Setting Rules


The rules work similarly to the dueling rules above, however up to five or six player’s may participate at a time.

First begin by having all parties involved agree to the amount that the stakes will be set to for the upcoming round.

1. Deal them in: All participants make a Gambling roll (modified by those who decide to cheat). Each player is dealt one card for each success and raise on the Gambling roll. Player’s may fold if they wish (they lose the stake).
2. Community Cards: Deal a maximum of five cards out on the table. Compare poker hands to divvy out rewards.
3. Rewards: The winning hand gets an amount of gold equal to the stake, multiplied by the point value for that hand, (e.g., Flush = 7, a Full House = 8, and so on). Everyone with a losing hand pays an amount of gold equal to the stake times the Power Point value for that hand.

Gentlemanly Duels

To help defend your honor, you may choose to participate in a duel of pistols to settle any differences you may have with someone. The rules of engagement in Arcanum are as follows; take up arms (point of no return), shake hands, take 5 paces away from one another, turn to face your opponent, any final remarks are exchanged, lastly the combatants fire upon one another.

Dueling Phases

1. Face Off: Each duelist is dealt two cards face down (keep them to yourself). This phase is considered a special Test of Wills, each duelist makes a single Intimidation or Taunt against each other, however no bonuses or Shaken effects occur. If there is a tie, both duelists are dealt a face down card until there is a loser. The loser suffers a -2 penalty on his Shooting roll in step 4.
2. Luck of the Draw: A row of three cards are dealt face up in front of the duelists followed by two more cards face up (do this with a pause in between). During any of this process a duelist may shout “Shoot!” to progress to the next phase. If nothing is called by the time the last card is dealt the next phase begins.
3. Reach for It: Starting with whoever lost the Face Off phase, has to decide whether to go for speed or accuracy. Drawing and shooting your weapon in a single action incurs a -2 penalty to the Shooting roll in the next phase. At this point, both duelists reveal their cards and the winner is the one with the better hand.
4. Shots Fired: Duelists who chose speed fire a single shot now. If both duelists opt for speed the shots are simultaneous. A shooting roll is used normally with a -2 for drawing and shooting at once. Thus, the loser of the Face Off is at a -4 if he opts for speed (Quick Draw Edge works normally here). If a hit occurs then weapon damage is rolled normally, however, an extra d6 of damage is awarded for each rank his cards are higher than his opponents. Lastly, any duelists who opted for accuracy over speed get to fire next. This is handled exactly the same is described above.

A duel ends upon death, or more commonly once a bullet has hit its mark. More than two shots fired at your opponent is considered dishonorable, if you choose that course of action.

Multiple Languages

Your hero knows their racial language, Common, and an additional number of languages equal to half their Smarts die. For example, if your elf has a d8 Smarts die they would know Common, Elvish, and up to four other languages of your choice. A list of available languages can be found at the bottom of this page.

No Power Points (PP)

Instead of using PP’s, characters with Arcane Backgrounds simply choose the power they want to activate and make the associated arcane roll. However, the penalty to the roll is half the power’s usual PP cost (rounded down). For example, casting the armor power, which costs 2 PP, is an arcane skill roll at -1.
Once cast, check the results below:

  • Success: The power activates without incident.
  • Raise: A raise on the roll grants any additional bonuses to the power stated in its description. Armor, for example, grants a +4 bonus to Toughness on a raise.
  • Failure: All currently maintained powers are cancelled and the caster is Shaken.
  • Backlash: Channeling magic, spiritual, or tinkering with unstable technology all come with certain risks.
    If a caster rolls a 1 on the arcane skill die when using one of his powers it automatically fails and the caster suffers 2d6 damage.
  • Specific Backlash Rules
    • Alchemy: If a 1 is rolled on the skill die, regardless of wild die, the player must roll on the Alchemic Backlash Table.
    • Magic: Use backlash rules above.
    • Miracles: As above, but the damage received is reduced by half the priest’s Faith skill. (e.g., If the character had a Faith of d10, he would reduce the damage by 5).
    • Technomancy: As above and the “device” is destroyed and must be rebuilt. This typically takes 1d3+1 hours, minus one hour for every success and raise on the Repair skill.
  • Maintaining Powers: Characters can maintain powers as long as desired, but each power maintained inflicts a -1 to cast any new powers. Thus an invisible mag can keep the power going indefinitely, but suffers a -1 penalty if he then attempts to hurl a bolt power.
  • Interrupting Powers: If a character with an activated power is Shaken or suffers a wound or Fatigue level, he must make a Smarts roll to maintain all his powers. If the roll is failed, all powers are instantly dropped. A wizard with armor who suffers a Shaken result, for example, must make a Smarts roll. If the wizard suffers two wounds from an attack, he must make a Smarts roll at –2. Powers shut down automatically if the caster sleeps or is rendered unconscious.
  • Power Preparation: A caster may prepare a spell by concentrating for a round (no movement or other actions and avoid interruption, as described above). If successful, he ignores 2 points of penalties on all powers cast with his next action. If he does not enact any powers on his next action, the preparation is lost.

Polar Opposites

As an abstraction to help emulate the clashing nature between magic and technology in Arcanum, players will receive penalties depending on a few variables in play:

  • How the Two Sides are Categorized: Technology (Technomancy/Alchemy) and Magic.
    • Special: AB (Miracles) are not affected by the Technology vs Magic system.
  • What is affected: Trait rolls, including the utilization and maintenance of powers. The full list of affected skills can be found here.
  • Technology vs. Magic system: Each Arcane Background or new Power learned causes the character to suffer a -1 penalty toward trait rolls that are influenced by the opposing nature. For example, picking up Arcane Background (Magic) would give the player a -1 penalty toward trait rolls that influence anything technological, such as attempting to operate a steam engine.
  • What is considered technological; guns, explosives, powers granted via the AB (Technomancer) or (Alchemy), or anything that follows the laws of nature.
  • What is considered magical; any enchanted equipment, powers granted via the AB (Magic), or anything of a supernatural nature.
  • Mundane Items: Unless specifically tied to an affected Magical or Technological skill, are not influenced by penalties.
  • Wielding Opposing Equipment: Equipment do not grant penalties to Technology or Magic. However, players with one of the affected Arcane Backgrounds or those who choose to mix magical and non-magical equipment have to be careful. Should one of these players roll a 1 on their skill die they will suffer a level of fatigue. How fatigue works is detailed below:
    • Fatigued: The hero is tiring quickly. All of his trait checks suffer a -1 modifier. If he suffers Fatigue again, he becomes Exhausted.
    • Exhausted: The hero is fading fast. He suffers -2 to all Trait rolls. If he suffers Fatigue again, he becomes Shaken (this cannot cause a wound).
      • Recovery: For every round the hero does not use the weapon in question, they recover a level of Fatigue.
  • Penalty Cap: Penalties are capped at -6. It is possible to have a -6 penalty to both Technology and Magic simultaneously.

Setting Rules

Savage Worlds: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura Grumpy_Jim