Monad Echo is the role-playing system used by games such as Broken Tales, Dead Air: Seasons, Valraven: Le Cronache del Sangue e del Ferro (“The Chronicles of Blood and Iron,” untranslated), and Evolution Pulse Rebirth, all published by The World Anvil Publishing and available for purchase at https://theworldanvil.com. Its goal is to enhance well-structured settings and highlight the Characters’ narrative features without relying on excessive crunchiness. It is a system that strives for continuous narration, interspersed with “Checks” (which can include dice rolls) to determine the success of the Characters’ actions. The principle behind Position and Defense Checks allows the players to enjoy the narrative, with the mechanics interrupting play only when it is strictly necessary.

What this system is intended for With Monad Echo, you can create stories featuring gifted protagonists who will grapple with many challenges in pursuit of their goals. The power progression of the characters is horizontal rather than vertical: the Characters are already skilled at the time of their creation and increase their ability to influence the game world with the passage of each adventure.

Although the power level of the Characters can be adjusted to make the game more challenging, the outcome of a Check is always under the control of the Players. They can tip the scales in their favor by spending Soma points when they believe success is critical.

What this system is not suitable for

This system does not lend itself well to simulative gameplay. It does not allow us to recreate the physics of a fictional world with its many variables.

Instead, it reproduces the physics of a story, with rules that allow Characters to change the course of the narrative. Monad Echo is also not suitable for those looking for great customization of powers and equipment since the “mechanical” aspect of Characters is almost exclusively concentrated on Gifts.

Glossary of Gaming Terminologies

Here is a short list of technical terms used in Monad Echo.

Additional Successes: Obtained through Gifts, Soma, or dice rolling, these Successes are added to the Base Successes.

Advantage: Value, derived from Gifts, to be added to the Base Successes.

Agenda: Description of the purpose and objectives of an NPC.

Base Successes: The number of Successes a Character starts with when facing a Position or Defense Check.

Defense Check: The game mechanic with which a Character reacts to the actions of an NPC or a Threat managed by the Narrator.

Descriptor: A short phrase that describes a salient feature of a Character, an NPC, or an aspect of the game world.

Drawback: Value, derived from Gifts, to be subtracted from the Base Successes.

Exchange: A short unit of time that marks the action of each participant in a conflict situation.

Experience Points: Abbreviated as XP, the point value indicates the experience gained by a Character during their adventures.

Failure: When a Character’s action has not been successful as a result of a Position or Defense Check.

Gift: A special ability of a Character, an NPC, or a Threat that activates particular effects in the game.

Interlude: A specific moment during a Session in which the Characters take a break, spend XP, and recover Soma and Wounds.

Keywords: Single words or short, themed phrases that help players focus on some narrative details, stimulate the imagination through idea association, and assist the game table in developing interesting ideas during the game.

NPC: Acronym for Non-Player Character; in general, every character and creature managed by the Narrator. The NPCs are divided into two types: Main and Minor.

Opposition Level: Abbreviated to OL, it is the difficulty value associated with an NPC or Threat.

Player: Each participant in a game Session. One Player must assume the role of the Narrator. All other participants will play a Character. (Positive) Outcome of an action: When a Position or Defense Check has been passed in one of three ways: with a Cost, Standard, or with an Increment.

Position Check: The game mechanic with which a Character tries to succeed at an action described in the narrative.

Scene: A Session is divided into several Scenes. Scenes have no set time length but continue until they reach a natural end and Players wish to move on.

Session: The time set aside for play, which usually spans a single evening or afternoon.

Soma: The value that quantifies the inner strength and reserves of willpower a Character can draw upon. Spending Soma can guarantee automatic Successes during Checks or activate some Gifts.

Threat: Indicates, in a generic way, an obstacle or a complex situation. Each Threat possesses a Descriptor and an Opposition Level which indicates the challenge they could pose to a Character.

Wounds: Represent the ability of a Character or NPC to resist any source of adversity, both physical and mental.

Establishing The Game’s Characteristics

Before starting to explain the rules, it is important to establish some guidelines with the other Players for the game that you intend to create at the table, its aesthetics, and the main elements that will be featured in the Sessions.

Monad Echo was born as a system of rules designed to manage a narrative shared among all the participants of a Session. For this reason, the first step in design must necessarily focus on what we are going to play, what will be seen in the narrative described by the Players, and how the protagonists face the adversities of the setting.

The What, Before The How

You may be wondering: Can I design a game that uses this SRD without reading first the Basic Rules of Monad Echo? The answer is yes.

When designing a tabletop RPG, it’s crucial to start with three questions:

  • What do you want to happen during a Session?
  • What kind of stories do you want to tell and experience?
  • How do you achieve those goals? As a result, rather than starting with the rules, you should start by determining what you want to happen in the narrative when the Players come together at the table.

When you start with the rules, you may have specific ideas regarding how those rules should be applied in the game. However, your story will be better and more fun to tell if you focus instead on the setting and mood of the story. Once you know that, the rules can be adapted to reinforce the tone you’re trying to create in the narrative.

As a first step, draw up a list of Keywords. Remember, for your purpose, these can also be short sentences. Keywords are a useful tool for focusing on the mood and themes of the narrative, and they can be helpful to keep in mind when adapting rules.

Example – Valraven: The Chronicles of Blood and Iron

In this game, Players tell the story of mercenary companies fighting a great war for control of the continent Valraven.

Some Keywords for this setting are:

  • Strong inspiration from Kentaro Miura’s manga, Berserk. This is reflected in the gloomy atmosphere of violence and despair.
  • The Characters are all members of a mercenary company.
  • Field battles and missions on behalf of one of the factions on the field.
  • Animistic magic that includes demonic entities which yearn for the souls of ordinary mortals.
  • Different factions on the ground in the fight for supremacy.
  • Low fantasy, but with the genuine threat of monsters and supernatural events.

There is no reason to limit your list of Keywords. On the contrary, the more you have, the easier it will be to stay focused on what you are trying to achieve with your game.

Sources of Inspiration

Don’t be shy about drawing inspiration from other works of fiction. In fact, it’s safe to say that many successful games were created so someone could play in their favorite fictional world. Understanding the sources that inspired a setting can help when building a list of Keywords.

Using Valraven: The Chronicles of Blood and Iron as an example, the game was born to “relive the stories of Berserk.” That decision influenced 90% of the Keywords chosen to inspire and provide guidance. Having a work of fiction to reference also allows you to focus on what is really important for the setting and rules, rather than spending time creating material that may not add to the stories you want to tell.

Transforming Keywords into rules

You have established what you want to achieve in the game and what you want to see in the shared narrative at the table. Now, it’s helpful to list mechanics that may get you closer to your goals. Again, the best first step is describing what you want to see during a Session. Monad Echo, with its Basic Rules, covers everything that we could group under the fundamental physics of a story. In other words, the basics provide everything you need to make determinations about the narrative when the outcome is uncertain. They provide a mechanical skeleton that can help organize the chaotic events that unfold during Scenes. Any rule can be “tuned” to bring focus to different aspects of the setting and story.

Additional Rules are intended to help manage common story elements that you may encounter during a Session. However, their importance can vary depending on the story element’s role in your narrative.

Some stories contain unusual or even unique elements that aren’t directly covered by either the Basic Rules or Additional Rules. In that case, you can create a Special Rule that will help you manage story elements crucial to the narrative of your game.

Basic Rules

The Basic Rules are required for a successful game of Monad Echo. They guide the narrative at the table and allow Players to influence the story. Entirely removing one of these rules would mean changing Monad Echo to a new game system. However, the Basic Rules can be modified or tuned for specific purposes.

Example: Monad Echo can’t function properly without Position and Defense Checks, so you can’t remove those rules. However, you can tune how modifiers are calculated during Checks to alter the specifics of what those Checks represent. Valraven uses a system of Attributes to calculate success or failure, which gauges a character’s inclination toward solving a problem in different ways. Broken Tales doesn’t use the Attribute system. Instead, during Checks, the Descriptors of the Characters are used as the basis for judging success or failure. As a result, the game flows more easily and with a greater sense of urgency.

The Basic Rules are: Position and Defense Check / Wounds / Soma / Descriptors / Gifts / Information Management / Threats and NPCs / Marking the game time (Scenes, Interludes, Exchanges).

Additional Rules

You’ll find the Additional Rules and everything you need to use them in this book. Almost every game will use some of the Additional Rules in some way, though you may need to adjust them to better fit the story.

However, depending on your narrative goals, they may be more useful in some games than others.

The Additional Rules are: Bonds / Equipment / Experience / Advantage and Drawback / Background Steps.

Special Rules

You won’t find any Special Rules included in this book beyond a few examples because, by definition, they are specific to a setting. As a result, you’ll need to develop any Special Rules you need for yourself. In general, you’ll need a Special Rule for situations that aren’t covered by Basic or Additional Rules but which are crucial to the story you want to tell.

Establishing the Game’s Characteristics

It’s a good idea to be stingy with Special Rules and use them only when the outcome of actions may be uncertain. A Special Rule will frequently draw from concepts outlined in Basic or Additional Rules or draw connections between rules. They can also cast the events of the narrative in a new light.

Example: Valraven uses a Special Rule called Road to Perdition. It was developed to emphasize the Characters’ resistance to a harsh and violent world and its attempts to crush their souls through seemingly endless war. The Road to Perdition represents the conflict between the Characters’ strength of will, the temptation to fall into darkness, and the determination to succeed.

As a Special Rule, it involves a few concepts from Basic and Additional Rules:

Wounds, Descriptors, XP, Soma, and Gifts. This rule is crucial to playing Valraven because Characters must face the Road to Perdition to survive and advance in the world of the game. It grants Increases to Characters, which is the only way to spend XP and grow in power. It allows them to recover and improve their Gifts. It also allows Characters to overcome pain by ignoring a Wound and transforming it into a negative Descriptor.

As always, the rule grew from the desire to see specific themes in the narrative.

In the case of the Road to Perdition, it allows Characters to live out the same sort of story as Guts, the protagonist of the manga Berserk, by forcing Characters to turn to their darker natures to succeed. The rule began as a way for a Character to resist pain (avoid a Wound) by drawing on their barbarous natures. In return, the Character received a Descriptor that affected their choices during the Session.

The Aesthetics of The Table

Monad Echo is intended as a system to manage the dynamics of a story. As a result, rules should be applied to fit what is being described at the table. Every group has its own dynamic, and there is no right or wrong way to tell your story. However, there are several crucial elements to keep in mind when creating a new game, as they will drastically change how the narrative plays out.

Descriptors and Gifts: As we’ll see in a moment, Descriptors and Gifts will determine how and how effectively a Character interacts with the story. Versatile and powerful Descriptors and Gifts will make Characters more formidable and give the story an epic feel. On the other hand, limited and grounded Descriptors and Gifts create a more realistic and gritty tone.

It’s particularly important to pay attention to the specifics of Descriptors and Gifts during Character Creation.

Background and setting: The stories and information included in the lore of the game are a great way to understand the tone of the game and convey it to the table. A game that focuses on a community of apocalypse survivors will not have the same tone as one that tells the story of young superheroes fighting alien conspiracies between classes. Setting and background information should reflect that difference.

Applicable rules: The rules we pick will directly impact the choices Players make, so they should encourage Players to make choices that fit with the tone you’re trying to create. For example, drastically reducing the number of Wounds a Character can withstand will push Players into a conservative game style. They’ll have to weigh every action or quickly succumb to the dangers they face. It is important to understand that if a rule exists, Players will use it and it will affect their decisions. A change to the rules will have a direct effect on the tone and mood of the table. If certain actions are nearly impossible, it’s natural for Players to look for other solutions rather than try a Check with long odds.

The golden rule to keep in mind is: Everything you add helps to shape the mood and tone of the game, as well as the Players’ experience. Descriptors, Gifts, and the setting help Players understand the mood you’re trying to evoke. The mood and tone at the gaming table will in turn affect the decisions that get made during a narrative. In particular, they’ll affect decisions regarding Position and Defense Checks, which are the basic tools for guiding the narration.

It will be easier for Players to understand a game that clearly defines the tone it is seeking to evoke, both in terms of rules and narrative.

To summarize:

Before you start writing your own game, you’d be wise to have these points covered:

  • A description of the setting you want to see at the table, and the sources of inspiration that you consider useful to better understand the game’s mood.
  • A list of Keywords describing everything you believe to be essential to your game, including the protagonists’ identities, abilities, what happens during their adventures, the game world, and how all those things look during a Session.
  • Keeping in mind the gaming experience and the tone you want to foster at the table, consider which Basic Rules, Additional Rules, and Special Rules to include.

Design Principles

Before designing your own game using the Monad Echo system, it might be helpful to understand some of the design choices behind the Basic Rules.

Managing the narrative

Role-playing is a method of story-telling that allows Players to collaborate, creating a narrative from their decisions and the consequences of those decisions. While it may depend on the choices you make when developing your game, most systems define two types of Players:

  • Character: A protagonist in the game’s story that serves as an alter-ego for a Player.
  • Narrator: Everyone and everything else. The Narrator “moves” the fictional world around the Characters and reacts to their actions with events and NPCs.

The purpose of the system is to “manage” the narrative and resolve uncertainty through Position and Defense Checks. One Session is a single continuous story or part of a story, where each Player describes what their Character does without using specific game terms.

To manipulate the narrative, Players describe their actions from a point-of-view within the story. For most Players, that is the viewpoint of their Character, while the Narrator will switch between the viewpoints of different NPCs and events.

Imagine a character in a movie attempting to escape a tense scene in a car. Characters won’t usually spend time agonizing over whether the car will start. Instead, they simply sit behind the wheel and try to start the car. It’s the responsibility of the Narrator to determine the context and consequences of that choice. For example, the car’s ignition may be faulty, and it won’t start.

The Player then has to describe how they deal with that challenge to achieve their goals.

The task of each Player is, therefore, to describe what the Character under their control does and how they act, always aiming for specific and concrete effects.

Describing tangible outcomes is vital because if the Narrator doesn’t intervene, that Character will get exactly what their Player described.

The Narrator’s main task is to react to the Players’ narration through NPCs and story events, narrating in turn how the world acts around the Characters. The Narrator is also the one who starts the Scene or establishes the initial situation.

Monad Echo’s rules come into play when a Character’s success is uncertain, often due to opposition by an NPC or a Threat managed by the Narrator. Any uncertain outcome calls for a Position Check because the Character’s position in the narrative is challenged, with the outcome determining if everything really goes as the Player has described it up to that moment.

Defense Checks work in the same way, with the difference that they are caused by the actions of NPCs and Threats that the Narrator describes.

In the case of Defense Checks, it is the Character’s ability to maintain their current narrative position that is tested, trying to resist outside interference.

Position and Defense Checks are the two primary dynamics of Monad Echo. All other game mechanics rely on those rules. Gifts, Wounds, Descriptors, and any other game component performs their function in relation to the Checks.

After a Check, the game returns to the narrative, and the Player or the Narrator will describe how the situation evolves.

