Badass Dragoons of the Highlands - Game Mechanics

Quick Start Guide:

  • You are an Immortal in the spirit of the first Highlander movie.
  • Your character’s combat ability is represented by various ability scores as well as hidden stats.
  • If your Hit Points are reduced to zero in a given turn, you’ve been beheaded by another Immortal.
  • At most, your character will battle only one opponent in a given turn. Two or more against one battles and attacking opponents before they’ve recovered is forbidden by the code of the Immortals.
  • The gamespace is expressly player-vs-player and will continue until only one player survives.
  • Some mechanics are currently hidden and may or may not be revealed as the game evolves. Players that discover them first may or may not find themselves at an advantage.
  • Some game mechanics are intentionally obfuscated to hinder min-maxing
  • At start, all players will have some secret advantages that are known only to themselves.
  • Players are sincerely discouraged from attempting to reverse-engineer hidden mechanics via private messages. On one hand, you may discover an advantage. On the other hand, you may only tip your hand and weaken your position. Remember: there can be only one.
  • The first two or three game turns should be relatively safe unless you are exceedingly unlucky.
  • If a player fails to submit orders twice, the character will be removed from the game in the interest of keeping things moving.

Notable changes from last time

  • Private orders! Order processing and turn execution will be handled by the bot account @archivist. Orders will be submitted via private message and the bot will parse the orders for correctness and flag any errors. If you have any questions or concerns, please message me directly. Messaging the bot will not cross my radar in time to make a useful response to you.

  • Hidden stats! At game start, all players will have a set of secret, private stats that will skew combat outcomes in various directions - gently at first, and then more seriously as the game progresses. Close observation of your opponents may or may not reveal these secrets.

  • Narrative mutability: moderate!: In the last postmortem, players indicated that it would be useful to know how open the plot itself is to player creativity. In the event that major plot arcs can be chosen, that will be indicated in the framework of the turn, e.g. An explicit statement of: “If N players select option 3, a PLOT_EVENT will happen” as a possible course of action. I also listen closely to the the game as it develops and may choose to fold in player-inspired events or mechanics as needed.

  • Hidden mechanics!: Some game mechanics may or may not be exposed in the course of play. Some players may privately discover advantages/disadvantages that other players may not know about.

More Detailed Explanation of Game Mechanics

The Player Primer is primarily a guide to character interaction during turns. Specific game mechanics will be invoked between turns to resolve what happens in this story. Game mechanics are detailed in the first comments below, but here are easy links to specific elements of those mechanics.

exposed in turn 2: Extended combat, Comrades & Nemeses, Order of turn execution
exposed in turn 3: Extended combat, Arch-Nemeses, Reflexes I, Sturdy I
exposed in turn 4: Extended combat, Quickenings: Cruel, Swift reflexes, Inspired tactics, Unphased
exposed in turn 5: Extended combat, Reflexes II, Quickenings: Visionary tactics, Unyielding
exposed in turn 6: New turn format, Extended Combat, Prescient Tactics, Unstoppable

Weekly Turn Timeline
Game turns are intended to be one week in length.

  • Submit Orders: Each week by Fri at 2200 EDT
  • Turn Execution & GM Review: Fri 2200 EDT - Sun 2300 EDT
  • Turn results sans GM narrative: Sun 2300 EDT
  • GM Narrative + New Round Posted: Each week by Mon 2000 UTC

If a game turn needs to be delayed due to real life constraints, I’ll update the deadlines for the given game turn.


Sample Character Sheet

  | Abernathy Happenstance |  5 |  3  |  6  |  2  |  5  |
  | Age: 738
  | Origin: Macedonia
  | Weapon: Bronze Makhaira

Explanation of character abilities:

  • Hit Points (HP): The amount of damage your body can take in combat with another Immortal before being incapacitated. At HP 0, you will be beheaded. All Immortals that survive a turn are restored to full HP at the start of the next turn. Combat engagements that do not result in a beheading are assumed to have been halted or disrupted by extraneous events. All Immortals start with 5 HP.

    • Non-fatal battles are an opportunity for role playing!
    • Fatal battles are also an opportunity for role playing, and the defeated party should tell the rest of us what happened.
  • Strength (STR): Represents the raw strength of the character in physical combat. As STR increases, so does the chance of scoring critical hits on an opponent in combat. A critical hit inflicts double the normal damage: 2 HP instead of the usual 1 HP.

  • Reflexes (REF): Represents the quickness and agility of the character in physical confrontations. When in combat, the character with a higher REF stat will strike first in a given round, which can sometimes mean the difference between life and death. If both characters have equal Reflexes, it’s a coin toss to see who strikes first in a given round. Higher levels of reflexes may offer additional advantages.

