Core Rules

Core Rules

The Core Rules of the game are the basic set that every player must know in order to play the game. These rules include Combat Rules, because combat can happen to anyone, Social Rules, which happen through roleplay interactions, and the Game Effects which make up the backbone of the various abilities in the game that you may hear used. Once you are familiar with the Core Rules, as well as any additional rules that you have opted into by selecting abilities, you are ready to play Gothic: the Lion Age.

Combat Rules

This combat system has two kinds of game effects that can be delivered by a weapon Hit. A Hit is a legal weapon strike to an appropriate area of the body, respecting the following rules:

A Hit must be the result of at least a 45 degree arm swing, to avoid “machine-gunning” or rapid, very small hits.

A Hit must make “significant” contact with the body, usually either a “pop and stop” or a long draw across the body’s surface area.  Knicks and brushes can be negated at either the defender or aggressor’s discretion by saying “No hit”.

A Hit must hit a legal striking area.  The head is not allowed and accidental head hits are discarded as non-damaging (though irresponsible or repeated hits to the head may call for a Safety Warning). Attacks should not deliberately target the hands, but strikes against the hands that do occur count as Hits to that arm.

Hits can be physically parried by other weapons. Any swing that is “significantly interfered with” by the opponent’s weapon use is considered harmless.  As before, such hits can be called as “No hit” if necessary for communication.
Note: Physically parrying requires the Weapon Skill for that weaponry, otherwise, it counts as a Hit to your blocking arm.

After a successful Hit, the combatant who was struck may not advance forward, make new weapon attacks or take any other actions until they call a Defense or accept the results of the Hit. If necessary for communication, the defender may call “Taken” to indicate that the hit landed successfully.

The first effect delivered by a Hit is an Injury.  Injuries render the affected limb functionally unusable. The effects of an Injury depend on the location that was Hit:

Arms may not hold weaponry or use any other Skills or abilities that reasonably rely primarily on the hands to work. You may still gesture feebly, open doors, use a fork, and other minor tasks.

Legs may not support any weight. A character with one Injured leg may put their majority weight on their good leg to continue combat or limp outside of combat. A character with an injured leg should not hop on one foot.  A character with two Injured legs cannot stand up or walk unassisted.

Characters Hit in the torso area or who lose two individual limbs collapse to the ground, helpless. This condition is called Downed.  Downed characters are helpless and dying, discussed below.

The second effect delivered by a Hit are Combat Conditions. Combat Conditions are various secondary effects of weapon strikes that sometimes are carried with attacks. There are three groups of Combat Conditions. The effects increase in severity by the number associated with them, and may sometimes be called “Tier 1” Combat conditions, “Tier 2” etc.


Striking Conditions

  1. Bleed
  2. Crash
  3. Strike

Staggering Conditions

  1. Stagger
  2. Knockdown
  3. Slam

Stunning Conditions

  1. Pain
  2. Stun
  3. Blackout

Combat Conditions are discussed in greater detail in Game Effects, coming up.

Successful weapon Hits are deadly, and Injuries remain in effect for the duration of the event, assumed to heal well over the Downtime that happens between Events. Characters with combat Skills learn to defend themselves using Defenses. The natural pattern of attack and defense in combat is referred to as a Beat, similar to a heartbeat.  Many combat abilities use the Beat as a duration of time for various purposes. A Beat ends when any one of the following events occurs:

You make your opponent call a Defense ability, or “Taken”.

You call a Defense ability, or “Taken”.

No one attempts and attacks or Defenses for a few moments, 3 to 5 seconds.

When one of those conditions occurs, the Beat ends for all combatants in the relevant combat, and any effects that last for the Beat are resolved for all combatants at the same time, then a new Beat begins.

Defense abilities protect their user against all Hits that occurred in that same Beat OR all Combat Conditions that occurred that Beat, even from multiple opponents.  The three main kinds of Defenses, ParryDodge, and Armor, all have limitations, and are not able to stop some Hits or conditions. When they activate they successfully cancel any such things they were able to, leaving any that they were not able to cancel still in effect, although additional Defense(s) may be used on the remainder if the defender chooses.  

Combatants must briefly pause to call a Defense before advancing on the opponent that Hit them.  It is not necessary to pause when fleeing, etc, but a combatant cannot charge their opponent while calling a Defense mid-run.  The pause in Beat resolution should be just long enough that all combatants can understand that the game rules were correctly applied. This pause may not be used by additional combatants to advance or maneuver against a target in Beat resolution until it is resolved.

The ability to call Dodge or Parry primarily comes from Combat Skills.

Serious Injuries and Dying

Characters who take either two Injuries or a torso hit become Downed, and immediately fall to the ground and begin to bleed to death.  Characters in the Downed state cannot move, stand or speak coherently, though may cry out, moan, or otherwise alert people to their location if they choose.  

A character in the Downed condition should begin silently counting to 5 minutes, at which time they will bleed out, entering the Dying state, discussed below.