Design Principles Narration-management game tools

Monad Echo has developed several valuable tools for the Narrator and the Players to assess what happens in the narrative and when to ask for a Check. This is the heart of the system and the most important step in game management.

Specifically, the primary evaluation tool is called the Descriptor.

Descriptors represent the salient narrative characteristics of a Character, NPC, or any other element of the setting. As you’ll see in the rules, there are several types of Descriptors, divided according to the importance of the narrative element they describe. Descriptors are the foundation on which you build your narrative and can help the Narrator assess the need for a Check.


A Character with a Descriptor who identifies them as an experienced climber will have no difficulty climbing over a wall while fleeing a group of enemies.

A Character without this ability, however, will have to perform a Position Check to understand how quickly they will be able to climb.

Descriptors are very useful even after you’ve decided whether or not a Check is necessary, because they also help the Narrator identify actions that might be easier or harder for a Character. As we’ll see later, that allows the Narrator to modify a Check to better fit the story.


An NPC with a Descriptor that identifies it as heavily armored will be harder to hit without the right weaponry. A Character that opts for a bare-handed attack could succeed, so the action requires a Position Check. However, the Check will be more difficult to pass because the Character lacks the right weapon, and so faces a disadvantage. That disadvantage should be reflected in the Opposition Level of the NPC or Threat.

Use the narrative as a basis for applying rules

This system aims to manage the narrative at the table using a few specific mechanics. Those mechanics allow Players to establish the narrative position of the Characters in relation to the events of the Session. For this reason, the rules should always be applied to fit the story being told, and never the other way around. Even when it is clear how to proceed, Narrator and Players should remain aware of all the Descriptors involved and how they might affect the current narrative.

In fact, an identical game situation can be handled very differently from table to table. Much of the difference arises from choices made when the game was being designed and the sources used for inspiration. More importantly, each Player contributes a personal element to the table, which means every story is unique.

Scaling The Game Time

One of the Narrator’s responsibilities during a Session is to track time in-game. It’s a more important task than you may think because it determines the rhythm of the narrative. These are the tools that Monad Echo provides the Narrator to manage this vital aspect of the game.


Each Session progresses through a sequence of Scenes. A Scene represents a specific moment in the narrative characterized by a place (where), a time (when), and a clearly defined initial situation. These elements shape the stage on which the Characters evolve. It is the task of the Narrator to manage the Scenes by deciding when to end the current Scene and move on to the next one. Mechanically, Scenes are important because they also measure the duration of a Gift’s effect.

A Scene typically begins when it’s interesting for the Characters to enter events and ends when the rhythm slows, or the narration no longer involves the Characters. Dividing the Session into Scenes allows the Narrator to keep the game rolling, focus on the action, and skip moments when nothing is happening.

If the Scene results in a conflict between Characters and NPCs, it’s time to use the rotating turn system known as Exchange.


The Exchange is a division of game time that comes into play in situations of open conflict, such as a fight. The Exchange gives each subject involved in the Scene an opportunity to attempt an action that could change their narrative position. In an Exchange, the order in which turns are taken is fluid. The Narrator divides the participants in the conflict into two sides. After determining who will be the first to act, the two sides take turns, with one member of each side acting on each turn. An Exchange ends when all the relevant Characters and NPCs have acted at least once. If the conflict continues, the Narrator starts the process of the Exchange again. One conflict may be divided into several Exchanges. The basic idea is that everyone should have an equal chance at the spotlight.

Two Exchanges in the same conflict may have entirely different turn orders.

If it makes sense in the narrative, it’s perfectly reasonable for the Character who acted last in the previous Exchange to act first in the next.

It allows the Character to follow up immediately after pressing an opponent, as well as providing an opportunity for some cinematic storytelling.

However, the narrative doesn’t handle all the participants in a conflict in the same way. Even if there are more opponents than Characters, the Narrator should still make sure both sides still take an equal number of turns. The number of enemies is already a powerful narrative advantage because opponents can encircle the Characters, prevent them from escaping, or assist each other in threatening the Characters. What really matters in an Exchange is that important Characters and NPCs have their moment to act and alter the situation to their advantage while everything else remains in the background.


A Session is the period of time during which Players gather at the table to play and is generally equivalent to an afternoon or an evening of play.


The Interlude is a phase of play that allows all Players to take stock of the situation. It’s also a moment for Characters to take a breather and recover their energy. During an Interlude, the mechanical values on the Character sheets (Wounds, Descriptors, and Gifts) are reset, and Players can spend the XP they’ve accumulated to improve their Characters. The Narrator uses the Interlude to adapt the game world to the events that have unfolded and advance the NPCs’ Agenda.

Managing A Fight

Combat is a fundamental part of role-playing games for many players, and it represents a moment of action and fun, a legacy of classic fantasy role-playing games. There’s nothing wrong with this vision, and many Monad Echo settings, such as Valraven: The Chronicles of Blood and Iron, prioritize combat. However, it’s important to approach each game on its own terms and according to its goals, rather than try to turn every game into a tactical simulation.

A fight is nothing more than a part of the story during which events are described in more detail than in other types of Scene. The Exchange rule was designed to keep track of the actions of Characters and NPCs in moments of conflict, such as combat. However, it’s necessary to always focus on the narrative, describing how the Characters fight, including their actions and intentions. It’s mechanically important that Players add descriptions of their actions rather than simply declaring generic “attacks” against enemies within reach.

After all, a fight is a great opportunity to describe something in an epic and engaging way.

Picture the fights in your favorite movies and comics. It’s never just a matter of exchanging punches until someone falls. Players are more likely to have fun when they are encouraged to seek and narrate creative solutions, and to take advantage of narrative positioning to gain advantages and additional effects in combat.

Keep in mind that everything starts from the narrative, which is then processed by the rules.

When participating in a fight, the most common error is to “take your turn and pass.” That approach is typical of much more structured games with systems focused on strategy and tactics, often in ways that resemble a board game. When managing a battle narratively, you will notice that many of the actions taken by Characters and NPCs are not direct attacks, but related actions, such as hindering an enemy or bringing someone to safety. The potential of this approach is that it allows Characters not designed to be capable fighters to have an active role during fights without being pushed to the sidelines.

But how to manage the narrative in these situations? The answer, as usual, is evaluating what happens in the narrative, which must then be filtered by the rules. As already mentioned, Descriptors and the tone of the game contribute to these assessments.

The circumstances of the fight should be considered to determine if a Check is necessary or if the initial Opposition Level needs to be adjusted. Numerical superiority, attempts to hinder actions, and diversions are all examples of situations that affect the narrative of the fight.

In addition to the Position Check, the main ways to disentangle a combat situation are:

  • Requesting a Defense Check: Defense Checks are useful when the narrative must reflect a sudden obstacle or when the Player’s description doesn’t take into account story elements that would prevent them from reaching their goal. For example, a Character wants to engage the enemy leader. However, they are protected by a couple of bodyguards. The Character has to pass a Defense Check to determine if they can avoid the guards and make their attack.
  • Raising or lowering the Opposition Level: An action or description that fits particularly well within the narrative may prompt the Narrator to lower the Opposition Level, particularly if it exploits a weakness listed as part of an NPC’s Descriptor. This is one of the best ways to reward an action that goes above and beyond a simple attack. On the other hand, an action that opposes a strength listed as part of a Descriptor will be more difficult for the Character to perform, leading the Narrator to increase the Opposition Level.
  • Interrupt the action because it’s impossible: The Narrator may rule that, because of the narrative circumstances, a Position Check may not be possible because there are story elements that prevent the action’s success. A Character surrounded by more than ten enemies can’t be described as running away if they haven’t found an opening first.
  • Succeed at an action without the need for a Check: if a Character offers themselves as bait to attract the attention of an opponent, it might become so easy for other Characters to hit the enemy from behind that no Check is required. Declaring an attack on someone does not automatically mean having to perform a Check.

All these mechanics are versatile and can be used if needed, depending on the Descriptors involved and the aesthetics of the table. A character who has As nimble as an acrobat as a Descriptor could avoid being surrounded, perhaps making a simple Defense Check to prevent it.

During combat, you should always assess the narrative according to the unique situation at your table without relying on a cliché resolution. Monad Echo starts with the story and then applies the rules to allow the greatest freedom of imagination. It’s also important to keep in mind that the same situation can be resolved differently during the same Scene because the narrative is always evolving. Referring back to the fourth example: an enemy could lower their guard if distracted by a Character. However, the enemy may now be alerted, so the same trick won’t work twice.

Position And Defense Checks

When a Character performs an action, the Narrator assesses whether a Check is necessary.

If the Character acts to achieve something in the narrative but may fail due to an NPC or Threat, then it is time to ask for a Position Check.

This applies any time the Character is the one initiating the action.

Only actions that face opposition that could cause the Character to fail require a Position Check. This need will be determined by the Descriptors involved in the current narrative and the tone of the game.

If the Narrator instead describes circumstances in which NPCs or a Threat act against the Character, it is instead called a Defense Check.

This applies to any action with an uncertain outcome in which the Character is passive. The Defense Check represents a Character’s re-

Monad Echo Rules action and their attempt to avoid a problem that is actively threatening them. A Defense Check is used when the Narrator takes the floor, presenting a Threat or an NPC as an obstacle that the Character must overcome.

The Narrator never does a Check.

A Position Check is performed when a Character acts, and the result is in doubt. On the other hand, a Defense Check applies when NPCs or Threats act against a Character. In either case, the Character’s Player does the Check.

Resolving a Check

Here is Monad Echo’s standard resolution flow. If you know some of our games (Broken Tales), but not others (Valraven: The Chronicles of Blood and Iron, Evolution Pulse Rebirth, Dead Air: Seasons), you will notice variations in the process that will be discussed later.

When calling for a Position or Defense Check, the Narrator:

  • Declares the Opposition Level of the Opponent or Threat.
  • Adapts the Opposition Level by a maximum of +/-1 based on the Character’s situation and narrative position in relation to their Descriptors and those of the opposition.

Assigns the Character any Drawbacks that apply:

  • As a result of a Gift’s effect imposed by an Opponent or a Threat.
  • As a result of a Cost obtained by the Character in a Check prior to the current one.
  • Identifies the Attribute to be used in the Check based on the description of the action provided by the Player.

The Player at this point:

  • Checks if one of their Descriptors can help in the action. If so, the Player describes how their Descriptor helps and has the opportunity to spend Soma.
  • Compares their Base Successes (corresponding to the value of the Attribute involved in the action) to the OL of the NPC or Threat.

To obtain a positive Outcome, the Character must achieve a total of Successes (given by the sum of the Base Successes and Additional Successes) that at least matches the OL they are facing.

Chooses the desired type of Outcome, which determines the number of Successes required:

  • Outcome with a Cost (original OL).
  • Standard Outcome (OL + 1).
  • Outcome with an Increment (OL + 2).
  • ? Considers whether they are entitled to one or more Advantages:
  • As an effect of a Gift.
  • As a result of an Increment obtained by the Character (or a companion) in a Check prior to the current one.
  • Resolves any Advantages or Drawbacks gained. Advantages and Drawbacks:
  • ? Cancel each other out in a 1:1 ratio.
  • ? Are limited to a maximum of 3 each during a single Check.

To gain the Additional Successes they need, the Character:

  • Can spend Soma from their pool to get 1 Additional Success for each point invested, but only if they have brought a Descriptor into play.
  • Can decide to roll one or more Dice and hope to get an Additional Success for each die rolled. All the dice must be rolled at the same time. For each die: a result of 1 equals a Failure, while results from 2 to 6 are considered Additional Successes.

A single Failure (a 1 on any die rolled) causes the whole Check to fail.

Do Not Hide The Threats’ And NPCs’ Descriptor

As you’ll see later when information management is discussed, there is no good reason to hide the Descriptors of NPCs and Threats from Players, especially when they will be revealed when calculating the results of a Check. As always, following the narrative will make it easy to understand when to reveal information about a Threat or NPC. In general, remember that the more players understand what they are facing, the more likely they are to get involved. of course, discovering that a monster has “a powerful poisonous bite” can be a nice twist, but if a Character is an expert on either monsters or poisons, it does not make much sense to deny them this information.

On the contrary, revealing it will highlight their abilities.

As a general rule, it doesn’t make much sense to keep a Threat or NPC’s OL and Descriptors hidden if they’ve been revealed by the narrative. The “surprise” effect only makes sense the first time.

Types of Outcome

Once the Check has been performed, the result of the action is determined in the following ways:

  • Rolling even one Failure (1) on a die or accumulating a total of Successes lower than the action’s OL means the action fails and becomes a Failure: the Character doesn’t achieve what they set out to, or they achieve their goal, but things do not go exactly as hoped. The narrative moves forward anyway, and the position of the Character becomes more precarious. If they were attempting to avoid harm, they suffer 1 Wound.
  • Accumulating a total of Successes equal to the OL grants an Outcome with a Cost: the Character succeeds, but there is a price to pay. The Narrator determines the Cost. If the action was geared towards inflicting damage, they will inflict 1 Wound. If they were attempting to avoid harm, they do, but with some complication.
  • Accumulating a total number of Successes 1 point greater than the OL grants a Standard Outcome: the Character achieves their goals. If they were attempting to avoid harm, they manage the problem without complications of any kind. If the action was geared towards inflicting damage, they will inflict 1 Wound.
  • Accumulating a total number of Successes 2 or more points greater than the OL grants an Outcome with an Increment: the Character succeeds better than expected and gains an Increment in addition to the result of their action. The Narrator establishes the Increment, or alternatively, the Character can obtain a special Increment provided by one of their Gifts. If they were attempting to avoid harm, they avoided the problem perfectly and receive an additional bonus. If the action was geared towards inflicting damage, they will inflict 1 Wound.

Successes, Failures, And Wounds

Inflicting or sustaining a Wound is a Check-related mechanic that doesn’t take place only during combat or dangerous situations. As a rule of thumb, once the outcome of the Check is established, it’s a good idea to ask yourself if anyone will be harmed by the events described in the Check. If so, then it makes sense to also apply a Wound.

It’s important to base this assessment on the events of the narrative and not the indifferent application of a rule. It must make narrative sense before it becomes a mechanical effect on the Character sheet.

Striking an enemy with a wooden stick will not inflict a Wound unless the narrative depicts it being wielded with great force or the enemy collapsing to the ground. For the same reason, it is possible to suffer a Wound even outside of a Check, if it’s an obvious outcome of the narrative.

If a Character is inside a house that is collapsing and does nothing to get to safety (because maybe they have to retrieve an object important for the mission), it is quite reasonable for them to remain stuck under the collapsing ceiling and suffer one or more Wounds.

The tone of the game and the Descriptors should also come into play when making such a judgment. If you are playing as a group of young superheroes and one Character has the power to create force fields to repel threats, it makes more sense not to inflict Wounds or to request a Defense Check against the newly created Threat, Sudden Collapse.

Resuming The Narrative

After a Position or Defense Check, the narrative always continues. A Check always changes the current situation, whether it results in a successful Outcome or a Failure. A Failure does not necessarily mean you fail completely. The Character could still get what they wanted, but with little control over how things happen or the consequences of the action.

