Every once in a while, someone mentions the possibility of a diceless version of In Nomine. Here are my thoughts on the subject:
One the one hand, the cinematic nature of most IN makes dicelessness a good fit. After all, in movies, the character's tricks always work unless specifically blocked by circumstance or another character. The only exception is transient periods in which apprentice heroes get trained by their masters and undergo amusing and/or character-building failures.
On the other hand, doing away with dice means doing away with the trademark d666. No check digits, no Interventions. But there are possible workarounds:
Check digits: In diceless play, so far as I am aware, you compare a character stat with a difficulty level. The check digit could be replaced by the difference between the two.
Interventions: The GM can replace these with trigger events. For instance, the GM may determine that, after a Charlie the Cherub takes damage in defense of his current attuned, the very next time Charlie uses his Celestial Forces, he will get a Divine Intervention. Or any angelic attack on the Ethereal Forces of NPC Ichabod Impudite will provoke an Infernal Intervention. Why? The GM doesn't have to decide, anymore than they had to rationalize the 111s and 666s.
The grand-daddy of diceless play, the Amber game by Phage Press, was very mechanics-light. It's hard to make IN mechanics-light without a lot of re-writing, because there are lots of customized mechanics for each Superior. But here is a start:
To limit the number of stats, I first eliminate all mundane skills. If a skill is appropriate to your Role, Word, or Choir/Band, you can do it, period, or you can do it with a successful use of Action (see below).
I also eliminate the characteristics Will, Perception, Intelligence, etc.
I also eliminate Soul, Mind, and Body Hits.
Here are more general guidelines for helping the GM assign difficulty levels:
1 - trivial, weak human
2 - average human, weak celestial
3 - average beginning celestial PC
6 - average beginning celestial PC combat level
12 - maximum celestial PC combat level
The character is defined by its Forces, just as in the current game, and by a stat call "Action." Action bundles combat, acrobatics, stealth, and any suitable dexterity-related skills associated with the character, especially by virtue of its Role.
The character also starts with at least one Vessel of a given level, but for the typical celestial character this is more in the nature of a possession than a part of the character.
The stats are, then:
Allocate 15 points among the five primary stats. Pick a Word and a choir or band. Pick three songs. Roles, Servitors, and all other resources are negotiated with the GM.
In place of making a resonnance roll, celestials must now compare a stat with some difficulty level. To save the GM the bother of fixing all these levels, here are some resonnance rules. In general, the celestial matches its Celestial Forces against some force-level of its target.
Seraph or Balseraph: Celestial vs. Ethereal to truth-read or delude target
Cherub or Djinni: Celestial vs. Corporeal to track target
Ophanite: Add Celestial to any use of Action (except in combat); Celestial vs. GM's choice for area knowledge or flight
Calabite: Celestial vs. Corporeal to damage target
Elohite or Habbalaite: Celestial vs. Ethereal to read or inflict emotions on target
Malakite or Lilim: Celestial vs. Ethereal to read state of honor or state of need
Lilim: Celestial vs. Celestial to pull on geas
Kyriotate or Shedite: Celestial vs. Celestial to possess target
Mercurian or Impudite: Celestial vs. Celestial to read social status or drain target
In place of check digits, use the margin by which the celestial succeeded. (This means 6s will be very rare, instead of just as common as 1s.)
Normally, resonnances cost no Essence, but celestials can add 1 to each use of resonnance by spending one point of Essence.
Option: To make things tougher, GMs can allow non-celestials to add 1 to their resistance by likewise spending one point of Essence. Soldiers and other folk "in the know" can do so even if they can't spend Essence on Songs. Even ordinary mundanes can spend a point unconsciously if the resonnance is something they wouldn't generally want done if they knew — which means most demonic resonnances and angelic resonnances of people who feel guilty.
Option: To make things easier, you can count a tie as a success for the celestial.
Instead of deciding when to roll for dissonance, GMs and players must decide when to directly assign notes of dissonance to the character. Since there is no possibility of dodging the dissonance, points should probably be inflicted only in clear cases, or for persistent walking on the borderline.
As in canonical play, players may cash in three notes of dissonance for a level of discord. The GM may also do this to a character.
No game mechanics is used; it's all roleplay. If the GM wants a Superior to do the casting out instead of waiting for the PC to take the initiative, the GM might wish to make up a table of the amount of dissonance or discord each Superior will tolerate before rejecting a servitor.
The normative combat situation is single combat to the death between two celestials. Each character has a combat rating equal to Action + Forces for the realm they are in, e.g. Action + Corporeal for phyical combat. The GM compares the two scores; the character with the higher score is going to win, all other things being equal.
Example: It's a fight in a back alley (i.e., in the Corporeal) between
PC Charlie the Cherub and NPC Ichabod the Impudite.
Charlie: Action = 3, Corporeal = 4, combat rating = 3 + 4 = 7
Ichabod: Action = 4, Corporeal = 2, combat rating = 4 + 2 = 6
So Ichabod is going to lose, all other things being equal. But this is not immediately obvious to Charlie's player. The GM makes a note of this and, together with Charlie's player, they begin to narrate the fight, the GM guiding the narrative toward the indicated outcome.
The bigger the difference, the faster and more thoroughly the winner will win. Here, the difference is only 1, so this will be a long, drawn-out fight. If the two combat ratings are equal, the two characters fight to a stalemate or find some other way to break the tie.
The damage of a fight is represented by one of four damage level:
1 - Lightly wounded
2 - Moderately wounded
3 - Heavily wounded
4 - Losing Forces (Celestial combat)
Unconscious (Ethereal combat)
Mortally wounded (Corporeal; dead in a few minutes or hours without aid)
The difference in combat ratings is equal to the difference in damage level. So, if Charlie pummels Ichabod to death, Charlie himself will still be heavily wounded, since their combat ratings are only one apart.
There are several ways to break off a normative combat before someone reaches damage level 4. Other events, like the arrival of other characters, can intervene. Using weapons and Songs can change the outcome, too, as can spending Essence to briefly raise your effective Forces.
If the narrative suggests it, one character can break out of combat by winning a match of stats with the other. Example: Ichabod has a lower combat rating but a higher Action. If, in the course of the fight, he realizes he is no longer cornered by Charlie, he can match Actions, win, and successfully run away.
For group melee, the GM adds up the combat ratings of the two sides. As with single combat, this indicates which side will win and how decisively, unless something else happens. (In a melee, something else very likely will.)
The combat system almost certainly needs more development, but that's all I've come up with so far.
There is no great difference from the canonical system, except that GMs should hand out character points a lot more slowly, since there are fewer stats to spend them on. I recommend an "exercise" principle, whereby the stat that is used most advances fastest. (Unless the advance is by Superior intervention. "Hm, bravely fought, but you seem to be weak on the Ethereal side. I'll give you another Force. Open wide...")
There it is. I'm sure there are lots of holes; I haven't been able to playtest this at all. But perhaps it will provide a framework for discussion.
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