Any character can attempt to render aid to a Downed character by placing pressure on their wounds. A Downed character has a wound wherever the Hit that Downed them landed, and one for every time they took the Bleed Combat Condition (use a random new location for Strike and Bleed if necessary).  A character can use their hand or apply the bandage item to place pressure on a wound, which suspends the bleed-out count.  If they are able to pressurize all wounds for 5 minutes, the Downed character may be saved, regaining consciousness.  A character who recovers from the Downed condition takes the Battered condition instead, alive but in serious pain and misery.

If a character reaches the Dying state without receiving aid, they may choose to recover from Dying by taking Maims, as detailed below. 

Characters that are Downed or Blacked Out can be executed if their attacker wishes to do so. To do so, the attacker needs to raise their weapon above their head for one whole Beat, then bring their weapon down and attack their opponent (safely) one more time. This Deathblow sends the character to Dying immediately. A second Deathblow to an already Dying character instead kills them immediately.

Under certain special circumstances a
Deathblow may be inflicted to someone who is not Downed. The victim is immediately Dying.


I have ended his iniquity once and for all. He is a better man for it.”


After the Downed state has expired, either from a Deathblow or due to bleeding out, the character is considered to be Dying. Death could take them at any moment, and recovery will be complicated if possible at all. 

There are two common outcomes for such condemned characters, which is chosen by the player at any point in the next hour after the character began Dying.

The character may make a messy recovery from Dying by becoming Maimed.  Maims are permanent Character Flaws that affect the functionality of the character’s body.  If this option is chosen, they take two new Maims, or upgrade an existing Maim, on their injured body part, at which point they awake Battered with their new Maims.  See Character Flaws for a list of these options.  Characters may only have one set of Maims for each body location.  If they can’t take more Maims, they cannot use this option any longer. 

Alternatively, the player may choose to allow their character’s story to end by taking their Last Breath, a partially lucid state where may speak some dying words, or a dying curse, to to those around them. It must be short, spoken in a gasping whisper, no more than a sentence or two at a time, and it MUST relate solely to the character’s Devotion – they’re too delirious with pain to talk about anything else. After these final words, the character dies.

Some extremely skilled or blessed individuals may be able to render medical assistance to a Dying character, allowing them to recover from that state without having their body ruined by Maims, but such people are rare, and hope is dim.


If no form of aid is rendered, injuries recover over the course of the Downtime period between games, and any character who was not killed during the game session can be said to have made a full recovery over the Downtime and be healthy when they next enter play.  Some characters are tougher or more resilient than others, and can partially recover from injuries or take more to truly injure, through the Fortitude Attribute or Grit Skill. Very few other forms of healing or recovery exist, though some faithful people seek the services of the Hospitalier priests and their knowledge of sacred medicine to help them recover from injuries.


All characters have an inherent level of physical and emotional energy, called Stamina. Stamina is expressed in several different levels of energy – Fresh, Tired, and Exhausted

Some abilities, particularly combat abilities, call for a character to Exert themselves, which causes a character to drop down to the next lowest level of Stamina as a cost of using that ability. Other abilities work automatically, as long as the character passively is in the appropriate Stamina level or better. Exhausted characters can no longer move faster than a walk or use any ability that requires Exertion, and it takes a special effort to recover from Exhaustion.

Some abilities may grant the Inspired condition, which acts like an extra level of Stamina above Fresh.  Exerting while Inspired causes a character to shift to Fresh.


Almost all abilities that can be expended refresh automatically and completely with a short Rest. Rest also restores a character’s Stamina level to Fresh, unless they are Exhausted.

Rest is a deliberately vague amount of time, and should be an amount of time that makes you actually feel rested. If you have been sprinting around fighting, this might be longer than simply taking a brief pause between two different conversations. Characters may talk amongst themselves, perform small tasks, and generally go about their business, so long as they are not attempting to continue using actual Skills and abilities, except for Performance.

Social Rules

Gothic: the Lion Age has a social abilities system that represents characters that are unusually adept at manipulating and controlling the behaviors, desires, and emotions of others. Social abilities do not replace roleplay, instead requiring roleplay elements to maneuver their opponent into situations where they are allowed to use their Social abilities to extra effect. The Social Skills PersuasionProvocation, Intimidationand Sincerity are the main users of these Social abilities.


The Psyche of a character is the compilation of their mental and emotional states. In order to have a roleplaying game where emotional and personal factors and consequences are in play, they need to be tracked in game terms. These factors help describe what the character is like as a person, and they can and do change over the course of play. 


Bonds are a statement about how your character feels about some person, concept or thing, and some action they’ll take about it – the vector.

For example, a Bond may state:

“Hilda shares my need for revenge.  I will find a way to include her in my plan.”


“Victor is a true friend.  I will make him a gift to show him what he means to me.”

Whenever you fulfill the vector of a Bond you have, you can remove or change that Bond by speaking with Staff. This allows you to renew the state of that relationship – perhaps the gift wasn’t taken well, or perhaps your relationship has passed beyond friendship – or to reflect that that Bond is no longer important to your character.

At the end of each scene, you may add, remove, or change a single bond based on a significant event during the scene with Staff Approval. Bonds may not be changed or removed in this way unless you have had one full event. Examples include gaining a bond of friendship after someone saves your life or removing a bond of trust after they have betrayed you. At the end of each Event, you may add, remove, or change any one Bond that you’ve had for at least one Event.