A Position Check to seal the security doors of a space station can have several outcomes. The Character could remain locked inside with the alien they are trying to isolate. As another example, a Position Check to sail through a storm can have many outcomes. One outcome could be that the ship escapes sinking but is stranded on an unknown island.

A Position Check to push someone off a building can have several outcomes.

One might be that the Character gets dragged over the edge with their target!

Managing The Narrative

In general, a Failure is always less interesting than a Success, especially a Success with a Cost. For this reason, the math behind the system pushes towards a much higher chance of obtaining a positive Outcome than a Failure. The system requires the designer to be aware of this factor, so that you create adventures and problems that can’t be solved by hitting a single “magic button.”

A Position Check always moves the narrative forward, even by just a few seconds. The new status quo will always be different from the situation before the Check. If a Player wants to, they can succeed automatically by spending the right amount of Soma. They will not be able to do this for every Check, but they will be able to do it when it really matters.

The power of the Narrator comes from manipulating the narrative so that it leads to a Check and the ability to decide which NPCs and which Threats are present in a Scene. It is essential that the Characters have the power to decide when and how much risk to take, since the Narrator has the power and duty to always put them under pressure by providing interesting situations to face.

Character Vs. Character

On occasion, one Character may try to harm another. In this case, the Narrator determines who is acting (the Active Character): they will have to make a Position Check. The OL will be given by the Passive Character’s most relevant Attribute increased by 2. The Passive Character cannot spend Soma to increase the Opposition Level.

Costs And Increments

Depending on the result of the Position and Defense Checks, the Narrator may need to create a Cost or an Increment:

  • A Cost is some kind of narrative disadvantage, such as spending too much time or consuming a resource while performing the action. Alternatively, the Character suffers 1 Drawback on their next Check or, if it makes sense in the narrative, suffers 1 Wound.
  • An Increment is some kind of narrative advantage, such as spending less time on an action or getting to a better position after an attack. Alternatively, the Character gains 1 Advantage on their next Check, or offers 1 Advantage to an Ally, to be spent on their next Check.

Costs and Increments are decided by the Narrator, keeping in mind that they should make sense in the narrative. Some Gifts, however, allow the Character to replace the proposed Increment with one provided by the Gift itself.

The next page features some suggestions for Costs and Increments.


You retreat or move away from the goal you wanted to achieve / You avoid the danger but hesitate and do not overcome the obstacle / You injure yourself or spend a lot of energy, suffering 1 Wound / You lose, break, or drop something, or waste more resources than expected / Your opponent can move away from you without you being able to do anything / You promise or give away something you wanted to keep / You reveal important information or something about yourself or an ally / You need more time than you expected / What you get is not complete, making it useless / You lower your guard or you are taken by surprise: receive 1 Drawback for your next Position or Defense Check in the Scene.


You can maneuver towards your objective, or push it in a direction of your choice / You move away from an opponent without anyone being able to prevent it / You acquire an object on the fly, picking it up from the ground or removing it from a backpack without wasting time / You block the movement of an opponent, forcing them to stop / You offer fewer guarantees than required in a negotiation and still succeed, or you get more than expected / You impress or charm other subjects present who will remember you in the future / You unlock a secret or discover a subject’s vices or habits / You spend less time than expected, or you get better results in the same amount of time / You help an ally to reposition themselves in the Scene, in addition to succeeding in the action you have taken / You gain 1 Advantage on your next Check or provide 1 Advantage on the next Check of an ally, to be spent within the current Scene.

The Math Behind Checks

To create a game based on Monad Echo, it is essential to understand the math behind the system. Monad Echo gives the Player a lot of decision-making power, as they can always spend Soma to reduce the chances of failure and guarantee a positive Outcome. That is why determining Opposition Levels and the Character’s Base Successes is vital to the balance of the Session. The basic assumption is that a Character starts the Session with a limited number of resources (Soma), but these resources are very versatile. The Player’s decisions will determine which events are important for them to succeed at and, therefore, worth spending resources on. The Narrator must remain aware of the Players’ power in this regard and avoid setting Scenes and situations in which the Failure of the Characters is the only way to continue with the narration – Characters will always be able to prevent this from happening.

The Narrator presents Checks and obstacles, but it is the Players who decide how much to risk. The types of Outcomes give granularity to each Check, allowing you to manipulate the narrative using additional effects. Costs and Increments formalize these effects, providing guidelines to tune the narrative. A fair ratio between Opposition Level and Base Successes is fundamental to a fun game.

If you are wondering what the formula behind a Check is, here it is:

The standard Opposition Level for an action is 4.

This is because the average of Base Successes obtained through an Attribute is 3 (with variations between 2 and 4), as explained on page 105.

An Opposition Level of 4 always results in an interesting situation:

  • It can be matched for a Cost with the average of 3 Base Successes, plus rolling 1 single die or spending 1 Soma.
  • With 4 Base Successes (an above-average value that represents a field where a Character excels), a Player will have to decide whether to settle for an Outcome with a Cost or take a chance and go further.
  • With 2 Base Successes (a below-average value that represents a Character’s weakness), a Player will need at least 2 Additional Successes for an Outcome with a Cost and 3 for a Standard Outcome.

By design, it’s tempting for Players to settle for an Outcome with a Cost. For the Player, it is a good way to save Soma and lower the risk of Failing by rolling fewer dice. For the Narrator, an Outcome with a Cost provides an opportunity to generate small complications in the narrative. It’s always more interesting for a Character to succeed in what they are doing, but with contingencies to deal with, rather than simply failing.

Advantage And Drawback

Advantages and Drawbacks can be used to give personality to the Gifts of Characters and NPCs, or to give a mechanical value to Costs and Increases.

Those elaborations on the narrative can be turned into a bonus or penalty to the Character’s Check. Advantages and Drawbacks can be managed in two ways:

With dice: the dice used for this purpose should be a different color from your Standard dice. Drawback dice cause a Failure on a result of 1 or 2.

Advantage dice do not cause a Failure on a 1, but a Neutral result that does not count as a Success.

As modifiers to Base Successes: -1 Base Success in the case of Drawback and +1 Base Success in the case of Advantage.

A Character can never accumulate Advantages from the same “source,” such as by using two different Gifts. However, they can choose to use the one that confers the greatest bonuses.

Drawback dice Cannot be discarded by spending Soma. A Player is always forced to roll them, even when the Character already has an automatic positive Outcome.

Advantages and Drawbacks cancel each other out in a 1:1 ratio. No more than 3 Advantages or 3 Drawbacks can be applied to a single Check, not including any modifiers that may have been canceled out.

Excess Flattens, Dosing Wisely Makes Things Stands Out

Advantages and Drawbacks provide a handy subsystem that can increase the customization of Characters, Threats, and NPCs. However, when designing a game based on Monad Echo it’s important not to exaggerate this mechanic, and avoid creating bonuses and penalties which cancel each other out. In the end, it doesn’t add anything to the narrative.

For example, if almost every NPC has a Gift that inflicts a Drawback to the Characters, owning a Gift that gives an Advantage becomes a “requirement” to overcome a “problem” that, in reality, has become a constant in almost every Check. This dynamic only creates a mutual cancellation effect.

Additionally, a common mistake for Players new to Monad Echo is to assume the Narrator can arbitrarily assign Drawbacks and Advantages based on the situation. That’s not true of our game, though the Narrator can determine that Costs or Increments obtained as part of an Outcome will become Drawbacks or Advantages on subsequent turns. Remember that the Narrator is a Player. Assuming they have that much authority is based on experience with other games, in which the Narrator role has that sort of discretion.

Why can’t the Narrator simply assign Advantages and Drawbacks arbitrarily? It wouldn’t take storytelling into account, and what we want to do with Monad Echo is filter the storytelling through the rules, not vice versa. The only correct way to modify the Check difficulty is to go through the Descriptors of those involved in the situation, while keeping in mind any Increments or Costs from previous turns. As a result, instead of being determined by the Narrator, Advantages and Drawbacks are assigned by Gifts, Increments, or Costs.

An extended example of Check (taken from Broken Tales) Garou the Old Wolf is exploring the area around the town of Durfort.

Meanwhile, his companions are having a conversation with the noble Dubois, hoping to get a grasp of what is happening in the Red Hood Iskra Scenario. The Narrator warns Garou of the presence of a rapidly approaching pack of wolves.

No Check is required because it is a piece of information Garou knows (as will be explained in the Managing information paragraph) and in addition, Garou has the Gift Find Them Forever After, which allows Garou to perceive noises and smells before anyone else. Safely among the foliage, Garou prepares an ambush for the new arrivals, determined to make immediately clear that this is now his territory. The wolves arrive a few meters from the hiding place and Garou decides to attack, jumping on them. However, the Narrator points out that wolves have a very acute sense of smell (as reported by their Descriptor) and therefore the surprise effect could fade before Garou manages to bite one.

At this point, the Narrator requires a Defense Check to see if the Character will really be able to perform the surprise attack. Garou agrees to take the risk and does the Check. If not, Garou would have remained in hiding waiting for a better opportunity.

Continuing with the example, Garou is facing a pack of four wolves. Through a Defense Check, Garou has approached the enemies from behind, taking them by surprise. Garou’s Descriptors tell us that he is a Fierce and Powerful Predator, and that is definitely relevant to what they are doing. Therefore, Garou receives 3 Base Successes. The Narrator declares that the Opposition Level of the wolves is Medium, which is equal to 5. However, the Narrator decides to lower it to 4 because the wolves’ Descriptor specifies that they obey only their Alpha Greskar or Iskra, and neither of them is present in the Scene. Garou has 3 Base Successes and needs at least 1 Additional Success to reach the Opposition Level. This is the minimum to get an Outcome with a Cost. Now the Player can decide if they want 2 Additional Successes to reach a Standard Outcome (1 Success over the Opposition Level) or 3 Additional Successes to aim for an Outcome with an Increment (2 Successes over the Opposition Level). Garou doesn’t mind a Standard Outcome: they now have to choose how to get the 2 missing Additional Successes to achieve it. As the last step, Garou decides to exchange 1 Soma for a Success, and then roll 1 single die. The die comes up a 3: Success. Garou gets a Standard Outcome, which is up to the Storyteller to describe.

Let’s see all the possible results of Garou’s Check:

Rolling even a single 1 on the dice makes the action fail.

In this case, the action fails: if the Character’s goal is to somehow avoid a Wound, they will suffer it. The narration, however, goes on anyway. Whether the Character wants it or not, something changes, and, in the case of a Failure, it does so in a way that affects them negatively.

The Narrator describes the result: Garou hurries to avoid alerting the wolves, but this makes the attack hasty and inaccurate. The bite misses its mark as the other wolf dodges the attack and turns around, ready to face the threat.

By obtaining a total of Successes equal to the Opposition Level the action would result in an Outcome with a Cost.

The Character gets what they want but at a Cost chosen by the Narrator from the appropriate list, in line with what is happening. As a result of Success, if the Character’s goal is to harm a target in some way, a Wound can be inflicted.

The Narrator describes the result: Garou sinks their fangs into the throat of one of the wolves, which, being able to suffer only 1 Wound, is instantly killed. Unfortunately, as the animal falls to the ground, it drags Garou with it, throwing the Hunter off balance. The Narrator assigns 1 Drawback to Garou’s next Check.

By obtaining a total of 1 Success above the Opposition Level: the action would result in a Standard Outcome.

In this case, the Character gets what they intended and, if consistent, can inflict 1 Wound on one or more targets.

The Narrator describes the result: Garou sinks their fangs into the throat of the enemy, which, being able to suffer a single Wound, is killed instantly.

By obtaining a total of Successes 2 points over the Opposition Level: the outcome is an Outcome with an Increment.

The Character gets what they have set out to do and an Increment, an additional effect increasing the range of the action itself. The Increment is provided by the Narrator in relation to the situation and the objectives of the Character, choosing from the generic list.

Alternatively, if the Character’s Gifts grant special Increments, they may choose to activate them.

The Narrator describes the result: Garou sinks his fangs into the throat of the enemy, which, being able to suffer a single Wound, is killed instantly. Garou sprints past the opponent’s body and pushes the remaining wolves along a narrow path to prevent being surrounded, as stated by the Player at the start of the attack. The Storyteller will therefore neither be able to exploit the narrative advantage of Garou being outnumbered for the wolves’ next action, nor their Gift which confers advantages to them when they outnumber a prey.

Summary table for the management of Checks

Type of Check

When is it done? What are the criteria for the Check? Who narrates the resolution? What are the mechanical implications? Position Check

The Character is actively trying to position themselves in a certain way within the narrative, and the outcome is unsure.

The Narrator calls for the Check, based on the narration of the Character and what they are trying to achieve.

The Narrator portrays the result for a positive Outcome, the Player in case of a Failure.

The action continues with either a positive Outcome or a Failure. If it resulted in a positive Outcome, the Character achieves some or all of the goals they described in the narrative.

Defense Check

The Character endures the action of something (NPC or Threat) that actively seeks to hinder them.

The Narrator requests the Character to make the Check based on the NPC or Threat’s actions.

The Narrator describes the result in a positive Outcome, the Player in case of Failure..

The danger is either escaped or suffered and the action continues. The Character can only achieve goals related to avoiding the danger.

Distribution of Narration Duties

You may have noticed that Monad Echo delegates many of the duties of Check evaluation and narration to the Narrator. To some extent, that may allow the Narrator to “push” the situation toward their preferences. However, it’s important to understand that all the dynamics of Check management are actually in the hands of the Players.

The Narrator presents the Check and Opposition Level, but it is up to the Players to decide how to deal with it, such as automatically reaching a positive Outcome by spending the required Soma. Keep in mind when designing your game that having the Narrator make the majority of the decisions (Costs, Increments, changing Opposition Levels) follows a principle designed to make the narrative as fluid as possible, rather than giving one Player authority over the others. Monad Echo could also work perfectly well by allowing the Players to choose each individual Cost or Increment, rather than leaving it up to the Narrator. However, each option placed on the table would slow the game down by interrupting the narrative before and after each Check, because the Player would understandably want to evaluate each option.

Why does the Player narrate the Failures? It allows the narration to remain consistent and gives the Player final say over a situation in which their Character has been defeated. You may find while playing that this rule is more of a safety net to assist in mutual understanding at the table rather than a strict rule to enforce. Some procedures are used to clearly establish who has the last word in case of doubt, as detailed in the mandatory use of the rules (page 100). In 90% of cases, the narrative of the action itself will establish beyond any reasonable doubt what happens in case of success and failure. In the rare cases in which the Player and Narrator do not agree on the result of a Check, the Player gets to decide.

Difficulty In Monad Echo

While it may be counterintuitive, it’s important to understand that the Opposition Level doesn’t measure the difficulty of the situation. Instead, the Opposition Level represents an abstraction. It gauges the ability of an NPC or Threat to oppose a Character’s attempt to change their narrative position. The Opposition Level comes into play in a specific instance, when Checks are needed, and has no “narrative value” outside of them. It is a number that simply says how resistant that NPC or Threat is to others changing the narrative around it.

