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Honorbound (WIP)

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Joined: 03/28/2018

I'm finally getting around to sharing Honorbound with you. I hope you enjoy it, or at least don't mind sharing some feedback for me. God knows I need plenty of it. I figure I'll share an overview of the game here now, and then over the next couple of days I'll post links to the full rules and content as I get them updated.


Long ago, humanity had expanded throughout the galaxy and taken its place among the many civilizations it encountered, establishing a golden age of human expansion. But it was not to last; war broke out, and we lost badly. Scattered, we were hunted down and exterminated.

However, a splinter group of humanity survived, hidden within a pocket universe of our creation. They established new worlds within the Pocket's system, cultivated a relationship with the indigenous intelligent species the Morovans, and brought about a new, more modest golden age. But again, this was not to last.

The powers that controlled the system grew greedy, as humans inevitably do. The engines of war were gaining speed, and conflict grew more and more unavoidable. Tensions rose to the breaking point. Yet, just as violence began to erupt, the system fell quiet. In every corner of every planet, technology shut down.

Most blamed Nova, the station the Forefathers had put in place to maintain the Pocket. Regardless of the source, the event thereafter referred to as the Collapse was permanent. The lights never came back on.

Honorbound takes place a thousand years after the Collapse. Worlds have rebuilt themselves with their own technology and cultures. Contact has been reestablished between the planets, and the balance of power is delicate. Peace still reigns, but much of this is because the various cultures fear another Collapse. Most still believe it was the mass violence that triggered it. And so, when diplomacy alone proves insufficient to settle disagreements between governments, they turn to the Arena of Honor. Governments' champions fight for the people, for glory, and for the dominance of their flag. In this world, there is no greater honor.

The premise of the game is basically that within this pocket universe, the laws of physics are a bit twisted and more fluid, allowing those with enough training and expertise to interact with the world and manipulate it in amazing ways. The combatants in this arena make good use of this.

There are 9 Disciplines the combatants commit themselves to studying: Fire, Water, Earth, Air, Gravity, Body, Mind, Soul, and Tech. Each character has a level of Mastery in one or more of these Disciplines, granting you access to Ability cards of matching Mastery values when building your deck. In addition to these Masteries, each character has its own unique set of attacks, abilities, and stats. When building your team you must keep all of these aspects in mind and be sure to pick characters whose skillsets and available ability cards complement each other.

The Masteries characters have not only dictate the cards you can include in your deck, but which cards the character is able to play on its turn. For example, if Wall of Fire requires Fire Mastery 4, then a character with only a Fire Mastery of 2 could not us the ability card, while another character on the same team with Fire Mastery 5 could.

Your team always consists of 3 characters. The cost on the characters you choose determines how many Victory Points you must accumulate to win the match. Points are earned by scoring Knock Outs or completing Objectives revealed within the game.

There are no dice in Honorbound. Rather, every card in your 30 card deck has a Fate number. Whenever you make or defend against an attack, attempt a save or skill check, or other such events occur, you flip the top card of your deck and use the Fate number in conjunction with the appropriate stat to determine the result. As a general rule, the more powerful the card, the worse the Fate value and vice versa. So you must be careful to balance the power of your abilities versus your chance to succeed with them.

Characters are never defeated permanently. When a character is Knocked Out, they are removed from the board. However, if they have not been activated yet that round, they may spend their entire turn to recuperate and reenter the battle (respawn). If they have already activated, then they must spend their entire turn the next round to reenter the field of play.

Honorbound is meant primarily as a 2 player game, but can be played multiple other ways. This includes a Battle Royale format for up to 6 players, and a Gauntlet mode that pits up to 6 players cooperatively against 1 player taking on the role of the Gauntlet Master and the hordes of enemies the other players must wade through.

A Summary of some of the core rules:

BUILDING A TEAM – When building your team for the Arena, you must always choose 3 characters. This may be any 3 characters, regardless of Cost, Allegiance, or Masteries. However, you may only have one Champion on your team, and you may not have more than one copy of a unique character. Champions and Unique characters are denoted by a symbol on their card.

BUILDING YOUR DECK – Once you have selected your team you can begin to build your deck. The characters you choose will have a variety of Masteries printed on their cards. When building your deck, you may only choose cards for which you have at least one character with sufficient Mastery in that card’s Discipline. For example, if the Masteries present on your team include Fire 5, Air 3, Body 6, Air 4, and Body 2, you would only be able to include cards from the Fire, Air, and Body Disciplines, and of those your Fire cards would be limited to level 5 and below, Air to 4 and below, and your Body cards to 6 and below. You are also limited to 3 copies of any given card, unless it has the keyword Limited in its text, in which case you may only have 1 copy.
At the start of the game, deal yourself 6 cards. Once, you may return any number of these cards to your deck, shuffle and draw an equal number of cards to replace them.

GAME BOARD – Before you play, you must set up the Arena. (2 Player Setup) Each player brings 9 tiles of their choice. Place the Center Tile in the middle of the table, then players take turns placing tiles from the center out, ensuring that the arena remains symmetrical, until all tiles have been placed. Randomly determine which player places a tile first.

