Rules Reference / SRD

This Guidebook contains the comprehensive rules for The Contract.

It is best used as a reference, not a how-to-play guide. If you are brand new to The Contract, we recommend starting either with our How to Play manual or learning from your GameMaster as you play. If you'd rather see the full, unfiltered rules, you can always read this guide front-to-back.

This is not the place to find The Contract's content. Most content comes in the form of Scenarios, custom-made Gifts, and, of course, the Contractors created by the Players themselves. 

These rules are setting-independent and support challenging, gritty gameplay with a focus on outside-the-box problem solving. They are designed to keep the action moving at game-time and favor counting over arithmatic. 


The Contract is a tabletop roleplaying game in which Players control ambitious experts (known as Contractors) who are approached by mysterious entities (known as Harbingers) and offered a tempting opprotunity: participate in deadly missions to awaken their latent supernatural Gifts. The Contractors who survive are forged into some of the most fearsome and influential beings in existence.

Primary Features

  • Solving Absenteeism
    • The Contract is friendly towards inconsistent groups and nomadic Players. Players can play and progress their favorite characters regardless of who shows up on a given night.
  • Rotating GMs
    • The responsibility of the Game Master (GM) rotates between sessions as desired, preventing burnout. 
  • Useful Tools
    • The Contract's website offers an extensive selection of tools to make learning and playing The Contract easy.
  • Unique Characters
  • Interesting Action:
    • The Contract is realistic and gritty, but light on number crunching. Advancement grants tools that enable novel tactics rather than simple dice bonuses. 

Content Warning and Player Safety

Players determine the play experience and content of The Contract. However, the system itself supports gritty violence, emotional trauma, and death.

All Players should agree on a tone and content limits before they play. We recommend employing one or more RPG Safety Tools when playing with new people, especially if you don't understand why such tools are useful.

When you sit down to play The Contract, you either assume the role of the GameMaster (GM), or a Player controlling a Contractor or a Ringer. 

The GameMaster (GM)

Each time you play The Contract, one person is designated as the Game Master (GM). Instead of playing a Contractor, they act as a referee, controlling the world and the non-player characters (NPCs). When your group participates in one of the Harbingers' Contracts, the GM runs a prepared Scenario that outlines challenging situations for the Contractors to navigate. 

After a Contract, the GM decides which of the surviving Contractors succeeded and which ones failed. Those who succeed are granted a Gift that awakens their supernatural abilities. GMs are given rewards for running Contracts that they can use to enhance their own Contractors.

The GameMaster's Manual contains guidance on the craft of GMing. 


Players create and play characters known as Contractors: ambitious, competent individuals who willingly risk their lives on Contracts in exchange for power. In general, all Player Characters in The Contract are Contractors.

A Contractor's capabilities and weaknesses are represented through a variety of stats which are assigned numerical values at Character Creation. Their Attributes (Brawn, Intellect, Charisma, Dexterity, Perception) and Abilities (Science, Firearms, and Athletics to name a few) are used when rolling dice to determine whether or not they succeed any risky actions they attempt.

A Contractor's behavior and morality are up to their Players to determine. Their Limits describe which experiences might lead to mental Trauma.

Contractors almost always start out as mundane humans with no supernatural abilities. A particular Asset and Charon Coins (consolation prizes for dying) allow Contractors to begin their first Contract with a Gift, enabling concepts with paranormal history or ancestry.

Players often maintain several Contractors, but they can never play more than one at once. Generally, no two Contractors owned by the same Player may ever meet or communicate with each other.

As they complete Contracts and grow in power, Contractors advance their Status. Contractors with 0-3 Victories are Newbies, 4-9 are Novices, 10-25 are Seasoned, and those with 25 or more Victories are Veterans.

Lucy Kate, the Contractor from the How to Play guide

Players may also opt to play a Contract as an NPC Ringer instead of one of their Contractors. This is usually because the Scenario has been spoiled for them, probably because they've already played it.

Ringers can be any NPC in the Contract: an antagonist, a character central to the plot, or even an non-player Contractor.

All Ringers have an objective that they must fufill. This objective may be to help or hinder the Contractors, to die horribly to monsters, or anything else the GM desires.

At the end of the Contract, Players who played Ringers are given Experience to spend on one of their Contractors. They recieve 4 Experience if they achieved their objective and 2 Experience otherwise. Ringers do not receive Gifts Credits or Improvements.

