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How to play Custodians of the Galaxy


Edited 1526660944
Naughty Zoot
Marketplace Creator
OK, Guys. A couple of people have asked how Custodians works. I know it's a new property and there's no "brand recognition" etc. so I thought I would show you an abbreviated version of the rules. Again, this is a SUPER abbreviated version. If you buy either of my games you get the rulebook handouts which are illustrated and nicely written and there are examples of gameplay etc.... If you have questions, please ask! feedback also welcome.  Rules-Lite RULES THE PLAYERS SHOULD UNDERSTAND The Custodians of the Galaxy RPG system is about a group of Actors sitting at the table with the Director and working out a screenplay. As a player, you will step into the shoes of an ACTOR. Your Actor will also have a character that they are cast to portray on the show, your Custodian. Gameplay has three main components: Making Shit Up - This is when your Actor takes control of the scene. They may write what NPCs do, what humorous or fortuitous events occur, or what interventions of fate save the day. The more advantage you derive from the "Bits" you make up, the more it will drain your resources and require difficult dice rolls. Making Shit Up is thinking-out-of-the-box gameplay Custodian Tests - This is the purely dice-driven part. Your Custodian has a set of stats that define in nice, clean, mathematical terms what things they are likely to accomplish. There are lots of math-based Token Actions for rolling Tests against ACCURACY or STRENGTH or CUNNING for example. For those that like to think in concrete terms, this is where you will live. Using What You Got - This is using predefined ACTOR TRAITS and CANNED TROPES and your Custodian's MODUS OPERANDI. These things are sort of middle-ground between Making Shit Up and Custodian Tests. Actor Traits and Canned Tropes have some defined limits and capabilities but are written in such a way as to "coach" the player into breathing life into the Custodian. As an example, HEROIC ENTRY is a single-use canned trope which allows your Custodian to enter the scene from off camera and take an extra turn. What that heroic entry looks like and how it is useful is up to you. The Modus Operandi defines who your Custodian is and what motivates them and what their "powers" are. The MO will help guide you as to what makes sense for your Custodian to do and it will help the GM (DIRECTOR) know what to let you get away with.. Making Shit Up: If an Actor takes control of past of a scene besides their own Custodian, they are Making Shit Up or Doing a Bit. The Director may call for a roll of the dice to see if the Bit succeeds. The more advantage the Bit provides, the more difficult the die roll. Example: Actor: My character is out of options, the bad guys are closing in, but just at the last second a helicopter flies in and scoops her up, carrying her to safety [triumphant music]. Director: No audience is going to stand for that. It breaks the story. You're getting off way too easy. We'll write it in if you can roll 15 Hits at penalty -8. Anything is possible but the resources players have for getting away with Bits are limited. If it's hilarious and useless it works automatically The more advantage it creates the harder the dice roll If it doesn't make sense for your character it fails automatically If it involves another Custodian their Actor must sign off on it Making Shit Up is a test of luck, willpower or destiny. Use the DARING Stat as the relevant stat (See Tests below) If Shit goes bad, then the Director can make your life worse Director has final say Custodian Tests Custodian Tests are straight forward stat and dice-driven tests. You want your Custodian to punch someone? Shoot someone? Charm someone? There's a test for that. The main dice mechanic in Custodians D20 versus a Stat. A Pass is rolling the Target number or less. Otherwise its a Fail Characters have macros that do all the work Stats Stat What it Represents Typical TESTS CUNNING Confidence, Decisiveness, Understanding people Lie, Seduce, Detect Lies, INITIATIVE, Stay frosty QUICKNESS How quickly a character can move, including how many squares they move per TURN. Jump on a moving train, Outrun, Dodge traffic STRENGTH Physical STRENGTH and general athletics Bludgeoning melee attacks, Lift heavy object, Throw