Multiple bonds towards the same person are allowed provided each bond is different enough to provoke different reactions. For example:

I love Rico, I will help him succeed at his goals.”


“I am protective of Rico, I will protect him from harm.”

In this case, the two Bonds are towards the same person but are different enough in feeling and vector to not overlap. Feeling protective of someone might even cause you to stop someone from doing something dangerous that you’d otherwise love them enough to help them do.

In any case, all changes to your bonds must be reported to Staff after the Event and may be denied or adjusted at that time.

Anyone acting directly against one of their Bonds suffers from Trauma after the scene ends.


Beliefs are core truths of your character. While all characters have things that they believe, in game terms, Beliefs are the bedrock of the character’s fundamentals.  

Beliefs are “Always” or “Never” statements about your character with no qualifiers such as “unless or” “except when”. These can be statements such as “Never eat meat” or “Always obey priests.” Violating any of these Beliefs is possible, but carries with it the same penalty for violating one’s Devotion, a Personal Failure.

The optional Character Flaw “Honor Code” causes some of a character’s beliefs to be rigid and unchanging, effectively locked to the character until the Flaw is removed. 


Your character’s Devotion is the most core motivation they have – the commitment that drives the rest of their life and decision-making.  These are things like a Knight’s commitment to the order of their sovereign and house, a Priest’s hatred of heretics, a farmer’s love of their family, or many other things. 

Characters get special advantages when fighting for their Devotion, and are richly rewarded for major victories around it, but they also experience crushing defeat if the subject of their Devotion is lost or suffers.  More details about Devotion are discussed during Character Creation.


The most commonly used call in the Social Rules is Obey – followed by some statement. Obey asks that the character receiving the call perform whatever the statement is, immediately and as if it were their own idea. Obey can be used to provoke some specific course of action, such as “Obey: Come over here,” or it can be used to ask the character to behave or think a different way in general, such as “Obey: Believe this is true.”  Finally, Obey can be used to cause the character to accept some addition to their character sheet, such as “Obey: Take a new Belief – Never harm priests.”    

In the case of being affected with multiple Obey calls, the target should attempt to fulfill the directives given to the best of their ability in the order the calls were given. Obey calls that are mutually exclusive and directed at the same target overwrite each other.  For example, if Jean calls ‘Obey: Luci, come here’ and immediately afterwards Katja calls ‘Obey: Luci, stay where you are’  Luci would only be affected by the most recent order, which is to stay where they are. 

Obey can be resisted with Nerve which can be acquired from various abilities, but can also be used when appropriate to the character’s Psyche.

Psyche in Play

Whenever an Obey call would cause a character to violate one of these factors, the character can state their relevant Bond, Belief or Devotion out loud in order to refuse, then call Nerve. They may only call on a given Bond, Belief, or Devotion this way once per Scene.

For Example:

“Understand this – Vincenzo has betrayed you and will betray you again – Obey:  Believe me.”

I love Vincenzo.  There is no way he would willingly betray me.  There must be more to this.  Nerve.”

However, these relationships cut both ways. It’s possible to use Bonds and other connections against a character as well, calling on them to facilitate the use of Obey calls to provoke a character into some action.    

“You know how important this contract was to Vincenzo.  Obey: If you love Vincenzo, pay me for the damages.”

In any circumstance where a Bond or Belief is being called upon to force a character to Obey, they always have the option to permanently remove the leveraged Bond or Belief and take a Personal Failure rather than complying.


Just as Inspiration uplifts, Despair gnaws at the soul of men as well. Despair is more insidious, creeping into the heart and settling there like a cancer. Characters gain Despair when they undergo personal tragedies or challenges to their core principles, such as the following circumstances:
A close friend or companion dies.
The character suffers a Personal Failure
The character violates a Belief

Despair damages the character’s ability to believe in themselves and others, and reduces all of their Skills by 1 Rank. Characters cannot become Inspired while they have any Despair, and immediately lose Inspiration if they had it. Despair can stack up to 5 times, and is difficult to shake once acquired. When characters with high Faith Attribute violate their own principles and gain Despair from violating a Belief or a Personal Failure, they gain an extra Despair for each level of their Faith Attribute above Ordinary.

Shaking Despair


Some recover from Despair by dulling the pain with wine, sex, or violence, escaping into Depravity to soothe their hurts by inflicting their pain on the world.  Some people cope by letting the Despair change their personality for good, accepting the darkness by giving it cracks to bury itself in and trouble them no more. Some find the strength to move on through their faith, both their personal devotion or their religious zeal.

For every point of new Depravity earned, the character loses 1 Despair.  
If the character accepts a related Insanity, either starting a new Mild Insanity or increasing an existing one by one grade, they may remove a point of Despair.

The character earns a Personal Victory in their Devotion.

If Despair is gained that would bring a character over the 5 Despair maximum, one Despair is immediately spent toward gaining an Insanity to make room for the new one. These Insanities tend to bring the character closer to actions that may lead them to suicide, or some other ignoble end.
If Devotion and Despair are giving simultaneous changes to Skill levels, those levels combine. If Devotion is giving a bonus while Despair gives a penalty, the total levels after all bonuses and penalties are considered is the functional Skill level.

