How to Play
In order to play a game of persona, player each need a tarot deck with the major arcana removed. The DM also needs one or more decks. At the beginning of play, players shuffle their decks and draw 7 cards from the top. These cards are used by the players to perform trait checks and skills in and outside of battle. When a card is used, it is placed in a discard pile. Player’s decks are only reshuffled when they are completely empty. One card is drawn at the beginning of every phase of day and every battle turn, but a player’s hand may never exceed seven cards.
Play is split into two stages. City stage takes place when the characters are in the normal work. They probably can’t summon their persona here, and they are relatively safe. Time passes quickly in this mode, and characters will have things they wish to do and responsibilities they have to keep. Dungeon stage takes place when characters are in areas where they can summon their persona. Shadows may threaten them, or demons may be about. When one stage ends and another begins is really up to the DM. Some games may flow in or out of it, others may be more ridged.
During city stage, time and days pass by. The days are split into four sections of time. The exact time may vary slightly from character to character. Morning; the first few waking hours of the day. Daytime; late morning to noon. Afternoon; noon to sundown. Nighttime; sundown to bedtime. These four phases pass by each day, every day.
During each phase of the day, characters must participate in an activity. Activities encompass anything a character might do, from going to school, working, hanging out, playing video games, even spending time in a dungeon. Characters must participate in one activity every phase of the day. People aren’t liable to just sit around and do nothing for hours at a time (at least, not the kind of people interesting enough to be PCs). All activities must be approved by the GM. Activities can effect many things about a character, from their wallet to their moods (more about moods later). During an activity a character may be called on to make a trait check. A trait check is performed by discarding one or more cards and adding the total value to the appropriate trait and comparing that to a number set by the DM called the difficulty. GMs may also allow players to add the value of a second trait to their total check value for certain tasks.
Note — GMs should not reveal the difficulty of trait checks until the final value has been declared. Think of trait checks as a gamble between player and GM.
At the end of the session, a DM may decide to award PCs Social Link Points (SLP) according to events in that sessions activities. SLP are used to increase a character’s traits.
During activities, the events that occur may affect a character’s mood. Teenagers are very emotional creatures, and due to their strong personalities player characters exemplify this. If events during an activity elicit a strong emotional response from a PC, the emotions can stay with them for some time. A DM may force a player to gain a mood or allow the player a trait check to resist it at their discretion. Moods may have various effects on what the character does and how a character behaves. A DM may call for a trait check if a character attempts to perform an action contrary to the nature of the mood, or to resist an impulse caused by the mood. The player may rid their character of a mood by spending time devoted to removing it. The particulars of this will vary from character to character. For example, a character may spend an afternoon reading to calm their nerves if that is copacetic with the characters nature and the mood in question. A DM may also choose to remove a mood from a character if they feel enough time has past or if events occur that would remove the mood. It should be noted that a character may have more than one mood at a time, although some combinations are unlikely.
The moods available are the following:
These two are special cases. While not technically moods in and of themselves they work along a similar mechanic and are included here for simplicity.
Tired – Character draws one less card when drawing.
Well Rested – Character draws 1 extra card when drawing.
A dungeon is any place, time or situation when a PC is able to call out their persona to aid them. Dungeon Stage begins when PCs summon their persona and generally last for one section of the day (usually afternoon or night).
When exploring a dungeon area, PCs may come across various types of obstacles. Some of these may be overcome with a trait check, but others are too much for humans to handle. In theses cases, a PC may use their persona to perform a skill check. If a persona has a skill applicable to the current situation, may use it by following the directions in its description. If the required skill gives a final card value in the form of damage or healing, compare this to the difficulty set by the DM in a similar manner to trait checks to determine whether it was successful or not.
Note — GMs make sure to reveal the difficulty of skill checks before the player decides to use a skill. This is because the skill limits how many cards a player can lay down.
The party has come across a 50-foot gap in the strange landscape under New York City. Libi Talbot has decided use her persona’s Ice magic to create a bridge. The GM declares that creating a bridge of ice would have a difficulty of 35. Libi chooses the Bufu skill, and adds her MAG (10), the power of the spell (15), and a Page of Cups (11) from here hand. The total is 36, and Charon waves his oar in the air creating a semi-stable bridge of ice. This bridge may be used once to cross over and once more to cross back, but then it will shatter and require a second skill check to re-manifest. Jason may use Boreas’s Garu skill to boost the party across with a much lower difficulty of 25, but he must repeat the skill check every time the party wishes to pass the gap.
While in a dungeon, PCs may encounter shadows and demons. Shadows are mindless creatures that seek the destruction of any nearby thinking creature. If a shadow spots the party, battle is unavoidable. Shadows are categorized and built similar to persona and are classified according to arcana (note that shadows DON’T get access to arcana abilities, as they have no SLP to use). Demons are a bit more complex. Some may wish only to fight, but others may be reasoned or bargained with. Some may even interrupt battle for a casual chat. Demons are complex creatures and, as such, have complex categorization. Every different type of demon is composed of a unique combination of one or more moods. For example, a Jack Frost is composed of the euphoria mood and an Obariyon is a combination of the curiosity, euphoria and rage moods. These moods control how a demon behaves and interacts with the characters.
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