The Markdown Mechanic

I never tend to get uncomfortable in roleplaying games and part of that is usually because I tend to challenge my comfort zone time and time again. So, when I was introduced to the X Card safety mechanic, while I wanted really badly to test it out (as I do with any new game mechanic), I couldn’t find a good moment to properly use it until the very end of the session, where I used it on myself because I got a little too intense with my character. Long story short, I was playing Dread with some friends for a Halloween event and my character went through a harrowing experience.

However, there are times where my comfort zone will be challenged and I feel odd for going past it. Case in point, I played a session of Night Witches that ended up becoming so uncomfortable that I deleted the scene. During that session, I used the Mark mechanic, which is used as a consequence of certain moves or actions, as a cudgel against me making jokes about Downfall (a movie detailing the, well, downfall of Adolf Hitler, which ended up having tons of gag subtitles) and Soviet Russia being Big Brother.

As I’m going to be tackling FATAL, a rather infamous game for its uncomfortable everything and a module for Lamentations of the Flame Princess which is said to be 18+, I decided to try and recreate that, but as a central mechanic. Namely, the intent is to be used as a cudgel against me going for either uncomfortable moments or discourage me from doing things I’d normally do.

The tentative name for it is the Markdown Mechanic, and while I would base it off Night Witches’s own mechanic of Marking, it’s a unique beast that only works with Night Witches. I need something that I can use across all RPGs.

The idea? A table of 20 items that you must roll on once you do something that triggers it. For instance, let’s say I’m playing a game that is kid-friendly and encourages players to resolve conflicts without violence. I don’t want myself to resort to violence in tune to the game, so I want something for me to use when I do decide to go with violence.

You may ask why I don’t just don’t do it… And, well, it’s mostly because I end up getting too into the game and suddenly I have members of the Soviet Union dragging two soldiers who were harassing one of the characters and unpersoning them. Ergo this punishment mechanic.

Also because I’m a glutton for random events and this gives me a chance to tinker with something that allows that to happen.

So, I’m gonna use the infamous Deck of Many Things as my go-to template for the list. Except the deck is a bunch of X-Cards with almost nasty effects written on the back. I should also mention that every time you roll a result, you cross it out and reroll when that number comes up again in the future, so as to discourage the same things from happening. The list gets refreshed when all the events are used. Also, the list applies mostly for traditional RPGs that use levels and die rolls, so tweaking may be required for games like Genesys or Cortex.

  1. Your character (or whoever it is whose actions caused you to roll on the table) becomes the opposite alignment.
  2. Your character (or whoever it is whose actions caused you to roll on the table) disappears and you must play the rest of the session without them.
  3. Your character (or whoever it is whose actions caused you to roll on the table) gets a -2 to die rolls for the rest of the session.
  4. The events that caused you to roll on the table are erased. Continue play without that event in mind.
  5. A character who is five levels higher than your character (or whoever it is whose actions caused you to roll on the table) appears as an antagonist.
  6. Your character (or whoever it is whose actions caused you to roll on the table) loses a level.
  7. Your character (or whoever it is whose actions caused you to roll on the table) gains 1,000 gold pieces (or whatever currency is in the game).
  8. Permanently reduce your character’s (or whoever it is whose actions caused you to roll on the table) Intelligence (or whatever similar stat) by 1d4 + 1.
  9. Your character (or whoever it is whose actions caused you to roll on the table) gains a level.
  10. Your character (or whoever it is whose actions caused you to roll on the table) gains a random rare (or rarer) magical weapon.
  11. Your character (or whoever it is whose actions caused you to roll on the table) gains a 4th level Fighter (or closest related class) who follows you around.
  12. Your character (or whoever it is whose actions caused you to roll on the table) gains the ability to cast spell that is randomly selected from the list of highly leveled spells 1d4-1 (minimum 1) times.
  13. An NPC becomes hostile towards your character (or whoever it is whose actions caused you to roll on the table).]
  14. Your character (or whoever it is whose actions caused you to roll on the table) loses every bit of wealth they have.
  15. One of your character’s (or whoever it is whose actions caused you to roll on the table) attributes (randomly decided) goes up by 2 points, regardless of the limit.
  16. Your character (or whoever it is whose actions caused you to roll on the table) loses every magical item they have.
  17. Your character (or whoever it is whose actions caused you to roll on the table) is suddenly transported to a monster filled dungeon.
  18. Your character (or whoever it is whose actions caused you to roll on the table) is able to ask one question and ultimately decide its answer.
  19. Your character (or whoever it is whose actions caused you to roll on the table) is marked for death and must die by the end of this session.
  20. Your character (or whoever it is whose actions caused you to roll on the table) must suffer tragedy.

So, breaking down the statistics, there are 7 events that are generally good, so 35% of the time, whoever it is that’s getting their fate determined is gonna get out of it with more than they got when they entered. However, once those seven are gone, then the odds of having something horrible come up. And then there’s the five percent chance of things just getting retconned like how the X card is usually used.

Of course, this is in its infancy and could use a test run soon. Other than that, hope this system is to your liking.

One thought on “The Markdown Mechanic

  1. Pingback: Star Crossed Lovers | Solo RPG Voyages

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