Within a Pause


Investigating a Pause

The crux of the action in Pause occurs in the Pauses themselves. Pauses are essentially what other story-telling games would call encounters. Pauses provide the characters the opportunity to resolve the major conflicts in the story.

Pauses are comprised of two primary elements – investigation and combat. Both of which are essential to mending the Break within the Pause. Through investigation, a character can figure out where the Break is and how to fix it. Through combat, the characters can fend off an enemy threat long enough to actually fix the Break.

A Pause can be a very confusing experience for a character, whether it is his or her first time, or if the character has been through a Pause or two before. For either type of character, investigation becomes tantamount for making it through a Pause.

For the newcomer, he or she will likely investigate the Pause to figure what is happening in the first place. He or she will likely inspect the people and things frozen in place. The character will also find it difficult to do much anything, even breathing the heavy, suspended air. As the character’s understanding of the situation builds, he or she may also learn about his or her Anchor. The continued curiosity may lead the character to the Break itself. All of these factors contribute to the character’s increased understanding of the Pause and its workings.

For those who have been in a Pause before, they will know to look for the Break. Sometimes getting there requires a bit of investigation as well, as the Break may not be in a readily accessible place. Even when the character finds the Break, he or she must figure out how to close it, as one solution usually doesn’t fix all the Breaks he or she will encounter. There may also be other things in the Pause that may help the character discover clues about the deeper intricacies of the Pause.

Combat in a Pause

As important as investigation is in a Pause, combat can be equally important. The characters need to defend themselves from the Aberrations that threaten their progress. If the enemies have their way, all the characters will either be dead or Locked Out, resulting in an unresolved Pause that may lead to irrevocable damage to the Universe, damage that will likely affect everyone in the normal Time Flow.

Combat in Pause is organized by rounds. A round is divided into turns for each participant, both character and enemy alike. Each participant may only have one turn per round, unless indicated otherwise by the Coordinator. Each turn is comprised of a series of phases in which the participant is allowed to move and act in the Pause.

The basic flow of battle is as follows:

  • Begin Round
  1. Roll Initiative
    • Begin Turns
  2. Each Turn
    • Movement
    • Actions
    • End Turns
  3. PT Recovery
    • End Round

Roll Initiative

At the beginning of every round, all of the participants roll 1d10 each to determine turn order for the round. The highest number starts first, the lowest going last in the round. In the case of ties, the participant with the higher PER score takes priority. If there is still a tie, the participant with the higher AGI score then takes priority.

During this phase, participants may also choose to re-roll their initiative roll by spending a point of Personal Time, placing one of the dice from that pool to the External Time pool before the turns even begin.

When the turn order has been decided, each participant takes their turn. At the beginning of each turn, the participant may move themselves as well as to take actions. The order of doing so is entirely up to the participant.


In this phase, a participant has three options, barring any special situations that may prove otherwise. Bear in mind that in the -2 and -3 boxes of critical status, a participant’s movement cost is increased by one point of Personal Time.

In Pause, the basic movement rate is fifteen (15) feet for walking through the still air within a Pause, or about three to four steps, depending on the character – remember that the participant has to move the air directly around him or herself in order to walk. Running is even more difficult, as the participant has to move the air a little further ahead of him or herself in order to get any distance.

The three options are as follows:

  • Stay still: 0 PT; no target number
  • Walk fifteen (15) feet: 1 PT; no target number
  • Run thirty (30) feet: 2 PT; TGT 5

When running, a critical success means that the participant was a little faster than though, moving him or her forty-five (45) feet. A failure translates to moving only fifteen (15) feet, as the air in front of the participant was not moved and thus slowed him or her down. Meanwhile, a critical failure means that the participant was unable to move at all, essentially staying in the same place in the end.


In this phase, the participant may perform any number of actions other than moving, provided that he or she has the necessary Personal Time to do so. Bear in mind that participants in any of the critical status boxes must add one point of Personal Time to the cost of each action he or she wants to do.

The following is a list of common actions a participant can do in a Pause. However, this does not limit the participant in what he or she can actually do, as long as the Coordinator allows it within reason.