teammate TOUGHNESS Resistance to injury and death Resist fire damage, Avoid going into SHOCK, Resist ongoing SHOCK COORDINATION Dexterity, Balance, Grace Stabbing/ Slicing Attacks, Landing gracefully, Catching something DARING Luck, Willpower, Destiny Writing things characters that are not yours or for the scene as a whole such as “The guards happen to not be looking”, “or it starts to rain”. NOTE: A roll of 17 or higher is always a Fail on a Daring Test. INTELLIGENCE Understanding anything other than people and social circumstances (ha ha) Hack computer, Create invention, Interpret data, Understand how a door knob works… ACCURACY Skill with shooting and ballistics Firearm attacks, Throwing things NATURAL DEFENSE How much natural armor the character has -Not typically used for TESTS  USING WHAT YOU GOT Actor Traits and Canned Tropes These predefined abilities are designed to "coach" players into breathing life into their characters. They have a defined number of times they may be used and some concrete description of their effect. Beyond such descriptions it is up to the Actor and the Director to work out "great television". The Actor trait NO ONE KNOWS HOW I KEEP GETTING WORK requires the Custodian to fail at Cunning Tests in order to have a successful social interaction. That's the dice side of things. On the "great television" side of things you might roll play some truly cringe-worthy dialogue that makes the audience say "How do they keep getting work!?" The Modus Operandi The MO is the definitive statement of who a character is and what works for them, including "powers", personality and motives. Example: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly 2049 McGrady is an anachronism. He was meant to live off of gila monsters and saguaro cactus but he was born in a world of post-technological apocalypse. McGrady has very little understanding of, interest in, or patience with technology. He trusts his six-blaster and little else. McGrady can survive "off the land" in nearly any environment and he can sense the plans and movements of would-be captors. Using this MO an Actor should always get away with writing things like "McGrady finds food", "McGrady creates shelter", and "McGrady senses he is being tracked, he sets traps for his would-be captors. They fall into the traps and McGrady steals 137 credits from them." RULES THE GM SHOULD UNDERSTAND Difficulty Assign a Difficulty penalty to anything that you think should be less likely to work out. Each Character has a Macro with a +. This macro allows modifiers to be specified examples: Shooting a stationary enemy in cover -4 Shooting a stationary enemy in the head -8 Shooting a fast moving enemy -4 Daring Test that helps slightly -0 Daring Test that helps a bit -4 Daring Test that helps a lot -8 Daring Test that helps a ton -12 Daring Test that would break the game -16 Complex Tests Complex tests can be used when you want a task to take a while or require a big expenditure of effort (Daring Dice). A Complex Test requires more than 1 Hit to accomplish. A Complex Test might have a time limit ( 1 turn, 5 turns etc. ) When Actors "Make Shit Up" and you worry they may be abusing the privilege you need to start requiring Complex Tests with a time limit of 1 Turn. This will force them to burn Daring Dice or to ease up on the "bits" they are making up. Multiple "Hits" required GM may allow several turns to complete the task. There may be a failure trigger. Example: Doing your Taxes- Intelligence Test with Complexity 56. If you have 3 turns in a row without a Hit you will get audited. The TEST PLUS macros allow Daring Dice to be used. Critical Hits If you Pass a Test on the Roll of a 1 or 2 roll again If the second roll is equal or below the relevant stat use the die result on this table: Result Additional CHOPs Additional Effect 1 +1 none 2 +1 none 3 +1 +1 PENETRATION Die or 1 additional HIT for a non-combat ACTION 4 +1 +1 PENETRATION Die or 1 additional HIT for a non-combat ACTION 5 +1 +1 PENETRATION Die or 1 additional HIT for a non-combat ACTION 6 +1 +1 PENETRATION Die or 1 additional HIT for a non-combat ACTION 7 +1 +1 PENETRATION Die or 1 additional HIT for a non-combat ACTION 8 +2 +2 PENETRATION Dice or 2 additional HITs for a non-combat ACTION 9 +2 +2 PENETRATION Dice or 2 additional HITs for a non-combat ACTION 10 +2 +2 PENETRATION Dice or 2 additional