  • Perception (PER): Represents the ability to detect other Immortals nearby as well as their relative strength. When multiple Immortals find themselves in the same part of the world, those with the highest perception will find themselves engaging the opponent they’re most likely to defeat…or at least the one they’re least likely to die at the hand of.

  • Endurance (END): Represents the ability to shake off damage that would otherwise be fatal. As endurance increases, Immortals may find themselves granted additional Hit Points making them more difficult to defeat in combat.


Combat Mechanics - The Important Stuff

When two Immortals engage in combat, the battle takes place over a series of combat rounds. In each round a player must select a particular combat stance. The five combat stances are Reckless, Aggressive, Normal , Cautious, and Defensive. Each stance is strong against two opposing stances, equal against itself, and inferior against two opposing stances.

Reckless: To attack without regard for personal safety. The Reckless stance overwhelms the protective stances of Cautious and Defensive, but is vulnerable to the more calculated Normal and Aggresive stances.

Aggressive: To force the attack, but not wildly so. The Aggressive stance does well against the overly offensive Reckless stance and the overly protective Defensive stances, but finds itself vulnerable to the more opportunistic Normal and Cautious stances.

Normal: To alternate between attack and defense as needed. The Normal stance finds advantage against the carelessness of the Aggressive stance and the Reckless stance, but founders against the more circumspect Defensive and Cautious stances.

Cautious: To strike only when finding weaknesses in the opponent’s offense. The Cautious stance performs best against both the Defensive and Normal stances, but fails to find openings against the Reckless and Aggressive stances.

Defensive: To protect the self at all costs, only seeking safe options for counterattack. The Defensive stance is superior when facing the Normal and Aggressive stance, but fails to find effective answers against the Cautious and Reckless stances.

The relative effectiveness of one stance against another can be visualized thusly:

For example: if in the first round, you’ve selected a Normal stance and your opponent has chosen an Aggressive stance, you’ll be much more likely to score a hit (70%) and much less likely to be injured (30%) as seen in the ‘Chance to hit’ table.

The ‘Target to beat’ table shows the same information, but represented as a the threshold of success for roll of a traditional d100. Any bonuses or penalties that your character may currently have will be applied to that roll. A roll of 10 or less is always a miss, regardless of bonuses.


Detailed example of combat mechanics

Combat results will be posted in a format something like the following:

Ramirez      (3/5) v. (1/5) Connor MacLeod
      rolls tgt          tgt rolls
 Hit! ( 41) 40 Nor v. Rck 60 ( 18) miss
 miss ( 61) 70 Nor v. Def 30 ( 87) Hit!
 Hit! ( 45) 40 Agg v. Cau 60 ( 42) miss
 CRIT ( 99) 40 Agg v. Cau 60 ( 62) Hit!
  • In round 1, Ramirez fights from a Normal stance and MacLeod chooses Reckless. Odds are calculated, rolls are made, bonuses and penalties are applied to that roll, and checked against the target. Ramirez scores a hit for 1HP on poor Connor.
  • In round 2, Ramirez remains in a Normal stance and MacLeod switches to a Defensive stance, a vastly superior stance in this case. Rolls are made, bonuses and penalties applied, and Connor manages to score a hit for 1HP!
  • Round 3 comes along, and Ramirez has switched to an Aggressive stance, which has the advantage against MacLeod’s Cautious stance. Rolls are made, bonuses and penalties are applied, results are checked, and Ramirez has scored another hit for 1HP on Connor.
  • Round 4: Both select the same stances as last time, rolls are made, bonuses added, and Ramirez has managed to roll very high, which means a critical hit for 2HP against his opponent. Connor also beats his target and inflicts the standard 1HP against Ramirez.

Bonuses and penalties are obfuscated in the public report - only the final result is seen.

In this particular example, the combat ends at this point. Both players survive the round, and will start the next turn with their full compliment of 5HP.


Order Submission

Order submissions are made via private message to the bot account @archivist. At the moment, there are only three orders to submit:

TRAVEL <destination> <faction>
  • In each weekly game turn, a series of interesting destinations will be available for travelling to.
  • Each destination will have a number associated with it and possibly a number of factions.
  • If the destination has a group of factions listed, you should choose one faction to join for the duration of the turn.
  • The chosen faction may or may not result in additional, hidden outcomes for the turn.
  • For example: TRAVEL 3 Brazil will select the third option from the list presented, and you will arrive at that location aligned with the Brazilian faction.