Game Effects

All of the elements of gameplay require some kind of signaling from one user to another to communicate the parts of the game rules that might not immediately obvious, including the use of certain powers or abilities, or the defenses to those abilities.

Gothic attempts to keep the list of Game Effects as small as we can in order to make the game easy to pick up and play, so many Game Effects come from multiple sources throughout the game system.  In order to play, you’ll only need to know how to react to a Call (the verbal use of a Game Effect) that is being said to you, not how or why the other person was able to use that Call based on their own character’s ability. It’s always acceptable to ask for rules clarification if something seems off, but in general, it’s best to assume that the person using the Call used it appropriately.

Call Qualities

Calls are generally only called by themselves, the actual name of the call, such as “Stun!” or “Dodge!”  In some cases, in order to convey special rules or secondary factors, a Call may be delivered with a Quality as a prefix.  For instance, a “Strike” may have the “Quick” Quality, meaning that Dodge may not be used to counter it. The user would say “Quick Strike!” to indicate this.  Some Qualities convey descriptive information like “Flame Strike” which could be important if a character were resistant or vulnerable to Flame. Qualities also are a signal to the recipient of the call that the Call may be being made for an unusual reason, such as “Poison Stun”, which tells the recipient that a poison is causing their Stun effect rather than a weapon Hit as they might have expected, which both reduces confusion and explains their options to defend.

The Mighty, Driving, and Quick Qualities, which make an effect not able to be defended by Parry, Armor, and Dodge respectively, cannot be used together on the same effect.  If some source gives more than one of those Qualities, the user may choose which one to apply.

 Defense and Power

Most Calls have some kind of Defense that is appropriate to counter them.  If the character has access to that Defense, they may call it as a verbal response to ignore the call.  For instance, an opponent may call “Stun” in combat, to which the defender might call “Parry!” and then continue the fight having not been Stunned.  If the defender cannot or will not make an appropriate Defense, the Call or Hit lands and the defender should enact the effects on themselves, calling “Taken” if necessary for clarification.

Under rare circumstances, some abilities are through special cases extremely hard to resist, gaining “Power”. Calls with Power require an additional appropriate Defense to be used in order to successfully resist. These calls are delivered with a number afterward, such as “Pain 2”, indicating the amount of Defenses required to stop it.  These Defenses need not all be from the same source, so long as they could each be used appropriately. For instance, Pain 2 might be countered with two Parry calls, or one Parry and one Armor. These defenses are usually called as “Parry, Parry” or “Parry, Armor” to indicate how many defenses are being spent. Power from multiple sources combines.

Units of Time

Units of time for rules are rarely ever measured in exact seconds, minutes, or other definite quantities. Instead, they use the dramatic pace of the situation as their Duration, in the following ways:

Beat: One “heartbeat” of combat; the space between a set of attacks and defenses. See Combat rules for details.

Conversation:  A social encounter between two or more characters.   A conversation ends for that person when they totally disengage from the other individuals, such as completely walking away, or starting a new conversation with other characters.   

Scene: One coherent incident in one location, such as a conversation, a meeting, a combat, a dinner, etc. A Scene ends when characters leave to go find something else to do, or after about an hour, for long situations.

Period: The period of time between the end of one Action Cycle and the end of the next- or the end of the Event.

Day: The period between sunrise to sunrise. Things that may be used “once per day” can be used again after sunrise.

Event: The entire weekend long game session, between opening and closing ceremonies.

Chapter: The time between two consecutive Events.  Sometimes also called “Downtime”

Hand Signals


Specific physical hand signals are intended to convey certain information to the player. Some of these are game effects, while others are out-of-character information.

Signal: Hand in a fist on top of the head
Meaning: This signal is used to indicate that the person is completely out-of-game, and should not be reacted to in-character in any way.  This is most commonly used when out-of-game questions or confusion is present, such as asking a rules clarification. It can also be used for emergency situations, or by Staff members who need to take care of a set up operation such as entering an occupied space to get or leave an object.  Players may use this sign to ask out-of-game questions or clarifications at any time (preferably standing aside to discuss such issues quietly as to not disrupt the play of others), but should never use it to avoid in-game situations such as dangers.

Signal:  Index and middle fingers extended, pressed back on your forehead
Meaning: “The content or intensity of this scene is getting to be too much, and I am uncomfortable”. This is a way to indicate to whomever you are in roleplay with that you don’t necessarily want them to stop the scene altogether, but you might eventually if things don’t calm down.  This is available to use by anyone at anytime to indicate out-of-game discomfort. It is good form to adjust one’s roleplay when seeing this sign if they can still reasonably complete their character’s intentions while adjusting the tone.

Signal: Thumb pressed to chin, index finger pointed out in an “L” shape.
Meaning: This signal means that the user is speaking in a different language, or in some way that others may not be able to understand, even as they use otherwise ordinary speech.  Unless previous established the same scene, characters speaking another language should quickly indicate which one when they take up the signal, such as “Hestra” or “Rogalt” before speaking, and other characters who do not speak that language should ignore whatever is said.