HITs for a non-combat ACTION 11 +2 +2 PENETRATION Dice or 2 additional HITs for a non-combat ACTION 12 +2 +3 PENETRATION Dice or 3 additional HITs for a non-combat ACTION 13 +2 +3 PENETRATION Dice or 3 additional HITs for a non-combat ACTION 14 +3 +3 PENETRATION Dice or 3 additional HITs for a non-combat ACTION 15 +3 +4 PENETRATION Dice or 4 additional HITs for a non-combat ACTION 16 +3 +4 PENETRATION Dice or 4 additional HITs for a non-combat ACTION 17 +3 +5 PENETRATION Dice or 5 additional HITs for a non-combat ACTION 18 +3 +6 PENETRATION Dice or 6 additional HITs for a non-combat ACTION 19 +4 +7 PENETRATION Dice or 7 additional HITs for a non-combat ACTION 20 -This result is technically not possible- Clusters (Critical Fails) If you Fail a Test on the Roll of a 19 or 20 roll again If the second roll is greater than the relevant stat use the die result on this table: Result Effect 1 -This result is technically not possible- 2 Something explodes. Causes 2D10 PENETRATION HIT 3 Collateral Damage. Someone or Something important suffers harm 4 Object Destroyed. Whatever implements were used for the ACTION are destroyed 5 Object Explodes. Implements used for the ACTION explode. Causes D10+2 PEN HIT 6 Self-HIT. Somehow you HIT yourself for D10 PEN HIT. 7 Collateral Damage. Someone or Something important suffers harm 8 Stunned for D3 TURNs 9 Environmental Damage. The scene changes due to some new hazard or malfunction 10 Knocked Prone 11 Collateral Damage. Someone or Something important suffers harm 12 Object Dropped 13 Environmental Damage. The scene changes due to some new hazard or malfunction 14 Wrong Target is HIT or ACTION is counter productive 15 Environmental Damage. The scene changes due to some new hazard or malfunction 16 Collateral Damage. Someone or Something important suffers harm 17 Environmental Damage. The scene changes due to some new hazard or malfunction 18 Collateral Damage. Someone or Something important suffers harm 19 Environmental Damage. The scene changes due to some new hazard or malfunction 20 The attempted action fails Daring Dice Daring Dice are the resource that lets you Make Shit Up and generally be awesome. When it's gone you suck. Being out of Daring Dice means your character is exhausted, out of luck, and no longer favored by destiny. You get a fixed number of Daring Dice to start. When you use them there is a chance they burn. DARING DICE are your pool of luck or destiny or willpower Each Actor starts with Daring Dice equal to their Daring Stat Any number of Daring Dice may be added to a Test. The Actor chooses the result or results they like best. (Daring Dice can add multiple Hits to a complex Test) If a Daring Die is rolled and does not roll a Hit, it is consumed. Subtract it from the DARING DICE Attribute Initiative Initiative = D20-Cunning. Low scores are better. Negative scores get an additional "reaction phase". There is an Initiative Macro Initiative Order Catalyst action is resolved (Catalyst is a single action) Roll Initiative Reaction Phase- Negative Initiatives go first, starting at lowest Initiative. Non-negative Initiatives do not get a turn in this phase. Action Phase- All Initiatives go, starting at lowest negative repeat Action Phase until combat ends Narrative Turn Lasts until the next interesting thing happens Move up to twice your Quickness Stat Do some stuff Have a conversation Combat Turn Obviously used for combat. When running combat for only part of the party cut away humorously every couple of rounds to the "meanwhile" group. They should get fewer turns but they can still accomplish things and you don't want to ignore any player for 20 minutes. Move up to your Quickness Stat Take one action such as pick up a gun or draw a gun or shoot a gun Some Canned Tropes grant additional attacks Maintenance Phase at the end (Check persistent effects) Attacks Bludgeoning or wrestling is a Strength Test Stabbing or slashing is a Coordination Test Shooting or throwing is an Accuracy Test Dodging If someone really really wants to dodge an attack you can allow it but it should be difficult. Here's a way to run that. Declared after a hit Quickness Test Fail causes penetration dice to be doubled. Wounds No hit points in this game. Just wounds. Some wounds are instantly lethal, others just call for stitches. You don't want Wounds Cause penalties to Tests (written into the macros) You