Virtues last until the party either camps or gets Proper rest.
|1||Stalwart||The force of your character protects you! You gain +1 Armor point|
|2||Courageous||Your strength of mind inspires your allies! Whenever you make a test, all Near or Close allies recover from W1/S2 points of Stress.|
|3||Focused||Your mind becomes as sharp as a blade! You automatically succeed on all Initiative tests|
|4||Powerful||You are death incarnate! Your melee abilities and attacks deal +3 damage|
|5||Vigorous||Your vitality springs forth like a fountain! You gain Advantage on all DEX tests|
|6||Resilient||No setback can shake your resolve! You gain Advantage on all WILL tests|
A first iteration
This is a first iteration of a supplemental stress system for Adventurous, as you can see, it borrows heavily from the magnificent video game Darkest Dungeon, which is not a coincidence in any way, it’s a great game that really captures the essence of the OSR, and a game that inspired me in many ways when designing Adventurous.
This is not meant as an official addition to the core rules, it’s just a supplement to those that want to add such a system to their game.
I will continue to develop this system further as it passes through play testing, to make sure that it adds the right type of experience and feel to the game.