Thursday, September 19, 2013

Golden Age Draft: The Four Elements

This is another preview post of a section I just wrote for Golden Age. The dice system for the game will be heavily based on the four classical elements - earth, air, fire, and water. This is partly because I want the game to teach players some occult basics, partly because it adds nuance to the system, and partly just because I thought it was a cool idea. You'll be able to roll multiple elements for the same action, when appropriate. So if, for example, you're trying to dance to seduce someone, you might roll earth to determine how technically good your performance is; fire for the seduction itself; and water to notice the person's reaction to your dance.

The Four Elements

Golden Age’s dice system is built around the four classical elements – earth, air, fire and water. As you saw when creating your character, these elements form the four stats that define your character’s inborn talents, strengths and weaknesses. In addition, you can use each element for particular types of actions when rolling dice. Any given action will have a primary element associated with it, but you can choose to roll additional elements as well if it fits your goal.


Earth represents stability, strength, and the act of creation (or procreation). While the earth itself supports and nurtures plants that grow out of its soil – and thus, indirectly, all animals as well – it’s also known for being stalwart and tough. You’ll roll your character’s Earth element for any task related to stamina, toughness, or brute physical strength. It’s also the right element to roll if you’re crafting art or forging a weapon.


Where Earth concerns the act of creation, Air is the stuff of ideas. The rest of the creative process, from brainstorming all the way through design, falls under Air. It also represents quickness of both mind and body. Roll Air for tasks like remembering something important, dodging a knife slash, or walking a tight rope. It’s also the right element to roll for resisting persuasion or other mental influence, or for persuading or outsmarting someone with your character’s intellect. Finally, Air is used for to-hit rolls when attacking with magic or ranged weapons.


Fire, for the most part, represents passion and destruction. While physical strength is the province of Earth, actual combat prowess is governed by Fire. Roll Fire for your to-hit roll when engaged in hand-to-hand combat, when trying to destroy an object, or when trying to intimidate or overtly influence someone else. Fire would also be appropriate to roll when trying to provoke anger or fear in another person, as that might be considered “stoking the Fire” of that person.


If fire is passion and traditionally considered masculine, water is compassion and traditionally feminine. Water concerns itself with the less aggressive emotions, ones normally considered more positive than anger, hatred or fear such as happiness, concern or love. It’s also associated with cleansing, as in baptism, bathing in the mikveh, even bathing or showering. Roll Water whenever trying to calm or subtly influence someone’s emotions, for intuition or other magical sensing, or for healing or cleansing corruption or disease.