STANCES <stance1><stance2><stance3><stance4><stance5>
  • Should you encounter another Immortal, combat may break out.
  • You’ll need to select a set of stances in advance to use for the entire turn to represent your strategy in that fight.
  • Each stance is specified by the first letter of the stance.
  • Please don’t put spaces between the stance names,
  • For example: STANCES RAADN will choose the Reckless, Aggressive, Aggresssive, Defensive, and Normal stances in that order.

  TRAIN <stat>
  • Over the course of the turn, you’ll also have a chance to improve a statistic via training.
  • Indicate the stat you’d like to improve by it’s abbreviation: either STR, REF, END, or PER.
  • For example: TRAIN PER will improve your Perception stat.

After you submit orders via private message to @archivist, the bot should get back to you within a few minutes. The bot will let you know that your orders have been accepted, and will reply that they have been received and whether or not they have any errors.


Automated order processing

The @archivist account will be in attendance throughout the course of the game. The account will be listening during the intervals when players can submit their orders (Monday @ 2000 EDT through Friday @ 2300 EDT). Send all orders to this account via private message and if all is well he will respond to you within five minutes. In the event that the bot does not respond to you for some reason, either PM me directly or @ mention me in the topic for the current turn. In a pinch, I can access the bot’s private messages and confirm your orders for the turn manually.

Now that the game has started, you should plan on checking in to the forum at least once a week on Tuesdays. To enjoy and participate in the role playing that happens, consider checking in more frequently - once or twice a day at least.

As we draw close to the deadline for order submission (2300 EDT every Friday), The Archivist will PM all players that haven’t submitted orders as a friendly reminder.

Known bugs:

  1. Bugs in order submission are likely during the first turn or two as I work out the kinks in the automation. If you discover what seems like a bug, please PM me directly with your concerns and I will address them as soon as possible.
  2. Errors on the Discourse side have been known to knock the bot offline in a way that I haven’t yet been able to trap. If you get no response from the bot after 10 minutes, PM me directly and let me know.
  3. The bot does not currently check faction selections. I hope to have this fixed by next week, but at the moment for choices that involve selecting a faction - the bot will not flag any errors. If you fail to select a faction, a faction will be randomly chosen for you. If I can intuit the faction you intend to select, I will attempt to correct it manually in the meantime.
  4. In the event that the bot does not respond to you close to the turn deadline, you can always send your orders to me directly via PM and I’ll fold them in when calculating the turns.

Penalties for Idle Players

With 27 players on board, I suspect the game will run for 9 weeks or so. Given the PvP nature of the game, players that fail to submit orders for any two of those weeks will be culled by the Kurgan.

The Kurgan are a tribe of vicious barbarians known for their cruelty. They have an uncanny ability to sniff out Immortals that remain in one place for too long. Fail to submit orders for one turn and they’ll be on your trail. Fail to submit orders a second time and they will slay your character, using your Immortal life force in their bizarre and unsettling rituals. If you know in advance that commitments in the real world will cause that to happen and wish to continue playing, contact me via PM as soon as possible and we’ll try to work something out.


And that should be the extent of it! I know this is a lot of information to take in at once, so I’m looking forward to offering clarifications to any questions that you might have regarding the game mechanics.


But I set off on this quest to reverse the fading of the ozone layer!



Silly question, but I’m curious: does Training take effect before or after that turn’s combat?

1 Like

Fair question! They take place after as indicated in step 4 below.

And as new mechanics are discovered, I suspect I should append them to this page. Easier to have a one-stop shop for all active game mechanics than having to re-read every turn.


Game Mechanics exposed in turn 2

Extended Combat: Immortals must select six combat stances this round. The Archivist should warn you if you haven’t submitted enough stances.

Nemesis: Battles that end in a stalemate make both participants eager to meet again. Witnessing the style of an opponent firsthand is guaranteed to make the next battle sharper and more deadly. Should they meet again, both players will enjoy a bonus of +5 to each attack roll against each other. Your current nemeses (if any) have been added to your character sheets.

Comrade: In rare and specific circumstances, battles that end in a stalemate result in a newfound appreciation for the opponent. As such, future battles are slightly less deadly as both participants would prefer sparring and learning from each other to decapitation. Should they meet again, both players will experience a penalty of -5 to each attack roll against each other. Your current comrades (if any) have been added to your character sheet.

GM Note on turn execution
By limiting the Archivist to only collecting orders, I’ve discovered that I’ve created a great deal of manual transcription for myself. In the event that I miss anything in that transcription when a new turn is posted, please bring it to my attention ASAP and I will correct it.

