Secondary

Last we talked, I unveiled Delve’s six main attributes and how to determine them at 1st level. I also presented the attribute knot and left much of its mysteries floating in the air. In this installment, we’ll take a quick look at the secondary attributes of Delve.

Most of the attributes and all of the primary ones are featured inside boxes, but four of them appear inside shields. These are your defenses. The first and, arguably, most important of them is Armor.

Before determining your Armor, you must decide on what kind of armor you’re wearing. Most of the time, your Armor is derived from Agility. This is always true if you are wearing no armor and carrying using no shield. In this case, your Armor is your Agility +10 that is, your Agility Defense. Light armors grant smaller item bonuses to Armor and sometimes reduce your Agility (though always to your Armor’s benefit). Heavier armors key armor off Endurance instead or give you a choice between Agility and Endurance. They often apply an even greater penalty to Agility and also penalize your Speed. Shields also increase Armor but have some other uses as well. We’ll talk more about shields later.

The defenses are Agility Defense, Endurance Defense, and Awareness Defense. All of these defenses are their parent attribute score +10. While resolutions against armor tend to be weapon Strikes or effects that could be thwarted by armor, attacks against the other defenses can bypass, nullify, or just ignore Armor. Attacks against Agility Defense tend to be those that require a mere touch. Those against Endurance can push you around or attack your inner organs. Attacks against Awareness attack the mind and the senses.

Speed shirks the general rules that secondary attributes are derived from primary attributes. This attribute is a feature of a creature’s size, race, and other traits of physical morphology feature of race, though it can feature both penalties and bonuses in the same way that other attributes do. Most humanoid races have a speed of 4, which means when you stride, you can move up to 4 squares or that number of leagues over clear ground in the course of a normal day’s travel. Speed also affects other forms of overland movement (such as climbing) and even landlubber swimming. Other creatures have different modes of movement, and sometimes those different modes have different speeds. Griffons can fly, earth elementals can glide through earth and stone, and sea devils can swim with rates greater than their speed, which is the rate of speed over land.

Like Speed, Heroics plays by different rules. Heroics is equal to Charm modified in all the normal ways but unlike other attributes, you can spend Heroics throughout the day. Most creatures don’t possess this attribute. It’s the domain of the characters and powerful adversaries. Those that do also have Heroic talents—abilities that can be used to snatch victory from defeat. The most iconic is the Heroic Save.

save-output

With a successful resolution, it allows you to minimize or even ignore an effect that got through your normal defenses. Like all Heroic talents, this one is a mix of those inexplicable moments when a heroic (or powerful villain) defies expectation and even reason while striving toward their goal.

Hits measure the amount of damage you can take. Each point of damage dealt and not resisted, reduces your Hits on a one for one basis. You take damage, and it reduces Hits. Hits are derived from Endurance and other factors. Your size contributes to Hits, as does your level. Like most games of its ilk, Delve uses an abstract damage system coupled with types and sometimes states to represent the effects of specific kinds of attacks. For instance, an effect might deal 10 fire damage and apply the burning state. If you have an ability to resist any of the fire damage, you typically also ignore states riding on that damage. So if you are lucky enough to hold a minor charm of fire, you would only take 5 fire damage from the aforementioned effect and not suffer the burning state, since the charm resists 5 fire damage and allows you to ignore any and all riding states on that damage.

Assuming you are a mortal creature, when you reach 0 Hits, you are dying. Based on the amount of damage you’ve taken, you can be dying and conscious, dying and unconscious, dead, and permanently dead. It’s best to avoid the last two because it means that you either have to find powerful magic for revivification, or you have to create a new character. Immortal, undead, and construct creatures have different 0 Hits consequences.

Priests and other masters of divine mysteries possess powerful life magic that can quickly restore hits to mortal and immortal creatures. Healing magic is not without its limits. Most mortal bodies can only absorb a finite amount of healing damage with a day’s span. Healing is equal to your Endurance and is the number times you can benefit from magical healing each day.

The last secondary attribute is so minor it doesn’t get a space on the knot. It’s Carrying, which is the amount of mass you can carry without reducing your speed. It’s equal to your Athletics +10. Like all encumbrance systems, this one doesn’t come into play often. It’s tracked with equipment for ease of use.

Paired with the six primary attributes, these are your character’s numbers. That’s it. There are no more unless you gain them through character building (Luck is an example of this). While talents might affect how some of these numbers are modified, that’s a subject for another time.

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About neogrognard

Stephen began working on RPGs in 2000, when he became the RPGA editoral assistant at Wizards of the Coast, working on both Polyhedron magazine and Living Greyhawk Journal. Over the years he’s administered the Living Greyhawk campaign, aided in the development of the D&D 3.5 Edition rules, was a developer for D&D 4th Edition and Star Wars Saga Edition, taught numerous game design classes in the Seattle area, and contributed to the Pathfinder RPG Advanced Player’s Guide and Ultimate Magic as a freelance designer. He has worked at Paizo for the past six years and is now the senior designer for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. He’s also the guy who designs the Pathfinder Flip-Mats and Map Packs. His current credits include Southlands for Kobold Press, as well as Hell’s Vengeance: For Queen & Empire, Horror Adventure, and Villain Codex, all for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.
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