Time Flow

As with real life, time flows in Pause. When a Pause occurs, the flow of time temporarily splits into two: the “normal” flow of time in which most people exist and the isolated flow of time within a Pause. The normal flow of time stops in a Pause, locking everyone and everything unable to participate in a Pause into place, while those who are able to participate can move and act (albeit with a degree of difficulty) within the Pause. The participants – both characters and enemies – are able to act within the Pause through the use of Personal Time (PT.)

In order to do anything in a Pause, whether it is moving yourself or taking an action, the participant must commit some of that Personal Time to the external surroundings to influence them. As such, the committed Personal Time then becomes External Time (ET.) Eventually, the External Time is returned to the participant as renewed Personal Time, thus completing the Time Flow.

Lock Out

Personal Time is a limited resource in a Pause; beginning characters only start with five points of Personal Time per Pause. Most enemies do not start with much Personal Time either. As such, participants need to strategize how and when to use their Personal Time to be effective.

More importantly, characters must keep at least one point of Personal Time available at all times during the Pause. A character without any Personal Time loses his or her ability to act in a Pause and soon becomes Locked Out. When Locked Out of a Pause, the character cannot act, but also cannot be harmed by an enemy.

A character can also become Locked Out if he or she is seriously injured (currently on the -3 health box.) When in this critical status, he or she must resist the instinct to Lock him or herself Out of the Pause for his or her own survival. In this case, the Player must roll 1d10 + PER score every round while in that status. For this test, the target number starts at five and increases by one each round thereafter, so it would be wise to heal the character up before the target number becomes too high to achieve.

If a character is Locked Out, allies can come to his or her rescue by giving some of their own Personal Time to the Locked Out character. However, if a character remains Locked Out by the end of the Pause, the character becomes Lost beyond the Time Flow. Characters who become Lost are at serious risk of becoming corrupted, much like the very creatures which threatened them within the Pause.

The enemies within a Pause however, are immune to Lock Out, as they come from whatever twisted existence lies beyond the Breaks. This immunity allows enemies to maintain zero Personal Time if they wish with impunity.


As mentioned before, everything a participant does in a Pause costs some of his or her Personal Time, whether it is moving oneself or performing an attack. Each point of Personal Time is represented by a d10, which means that actions that have a higher Personal Time cost allow the Player to roll a larger number of dice to achieve the assigned target number for the action. Each Player keeps a number of dice equal to their current Personal Time points to themselves during the Pause. This is called the Personal Time pool.

Whenever dice from the Personal Time pool are used, they go to a shared pool to represent External Time. At the end of each round, the dice in the External Time pool is evenly distributed back to the participants. This means that if a character spends very little Personal Time in a round, he or she may receive more Personal Time back than what he or she started the Pause with, and vice versa.

The following is a list of common actions a character can do in a Pause, including their respective Personal Time costs and target numbers. Remember that only one of the dice rolled needs to achieve success in an action.

  • Actions involving only yourself: Examples – walking, switching an Anchor between weapon and tool modes; 1 PT cost; automatic success.
  • Actions involving an adjacent target: Examples – melee attacks, manually moving an object, running; 2 PT cost; TGT 5 unless otherwise specified.
  • Actions involving a ranged target: Examples – ranged attacks, throwing objects; 3 or more PT; TGT varies depending on difficulty and distance.


Both in a Pause and in between them, a character’s traits can come into play if they are involved in an action. If a trait score is exceptionally low (1) or high (5), those qualities can possibly affect the outcome of a task. For the low score, the character has a -1 penalty for that trait, while for the high score, the character has a +1 bonus for that trait.

Outside of Pauses, these modifiers are fairly simple and are applied before a roll: the character gains an extra die to roll for the bonus while he or she loses a die for the penalty. Within Pauses, the modifiers work after the roll: the character is allowed to re-roll their lowest-scoring die in the case of the bonus, while he or she loses the highest-scoring die in the case of the penalty.

Common interpretations in the traits for modifier use is as follows:

  • STR: landing melee attacks, interaction with objects, tests of endurance
  • AGI: landing ranged attacks, running in a Pause, keeping balance
  • HEA: defending against an attacker, absorbing damage, resisting disease
  • KNO: applying facts to a situation, coming up with a solution for a problem
  • SOC: assuming leadership, intimidation, chances of financial success
  • PER: sensing something wrong, adapting to a situation, resisting Lock Out

Critical Rolls

There are times when everything goes either extremely well, or terribly wrong, for a character. To achieve a critical success, the Player must roll all 10’s only when rolling multiple dice, while critical failures are when the Player rolls all 1’s. As such, it is increasingly difficult to achieve either the more dice that are rolled for a particular task.

Critical successes generally are rewarded with a greater effect on the character’s part, a mishap on the part of the opposition, or some other factor which turns the situation into the character’s favor. Conversely, critical failures put the character at a grave disadvantage in his or her situation. The degree of these effects increase in magnitude in relation to the number of dice thrown for the particular task: a critical success with four dice will be have much greater benefits than one achieved with only two dice.

Now that you have learned about the mechanics, let’s look at them in detail when in a Pause.


Pause (Playtest 0.3) JSCervini