Glossary of Chuubo’s Terms

written by OJ, with some help from the Jenna Moran fanclub chat; version 1.0 (Apr 3 2016)

This is a glossary of terms related to Chuubo’s Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine, the RPG by Jenna Moran.

If you have never seen Chuubo’s before, you probably shouldn’t read this straight through, since it’s in alphabetical order and the connections between the concepts are tangled all over the place. Often a term is defined before the overarching category that’s required to understand it. This being said, I can’t stop you.

In each definition, I’ve bolded the first instance of every word that appears elsewhere in this glossary.

This document does not cover individual arcs, miraculous arcs, genres, XP actions, or issues. I may write about them later.

Terms marked with a † aren’t from the book. I made them up myself, usually to give a name to a clear pattern that didn’t seem to have a name.

Accessory: An item, held as a perk, that is particularly important or cool to your character. If someone tries to steal, destroy, or otherwise interfere with the relationship between you and your Accessory, you can take a Wound to prevent that from happening.

Action: This is either a mortal-level Intention based on a Skill (in which case it has an intention level), a miracle, or (in certain cases) an intention and miracle together. You can maintain up to two of these at the same time – if something more urgent comes up, you'll have to drop one.

Affliction: A statement about your character that is so true that the universe will enforce it for you. It possesses a (narrow) Auctoritas, and it will sometimes spontaneously generate miracles. It is rated from 0 to 5. If an Affliction causes you trouble, you may receive MP or Will.

Alternate identity: A perk that you can sometimes earn from completing quests. You can acquire a new player character, and play them alongside the character you started with. However, both identities will need to retain this Perk on their sheet at all times, and both identities will share the same set of health levels, since health levels are a property of the player and not the character.

Anytime quest: A quest that has only one option for XP. You can generally invoke the XP option up to once every fifteen minutes. These come in eight flavors. Contrast storyline quest.

Arc: A narrative unit in this game, composed of 3-5 Quests that tell one of eight different types of story (plus the occasional sidequest). When you start on one for the first time, you gain an arc trait that starts at 0 (plus certain benefits, such as the arc powers in a miraculous-level game). At the end of each arc, your arc trait levels up.

Arc Power: A power that comes from actively pursuing a miraculous arc. There are (currently) three of them: Frantic, Immortality, and Sickly. They are also used to conceptually organize miraculous arcs.

Arc Trait: Completing an Arc gains you a level of one of these, flavored by which type of Arc you got it from. For example, if you play through a Shepherd arc (which is to say, you've been telling a story about guiding something), you might earn an Arc Trait of Shepherd (The Thing[s] You Love) 1, or get another point of that Arc Trait if you had one already. When you earn a point, you can make a number of changes (usually adding more powers) to your character sheet; see mortal arc or miraculous arc.

Auctoritas: A metaphysical boundary against miracles. These cancel miracles that would violate them, unless the miracle has enough Strike. They do nothing against mundane actions.

Bleak: Certain miraculous powers will be marked “Bleak”. This means that, even if you can't oppose the power mechanically, you can use the special “Making Answer to the Bleak” rules to oppose it narratively.

Break from reality: Sequences that sharply diverge from prior play, such as a serious criminal investigation breaking out in a pop musical number, or a class at school inexplicably turning into a classic horror set-up. Without justification, these have a tendency to fade away or otherwise be made unreal by the world, or otherwise being a thing you see and respond to with "...anyways, moving on now" or “Let us never speak of this again”. Compare Unreal.

Bond: A statement about your character that is true enough that it's sunk itself into your character's very core of being. You can use the bond's rating (from 1 to 5) for Strike, or add the bond’s rating to your intention level when dealing with a conflict, or to overcome Obstacles. If a Bond causes you trouble, you may receive MP or Will.

Basic quest: An anytime quest that your character is always on. It represents what your character does when nothing else important is happening in their life. Whenever you finish a basic quest, you earn a recharge token and then start on the quest again.

