Rule Mechanics

The golden rule is, if a character’s Aspects or Science score says he can do something, then he can do it. Sometimes, a character will need to have their Aspect higher than the relevant Aspect for their opponent or the device they are using. For example, in a car chase you might use Dynamism (for speed) or Memory (for driving skill) and compare the player’s score with the pursuer’s. If the player’s score is higher, he escapes; if the pursuer’s is higher, they catch up and drive the player’s car off the road; if both are matched, the chase continues.

Sometimes a character might perform at a higher (or lower) level than his Aspect suggests. Factors that might add (+) or deduct (-) from a character’s score include:

  1. Situational modifiers – such as attacking from behind, being blinded, having the higher ground or having plenty of time to do something in
  2. Accessory modifiers – like being armed, having the right equipment to hand or not being familiar with the language
  3. Motivation modifiers – like a burning desire for revenge or being in shock
  4. Karmic modifiers – some outcomes are ironic or feel like poetic justice or a satisfying conclusion; the GM can impose a + or – modifier in the interests of a good story

Finally, a Time Card can be drawn. A Time Card might be positive, adding two levels ( ++ ) to the character’s effective Aspect, or negative, deducting two levels ( – - ), or something in between.

The player can ask to draw a Time Card (usually hoping to gain an advantage) or the GM can insist on the player drawing a card (usually to inject some uncertainty and drama into the outcome).

Example, a character attacking from surprise ( + ), but unarmed against a armed opponent ( – ) and drawing a positive Time Card ( + + ), would end up attacking as if his Dynamism Aspect was two levels higher.


An “Edge” is something that gives a character an advantage in an evenly matched challenge. For example, two combatants with the same score in Dynamism and Stasis would be evenly matched, with neither able to triumph over the other. However, one character gaining an Ede would be able to use it to win.

Some Powers provide Edges (such as Venusian Aikido providing an Edge in combat). Players might also use Time Lord Sciences to gain Edges in all sorts of situations.

The GM should award Edges for dramatic, imaginative or humorous roleplaying.

Combat & Threat

There are three ways of handling combat, with increasing complexity.


Treat combat like any other contest of skill. This usually matches the attacker’s active Aspect (Dynamism or Memory) with the defender’s passive Aspect (Stasis or Foresight); the highest score wins and the loser is defeated. This is appropriate for tussles with goons, encounters with wild animals and the like – stuff that is exciting but doesn’t really matter as far as the overall story goes.


Each combatant describes their attacking and defending actions (“I hit him on the nose and duck under his blow”), usually modified by a Time Card. The fighter with the highest total score, for the attack and defence combined, defeats the other person – but the winner might still be injured (see below). This is good for combat which might leave its mark on a character, leaving them wounded for example. This is appropriate for significant fire fights and showdowns with important villains.


Combat is described as a sequence of attacks and defences (as above), with one or both sides being injured. One combatant is defeated when his injuries equal his Stasis score. This makes for a more protracted and possibly grueling fight – good for climactic showdowns with arch villains but not for minor scraps with security guards.


“Defeat” is a term which can cover a range of outcomes. The GM and the players need to specify what “defeat” means at the start of combat – though the meaning may shift if someone pulls out a surprise weapon halfway through the fight.

  1. Restrain – defeat means the other person has been pinned, grappled or bound and can’t carry on fighting
  2. Subdue – defeat means the other person has been knocked unconscious and can be tied up, carried away or otherwise manhandled and won’t regain senses for several minutes
  3. Wound – defeat means the other person has been injured seriously enough to stop them taking any further action – maybe they have been shot or stabbed, had a limb cut off or broken a bone
  4. Kill – defeat means the other person is mortally wounded and will die in a short time, although medical attention might save them

The defeat conditions are usually set according to the type of weapon being used (firearms typically wound or kill, knuckledusters subdue or restrain). Two combatants don’t have to have the same defeat conditions – a swordsman fighting to wound might be up against someone armed with a chair leg fighting to subdue.

Some Time Cards might escalate a fight, increasing the severity of the defeat by one or two steps. This means that it’s possible to wound or kill someone, though you were only trying to restrain or subdue them.


Sometimes you want to keep track of injuries:

  1. Restraint does not cause any injuries; in climactic combat, restraint occurs when one injury is inflicted
  2. Subdual causes one injury; in climactic combat, subdual occurs when 3 injuries are inflicted
  3. Wounding causes a number of injuries equal to the difference between the winner’s Aspect and the loser’s; in climactic combat, wounding occurs when someone takes injuries equal to their Stasis
  4. Killing causes a number of injuries equal to the winner’s Aspect; in climactic combat, killing happens when someone takes injuries equal to 1½ times their Stasis

Each injury can be described (“broken rib”, “gash on cheek”, “fractured skull” etc) either at the time it is received or at the end of the fight. The only requirement is that each injury be slightly more serious than the previous one. When a character has injuries equal to their Stasis rating, they can no longer take actions. If the number of injuries exceeds 1½ times their Stasis rating (round up), they are killed instantly. This means a typical healthy adult can take 3 injuries before being put out of action and is killed if they receive 5 injuries.