GM Tip
  • A Ringer is an opprotunity to include a character that would normally be too much work for the GM to run. Make them important enough that the Ringer's Player doesn't get bored!
  • When you are Gming for a Ringer, discuss their role and objective with the Player before the Contract begins. 
  • Not every Scenario has room for a Ringer. 

Contracts are the Harbingers' deadly missions and the primary unit of play in The Contract. Each Contract concludes in a single play session. In order to play a Contract, you need one GM and at least two Players. 

Before it begins, the GM declares which Contractor Status is permitted: Newbies (0-3 Gifts), Novice (4-9 Gifts), Seasoned (11-24 Gifts), or Veteran (25+ Gifts), and the Players select which of their eligible Contractors to bring. 

The GM runs a Scenario where the Players' chosen Contractors are approached by a Harbinger (or one of their messengers), invited to participate in a Contract, briefed on their objective, and set loose to accomplish their task. At the end of the Contract, the GM declares which of the surviving Contractors succeeded and which ones failed. All participants, including the GM, are rewarded in some way. 

Participating in Contracts is the main way to Advance a Contractor's stats and Gifts, although Players can also earn rewards for GMing, writing Scenarios, or writing in-character Journals.

Participation in a Contract is always voluntary, both for Players and for Contractors. However, once a Contractor accepts the Harbinger's invite, they may be locked in.

While Contracts are ideally concluded in one play session, they may be split into multiple sessions if needed. While a Contract is active, Players cannot change their Contractors, and the GM cannot rotate with another GM.

In some cases, a Contract may be part of a Cycle, or a series of Scenarios which take place one after the other with no Downtime, similar to a traditional roleplaying campaign. Experience cannot be spent between the Contracts of a Cycle.

All Players should be told ahead of time if a Contract is part of a Cycle and how many Contracts long that Cycle is.

Voiding Contracts

If the events of a Contract are unfair or damaging to the setting or tone, the Playgroup may declare it Void. Any Contract that is voided never occurred and grants no Rewards.

Instead of voiding Contracts that introduce undesirable Setting elements, Playgroup Leaders often rule that the Contract's events happened in a similar-looking parallel dimension, or perhaps it was all a bad dream.

Voiding Contracts should be extremely rare.

Contracts may be Voided by the following means:

  • Playgroup Leaders can declare any Contracts in their Playgroup Void at their discretion.
  • If, after the conclusion of a Contract, all Players vote unanimously to Void.
  • If a Contract is split into multiple sessions, the Players may vote to void and require only a simple majority.

Scenarios are the primary modules of content in The Contract. GMs run Scenarios as Contracts. Think of them like the sheet music for the performance, or the recipe for the meal. 

All Scenarios in The Contract follow the same basic structure. A group of characters are rounded up and presented with a deadly task which they must then attempt to complete for a chance to awaken their latent potential.

Discovering and writing Scenarios are the two primary ways of obtaining content to play in The Contract. Playing the occasional online Contract can help you find content for your in-person group. There is a full section on writing your own Scenarios in the GameMaster's Manual.

Stock Scenarios

Stock Scenarios are Scenarios written by The Contract's developers to get new play groups started. Here is a list of Stock Scenarios and how to add them to your Scenario Gallery:

  • Mushroom Hunt - is avilable to all Players for free, registered or not. Note: because Players may view Mushroom Hunt when logged-out, GMs can't rely on the website to determine if a Player is spoiled on it.
  • Sanctuary - Create a Playgroup
  • Passing the Hours - Play a Contractor in a Contract
  • Beware the Assassin - GM a Contract
  • Monster Hunter Island - Lose a Contractor in a Contract
  • Finally, the Scenario used in the How to Play guide, See no Evil, Hear no Evil, Smell no Evil is available to all users but should not be run because it is spoiled in the tutorial.

You can also discover Stock Scenarios by playing in them.

Discovering Scenarios

Any time you Play in a Contract, you "discover" it, and it is added to your Scenario Gallery

Discovering a Scenario has the following benefits:

  • You may view the Scenario's write-up and notes from GMs about their experience running it.
  • You may run the Scenario as a Contract for any group of Players who haven't been spoiled on it.
  • You may read any Journals written about it.

