Resolve & Traits

Resolve (first introduced here) is a renamed Action Point mechanic. For the most part, the mechanics are the same. The concept and feel behind it is different.

Resolve reflects a character’s determination and drive. Spending a point of Resolve means you are utterly focused on the task at hand, exerting all your effort to try and succeed.

(“Don’t people do that all the time?” No. We don’t have the energy. Even in extreme circumstances, we can’t go all out on every task all the time.)

People who throw themselves into a task can accomplish something incredible. (John McClane, jumping off the roof.) Resolve allows them this chance, but only a limited number of times a session.

Spending a point of Resolve gives you a +3 to any Skill, Combat, or Characteristic Challenge. Spending a point of Resolve on the actions covered by a Distinction Trait gives you a +5 bonus, because Distinctions are (by definition) something the character is unusually gifted at.

Distinctions

Distinctions are a specific kind of Trait, one that is almost always beneficial. These represent innate talents (Violin Virtuoso, Born With a Gun In His Hand), inherent advantages (Voice Like an Angel, You Gotta Love ‘Im), unusual training (My Uncle Was a Wizard, The Necronomicon is in My Backpack), or anything else that gives the character an edge. Characters can have up to 3 Distinctions at character creation.

Each Distinction has one, and only one, area of applicability. Light Fingers, for example, could give a bonus to picking pockets with the prestidigitation skill, but not to palming a coin. The player chooses what benefit the Trait gives when they choose the Trait. (As always the GM has final say.)

Using the Trait costs a Resolve point. As noted above, this gives the character +5 on an affected Challenge.

[More on Resolve, next post.]

Infinity Action Heroes

Infinity player characters are action-movie heroes. They are the headliners, the leads, those who fight evil and kick its ass.

But what is a hero? Let’s look at Audie Murphy.

Audie Murphy

5’5”, 110 lb. Audie Murphy, from Kingston, Texas, enlisted in the US Army in  June 1942, at the age of 16. He’d previously been rejected by the Navy, the Marines, and the Army Paratroopers for being severely underweight. Even after enlisting, he had to fight to be allowed in combat (where, during the invasion of Sicily, he contracted malaria, a permanent condition).

After seeing action on the continent, he was field promoted to 2nd Lt. and given command of a platoon. Shot by a sniper, he was sent to the hospital. After convalescing he returned to his platoon, still wounded, and entered combat the next day.

During that battle his company came under fire from German troops, who killed or incapacitated 109 out of 128 soldiers in his unit. Fighting in below freezing temperature (14° F) and 24 inches of snow, the wounded Murphy sent the survivors to the rear, then attacked the Germans with his M1. Running out of ammo, he climbed aboard a burning M10 tank destroyer, and used its .50 cal to fight advancing German infantry (who shot and wounded Murphy).

While atop the burning vehicle, Murphy single-handedly fought off six German tanks and dozens of infantry, for almost an hour. 

During that hour, he kept up the battle with the German forces, calling in artillery strikes with a phone, and only stopped when German artillery cut his own phone line. Thereafter he organized a counter-attack and drove the Germans from the town, winning the engagement. For this action, he was awarded the Medal of Honor.

During his two years of combat service, Murphy received 10 US citations for valor, plus two medals from the French and one from Belgium. He remains the most decorated US soldier of all time.

After the war, he became an actor, even portraying himself in an autobiographical movie. For the recreation of the described battle, Murphy was forced to tone down his real exploits, because the audience would find them unrealistic. He would go on to star in 44 movies (mostly Westerns) and die at the age of 46, in a plane crash.

Heroes

The exploits of action heroes are not necessarily unrealistic. Extraordinary individuals have done incredible things, and it’s those real life heroes who are the template for Infinity PC’s.

The stories of real heroes share many common elements, the most important of which is their sheer determination and drive. Heroes never quit. (This is equally true of both wartime and peacetime heroes. Those who would succeed must persevere.) In game terms, this drive is known as Resolve.

[More on Resolve, next post.]

Infinity Appendix N: Novels

[It may seem strange for an avowed action-movie RPG to include novels in its list of inspirations. Yet action heroes are found in books as well.]

Novels

Starship Troopers, Robert Heinlein. (Badasses in power armor, fighting a remorseless enemy.)

The Hunt for Red October, Tom Clancy.

Without Remorse, Tom Clancy. (A dark tale of revenge and retribution.)

Lightning, Dean R. Koontz.

Patient Zero, Jonathan Maberry. (Joe Ledger is the quintessential action-movie hero. Plus, zombies.)

The Dresden Files (series), Jim Butcher. (Harry Dresden is John McClane, with magic: a guy in way over his head, desperately trying to fight evil and defend innocents.)

Doc Shidhe, Aaron Allston. (Pulp fantasy. Pure fun.)

Lucifer’s Hammer, Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle.

The Lies of Locke Lamora & Red Seas Under Red Skies, Scott Lynch. (A rogue to end all rogues.)

The Name of the Wind & The Wise Man’s Fear, Patrick Rothfuss. (Oh, my God.)

The Last Centurion, John Ringo.

Infinity Appendix N: The Movies

[As an action-movie RPG, it’s no surprise actual movies were a big influence.]

Movies

Die Hard, Die Harder, Die Hard With a Vengeance. (The Platonic ideal of the genre, all later action movies are derivative of this.)

Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

The Expendables. (Pyrotechnics and kinetic action almost obscure the film’s deep themes.)

Inception. (Awe inspiring masterpiece by an amazing director. Proof that action movies can be as thinky as dramas, while still being entertaining.)

The Avengers.

The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises.

Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi.

Iron Man. (Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark is pure charm and all heart. From the very first scene, he’s a guy you should hate and envy, but can’t help liking and admiring.)

True Lies. (Probably the best Arnold Schwarzenegger movie made. Brilliant.)

Terminator, Terminator 2: Judgement Day.

Aliens. (The proximate inspiration for approximately 80% of all geek culture, from movies to video games. Even so, an incredible film.)

Big Trouble in Little China.

Predator. (The quintessential horror/action film.)

The Road Warrior. (Another landmark film. Everyone steals from this movie.)

The Matrix. (Copied so relentlessly, it’s hard to remember how stunning its action and effects were.)

Tombstone.

Bad Boys. (Sneer at the man, but Michael Bay knows how to put together a thrilling action movie.)

John Rambo (aka “Rambo 4”). (Beginning with Rocky 5, Stallone made a series of incredible action movies. All are worth seeing.)

The Fifth Element. (Luc Besson has more misses than hits, but this hit is marvelous.)

Taken. (“What I do have are a very particular set of skills.” That’s an action hero.)

Infinity Appendix N

This is a partial list of the influences and inspiration for Infinity. There were many others, but these are representative. All are recommended.

Roleplaying Games

Torg, West End Games. (The most proximate mechanical and methodological inspiration. My love of this game knows no limit.)
Dungeons & Dragons 3.0, Wizards of the Coast.
Savage Worlds, Pinnacle Entertainment Group.
Shadowrun 1st Edition, FASA.

Game Designers

Monte Cook.
Nigel D. Findley.

On Being Derivative

All roleplaying games are derivative; the Infinity Gaming System is no exception. In building the game, I’ve taken inspiration from what has gone before.

None of the mechanics of Infinity are directly copied from any of these games (or those listed in Section 15), but they were all influential. I played and enjoyed all of them, and so each deserves a tip of the hat:

On behalf of me and my players, thank you for many hours of enjoyment.

– Jasyn Jones

[An excerpt from the final Appendix in the book. Next time, the movies.]