Redoubtable Downtown Space Abbey - Players Handbook

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A topic for cataloging the various game mechanics that underpin Redoubtable Downtown Space Abbey as well as Q&A regarding said mechanics.

Design statement: This outing is intended to be less a series of gated mission selections and more of an open-world exploration. Rather than having a single plot that slowly unfolds, the world contains multiple plots that may be pursued in parallel. Depending on how far each plot is pursued, they will each have consequences and feed directly back into how the game world evolves. The intention is to create more room for every character to explore and embellish their own story rather than tie everyone’s fate to a single challenge.

Based on feedback I’ve received in the past, I’ll be presenting the publicly available player information to all players in a read-only format via Google docs. Rather than have several players spend hours recreating what I’m already on the hook to do, hopefully this will free up their own time to focus on storytelling instead of fiddling with numbers.

Topics to be covered below:

Please note: in addition to the choices your character makes each round, events in the world may alter your situation, status, and possessions temporarily and even permanently in some cases. The great Wheel of Fortune turns and turns.

Rule 0: “Yes, and”

If you have no idea what to expect - that’s perfectly normal. Every game is completely different from the one that came before it, but a common theme unites them all. A wise observer once noted: “The heart is collaborative storytelling, so the rules of improv are the best rules.” Tina Fey explains this better than I ever could, so I will let her words be your guide.

Tina Fey’s Rules of Improvisation That Will Change Your Life and Reduce Belly Fat 1

The first rule of improvisation is AGREE. Always agree and SAY YES. When you’re improvising, this means you are required to agree with whatever your partner has created. So if we’re improvising and I say, “Freeze, I have a gun,” and you say, “That’s not a gun. It’s your finger. You’re pointing your finger at me,” our improvised scene has ground to a halt. But if I say, “Freeze, I have a gun!” and you say, “The gun I gave you for Christmas! You bastard!” then we have started a scene because we have AGREED that my finger is in fact a Christmas gun.

Now, obviously in real life you’re not always going to agree with everything everyone says. But the Rule of Agreement reminds you to “respect what your partner has created” and to at least start from an open-minded place. Start with a YES and see where that takes you.

As an improviser, I always find it jarring when I meet someone in real life whose first answer is no. “No, we can’t do that.” “No, that’s not in the budget.” “No, I will not hold your hand for a dollar.” What kind of way is that to live?

The second rule of improvisation is not only to say yes, but YES, AND. You are supposed to agree and then add something of your own. If I start a scene with “I can’t believe it’s so hot in here,” and you just say, “Yeah…” we’re kind of at a standstill. But if I say, “I can’t believe it’s so hot in here,” and you say, “What did you expect? We’re in hell.” Or if I say, “I can’t believe it’s so hot in here,” and you say, “Yes, this can’t be good for the wax figures.” Or if I say, “I can’t believe it’s so hot in here,” and you say, “I told you we shouldn’t have crawled into this dog’s mouth,” now we’re getting somewhere.

To me YES, AND means don’t be afraid to contribute. It’s your responsibility to contribute. Always make sure you’re adding something to the discussion. Your initiations are worthwhile.

The next rule is MAKE STATEMENTS. This is a positive way of saying “Don’t ask questions all the time.” If we’re in a scene and I say, “Who are you? Where are we? What are we doing here? What’s in that box?” I’m putting pressure on you to come up with all the answers.

In other words: Whatever the problem, be part of the solution. Don’t just sit around raising questions and pointing out obstacles. We’ve all worked with that person. That person is a drag. It’s usually the same person around the office who says things like “There’s no calories in it if you eat it standing up!” and “I felt menaced when Terry raised her voice.”

MAKE STATEMENTS also applies to us women: Speak in statements instead of apologetic questions. No one wants to go to a doctor who says, “I’m going to be your surgeon? I’m here to talk to you about your procedure? I was first in my class at Johns Hopkins, so?” Make statements, with your actions and your voice.