Injuries can be healed, starting with the least serious and building up to the most.

  • The least serious injury usually fades as soon as combat is over
  • The next injury will fade with rest or basic medical attention (Arcalian Medicine 1)
  • The third injury will fade with bed rest or skilled medical attention (Medicine 2)
  • The fourth injury will fade with prolonged rest, drugs or hospitalisation (Medicine 3)
  • Further injuries require some sort of surgery (setting bones, stitches, removing bullets – Medicine 4) or weeks of invalidity
  • Injuries equal to or just below the victim’s Stasis are mortal wounds that don’t heal on their own, requiring advanced surgery (Medicine 5)
  • Injuries beyond the victim’s Stasis can only be healed with extraordinary medical measures (Medicine 6)

Characters with Stasis-7 can enter a healing coma which has the benefit of intense hospitalization over a few hours – healing all injuries except for the ones that equal or exceed the character’s Stasis score. With Stasis-8, the coma can heal all injuries. With Stasis-9 the first four injuries received fade within minutes. Characters with Stasis-10 heal all injuries moments after they are inflicted.

THREAT LEVELS (Optional Rule)

The GM can decide on a Threat Level for an adventure and let the players know beforehand.

  1. Trivial – the adventure is humorous, sociable or detective in tone; there will be little violence and such violence as does happen will have defeat conditions of Restraint or Subdual
  2. Dangerous – the adventure contains some action but players can expect to parley their way out of danger; such violence as does happen will have defeat conditions of Subdual or Wounding
  3. Deadly – the adventure offers the chance of being killed out of hand; violence will have defeat conditions of Wounding or Killing

The Threat Level refers to the amount of danger being directed at the players, not the stakes for everyone else. A Trivial Threat adventure might have a climax where the world gets destroyed if the players make the wrong choices; rescuing a Companion from the Cybermen would probably be a Deadly Threat even though no one else’s life is at stake. Threat Levels help the players set the right tone (choosing defeat conditions like Restraint or Subdual rather than killing opponents out of hand) and also indicate to players whether they might need to Regenerate during this adventure.

Using Time Cards & the Flux Card

For each adventure, the GM should choose one card to be the Flux Card, showing it to the players before returning it to the Deck. This card represents the theme or tone of the story. Most planets have a Flux Card set for them that stays the same every time they are visited (eg “The Daleks” for Skaro). Earth is unusual since it is a Flux World, where the Flux Card varies from place to place and era to era. This is particularly true of the 21st century and the GM can choose a different Flux Card for every adventure on 21st century Earth.

If the Flux Card is drawn during the game, its effects are increased by one step (eg a useful + card becomes positive + +, while a positive card becomes super-positive + + + ). The Vortex Card should be treated as if it was the Flux Card.

If a player draws his War Card, this also has its effects increased by one step to the player’s advantage. This means a positive ( + + ) card counts as ( + + + ) while a useless ( – ) card would have no effect.

If a player draws his Fault Card, its effects are also changed by one step to the player’s disadvantage – for example, a positive ( + + ) card only counts as ( + ) while a useless ( – ) card counts as ( – - ).


When a character replaces a War/Fault Card (through regenerating) or a Companion Card (because the Companion has completed their story-arc), they record that Card as “acquired”. This represents a portion of the Time Lord’s cosmic consciousness returning, the ability to perceive all pasts and futures at once.

  • Once during an adventure, the Time Lord can announce that, instead of drawing a card from the Time Deck, they will simply use one of their Acquired Cards instead. The event is resolved as if the character had drawn that card, whichever way up the player wants.
  • Alternatively, once per adventure, the player can ask the GM for a Cosmic Insight. This means the character gets the answer to a question about what’s going on, as if the character is “remembering” things that haven’t happened yet. The question must be based on one of the meanings of an Acquired Card. For example, if a character has acquired The Master, the player could ask for information about solving a trap or the truth behind a plot or conspiracy.

The GM doesn’t have to give the player the information – after all, it might ruin the whole adventure – but if he doesn’t, the character should get one Omega Point in compensation.

Once a character has acquired 9 Time Cards, he is allowed to spend Omega Points to raise one of his Aspects to 10 if he wishes. With 18 Cards, a second Aspect can be so raised and with 27 a third.

Once the 36th Time Card has been acquired, the character has ascended to a state of godlike knowledge. However, this means acquiring the Flux Card itself. There’s no official way of doing this, because the Flux Card always functions as if it was a different card. There are Time Lord myths and rumours that, in order to understand the Flux, a Time Lord must truly die, so the exalted state of Cosmic Consciousness can only be reached through death.

It is possible to lose acquired Time Cards. The Time Lord challenge of “mind-bending” (cf. The Brain of Morbius) can force a Time Lord back through previous incarnations, stripping away the Cards acquired by each regeneration.

Rule Mechanics

Ghosts of Gallifrey Jon_Rowe