Book: A group of 6-12 chapters. (Although in the Pastoral genre, there are 13 chapters to the book.) Certain miraculous powers can only be used once per book (or there may be MP surcharges for using them two or more times per book), and your MP pool will be replenished up to your MP cap at the beginning of each book.

Campaign conventions: Important laws of the campaign-specific reality. Mechanically they are level 2 Afflictions[1] that apply to everything in the campaign.

Chapter: A chapter consists of up to two XP action-bearing scenes per player (unless you're doing something strange). How long a chapter is ICly depends on your game’s genre; for example, Pastoral chapters take place over a week while Immersive Fantasy chapters take place over a day or less.

Character: A person inside the world of the game. See Player Character, Main Character, and NPC.

Chibi-quest: A quest (almost always an anytime quest) that is 15 XP long. These can be used for quest miracles, healing from wounds, or whenever you’re doing something that probably won’t have a long-term impact. When you complete them, you usually need to keep the completed quest in one of your quest slots to maintain its effect.

Colors (of arc): Colors are assigned to each type of Arc, and these colors are also used on XP Actions, Issues, and quest cards. Don’t worry about them. See also those symbols.

Defeat: A state in which you are no longer in control of your character, and your character is no longer in control of their own destiny. This happens when you take too many wounds and fill up all your health levels. Notably, characters can come back from defeat, because it is not necessarily death. (Death can be a wound, though.)

Edge: A kind of Obstacle, rated from 1 to 5 (if it exists). It represents something about the environment that favors one character over the other. This does not increase the intention level, but if there are two intentions with the same intention level, the one with the Edge will prevail. See also miraculous edge.

Emoting: Describes your character consciously letting their emotions show. When this term is used, it means the emotions being displayed are the character's true feelings. Emoting is important for some XP challenges.

Fading: A mechanic used to help share screentime: after you declare an XP action, your character recedes into the background and is absorbed in the effects of that XP action for a while. You probably shouldn't use this mechanic in a play-by-post.

Flurry: Flurries happen when several people want to do something at the same time. When a flurry is declared, everyone involved can revise their actions as many times as they want. The HG will charge MP or Will (as if you started the action all over again) if your new action is completely different from your old one. Once everyone is satisfied with their action, sick of arguing, or out of MP/Will, all the final actions take place at once. If the argument stalemates, the players’ disagreement is a Bleak effect and the argument should be resolved using the Bleak rules instead.

Frantic: One of the three arc powers associated with miraculous arcs. It allows you to take a (Be In) Trouble XP Action (without HG approval, as if it was in-genre) and gain a point of MP (up to your MP cap).

Genre: A small collection of certain types of scenes (represented mechanically by XP Actions), picked to work together to give the game an overall mood.

Genre issue: An Issue that you can earn by failing to meet certain (genre-dependent) criteria when taking an XP action. The Issue works like any other Issue does, but the players are advised to think of the genre issue as a consequence and not a benefit. Players may declare that they earn the Issue themselves.

Group issue: An Issue that is used by the HG to track everyone’s progress through certain types of miniplots that are too short to be worth group quests. They have no mechanical reward by default; they’re just there to make the group act a certain way. This being said, the HG can add one if they want. These have nothing to do with group XP.

Group quest: A type of quest that can be filled out when anyone in the group fulfills the anytime quest condition or invokes the quest flavor. They have no mechanical reward by default; they’re just there to make the group act a certain way. This being said, the HG can add one if they want. These have nothing to do with group XP.

Group XP: The pot of XP earned from XP actions. At the end of a session, the HG splits the pot evenly among all the players. (If it doesn’t come out evenly the HG tosses a few extra XP in the pool.) These have nothing to do with group issues or group quests.

Health Levels:[2] A set of boxes you have that represents the number, and magnitude, of the Wounds you can take before you are Defeated. They come in three tiers: Divine (for things that would obliterate normal people), Tough (for things that would probably kill normal people), and Normal (for things that seriously inconvenience normal people). How many, and what type of, health levels you have depends on the power level of your game.