Instead of saying “Where are we?” make a statement like “Here we are in Spain, Dracula.” Okay, “Here we are in Spain, Dracula” may seem like a terrible start to a scene, but this leads us to the best rule:

THERE ARE NO MISTAKES, only opportunities. If I start a scene as what I think is very clearly a cop riding a bicycle, but you think I am a hamster in a hamster wheel, guess what? Now I’m a hamster in a hamster wheel. I’m not going to stop everything to explain that it was really supposed to be a bike. Who knows? Maybe I’ll end up being a police hamster who’s been put on “hamster wheel” duty because I’m “too much of a loose cannon” in the field. In improv there are no mistakes, only beautiful happy accidents. And many of the world’s greatest discoveries have been by accident. I mean, look at the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, or Botox.

1 Improv will not reduce belly fat

  • From Bossypants

Additional tips for era authenticity

As a relative newcomer to the works of Jane Austen, I offer these suggestions as ways to help mold your character’s voice through the game. I am not a scholar of her work or the period in any way, just someone that has deeply enjoyed a reading a few books and watching a few adaptations.

We are not holding hard and fast to the social norms and expectations of the period. At the very least, observing the propriety of waiting to be introduced to another character before being allowed to speak to them without a breach of etiquette would make for a lousy game.

Be steadfastly, excruciatingly polite: Even when paid a backhanded compliment, a true gentlesentient responds with decency and propriety. Compliments, pleasant observations, warm words of support and encouragement are all proper and good. In a world where everyone can be mortified by a verbal misstep, one’s social behavior readily demonstrates one’s true nature.

Subtext can be just as rich as text: Since politeness rules the day, one can use the power of implication to voice an unpopular opinion, unkind judgment, or catty observation. As what is implied can often be misinterpreted, this presents opportunity for hilarious misunderstandings and escalating wars of wit between individuals.

Passive aggressive is the best kind of aggressive: One may be constrained by politeness, but that should never get in the way of a good dragging. Treat this as an opportunity to release the most passive aggressive part of your character’s inner self in the service of the greater good. My mind leaps to the character of the Dowager Countess in Downton Abbey as the veritable avatar of this suggestion.

I encourage players with a deeper understanding of this era to contribute additional suggestions as well. Remember that these are only suggestions and not requirements. Jane Austen herself had any number of characters that tiptoe the social convention while bucking the larger norms. When in doubt, refer back to Rule 0. And with that, I’ll add a scene from Pride and Prejudice as an exemplar of all three suggestions.

By tea-time, however, the dose had been enough, and Mr. Bennet was glad to take his guest into the drawing-room again, and, when tea was over, glad to invite him to read aloud to the ladies. Mr. Collins readily assented, and a book was produced; but, on beholding it (for everything announced it to be from a circulating library), he started back, and begging pardon, protested that he never read novels. Kitty stared at him, and Lydia exclaimed. Other books were produced, and after some deliberation he chose Fordyce’s Sermons. Lydia gaped as he opened the volume, and before he had, with very monotonous solemnity, read three pages, she interrupted him with:

“Do you know, mamma, that my uncle Phillips talks of turning away Richard; and if he does, Colonel Forster will hire him. My aunt told me so herself on Saturday. I shall walk to Meryton to-morrow to hear more about it, and to ask when Mr. Denny comes back from town.”

Lydia was bid by her two eldest sisters to hold her tongue; but Mr. Collins, much offended, laid aside his book, and said:

“I have often observed how little young ladies are interested by books of a serious stamp, though written solely for their benefit. It amazes me, I confess; for, certainly, there can be nothing so advantageous to them as instruction. But I will no longer importune my young cousin.”

Then turning to Mr. Bennet, he offered himself as his antagonist at backgammon. Mr. Bennet accepted the challenge, observing that he acted very wisely in leaving the girls to their own trifling amusements. Mrs. Bennet and her daughters apologised most civilly for Lydia’s interruption, and promised that it should not occur again, if he would resume his book; but Mr. Collins, after assuring them that he bore his young cousin no ill-will, and should never resent her behaviour as any affront, seated himself at another table with Mr. Bennet, and prepared for backgammon.


