A game mechanic used to support situations when the passage of time to complete task or an event needs to be tracked.

A counter is used to represent time or progress associated with important tasks or events in a scene or storyline. A counter can take various visual forms, such as circular clock diagram divided into multiple segments, or a track divided into a number of pips.

Counters can be used to count up from 0 to a maximum number of ticks, or down depending on which makes more narrative sense. As characters take actions or make decisions, counters can be increased or decreased, indicating the progression of time or the achievement of objectives.

Counters add urgency and strategy to the game, providing players with a tangible representation of the impact of their choices. They help the director manage pacing, introduce tension, and create a more immersive and engaging gameplay experience.

Types of Counters

Counters can be used for a variety of purposes in your game.

  • Countdown: Use a countdown to represent the dwindling time until a significant event occurs. It's often used for situations with impending danger, such as a bomb about to detonate, a ritual reaching its culmination, or a deadline for a critical decision. As each segment is marked off, the tension rises, driving the narrative towards a climax.

  • Progress Counter: Use a progress counter to track the advancement or completion of tasks, investigations, or actions. It's a visual representation of how far characters have come in achieving their goals. For instance, it can depict the stages of a complex maneuver, the steps taken to decipher a code, or the distance traveled during a journey.

  • Resource Counter: Use a resource counter to monitor the availability or consumption of important resources. It's commonly used for tracking dwindling supplies, like ammunition, fuel, or rations. As segments are crossed off, characters must adapt their strategies and decisions based on the decreasing availability of these essential resources.

  • Story Plots: A story plot counter follows the evolution of key plotlines or story arcs. This type of counter can be used to measure progress in overarching narratives, character development, or the growth of relationships. As characters make choices and engage with the story, the story plot counter visually demonstrates how their actions influence the unfolding plot.

Chance Countdowns

Chance countdowns combine the mechanics of a counter with Chance Rolls to create an exciting and suspenseful tool used to add tension and unpredictability to a situation.

The director sets up a countdown with a number of ticks until an event occurs. At regular intervals, usually at the top of each round or another interval determined by the director, a player is asked to make a chance roll. If the chance roll fails, the counter is decreased until it reaches 0.

Countdowns keep players on the edge of their seats, never knowing exactly when the event will happen. During a daring escape from an exploding building, the director might use a countdown to determine when the building collapses. As the dice are rolled, and the counter decreases, the tension builds, and players must act quickly and decisively to get out in time.

Countdowns provide an element of randomness and surprise. Use them to enhance the narrative during a thrilling chase, a race against time, or a ticking bomb.

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