HG: Chuubo's uses the term “HG” (Hollyhock God) to refer to other games' Game Master, Dungeon Master, or Storyteller. Regardless of name, this person usually doesn't have a character. They play the rest of the world, instead.

IC: In-character; things that your character says or that your character does. The opposite of OOC.

Immortality: One of the three arc powers associated with miraculous arcs. Any wounds you take will adapt themselves to your “theming”, and will fade away unusually quickly (within the scene for Surface Wounds, around an hour for Serious Wounds, and 0-2 chapters for Deadly Wounds).

Imperial Miracle: A type of miracle that changes the world, usually in a subtle and restrained way. (For unrestrained Imperial Miracles, see Wish.) They are almost impossible to oppose mechanically. Specifically, defying an Imperial Miracle outright will cost you 2 Deadly Wounds; trying to twist your way out of part of it will cost you 1 Deadly Wound. You’re really better off making a Quest and talking with the HG.

In-genre (XP action): The XP actions that go with your game's genre. Whenever you fulfill the criteria for an in-genre XP action, you may declare it yourself without HG approval. Compare genre issue.

Intention/Intention level: The total of your Skill plus Will, sometimes modified by Edge, Obstacles, Tools, and/or Bonds. This never actually guarantees that you will accomplish what you want, but higher totals are more productive, impressive, and/or effective. If two Intentions are opposed, the higher intention level wins. (Unless the intentions are diametrically opposed, though, both intentions will take effect – the higher intention first, and then the lower one.) However, even the highest intention level can be overruled by a miracle.

Issue: A set of cards with roleplaying advice on how to set up and follow through on a certain type of mini-plot. The HG can give these cards to players (or, through genre issues or miraculous powers such as some arc powers, players may declare that they earn the cards themselves), and following the advice on the cards will advance this mini-plot. These will earn you MP and (eventually) XP.

Jenna Moran: The person who wrote Chuubo’s and Nobilis. (As well as several other things.)

Magical skill: A skill that accomplishes things that “shouldn't” be possible. Almost all uses of a magical skill will face Obstacles, and someone with a magical skill will usually have a Bond to help offset those obstacles.

Main Character: A character that is particularly important to the plot. May or may not be a player character.

Major (quest) goal: An entry on a quest card for a storyline quest that describes something particularly meaningful to the quest. If you fulfill the conditions of the major goal, and the HG agrees that it has happened, you earn 5 XP for that quest. You can only earn this bonus once per entry per quest card, unless the card specifies otherwise.

Major miraculous action: Certain miraculous powers will be marked “Major”. These resolve like normal miraculous actions, except that their numerical rating is three levels higher than the relevant Arc Trait. All known wishlike effects are major miraculous actions.

Miracle: Something that happens beyond the mundane intention level system. Unlike with a mundane intention, it’s guaranteed to happen, but it’s not guaranteed to improve your life. How common these are depends on your game’s power level.

Miraculous action: The ordinary sort of miracle. You cast these by invoking miraculous powers, and sometimes paying MP. When two miraculous actions conflict, the rating of each action is derived from the arc trait of the arc it came from (plus 3, if it is a major miraculous action), plus any Miraculous Edge or Strike; the higher-rated miracle wins. (Unless the miracles are diametrically opposed, though, both miracles will take effect - the higher-rated miracle first, and then the lower one.)

Miraculous arc: A set[3] of themed miraculous powers from the Chuubo's hyperflexible mythology, only available at the miraculous power level. For example, the Creature of Fable miraculous arc, which is earned by going through a Storyteller Arc, has powers themed around being a shadowy bogeyman or hunter/huntress. As your Arc Trait increases, you can unlock higher-tier miraculous powers.

Miraculous Edge: As Edge, but also applying to miraculous conflicts. It reduces the effective level of an opposing miracle.

Miraculous-level game: See power level.

