Agon RPG example

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    What would the world be without the agonthe agonistics of one man against anothertoshow everyone the order of precedence among men, just as no two other things on earth arealike? How could any of us alive know quality if competition and personal combat did not

    let all the world know who embodies excellence and who merely manages mediocrity?Odysseus, OLYMPOS

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    Agon

    by John Harper

    Edited by Philip LaRoseAdditional edits and battle example by Wilhelm Fitzpatrick

    Illustrations by Tomas Hope fromCostume of the Ancients, 1812

    Cover photograph by Matthias Kabel, used under the CreativeCommons Attribution-ShareAlike license, version 2.5.

    Playtesters: Brandon Amancio, Scott Dierdorf, ony Dowler,Wilhelm Fitzpatrick, Philip LaRose, Ed Ouellette, Cara yler.

    First Edition. August 2006.Printed by Lulu (www.lulu.com).

    Copyright 2006 John HarperAll rights reserved

    www.agon-rpg.com

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    table of contents

    Part One: Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7

    Part Two: Hero Creation. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19

    Part Three: Contests . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32

    Part Four: Battle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43

    Part Five: Abilities, Advancement, Fate, Oaths, Divine Favor & Interludes . . . . 63

    Part Six: Running the Game . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75

    designers notes, inspirations, & thanks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100

    RECORD sheets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 102

    greek names . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 108

    index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 114

    reference tables . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 116

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    introduction

    part one

    Remember, we hold the future of our children, our dearcountry, and our aged parents in our hands. Hellas depends

    on us. We can plunge her in grief; we can bring her glory.

    ARGONAUICA

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    8

    Its nearly dusk and the heroes are as-sembled outside the cave of the gor-

    gon. Te place is littered with pieces of

    stonefar too many shaped like armsor legs or heads. Teres blood in the air,and flies buzz all around the dark portalof the cave mouth. Artemis has decreed that this gor-

    gon should die. No one spoke against thegoddess when she appeared in her g loryand handed down her commandsthough Aleta did make a face that wouldhave gotten her skewered by a four-footlong arrow if the immortal huntress hadnoticed it. Te fires of a village are burning inthe distance, along the coast. Te villag-ers probably know a thing or two aboutthis monster, but who wants to go all theway there and back, and then face thething in the dark? Te goddess will notbe happy with delays.

    Te heroes look each other over,wondering if any of them will meet their

    fate before the sun rises again. Greavesare tightened. Shields are lifted. Swordscome free of scabbards. Teres no deny-ing fate. Te bloody work begins. . .

    The Olympian gods are at war among themselves. Tis war is played out uponthe stage of Earth, with mortals, beasts, and monsters as the foot-soldiers.Te war began long ago, and even the gods cant quite remember why it be-

    gan or what purpose it serves. It is the great divine game, and they are all playing towinwhatever that may mean at the moment. In the game of A, a band of heroes (controlled by the players) has becomeentangled in this divine war. Tey go on quests for the gods and attempt to win gloryand fame. Te heroes are also lost in a strange land far from home, and are trying towin enough favor from the gods to be shown the way back to their loved ones. TeGame Mastercalled the Antagonistrepresents the enemies and obstacles thatstand in the way of the heroes.

    Battle & Glory

    A, as the name suggests, is a game of battle and competition. Te players createhero characters who compete with each other to prove who is greatest. Te An-tagonist creates adversity to throw at the heroes to give them a chance to strive andprove their mettle. Tis is not a game of players vs. Antagonist, though it may seemthat way at first glance. Instead, the players compete against each other, with theAntagonist as equal opposition to allthe level playing field upon which the heroescompete.

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    9

    Basic Game Philosophy

    Te core idea behind the A game system is that anything of value in the gamemust be won in a contest: goals are set, dice are rolled, and the final outcome isdecided. Trough this series of goals and contests, the heroes gain glory and add totheir legends. Te winner of a contest is alwaysrewarded. Tere is no prize for second place.In A, winning contests and gaining glory is the whole point of play.

    W P D

    Te players try to gain as much glory for their heroes as possible before the heroesmeet their fates and retire from play. Glory is gained through victory in battle andby winning contests. Players also need to work together to complete quests given to

    the heroes by the gods. By finishing quests, players earn some glory for their heroesandif they complete enough questsearn the right to create a more powerfulhero after the current one retires. Players are competing against each other for glory. Te hero who earns the mostglory will have the greatest legend told about him or her, which is how you win thegame. See Advancement, page 66.

    W A D

    Te Antagonist creates the battles and contests that the heroes will face. o do this,the Antagonist creates a world filled with conflict and strife for the heroes to ex-

    plore and engage. Te Antagonist creates beasts, monsters, and men to challenge theheroes and thwart their goals. By establishing tough opposition to the goals of theheroes, the Antagonist provides the adversity needed for the heroes to demonstratetheir prowess and earn glory for themselves.

    You sweat and bleed for the vain andjealous gods. Tey command, and youobey. Teir petty wars in heaven will be

    played out on the battlefield of the Earth,with mortal men as pawns in the divine

    games. But the mercurial passions of the

    gods are not your concern. Your strongarm and your blade will serve willinglywhen they call. What you crave aboveall else is glory. Te glory of greatness inbattle, in word, in spiritin all things.It is through greatness that you will beremembered and your name will findimmortality in poem and song, downthrough all the ages of men. Who is the greatest hero of the age?Enter the agon, and prove the eternal

    glory of your name.

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    10

    Playing the Game

    Q

    Te gods issue divine commands to the heroes, who arethe gods servants in the war of the immortals. Tese com-mands are the quests that the heroes will strive for. TeAntagonist will create these quests, three at a time, andtell the players what they are before play begins. Whenthe three quests are completed, the gods will issue threemore, and so on.

    Slay the Golden Boar of Ion and take its tusks.

    Search the Ruins of Nomos for the Stone of Songs.

    Rescue the chosen of Athena from the Under-world.

    OBefore the heroes can finish a quest, they must achieve aseries of objectives. For example, if the heroes have thequest Slay the Golden Boar of Ion and take its tusks,then the objectives might be:

    Find out where the Golden Boar makes its lair.

    Go to the lair of the Golden Boar.

    Slay the Golden Boar and take its tusks.

    Usually, the players will deal with one immediate objectiveat a time, but its possible to accomplish several objectivesat once through bold and clever play. Unlike quests, objec-

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    11

    tives are not spoken by the gods. Only by exploring the world and interacting withthe people and the environment can the heroes learn what their objectives are. Every objective represents one or more contests that the heroes must face. A

    contest is a challenge of excellencean agonthat pits the heroes against men,beasts, monsters, or nature itself. Te Antagonist creates the contests, based on thenature of the objective and the methods employed by the heroes to achieve theirgoals.

    STe Antagonist creates contests and opponents by spending Strife tokens. Temore difficult the contest, or the tougher an enemy, the more Strife it costs to make.In turn, when the heroes defeat an opponent or win a contest, they are rewardedbased on how much Strife was spent to create it. Te more it cost to make, the bigger

    the reward for the heroes.

    The Setting

    A takes place in an ancient Greece that never was. Like the mythic, ancient worldas described by Homer in the Iliadand Odyss