Signal: One arm crooked horizontally over the face, like a cloak.
Meaning: This character should be ignored because they are using an ability that obscures their location. The character is, in fact, most likely not precisely where the player appears to be standing, but is instead abstractly somewhere closeby.  Characters using this signal may take limited actions prescribed by the ability that granted it, but cannot be interacted with using weapon hits or abilities, and should not even be reacted to unless another ability (such as “Alert”) says to.

Signal:  Hands crossed over the head in an X
Meaning:  While not Out-of-Game, this character is not actually present in this scene to be directly interacted with in any meaningful way.  This is usually because the character is using some form of special travel, and while the player may need to move through the space, the character is taking some special or concealed route.  

Signal: Outstretched hand, palm forward
Meaning: The character has a profound sense of presence and authority, and you know you are not supposed to speak now. Characters who see this sign should stop speaking while the signal is presented, unless they too may use the Authority sign.


Combat Related


Typically gained from use of and skill with weapons, Parry describes the user physically interfering with the attack with great skill and power. 


Parry may only be used with the parrying weapon in hand and readied.

Parry cannot be used against Hits or Strikes originating from a ranged weapon or magical spell.

Parry may not be used while Stunned.

Parry cannot defend against Hits or Conditions with the Mighty, Poison or Stealth Qualities.


Typically gained from the Speed Attribute and Combat Skills that do not use a melee weapon, Dodge represents gracefully preventing a danger from ever hitting you through sudden movement.


Dodge cannot be used while wearing armor heavier than Light Armor.

Dodge may not be used while Crashed.

Dodge cannot defend against Hits or Conditions with the Quick, Poison or Stealth Qualities.


Typically gained from using defensive equipment such as armor and shields, Armor represents the Hit or Condition being prevented from doing harm by colliding with a barrier.


Armor may only be used against Hits and Striking Conditions

Armor may only defend against Hits that physically strike the actually worn piece of armor on your body, unless otherwise noted.

Armor may not be used while Knocked-Down.

Armor cannot defend against Hits or Conditions with the Driving or Poison Qualities.

Armor may only be used against Hits or Conditions with the Head Quality if you are wearing a helmet.


A perfect defense that renders an attack useless while minimizing shock and exposure to the defender.

Block stops all Hits and all Conditions delivered this Beat.

Block nullifies extra Power, stopping the entire attack.

Block does not have a Quality that bypasses it, like most other Defenses do.


The natural physical resiliency and stubborn attitude of the character means that even though they were hit, they fight on unaffected.

Toughness stops all Hits or all Striking, Staggering and Stunning Conditions delivered this Beat.

Toughness cannot Defend against Hits or Conditions with the Head Quality.

Toughness also resists the Exhaust Condition, as well as any effect with the Poison or Disease quality.

Striking Conditions

  1. Bleed
  2. Crash
  3. Strike

Staggering Conditions

  1. Stagger
  2. Knockdown
  3. Slam

Stunning Conditions

  1. Pain
  2. Stun
  3. Blackout


The character begins to bleed profusely from a deep cut or wound.

If a character is affected by 5 incidents of Bleed at once, they immediately begin Dying as they bleed out, bypassing Downed.

At the end of the Combat Scene, a wound in an appropriate place for the Bleed must be pressurized with hands or a bandage – this combines with any normal aid necessary to assist Downed characters – or  else the character will begin Dying after 5 minutes, bypassing Downed.  

Multiple instances of Bleed all count, possibly creating a situation where a character could be beyond medical attention because of lack of bandages.

The character might be, but is not necessarily Downed during this time.

Successful Bleed calls facilitate the application of Poisons.

Resolution: 5 minutes of pressure by hands or bandages for each Bleed.


The character has the wind knocked out of them and is significantly weakened.

Shocked characters may not call Conditions or Dodge. 

Resolution: The Shocked character may place their hands on their knees for ten breaths, which may be nonconsecutive, to end Shock.


The character is struck forcefully, exactly as if they had been Hit by a melee attack.

Strike indicates the Torso by default, but may specify a specific limb.

If there is any Armor on the target location, the defender may assume the hit to have struck on the covered area.

Resolution: Strike has identical Defenses to weapon Hits.


The character is knocked off balance and has trouble finding their feet.

Staggering characters take 3 large steps in the direction appropriate to how they were Staggered, such as with the force of a melee attack.

If a Staggered character is unable to complete the 3 large steps in the same direction, they instead take Knockdown.

Resolution: Stagger ends after the player completes the 3 large steps in the appropriate direction, or they take Knockdown.


The character is struck from their feet and hits the ground hard.

Knocked Down characters must immediately (or when physically safe to do so) drop down to their two knees and two hands for one full Beat, during which time they cannot make weapon attacks or attempt to physically parry. Alternately, they may place both hands on their knees and lower themselves as much as they are able.

Knocked Down characters may not use the Armor Defense.

Resolution: Resolved when the character fully stands from the Knockdown after one full Beat.


The character is flung from their feet and crashes backward.

Slammed characters take three large steps backward, and then take the Knockdown effect.

Resolution:  As per Knockdown.


A limb is struck with pain or numbness, and behaves as if Injured. Pain inflicted to the torso causes the target to scream loudly in pain.

Characters have time to transfer a weapon from their Pained hand to another uninjured hand if they can do so immediately.