Scenario Spoilers

Players are not allowed to play their Contractors in Contracts where they know the details of the Scenario. When you know the details of a Scenario, it is considered "spoiled." Depending on the specifics of the Scenario, they may still have the option to play an NPC Ringer.

Any Scenario you have played in a Contract is considered spoiled, but unlocked stock Scenarios are not considered spoiled until you read their writeups.

You may not read any Journals that contains spoilers for a Scenario you have not been spoiled on. 

Rewards and Advancement

Every time a Contractor participates in a Contract, they grow more powerful. Their climb is precipitous but quick. Those who survive become truly fearsome beings.

By successfully winning Contracts, as well as by completing some other tasks, Contractors can obtain Experience, Gift Credits, and Improvements. Experience is used to improve your Contractor's stats. Gift Credits and Improvements grant new Gifts or enhance existing ones.

Experience (xp) represents the time Contractors spend improving themselves in the Downtime between Contracts. 

Earning Experience

When a Contractor accepts their first invitation to participate in a Contract, they are Imbued by the sponsoring Harbinger. Imbuing alters how Contractors learn, allowing them to develop their abilities at an incredible rate, but only after participating in a Contract. If they do not participate in any Contracts, they will likely stagnate, regardless of their efforts.

You may earn Experience for your Contractors by:

  • 3 Exp - Attending a Contract in your home Playgroup.
  • 1 Exp - Attending a Contract outside of your home Playgroup.
  • 2 Exp - Claiming victory in a Contract. 
  • 2 Exp - Being granted a bonus Commission by the GM at the end of a Contract.
  • 6 Exp - Running a Contract as the GM.
  • 4 Exp - Playing an NPC Ringer that fulfills their major purpose during a Contract.
  • 1 Exp - Writing an in-character Journal at least 250 words long, describing either a Contract or the events of a Downtime between two Contracts.

Spending Experience

The cost to increase a trait by one level is as follows:

  • Attributes: current rating x5 Exp
  • Abilities: 2 Exp for the first rank , then current rating x2 Exp
  • Source: current rating x2 Exp

Experience may also be used to:

Contractors who do not have access to a means of training a particular Ability or other trait cannot spend Experience to advance it. For example, a Contractor in prison cannot train the Firearms Ability, and a Contractor living in a cave in the wilderness may have trouble accessing therapy to treat their Traumas.

Gift Credits and Improvements


Gifts are the greatest prize from The Contract. Gifts awaken a Contractor's potential, allowing them to do things most people could only dream of. Gifts can come in four different types: innate Powers, the ability to craft either powerful Artifacts or single use Consumables, or a unique and often multi-functional Legendary Artifact.

Contractors receive Gift Credits as rewards, which can be spent to obtain a new Gift, or to increase the effectiveness of an existing Gift. Improvements are like Gifts, but they can only be spent to improve an existing Gift, not to unlock a new one.

Improvement Limits

A given Contractor is limited to a number of Gift Credits and Improvements equal to twice the number of Contracts they have won. For example, if your Contractor has been victorious 7 times, you may spend at most 7 Improvements on them, since they have already received 7 Gift Credits. 

Note, the Asset Gifted and Charon Coins count as Gift Credits towards this limit, so if you have won 7 Contracts but you started with a Charon Coin, you may spend at most 6 Improvements before you hit the cap.

Earning Gift Credits

  • Victory: A Contractor that claims Victory in a Contract gains one Gift Credit. 
  • Charon Coins: If a Contractor dies during a Contract, their controlling Player is given a Coin of Charon. A coin may be spent when creating a new Contractor to grant them a single Gift Credit before they've been invited to their first Contract.
  • Gifted: At Character Creation, Contractors may start with a single Gift Credit by taking the Gifted Asset.  This is restricted and requires Playgroup Leader approval.

Earning Improvements

  • Writing Game Journals: A Contractor earns an Improvement for every 4 Journal they write. 
  • Submitting Scenarios: A Gamemaster may earn an Improvement for submitting a completed Scenario write-up.  The Scenario must have been run as a Contract at least once, and the writeup must have at least 1000 words. They may choose which Contractor this Improvement is assigned to.
  • As GM, you may earn a maximum of one Improvement per Contract you run. You choose which of your Contractors recieves the Improvement.
    • Into The Fold: Running any Player's first Contract grants the GM an Improvement. A Contract is considered a Player's first if it was the first one entered into the website. 
    • The Golden Ratio (optional): If you GM a Contract in which at least one Contractor dies and at least one Contractor wins, you have achieved the Golden Ratio, and recieve one Improvement. This is turned off for Playgroups by defaultbut your Playgroup can choose to enable it if you prefer to encourage a deadlier setting.
GM Tip
The Golden Ratio is only intended to encourage GMs to kill Contractors when they deserve it. It is not necessarily a goal for all Contracts to have at least one Contractor death. Each group has their own lethality preferences.

