INTRO: Incarna (short for "Inifinite Incarnations") is a set of 100% free role-playing game system rules for multiple platforms and settings.
It is designed by gamers, for RPG gamers, and can adapt to any setting. Since 2002, www.incarna.net has been the source for Incarna roleplaying game (RPG) information! An online community for the Incarna game mechanics &
related information. Its built around character envisioning with dynamic action, and is primarily designed for strongly plot-driven scenarios. It can be adapted as needed to fit any sort of style or flavor and encourage people to hack, replace, and change whatever is needed to make their stories work.
The Incarna Project has been running since 2002, with many changes over time - from positioned as a market competitor and subscription based, to its current Creative Commons attribution and free model.
Some players have their characters and other materials hosted on the site.
The latest version is 5.x - Assume all materials are compatible with it unless noted. Quickstart - Start making a character right away!.
The rules are only a start. You can use your own imagination to provide enhanced powers, abilities, etc. There are many other expanded guides, supplements and add-ons that expand and enhanced elements to enrich your roleplaying experience. The Incarna rules are meant as a guideline. They support a system which can be implemented on many platforms, and is easier to use on some more than others. If rules slow down play, figure out what works better for you and your play group; Do not let strict mechanics get in the way of enjoying the play. We encourage you to look at the GM advice and Player advice (the links in text are fromatted for visual queues), and make your own "Home Brew" rules for your group! Incarna was originally built as a set of table top "House Rules" for a popular fantasy RPG of its time in 1998 (it's come a long way since!). While everyone is encouraged to take what they need and produce their own materials, there are a few key ideals that we try and make sure we stick to as part of the "Incarna Perspective"; Those we WANT TO AVOID are:
Online Content Help: Hover over or double-click on ANY term. There is probably a link to take you to more information! Also note many links highlights have hover text too! Post a suggestion to our Facebook fan page is you think something needs to be added!
What is role-playing? The best way to describe roleplaying is to imagine yourself as an actor in a play. Your purpose is to enact the part of another person, to play the role of a character. This character may be like you or not - a hero, villain or other more mundane role. The set can be an ancient fantasy land or the distant future on another planet. It is a chance to experience something you would not or could not normally. The possibilities are as endless as your imagination. A roleplaying game like Incarna offers a set of rules and guidelines that allow players to interact within this shared experience.
We believe gaming should be a social event. If all you want to use is your imagination, you can read any number of books. However, when people get together and share the gaming experience, it is often far more rich, memorable, and interesting than any single person's imagination. The gaming experience is going to be different for everyone. Expectations will vary as well as different reactions to situations that come up during the play. The nature of most people is to be competitive and to want to succeed at their endeavors. Most gaming scenarios reflect a principle of collaboration - in order for one to succeed, all must work to achieve a common goal. If a group works together, their ends are (most often) to everyone's advantage and the experience is positive. Ultimately, the purpose of the game is the same as any other - to have fun. While different players will have different expectations, we have found that players who challenge themselves - choosing to play within limitations, who see risk and character death seriously, will have the most fulfilling time. Knowing your character cannot die tends to promote power-gaming and cheapens the satisfaction of solving puzzles and surviving the scenarios the GM provides.
There must be a Game Master (GM) and one or more players. As the players decide their character's actions in response to the scenarios the GM places them in, the GM will determine how the milieu changes and other characters react to them. Each role uses the same set of rules to resolve outcomes. The unique instance of a specific GM controling a setting and the play scenarios within it is referred to as a campaign. The core rules are the only necessary elements for you to create characters and resolve actions as a GM and a player. The most important for the gaming experience though, is is your imagination and the ability to visualize your character in in-game situations. More than just checks and rules is the drama of a good tale, a drama is best developed with multiple players.
Character Record: In order to keep track of your character, and their progress, you will also need a method of recording all the information about your character. This allows you to track their history, changes and status as it changes through game play.
For tabletop games, we endorse Obsidian Portal for character storage. Its a great tool for GM's and Players alike.
Resolution Means: You will need some means of generating a result check. In tabletop games this is done through dice rolling , while console and computer games do this for you. Consider a tool like Dice Stream (easy Google+ plugin) for making witnessed checks together online. For a simple password based session, try Catch /Your Hare!