Pained shield arms can’t raise the shield to stop attacks, but those that hit the shield are still stopped.

Resolution:  Pain ends after one Beat.


The character is overwhelmed by pain or surprise, unable to properly react.

Stunned characters put one hand to their head for the duration of Stun.

Stunned characters may attempt to physically parry or block, but cannot deliver damaging attacks.

Stunned characters may not use the Parry Defensive ability.

Stunned characters may not walk forward, but may walk backwards if they wish.

Resolution:  Stun ends after one Beat.


The character is knocked unconscious, completely insensate.

Blacked Out is identical to Downed, except that after 5 minutes, instead of dying, the character awakens and is not Battered.

Resolution: Blackout ends after 5 minutes.


The character is grabbed by a powerful force and is bodily controlled.

Grab must be ordinarily maintained by a constant contact with at least one hand.

Grabbed characters may only use weapons shorter than 24”, usually Light Weapons.  Characters initiating a Grab also take this restriction.

Grabbed characters may not use the Parry Defense.

Grabbed characters may not step away from the source of their Grab, and must walk with their attacker if they move.

Grabbed characters may Grab back if they are able, inflicting the same restrictions on their attacker.

Resolution:  The source of Grab chooses or is forced to let go, such as from Pain, Injury, Stagger or Slam, or the scene ends without an effect explicitly continuing the Grab effect.


The weapon is knocked from the hand with great power or dexterity.

Disarm is called against a weapon, which must be thrown at least a few feet away immediately (preferably somewhere it won’t get trampled).

The weapon may be picked up again at once by anyone able to.

Disarm may not be called against shields or natural weapons such as claws.

Resolution:  Resolved immediately as the weapon is thrown.


The object is destroyed and no longer functional.

Broken items are no longer functional, and can’t be used for any Game Effect

Broken items cannot act as a physical barrier such as blocking attacks or preventing entry, such as for shields, weapons or doors.

Broken objects should clearly be marked as such on their item tag, or indicated with a new tag for environmental pieces such as doors.

Resolution:  Repair through the appropriate craft Skill.


An ear-shattering crack issues forth, usually from a firearm.  

The character who is being pointed to takes a Mighty, Driving Strike.

All other characters in Shouting Distance take Stagger.

If no character is being pointed to (such as the sky, or the ground) no character takes damage.

BANG can (and should when possible) be indicated with a loud blasting cap instead.

BANG can drive off “swarm” creatures such as insects or bats.


An unnatural fatigue settles over your body 

The character who is being pointed to has their Stamina set to Exhausted.


The character flees the scene by speed, skill or supernatural effect.

The character calls “(Quality) Escape” and may use the Ignore sign to leave the scene. 

Any other character in the scene with access to the same “(Quality) Escape” may use it to cancel this ability. 



The character has used up the very last of their reserves of stamina.

Exhausted character may only move at a walk.

Exhaustion prevents any further Exertion, including that which would normally grant a Defense call

Exhausted characters may not become Inspired

Resolution:  Exhaustion recovers after a full night’s rest in a bed, or can be recovered from by anything with the Restore call.


The character has suffered a serious cut, stab, crush or hack to a limb, rendering it broken and unusable.

Injury only affects limbs, making that limb useless for any Game Effect purpose.

Injured arms may not use equipment such as weapons or shields, and they should be immediately dropped.

Injured legs can’t bear weight, and characters with one injured leg cannot move at running speed. Non-Game Effect activities such as opening a door, using a fork, picking up a small item, etc, are allowed with an Injured arm, though the pain should be roleplayed.

Resolution:  Injuries recover over the Downtime, or can be healed with certain medical procedures.


The character has taken serious physical damage and is dying.

Characters must lie down (but may move a short distance to somewhere safe from ongoing fighting)

Characters may not move, speak, stand or take other physical actions.

Characters may moan, cry out, or otherwise loudly indicate their presence without giving otherwise meaningful information.

Characters are considered Heavy and require 2 other characters, or a character with the Brawn ability, to carry them. 

Resolution: All wounds (the Injuries that caused Downed and those gained from Bleed) are given pressure through hands or bandages for 5 minutes.  Characters who recover from Downed receive the Battered condition.


The character is having the worst day, having been earlier stabbed, impaled or gored to the point of being Downed, but then recovering.

All Skills are reduced to 0 Ranks, unless the character has the Grit Skill.

Resolution: Battered recovers over the Downtime, or can be healed with certain medical procedures.


The character’s basic needs are met, and they live in pleasant surroundings with well made attire, and so they are less vulnerable to the sorts of suffering that afflicts the less fortunate.

A character who is well fed and is affected by at least 5 unique Comfort sources may call a universal Toughness once per Rest.


A character may experience Discomfort from certain effects.  This increases the threshold to be Comfortable by one for each level of Discomfort they are experiencing.


The character is somewhere nearby, unseen.  Their player crosses their arms in the “Stealth” hand sign, and should be ignored and not interacted with by most game effects.

Characters in Stealth can observe without interacting.  Further abilities in the Stealth Skill allow more interaction, including moving and attacks.

Stealth is not effective against someone who sees them enter Stealth, so long as line of sight is not broken.   That character may call Reveal against them by interacting with them.