But how do you best modify the difficulty in your imagined game world? In a game system that manages a narrative, the difficulty of a specific Scene is determined by the narrative itself. The more elements, NPCs, and situations are present in a Scene, the more difficult it will be for the Characters to manage. High Opposition Levels will only push Players to look for alternative solutions, rather than rely on chance. If the Players act on the present narrative to get what they want, the Narrator must act on the narrative “upstream” of the Scene to make the situation interesting.

Specifically, here is how to make difficulty thresholds tangible by acting on the narrative and not on the numbers:

  • Many elements to be managed: a high number of NPCs, or linked Threats, require more effort than a single problem with a very high OL. That problem requires only a single Check to be overcome. By manipulating the narrative, you can present different situations that will require the commitment of more Characters and resources to be addressed.
  • Descriptors as difficulty: Descriptors, particularly for NPCs and Threats, can make the difference between a feasible and impossible Check. They are an excellent system for introducing a narrative obstacle that must be solved before the Character can actually act. The most classic example is that of the vampire, a creature that can only be hurt by certain things (sunlight, ash stake). A vampire NPC would possess a Descriptor that outlines these immunities and weaknesses. To succeed against such a foe, the Characters have to take advantage of its weaknesses (by adding to the narrative) in order to make a Check against it.
  • Consider the narrative and not the numbers: managing NPCs and Threats as an authentic facet of the narrative, and not as mere obstacles, opens up every situation to infinite possibilities. The Players at the table must learn to liberate themselves from the concept of rolling dice to resolve situations. Instead, they should focus on adding to the story to change their circumstances. A powerful enemy who shuns a fight in which they are at an open disadvantage, and exploits their resources to reverse the situation, is an antidote to the concept of the Bad Guy who only shows up to fight. Tying vital aspects of an NPC or Threat to the story can draw attention from the dice and help the Players focus on changing the narrative to crack challenges.

Managing Information

During their adventures, the Characters will have to collect information related to the environment in which they move. Often the information they collect is essential to continue with the story. Missing important information because of a failed Position Check can cause the narrative to stall and frustrate the Players. In general, when a Player tries to obtain information about the game world or what their Character might know, the Narrator must ask the following questions. As a guideline, we’ve created something called the Information Ladder, which must be followed in ascending order until the answer to the current narrative question is found.

1. Does one of the Character Descriptors grant the information? The Character gets it, with no further requirements.

2. Does it take time to get the information? The Narrator describes what’s required to the Player, and the Player will decide if their Character wants to spend the necessary time.

3. Does getting the information put the Character at risk? The Narrator introduces a Threat or NPC hostile to the Character into the Scene or asks the Player for a Defense Check in case of immediate danger.

4. Can the Character find the information? The Narrator provides guidance on who has it or how the Character can get it, creating a new Scene.

5. Could the information give the Character an advantage without hurting the narrative? The Narrator asks the Player for a Position Check.

If the information the Players are asking for doesn’t open up any new possibilities for the story, make that clear to them. Rather than wasting time on a dead end, point them toward a more promising path.

The Importance of Clear Communication

One of the most important considerations when designing a game is that Characters have access to information they need for the plot to continue. Demanding a Position Check to obtain vital information adds an element totally out of both the Characters’ and Narrator’s control. The Narrator always ends up holding the tiger by the tail, bending events to provide the information in another way. As always, the solution is to manipulate the narrative to modify the amount of time and resources needed to obtain the essential information. The Information Ladder previously presented can guide the Narrator when handling requests for information from the Players.

What if we want to write an investigative game? Same deal, or even more so. Finding clues and information is an essential part of this type of game. Here are some suggestions to highlight an investigative dynamic.

  • Specific Gifts and Descriptors can expand the Character’s access to information, allowing them to ignore some steps of the Information Ladder.
  • Rather than focusing on how to find clues, pay attention to how to interpret them and create a series of connected clues. An ancient book of magic is clearly at the center of a bloody ritual, but it is written in an incomprehensible language and the Characters have to find someone who can translate it.
  • Some Gifts may provide additional information that facilitates investigations, but which isn’t critical to the story. The first time the Characters use this information, they should receive an Advantage on their next Check.

Characters And Game World Descriptors

Descriptors apply to Characters, Opponents, and Threats. They are concise sentences that list a subject’s primary talents and flaws. The Narrator uses Descriptors to judge how subjects can apply their skills and knowledge during the game.

Descriptors can have different functions and forms. For example, Character Descriptors have a different form than those of Threats and NPCs.

For the Characters, Descriptors are composed of two parts: a positive part, which describes a Character’s ability or strength, and the Downside, which highlights a defect or weakness. In addition to helping Players play their Character Descriptors:

  • Can be invoked by the Characters whenever its benefit can bestow an advantage in the narrative. Invoking a Descriptor allows a Character involved in a Position Check to spend Soma to affect the Outcome.
  • Can be marked if, during a Scene, acting out the Descriptor’s Downside has created a complication for the Character. During an Interlude, each marked Descriptor gives the Character XP.

Example: Albert has the Descriptor, “I am a capable physician, but I have lost many patients along the way, and sometimes I doubt my ability.” Daniel, his partner, is having trouble breathing after searching a chemical laboratory.

Albert determines that this is a reaction to a substance that Daniel came into contact with in the lab after evaluating the symptoms. However, he has no way of knowing what substance it is, so to effectively treat the patient, the Narrator requires a Position Check. Albert invokes his Descriptor, “I am a capable physician,” to spend Soma Points for the Check.

Later, while negotiating with a nomadic community for supplies with his friends, Albert is asked to help a member of the allied community who was seriously hurt by a monster while on patrol. Despite Albert’s ability to save the patient, the Player who is interpreting him decides that his Character is shaken by the situation and reacts awkwardly and slowly. The patient dies, and Albert earns the disdain of the nomads; the negotiation becomes more challenging, but Albert can mark his Descriptor “Sometimes I doubt my ability” and claim an additional XP at the conclusion of the Crisis.

The Descriptors for NPCs and Threats are descriptive sentences that fit the narrative and that the Narrator can use to control those elements of the story. These Descriptors are typically composed like those of the Characters but may not have a Downside. The Descriptors for NPCs and Threats should be more flexible, so they can be modified to fit their place in the narrative.

Opponents and Threats have only one Descriptor characterizing them. It must clearly indicate how the subject behaves or what skills and knowledge it uses. The Opposition Level of the NPC or Threat changes as follows:

  • OL +1 if the effect of a Descriptor is relevant to or affects a Character, NPC, or Threat. To apply this modifier, it must be clear that the Descriptor’s effect focuses on a weakness of the target.

Example: the Character tries to push a creature whose Descriptor is “huge and heavy quadruped” to the ground.

  • OL -1 if the Character manages to exploit the Descriptor of an NPC or Threat. To apply this modifier, it must be clear that the Character’s actions are relevant to the NPC/Threat’s Descriptor.

Example: the Character faces an NPC with the Descriptor, “my body is made of ice and snow.” To target the NPC’s weakness, they light the blade of their weapon on fire.

Can I Change the OL by More Than +/-1?

No. An OL can only be modified by +/-1, even when other elements (such as the situation of the narrative) would suggest an additional modifier. However, modifiers can cancel each other out. For example, a Descriptor might benefit an opponent by increasing their OL by 1.

However, the OL is also lowered because the opponent is in the middle of being ambushed.

In that case, the two modifiers cancel each other out, and the OL remains unchanged.

In some cases, a Descriptor may be temporary:

  • A Descriptor can be generated by a Gift. In this case, it is the text of the Gift itself that indicates how and for how long it remains in play.
  • A Descriptor can be created from a Wound suffered by the subject (see the Wounds paragraph in the following pages).


Gifts are special abilities and skills that give characters and NPCs variety and depth. Each Gift must contain a complete description of its effect, which clarifies when and why it can be used in the game. As with Descriptors, NPC Gifts have some differences from Character Gifts.

On the Characters’ side, Gifts can affect many different game situations, from obtaining circumstantial bonuses to recovering Soma. NPCs and Threats tend to feature Gifts with simpler effects.

Gifts are by far the most “design-heavy” element the Narrator and Players have to create because they are the only elements of the game that must be balanced. Keep in mind that “balanced” is ultimately a subjective assessment. What you’re really after is a fun game and a good story.

The Golden Rule for creating a Gift is to start with its effect on the story when it is used.

This means setting aside bonuses and mechanical effects and prioritizing storytelling. A well-written Gift thoroughly describes the Gift’s effects.

Be sure to include any special requirements before a Gift can be used and what happens when the owner displays it.

At a mechanical level, a Gift is composed of one or more effects and one or more limits to its use. Below are a series of archetypal effects and limits to use as inspiration for creating Gifts. However, in the design phase, there are no limits to the effects we can assign to a Gift. Creating Gifts is, however, the design stage that requires the most experience with the game system. Effects and Archetypal Costs are a good basis from which to start. The Gifts also determine the total Soma value of the Character (as explained on page 73), which can be used as an additional balancing element. For example, a more powerful Gift should always bestow a smaller amount of Soma.

Balancing Gifts

One of the strengths of the Monad Echo system is that everything is based on storytelling. It makes narrative sense that the details of the story impact the usefulness of a Gift. However, it also makes it nearly impossible to perfectly balance Gifts. If you’re playing a Session in which investigation is important, a Gift focused on combat won’t be directly useful.

While perfect balance may be a tall order, there are a few guidelines you can follow to ensure the Gifts you create are balanced for a fun game:

  • Usage Frequency: A Gift that can be used consistently throughout the Session is typically stronger than one that only offers significant benefits occasionally.
  • Modifying the Gifts at each Interlude: The Interlude is not only a time to recap the story so far, but also an opportunity to re-balance Gifts that have proven too strong or too weak. The first balance adjustment is to modify the amount of Soma a Gift gives to the Character. You may not want to adjust the Gift’s Soma, for example, if it’s already at the maximum of 3 or minimum of 1. Instead, consider adding Effects or Archetypal Costs.
  • Interesting Gifts vs. Powerful Gifts: It won’t take long for everyone at the gaming table to realize that Monad Echo gives the Characters significant freedom of action and, therefore, power. Gifts that can increase the Character’s narrative potential are more interesting than mechanically exaggerated Gifts. An effect that gives a Character unique knowledge gives that Player a moment in the spotlight, even more so than a Gift that bestows Advantage when attacking. However, Gifts that give combat Advantages can also add more to the Character’s story if they’re combined with narrative constraints. For example, a Character might summon a primal rage in specific circumstances. The Character may be compelled to act in a certain way as a result.

Similarly, a duel has forms that a gentlemanly Character must obey in order to receive duel-related Advantages.

Archetypal Effects

Archetypal Effects are mechanical bonuses that represent what the Gift does when brought into play.

Some Gifts include two or more Archetypal Effects added together to arrive at the intended narrative outcome. The most iconic example is magic, which a Character can use to Manipulate Reality, Inflict Wounds, and Create Descriptors. As previously mentioned, the priority is always to create a Gift related to the Character’s story, limiting its potential power with the addition of Archetypal Costs.

Remember that the number of Gifts determines the Characters’ overall Soma pool. The process is explained on page 73, but as a general rule, an average Gift gives 2 Soma to a Character. Modifying this value is another method of keeping the Gifts in balance without going overboard with the Archetypal Effects and Costs. 3 Soma is appropriate for Gifts that are considered weaker than the average, while 1 Soma is appropriate for those that are stronger.

2 Advantage

Effect: Provides +1 Advantage to the Character’s Checks in a specific situation.

Keywords: expert / routine action /focused / above average skill.

Tips: This is the standard Effect to complete a Gift in the absence of other ideas or to emphasize a particular specialization of the Character. The Archetypal Effects of Gifts can stack, allowing the Advantage granted by this Effect to be combined with benefits from other Gifts. This is an excellent way to reinforce the Gift’s characterization.

2 Advantages

Effect: Provides +2 Advantages to the Character Checks in a specific situation.

Keywords: expert / specific training / focused skill / above average.

Tips: This Effect is great for highlighting a field of action where the Character excels more than anyone else. Due to its significant benefits, you may wish to tie this Gift to Costs that limit it to specific narrative situations.

Another recommended Cost is Check Limit because it binds the Gift to Position or Defense Checks.

3 Advantages

Effect: provides +3 Advantages to a single Character Check.

Keywords: master stroke / unleashing power / supremacy / targeted action.

Tips: This Effect is great for showcasing a power burst when a Character shouldn’t just succeed, they should do it with style. You may wish to reserve this Effect to Gifts that guarantee a Character’s success when displaying their signature skill.

Additional Action

Effect: The Character has the ability to act a second time immediately after their turn in an Exchange, act a second time at any point during the Exchange, or perform secondary actions.

Keywords: rush / quick / support / hit and run.

Tips: This Effect is used to create moments when a Character is able to perform multiple actions at the same time or improves their position as the result of an action. This Effect adds an extra action, so it’s best suited for Gifts that involve multiple parts, such as a hit-and-run. In story terms, when an Effect adds actions, it’s often related to a self-sacrifice of some kind. Adding a Cost of Soma, Wounds, or Increments is a great way to represent the effort required.


Effect: One or more NPCs are in the Character’s service. Each has a distinctive Descriptor and will do their best to help the Character. The Character can also sacrifice or use an ally for additional effects.

Keywords: animal companion / followers / minions / gang.

Tips: This Effect encompasses all of the Character’s possible connections to other NPCs traveling alongside them. Followers, trusted animals or guardians are all grouped under this Effect. When creating a Gift featuring this Effect, it’s important to consider the Character’s options if their Allies are eliminated or cut out of the action. Otherwise, the Gift could become useless during a Scenario. An excellent Additional Effect can be the possibility for the Ally to absorb a Wound in place of the Character.

Automatic Positive Outcome

Effect: A single Check performed by the Character is automatically a positive Outcome of some kind or, alternatively, a Failed Check can turn into a positive Outcome.

Keywords: determination / flipping the situation / infallible / aiming at the goal.

Tips: This Effect can be very powerful, so it’s important to limit its use by tying it to one or more Costs. A time limit or a specific narrative limit are both good options. In general, it is not very exciting if the Character always succeeds at the right time through the use of a Gift. Instead, a better story can be told if a specific situation, such as anger or pride, drives them to excel at any cost, affecting their choices in the story.

Create A Descriptor

Effect: The Character can create a Descriptor that allows them to power-up or extend their abilities. The Descriptor created has an effect on the Character and modifies their abilities.

Keywords: impose / manipulate / manage / create.

Tips: This Effect is one of the most versatile and can be used in any Gift where the Character creates something to use to their advantage. Magic is the simplest example, but other examples include the ability to adapt to the situation or having easy access to resources. The advice is to strongly tie Create a Descriptor to a theme that calls to mind the background and traits of the Character. Otherwise, it can be too versatile an Effect.


Effect: The Character can alter their appearance in the course of a Scene or make sure that they are not noticed by others when entering or leaving the Scene. No one can prevent them from doing so.