For clarification, turns are processed in the following order:

  1. Travel orders are processed
  2. Characters with the highest PER scores choose weaker opponents first, continuing until all possible parings are made. Travel destinations with an odd number of players will mean someone will not see combat that turn. This may be a blessing or a curse depending on the circumstances…
  3. Combat is resolved
  4. Stats are updated based on training and travel orders
  5. Any new abilities that have been unlocked by stat increases are indicated in character sheets at the start of the next turn.

Ah, my bad. Thank you! :grin:


So, what makes a player “weaker” to be sought out?

Just STR? Or some exotic formula not fit for mere immortals?


For pairing, STR + REF

To draw from an odd corner of my archives:

Let’s take an example in which four Immortals choose to travel to the same destination. For sake of argument:

Ramirez:  7   2   4   1   5
MacLeod:  2   3   3   5   5
Fasil:    3   3   3   4   5
Kastagir: 8   6   3   3   5

At present, the Immortal with the highest PERception will be able to determine which of the three they have the best chance against, based only on publicly visible stats and abilities. PERception does not factor in your opponent’s stance selections or hidden stats/abilities when calculating odds of success.

In this example, MacLeod has the highest PERception, and the selection happens thusly:

  • Kastagir is the most dangerous due to having higher REFlexes and the increased risk of CRITs due to STRength.
  • Ramirez is second-most dangerous due to high STRength, even though MacLeod has better reflexes.
  • Fasil is the last option remaining, so MacLeod will ambush him as the ‘weakest’ opponent. Still more dangerous than MacLeod, but the least dangerous opponent in the group.

As a result, MacLeod and Fasil battle each other, which results in Ramirez and Kastagir facing each other as the only remaining pair.

Second example: In the event that Ramiez also had a PER 5, a coin toss would decide who gets to select the least dangerous opponent. Heads: Ramirez selects MacLeod as the weakest opponent. Tails: selections are made exactly as above.

Third example: Let’s remove Fasil from the equation and reset Ramirez’s PER back to 1. Of the two immortals to choose from, MacLeod would select Ramirez as the least dangerous opponent and Kastagir would not have an opponent to fight, as neither two-on-one fights nor attacking an opponent after his battle are allowed.


( Wayne Campbell) I was not aware of that


Extended Combat: Immortals must select seven combat stances this round. The Archivist should warn you if you haven’t submitted enough stances.

Arch-Nemesis: Battles that end in a stalemate between nemeses make both participants committed to the beheading of the other. Should they meet again, both players will enjoy a bonus of +10 to each attack roll against each other. Your current arch-nemeses (if any) have been added to your character sheets.

Reflexes I: As your reflexes improve, you will discover you can read your opponent’s stance and quickly shift to a new position. This will improve your existing stance by 1 step in the first combat round. For example: you’ve selected Reckless (target 70) and your opponent has selected Aggressive (target 30). With Reflexes I, your submitted stance will be changed to Normal on the fly - improving your target to 60 and decreasing your opponent’s target to 40. If you already have the best stance against your opponent, Reflexes I will not improve it further. If both combatants have this ability, there is no effect.

Sturdy I: As endurance increases, so does the amount of damage you can take. With Sturdy I, your base HP increases from 5 to 6.


Exposed on Turn 4

Extended Combat: Immortals must select eight combat stances this round. The Archivist should warn you if you haven’t submitted enough stances.

Quickenings: When absorbing the life force of a fallen opponent, Immortals will find themselves in possession of new, seemingly supernatural talents. As new Quickenings are discovered, their effects will be documented for all. Immortals in possession of a Quickening will be much more formidable than the average opponent.

Cruel: Small chance of any normal hit being upgraded to a Critical hit (5%)

Swift reflexes: Improves your stance one step against opponent’s stance in the first two combat rounds1.

Inspired tactics: Able to sense very subtle cues, opponents have a -5 penalty applied to all their rolls.

Unphased: First non-critical hit in combat is shrugged off and does no damage.

1 For example, with both Swift reflexes and Reflexes I, your selected combat stance will be improved to the next best stance on the fly for the first three combat rounds. Against an opponent with just Reflexes I, your stance will be improved for the first two rounds instead.


Exposed on Turn 5

Extended combat: Immortals must select nine combat stances this round. The Archivist should warn you if you haven’t submitted enough stances.

Reflexes II: improves combat results in the first two rounds, much like the quickening ‘swift reflexes’

New Quickenings have also been discovered:

Visionary tactics: an improvement of Inspired tactics, this quickening applies a -10 penalty to all of your opponent’s rolls.

Unyielding: Allows you to shrug off the first critical hit as if it were a normal hit, but please note that this will not stack with Unphased quickening and reduce the damage to zero.