STARTING INITIATIVE & THE ACTIVATION STACK – Once you have prepared the arena and both teams are set to start, you must determine Initiative. Begin at Initiative 1 and refer to each character’s Initiative stat. Place an Activation Marker on the Stack for each character with Initiative 1. Then proceed to Initiative 2 and repeat this process with each Initiative level until all characters’ Activation Markers have been placed. If there two opposing characters have the same Initiative value, the player with the higher cumulative Team Initiative (the sum of all 3 of their characters’ Initiative values) decides who places their Marker on the Stack first. The player making the decision is considered to “have initiative”. Once they have made this decision, the Stack must be formed the same way for the rest of the game unless/until characters’ Initiative have in some way changed enough for initiative to shift to the other player.
If both players have the same Team Initiative, players draw for Fate. The player with the higher Fate value has initiative. If the Fate draw is tied, continue drawing until it is no longer tied.

Anatomy of a Round

1. Upkeep Phase

a. Beginning Step – Any game effects that state they happen at the beginning of a Round happen now. The player with Initiative goes first when resolving any conflicting effects that happen during this Step.

b. Damage Assessment Step – This is when any relevant damage to characters from Bleed Tokens or other game effects happens.

c. Healing Assessment Step – During this step each player may remove 1 Token from any 1 character they control, and perform any relevant healing from game effects.

d. Build the Activation Stack Step – During this step players rebuild the Activation Stack as previously explained in game setup. However, you do not redetermine Initiative unless characters’ Initiative values have changed. Add Knocked Out characters’ Activation Markers to the Stack as normal.

e. Duration and Draw Step – If there is no Objective in play, reveal a new one (do not do this until round 4). Any markers or game effects which have a Duration value are counted down one step. Then each player draws two cards.

2. Activation Phase – During this Phase players Activate their characters one at a time according to the Activation Stack, until all characters on the board have been activated or the Stack is empty.

3. End Phase

a. Assess Objective Step – During this step, players refer to the current Objective card and the current state of the board, then adjust Victory Points and/or other aspects of the game as directed by the Objective Card. Then, if the Objective has been completed, discard it.

b. Check for Victory Step – Each player checks to see if they have achieved sufficient points to claim Victory. If they have, end the game.

c. End Step – Any game effects which state that they occur at the end of the Round happen now.

Activating Characters

When Activating characters, always resolve the top Activation Marker on the Stack first. You must finish resolving all of its actions before moving on to the next one. Take the Activation Marker and place it under a character to activate it. Regardless of which character’s Initiative placed the Marker on the Stack, it can be given to ANY allied character. Once activated, a character may resolve one Move Action, one Major Action, one Minor Action, and any number of Free Actions. Alternatively, the character may forfeit its Major Action to perform a second Minor Action, or forfeit its entire turn to Reenter the Fray after having been Knocked Out. Actions may be used in any order you like.

MOVE ACTIONS – When moving, a character may move up to its Speed value in hexes. When moving INTO terrain of a higher elevation, or moving out of water terrain, you must spend one additional movement point to do so or you cannot complete the move. You may not save movement points to complete after having used another Action. For example, if Airwalker has a Speed of 4 it cannot move 2 spaces, use a Minor Action, and then move another 2 spaces. Any unused movement points are forfeited.

FREE ACTIONS & REACT ACTIONS – On a character’s turn, you may use any number of Free Actions, but may not use more than one of the same name. No matter how many you use, they do not cost you any of your Move, Minor, or Major Actions, nor are they affected by Stun Tokens. React Actions are Free Actions that you may only use on other characters’ turns. However, each character is limited to one React Action per turn.

MAJOR AND MINOR ACTIONS – Many Ability Cards, Native Abilities, and Native Attacks require a character to spend either (or both) a Major Action or a Minor Action to resolve them. All Major Attacks require you to spend your Major Action to resolve them, and all Minor Attacks require you to spend your Minor Action to resolve them. Just as with abilities, you may forfeit your Major Action to perform a second Minor Attack.

REENTER THE FRAY – Whenever a character has been Knocked Out, it will at some point return to battle. If a character has not been Activated yet in the round, it may Reenter the Fray. To do this, the character must be given an Activation Marker from the Stack. It forfeits all actions on its turn, including Free Actions. It may, however, use React Actions once it is back in play.


When carrying out an Attack, you must first declare a target. Then, check for Line of Sight and Range. If it is a Melee Attack (Insert Melee Attack Symbol) the target must be adjacent to the attacker. Otherwise, count the number of hexes from the attacker to the target. If this number is equal to or less than the Range of the Attack, then the target is in range. To determine Line of Sight, count the number of shortest paths between the two characters. If no hexes directly between the two characters are blocked, and the number of unblocked shortest paths is equal to or greater than the blocked shortest paths, then the target is in line of sight. If the character is in both Line of Sight and Range, you may carry out the Attack.

To determine whether the attack hits, the Attacker reveals the top card of their deck and adds its Fate value to their relevant Attack Value (melee or ranged), the Defender reveals the top card of their deck as well and adds its Fate value to their relevant Defense Value (melee or ranged). If the Attacker’s total is equal to or higher than the target’s total, the attack is successful. Then both players place all cards revealed for Fate on the bottom of their decks.

When an attack is made against multiple targets simultaneously, each player still only reveals one card for Fate. The Attacker adds their total as normal, and the Defenders each add their Defense Values to the revealed Fate independently.

If the attack is successful, the defender immediately suffers any damage specified by the attack and any additional effects triggered by the attack resolve. When distributing damage, any melee damage is reduced by the Armor value of the defender, and all other damage is reduced by the Shield value of the defender. Any unblockable damage dealt ignores both of these values.

That's it for now. Let me know what you think.

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