Character Abilities

Personality & Wit (PER): Represents one’s ability to be charming in conversation, forceful in writing, and compelling in public speaking. A high PER stat means never having to know the meaning of l’esprit de l’escalier as you always have a witty rejoinder at hand. Individuals with high PER are often sought after as guests for dinners, salons, and other important events.

  • Helps with: Challenges involving writing, public speaking, or socializing
  • Sample careers: Author, Poet, Politician
  • Era exemplars: Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde

Fashion & Taste (FSH): Represents flair in manner and appearance, originality of dress, and ability to foresee the next big thing. In proper company, those with excellent FSH will always have an advantage over those who do not. A high FSH score will help open the doors of society to you, but PERsonality will help carry the day once inside.

  • Helps with: Getting noticed by the powers that be, having social sway, soft power
  • Sample Careers: Salonnière, Patron, Powerbroker
  • Era exemplars: Alva Vanderbilt, Beau Brummel

Business Acumen (BUS): Represents familiarity with the finer points of business: negotiation, improving profitability, reading the current economic winds, and similar tasks. All sentients of means are capable of performing these tasks at a basic level, but with improved BUS comes greater return on investment as well as increased opportunities.

  • Helps with: Business, economic, and market-based outcomes
  • Sample careers: Tycoon, Philanthropist, Financier
  • Era exemplars: Sir Titus Salt

Martial Prowess (MIL): One’s understanding of all aspects of the military both large and small, as well as the ability to lead or command a group under difficult circumstances. Those with higher MIL scores are more likely to lead successful expeditions or military operations.

  • Helps with: Martial challenges, fighting duels, leading explorations, commanding groups
  • Sample careers: General, Admiral, Explorer
  • Era exemplars: Admiral Nelson, David Livingstone

Education & Learning (EDU): Represents time and effort in academic pursuits and is a healthy support skill for all other skills. Only those with a scholarly discipline and background will be able to see through certain mysteries and conundra. Those with higher EDU scores are more likely to find opportunity and advancement in the learnèd professions.

PLUCK: Luck, perseverance, stiff upper lip and all that. Helps to offset some of the worst outcomes when things go particularly off the rails. In general, PLUCK can always be obtained by taking extraordinary risks and failing since learning the hard way is sometimes the best way. Other options for earning PLUCK will also present themselves.


Death, Destitution, and Disgrace

Failure of the body is not the only fear in this society. The three factors one must properly manage are:

Health: A total of 10 possible states, ranging from “Hale & Hearty (10)” to “Death’s Door (1)”. Should your health reach 0, you have shuffled off this mortal coil. Should that happen, you must have an heir to continue your family name.

Income: Participation in polite society is necessarily a tug of war between holdings that generate income and the expenses involved in maintaining appearances. One should try to increase Income wherever possible, as demonstration of ones means is a reliable proxy for one’s own social standing.

Should your Income fall below zero, a hardship loan will be extended to you by the Bank of Weatherby to buy time to put your affairs in order. This will be perceived as a loss of status by other peers and reduce your Rank accordingly. Should you become truly insolvent, you will be confined to a debtor’s prison until such time as your are able to resolve the embarrassment.

Rank: A representation of social standing among peers. Those with significantly higher rank (at least 150 higher than your own) are quite simply your betters. Should your rank fall below 200, you will no longer be welcome in high society. Unless you can find your way back, you’ll be attempting to eke out the remainder of your existence as a commoner. Should your rank fall below 0, you will be identified as a scoundrel and considered a threat to decent society everywhere.

Out of all the factors in the final analysis, Rank is the most important. Nota bene: maximizing rank to the exclusion of all else will result in a fragile house of cards that is unlikely to survive the ultimate challenges presented to you. One must balance the total sum of Rank, Income, and Abilities appropriately.


Victory Conditions (new!)

As the game proceeds toward a conclusion, several victory conditions are available to pursue. Naturally, any player that becomes deeply invested in the creation and embellishment of an individual story has achieved a personal victory and I encourage everyone to strive for this over the next several weeks.