Keywords: underestimate / followers / minions / gang

Tips: This effect is useful if the Character must have freedom of action and keep a low profile. At the same time, it can also represent individuals who enjoy more freedom on a social level. A good Cost related to this Effect is Reaction to a Specific Event, as it allows you to set a condition (such as a certain behavior or the activation of other Gifts) that reveals the Character’s deception.

Effect Token

Effect: The use of the Gift grants the Character 1 or more named Token linked to the Gift itself. The Character can then spend Tokens to create another Archetypal Effect.

Keywords: strategy / power charge / accumulation / combination.

Tips: This Effect combines a number of different abilities that must be understood in light of the Character’s skills. It is a great Effect for creating combinations, allowing the Character to accumulate Tokens that will be useful in the future.

Freedom OF Movement

Effect: Allows the Character to move freely, ignoring environmental and enemy threats, such as having to do a Defense Check to avoid interference.

Keywords: escape routes / disappear / appear / hunt.

Tips: This Effect can allow the Character to avoid Defense Checks while moving or following a target. It is optimal for elusive characters or as an Additional Effect of an Outcome with an Increment.

Get XP

Effect: The Character receives 1 or 2 XP for achieving a particular type of action related to their story and personal goals. In general terms, performing the action gives the Character inner strength.

Keywords: reward / goal / improve / willpower.

Tips: Because it offers a long-term benefit for the Character rather than a quick bonus that might upset the balance of the story, this Effect is ideal as a complement to some Gifts. The story of the Character should be taken into consideration, to determine whether there is a valid motivation for them to strive for improvement or to learn from mistakes.

Inflicting a Wound

Effect: Allows you to inflict 1 additional Wound on a target or inflict 1 Wound by simply activating the Gift.

Keywords: mighty / anger / targeted / specialized

Tips: This Effect provides offensive power and makes the Character more dangerous. Given the low number and importance of Wounds, the ability to inflict Additional Wounds should be limited with a dedicated Cost, such as an Outcome with Increment or, even better, a Narrative Limit. The Gift Effect may also indicate a power that the Character manifests, inflicting 1 Wound on potential targets, regardless of the Character’s actual intention.


Effect: Allows you to interrupt an opponent’s action to activate a special Effect or act before them.

Keywords: lightning fast / feint / foreshadowing / bodyguard

Tips: This Effect allows the Character to act outside of its activation and to interrupt what is happening in the fiction. It is an effective way to show off a character’s propensity for foreseeing and managing danger by enabling them to put themselves between the danger and another person or object or to set off an Effect that is related to a particular occurrence.

Manipulate Npcs

Effect: The Character can impose conditions and behaviors on the NPCs they interact with. By default, the Effect is automatic on Minor NPCs and may require a Position Check for Major NPCs.

Keywords: charm / fear / charisma / trust.

Tips: This Effect represents a Character’s innate charm or social abilities.

This is a very helpful Effect in social settings, so it is advisable to limit its use with Costs such as Once per Scene. Otherwise, the Character will activate it whenever they can.

Manipulating Reality

Effect: The Character can decide on an Effect and make it real. The Effect can vary based on context and encompass several other Archetypal Effects, such as Reshaping the Environment or Inflicting a Wound. It is usually good to specify what can be done and what falls within the limits of the Gift, such as if the Gift affects living beings.

Keywords: magic / arcane power / supernatural item / supernatural.

Tips: Like Create a Descriptor, this Effect allows the Character to apply the Gift directly to the narrative without going through a Position Check.

It is advisable to tie it to Costs that require the investment of resources, such as Soma or Wounds.

Multiple Benefits

Effect: A list of minor benefits (from 2 to 4 Effects) that the Character can use alternatively or all at once. Benefits can be inspired by all the other Archetypal Effects. The use of each must be linked to a specific action.

Keywords: resources / versatile / variety / multifunction.

Tips: This Effect is especially good for Gifts that do many different things. This makes it possible to incorporate a variety of skills into a single Gift. It is important that all options of the Gift are consistent with its description.

Multiple Targets

Effect: The use of the Gift allows the Character to hit more than one target with their powers. Each target still requires a separate Position Check. Alternatively, the Character can automatically eliminate an NPC with 1 Wound without going through a Check.

Keywords: bloodlust / impetuousness / alone against all / aimed shot

Tips: This effect makes the Character fearsome against multiple opponents.

The most suitable Cost is Increment Expense. In other words, using the Effect requires the success of a Check but is not limited by more dire costs. Against minor enemies with a single Wound, consider using this Effect as a secondary bonus to another action.

Obtaining Information

Effect: Provides useful information to the Character on one or more specific topics. The Character obtains useful information or suggestions from the Narrator without the need to have a relevant Descriptor.

Keywords: wisdom / intuition / clairvoyance / travel.

Tips: This Effect represents knowledge a Character would know or have easy access to, allowing the Narrator to pass on information without requiring a Check. The type of information that is gathered should be related to the skills and experience listed in the Character Descriptors.

Recover Soma

Effect: The Character can recover 1 Soma by achieving a particular goal, such as demonstrating something or making progress towards a personal quest. In general, it is a kind of reward that provides inner strength to the Character.

Keywords: determination / goal / inner strength / goal.

Tips: Thanks to this effect, the Character can replenish their Soma reserve if they experience fulfillment or satisfaction as the result of one of their actions. Tie this recovery to specific actions that have significance to the Character’s background to avoid abuse of this Effect. Avoid creating a loop with Soma Expense. It’s possible to end up in the untenable situation of spending 1 Soma and then immediately recovering it.

Recover Wounds

Effect: The Character can recover, or help someone recover, 1 or more Wounds over the course of the Scene. This Effect can also represent a regeneration power or immortality.

Keywords: healing / regeneration / taking a breather / endurance.

Tips: Thanks to this Effect, the Character can heal themselves or others.

When thinking about immortality, it is good to limit the use of this Effect so as not to make Wounds management during a Scene superfluous. The Character’s recovery may be free and more rapid if the plan is to represent a regeneration power, on the other hand.


Effect: The Character can copy a Gift or Descriptor they witnessed in action. Alternatively, they can have access to several Gifts for a limited time.

Keywords: adaptation / ace up your sleeve / replicate / imitate.

Tips: This Effect gives great versatility to a Character, and for this reason, it must be limited in its use with Costs, such as Soma Expense or Once per Scene. Check that the Gifts accessible to the Character are consistent with their Descriptors.

Reshaping the Environment

Effect: The Character has the power to alter their surroundings, resulting in a specific Descriptor. Normally the Effect lasts a Scene, but it can also be permanent. It is not possible to directly harm someone by reshaping the environment. If that is the only thing that makes sense, request a Position Check from the Character.

Keywords: nature / light / dark / passage.

Tips: The substantial difference from the Create a Descriptor Effect is that this Gift does not act on the Character but on the surrounding environment.

It’s a good idea to link the related Descriptors to the narrative theme of the Gift, such as altering nature or a specific element.


Effect: The Character owns or can easily get the resources they need.

This includes special items that can confer 1 Advantage.

Keywords: wealth / travel bag / contacts / organized.

Tips: As with the Ally Effect, it’s important to consider where the Character draws their Resources from and what they can do to recover them if they are separated from the source by the narrative.


Effect: The use of the Gift allows the Character to confer 1 or more Additional Successes on an ally. When applied to an NPC, the Gift allows them to increase the Opposition Level. It is also possible to transfer other benefits such as Soma, Wounds, or temporary Descriptors. The Effect is active for the duration of a Check in the case of Additional Successes, or for a Scene in the case of Descriptors. The Narrator can evaluate the other cases.

Keywords: team play / advice / leader / strategist.

Tips: This Effect is a good way to empower Characters related to teamwork or leadership. The Once per Scene limitation is a good Cost here so as not to limit a Character to a support role.


Effect: The Character is able to prevent an enemy from using a Gift for an action or lower the enemy’s Opposition Level by 1 or more.

Keywords: exterminator / specialized against a threat / hatred / revenge

Tips: This Effect allows the Character to weaken enemies and must be linked to some knowledge or to a drive that pushes them against that specific threat.

Archetypal Costs

Archetypal Costs represent a series of limits to prevent a Gift from being used excessively during the game. The use of a Gift will be more focused, distinctive, and consistent with the Character’s story with the addition of an Archetypal Cost.


Effect: A predetermined trigger activates a Character’s Gift. The Activator should symbolize the Character’s bond with their power or their method of concealing their power. It’s vital the Activator is appropriate to the Character’s Descriptor.

Keywords: secret identity / true self / reveal oneself for what one is in reality.

Tips: It’s important to select an Activator that is relevant to the Character and their story. When trying to define an Activator, look for ideas that express the Character’s identity or hint at their dark secret.

Check Drawback

Effect: When the Gift is activated, the Character receives one or more Drawbacks to Position or Defense Checks for either an action or the entire Scene.

Keywords: guard down / distraction / obsession / confusion.

Tips: When applied to the entire Scene, this Cost can be a serious challenge.

It’s a good way to balance a very strong Gift. When the Drawback is applicable only to the next action, on the other hand, this Cost allows you to balance a Gift with a minor negative effect. In the narrative, a Drawback can be justified by linking it to the Character’s emotional state, such as being frantic or confused by what happens after using the Gift.

Check Limit

Effect: The Gift can only be activated during a certain type of Check: either Position or Defense.

Keywords: specialty / perfect defense / perfect action / unrivaled.

Tips: This Cost is handy for limiting Effects that grant Additional Successes or that might be used too frequently. Tying a Gift to a type of Check is also a good way to add personality to its use.

Drawback Token

Effect: Using the Gift grants the Character 1 or more named Tokens that are linked to the Gift itself. The Narrator spends the Tokens later on to represent a long-term cost to the Character, such as creating a negative Descriptor, assigning 1 Drawback, or other effects. As a minor Effect, this Cost allows you to remove any Drawback Tokens accumulated during an Interlude. The action that generated them must be linked to the Character’s backstory.

Keywords: ignore the consequences / insanity / unpredictable / promise.

Tips: This Cost represents a mix between spending resources and creating long-term consequences for the Scenario. The Character gains an immediate edge in exchange for a deferred disadvantage that the Narrator will impose at a later time. Use this Cost to represent special powers that aren’t fully under the Character’s control.

Increment Expense

Effect: The Gift can be activated by spending an Increment.

Keywords: mastery / superiority / show / combination.

Tips: This Cost is particularly suitable for Gifts related to combat or fast actions. The frequency of use is limited by the number of Checks performed by the Character.

Narrative Limit

Effect: A specific circumstance that occurs in the story, such as a one-on-one challenge or the presence of a particular object, must occur in order for the Gift to be activated. Alternatively, the Gift must generate a special Descriptor representing the Gift’s limits.

Keywords: basic rules / tools / situation / routine

Tips: Tying a Gift’s use to a narrative element allows this Cost to be one of the most adaptable and distinctive available. Using a Narrative Limit can provide a way to steer the story in the direction you want by requiring the Character to fulfill specific requirements. A mechanical Narrative Limit is frequently suggested in the Gift’s description.

Negative Descriptor

Effect: Activating the Gift allows the Narrator to create a related Descriptor that highlights a defect or loss of control. The Descriptor remains active throughout the Scene.

Keywords: loss of control / unexpected problem / attracting attention / flaw.

Tips: This Cost is great for providing narrative hooks that the Narrator can exploit to re-energize the story. The Character avoids immediate direct Costs in exchange for a potential external complication.

Once Until the Next Interlude

Effect: After being used, the Gift cannot be reused until after an Interlude.

Keywords: recharge / rest / preparation / limited

Tips: This Cost is a significant limit to the use of a Gift and is usually only applied to one of the two Archetypal Effects. In this way, a very powerful Effect can be limited without completely impeding the use of a Gift.

Once PER Scenario

Effect: The Gift can be used once per Scenario.

Keywords: twist / turn the tables / great power / undisputed protagonist of the moment

Tips: This cost should be reserved only for Gifts that have a powerful impact on the narrative or that, when used, allow the Character to perform incredible feats. If the idea behind the Gift is truly potent, such as resurrecting or permanently altering a Minor NPC, the limit of Once per Scenario gives the Gift the proper emphasis while also adding a twist to the story. This Cost is a significant limit to the use of a Gift and is usually only applied to one of the two Archetypal Effects. In this way, a very powerful Effect can be limited without completely impeding the use of a Gift.

Once PER Scene

Effect: The Gift can be used once per Scene.

Keywords: distinctive action / moment under the spotlight / marked / regular feature.

Tips: This is by far the most versatile Cost because it provides a moment in the spotlight for the Character’s Gift in each Scene.

Random Effect

Effect: The activation of the Gift is linked to a die roll. When certain numbers are rolled, something will go wrong. The Gift will either not work at all or will work but with a significant flaw. Alternatively, you can create a list of six random minor Effects that accompany the Gift’s use.

Keywords: random / malfunction / try your luck / bet.

Tips: This Cost can be a good substitute for set Costs such as Soma or Wounds, but should be used sparingly. Be aware that a Gift can, with certain rolls of the dice, either always activate for free or always have a Cost, which can be frustrating for the player over time.

Reaction TO A Specific Event

Effect: The Gift automatically activates or stops when a specific event occurs.

Keywords: defense / reaction / contrast / preparation.

Tips: This Cost is great for encouraging the Character to avoid certain actions that effectively put an end to the Gift’s use. This is a variant of Narrative Limit that relies on external circumstances rather than on the Player’s actions.


Effect: Activating the Gift requires a special focus or the sacrifice of an expensive resource. This could be necessary at each use or just once, depending on other Effects and Costs, at the discretion of the Narrator.

Keywords: essential components / ritual / pledge / specific equipment.

Tips: Gifts related to magic or that generally require a focus to manifest may have a Sacrifice as a Cost. Consider as part of this Cost that the sacrifice won’t always be readily available to the Character or that the Character must come up with a creative way to use the focus.

Soma Expense

Effect: Using the Gift requires the investment of 1 or more Soma.

Keywords: energy expense / limited resources / commitment / manifesting power.

Tips: This is the best Cost for limiting Gifts that can be used multiple times in a Scene. They give the Character a lot of leeway in managing the Gift while imposing a limit.

Wound Expense

Effect: Activating the Gift inflicts 1 or more Wounds to the Character.

Keywords: effort / uncovering the flank / adrenaline / punishment.

Tips: Paying 1 Wound is a very heavy cost. As a result, it is appropriate for Gifts that are extremely flexible or that have a significant impact on the story.


Soma quantifies the ability of a Character to draw on its own inner strength. It is a resource exclusive to the Characters and is determined in the creation phase. A Player can spend Soma to increase their Character’s chances of success in an action. Each Soma point spent means an Additional Success in a Position or Defense Check.

The Player must explain how one of their Character’s Descriptors helps them steer the story in the direction they want in order to use Soma on a Check.

Soma points can also be spent to activate the effect of some Gifts.

The entire Soma pool is regenerated during an Interlude.

Calculate the Character’s Soma Pool

The total of the points conferred by each Gift determines a Character’s Soma pool. A Monad Echo character typically has five Gifts, giving them a total Soma between five and fifteen, with twelve being the average. An average Gift should confer 2 Soma, a weaker one 3, and a strong Gift should only provide 1 Soma.


