One of the roles of the War Councils is to organise Anarchs to go out on sorties in a Domain facing a Call To Arms. Several times per Muster, the Generals select the sorties that will actually be undertaken over the next half-night or so. The Captains decide which Anarchs will undertake which sortie, and the Quartermasters make sure they have what they need. Then the Anarchs report the outcome to the Spymasters upon their return, and so on.

The Basics

The Anarch Revolt makes use of the services of an NPC Affinity (the War Scouts) of highly specialised Abyss Mystics to facilitate these sorties. When a group of Anarchs goes out on a sortie, they are taken there through the Abyss by a War Scout, and the crew member playing that War Scout then runs the sortie for them. Throughout these rules, we use the term “War Scout” the same way other games might use the term “Game Master” or “Dungeon Master”.

Each character can go on only one sortie per game, and no more than 6 Anarchs can go on a given sortie (except in explicitly-different circumstances). These Anarchs do not have to be in the same Affinity, although there are advantages to this being the case. There will be enough slots for each Anarch to go on one sortie, and the Councils are expected to use all available slots; Council Conveners will work to emphasise this.

  • If you are unable to take part in your allocated sortie due to unavoidable OC factors, come and talk to a Storyteller and we will do our best to find a way for you to participate later.
  • If your character simply would not participate in your allocated sortie, then it is likely that this is either grounded in or cause for conflict between characters, and Storytellers will likely not intervene.

This is in part driven by out-of-character factors. We have a finite number of resources, which includes how many sorties we can write and run in the time available. We also want to make sure that everyone gets an equal share of the spotlight available in this more PvE area of the game. As such, we ask that players not try to leverage their character’s abilities to go on an impromptu sortie. Any attempts to use character abilities to get around these limitations will fail without a satisfying in-character explanation. The Abyss Mystics mentioned above are already using the best possible combination of rituals to make travel as safe and swift as it can be.

Each sortie will be presented to the War Coucils with the following information:

  • Overall purpose/goal and context
  • Any Requirements for the Anarchs undertaking the sortie (e.g. certain Skills, Disciplines, Merits, Backgrounds, or information or items discovered by previous sorties)
  • Any additional criteria that might provide an unexpected advantage
  • Expected difficulty (Easy, Standard, Difficult, Challenging, or Epic)
  • The broad category of challenge faced (Mental, Physical, or Social)

The War Councils can use this information to select sorties and assign Anarchs and resources to those sorties however they wish. Each War Council has ultimate authority over their area of specialty and are not subject to formal audit or review – though of course individual Anarchs may take a different view!

Please note that the only way for your character to participate in a sortie is for them to travel through the Abyss, using the War Scout’s magical powers. Your character cannot e.g. Astrally Project their way onto a sortie, whether their own or someone else’s – but they could absolutely travel to the sortie location and then Astrally Project.

If your have a Retainer, you could use them to interact with a sortie in one of two ways. You could bring them with you, in which case they can act in your place (using their own stats) and/or give you a bonus on a relevant test equal to their Stock NPC rating, or instead you could send them with someone else on a sortie, in which case they might fulfil one or more Requirements, or give someone a bonus on a relevant test, as above. Either way, you as a player only get to attend one sortie, and you should expect that your Retainer may suffer some consequences!

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The Engagement Test

Each sortie must be led by one single Anarch, chosen by the Captains. A Requirement (see above) of all sorties is that the leader has at least one dot of the Leadership Skill for every two other characters joining them on the sortie – note that doesn’t mean that the Captains can’t choose a leader without enough dots of Leadership, but rather that if they do so, the engagement test will be harder. The leader is responsible for making the Engagement Test, using a pool of their Leadership Skill plus relevant Attribute (Mental, Physical, or Social, as defined in the sortie’s description) plus a wild card bonus equal to the lowest Vinculum rating anyone on the sortie has towards them. In this way, tightly-knit Affinities have an advantage over groups of unrelated individuals. The difficulty of the Engagement Test is determined by the sortie’s description.


If the Anarchs undertaking the sortie don’t meet the listed Requirements (including the leader having sufficient dots of the Leadership skill), then the difficulty of the Engagement Test is increased by one category. If they meet the listed Requirements and any listed additional criteria, the difficulty of the Engagement Test is decreased by one category.

