Larger Than Life

Surreal Role-Playing

Larger Than Life is an add-on to the Endeavor roleplaying engine. It was born out of admiration for Nobilis, though it doesn't end up looking much like it. It adds the Surreality resource to Effort, Focus, and Psi. In Larger Than Life, there are four classes of characters:

The Surreal

When you are Surreal, you can use your Surreality resource and reality points to exert more control over your place in the world.

You can boost a Surreality roll, just as you can boost other resource rolls, by as much as +30% by spending reality points at +10% per point.

You can use reality points to boost any other roll.

You do not make Surreality rolls times 1 or 3 or the like. In an Endeavor game using Surreality, you are given 40 points to distribute among the four resources of Effort, Focus, Psi, and Surreality. Multiply the number allocated to Surreality by 3 and take that as your beginning Surreality score.

Surreality is a property of souls, conscious minds. Only characters, not props, can be Surreal. As a result, reality points cannot be stored in batteries like psi points.

"Characters" can include animals and other beings that might not fully count as people, e.g. magically animated objects or sentient machines. It does not include plants or mindless animals like jellyfish. (Of course, nothing prevents the setting including special, sentient plants, jellyfish, rocks, and the like.)

There are five uses or aspects of Surreality: Vitality, Involvement, Karma, Miracle, and Dynamics. By default, you roll against Surreality for any of these, but adjustments are possible. See Customization.

For increasing your Surreality score, see Cultivating Surreality.


If you are Surreal at all, you are proof against disease. You only age (at a normal rate) when you are completely out of reality points. Otherwise, you will slowly shift toward an ideal age, whatever that is for you.

For a single point a day, you can render yourself "Needless": you will not need food, drink, rest, sleep, or breath. You can accomplish the same thing for no cost with a successful Vitality roll.

At a cost of one point, you automatically heal any naturally recoverable damage. If you want to prevent this for some reason, you must make a Focus roll. If the damage is naturally irrecoverable, the cost is three points.

In case of lethal attack, make a Vitality roll to survive. You automatically boost this as much as possible (up to +30%) if you have enough points to do so. If you want to die for some reason, you must make a Focus roll to avoid making the Vitality roll.

If you survive a lethal attack, the exact way you survive depends on circumstances and the details of your character's nature. See Customization.



Control how much you choose to be involved with space and time. With a successful Involvement roll, you can:

This is copied from the powers of Susan, Death, and similar personifications in Pratchett's Discworld.

Use Involvement to alter the Involvement state of others or resist such alteration by others. If you are Surreal, you automatically slip out of time if anyone else out of time begins to affect you, e.g. approaches within sense-shot (unless they use Involvement on you to prevent this, which you automatically contest).



Arrange past and future history to curse, bless, fate.

With a successful Karma roll, you can "discover" things to have naturally developed as you choose, or decree that they shall naturally develop as you choose in the future. Examples:

It's just obscene.

Any act of Karma has a number put on it, equal to the psi or reality points you spend on it, and can be overcome by a Karma with a greater number. An act of Karma with zero psi points behind it can succeed if there is no opposition.

Some acts of Karma fail for no obvious reason. Possible causes include:

If you fail to get your outcome, you retain the psi or reality points invested.



With a successful Miracle roll, you can do anything, if you can pay the price (in psi or reality points). Price is increased by these factors:

Character traits:
   0 — involves a Theme trait
   3 — involves a trait, but not a Themed one
   7 — doesn't involve any trait

Workability level:
   0 — could be done manually by yourself
   N — could be done manually by N people
   3 — could be done with unpowered tools
   5 — could be done with powered tools or high tech
   7 — theoretically impossible to quantum-relativistic science

   0 — target is yourself
   1 — target is in sense-shot
   3 — target is in media contact
   5 — target is somewhere in the world
  10 — target is in another world or time

   0 — familiar with (e.g. a dog; you've met them many times)
   3 — encountered (e.g. a giraffe; you've seen them in person a few times)
   5 — acquainted with (e.g. a platypus; you've seen pictures & know a few things)
   7 — aware of (e.g. a griffin or tyrannosaur; you barely know more than what it is)
  10 — novel (you're making this up)

Permanence (of an on-going miraculous situation):
   0 — while in use
   N — N days
  10 — permanently (also costs 1 reality point)

See here for examples.