Resolution: The character in Stealth is Revealed, or exits Stealth.


The character is flushed from Stealth.

Resolution: The Revealed character may re-enter Stealth when they next qualify to do so.


The character’s body has been contaminated by a poison.  

Poison can be either a Call or Quality. When Poison is a Quality, it precedes another Condition. When it’s a Call, it is usually called as Slow Poison to indicate an effect that may not be apparent immediately, but will be described later in detail. 

Poison calls are only made after the poison is already in the target from some other ability, and may only be resisted by Toughness.  The one exception to this in combat only is the Block call, which prevents the poison from affecting the Blocking target.

Resolution:  The substance runs its course, the last effect ending, or it is cured early by medicine or magic.  All poison effects which would extend beyond the end of an event, end at that time with a full recovery.


The character is sickened by the infestation of a ghost or unclean spirit.  Diseases have distinct effects that often progress in stages and often include Afflictions, but don’t always.  When you receive a Disease, a tag will be handed to you with the details or they will be described by the Storyteller. Direct contact or close association while you are Diseased may cause it to spread.  A staff member may call the same Disease call on those around you when appropriate.

Resolution: Diseases follow a unique progression depending on the Disease and are resolved when they run their course, or when they are treated by magic or certain cures that are not widely known.


Affliction automatically inflicts the Battered Condition on those affected at the end of the scene, in addition to any other effects, but “Battered” is removed if the disease is cured.

Afflictions also reduce an Attribute, getting worse over time.  The Attribute affected is reduced by 1 at the end of the scene, and will reduce again the next day at dawn until finished.

An Affliction call will be made as “Minor Strength Affliction”, indicating which Attribute is being reduced, and the amount of days the Attribute will reduce, which may kill the victim. 

Minor Afflictions resolve the next day at dawn.  Severe Afflictions worsen at the next dawn and then resolve at the second.  Crippling Afflictions worsen at the first two dawns and resolve on the third.  If an active Affliction would worsen after the end of an event, please inform staff.

Afflictions may be cured early with certain drugs, as noted in those recipes.

Resolution: The Affliction is lifted on the dawn after the final Attribute reduction happens, or if removed early by medicine or magic.


The character is being tracked by a skilled explorer looking for signs of another’s passing.

Tracking is accompanied by two loud claps.  After the first call of “Tracking”, simply two claps can be used to use Tracking.

When Tracking is called anyone who is not immune to Tracking must clap twice in response.  The tracker must move very near to your last tracked location before you must respond to Tracking again.

Resolution:  Tracking resolves immediately once responded to with the answer clap.

Mental Conditions



The character is experiencing an emotional rush of confidence, tranquility, or righteousness, able to believe in their own success.

Inspiration acts as another level of Stamina above Fresh, and may be used for Exertion.

A character is treated as Fresh for all abilities that require them to be while Inspired

Inspiration may also be expended to call Toughness.

Inspiration may not be gained while the character has any Despair or is Miserable or Exhausted.

Resolution: Inspiration is gone when it is expended, or at the end of the next Scene after it was gained.


The character is ablaze with their personal fire, able to accomplish things they didn’t know they could.

  • The character gains +1 to any Skill they have at least 1 Rank in.
  • If the character has Impressive Faith (ʘʘ), they add +2 Ranks to a single Skill instead.
  • If the character has Great Faith (ʘʘʘ), they add +3 Ranks to a single Skill instead.
  • Characters with the Zeal Skill may apply this bonus to more Skills when they become Devoted.
  • Devoted can be entered once per Event unless granted by some other ability.
  • Devotion may not be used over Downtime Actions.
Resolution:  Devotion lasts for one Scene or until the Personal Victory is achieved, whichever comes first.


The character is suffering serious depression, grief or sadness, and cannot motivate themselves to be their best.

Despair lowers all Skill levels by 1.

Despair may be gained up to 5 times.

Excess Despair over 5 causes self-destructive Insanity.

Characters with Despair may not become Inspired.

Resolution: Despair may be recovered from by various rigorous means.


The character is overwhelmed by terror, unable to focus on their abilities.

Characters with Fear may only use Skills, and are unable to use other abilities such as spells, rituals, maneuvers, gifts, etc.

Characters with Fear may not physically parry with a weapon or shield.  Doing so means they take a Hit to the weapon/shield arm.

Fear ends at the end of the scene, and the character is Traumatized.  If Fear is removed by some source early, Trauma is avoided.

Fear may also be signaled by the presence of a Red Glowstick.  

Resolution:  Fear ends at the end of the scene, at which point the character is Traumatized.


The character’s thoughts and actions match the Obey command.  They treat the Obey command exactly as if it were their own idea.

Obey ends when the character either fulfills the command or receives an opposing Obey command.

Obey is usually caused by the use of Social Skills, and often caries with it certain conditions for whom it applies to.  

Obey can be resisted by citing (out loud, in character) a conflicting Bond, Belief, or Devotion to the Obey call.  This grants a single Nerve call to resist with. 

While uncommon, Obey may be the result of some kind of supernatural compulsion or mind control.

Characters still experience the actions they take during Obey, and are morally culpable for them, gaining Depravity as normal.