Miraculous power: A power that you can use to generate miracles. Usually only found at the miraculous power level, although there are a few miraculous powers that can slip into mortal-level games without much difficulty (such as Octopus Singer). You can get miraculous powers as part of a miraculous arc, or as a perk.

Miraculous will: A pool of 3 extra Will that refreshes every time you do an in-genre XP action. You have a whole lot more stamina than mortals - their Will pools cap at 8! (Although your normal Will pool of 8 still refreshes like everyone else’s.) You can spend a combination of normal and miraculous Will on an intention, but you are still limited to spending Will in increments of 1, 2, 4, or 8.

MP: Miracle points, a resource used to fuel many miraculous powers. Your Miraculous Arc will tell you how many of them you need to spend on a power. You can also spend them on Strike or at an MP shop.

MP cap[4]: The total number of MP your MP pool will routinely refill to. The number of MP in your MP pool can exceed your MP cap, but then you don’t get the MP at the beginning of chapters or books. By default, this is 5, although some miraculous arcs and perks can increase this number.

MP pool: The number of MP you have on hand. It will replenish itself to your MP cap at the beginning of a book, and you will get 1 MP (up to your MP cap) at the beginning of each chapter. It can be increased beyond the maximum by Bonds, Afflictions, certain arc-specific miraculous powers, and/or Issues.

MP shop: A place where anyone can spend MP and receive an unactivated miracle, a Tool, or other things of about this magnitude. Some of them are one-use; others can be used at least until the end of the book. MP shops are often even available at the mortal power level, so mortals can spend their MP.

Mortal arc: A set of benefits for pursuing an Arc that are available to all characters, regardless of campaign power level. The rewards[5] are permanent points to assign to Skills and Bonds, as well as an Affliction of rating equal to the Arc trait. However, you cannot access any miraculous arc powers while pursuing a mortal arc.

Mortal-level game: See power level.

Mundane action: See Intention.

Nobilis: The game Jenna Moran wrote before she wrote Chuubo’s. Nobilis has the same task resolution system as Chuubo’s, although tuned for a different power level and less refined.

NPC: Non-player character. Usually someone the HG is “playing”. Particularly important NPCs can be main characters.

Obstacle: A problem that stands in the way of regular use of an Intention and reduces both its effectiveness and feasibility. Rated from 1 to 5, they may range from ‘this is kinda tough’ to ‘this is completely impossible, because it would violate a basic rule of the cosmos. An Edge is a specific kind of Obstacle. Obstacles do not stack.

OOC: Out-of-character; things that you say or do as a player, such as “I have these goals that I would like to fulfill in the following scenes”, “these are things I would rather not do”, or “when's the pizza coming, anyway?”

Perk: A medium-term, temporary-ish reward for completing a quest. You get eight slots for Perks. Perks can be Bonds, Afflictions, Skills, Tools, miraculous powers, Accessories, power-up perks, and a variety of more niche options explained in the book.

Play-by-post: A game (of, say, Chuubo’s) played on a forum (or a similar linearly-organized, asynchronous medium).

Player: Anyone who is generally agreed to be participating in the game in question, on this level of reality. (Characters don’t count.)

Player character: A character who is controlled by a player (other than the HG).

Power level: Chuubo's can be played on either a mundane level or a miraculous level. On the mundane level, all actions and conflicts are resolved through intention levels, and characters can only have mortal arcs. On the miraculous level, characters can earn miraculous arcs (although in a few cases, you may want to take a mortal arc instead).

Power-up perk: A type of Perk that is a modifier to another stat, rather than a stat of its own. For example, if you have a Skill: Sewing of 2, and a Power-Up Perk of +1, then you have an effective Sewing skill of 3. This perk will go up and down with the underlying value it’s modifying.

Quest: A chunk of your character’s story, written up as a quest card that requires a certain amount of XP to complete. These can be anytime quests or storyline quests. When you complete a Quest, you can get a reward, which is usually (but not always) a perk. A group of quests that come together into a narrative is an Arc.