Contractor Status

Contractors are divided into several Statuses based on the number of Contracts they've won. 

  • Newbie: 0-3 Victories
  • Novice: 4-9 Victories
  • Seasoned: 10-25 Victories
  • Veteran: 26 + Victories. 

Newbie and Novice Contractors can play in Contracts together, as can Seasoned and Veteran Contractors. Veteran Contractors are the only type of Contractor that can play in Solo Contracts.

Certain Effects, Enhancements, Drawbacks, and Parameter levels are restricted by Contractor Status.


Contractors may continue to participate in Contracts as long as they'd like, but when a beloved and accomplished Character's story starts to lose direction, Players sometimes feel that it is time to take the next step and retire them. 

Some retired Contractors continue to pursue their goals as Harbingers. Once used as a Harbinger, a Contractor may never again be played in a Contract. 

Contracts don't happen immediately after each other; instead, Contractors will have a a bit of time in between Contracts (generally at least a month) during which they can accomplish any number of important things. This is called Downtime

During a Downtime, Contractors engage in many activities that do not require roleplay such as tending their wounds or honing their skills (by training and spending Experience).

They are also free to take initiative and do anything they'd like. This includes but is not limited to: pursuing their goals, dealing with law enforcement, doubling back to the scene of a Contract to take care of unfinished business, and tracking down other Contractors to trade with (or murder).

The Passage of Time

One month of in-character time passes between the Contracts run in a Playgroup. So a Downtime will always be at least one month long, however, if a Contractor misses a game in their Playgroup (perhaps because the Player was out of town, or maybe that Player has multiple Contractors to play with and they like to alternate) then a Downtime may last even longer.

For things like healing from Injuries, this longer Downtime can be useful, since Injuries heal at a monthly rate.  However, anything which is limited to "once per Downtime" or which specifies that it "takes a Downtime to complete" is still limited, regardless of how long a Downtime lasts.

Playgroup Leaders may adjust the passage of time to move slower or faster for their Playgroup if they wish.

Any roleplay that occurs outside of a Contract is called a Side Game.

Unlike the Harbingers' Games, Side Games do not have any predefined structure. No Experience, Gift Credits, or Improvements can be awarded to any of the participants. They do not need to be recorded or tracked. Simple conversations between Contractors may not even require a GM, but any time Dice are to be rolled, a GM should be present. Some Downtime actions, such as assaulting a government agency or running for President, may require substantial GM prep and/or many Side Games to resolve. 

Occasionally, a Contractor will finish a Contract in a position that requires a Side Game to resolve. Being arrested is a common example. In these cases, the GM may declare that the Character in question is "locked" and cannot perform other Downtime activities until a Side Game is completed.

Contractors may write in their Journals for bonus Experience and Improvements. Writing an in-character journal at least 250 words long for a Contract, or for the Downtime between two games, rewards 1 Experience point. Every four Contract Journals (but not Downtime Journals) awards an Improvement instead. 

To write in your Contractor's Journal, go to the character sheet of a Contractor who has participated in at least one Contract and follow the green link at the top or in the biography section of the sheet.

Contractors who have a Gift which allows them to craft items may do so during Downtimes. There are two types of crafting available to Contractors, Consumable Crafting and Artifact Crafting, each of which has specific rules about crafting.

Every Downtime, Contractors receive 1 free Consumable for each of their Consumable Crafting Gifts. Additional Consumables cost 2 Experience each. Contractors get a single free Artifact when they gain a new Artifact Crafting Gift, but otherwise Artifacts cost an amount of Experience equal to 1 + its Gift Cost.

Spending a Gift Credit or Improvement to improve an existing Consumable Crafting or Artifact Crafting Gift will grant an additional free copy of that specific Consumable or Artifact.