have a Macro that determines Wound type. Your resistance to taking Wounds is determined by a complex little formula involving Toughness, Armor, and Natural Defense Every weapon deals 1 wound Severity of Wound may be - NOTHING, 1 WOUND, 1 WOUND AND A SHOCK TEST, or INSTANT DEATH If you see a negative number in the WOUNDS field the character is a BIT PART. See BIT PART CHARACTERS below If a character takes wounds equal to twice their toughness they die. Method: Calculate penetration. (NPCs have a macro for it. PC's have melee macros. PC guns have a macro on the gun handout.) Use the target character's WOUND macro. Compare the penetration to the values in the macro output. If the target is wounded have them add 1 to their WOUNDS attribute. If the target needs a SHOCK Test see SHOCK below. If the target is killed see REWRITES below Penetration Successful Attacks have a penetration value used to determine the severity of the wound inflicted Your character has melee penetration macros. Make sure you have already input the MELEE MODIFIER in the corresponding attribute. Accuracy weapons have a penetration macro on the weapon handout . Exploding Dice PC penetration Dice explode by default Shock Victim rolls a Toughness Test. Fail= go into shock Characters in shock fall to the ground unconscious and take no actions. If a character began their turn in shock, during their maintenance phase they roll a Toughness Test. Fail= Stay in Shock and take a wound. If a character accumulates 3 Pass results on Toughness Tests they stabilize on their own (Daring Dice may allow this to happen in a single turn) If a character takes wounds equal to twice their toughness they die. Another character may stabilize a character in Shock as a standard action (but they have to explain HOW they do it) Rewrites By default, Custodians start with 1 Rewrite. NPCs do not get Rewrites. Saves Custodian from Death. Retcon that shit. Bit Part Characters To save time Bit Part Characters have a simplified Wounds system Have a negative number in the WOUNDS field. This number is the Quit Point. Almost all NPCs are Bit Parts in this adventure. An attack with penetration as large as the Quit Point is enough to cause the Bit Part Character to quit. Otherwise they shrug the attack off. Never bother recording wounds for a Bit Part Character. If you feel a BPC has taken enough punishment, they quit. Weapon Readiness Weapons are balanced by readiness requirements The bigger the weapon, the longer it takes to get ready Increasing Readiness by 1 costs a standard action Decreasing Readiness is free More info on the weapon handout Hand guns and melee weapons need Readiness 1 Two handed guns need Readiness 2. You can only move half speed in Readiness 2 Sniper Rifles and Rocket Launchers require Readiness 3. You cannot move in Readiness 3. The inventory section of the character sheet keeps track of readiness Trappings This is all of the unspecified stuff that your character is likely to have on them. No items need be named. Anything the audience would assume the character has by virtue of who they are, they have. Your Custodian has whatever they need to BE that character. Paul Bunyan has "Lumberjack stuff". Merlin has "Wizard stuff". A Spy has "Spy stuff" Your Custodian also has "cleaning supplies", a phone and their clothes. If your trappings include a powerful weapon, then it is currently not functioning very well. (balance issue) Guns and Stuff These are props for the show which anyone could pick up. Unless noted elsewhere, all weapons have unlimited ammo. You can shoot as far as you can see. Each weapon handout includes its own rules Healing Ask for a volunteer to be the healer The healer has 6 healing charges A healing charge cures 1 Wound Casters Casters make up their own powers and spells. There are clear guidelines for this in the full rules section Read the section on Casters Characters who create powers or weapons as they go are considered casters CHOPS Like XP Give them out whenever anyone does something you like or makes you laugh Doesn't matter how much. The characters won't get a chance to use them. Everything's made up and the points don't matter Plaudits Like CHOPs but even more useless. REP Spent CHOPS
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Studying up, as some of my group and I have interest in trying CoTG. Thanks for sharing your system in brief.