Quest card: The written information about XP-bearing conditions for a quest. (As opposed to the metadata and explanations surrounding it.) A quest card describes only the parts of a story that are interesting in play - for example, if you are building a boat, you do not have to stage scenes of boat-building. Instead you will get XP for musing about boat-building materials, or perhaps showing up late with sawdust all over your clothes.

Quest flavor: Things written on the quest card for a storyline quest that you can do for XP, once per chapter per quest.

Quest miracle: A miracle that you can perform, if you have the prerequisite arc trait and complete a relevant quest (usually a chibi-quest, although larger miracles will take longer). These are almost always major miraculous actions, and you usually have to keep the completed quest active in a quest slot to maintain its effects.

Quest set: A group of quests that have been pre-made to conform to the story of at least one Arc. Often, the quests in the quest set can be rearranged so you can use them for several arcs; quest sets will usually come with annotations on how you do that.

Reaction shot: An extra Action, beyond the two-Action limit, that you can form when you take a Wound. At least part of this Action needs to be about defending yourself from the source of the Wound.

Recharge token: A recharge token can be spent to refresh your Will and MP to their respective starting caps. (If you have more MP than your MP cap, it stays the same.) Some Perks and miraculous powers may also cost recharge tokens to use. You get a recharge token every time you fill out your basic quest. (Occasionally you can get recharge tokens as rewards for other quests.)

Region: A loose and conceptually bounded location, defined by a number of world-laws known as Region Properties.

Region Properties: A set of metaphysical rules about a Region. Any being within the Region may take advantage of Properties as a level 2 Bond.

Ritual: A special purpose XP Action that halts normal play in favor of more structured, stylized sequences. These are invoked to deal with things normal play can’t represent, like the numinous, metaphorical, cinematic, or (of course) ritualistic. When you are in a ritual, you usually pick your actions from a list of actions appropriate to the ritual that the HG will present (if you want to break that list and/or the Ritual, you may face an Obstacle or Auctoritas). Rituals are genreless, and come into play if the HG or group wants them to.

Scene: Scenes are the basic unit of play, in which characters interact and things happen. Scenes are arranged into chapters.

Session: A unit of play, traditionally defined as a handful of OOCly measured hours at the gaming table. In play-by-post games, a session is generally a set number of OOC days or weeks, or else declared by HG fiat. At the end of every session, the group XP is distributed between the players.

Sickly: One of the three arc powers associated with miraculous arcs. It allows you to take a (Suffer) Corruption or (Suffer) Trauma XP Action (without HG approval, as if it was in-genre) and gain a point of the Sickness Issue.

Skill: Something your character can do, stated as a word or short phrase. Skills are rated from 0 to 5, and you get 8 skill points per character. (You can earn more with mortal arcs, or certain miraculous arcs.) Skills (plus Will) are used to form mundane-level intentions. If the skill is for something humans can’t usually do, it might be a Magical Skill or a Superior Skill.

Storyline quest: A quest that has major goals and quest flavor options. Contrast anytime quest.

Superior Skill: A skill that is either ‘inhuman’ or genre-like in nature, and more capable of doing ridiculous or difficult Intentions. Point-for-point, a Superior Skill is much more powerful than a regular Skill. For instance, the strength and toughness of a bear can be represented as Superior Vitality 3, and Sherlock Holmes’ incredible ability easily merits him Superior Detective 2. Superior Skills grant Edge in a narrow set of predefined uses up to the skill rating; borderline uses can use the skill as base but don’t get an Edge.

Strike: The “momentum” of a miracle. Grants Miraculous Edge and is primarily used to bypass Auctoritas. May be obtained by spending MP or applying a relevant Bond. Notably, Strike from multiple sources will stack.

Those symbols (Screenshot - 03312016 - 09:50:18 PM.png): Each symbol/color is a category, associated with certain types of scenes, certain types of stories, and certain types of powersets. You shouldn't worry about them; they're best learned through long-term exposure and osmosis anyway.