  • Changing Anchor modes: Change between weapon and tool modes; 1 PT, no target number
  • Melee attacks: Attack an enemy adjacent to yourself; 2 PT; target number varies by enemy; STR modifier
  • Ranged attacks: Attack an enemy some distance away from yourself; 3+ PT, varying by enemy; target number varies by enemy; AGI modifier
  • Bracing for enemy attacks: Reduce physical damage of enemy attack during the same round by 1 lgt; 1 PT; TGT 6; HEA modifier
  • Manually interacting with objects: Manipulate objects adjacent to yourself; 2 PT; TGT 6; STR modifier
  • Throwing objects: Throw an object some distance from yourself; 3+ PT varying by distance and object; target number varies by distance; STR modifier for distance; AGI modifier for accuracy after distance roll
  • Using Domains: Use one of the Domains at your disposal; PT cost and target number varies by each Domain; KNO modifier for success of Domain use; PER modifier for accuracy after success roll
  • Unlocking an ally from Lock Out: Give some of your Personal Time to an ally, one point of which going to External Time; takes 2 rounds to activate; 2+ PT; TGT 6; PER modifier


A participant’s offense is a straightforward process. First, the participant attacking or using an offensive Domain declares his or her attack or Domain, as well as the intended target.

After the declaration, the participant uses necessary modifiers to adjust their roll before the roll: STR modifier for melee attacks; AGI modifier for ranged attacks; and KNO modifier for the use of a Domain. In this case, a bonus allows the offender to re-roll his or her lowest die while a penalty forces him or her to remove the highest die from the roll.

After the offender’s roll, the defender then applies his or her own modifiers: HEA for melee and ranged attacks; PER modifier for Domains. A bonus allows the defender to remove the offender’s highest die while a penalty allows the offender to re-roll the lowest die.

If the attack or Domain achieves the target number assigned by the Coordinator after all the modifiers have been taken into consideration, the appropriate effect takes place. In the case of attacks, if the defender has braced for an attack in the same turn before the attacker, he or she takes one light wound away from the total damage of the attack.

PT Recovery

At the end of the round (when everyone has taken their turns,) the dice in the External Time pool are evenly distributed back to the participants as fresh Personal Time for the next round. Any left over dice in the pool are then up for grabs.

All participants roll 1d10, as they did for the initiative roll. The participant with the highest number takes all the remaining dice in the pool for him or herself. In the case of a tie, the participant with the higher PER score wins the dice. If there is still a tie, the remaining dice stay in the External Dice pool until the next round’s recovery phase.

Character Progression

Due to the relative rarity of Pauses, the characters who survive grow stronger from their trials after each Pause. All surviving characters gain an extra Trait point to place into whichever Trait they wish that is not already at five points. An extra point in HEA grants the character an extra box of health. An extra point in KNO grants the player an extra Domain point. The survivors are also allowed to gain one of the following rewards in addition:

  • An additional point of starting Personal Time for all forthcoming Pauses
  • An additional light wound of damage for their Anchor’s weapon mode
  • An additional Domain point to spend.

Locked Out Characters

Characters who are Locked Out at the end of a Pause may not immediately return to the normal Time Flow with the survivors, if at all. They are considered as Lost. At the Coordinator’s discretion, the Locked Out character is at risk of corruption by the forces of chaos, potentially turning the character into a terrible enemy for the survivors later on in the story. Also with permission, the Locked Out character’s Player may be able to continue role-playing as said character.

If the Coordinator allows, a character that has become corrupted becomes more powerful than a normal character due to the exposure to the terrifying forces beyond the Time Flow. However, the corrupted character also loses his or her Anchor, as he or she is no longer tethered to the normal Time Flow. With this restriction, the corrupted character gains both two Trait points after the Pause, as well as one of the aforementioned bonuses, save for the Anchor bonus.

Of course, things happen outside of Pauses too. Here are some things to consider about the times in between the Pauses.

Within a Pause

Pause (Playtest 0.3) JSCervini