Resolution: The command is completed, the character receives an opposing Obey command, or the character resists with Nerve.


The character is shaken by their recent emotional breakdown.

All Skills are reduced to 0, unless the Character has the Courage Skill (see the Courage skill for details)

Resolution:  Trauma recovers after two hours, or may be removed with the Performance Skill.


The character is depressed, lethargic, dispirited and unhappy.

The Character may not become Inspired, or enter the Devoted condition.  The benefits of being Comfortable, Luxurious or Opulent are suspended for as long as you remain Miserable

Resolution:  A full night’s sleep.


The subject feels uneasy and is expecting danger, watching down likely areas of danger with a heightened state of alertness.

Alert characters may call Defenses against attacks with the Stealth Quality, by adding the Alert Quality to their Defense, such as “Alert Parry”.

Alert does not allow the character to “see” a Stealthed character or know their precise identity or location, but they are aware they are not alone and may take actions appropriately.

Alert is not granted by simply telling others of the danger.  They too may act appropriately, but they do not gain the ability to call Defenses against Stealth or use other abilities that require the user to be Alert.

If capable of calling Reveal, an Alert character may do so. 

Resolution:  End of Scene


The character marshals their mental toughness and resists internal mental duress.

Discipline is used as a Defense against certain mental or emotional intrusions.  Discipline may be used against Fear or Insanity.

Discipline may be used by Wizards to channel magical energies for spells.

The verbal Call for any of these is Discipline.


Nerve is a character’s backbone against forceful persuasion, intimidation, and other social compulsions. 

Nerve is used to resist the Obey call.  Obey typically comes from Social Skills such as Persuasion, Provocation, Intimidation and Sincerity.


The character spends this time surrounded by things of beauty, comfort and wealth, and so is less easily tempted and swayed than those who are desperately poor.

A character who is already Comfortable and is affected by at least 5 unique Luxury sources may call Discipline or Nerve once per Rest.

Silent (Quality)

The character’s mind is affected in a way that is not perceived by others.  When the Silent Quality is called along with a game effect, often as “Silent Obey”, no character other than the target should respond to this effect.  The target may resist this effect as appropriate to the call, but may also call Discipline if they have the ability to.  If the character chooses to resist with Bonds, Beliefs or their Devotion in order to call Nerve, those defenses are not perceived by anyone except the source of the Silent effect- if any.

Miscellaneous Rules

A small handful of additional rules that are not otherwise stated above:

Every character requires Provisions every Chapter to represent the food that they personally eat.  Provisions take the form of Two Vegetables, One Meat or One Meal (that they receive no other benefit from).  Provisions can be turned in as a Task and multiple or large meals can be turned in with a list of names of those being fed. If a character does not turn in Provisions during a Chapter, they are considered to be Starving until the next Chapter.  A Starving character wakes up Miserable every day and does not receive a Downtime Action (in games that support Downtimes).  Starving lasts for one full Chapter, and any Provisions turned in while Starving affect the following Chapter. Wards also require Provisions and if they do not receive them, the consequences of that Flaw are triggered.

The woods around the event site are, narratively speaking, more deep, dense and dark than they appear in real life.  It requires the Survival Skill to enter the the Wilderness, use anything you might call “a trail”, or venture off the actual roads.  Some things in the Wilderness are marked bright orange, and can only been noticed with Survival Skills.

Some action happens in a special area set aside for Trials.  Trials are events in a specially built or prepared area that is “somewhere else” such as a ruin or a cave.  Trials have a limit of 5 Player Characters at once. Some abilities have special functions in Trials.

Some objects, such as chests full of treasure, unrefined gathering material, or unconscious bodies, have Bulk and are hard to carry.  Every character can carry up to 1 Bulk with some effort, while strong characters with the Brawn ability can carry more.  Some items, such as a Stretcher may allow a character to carry more Bulk.  Characters can combine their efforts to lift single items (such as a person) if they could lift it together. A normal person or corpse has a Bulk of 2.

Burying items or bodies takes a significant amount of time and effort. At its toughest, burying something takes 30 minutes of digging per target, which should be roleplayed in an appropriate area and Exhausts all participants. Additional grave diggers beyond the first divide the time appropriately.  Anyone with Impressive Strength or a Shovel does not become Exhausted, and the inclusion of each of these counts as an additional person for each. Those with Terrible Strength can’t bury things.  

Traps, should you encounter them, are triggered with some noise-making device such as a mousetrap or buzzer.  If you happen to physically set them off, the trap has been sprung and has already hit you with its effect. Locate the sound, read and apply the Game Effect on the trap.

Characters taking certain actions that are considered wrong in their culture accumulate Depravity, a measure of how wicked they and others feel they are.  For more information on what actions are condemned and what happens when they are done, see the Morality rules page.


You have finished reading the Core Rules of Gothic: the Lion Age and have all the information you need to create a character and interact with anything that can happen.  As you design a character for play, you’ll need the Core Rules and the specific rules for anything that your character is capable of doing. Skills are the primary way your character will gain new abilities, so it is a good idea to head to the various sections on Skills next if you have not already.

As always, you may contact Staff at any time with additional questions , and we will be glad to assist you.