INTRO: Characters controlled by players are called "Player Characters" (PC's - also called 'toons' or 'avatars'); Game Masters control "Non-Player Character" (NPC's). Characters are the vehicles for interaction in these settings. Chacarters are created and developed using Character Points (CP). All characters have a set amount of CP at the time of creation (suggested average is 30, plus your starting CHA rating; a 4 CHA = +4 CP), after which development is done using CP awarded by the GM. The GM rewards each character a certain number of CP after each game session. How much reward should be in relation to the frequency of play, the duration of the game, and any criteria set out ahead of time. These are used to increase or gain various facets reflecting the goals and drives of the character - attributes, traits, powers, etc. - just like experience and learning allows real individuals to grow and survive. Ultimately, CP may be used in any way that the game rules and GM allow. Some CP costs are noted as "deferred". This means they are to be paid for with CP gained later; half of each reward thereafter must go towards paying off the deferred cost. Ultimately, Action Points will also be given for rewards, which will allow characters to improve their chances of success at critical junture or take risks they would normally take - enhancing the gaming experience.
These materials are Core Incarna concepts. It is considered important that gamers understnad these fundamanetal concepts to play the game effectively. Core materials may reference non-core attributed materials; these rely on mastering the core concepts to use them.
INTRO: The Players Guide is the best dense reference work for players, otherwise use the linked paged content reference materials. Also, check out the periodic Infinite Incarnations publication for updates and musings. Player/adventuring groups should check out the group options for cooperative bonuses and incentives. For select players, some content is hosted on the web site.
What Is My Job? Players create characters and interact in the settings the GM provides. You control Player Characters (PC) - your characters. You envision them, create them, and play them in-game; you decide how your character reacts to the situations the GM puts them in. Roleplaying is the challenge of taking your character's race, culture, mannerisms, and values and incorporating them into these decisions, expressing in-game the character's thoughts and actions using your voice. Though the GM sets the stage, ideally, your decisions and those of your fellow PC's (making up the PC party, or ‘party') will decide the ultimate direction of the story. It is important to understand the core terms and concepts of game mechanics. Understanding these terms will allow you to refer less and less to any rules or material guides and improve your efficiency as both player and keep the game pace moving.
What can I expect? Incarna is not a system heavy on mechanics - it relies on roleplaying and common sense. You won't find a lot of "mechanics for for every situation" - instead, see if it can be done with an imaginative combination of skills, attributes and other facets that make sense.
What is the Action Like? Incarna is heavily character concept and action driven. You will choose what actions you PC makes, and actively oppose the actions of others. In Incarna, armor does not make you harder to hit, it simply protects you when you do; skills will allow you to actively defend yourself. The trade is encumberance - slowing you down. This is an example of the many decisions you need to make in control of your character. Review the section on Resolving Actions when you are ready, with this in mind.
INTRO: Game Masters (GM's) create and/or use settings, building encounters with creatures, and decide the outcome of actions within the game. They must also decide what rewards are appropriate for the character (based on player interaction). The job of game master can be a complex and difficult task, depending on the story, style, and expectations of the gaming group. If you have ever been in the role of game master and/or are already comfortable with the responsibilities involved, then you probably do not need to be advised on how to handle game play or group issues. Good GMing is more than just a mastery of the mechanics. It involves aspects of human behavior, creativity, storytelling, material knowledge and many other things. You must be able to both plan well, and adapt to any situation. Incarna offers a set of GM Guidelines for assisting in building encounters and resolving actions, as well as advisory materials on running groups and building group dynamics.
Any Advice for A New Group Starting a Game? This is as varied an experience as there are players in the world. The best advice is to be above-board in all things, communicate clearly the expectations of time and contributions, and document a little of the races, flavor, current events, and physical elements of the setting so everyone knows what to expect. Check out Pen and Paper Games for a variety of information on the forums.
We strongly encourage publishing online as much of your material as possible using tools such as Obsidian Portal. Both play scenario details and camapign notes. The usual restrictions apply for commercial use of the Incarna system.
Incarna is originally and continues to be the brain-child of Kelly Berger; Incarna Game System by Kelly Berger is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Based on a work at http://www.incarna.net.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.incarna.net/biz. Follow us on Twitter.
Testing: Play testers use Google Groups to discuss Incarna play test issues. This is currently publicly viewable.