“Need to Know” Basics


This post gives a quick overview of what you “Need to Know” to play Unchained Heroes. There will be many acronyms to save time and space in the upcoming sections. They range from 2-4 letters long, are capitalized, and when they appear for the first time, they will be in parenthesis(); so when you see a word in all capital letters, you are looking at an abbreviation for a commonly used statistic. For example, Damage Threshold (DT) tells you the statistic is Damage Threshold and that it has an acronym of DT.

F20 Mechanics

First of all, Unchained Heroes uses familiar 20-sided dice mechanics. If you are familiar with the d20 system, you are probably familiar with how Unchained Heroes handles the resolution of actions. Success or failure is determined by a Skill Check, which is described as follows:

  • Roll a 20-sided Dice, add modifiers and then compare to a Difficulty Factor (DF)

The Difficulty Factor (DF) is a logical measurement of how difficult it would be for the “Average Joe” to perform the action. Most Actions normal actions should range from DF10 to DF20. If you meet or exceed the DF of the action, you are successful, otherwise you fail and there will be varying consequences. When you understand this, you are well on your way. The Core Mechanics page covers this in a bit more depth.

Skill-Based Systems

You need to know that all Actions should end up using a Skill Check to determine success or failure. You will need to understand that we use Battle Skills and Character Skills to help determine how good you are at a particular action. The higher the value, the better you will be. Battle Skills are: Attack, Defense, Power, and Willpower. Character Skills are: Arcanology, Athletics, Crafting, Education, Engineering, Influence, Medicine, Natural Lore, Perception, and Subterfuge. You should be able to find a Skill among those to use for just about any action you might perform in the game.

Types of Actions

Another “need to know” is that Actions are either considered “in combat” or “out of combat.” In Combat actions have Action Times, use the Combat Timeline, and abide by specific rules. Out of Combat actions have no such constraints, you perform them as they would logically unfold in a social setting. Most of the time Out of Combat actions will be considered to take Game Time. Game Time is a concept that matches real world time, but abides by story-based rules. A day of Game Time might only be 5 minutes of actual “real world” time while you are sitting at the gaming table.

In Combat actions are plotted on a Combat Timeline and have Action Times(AT), which is the number of 1 second Time Intervals (TI) it takes before you can activate an action, with some actions that could be considered slow (AT13) and some that could be considered fast (AT5). The Combat Timeline is a line plotted out with Time Intervals, that the GM records your actions upon, with each action’s Action Time adding to the next. There is a separate Combat Timeline for each Combatant or Group of Combatants on the Battlefield. These Combat Timeline is read from left to right with the Actions with the lowest number on the Combat Timeline occurring before higher numbers. Three actions set to perform at Time Interval 15, 19, and 25 would occur in the order of the TI15 action, then TI19, then TI25. When ties occur, we use familiar Initiative rules to break those ties. The Combat Timeline in Action and No More Turns pages handles the details as well.

Energy Resources

The next thing you need to know is that Actions will often require the use of Energy. The Energy Resource is used as a limit to the amount of spectacular things you can do in a day. You can’t expect to be able to pull off your signature move forever and without fail right? Your arm gets tired, or your legs need a rest, or your capacity to draw from the mana currents begins to wane at some point. Check out our topic on the Resource Model Conundrum here.

Abstract Environments

Next thing you need to know is how space and the environment is factored in Unchained Heroes. We use abstract concepts of a Battlefield and Battle Zones while you are “in combat” and the standard for “out of combat” spaces are based on U.S. Customary Units of feet, yards, pounds, tons, Fahrenheit, and so on. The Battlefield is where your combat occurs and consists of all the space defined by the Combat Encounter. Battle Zones are divisions of the Battlefield that create boundaries for effects, create logical groupings, and help define terrain and environment conditions. In Combat, you will move between Battle Zones and many effects will reference Battle Zones. Our Movement Shenanigans post covers the move action in more detail.

That Concludes the basics you need to know for Unchained Heroes. The more advanced rules will be coming up in a future post. If you are interested in more about Unchained Heroes check out these posts:


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