Category: Agent



Attributes are a resemblance of the characters genetical ability.

Amount of attribute point is fixed and are distributed deliberately

Skills can’ be trained higher than the amount of the corresponding attribute levels accumulated.

Attributes determine the training costs of a skill:

  1. if the attribute is greater than 20 it reduces training cost by 2 xp per point
  2. if the attribute is lesser than 20 it increases training cost by 3 xp per point
AttributeEffect onAssociated skills
Agility: Reflexes & FlexibilityAttack
Defense (Evade & Dodge)
Charisma:   it determines how easy or difficult it is for the PC to hold together a party of differing alignments, and it determines who the PC can romance. I would cast “Friends” to up the charisma of the lead character and the party talked their way out of more combats. Charisma can also increase locally by doing heroic acts in the relevant town. It is not about beautiy but more about personality and negotiationAscension
Dexterity: Hand eye coordinationCritical StrikesCrafting
Weapon (esp. Bow)
Intelligence, Sagacity: Knowledge & MemorySpells (Amount, Tier)Bartering
Talking ( Dialogue options )
Intuition; Resistance to stress, Make the right decision, Guide others
Perception: Vision Range
Strength: Attack
Bash doors
Carrying capacity (10kg – 50kg, normal 20kg)
Vitality:Hit Points
Resistance to Poison / Disease
Vision Range
Armor (Cloth)

Attribute levels

0 – 10not possible
10 – 14poorcrippled, cursed
15 – 19below averagestarting value when creating a character
20 – 24average
25 – 29abletrained or talented
30 – 34outstandingtrained and talented
35 – 39mastertrained and talented, main focus of self improvement
40 – 44ascendedonly reachable if ascended

Raising an attribute

There are two ways to raise an attribute:

  1. Advancement in the characters class (+1 class specific attribute, e.g. warrior gets +1 strength)
  2. Spend attribute value * 100 xp (raising an attribute from 14 to 15 costs 14 * 100 xp = 1400 xp)


Traits: This note detailed the old Class and Traits system. Originally, genetic traits did not exist in the game and instead, traits were more like “talents”. A character could have major talents which give massive bonuses to mana, and minor talents which gave small bonuses to other areas.

Negative attributes: I think the most innovation in attribute scores is that it adds negative attributes (things like avarice or superstition) to the mix. Makes up for some pretty fun gameplay situations.


Random increases: Your characters also get stat increases on level-up, but they are completely random. Apparently this leads some power-gamers to save before a level-up and re-load their game if they don’t like the stat increases.

Randomness in Character creation: There is really no need to keep random values in character generation and development – all you do is forcing players to endlessly reroll the dice, reload the gamestates until finally the results are acceptable. Character management should by complex and interesting enough without such shenanigans.



There are a variety of skills that your character can train and learn. Each skill has a list of three associated attributes, which contribute to your maximum skill level. The higher the associated attributes are the lower the cost of learning the skill is.

Skill tiers

To level up a skill you have to apply the skill. Once you have reached enough experience through application you need a teacher who helps you to further advance in your skill. The first 6 levels of a skill level can be gained through practice or training, but to reach a new tier you need a trainer. The trainer must at least have the tier you want to learn. After reaching the Grandmaster tier you still may advance in your skill by practice forever, but gaining practice at that level is very hard.

E.g. you just have trained with a trainer and you advanced from Apprentice to Journeyman. You now have level 30 in your skill. You have to gain experience in the skill until you reach level 36. Then a trainer can teach you and you can advance to the Craftsman tier, gaining 4 levels in your skill.

