Trials are a concept representing a self-contained scene at a location other than the normal in-game space, in which characters encounter some kind of challenge.

Trials are opt-in. Entering a trial happens as the result of character action; examples include exploring a strange cave, or seeking out an audience with a bandit chief, or drinking a dreaming potion.

Trials usually involve greater danger or difficulty than the challenges faced in normal in-game space. They also usually contain valuable rewards, rare gathering materials, secret knowledge, or some other benefit for those who can overcome the obstacles.

Trials are designed for a small group of characters, called a crew, which is usually composed of 5 or fewer characters but may vary depending on the trial tag. The action in a trial happens in a separated space that is specially set up by Staff.

Trials start with a trial tag, which can be found or acquired during play.

Trial Tag Structure

Trial Name
Identifies the trial to Staff.

Discovery requirement
If skills are required to spot the tag, they are noted here.

Brief explanation of what you can perceive about the trial before you actually go on the trial. May include clues about what kind of things to expect. Note that there can still be surprises.

a. Subsection description
if there are multiple trials, brief description of the sections.

Content Warnings
If potentially triggering content is contained in the Trial, it will be listed here. While staff will do their best to make these lists comprehensive, players are encouraged to request a Fade to Black if necessary. These warnings may also contain mentions of the physical aspects of the Trial, such as ‘small spaces’ or ‘darkness’. 

Bonus knowledge requirements
Some trials have additional information, accessible only to people with appropriate skills or studies. Such requirements are listed here. You may call on other PCs to fulfill the requirements. They are not required to go on the trial itself, but do need to come with you to Logistics to get the extra info.

Trial slots
Each trial has a number of slots for PCs going on the trial – usually 5. This may be split into multiple trials, e.g. two sets of 5 for a tag representing two related trials.

How to Attempt A Trial

The first requirement is to find a trial tag; this represents the opportunity that your character will follow up on. Many trial tags are found in the wilderness around the game site – these represent locations to be explored. Others can be acquired from NPCs – these may represent chasing down a rumor or going to a designated meeting-place. You may discover other ways to find trial tags during the course of the game.

Next, check the discovery requirement on the tag. Some trials can only be found by particular characters (e.g. those with sufficient Vigilance to spot a trap door). If you do not match the requirements, your character doesn’t have the ability to follow up on this trial. A blank discovery requirement means anyone can start the trial.

If you fulfill the requirement, you may pick up the tag, and take any description on the tag as in-game knowledge. Trials found in the open world may have several tags on one marker; this allows you to take one tag to Logistics while leaving the trial marker in place.

Once you have a trial tag, you can start talking to people to assemble your crew. You are not required to be the crew leader; in many cases, you don’t even have to personally go on the trial. However, at least one person going on the trial must fulfill the discovery requirements. The description may include other requirements.

You can use the bonus knowledge (if any) on the tag to better prepare. Take the trial tag to Logistics and you will receive additional information for any bonus knowledge requirements you satisfy. You may bring other characters along to “consult” and satisfy additional requirements; those characters will be given whatever information they qualify for. These others do not have to be on your final crew.

To begin the trial, you must come to Logistics with the trial tag. Depending on the specific trial and staff’s current schedule, you will be assigned a time slot or you might get your choice of several time slots. You will also be given a meeting location. You and your crew need to meet staff at the specified location at the specified time. The trial will be cancelled if the crew is not present at the scheduled start time. Other last-minute changes, if necessary, will be discussed and decided on a case-by-case basis.

Once the crew has gathered and before the Trial starts, the attending staff member will check any item tags being used and note any status conditions or buffs that the player characters will be entering with. At this time, the staff member will also check the contact status of everyone involved and make sure NPCs are aware of who in the crew is and is not able to participate in full-contact combat. 

During the trial, a staff member will explain any additional details of the trial scene. 

Other Trial Rules and Guidelines

Staff’s intent is to let many players experience trials, but any given trial only allows a few players. In order to encourage a wide group of players to have a chance at trials, there will be some limitations imposed on how many trials a single character can undertake. Some of these will be explicit in the trial itself; others will be softer boundaries applied by how scheduling is prioritized or other measures. 

Trials’ descriptions and bonus knowledge usually contain clues about what kind of trial to expect. Some challenges may still be surprising, and any given trial usually has at least some mix of challenges. It will often be a good idea to bring a crew with varied skills.

Trials usually do not have an explicitly fixed goal – it is up to the characters to decide what their objectives are.

Trials will often have multiple possible outcomes. Because trials are an opt-in system, failure is always an option, up to and including character death. Retreat may also sometimes be an option – with varying consequences depending on the trial.

Trial Tag Examples

Strange Festival

Discovery requirement
Anyone can find this tag

Through the trees, you see brightly-colored tents and you hear oddly upbeat music and people laughing. Spots of dried blood along the path make you uneasy.

Content Warnings
Body horror, blood, clowns

  1. Bonus knowledge requirements
    Needlework 3, Needlework 5, Study: Nobility

    Trial slots

    (five empty slots)

The description hints that there may be social elements and combat elements.

Suppose the PCs bring this tag to Logistics and have one character with Needlework 4 and another with Study: Nobility. They learn “Needlework 3: Bright-colored dyes are expensive. Whoever set up those tents can afford unusual pigments.” and “Study: Nobility: The symbols you can see are like the heraldry of Cappacian noble houses, but wrong; as if twisted or a mockery.” They don’t have Needlework 5, so they don’t get the last clue, “Those pigments are not any ordinary fabric dyes – the tents are colored with blood and bile.”

Ominous Cave

Discovery requirement
Mining 1+ or Survival 3+

You uncover a cave that is larger than you initially thought. There is an intense and unnatural cold wafting out. Just inside the mouth, you see two openings to different sections of the cave system.

Path A: You hear scraping and clattering in the distance.

Path B: The path is silent. You see a torn, non-functioning tripwire near the entrance.

Content Warnings– Small spaces, jump scare

Bonus knowledge requirements
Mining 1; Mining 3; Mining 5; Engineering 3; Survival 3; Study: Spectres

Trial slots
Path A: (five empty slots), Path B: (five empty slots)

The description hints at a potential hazard from cold, and suggests that path A may have combat; path B may have traps.

Suppose the PCs bring this tag to Logistics and have a character with Mining 3 and Survival 4. They would gain additional knowledge: “Mining 1: These look like abandoned mining tunnels. There might be useful minerals inside.” “Mining 3: There are traces of silver ore. This was probably a silver mine. It looks like it was abandoned mid-dig.” “Survival 3: there are footprints on the left path; these look more like prints of bones than of actual feet.” They don’t get the Mining 5, Engineering 3 or Spectres knowledge.