The Contract has a "default" setting of The Illumination, but the game is designed to be played in whatever setting the Players desire. Each Playgroup can choose their own setting, whether it be The Illumination, something borrowed from other media, or even oen of their own creation. 

That said, the elements that enable The Contract's Format are shared between all Playgroups and settings. These are the Harbingers, The Powers that Be, and The Contracts themselves.

The Talent

Harbingers are the mysterious administrators of the Contracts. Their purpose is to find or create deadly challenges to test the Contractors, invite them to Contracts, lure them into accepting, and sometimes transport them to the site where the Contract takes place. 

Harbingers are as powerful as they need to be to accomplish these goals and aren't required to have pre-established stats or Gifts. However, like the monkey's paw, they never offer full satisfaction and will never directly solve a Contractor's problems (though they may sometimes cause them). 

Rules of Engagement

  • A Harbinger cannot attack a Contractor unless attacked first.
  • Harbingers don't pay in advance
  • A Harbinger cannot force any Novice Contractor to go on a Contract, and rarely forces Seasoned / Veteran Contractors, as there may be consequences.
  • Harbingers rarely make promises about their payment's form (e.g. specific Gifts)
  • Harbingers never directly solve a Contractor's problems, though they may provide tools for the Contractor to solve them themselves.
  • Harbingers can directly cause problems for Contractors.
  • Harbingers may use messengers to deliver their invitations (though rarely for a brand new Contractor).
  • Harbingers must provide transportation to the location of a Contract for 0-5 Victory Novice Contractors that are unable to transport themselves (outsiders, anachronisms, etc).
GM Tip

GMs may have multiple Harbingers, and each Harbinger has their own story, modus operandi, and goals. They may bring a particular flair or complication to their Contracts. Perhaps a certain Harbinger runs gameshow Contracts that are televised, or another Harbinger only runs Contracts that involve hunting monsters.


The Powers That Be

Contracts are organized by a shadowy conspiracy known simply as The Powers That Be. Even their direct servants, the powerful Harbingers, can only guess at their true identities or purpose.

What is known is that they reward a rare few, and reward them well. How they select candidates is as large a mystery as why. Some think the Contractors are being prepared for an imminent apocalypse. Others believe the "Masters" are merely sadists.

A Playgroup is a group of Contractors who share a setting. 

Playgroup Leaders act as the head GM for their Playgroups, settling disputes, approving Gifts, and generally preventing shenanigans. They are empowered to edit the Character Sheets of the Contractors in their Playgroup, record or void Contracts, and define their Playgroup's setting.

The Contract's format, Gifts, Character Sheets and Advancement allow Contractors to remain portable between Playgroups, even if they have vastly different settings. This allows Contractors to be played online or with whatever Playgroup you happen to find yourself playing with (if desired). 

Some Playgroups opt to use a tribunal of the three most experienced GMs instead of a single Playgroup Leader.

Creating a Playgroup

Creating a Playgroup is as easy as filling out the form! You can create as many as you'd like.

Each Playgroup has its own private parallel dimension in The Contract's collective multiverse. Playgroups have complete authority to build, change, and destroy their own Setting however they wish.

Shades of "modern day but with supernatural elements," tend to work best, but if you want the Contracts in your Playgroup to take place in Feudal Japan, a futuristic science-fiction city, or the world populated by anthropomorphic animals, make it so!

Visiting other Playgroups

Contractors live their lives in their home Playgroup's Setting, but Harbingers from other Settings may invite them to join Contracts in their Playgroups. If the Contractor accepts, they are transported to the Harbinger's Setting to participate in the Contract and are returned to their home Setting when the Contract concludes. Contractors may earn Gift Credits (or die) while visiting another Playgroup.

A Contractor visiting another Setting is only guaranteed to have access to their base stats and Gifts. GMs may strip them of any Equipment or special abilities that they have obtained through any means other than Rewards from Games. If your Contractor happened to find a spellbook that allows them to cast fireballs during a Downtime, they may not have access to it while traveling to another Setting.

When a Contractor attempts an action where the outcome is risky or unsure, the GM will call for a roll to determine what happens. 

The GM names one Attribute, one Ability, and a Difficulty (a number between 2 and 9, usually 6). The Player rolls a number of ten-sided dice (d10s) equal to the sum of their Contractor's ratings in the named Attribute and Ability. The number of dice rolled is called the Dice Pool. After they roll, they count up the Outcome.