Skill levelTier
under 10Untrained
10+Novice / Neophyte

Available skills

first aidmedical0dexterityintelligenceintelligence



Experienced gained from

  • Successful combat
  • Revealing secrets in conversations
  • Solving quests
  • Exploration

Possible extensions

Experience varies: E.g. the character who actually killed the enemy gets twice what everyone else gets. Or depends on outcome of action:

  • 2 experience points for every successful regular attack against a foe
  • 6 experience points for every critical hit against a foe
  • 1 experience point for every successful casting of a spell per points put into the spell, so for a 15-point “magic bolt,” I got 15 experience points. What’s also cool is this applies to defensive and healing spells, too.
  • 35 points for each kill

Dump experience in skills: The ability to dump experience directly into skills means that development is constant and palpable.

Decisions based on

You get experience only for things which challenge you. Killing an orc with a +15 sword and level 50 will give you nothing as a reward.

This is a good system ,though I personally prefer if games give you XP relative to the player’s and enemy’s level. Although that’s probably difficult to ballance well. Tactics Ogre has a great system, where you always need 100 XP to advance a level, but the amount you get varies strongly, depending on player and enemy level. One attack against a higher level enemy might give you 20 XP – a fifth of a level, but if you want to mindlessly grind against weaker enemies, you’ll only get one XP per hit, so you’d have to defeat 50 to 100 enemies to gain one level

Characters get experience for casting spells outside of combat, as well as for talking with NPCs. That’s a great system.

One thing I like about the game is the way experience points are earned, which is based on successful action rather than just a “kill.” I spent some time in a recent battle trying to figure out exactly what I was getting for each action. For all I know, the numbers vary considerably given the type of foe and other considerations, but for my battle with a couple of ogres, my characters seemed to get:

  • 2 experience points for every successful regular attack against a foe
  • 6 experience points for every critical hit against a foe
  • 1 experience point for every successful casting of a spell per points put into the spell, so for a 15-point “magic bolt,” I got 15 experience points. What’s also cool is this applies to defensive and healing spells, too.
  • 35 points for each kill

I do like the game’s approach to distributing gold and experience after battles. Where most games either give them to the character who struck the killing blow (Ultima IV) or distribute them evenly among party members (the default), Xyphus adopts a hybrid: the character who actually killed the enemy gets twice what everyone else gets.

You get a small amount of experience for disarming traps. I can’t remember a previous game that does this.

The ability to dump experience directly into skills means that development is constant and palpable.

Since you get experience from every battle and can spend it more-or-less immediately, character development is swift and constant

Firstly you receive half the experience for any hits you land on an opponent e.g. if you hit for 6 points of damage you would instantly gain 3 points of experience.

Directly buy power (spell and weapon skill) with XP

Secondly on winning an encounter you appear to get an experience bonus which is based on the opponent’s initial hit points multiplied by a factor – in many cases this is two but in the case of say a Ghost this could be as high as eight.

Success is heavily dependent on developing a couple dozen magic, combat, and adventuring skills, on which you directly spend experience.

I’m discovering that the game awards both individual experience (for successful actions like casting spells) and party experience. We’ve had games that have done one or the other before, but I’m not sure we’ve ever seen a game that does both.

As in Crown, accumulated experience points are spent directly on improvement of skills an attributes. Some of the weaknesses are here, too, including a sense of micromanagement that I admit might leave my final review echoing CGW’s if the game lasts too long

You gain experience when you kill monsters in the dungeon, but you have to rest at an inn to “absorb experience” and thus gain levels.

