by Shreyas Sampat
Update the playtest doc
To play Limitless, you need several players, each of whom will be responsible for at least one character. You may wish to give one player the responsibility of refereeing; in this case, this player is responsible for "incidental" characters, setting stages, rules interpretation, and so on. Most significant characters should be played by non-referee players, but you may consider giving the referee a character or two as well. You will also need some way to record characters (a Wiki would be nice; Limitless characters fluctuate rapidly, so paper sheets may become unwieldy) and a large number of six-sided dice. If you prefer, use a large number of small tokens, like pennies, and a small handful of dice.
The characters of Limitless interact with the world through a variety of Methods. All characters have access to five universal Methods:
Some characters may have idiosyncratic Methods, which are generally narrower in scope. Most commonly, an idiosyncratic Method is a specific instance of a common Method (Lore > Symbologic Genetics; Intrigue > Tarot Reading, Insidious Pheromones; Battle > Decoherence Scimitar Combat). More rarely, one of these Methods is specifically not a specific instance of a larger Method (Black Circle Methodology affects the world by altering physical laws; Bending Diamond Initiation affects the world by manipulating time). You will still need to decide what Method these unusual Methods are connected to, but in this case, it is a matter of personal interpretation rather than any intrinsic property.
In addition to their Methods, some characters have Secret Teachings. These put two Methods in contact with one another, and allow them to apply the mastery they have over one Method to conflicts that involve the other. Secret Teachings are not transitive, however: if a character has an arrangement like Battle—Romance—Lore, then Battle and Romance are connected, and Romance and Lore are connected, but Battle and Lore are not.
More importantly, a character has a set of Passions—events that he strongly wants to occur. In the character record, a Passion is shown as the title of a document, a subtitle describing the target the Passion is related to, and finally a list of Images which lead up to the final goal.
You have five Method Points. You can spend an MP to learn a Secret Teaching which connects two Methods that you already possess, or learn a new idiosyncratic Method, which comes with a Secret Teaching connecting it to the universal Method that you consider it to be most similar to.
Take a moment and describe, in a few words, how your character understands and uses each Method he has. This will serve to give you ideas on how to depict the character's actions when he isn't using Images, and differentiate characters from one another descriptively.
Then you have ten Images. An Image is a strongly visual memory associated with an event in your character's life; making visual references to your Images is one way to succeed in conflicts in Limitless. Distribute these between any number of Passions as you like; each Image refers to some event along the character's quest for the Passion it's listed under. All of these Images have a Significance of 1. Significance represents how strongly an Image affects a character; the Images a character has, at creation, are intended as a jumping-off point, rather than to give strong direction to him.
Finally, you may add a pair of Images, one a Significance 1 Image and one a Signifiance -1 Image, to each Passion.
You must ensure that every Passion is mutually exclusive with a Passion some other character has. You can accomplish this by creating characters in a group and collaborating on Passions, or you can create characters individually and reinterpret the Passions, after-the-fact, so that they come into conflict. Either approach works fine. You may deliberately select the same Passion as another character, as well. Images do not need to be quite so collaborative.
Limitless is played in a series of scenes, which are either Confrontation scenes, where two or more characters come into conflict, or Karma scenes, where we see the results of action.
Actions are always resolved by rolling a number of six-sided dice. Discard all of the 4s, 5s, and 6s rolled, and total up the pips on the dice that remain. The result is the number of Victories the character has earned; the number of Victories is a rough measure of how much a particular action affects the world.
Significance is a measure of how important a confrontation or a memory that it generates is to a particular character.
When two or more characters come into conflict, a Confrontation can be used to decide which character gets his way. Both state their goal in the Confrontation, and then find the number of Victories needed to realize that goal (This calculation isn't important for our purposes). Next, decide what Method the characters are employing to contend with one another; generally the player who initiates the Confrontation will choose what Method applies. When it's unclear "who started it", the referee should decide. A Confrontation begins with Significance 1.
Then, the Confrontation begins in earnest. It happens over a series of Exchanges, which are as follows:
Keep performing Exchanges until one of the characters accumulates enough Victories to obtain his goal. Then the Confrontation ends.
A goal, once accomplished, is recorded on one or another's character sheet as an Image with the Significance of the Confrontation that brought it about. These events also affect the game world!
As characters take actions that affect the world, they accumulate a varying amount of Karma, in the form of dice. At the end of a Confrontation, roll each character's Karma dice. The players work together to decide an event of the appropriate magnitude, which happens to the character. This works the same way as caculating the Victories cost of a goal, but instead of coming up with a goal and figuring the cost, you have a number of Victories and are trying to fit an effect of appropriate magnitude to it. This event is some backlash from the character's actions. In a Karma scene, narrate the event taking place. This may happen in the present of the game, the past, or even the future! It doesn't really matter; what matters is that this event, like any other, will be recorded on some Passion's chronicle somewhere as an Image.
There are several different actions that a character could take in an exchange:
So, up until this point, it hasn't been clear how much a Victory is really worth. Here it is! Generally, 5 Victories is the unit of a significant accomplishment; this is intended to guarantee that a Confrontation lasts for more than one exchange, barring one opponent's being not only massively experienced, but also dramatically superior to the other. With 5 Victories, you can give yourself an Image of the same Significance as the Confrontation's end, or give one opponent an Image with negative Significance of the same magnitude. This Image, and its effect, should derive from some relatively straightforward use of the Method. For instance, "A fingertip falls onto the floor," an Image drawn from an application of Battle. By spending extra Victories, you can apply more complex and subtle effects!
Note that new Images can be added to preexisting Passions (more often than not, the Passions that drive a Confrontation), or they can be the seeds of new Passions. However, take care! A new Passion must be opposed by one that already exists, or one that is revealed through other effects of the same Confrontation.