All creatures in the game world have a reserve of Wounds, which, in terms of gameplay, determines how long a subject can be in action before being rendered inactive or, worse, killed. Wounds are an indicator of a creature’s capacity to withstand injuries and traumas.

Every time a Character or NPC receives a Wound, the Narrator creates a temporary Descriptor to describe its effects in accordance with the narrative that caused it. This Descriptor is used to manage the effects of the Wound on the Character, including any limitations they may incur.

Wounds frequently represent physical injuries, but can also illustrate psychological traumas such as fear and confusion, or afflictions such as hunger and fatigue.

The outcome of a Position or Defense Check may also result in a Wound. For this reason, the Wound’s Descriptor needs to take the context of the ongoing story into account. The Descriptor of a Wound is always negative. It is an impediment to the activities of the sufferer and is never marked for XP.

However, a Character might occasionally be able to use the Descriptor to their advantage. If they can demonstrate how the condition benefits them in the story, the Character can use Soma just like they would with a regular Descriptor.

Example: The Character has a broken hand as a result of a Wound. In a negotiation, they use their wounded condition to appeal to the tender heart of some NPCs, so they can justify spending Soma to take advantage of the Wound’s Descriptor.

Each Character typically has three Wound slots available, but certain Gifts can increase that number.

The Wounds available to NPCs are determined according to their type.

When a target fills the last available Wound slot, it is the Narrator who decides their fate in accordance with the events of the story up to that moment. A Character almost never dies or becomes permanently disabled after receiving their final Wound. However, they won’t be able to act anymore, at least until the following Interlude.

Wounds are a resource. They allow you to collect damage and stay in the game, but also activate the effect of various Gifts. It is common for a Character to sustain Wounds, but it is just as easy to recover them.

If it is narratively appropriate, a Character may recover 1 Wound at the end of a Scene, though not after the one in which the Wound was received. For this purpose, it is crucial that a Wound’s description be sufficiently detailed to make it clear to everyone what needs to be done to recover from it. Never allow a Wound to become wholly incapacitating.

Instead, treat it as a potential source of story complications that need to be resolved by the Characters.

However, for everything that is not a Character, the Narrator determines whether the subject has had the chance to heal from the harm they have sustained from one Scene to the next and, if so, restores one or more of their Wounds.

Death OF the Characters

The Wound rules always leave an open door for a wounded Character to come back, because they don’t specify that suffering the last Wound is equivalent to certain death. If it is absolutely necessary to the tone of the setting and the desired experience, you can add this specification to your game (as in the Broken Tales Village mode, for example). The possibility of permanently losing a Character is a very strong drive for ALL the actions that a Player makes, especially when the Character is down to a single Wound. This is important to remember when designing games, especially if we envision epic tales with protagonists who bravely engage in every fight.

So the Characters are immortal? No, but you can implement some measures to make sure that Players reach the “point of no return” of their Character with more awareness, exploiting Wounds as a resource. Different types of mortality can be created by developing a Special Rule.

By specifying Descriptors that symbolize the Character’s descent into the dark part of their soul, Valraven’s Road to Perdition enables the Characters to avoid Wounds. The Character can avoid up to 3 Wounds with this system, but they will be converted into Descriptors which will have a negative impact on their attitude. It is the Player who creates every step down the Road to Perdition, and this also allows them to decide (at the completion of the fourth step) how their mercenary will leave the world for good.