  • If the leader loses the Engagement Test, their position for the first obstacle is Desperate
  • If the leader wins the Engagement Test, their starting position is Risky.
  • If the leader gains an exceptional success on the Engagement Test, their starting position is Controlled.

The engagement test abstracts and represents all the detailed planning and preparation the Anarchs have undoubtedly undertaken before starting on the sortie. It determines how much trouble you’re in when you put that plan into motion: this system assumes that there’s always some unknown factors and trouble in every sortie, and you just have to make the best of it. It assumes that you are approaching the target as intelligently as you can, so we don’t need to play out tentative probing maneuvers, special precautions, or other ponderous non-action. The engagement roll covers all of that. The PCs are already in action, facing the first obstacle—up on the rooftop, picking the lock on the window; kicking down the door of the Camarilla coterie’s Haven; maneuvering to speak with a Lord at the masquerade party; etc.

The engagement test determines the starting position for your actions. Once this initial obstacle has been overcome we follow the normal process for establishing position for the subsequent challenges during the score.

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Progress Clocks

A progress clock is a circle divided into segments (see examples at right). We use progress clocks when we need to track ongoing effort against an obstacle or the approach of impending trouble.

Sneaking into the constables watch tower? Make a clock to track the alert level of the patrolling guards. When the PCs suffer consequences from successes or failed tests, we fill in segments on the clock until the alarm is raised.

Generally, the more complex the problem, the more segments in the progress clock.

A complex obstacle is a 4-segment clock. A more complicated obstacle is a 6-clock. A daunting obstacle is an 8-segment clock.

A clock represents the obstacle, not the method. The clocks for an infiltration might be “Interior Patrols” and “The Tower,” but not “Sneak Past the Guards” or “Climb the Tower.” The patrols and the tower are the obstacles­—the Anarchs on the sortie can attempt to overcome them in a variety of ways.

Remember that a clock tracks progress. It reflects the fictional situation, so you as players can gauge how you’re doing. A clock is like a speedometer in a car. It shows the speed of the vehicle—it doesn’t determine the speed.

We also use clocks to represent a progressive danger, like suspicion growing during a con, the proximity of pursuers in a chase, or the alert level of guards on patrol. In this case, when a complication occurs (see below), we tick one, two, or three segments on the clock, depending on the consequence level. When the clock is full, the danger comes to fruition—the guards at the manor might notice the Cainite intruders, or the noble guests at the masquerade ball might tear off the Nosferatu’s mask. This will naturally lead to a change of direction in the fiction, and present a new obstacle, possibly in a worse position.

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During a Sortie

In order to successfully complete a sortie, the Anarchs must overcome a number of obstacles described by the War Scout running the sortie. Each obstacle will have a clock made up of up to 16 segments (4-8 is the usual range), and the obstacle will not be overcome until the clock is fully ticked.

Obstacles can be approached in any appropriate way the characters see fit, and we make a static challenge using the normal rules to see how it turns out. To make a challenge against an obstacle, we go through six steps.