The Outcome starts out at 0. Each die that lands on a number equal to or greater than the Difficulty gives +1 to the Outcome.   A die showing '1' is called a "botch" and subtracts 1 from the Outcome. A die showing a '10' is called a "double" and gives +2 instead of +1 to the Outcome (some D10s may be numbered from 0 to 9 instead of 1 to 10; in this case, 0s are counted as 10s).

Based on the total Outcome, the action will either succeed or fail:

Outcome Result
<0 A botch. Something goes horribly wrong.
0 The attempt fails.
1-3 The attempt is partially successful or is successful but has a complication.
4-5 A complete success, things go as planned. 
6+ An exceptional success. The action is performed with grace or has an additional, positive effect.


The GM narrates the specific details of how the action occurs.

Example Roll (tap to expand)

Contested Actions

When a character enters a contest of skill or their action is resisted, it is a Contested Action. Examples include sneaking past a guard, swordfighting, or competing in a race.

In Contested Actions, both the initiator and the defender make a roll. The defender's Outcome is subtracted from the initator's, reducing it to a minimum of 0. Because of this, ties go to the defender.

The resulting value is the Contested Outcome. A Contested Outcome greater than 0 is considered a complete success.

Each character may have a different roll. For example, sneaking past a guard would be Dexterity + Stealth versus Perception + Alertness. The default Difficulty for contested actions is 6, but this can be modified by the GM as normal, often resulting in Difficulties that are different for each participant. For example, if it is very dark or noisy, the Guard might be asked to roll their Perception + Alertness check at Difficulty 7 or 8. 

If not specified, the standard Difficulty for all rolls is 6. Certain Weapons and Gifts may set a different base Difficulty. 

If a Contractor does not have any rank in a roll's relevant Ability, or if no relevant Ability exists, they may roll using only the relevant Attribute, but at +1 Difficulty. 

For example, if you are attempting to perform an emergency blood transfusion but do not have any ranks in Medicine, you may roll only Intellect, but the Difficulty will be 7 rather than 6.  

Difficulty can be increased or decreased by situational factors at the GM's discretion. For instance, investigating a dark room with your cell phone's flashlight would be rolled at +1 Difficulty. Swimming to stay afloat with a life vest would be -2 Difficulty (though a swimming race might be at a higher difficulty instead). 

The final Difficulty cannot be reduced below 4. If the Difficulty of a roll would ever rise above 9, it remains at 9 and your total Dice Pool is reduced by the overage. For example, a Difficulty 12 roll with 6 dice would be rolled as a Difficulty 9 roll with 3 dice. 

Dice Pool Modifiers

Some Gifts, items, or Conditions may give characters a bonus to certain dice pools. Bonuses to the same dice pool do not stack. Instead, the highest value is used.

For Example, if turning into a werewolf gives you +1 dice to Brawn rolls and a different bonus that gives you +3 dice to Brawl attacks, if you roll to bite someone, it would be Brawn + Brawl + 3 dice (the higher of the two bonuses). 

All Dice Pools are subject to the character's Penalty, which results from Mind and Body damage. Unlike dice bonuses, dice penalties DO stack, reducing the Dice Pool to a minimum of 2.

The probability of a roll's success is purposefully obscure, and Players and GMs shouldn't concern themselves with such specifics at game-time. 

However, the website does host a Dice Probability Calculator to promptly settle any tiresome probability discussions.

The Character Sheet

Character Creation

When creating a Contractor, Players fill out a Character Sheet that describes their Contractor's capabilities and characteristics. New Contractors are given 150 Experience points to spend purchasing Attributes, Abilities, Assets, and Liabilities. Their costs are the same as for Advancement.

Note that the Create Character page does these calculations for you, so you do not have to know the Advancement costs before creating a Contractor.

Any unused Experience is saved and can be spent as normal during any Downtime.

Character Concept

Each Contractor should have a clearly defined Character Concept which informs both how they behave as well as the Gifts they end up using.  When creating a Contractor, try to come up with: an Ambition, or a driving goal that gives them a reason for risking their life on Contracts; an Archetype, or what profession or characteristics define them; and a Paradigm, or the source of their supernatural abilities.

Approving Contractors

Playgroup Leaders are responsible for approving Contractors created in their Playgroup. For Contractors attending a Contract in another Playgroup, the GM may allow or disallow their attendance at the start of a Contract at their discretion.