Scars in Dead Air: Seasons are permanent Descriptors representing injuries or problems that a Character develops after surviving the last Wound suffered. Scars convey the feeling of a harsh and deadly environment but leave room for acts of courage and final sacrifice, allowing a Player to decide whether to risk everything during a Scene, with the knowledge that in case of Failure, the Character will forever be marked by the experience.

~~~ Equipment

In Monad Echo, everything a Character needs and can be justified by their Descriptors will be in their possession. As a general rule, possessing something simply expands the Character’s narrative possibilities, allowing them to declare different kinds of actions. When the narrative is broken down into rules, the Character’s equipment becomes a useful indicator to understand if what they are doing succeeds, requires a Check, or cannot be performed.

Example: The Astonishing Pied Piper without a Name always has his trusty, trained mouse named Hamelin with him. The Pied Piper can employ his little friend for various tasks, even complex ones, such as exploiting a crack in the wall to retrieve the key to the cell in which the Hunters were locked up.

Weapons and armor

Weapons and armor have no damage modifiers or protective scores.

However, that doesn’t make them any less effective or important to the Characters. The true value of a good weapon is represented by the narrative opportunities that it will give to its owner. In gameplay terms, the Narrator will evaluate each of these opportunities whenever a Check is required. Whenever possible, it is important to include details such as the weapons and armor of an NPC in their Descriptor. Alternatively, you can focus on the NPCs’ combat role, as it’s usually possible to reason out their equipment from their duties.

Let’s consider some examples:

  • Having a bow allows a Character to make a Position Check against an NPC that’s too far away to hit with a blade.
  • A warrior in a duel can ably defend themself with just a sword, but in a melee, armor becomes much more important to their defense.
  • A huge monster may have thick skin that can’t be pierced by any spear, but a Character with fast hands might throw a vial of poison down its throat.

Weapons and armor may not directly affect an NPC or Threat’s OL.

However, they do have meaning in that they allow Characters to address narrative obstacles in clever ways. Additionally, always keep in mind the circumstances that gave rise to the Position or Defense Check. Charging an enemy with a dagger will result in a Defense Check long before the Character requires a Position Check to see if their attack lands.

Wealth and possessions

There is no real need to track treasures or anything else, aside from the potential narrative impact they may have, because Monad Echo does not explicitly specify the values of every piece of equipment. When a Character prepares to obtain or seek some material good, the Narrator must analyze two elements:

Does the Character’s Descriptors justify owning that specific piece of equipment or allow for the Character to obtain it? Example: For Garou the Old Wolf, obtaining horses and supplies for a long journey could be really complicated. All his Descriptors point to a wild wolf who, even when transformed into a human, does not possess any wealth.

Regina the Thief of Hearts, on the other hand, will only need to make her requests known to a few “friends” in the city to quickly get what she wants, thanks to her extensive network of connections and favors.

The second assessment to be made is: is the object of the Character’s desires easily available, or is it a rare and valuable commodity? In the second case, the Narrator should find a way to pass that information to the Character, who will have to decide whether to actively go find and obtain the equipment.

THE Value OF the Equipment

In many games, it’s important for Characters to maximize their bonuses by spending time obtaining the best equipment. Because, let’s face it, if there is a chance to increase their chances of success, why shouldn’t the Players take it? However, in order to tell a good story, it’s much more important for the equipment to have narrative value than for it to have good stats. As a result, Monad Echo seeks to avoid putting such a heavy emphasis on gear, instead focusing on the Characters’ Descriptors and Gifts. Rather than improving stats, equipment can give a Character additional options or improve their odds of success.

It’s possible to give greater emphasis to the quality of a piece of equipment if it’s important for the setting and style of your game. Making a Character’s special equipment into a Gift is the best way to emphasize its role because you can then establish mechanical effects that represent the equipment’s potential uses. Following is a list of additional suggestions for making equipment relevant: ? Apply Advantage once per Scene: With this straightforward Special Rule, you can highlight unique items and fine craftsmanship. Once per Scene, these items will be highlighted and grant 1 Advantage to the Character who displays them. The limit of Once per Scene limits the use of the Advantage and, at the same time, highlights the quality of the equipment when it is invoked in the narrative.

  • Equipment Slots: This Special Rule gives a number of “slots” that the Player can fill with the equipment that’s important to their Character. The Player can mark a slot to gain an Advantage given by that specific item when it’s appropriate to the story. This system is great for highlighting settings where equipment is an active and important part of the narrative.
  • Rank: with this Special Rule (used in Valraven: The Chronicles of Blood and Iron), each Character has a Rank that identifies their importance in the hierarchy of the mercenary company. The higher the Rank, the more resources the Character can access.


Threats are characteristics of the game world, like unique locations, environmental dangers, and any other circumstances where the Characters may face danger, but that danger is not an actual NPC. The drawbridge of a haunted castle or an illusion cast by a powerful witch are both excellent examples of Threats.

To create a Threat, the Narrator must establish three things:

  • Create a Descriptor that indicates the characteristics of the Threat.
  • Establish a Threat Opposition Level
  • Optional: Give a Gift to the Threat to represent a special ability.

Threats are nothing more than a way to prepare potential Position or Defense Checks. They are also a good way for the Narrator to keep track of what may happen during the Session. Often, a Threat will be created on the fly as a direct result of a Character’s action and will not require additional work for the Narrator other than assigning an OL and Descriptor.

Example: Sun Wukong the Amazing Monkey is chasing a mysterious killer that his companions caught red-handed. The mysterious, cloaked figure leaps quickly from one rooftop to the next, almost as if flying. Sun Wukong springs to the chase, following the figure from roof to roof. It is raining on a dark night, so the Narrator decides that Wukong must pass a Defense Check or lose sight of his target.

However, it is a good habit to establish a Descriptor for each Threat, as it provides a reference for the Threat’s trigger and effects. The Gifts of

Threats are simpler than those of the Characters, as they serve to represent a particular effect that is activated when the Character interacts with the Threat.

In order to create a Gift for a Threat, start by describing what happens in the story when the Character is subjected to the Threat’s effects.

Below you’ll find a list of generic Gifts to use as a base for creating Threats on the fly.

Threat Gifts must always state their activating condition.

Unless there are valid narrative justifications, there is no reason why a Threat Gift should not affect NPCs as well.

Clock: The Threat accumulates Tokens of a certain type in relation to the actions of the Characters or as time passes. Once a predetermined number of Tokens is reached, a special event described in the Gift activates. This is a useful way to emphasize the importance of time passing or gathering resources while conducting an exploration.

Create Effect: When the Threat is activated, it creates a Descriptor that represents how the situation changes and is affected by the Threat.

Damage: When the Threat triggers, it inflicts 1 Wound tied to the specifics of the Threat. This Wound comes in addition to any Wound that a Character might have already received from a failed Check.

Disturbance: The proximity of the Threat weakens a certain capacity, such as magic being weakened in a place of strong religious faith. Those who remain in close proximity to the Threat receive 1 Drawback (or -1 to the Opposition Level of NPCs) when using abilities that are affected by the Threat’s power.

Fulcrum: The proximity of the Threat enhances a certain capacity, such as magic in a place full of arcane energy. Those who remain in close proximity to the Threat receive 1 Advantage (or +1 to the Opposition Level of NPCs) when using abilities that are affected by the Threat’s power.

Hostile: The Threat consumes those who approach. A Character loses 1 Soma at the beginning of each Scene, while an NPC lowers the Opposition Level of their first action by 1.


Monad Echo allows you to manage NPCs very quickly, defining only a few of their features so that the Narrator can easily create one on the fly during a Session. The following “standard” guidelines will help you create an NPC. The Narrator is always free to change details to better fit their idea. For instance, even though the rules state that a Main NPC should typically have an Opposition Level of 4 or higher, there is nothing to prevent assigning a low Opposition Level to an important NPC in the story to represent someone who is socially influential but completely incapable of handling other situations.

Main NPCs

The true antagonists of the story. Even when they aren’t opposing the Characters, NPCs have an Agenda that will have a significant impact on events. Main NPCs must have the ability to influence events and provide an interesting challenge for the Characters.

Minor NPCs

All of the people surrounding the Main NPCs or tied to them are Minor NPCs. A Lesser NPC will almost never be much of a challenge for a Character, but rather a method to connect the situations of the story to the Main NPCs. Given their situational importance, a Minor NPC may also not have an Agenda. Their actions should either be in support of or reaction to the Main NPCs and Characters.

It goes without saying that there are a lot of Minor NPCs who could end up being a problem for the Characters.

NPC Gifts are simpler than those of the Characters, as they confer bonus effects in very specific areas and almost never have activation costs.

The best way to create the Gift for an NPC is to describe what happens in the narrative when the NPC shows off their Gift.

Example: An NPC with ties to the vampire myth may possess the Immortal Gift, making them impossible to kill unless using one of the Gift’s specific methods. Your concept of immortality in the story determines how it manifests itself. Will the vampire collapse into a cloud of smoke under the Character’s blows, or will they choose to disregard any harm unless the Characters find a way to target a weakness? Does their body instantly regenerate before the incredulous eyes of those present? It is simple to detail each of the Gift’s effects by describing what we envision will occur in the story.

Below you’ll find a list of generic Gifts to use as a base for creating NPC on the fly. You can also create them with the system suggested for Characters and adapt what you need for NPCs. Often, however, a Gift designed for a Character will require a minimum of adaptation.

  • NPCs do not have Soma, so Gifts that require a Soma cost to be activated must change so that their use is limited to one or more times per Scene.
  • NPCs do not gain Advantages or Drawbacks. These effects must be converted into the modifier equivalent (+1/-1) to the Opposition Level assigned to the action against the NPC.
  • Many NPCs have few Wounds, so paying a Wound to activate a Gift can be a difficult cost to bear. The best course of action in these situations is to make the Gift’s initial activation free in each Scene where the NPC uses it.

This list of Gifts represents generic characteristics, adaptable to every type of NPC and creature.

Ally/Servant: The NPC has a follower, a companion animal, or some kind of servant ready to give their life for them. The Ally is an additional NPC that will act to the best of their ability to help those who possess this Gift and, in case of danger, may defend its patron by suffering 1 Wound in their place.

Armored/Thick-skinned: The NPC can sustain 1 Additional Wound or ignore a certain type of Wound, such as being immune to fire.

Band/Pack: NPCs with this Gift increase their Opposition Level by 1 when they act against a target and have the support of one or more teammates.

Destiny/Duty-bound: The will of the NPC cannot be easily broken. Once per Scene, the NPC can ignore or disrupt the effect of a Gift being used against them.

Determined/Devoted: Religious beliefs or iron determination means the NPC never loses their temper or their focus. Any attempt to convince or manipulate the NPC through words or a supernatural power receives 2 Drawbacks.

Expert/Skillful: Increase the Opposition Level of an NPC by 1 when a Check relates to their area of skill or knowledge. The specialization must be indicated in the Gift description.

Intuition/Storyteller: The NPC has a good sense of who is in front of them. When talking with someone, they can intuit or deduce one of their Descriptors. A Character can perform a Defense Check to avoid revealing something about themselves.

Playing Dirty/Poison: A lethal poison increases the danger of Wounds. The Wounds affected can only be healed by using an appropriate antidote or at the conclusion of a story. Unlike standard Wounds, they cannot be healed at the end of the Scene.

Sworn Enemy/Master of Arms: The NPC is a dangerous opponent in combat and, once per Scene, can inflict 1 Additional Wound when they hit.

Versatile/Resources: The NPC has a second Descriptor that stands for a very valuable personal resource, such as enormous wealth or unique combat skill. When an NPC displays their secret weapon for the first time in a Scene, it causes 1 Drawback to any potential Defense Check a Character might face.


Every Main NPC must have an Agenda that outlines how they will behave. The Agenda is a vital aid for the Narrator, as it provides a guide for the NPC’s actions during the game. When an NPC has achieved all parts of their Agenda, the Narrator must evaluate whether to write a new one. Agendas are crucial because they quickly and effectively give the NPCs purpose and depth, indicating how they will behave in the Scenario in relation to the actions of the Characters.

The Agenda must be written using the Descriptors template, which calls for just one brief narrative sentence outlining the goal and purpose of the NPC. A good way to determine an Agenda is to imagine what that NPC’s goals are in relation to their options. Keep in mind that some Agendas are more plausible than others. A good objective should not be within the NPC’s immediate reach and should require them to enter into circumstances and Scenes that involve the Characters.

NPC Archetypes

Main NPC

This archetype is helpful for defining significant NPCs and the main antagonists opposing the Characters.

Descriptor: Needs to represent their abilities, merits, and any flaws.

Agenda: If this NPC’s goals are achieved, it should considerably change or even resolve the Scenario.

Wounds: From 1 to 6, in relation to the NPC importance. 3 Wounds are considered the average for most Main NPCs.

Opposition Level: 3 to 7.

Gifts: 1 or 2. Gifts are great for providing additional prowess or powers to areas in which the Main NPC is skilled.

Minor NPC

This archetype is the foundation for creating all the secondary NPCs, thugs, and servants of the Main NPCs. This archetype allows you to easily manage a large number of NPCs in the Scene.

Descriptor: Needs to represent their abilities, merits, and any flaws.

Agenda: Not required. If they have one, it is linked to a Main NPC.

Wounds: 1, with 2 or 3 as exceptions. As a rule, most Minor NPCs should have 1 single Wound.

Opposition Level: 3 to 5.

Gifts: 1 or no Gifts. Given the nature of “extras,” most Minor NPCs should not possess a Gift.

Special NPC

This category includes every NPC that is not directly tied to an adventure’s plot. NPCs used to add personality to a setting, serve as part of an overarching plot, or possess great power fall into this category.

Descriptor: Representing its abilities and its link with the setting.

Agenda: Representing the essence of the NPC in the game world.

Wounds: From 1 to 6, in relation to the NPC importance. 3 Wounds are considered the average for most creatures, but 4, 5, or even 6 Wounds can characterize gigantic monsters and legendary heroes.

Opposition Level: 5 to 9.

Gifts: 1 or 2, to better characterize the ability and power of the NPC.

Simplicity of NPC Creation Vs Characterization

A key component of Monad Echo is keeping the creation of NPCs and Threats simple. The Narrator is the player with the most responsibility, so making it easier for them to manage game components helps them concentrate on what really matters and keep the Session moving. It can help to focus on just a few distinctive qualities possessed by the most important or charismatic opponents.

  • Opposition Level: A high OL is difficult for Characters to overcome through Checks, but in itself does not add anything to the narrative. A high OL enables you to anticipate the players’ intentions, forcing them to build various advantages by exploiting the NPC Descriptor and attempting to lower their Opposition Level.
  • Wounds: On average, a tenacious opponent should have 3 Wounds. 3 is not a random number, but an average we have reached through long-term playtests. An NPC with 3 wounds is able to “resist” the actions of the Characters for one or two exchanges, which should allow enough time for meaningful additions to the story while preventing the fight from becoming repetitive. It’s possible to spread confrontations over more than one Scene. However, that is a situation that should emerge from the demands of the story, not simply because the Characters need more time to chip away at a powerful NPC. Each Wound beyond the third significantly increases the power of the NPC. What if a Character has a Gift to inflict Additional Wounds? This will upset the balanced “average” of three Wounds. However, that’s not really a problem. If a Player chooses to use one of their Character’s Gifts to deal more damage, it has to make sense and be described as part of the story, rather than just applying a general modifier. Similarly, giving Minor NPCs more than 1 Wound drastically changes the challenge they represent in a Scene. If you imagine a fight scene from a movie or a book, you’d probably see the protagonists defeating minor opponents with a single blow. Giving 1 Wound to Minor NPCs is a simple way to mechanically represent their relative importance to the story. Minor NPCs are better used in groups, with a single Wound, as opposed to having just a few with two or more Wounds. Otherwise, the ability of a single, unimportant NPC to slow down the story shouldn’t be underestimated. Additionally, when the Players have grown accustomed to encountering hordes of NPCs with a single wound, you can throw a twist into things by introducing a captain of the guards or squad of elite soldiers with two Wounds.
  • Situation and environment: The placement of NPCs in the narrative is critical to their effectiveness and survivability. If one enemy NPC is placed in the center of a group of Characters, they probably won’t last very long. By design, they’re no match for the Characters. However, when used well, NPCs and Threats can create a constantly changing environment around the Main NPC, one which the Characters have to put effort into controlling. While framing and placement don’t have a numerical value on paper, they can turn even a Minor NPC into a genuine challenge for Players.
  • Gifts: Gifts allow the Narrator to grant NPCs powerful mechanical effects, which can be used to highlight the concepts underlying the NPC. NPC Gifts can have any effect, in contrast to Character Gifts, which instead must strike a balance between the options in order to prevent a disparity in utility and power levels. NPC Gifts only need to be consistent with the description and idea of the NPC. If an NPC is the best swordsman in the known universe, it makes perfect sense for them to have a Gift that makes them extremely dangerous in a duel, such as +2 to OL, 1 Additional Wound per blow, or impairing the use of a Character’s Gift after witnessing its effects for the first time. Those are three very powerful effects, but completely justified for that type of NPC.
  • Descriptor: The Descriptor helps to determine whether a Character’s action generates a Check or not. For example, if a monster has a rock-hard shell that exposes its belly, a Character will need to describe how they get under the beast (likely requiring a Defense Check to pass). Otherwise, the NPC’s descriptor (rock-hard shell) prevents any attack from succeeding, so the Character’s attack would automatically fail without requiring a Check .

You might be wondering how to start creating NPCs. It’s simple. The best starting point is how they act in a Scene and how that affects the story.


Bonds create connections between the Characters and NPCs, an important cog in the engine of many stories. Bonds are, therefore, feelings and situations that relate a Character to another Character or to an NPC.

A Bond is a Descriptor that details the connection a Character has with another person. Negative emotions such as hatred, jealousy, or others can also move the story toward an intriguing twist. A bond does not necessarily have to be a positive connection.

Bonds can:

  • Help Players portray relationships with other Characters and inhabitants of the world.
  • Incentivize the accumulation of XP.
  • Create a pool of ideas and connections useful when setting up the first Game Session.

As a rule of thumb, during the Character creation, you can define 2 Bonds with other Characters and 2 with NPCs. However, there’s no reason those numbers cannot be modified or adjusted. It makes perfect sense for the Characters in a team of teenage superheroes to have a Bond with every member of their team without worrying about balanced Character and NPC relationships..

Bonds Between Two Characters

Some Bonds are developed between Characters so that the Players can explore those relationships and have fun playing them out. It is, therefore, largely the responsibility of the Players to act out Bonds between Characters.

Character Bonds can be created using the following formula:

I am/have/feel/etc. feeling, from/to Character name because reason, and I seek/want objective towards the Bond.

Example: I trust Varyssa because she has risked her life for me on more than one occasion, and I want a sincere friendship to arise between us.

Bonds Between Characters And NPCs

Bonds with NPCs are a convenient way to add depth to the Character’s story and connect them to the setting. The Narrator can use NPC Bonds as a springboard to bring the setting to life and develop narrative hooks that connect a Character to the events of their adventures. Each Player is required to outline a few NPCs that relate to their Character and place them in the game’s world.

To create an NPC Bond, use the following formula:

I know/am bound by name of the Bond, by reason for the Bond, the characteristic of the Bond unites us.

Example: I know Marcus because he has been my guide to the world of mercenary companies and a strong attraction to each other unites us.

Create New Bonds

The maximum number of Bonds of each type per Character should be 4, in order to avoid giving the Player so many options that they will unavoidably neglect some. A Character must use the formulas previously presented when creating new Bonds during the game, then record them on their sheet.

The Importance of Creating Connections

Bonds are a crucial rule because, with the exception of a game with just 2 Players (the Narrator and another Player), role-playing games typically involve a cast of Characters who go on adventures throughout the setting’s world. It’s a good idea for Players to develop connections between Characters and NPCs before the game begins. Doing so allows Players to focus right away and enjoy the Session, without feeling pressured to set up impromptu interactions so they can build relationships with others. NPC Bonds will also serve as a solid foundation for the first Sessions because they concisely convey the idea that the Characters are not just an incidental component of the setting, but rather an essential one.

But then, why aren’t Bonds a Basic Rule? Because they might not be necessary in every setting. Characters from Broken Tales have strikingly distinctive characteristics as well as wildly dissimilar backstories and personalities.

The group known as the Order serves as a unifying force among Characters in the setting, practically compelling them to form a group with the others. Because of this, Bonds are not required in Broken Tales, or if they are, they are only reserved for a select group of Characters as a result of their Gifts.

Understanding the medium of role-playing

It’s important to be aware of the differences between various types of media when developing your game, which may be inspired by manga or your favorite TV show. In many types of stories, the focus is on a single protagonist, whether it be a book, comic book, or movie.

Additionally, the protagonist almost always remains the focus of each scene, only shifting if it’s important for the overall plot.

On the other hand, role play is a medium that is based on having a cast of characters that are all equally important. This radically changes how you set up the game in comparison to the work that inspired it. Bonds provide a mechanic that can help spread the focus among the Players, but they are insufficient on their own. As you design your game, think about how Characters will act, if they act in a group, and what happens to each of them in a Scene.

By doing so, you’ll be sure that the stories at your table are about a group and not a single protagonist.