Possible conditions for all agents

Possible conditions for all agents

  When does effect occur Effect
dead   Depends on disease
experienced The agent has enough experience to advance a level Can level up Dotted, yellow border around agent name in party window
fatigued Stamina < 20%, no sleep for 2 days -20% penalty to every action, – 2 AP
poisoned – Poison has to build, only when a certain threshold is reached it has consequences – Poison causes attribute drains or continual health loss, which is bad enough – Not: a poisoned character “dies” instantly – You have to drag him back to a temple for healing – Counter Measure: Resistance, Herbs, Do not move, Spell “slow poison” – Countner is reduced by one every hour –       If poison counter < 50: Effect is none when agent is sitting still, movements makes the poison wander around the body and cause damage to health
unconscious Stamina < 10% Health <= 0 && Health > -10 If a character’s hit points go to 0, he doesn’t die immediately. Instead, he gets knocked unconscious. If at that point he takes any more damage, he dies, but melee opponents don’t target unconscious characters. Thus, the only real danger is 1) if all the members of your party are knocked unconscious; or 2) if your foes have a “party effect” attack like fire breath or acid spray, which will turn unconscious characters into dead characters. If the character’s hit points reach 0, he falls unconscious. Less than 0, he becomes seriously wounded. Unconscious characters regenerate hit points as time passes and wake up, but seriously wounded characters get worse as time passes, progressing to critically wounded, mortally wounded, comatose, and finally dead. The “medic” skill can reverse the process, but I only gave my characters level 1 in the skill, and apparently you need a higher level to turn someone from “critical” (which Jackie was) to just “unconscious.” Looks like I need to invest more in medical skills. The agent can’t act anymore. She loses one point per round until she reaches -5, at which point he dies. She can die immediately if the damage is serious or an assasination attempt.

Not implemented yet

  When does effect occur Effect Visual
Action Points   Add or remove x AP  
Armor Set mismatch Armor is mismatched, which indicates that the wearer is scoundrel  suffers different penalties in NPC interactions  
Attribute Modifier < Agility, Charisma, Intelligence, Strength, Vitality > Debuffs    
Bleeding <Normal, Serious> Bleeding is substracted from lifepoints each time it is that character’s turn. Normal bleeding is 1 point per point, serious bleeding is 2 lifepoints per point. Stopping the bleeding requires taking a round to bandage the fallen comrade Stop bleeding needs the first aid skill    
Crippled If you get hit in your arm, your accuracy goes down. Hit in the leg, you slow down. Hit in the head, vision gets blurred. Hit in chest/torso slower to recover. Broken amrs or legs, needs first aid skill to be cured    
Critical Health < 75% Can’t do anything else than walk  
Disabled paralyzed    
Diseased   Depends on disease  
Drunk   -30% penalty to every action  
Exhausted Stamina < 20%, no sleep for 2 days -20% penalty to every action, – 2 AP  
Fear <level> Action Points are reduced. You fight enemies, but they’re ghosts and slimes and such, and instead of damaging your hit points, their attacks raise your fear score. APs are reduced by 2 for each fear level  
Freeze Freeze in terror when against a mythical monster, but only in melee.     
In love      
Injured Crippled    
Invincible vs. Physical attacks Nifts protect you against three physical attacks, and the simplest method of winning combat is to always have these in your system. They don’t “stack,” unfortunately, so if a single character gets hit more than three times in one round, you inevitably take damage. When my health is low, eating a Nift vies only for casting a “Shield” spell (depending on the enemy I’m facing) for priority.    
Knocked down   Must stand up, takes 1 AP  
Level Drain      
Morale <Very Bad, Bad, Normal Good, Very Good>  The longer the combat takes, the more your characters’ “morale” score dips, making them less effective at all of their skills.  A 10% penaltiy to every action  
Movement   Add x tiles to agents movement  
Paralyzed   Can’t act anymore until cured  
Radiation Whether through storms, walking through radiated areas, or fighting radiated monsters, it’s fun to see the various negative (stupidity, blindness, instant death at the next irradiation, attribute drains) and positive (laser eyes, attribute increases, double speed, radiation immunity) effects that radiation confers in the game. In addition to hit points, you have “radiation points” that you want to keep above 0, else you suffer disease and mutation–although some mutations, apparently, can be helpful.    
Silence Silence is great versus enemy mages and clerics (especially clerics, since they are effective with Hold Person). One trick I learned is to hit one of my own warriors with Silence and have them go stand next to the spell-casters (since the spell has a 15′ radius). Works great most of the time. Can’t cast any spells and talk  
Sleeping Effect of a spell, or deliberate state Doesn’t act until she awaks  
Stoned Effect of a spell Can’t act anymore and needs special curing  
Stumbling Happens from a particularly tough blow, or if the agent gets pushed Looses 1 AP, thus reducing intitiative  
Stunned Happens from a particularly tough blow Looses 2 APs, thus reducing intitiative  
Tired Stamina < 40%, no sleep for 1 day A malus of 10% to every action, -1 AP  
Unfitting Armor <Cloth, Leather, Chain, Scale, Plate > If the agent wears armor which wasn’t tailored for him.  The Debuff is different for each Armor Type. It raises stamina costs for each action  
Weak Health < 75% Spriting is not possible, all actions have an added stamina cost of 20%  