  1. The player states their goal for the action: the concrete outcome your character will achieve when they overcome the obstacle at hand. Usually the character’s goal is pretty obvious in context, but it’s the War Scout’s job to ask and clarify the goal when necessary.
  2. The player chooses which Attribute + Skill to roll, following from what their character is doing on-screen. If you want to roll your Physical + Brawl, you need to get in a fight; if you want to roll your Social + Leadership instead, you need to order someone around. You can’t choose an Attribute + Skill combination unless your character is presently performing a relevant action in the fiction. Usually, this means you use the normal pool for the relevant Skill, Discipline, or similar.
  3. The War Scout sets the position. The position represents how dangerous or troublesome the action might be. There are three positions: controlled, risky, and desperate. To choose a position, the War Scout looks at the profiles for the positions and picks one that most closely matches the situation at hand. By default, a challenge is Risky. You wouldn’t be testing if there was no risk involved. If the situation seems more dangerous, it’s Desperate. If it seems less dangerous, it’s Controlled.
  4. The War Scout sets the effect level. The War Scout assesses the likely effect level of this action, given the factors of the situation – essentially, this tells us “how much” this action can accomplish.
    • The War Scout’s choices for effect level and position can be strongly influenced by the player’s choice of Attribute + Skill. If a player wants to try to make a new friend by using their Physical + Brawl —well… maybe that’s possible, but the War Scout wouldn’t be unreasonable to say it’s a Desperate roll and probably limited or even zero effect. Seems like Social + Empathy would be a lot better for that. The players are always free to choose the action they perform, but that doesn’t mean all actions should be equally risky or effective.
  5. Add Wild Cards!
    • Characters may receive a wild card bonus for relevant equipment or Merits as normal;
    • A single relevant Discipline may offer a wild card bonus equal to your rating in that Discipline, if you pay any activation costs required;
    • Any one character who is physically present with you can assist you by spending 1 Willpower and describing what they are doing to help; doing this provides a wild card bonus equal to their relevant Skill rating plus the vinculum between you (if their Vinculum ratings are not the same for some reason, use the lower of the two);
    • You could make a Bargain With The Beast – you’re an immortal monster whose human drives and desires have been twisted by a raging Beast that demands survival at any cost. To reflect this, either the War Scout or any one other player can offer you a Wild Card bonus equal to (6 minus your Morality rating) if you accept a Bargain With The Beast. Common Bargains include:
      • Collateral damage, unintended harm
      • Sacrifice Resources or an equipment card
      • Betray a friend or loved one
      • Start and/or tick a troublesome clock
      • Add Inquisition Attention from evidence or witnesses
      • Suffer damage
      • Gain Beast Traits
  6. Make the test and judge the result: once the goal, pool, position, and effect have been established, and any Wild Card Bonuses added to the pool, the War Scout and the player will perform a challenge to determine the outcome. Willpower retests, overbids, and so on operate as normal.

The difficulty of challenges against obstacles depends on the current position, as follows:

  • Controlled: 8
  • Risky: 15
  • Desperate: 20

On a failure, the character adds no ticks to the obstacle’s clock and suffers a consequence appropriate to the position (see below) and the situation described in the fiction unless they pay the appropriate Willpower cost to resist it.

On a success, the character adds a number of ticks determined by their Effect, and suffers a consequence appropriate to the position (see below) and the situation described in the fiction unless they pay the appropriate Willpower cost to resist it.

On an exceptional success, the character adds a number of ticks determined by their Effect. If you fill up a clock with an exceptional success, and have any ticks left over (e.g. there was one tick left empty on the clock, and you got an exceptional success with Great effect, which adds three ticks) then each excess tick refreshes 1 spent Willpower, up to your normal maximum.

When your character suffers a consequence that you don’t like, you can choose to resist it. Just tell the War Scout that you want to do so. Resistance is always automatically effective; you play rock, paper, scissors with the War Scout to determine how much it costs:

  • If you win, it costs 0 Willpower
  • If you draw, it costs 1 Willpower
  • If you lose, it costs 2 Willpower

If you run out of Willpower in this way, you may gain Beast Traits instead, at a rate of 2 Beast Traits per Willpower you didn’t have available. For example, if you currently had 1 Willpower, and lost the test to resist a consequence, you would lose 1 Willpower and gain 2 Beast Traits.

A sortie counts as one ongoing combat for the purposes of Willpower restoration through Player Acknowledgement (but not Storyteller Acknowledgement).

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The position represents how dangerous or troublesome the action might be. There are three positions: Controlled, Risky, and Desperate. They are defined as follows:

  • Controlled: You act on your terms. You exploit a dominant advantage.
  • Risky: You go head to head. You act under fire. You take a chance.
  • Desperate: You overreach your capabilities. You’re in serious trouble.

The position of a given test determines both its difficulty and the possible consequences that could result. Controlled position indicates a test that you’re likely to succeed, and the possible consequences aren’t so very bad. Risky position indicates a test of noticeable difficulty, with more serious consequences. And if you’re in a Desperate position, things are bad: the test will be made against a significant difficulty, and the consequences are really severe.

One key thing the sortie system does is abstract the behaviour of any NPCs in the scene, as you’ll see below. On an exceptional success, the PC making the test wins and has their effect; on a success, both the PC and the NPC have their effect; and on a failure, the NPC wins and has their effect on the PC.

