Terms and Concepts

Attributes: Characters’ abilities are described numerically in terms of four primary Attributes: Psyche, Strength, Endurance, and Warfare, which are ranked highest to lowest. When characters come into conflict with one another, the ranks of their Attributes are compared. In a simple contest, the higher-ranked Attribute wins. Making that contest less simple is the heart of diceless role-playing.

Attribute Auction: At character creation, players have a budget of points they can use to bid against one another to determine their initial Attributes. This builds player rivalry and determines initial ranking on the Attribute Ladder.

Attribute Ladder: A listing of all character (player and nonplayer) Attribute values ordered from highest (1st) to lowest. A character is considered to be superior in that Attribute to everyone below them on the Ladder, no matter what the actual Attribute values are. The Attribute Ladder is used to resolve conflicts using the same Attribute and determines the cost of Attribute advancement.

Cantrips: Minor, instantaneous spells used to achieve quick, direct, and simple effects. Cantrips are usually powered by Psyche and cannot easily be countered, hence their usefulness.

Contribution: Players can earn more points to build their characters by agreeing to make campaign contributions. These can range from in-character journals, artwork, session logs, fiction or poetry, or other tangible efforts towards the actual experience of players gathering to play the game, and will generally aid to the game repository here on Obsidian Portal.

Diceless: Most role-playing games use dice (or some other random determiner like cards or a resource pool) to determine the outcome of character action or conflict. In diceless role- playing, outcomes of actions or conflicts are determined through comparing Attributes, powers, Stuff, role-playing, or a combination of those factors.

Door: Linked to normal doors, Doors (capital D) are entrances to and from the Grand Stair, allowing access to the infinite myriad of Gossamer worlds. Doors are used primarily by the Wardens of the Grand Stair, though the Grand Stair itself occasionally allows others to wander its corridors and steps. Doors can be created, destroyed, and manipulated by Wardens.

Eidolon: The primal symbol of order, the Eidolon is essentially the cosmic blueprint underlying all of matter and energy. It permeates all reality and all change in the universe is a result of interplay between the Eidolon and the Umbra, the symbol of entropy and change. Characters manipulate the Eidolon with the power of Eidolon Mastery.

Gossamer Worlds: The infinite parallel universes accessed by the Grand Stair, brought into being through the interplay of the Eidolon and the Umbra. Every mythical place, fanciful otherworld, alternate history, every possible alternate universe is one of the Gossamer worlds. Our own world is one.

Grand Stair, The: An infinite network of hidden staircases and linked corridors, lined with magic Doors on either side, linking all of the Gossamer worlds. Wardens of the Grand Stair are attuned to it and can activate or deactivate new Doors or manipulate existing ones.

Icon: A magic device or symbol used for communication through and across the Gossamer worlds. Icons are created through the use of the Wrighting power. Icons come in many forms: paintings, cards, electronic images, statues, stained-glass windows, figurines, etc. and are idiosyncratic to their creator.

Invocation: A magic power concerned with the use of True Names, summoning and binding beings of power, or using their True Names to compel and manipulate them.

Points: Players are given a budget of points with which to build their characters. Points are bid in the Attribute auction and later to adjust ranking on the Attribute Ladder, and are spent on powers, artifacts, creatures, and other benefits. Players are given further points as a reward for completing scenarios and campaigns, and can use these points to improve their characters.

Rank: Characters are rated by their Attributes, with rank described in terms of 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc., on a ladder-style hierarchy. At the bottom of the Attribute Ladder are three base levels, called “ranks”: Paragon, Superior, and Average (lowest). Characters at the same rank are functionally equal.

Shadow: The dark void between the Gossamer worlds, a murky, howling and infinite emptiness. Parts of the Grand Stair span areas of the Shadow, and if one tears the veil of a Gossamer world without linking it to another Gossamer world, they will see only shadow void between.

Sorcery: A magical power concerned with basic spellcasting, allowing sorcerers to create, store, and cast spells, as well as creating magic countermeasures. Sorcery also assumes a knowledge of spellcasting traditions, providing lore and information about different types of spellcasting.

Stuff: A game value roughly akin to karma, luck, or favorability. Good Stuff is a positive value and affects the character in a positive fashion, as if the universe likes them. Zero Stuff is neutral, while Bad Stuff means that the character has bad luck and is generally regarded as suspicious or even sinister.

Umbra: The primal source of entropy in the universe. The Umbra represents the decay and eventual disorganization of all matter and energy into base, chaotic forms. It permeates all reality, and all change in the universe is a result of interplay between the Umbra and the Eidolon, the symbol of stability and order, which opposes it. Characters manipulate the Umbra with the power of Umbra Mastery.

Wrighting: A minor magical power concerned with the creation of enchanted artifacts and creatures, and the magical communication means called Icons.

Terms and Concepts

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