Overview of Character Sheet elements

  • Characters have Attributes and Abilities to describe their raw capabilities and special training. Almost all rolls are made by combining an Attribute with an Ability. Attributes affect many other systems as well, especially in Combat.
  • A Contractor's Gifts are their lifeblood. They are simultaneously the reward for succeeding as a Contractor and also their greatest tools to achieve victory. Each Contractor's Gifts are a unique expression of their inner potential, and no two Gifts are quite alike. Most true Character Advancement comes via Gifts rather than stat increases.
  • Assets and Liabilities detail important aspects of the Contractor's person or background that may have an impact on their performance in Contracts. Assets include things like access to wealth or restricted weapons, a talent for rationalizing their actions, or being downright gorgeous. On the other hand, things like a missing limb, an unfamiliarity with modern society, or simply being too darn trusting count as Liabilities.
  • Limits are the lines a Contractor has a hard time crossing. Torturing and murdering people are two common examples. If violated, Contractors risk developing lasting traumas.
  • Traumas and Battle Scars represent the long-term mental and physical tolls of a Contractor's experience on Contracts. They are acquired primarily by crossing Limits and suffering terrible Injuries. Both can be removed through various means, though there is often a price.
  • Body and Mind track the physical and mental fortitude of a Character and are similar to "Health" in other systems. Their capacities are derived from the Character's Attributes. Injuries, Traumatic experiences, and Exertion deplete Body and Mind, which in turn will cause Dice Penalties. Death occurs when Body is fully depleted.

A Contractor's Attributes represent their raw, intrinsic capabilities, absent any sort of knowledge or special training. The five Attributes are Brawn, Dexterity, Perception, Charisma, and Intellect.

Attributes have major gameplay implications. The number of dice a player rolls when one of their Contractors attempts an action is determined by adding their rating in one Attribute and one Ability. Furthermore, most Attributes have secondary mechanical benefits.

If an in-game effect ever cause an Attribute's rating to drop to 0, the Contractor becomes Incapacitated until that Attribute rating is restored back to at least 1. Note that an effect that reads "-1 dice to Brawn rolls" is not the same as "reduces Brawn by 1." The former only affects rolls.

The website's Create Character page and Online Character Sheets have full support for Attributes. Tapping on or hovering over an Attribute with the cursor displays the details covered below.


The Attributes of humans are rated on a scale of one to five, with two being average and five being world-class. 

  1. Poor
  2. Average
  3. Above average
  4. Superb
  5. World-class


Brawn represents a character's overall strength and stamina. Athletes, bodybuilders, boxers, and similar sorts of people tend to have high ratings in Brawn. Children, the elderly, and nerds tend to have a lower rating. 

Brawn is often paired with these Abilities: Brawl, Melee, Athletics.

Mechanics Affected by Brawn

  • A character's rating in Body (physical fortitude) is equal to 5 + (Brawn / 2, rounded up).
  • Brawn affects Encumbrance. A character may carry up to (15 * Brawn rating) pounds without being encumbered. Characters suffer a -1 dice and movement penalty per 15 pounds they carry over their limit.
  • Brawn acts as Armor against standard unarmed (Brawl) attacks.
  • Brawn affects sprinting speed. In each round of Combat, after a character has used their free movement, they may move an additional 5 feet and incur a -1 penalty a number of times up to their Brawn rating. 


Dexterity represents a character's overall speed, precision, and flexibility. Circus performers, pickpockets, and athletes are likely to have a high Dexterity, while klutzes, sedentary, or elderly people likely have a low rating. 

Dexterity is often paired with these Abilities: Firearms, Athletics, Legerdemain, Stealth.

Mechanics Affected by Dexterity

  • In each round of Combat, a character may take "free" movement on their Initiative before or after their Action. They may travel (5 + 5 * Dexterity rating) feet during this free movement without incurring a dice penalty.
  • A character's overall movement speed is often determined by Dexterity.
  • At the start of combat, a character's dice pool for their Initiative roll is calculated by adding their Perception and Dexterity. (This is the only roll that is a combination of two Attributes). 


Perception represents a character's overall awareness and attention to detail. Investigators, survivalists, police officers, and thieves often have high ratings, while office workers, bookworms, and absent-minded people have a lower rating. 