You cannot use Miracle to do any of the following:

The GM may rule other things impossible as well, e.g. raising the severely dead or destroying souls.

You cannot "save up" for a miracle; it results from a single expenditure of psi points. Since you can convert reality points to psi points, you can do any miracle that costs no more than your Surreality + Psi.

A specialized Theme trait is generally cheaper to use than Miracle.



Dynamics is that aspect of Surreality that lets you move resource points around in ways others cannot. With a successful Dynamics roll, you can:

To make these transfers, you must be in sense-shot, telepathic contact, or some other serious form of contact. Clairvoyance or viewing through instruments (TV, telescope, radar, etc.) is not enough.

Reality Combat

If both parties are willing to a transfer of reality points or Surreality score, no roll or point cost is needed. Otherwise, you have Dynamics combat: to pull or push reality points or Surreality score on an unwilling target, you must win a Dynamics roll and the target must lose a Dynamics or Psi roll, whichever stat is higher.

Note that, even if the target has no Surreality (if they are Real, Touched, or Sousreal), they defend with a Psi roll instead. This means un-Surreal characters with high Psi are tougher targets than Surreal characters that are low on both Surreality and Psi.

Note that targets can resist being given things as well as being robbed.

Resistance to being to being robbed is automatic, even if the target is unconscious. (On the other hand, unconscious targets can't run away while you try over and over again.) Resistance to being given reality points or Surreality must be conscious; if the target is unconscious, you can just do it with a successful Dynamics roll.

You can keep on taking after the target runs out of Surreality, driving them negative, into the Sousreal. Their Reality score is then under 100. This is how people usually become Sousreal.


Cultivating Surreality

Besides the surreal predation of Dynamics combat, there are four peaceful ways of increasing your Surreality score: Exercise, Theme Work, Errands, and Mystery Rites.

Normal Exercise

Just as with any other stat in the Endeavor system, you can make a learn roll against Surreality in any session where you have made a successful Surreality roll. If you made a critical success during the session, you get two learn rolls; if you made a perfect hit, you go up one immediately and then get three learn rolls.

Theme Work

Have one of your traits be your Theme. Every time you make a learn roll on this Theme, you can choose whether to add one to the Theme's score or to add one to your Surreality score.


Work for a patron, usually a Higher Power, in return for reality points, Surreality, and other considerations.

Mystery Rites (a.k.a. Enigmas, Mystery Errands)

Intuit by Miracle that some odd action will get you some Surreality. Why? Who knows? Maybe it's a Higher Power that wishes to remain anonymous. The payback in Surreality is roughly proportional to the difficulty of the errand.


The Touched

The touched have a reality score of 100, Surreality 0, but once had some other value, surreal or sousreal. They are back to normal, but are now weirdness magnets, and can recognize surreal, sousreal, real, and touched beings as such.


The Sousreal

"Sousreal" is "sub-real." (Pronounced "soo-real.") If you are sousreal, you have fallen below 100 on your reality score, usually through Reality Combat.

Like the Surreal and Touched, you can recognize surreal, sousreal, real, and touched beings as such.

If you somehow acquire any reality points (e.g. a Surreal gives you some), you can spend them, but nothing you do can generate any more. Once you spend any you have, you are out as long as you remain sousreal.

For every point you are below 100 in your reality score, you lose a point off your Psi resource. If your Psi resource is zero or less, you can no longer regenerate Focus or Effort points either, though you still have the Focus and Effort resource; once you spend the points, you are out as long as you stay sousreal (unless someone gives you some).

Once you are out of resource points, you start slipping out of reality. Whatever percentage you are below 100 on your Reality score, that is the percentage of the day you spend in a partial reality. For instance, if your Reality is 80, you spend 20% of the day ... gone. 1% of a day is about 15 minutes, so 20% would be 5 hours.

During these lapses, you disappear from the real world and find yourself in a parallel version of it. The lower your Reality score, the stranger and more different the partial is from reality.

If your Reality score drops to 0%, you vanish forever into the partial realities.

Vanish forever? Well, the Surreal can do anything...



There are three ways to customize your Surreality:





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Copyright © Earl Wajenberg, 2014