The War Scout sets the position for a given test after the player has said what their character is doing and established what Skill, Discipline, or other method they’re using. The default is Risky, modified by the action being used, the strength of the opposition, and the overall situation described by the fiction. If the situation seems more dangerous, then it’s Desperate. If it seems less dangerous, then it’s Controlled.

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During a sortie, you achieve goals by taking actions and facing consequences. But how many actions does it take to achieve a particular goal? That depends on the effect level of your actions. The War Scout judges the effect level using the profiles below. Which one best matches the action at hand­­—extreme, great, standard, limited, or zero? Each effect level indicates the questions that should be answered for that effect, as well as how many segments to tick if you’re using a progress clock.

GreatYou achieve more than usual. How does the extra effort manifest? What additional benefit do you enjoy?3
StandardYou achieve what we’d expect as “normal” with this action. Is that enough, or is there more left to do?2
LimitedYou achieve a partial or weak effect. How is your impact diminished? What effort remains to achieve your goal?1

To assess effect level, the War Scout first starts with their gut feeling, given this situation. Then, if needed, they assess three factors that may modify the effect level: mastery, scale, and quality. If the PC has an advantage in a given factor, the War Scout will consider a higher effect level. If they have a disadvantage, they will consider a reduced effect level. Every factor won’t always apply to every situation, though!

  • Mastery: this factor considers particular weaknesses, taking extra time or a bigger risk, a relevant Merit or Attribute Focus, or the influence of Disciplines, Rituals, and other supernatural powers (if you activate them). e.g an infiltrator is more potent if all the lights are extinguished and they move about in the dark – or if they have plenty of Obfuscate!
  • Scale: Scale represents the number of opponents, size of an area covered, scope of influence, etc. Larger scale can be an advantage or disadvantage depending on the situation. In battle, more people are better. When infiltrating, more people are a hindrance.
  • Quality: Quality represents the effectiveness of tools, weapons, or other resources. Equipment qualities that give a bonus to the test usually don’t count for Quality purposes, but for example a crossbow with the Armour-Piercing quality might give extra effect against an enemy in brigandine.

When considering factors, effect level might be reduced below limited, resulting in zero effect—or increased beyond great, resulting in an extreme effect. For example, someone without Potence trying to tear down a castle wall with their bare hands would probably have zero effect. You can also push yourself by spending 1 Willpower to get +1 effect on your action.

After factors are considered and the War Scout has announced the effect level, you might want to trade position for effect, or vice versa. For instance, if you’re going to make a risky test with standard effect (the most common scenario, generally), you might instead want to push your luck and make a desperate test but with great effect.

This kind of trade-off isn’t included in the effect factors because it’s not an element the War Scout should assess when setting the effect level. Once the level is set, though, you can always ask for the trade-off if it makes sense in the situation.

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Example consequences

  • Controlled position:
    • (Success with consequences) You hesitate. Withdraw and try a different approach (with a different combination of Attribute + Skill), or else do it with a minor consequence, such as one or more of:
      • A minor complication occurs:
        • You now owe someone a Minor Boon
        • Someone appears who will hinder the sortie
        • 1 tick on an existing or new consequence clock (e.g. alert level of guards at the manor, suspicion of the noble guests at a masquerade ball)
        • You do something which gains you 1 Beast Trait
      • You have reduced Effect
      • You suffer Lesser Harm: Take 2 levels of damage or 1 level of aggravated damage (armour and Fortitude work as normal)
    • (Failure only) You falter – Press on by seizing a Risky opportunity, or withdraw and try a different approach (with a different combination of Attribute + Skill)
  • Risky position – one or more, as appropriate, of:
    • You suffer Harm: Take 4 levels of lethal damage or 2 aggravated damage (if you resist this consequence, you halve the damage rather than negating it outright) – armour and Fortitude work as normal
    • A complication occurs:
      • The room catches fire
      • You’re disarmed
      • You take +1 Inquisition Attention
      • You must expend a positive Status Trait without getting any direct benefit
      • The target evades you and now it’s a chase
      • Enemy reinforcements arrive
      • You now owe someone a Major Boon
      • 2 ticks on an existing or new consequence clock
      • You do something which gains you 3 Beast Traits
    • You and your team end up in a Desperate position for your next test/obstacle
    • (Success with consequences only) You have reduced Effect
    • (Failure only) You lose this opportunity: You had an opportunity to achieve your goal with this action, but it slips away. To try again, you need a new approach—usually a new form of action or a change in circumstances.
  • Desperate – one or more, as appropriate, of:
    • You suffer severe Harm: Take 8 levels of lethal damage or 4 aggravated damage (if you resist this consequence, you halve the damage rather than negating it outright) – armour and Fortitude work as normal
    • A serious complication occurs:
      • reinforcements surround and trap you
      • The room catches fire and falling ceiling beams block the door
      • Your weapon is broken
      • You take +2 Inquisition Attention
      • Your target escapes out of sight
      • You now owe someone a Blood Boon
      • You must expend all your current positive Status Traits with no effect
      • 3 ticks on a new or existing consequence clock
      • You do something which gains you 5 Beast Traits
    • (Success with consequences only) You have reduced Effect
    • (Failure only) You lose this opportunity