Tool: Objects or other things that help you perform a Skill. Most tools give +1 to your Intention, while exceptional tools give a +2.

Transition: A (usually poetry) reading used to substitute for normal play in cases of “stock footage”, or to express the nature of divine, alien, or horrifying things. Transitions are genreless and come into play if the HG or group wants them to.

Unreal: Certain miraculous powers will be marked “Unreal”. This means that their effects are similar to breaks from reality - once the miracle’s stopped, consensus reality and its rules will try to reassert themselves. Exactly how effective these fixes are depends on the Region’s nature: for example, forcibly everting a room into 4D space will stick if you’re in the physics department of Georgetown University, but if you do it in a normal office building, the space will be comfortably 3D again by the time people show up for work the next day.

Will: A resource, used with skills, to reach higher intention levels. You get a pool of 8 Will that refreshes at the beginning of every chapter. You can only spend will in 1, 2, 4, or 8 Will increments. See also miraculous will.

Wish: A category of Imperial Miracle that disregards the usual restrictions on Imperial Miracle-based powers. A potentially unlimited game-changer. As with Imperial Miracles, they are almost impossible to oppose mechanically and should really be opposed narratively instead. There is a special set of rules, “The Rules of a Wish”, for exploring and representing the effects of a Wish.

Wishlike effect: A type of miraculous action (almost always a major miraculous action) that is like a Wish. However, it requires less resources to resist (defying it outright will cost you 1 Deadly Wound, with partial resistance being discounted accordingly), and tends to fade (to the level of mundane coincidences and Obstacles) after you stop sustaining it.

Wound: Something you invoke when something happens to your character that you don’t want. Wounds are not limited to the physical: you can also take wounds against metaphysical attacks, imprisonment, and other such status effects. Some miraculous powers cost wounds to activate. Wounds come in three severity classes, each corresponding to a health level. Taking a wound allows you to change the shape of the effects into something you like better, fills a health level with a Wound and its power (it can be a Bond, Affliction, Tool, Skill, or miraculous power[6]), and allows you a reaction shot. You can use a quest (usually a chibi-quest) to heal faster from a wound (and in fact a quest is necessary for a Deadly Wound to heal at all). If you wound your last health level, you are defeated.

XP: Experience points. Some experience points can be earned by doing things listed on a quest card; these experience points should be marked on the quest card from which they spawned. Other experience points come from XP Actions and XP Emotions; those experience points can be assigned to any quest.

XP Action: A way to mechanically represent that you have played a certain type of scene. After each XP action, you will fade. XP actions that are not in-genre need to be approved by the HG. The XP earned from an XP action will go into group XP, which is split and parceled out to everyone at the end of each session.

XP Challenge: An optional extra condition that can be met after declaring an XP Action to gain an additional group XP. Often this involves someone else emoting a reaction to the XP action. The HG is advised to leave these out for the first few sessions, but add them in once people understand how the base XP actions work.

XP Emotion: Describes the reaction your character is meant to evoke from the other players. You can get XP, up to once every 15 minutes, each time another player expresses this reaction OOCly in response to your character's actions (their characters don’t have to feel it, and in some cases probably shouldn’t).

[1] If Afflictions don’t seem strong enough to codify your world-rules, you can back your campaign conventions with imperial miracles. This option should be used very sparingly. I did it for A User’s Guide to the Apocalypse, because the conventions in question can only be opposed with the force of narrative, but I had to think about it for a while first.

[2] I think these are badly named. I’d call them “plot armor slots”.

[3] Miraculous arcs are like what other systems call “classes”. There is no penalty for cross-classing, except for the amount of stuff you'll have to keep track of on your character sheet. (If you have more than three miraculous arcs on your starting character sheet, though, you may want to rethink things.)

[4] The book calls this “starting MP”, but I don’t think that’s a very clear name.

[5] I couldn’t find mortal arcs in the corebook at first, so to save you the trouble they’re on page 452.

[6] This is different from Nobilis. In Nobilis, Wounds can only be Bonds or Afflictions.