August 23, 2011

Vivid: Roles, Refined

I’ve thought of simplifying Roles to make character creation even easier.  Since Vivid is a game system meant for cinematic play, it’s very acceptable to define characters in broad brushstrokes, and even better for players as they’ll have less rules to learn.

Some things to remember when defining a character’s Roles:

  • Your character can do anything possible for a normal human being, unless otherwise specified.  You’ll have one die to roll.

  • If you can apply a Role to the task, you get the die rating for that Role.  Think of Roles as ‘packages’ of skills and knowledges, or as character classes.

    In other words, define your Roles for what you want your character to do well.

  • You have 7 dice to divide between your Roles.  You may assign a maximum of 5 dice to any Role.  This means you can have 2-3 Roles, any more is quite a stretch and makes a rather clunky character.

    You will usually have a definite Primary Role – this is what your character is known for, and where you put most of your dice.  You may then have 1 or more Secondary Roles.

  • Roles are mostly player-defined.  In certain settings, some setting-specific Roles may be listed and described.

    Since Roles are player-defined, it’s appropriate and in fact highly desirable for players to add descriptions to their Roles.  (Tip o’ the hat to S. John Ross’ Risus system for this idea!)

    If I were to stat myself as a Vivid character, for example, I’d be a:

    Geeky Writer 3
    Madcap Photography Professor 3
    Struggling Game Designer 1

    In the Hari Ragat setting, your character’s caste is a Role in itself (and is a required Role).  An Orang Dakila has warrior, hunting and courtly skills, an Orang Malaya knows farming and fighting, and so on.

  • Race (in the fantasy/sci-fi sense, such ‘elf’) is part of your ‘main’ Role – the one you put the most dice in.  So you could be, in a typical high fantasy game:

    Elven Archer 5
    Dabbler in magic 2

Character capabilities can be fine-tuned using Assets.  So it’s very possible that in Hari Ragat you and I both have Spearman 4/Orang Dakila Warrior 3, but because your concept is to have a big tough bruiser with supernatural origins, and my concept is to have a lithe, cunning fighter deeply versed in the martial arts, we can have very different Assets. 


  1. Have you seen Risus? It uses a system that sounds similar.

  2. That similarity is no accident :). It was Risus that gave me the idea for freeform abilities.

  3. If you have X dice in a role, do you roll X dice, or X+1? If it's X, it seems like there's no reason to ever have a role with 1 dice.

  4. Roll X dice. You'll only ever need to take a Role at 1 die if it's a Role no ordinary person could perform; for example, Dabbler in the Black Arts 1 means you know just enough sorcery to do something really stupid ... :)


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