Experience Points (XP) are a tally of the knowledge and maturity the Character has attained during the events of the story. A game that is intended for lengthy play over several Sessions should include this mechanic, as it helps to simulate a Character’s growth in strength and ability.

There are a number of ways to help you earn XP.

At the end of each Scene

Each Player considers whether at least one of their Descriptor’s Downsides has adversely impacted the events of the last Scene or placed the Character in a dangerous situation. If the answer is yes, you can check the box next to the Descriptor on the Character’s sheet.

The best time to assess whether Character Bonds have been explored throughout the game and developed (either positively or negatively) during a Scene is at the end of the Scene. If a relationship with a Bond has developed, the relevant Bond may be marked, just as you would mark a Descriptor.

As a reward

You can designate a base amount of XP that will be given out at the conclusion of a mission, particularly if the game’s main focus is on the Characters completing specific missions. These points are earned regardless of the outcome as compensation for the hardships the Characters have encountered during the Sessions.

Earn XP

You can play an Interlude at the conclusion of each adventure, with each adventure typically consisting of two to three Sessions. This Interlude’s purpose is to give players a chance to take stock of their XP, spend them, and change various aspects of their Characters, such as their Descriptors and Gifts. All Descriptors, Bonds, and other items marked to grant XP should be reset during this Interlude so that they are available for the Character’s upcoming adventure.

Spending XP

Even though the worth of an individual experience point isn’t really determined until it’s spent, a Character can choose to accumulate them from Interlude to Interlude in order to reach the required level for the desired Advancement. A Character can improve by exchanging XP for Advancements.

As a general rule, an Advancement should cost 15 XP.

What follows is a general list of potential Advancements:

Increase the value of an Attribute by 1

There can be no more than 3 points of difference between the highest and lowest Attribute. The maximum value that can be reached in a single Attribute is 7.

The Importance of Attributes

To stop Players from improving just one Attribute and using it as the basis for all Character actions, a maximum difference range between Attributes must be imposed. Always keep in mind that if a rule allows the Character to perform better and has no downsides, we cannot blame the Players when they try to exploit it as much as possible.

Similar to Opposition Level, Attributes have a fundamental flaw, in that a high Attribute has a significant impact on Checks but adds little to the story, if we ignore its effects on the Character’s skills.

There are a couple of methods you can use to limit the increase of Attributes:

  • Attributes are already limited by the maximum difference range, so in order to raise one attribute’s value above 5, it is necessary to raise all the others to 3, which takes both time and XP.
  • Increase the Attribute XP Cost according to the formula: 5XP per Attribute point. In this way, bringing an Attribute to 6 requires 30 XP.

Evolve a Descriptor into a Specialization

A Specialization develops a Descriptor, expanding its effects in terms of power and influence on the world. When the Character brings their Specialization into the field, they gain 1 Advantage per Scene to be used at any time.

Example: The Company’s charismatic Leader, Alyssa of Rye, is a fierce young warrior who never bows her head to anyone. Alyssa decides that this experience will develop into something more after she successfully relied on her courage during her adventures to win respect and favors. Alyssa’s Player then rewrites the Descriptor to: My proud gaze cannot be ignored. Whether I want it or not, all eyes are on me. A Descriptor must always contain a component that represents a potential flaw or problem (Alyssa draws attention to herself whether she likes it or not), but now that her charisma is openly acknowledged, the Narrator will never be able to ignore it, and it may even provide an Advantage during the course of a scene.

Evolve a Specialization into a Mastery

A Mastery further evolves a Specialization into something that represents a paragon among humans. When the Character brings their Mastery to the field, they always gain 1 Advantage, even if they’ve already received Advantage in the Scene.

Example: As more time has passed, Alyssa has overcome other challenges, and as a young and capable commander, her position of authority within the forces of the Republic of Dormas has solidified. Alyssa’s Specialization develops into: People bow to me as I pass because my face is recognized throughout the Republic.

Obtain 1 Additional Wound

The Character’s toughness and stamina grow with their adventures, and they get the chance to absorb an Additional Wound. This Advance cannot be chosen more than once.

Obtain a Follower

The fame and abilities of the Character have attracted a recruit, determined to learn from the Character. The Player can create a new Character and play two of them during the Sessions.

Improving a Gift

Gifts can have an Enhancement, or an expansion of their mechanical effect, that can be acquired by spending XP.

Increase Status

All the situations in which a Character receives some kind of power or authority because of the events of the game fall under this Advancement.

The practical effect can vary significantly. This Advancement exists to cover all situations in which a Character gains some kind of advantage or power that isn’t covered in another Advancement, such as:

  • An increase in their social influence in the game world.
  • Having access to additional Gifts as a result of a specific circumstance, such as joining a guild or finding a teacher who can impart a powerful and rare discipline.
  • Creating a new Descriptor related to the game world, such as an influential marriage or new insights into the secrets of the setting.

Experience Tokens

As an alternative to the entire Experience Points system, you can opt to use Experience Tokens that each Character receives at the end of every adventure/mission. Advances should require 2 or more Tokens, depending on the progression you want to see in the game campaign.

Narrative experience

It is important to keep in mind that, regardless of the game’s experience system, in order to be transformed into an Advancement, the Character’s development must also be derived from the story and the Character’s experiences during Sessions. Gaining followers should be the result of a Bond that the Character has formed with an NPC throughout the course of the story. Improving an Attribute should be the result of the Character using it frequently, and so forth.

The main goal must be to encourage the Players to achieve the goals of the Character and advance through the narrative.

Player Evaluations

It’s always up to the Players to determine whether and to what extent their Descriptors, Bonds, or other Character-related elements are properly interpreted in the game. In Monad Echo, this idea applies not just to how you play and how well you play, but also to the mechanics of advancing your character’s abilities. It’s fairly typical to leave the evaluation of a Player’s style or interpretation of their Character, as well as how fast they should advance in power, up to the Narrator or other Players. However, this is a mistake. It is essential to respect each individual’s unique sensibilities and approach to role-playing. Encourage players to interpret and highlight Character Descriptors, then allow them to evaluate their own gameplay and be rewarded with experience points for it. Instead of relying on a general consensus of the one-and-only true way to role-play, each Player should make their own judgements. Rewarding engagement through Descriptors is a positive dynamic in and of itself. However, the frequency with which it can be used during a session must be mechanically limited to encourage players to highlight all of the elements on their sheet rather than favoring just one.

It’s also easier on the Narrator if the Players handle their own evaluations. Just for the Characters, there are 15–20 Descriptors per game if there are 3–4 Characters in each group and each Character has an average of 5 Descriptors. On top of all that, the Narrator must also manage Scenes, Threats, and NPCs.

Because of this, when creating a game with Monad Echo, always set up Descriptors so that obtaining rewards, such as Experience, relies on the Players’ evaluations.

Mandatory Use of Rules

Not all rules will be applied in the same way by all gaming groups: table preferences and biases derived from other gaming systems are all external elements that, as a designer, you cannot control. To this must be added the observation that, even if a rule is written, it need not always be adhered to rigidly because doing so is not always beneficial.

The most striking example is the Check, where the Player narrates the Failures. Experience with long-term playtests has demonstrated that the description is frequently unnecessary, for the simple reason that, in 90% of cases, the description of the action itself makes the outcome of the Failure abundantly clear.

It is our responsibility as designers to make sure that the gaming system always provides a straightforward solution to tricky situations. This is accomplished by subjecting the game to stress during the playtest phase, much like how any product that must be released onto the market is tested for a considerable amount of time to determine whether it has any issues.

Monad Echo is a system that analyzes storytelling, but each Player will interpret it differently.

One group could explore a place by moving inch by inch on a detailed map, and another group could investigate the same place room by room using much more abstract movement rules.

Your game needs to offer a set of rules that encourage the kind of experience you want to create: young heroes saving the world, adventurers risking their lives in a dungeon, and survivors of a post-apocalyptic world battling perils are all good examples. As a designer, it is up to you to set up Descriptors, Gifts, and Special Rules to put all these elements on the table, and it is up to each game group to make them their own. The rules, if clear and functional, will only be called into question when truly required.

The Standard of 5

Characters in Monad Echo have a number of features that follow the “Standard of 5”. This is because, in general, each Character:

  • Follows 5 Background Steps for their creation.
  • Has 5 Attributes.
  • Has 5 Gifts.
  • Has a value of Soma between a minimum of 5 and a maximum of 15.

Obviously, as Broken Tales shows, this is not a strict rule (see Playing without Attributes on page 106), and with the proper precautions, you can safely design games using 4 or 3 as your “standard number.”


As already mentioned, Attributes represent the way a Character approaches Position and Defense Checks, and provides Base Successes.

Standard Attributes in Monad Echo are:


This attribute represents athletic performance, resistance to stress, and physical power.

It is used:

  • For actions that include the use of the body and, in general, melee attacks.
  • For defending yourself by parrying or taking a hit.
  • To intimidate others with the threat of physical force.
  • To gauge resistance to hardship and prolonged physical effort.


This attribute represents readiness, reaction time, and the ability to think quickly.

It is used:

  • For actions that require dexterity in their execution.
  • For ranged attacks or with weapons that require agility.
  • To defend yourself by dodging an attack.
  • To escape, avoid danger, and, in general, act fast.


This Attribute indicates the Character’s appearance, charisma, empathy, and ability to relate to others.

It is used:

  • To have a way with words and connect with others.
  • To obtain favors/information/resources of some kind through instinct and insight.
  • To charm someone by appearing different from the way you truly are.
  • To act discreetly without being noticed.
  • To understand the flaws and desires of another person.


This Attribute indicates the Character’s intelligence (understood as logical and mathematical reasoning skills), intuition, willpower, and memory.

It is used:

  • To act with precision, using specialist or unusual knowledge.
  • To convince or deceive another person with a logical argument.
  • To create, study, and understand.
  • To understand a target’s hidden powers and Descriptors.


This Attribute represents the ability to use supernatural powers, resist the powers of others, and intuit when events have become otherworldly.

It is used:

  • For actions that include the use of supernatural abilities and magic.
  • As a defense against magical effects.
  • To create and develop using magic as a tool.
  • To intuitively understand arcane knowledge.

The 5 standard Attributes are deliberately generic and designed to suit any type of setting. They indicate a Character’s ability to resolve problems in different ways. However, they just represent a starting point, which can be completely overhauled according to the mood of the setting and the type of game you want to create.

Thinking about what Attributes a Character has is a fundamental step in creating a game.

Example: In Valraven: The Chronicles of Blood and Iron, all the Characters are skilled fighters, regardless of their role in the mercenary company. When that consideration is combined with the Road to Perdition mechanic, we arrived at the following Attributes: Discipline, Charisma, Ferocity, Cunning, and Empathy.

These Attributes depict the different ways a Character can react to a situation and do not necessarily represent knowledge, skills, or any learned expertise. Each Attribute can, in this way, be used as a strategy in battle and support how the Character acts: leading troops using Charisma, fighting without thinking about their safety with Ferocity, and so on.

Attribute Base Values

The initial values of an Attribute are:

4 – 3 – 3 – 3 – 2

This represents a standard profile, which allows you to have a Character with a prominent Attribute (4), three Average Attributes (3), and one that represents a weakness (2).

Other functional Attribute variations are:

4 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 2

5 – 3 – 3 – 2 – 2

Although the sum of these starting Attributes is always 15, it’s wise to avoid a profile type where all Attributes have a value of 3. This is especially true if the standard Attributes are replaced with something else – each has a very clear range of application in the narrative. The 3-3-3-3-3 profile means that a Player has no incentive to pick one strategy over another, which usually results in a bland Character or frustrated Player.

Having 1 as an Attribute value is also possible but strongly discouraged for the obvious reason that it will make each Check based on that Attribute very difficult. Similarly, Attributes of 6 or more are also to be avoided when creating Characters.

Playing without Attributes

You can abandon Attributes entirely and use only Descriptors to resolve actions. This choice is optimal for games that require a simpler structure than the “Standard of 5.” Broken Tales, which is specifically designed for a more straightforward playstyle, doesn’t use Attributes.

Mechanically, it works like this:

  • Having a Descriptor related to the narrated action confers 3 Base Successes.
  • If you do not have relevant Descriptors, you only get 1 Base Success.
  • Because you’re already using the Descriptor to get the Base Successes, Soma points can be spent freely during a Check.

Background Steps

Background Steps offer an outline for creating Characters in a way that helps Players focus and refine their ideas. When creating Background Steps for your game, keep in mind that this process can also serve as the first introduction to the setting and mood of a game. As a result, each step should encourage Players to choose Descriptors and Gifts that match the tone of the game you want to play. Each Background Step should:

  • Provide a description of an aspect of the Character’s life and how it connects to the game setting.
  • Provide ideas for a Descriptor that fits both the setting and character.
  • Provide ideas for the type of Gift to choose.
  • Provide a number of Soma points to create the Character’s Soma pool.
  • In addition: provide all other elements deemed useful for the setting and mood of your game, such as NPC Bonds, Equipment, or other mechanics.

Example: Evolution Pulse Rebirth Background Steps:

Evolution Pulse Rebirth is a sword-and-sandals fantasy setting where the Characters are humans trying to survive in a world that has been subjugated by powerful alien entities called Hekath.

Step One – The Caste: Determines the ?Caste a Character belongs to and their relationship with it.

Step Two – The Role: Defines what the Character does for a living and what skills they can employ to get by.

Step Three – Growth: Defines the relationship of the Character with the world, and with any NPCs they have a Bond with.

Step Four – The Darkness: Defines the Character’s connection to the dark side of the world: the Igisum Duga for the Imperial Castes or the Sintum, the Fairs, and the Hekath threat for the Wild Castes.

Step Five – Destiny: Outlines the dreams and expectations of the Character in relation to the future.

Example: Valraven’s Background Steps:

Valraven is a dark fantasy setting in which the Characters are all members of a mercenary company fighting for one of the many factions vying for control of the Valraven continent.

Step One – Your Role: Determines their role in the Company and what the Character does.

Step Two – The Dark Past: Defines something dark and negative that happened in the Character’s past and forced them to choose the path of war.

Step Three – The Art of War: Serves to define how the Character faces war, which is one of the pillars of their life as a fighter.

Step Four – Your Personality: Outlines the inner self of the Character, how they relate to others, and the impression they make in social contexts.

Step Five – Your Dream: Outlines the Character’s future dreams and expectations by imagining a future in which the Character will feel fulfilled in some way.

The Importance of Character Creation

The Characters are the protagonists of each story in every game, so it’s important to spend some time on their creation. Everything that you’ve already done to convey the mood and style of the setting must be integrated into the Background Steps so that Players can “tune in” immediately to the tone of the game.

Most groups have to learn the lore and tone of a game as they start to play. Additionally, the Player that suggests a game is usually the one most familiar with it and bears the responsibility of explaining the setting and mood. Anything that makes it easier to convey setting information can lighten that burden and make the game more fun for everyone.

The Background Steps can “teach” Players about the setting in a subtle but effective way.

Properly put together, they can convey essential information “step by step” while also providing guidelines to the Player, so they can create a Character that is ready for the challenges they will face. Creating a Monad Echo Character depends on developing a backstory with depth, so any sort of writer’s block can paralyze Players when it’s time for them to come up with Descriptors. The Background Steps are also a good way to help Players avoid that sort of “blank page syndrome.”

Tips For Creating Your Own Game

Here are a few guidelines that can help you stay focused on the finished product and create a game that’s fun to play. They cover everything from conception to actually writing the rules.

It’s a different medium

Role-playing is its own form of entertainment, distinct from movies, comics, or video games. Role-playing is often the most fun when various narrative elements are “mixed” and fed to the Players, who will then use the game to create a dynamic narrative. Because of this unpredictability, it is useful to be aware of some role-play specific features that should not be overlooked during the design phase.

A group of protagonists

Numerous stories engage with the world from the point of view of a single protagonist. You may even be drawing from some examples to inspire your own game. However, role-playing is a group activity, and it’s important to keep everyone’s experience in mind. Your narrative won’t have a single point of view but as many as there are Characters. This applies not only to the story but also to the characteristics of the roles/classes and the setting. If your game is inspired by The Witcher, and the role of the Witcher is the only one able to excel against the creatures that the group will face, don’t be surprised if all the Players want to be a Witcher.

A non-linear plot

Unless you write an adventure module or a campaign when playing a role-playing game, the story will follow the actions and choices of the Players, not a set plot. For this reason, it’s crucial to focus on the type of stories that will be played and not on their precise unfolding. Descriptors, Gifts, and Background Steps are a great way to convey the right mood.

While playing Valraven: The Chronicles of Blood and Iron, you can’t help but tell the tale of a mercenary company, hardened by pain and strife.

However, the specifics of the story you tell, and whether it involves field battles, espionage, or fights against demons, will be unique to the choices your group makes.

What is not in the Scene does not exist

You can write three hundred pages of worldbuilding, create detailed atlases, and bestiaries packed with creatures. However, in practice, anything that doesn’t appear in the Characters’ adventures does not exist.

This is very important in the creation of the game. If there is a theme, a location, or something else that is fundamental to the game you want to play, it should appear in the Sessions or be featured during Character creation.

Coming up with Keywords

Keywords are not only a good way to get to the heart of the game during the creation phase, they are also a good way to quickly convey mood and information while writing the setting. In descriptions of locations, creatures, and stories, adding Keyword lists is a great way to better communicate information and the mood of the game.

Describe what you want to see in the game

It all starts with the game you imagine playing. Visualizing what you want to happen during a Session will help you understand how to make it happen through the rules. This applies to every element of the game, including Gifts, Descriptors, and how adventures are created.

Rules have an impact on the decisions made by Players

Every time Players interact with the rules, they will be pushed toward a specific approach to the game. If you are going for a fast, action-focused, and heroic style, you could look at a very fast recovery of Wounds or Gifts that can significantly impact the overall Scene. If you want Players to be afraid of certain creatures, you could make them powerfully intimidating while leaving a weakness that can be discovered through exploring the narrative. The Divine Hekaths of Evolution Pulse Rebirth have frightening statistics, but discovering their Fulcrum gives Players the knowledge they need to eliminate them. Discovering that crucial piece of lore will change the way the Characters and these powerful beings approach each other during the story.

Turn what you do during playtests into procedures

While designing and testing your game, you’ll find that you unconsciously create procedures to manage adventures, the creation of NPCs, and changes in the setting. As your procedures become more efficient and helpful during playtest, remember to formalize them so that they are included in the game’s final version. A serious mistake in the writing of role-playing games is underestimating the work necessary to create a Session and, consequently, manage a game campaign. Preparing for a Session is an essential aspect of play that shouldn’t be overlooked. Just as Character creation helps Players get into the game’s mood, the creation of adventures and Scenarios helps the Narrator introduce situations that make their game shine.

Many people may follow this tip without really thinking about it. It’s crucial to establish a clear course that Players can follow to fulfill the promise of your game, even when they’re not at your table. You won’t be able to do that if you simply provide lists of unconnected rules. Valraven: The Chronicles of Blood and Iron tells the stories of mercenary companies fighting for the final victory in a war. The rules for the Seasons (four per cycle, each exploring specific themes and situations) were created to lead the group through different aspects of the game as they pursue that goal.

Rather than introducing new mechanics as needed, the Seasons mechanic provides clear guidelines for organizing the scale of play and change in tone as the Characters progress towards success or failure. More broadly, “Rules” aren’t just instructions for doing a Position Check or how to establish the effect of a Gift. They provide a framework that guides the game from beginning to end.

To summarize:

Before you begin writing your game, you should address the following issues:

  • A description of the setting we want to see at the table, as well as sources of inspiration from other works that we believe will help us better understand the mood.
  • A list of Keywords describing everything we believe is essential to our game: who the main characters are, what powers they have, and what adventures they go on.
  • What happens in the world, what happens in Sessions. Examine the Basic Rules, Additional Rules, and Special Rules in light of how we want to modulate the game experience and the table aesthetics we want to convey.

Legal Information

Monad Echo is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. The work, including all its parts, is protected by copyright law. Unless expressly authorized, reproductions are forbidden in any way or form, including photocopying, scanning, and electronic storage. Any violation will be prosecuted to the full extent of the copyright law.

Monad Echo SRD is a publication of The World Anvil Publishing. See page 4 for the conditions of use.


  • You may not use images, graphics (including those featured in the SRD), and text from our published games unless you have our explicit permission. The text of this SRD is free to use.
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