Depending on your current Beast Traits, frenzy is a potential additional complication despite not being a consequence in terms of these rules – always make sure to check whether a character must resist frenzy. Any conflict between player characters on a sortie is resolved using the normal Blood & Fire MET rules rather than these sortie rules.

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Inquisition Attention

This is a very specific form of clock. Each sortie has its own Inquisition Attention score, but the entire Muster also has one big Inquisition Attention score (which is each sortie’s score added together). If a single sortie fills their Inquisition Attention clock (the number of segments is determined by the level of Inquisition presence in that Domain) then they will encounter Inquisition hunters as an additional obstacle (with a robustly-sized clock) on their sortie – this is always a Desperate position to be in, and almost always results in aggravated damage for the Cainites!

If the Domain-level Inquisition Attention clock is filled (the number of segments is much higher than the sortie-level clock), then the difficulties of all subsequent engagement tests are one category higher as the streets are crawling with Inquisitors trying to kill or capture as many Cainites as possible. Each subsequent sortie has an 8-segment clock called “The Inquisition Arrives” which represents how quickly the Inquisition will appear on that specific sortie, and this is likely to preoccupy the relevant Cainites. Once the Inquisition are on high alert in a Domain, it is extremely hard to placate them.

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Completing a Sortie

A sortie ends either when all obstacles have been overcome, or the characters Flee. Fleeing is a sortie-level action rather than an individual action. At any point, on any PC’s turn, any player can propose that the sortie is going so badly that the characters have to flee. If all of the other players agree (whether their characters are conscious or not!), the Cainites beat a hasty and successful retreat, carrying any fallen comrades away with them.

As a result of Fleeing to safety, the Anarchs suffer a significant loss. The objective is failed in a way that going back and finishing off those enemies later won’t fix – if the Councils even have an opportunity to send someone else to clean up the mess. If they were on their way to rescue a captive from unholy sacrifice, then naturally enough the captive gets sacrificed. Any attempt by another sortie to try to mitigate these problems suffers from an engagement test one difficulty category harder than normal. The point of this rule is to encourage daring attacks and to make a decision to retreat interesting on the level of story rather than tactics.

Whatever the outcome, at the end of the sortie each player should look at their character’s list of Sins against their Road or Path, and establish with the War Scout whether they have gained any beast traits as a result. Aside from anything done as the result of a Consequence, we simply address the worst sin committed by each character.

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This work is based on Blades in the Dark, product of One Seven Design, developed and authored by John Harper, and licensed for our use under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

Game elements are used from the 13th Age Roleplaying Game from Fire Opal Media Inc. and Pelgrane Press Ltd. See for more information on the 13th Age Roleplaying Game. Fire Opal Media Inc. does not guarantee compatibility, and does not endorse this product.

13th Age is a registered trademark of Fire Opal Media Inc., and the 13th Age Roleplaying Game and the 13th Age Roleplaying Game Archmage Engine Logo are trademarks of Fire Opal Media Inc. under exclusive license to Pelgrane Press Ltd., and are used under the 13th Age Roleplaying Game Archmage Engine License. See for more information on the Archmage Engine license.

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