Specific victory conditions have been roughly tied to the following conditions as Final Challenges:

  • Redoubtable Personage (Rank): those with the five highest Ranks will be competing with each other
  • Titans of Industry (BUS): those with the five highest BUS skills will be competing with each other
  • For Honor (MIL): the five highest MIL skills will be competing with each other
  • Immortal Bard (PER): the five highest PER skills will be competing with each other
  • A Lasting Discovery (EDU): the five highest EDU skills will be competing with each other
  • Spirit of the Age (FSH): the five highest FSH skills will be competing with each other

A word of caution: Min/Maxing will put you at a disadvantage in the Final Challenges. Until then, you are strongly encouraged to explore your character concept to the fullest and build a reasonably well-rounded character. The transition to Final Challenge mode will come late in the game and will be clearly demarcated.


Turn submission

Orders may be submitted in one of two ways:

  • Public: in a topic expressly meant for order submission and processed by @Bartlebot
  • Private: via a private message to @Bartlebot

Orders may not be split between public and private orders. The most recent order submission will overwrite any previous submissions and will be treated as such by @Bartlebot. Private orders are done with a very minor penalty to rank, as a proper gentlesentient has nothing to hide. Any cost to Rank incurred by private order submission will be kept secret between the player and the GM until that cost would drop that players rank below 200, at which point the character is no longer able to conceal the subterfuge. Furthermore, once Final Challenges are announced, all hidden Rank costs will be applied to the Rank score in order to put everyone on equal informational footing.

A crafty player may choose to submit one set of orders in public and subsequently submit an updated set of orders privately for purposes of deception and skullduggery.

(Embarassed aside: An example set of orders for both cases is forthcoming, as I’m still updating the bot code for this particular iteration.)


(Placeholder for ‘Sample Turn Submissions’)

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(Placeholder for additional TBD material)

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Questions, insight, and discussion from all players is welcome below in this out-of-character space.


Do we get rank/turn on our apartments, or is it a one time thing? What happens to rank if we give them up?

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Excellent question. The rank is held as long as the lodgings are held. In the event that one wishes to upgrade or downgrade lodgings, one merely submits a new 'rent ’ order in a new round. The usual moving fee applies, the rent for the new season is paid, and the rank difference is applied.

For example, anyone currently renting a Spartan Apartment (rank+50, upkeep -75£/turn) that wishes to upgrade to a Modest Apartment would submit an order this round:

  rent Modest Apartment

This would incur the one time moving fee (-25£), the new upkeep per turn would be -200£/turn), and would see an increase in rank of an additional +25.

It should be noted that moving to a less desirable address, say from a Modest Apartment to a Spartan Apartment, would incur the expected -25 to rank as well as an equivalent penalty of rank-25 due to gossip about the circumstances. Equivalently, downgrading from a Proper Apartment to a Modest apartment would see a gossip penalty of rank-75. Appearances must be maintained after all.


File under: should have asked before committing half my income to something.

Oh well. I hope rank is useful on an ongoing basis, then.


For clarity; if something good has a lousy chance of occuring, it’s unlikely, but if it’s a bad thing, that means it’s likely?


Not quite - a lousy chance of occurring means that the event is relatively unlikely to happen, regardless of the good/bad nature of the event.

While we’re on the matter, it may be worth ranking the adjectives being used to express probability. In order from least likely to most likely odds:

“very good”
“almost certain”
“shoo in”


For clarification, if there are any differences between that list and the quality-of-outcome list, can that be provided as well?



Absolutely. At the moment, the outcome adjectives are ranked thusly:

“very poor”
“below average”
“above average”
“very good”




Are the stat bonuses granted by buying items applied the same turn they are purchased, or on the next turn (specifically with respect to Investment outcomes)?

For example, if, in Turn 2, I buy a Novel that increases my PER from 23 to 27, and also invest in Option 3, which has PER as a relevant stat, which value will be used to influence the outcome of that investment? 23, or 27?


The turn results are calculated after purchases are made, so results would be influenced by PER 27.