If your characters are carrying too much they get encumbered. There are two types of encumbrance:

  1. Personal: If the characters is carrying too much
  2. Party: If the party carries too much

The effect of both is the same a character which is encumbered has to pay a higher cost for each of her action. The party encumbrance system is only relevant on the world map, because in a settlement map it is assumed that the party stores the stuff somewhere and is not carrying around the whole time. During combat the characters will drop all the stuff that burdens them. The drawback is that during combat only items carried on person can be used.

Calculation of weight and encumbrance

  • Weight is measured in stones.
  • One stone is approximately 0,5 kg or 1 pound.
  • One strength point gives a carrying capacity of 0,5 Stones.
  • Every human has a base carrying capacity of 10 stones.
  • A agent has the condition “encumbered” when she carries more than her carrying capacity is.
  • A agent has the condition “party_encumbered” when the party is carrying more then the sum of the party members carrying capacity is.

Effects of encumbrance

Personal encumbrance

100% + x% Added Stamina Cost of x%
For every additional 15% above 100% Looses one AP

Party encumbrance

Encumbrance from partyEffect
Additional food consumptionDouble normal food consumption for every 10% of encumbrance
Drop on morale

Balancing weight values

Lvl 40 Soldier (about 50 Strength, 75 stones) should be able to wear full Plate Armor (56s) with Longsword (4s) + Shield  (8s) =  68s

Every Person can carry at least something.

Ideas to consider

Encumbrance matters: The more weight my characters carry, the slower I move through the dungeon. This became a problem in one section of Level 3 in which I had to press a button that opened a secret door, then race down the corridor before the door closed. It was several frustrated attempts before I realized I needed to abandon some of my stuff so I could run faster. ( Although TWE isn’t a real-time game this approach could also be used in a turn based game. )

Mules and bandits: Once they start paying for mules and such,you can add bandits that snatch them while they are in dungeons, thus they would need to hire npc guards as well. And food and water and equipment for them as well. So,they’ll either spend tons of money on those,or just loot the small valuables.

Different ideas.

Decisions based on

Carry limits in games are NOT fun, particularly in hoard driven games, they only really make sense as a game feature in survival games, limits on other kinds of games only annoy the player and force them to make even less logical action, like expending hours loading and unloading crap every time they finish a dungeon or making stockpiles in strategic points (usually ridiculous ones like the front of the elevators like in system shock 2 or the middle of the street, or a barrel somewhere) to reduce commute time or forcing players to not use cool things (like potions) because you can only carry one and “you might needed later”, or forcing players to choose weapons for their kills/ammo-limit ratio rather than because they are fun to use since they can only carry 1 or 2, games need to deliver fun, not realism, we have real life for that and we are playing games to get away from it.

This, by the way, is always one of the most immersion-breaking details in RPGs for me. I’m an occasional archer, and I know for a fact that 50 arrows is a large, awkward, heavy bundle. 1000 arrows – pocket change in most RPGs – would fill a U-Haul. A spare set of plate mail is NOT an easy burden, much the less 10 of them.

Other sources

Backpack Weight and the Scaling of the Human Frame:

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Cape Town, South Africa