Perception is often paired with these Abilities: Investigation, Alertness, and almost any other Ability when used to notice some domain-specific detail. 

Mechanics Affected by Perception

  • At the start of combat, a character's dice pool for their Initiative roll is calculated by adding their Perception and Dexterity. (This is the only roll that is a combination of two Attributes). 


Charisma represents a character's overall social aptitude and intuition about people. Detectives, politicians, actors, and attractive people tend to have high ratings. Shut-ins, misanthropes, and people on the autism spectrum tend to have lower ratings. 

Charisma is not 100% analogous to how likable a character is. Some people with a great understanding of others simply don't want to be charming and approachable, even though they could.

When GMing, if a given action could fall under Charisma or another Attribute, you should require the player to roll Charisma. 

Charisma is often paired with these Abilities: Investigation, Influence, Subterfuge, Animals, Performance. 

Mechanics Affected by Charisma

  • A character's rating in Mind is equal to their Intellect + Charisma + 1, with a maximum of 9.
  • Gifts that are in any way social (emotion control, fascination, suggestion) must use Charisma in their rolls. 


Intellect represents a character's overall capability to form new connections, remember details, and draw upon their knowledge. Professors, mathematicians, and innovators have high ratings. Petty criminals, suckers, and long-term addicts have lower ratings. 

Intellect is often paired with these Abilities: Occult, Culture, Computer, Science, Medicine.

Mechanics Affected by Intellect

  • A character's rating in Mind is equal to their Intellect + Charisma + 1, with a maximum of 9.
  • If a player forgets a detail, the GM refers to their character's Intellect when making a determination of whether or not their Character remembers it. 

Abilities represent a character's special training, honed skills, and learned knowledge. 

When a Contractor attempts an action that requires a roll, the number of dice is calculated by adding their rating in an Ability to a relevant Attribute.

The default Abilities are called Primary Abilities, and they are broader categories which cover most mundane actions a Contractor might take.  Characters who instead want to be very good at a specific thing should consider taking a Secondary Ability.

The Create Character page has full support for primary and secondary Abilities. The Character Sheet calculates Experience costs and tracks all Experience expenditures and stat histories, including for Abilities. Abilities show additional descriptive text when tapped on or hovered over with the cursor.


A character's rank in a given Ability is rated on a scale of one to five. Possessing even a single point in an Ability indicates some competence in the field. The numerical values of an Ability's rating represent the following:

0. No special training

1. A passing familiarity or minimal formal training

2. Hobbiest or novice 

3. Baseline professional

4. Leading professional

5. World-class

Seasoned and Veteran Contractors may purchase an additional 6th rank in an Ability.  In addition to increasing the dice pool, a Contractor cannot Botch a roll made with an Attribute at 6.  Any negative Outcome will count as a Failure instead.

Primary Abilities

Primary Abilities are the default set of Abilities listed on the Character Sheet. When a Contractor attempts an action that requires a roll, the GM must call for a roll that utilizes one of these Abilities.

The Create Character page lists all the Primary Abilities, and you can see them all there if you prefer (hover over the Ability to see a description), but they are also listed here, along with a brief summary of how they function.

Not all conceivable actions fit easily into one of the Primary Abilities. It is up to the GM's discretion what roll to use in such cases. If there is something a Contractor absolutely needs to be good at that isn't well-represented by a Primary Ability, consider coming up with a Secondary Ability. 

Melee lets you cut your enemies to ribbons
  • Alertness
    A trained vigilance of your surroundings, suitable for soldiers, police, assassins, etc.
  • Animals
    Knowledge of animals, including identification, training, zoology, and handling.
  • Athletics
    Used for swimming, climbing, running, dodging, jumping, throwing, sports, etc
  • Brawl
    Used for unarmed combat, grappling, and very small weapons.
  • Crafts
    Used for building, repairing, sculpting, tools, etc.
  • Culture
    Knowledge of humanities, history, languages, social sciences, etc.
  • Drive
    Used for driving cars, motorcycles, electric scooters, etc. If you drive regularly, you should have one point.
  • Firearms
    Used for guns and crossbows, firing and general knowledge.
  • Influence
    Persuasion, intimidation, lying, and trickery (usable only on NPCs or to avoid metagaming)
  • Investigation
    Forensics, tracking, research, scrolling intensely though microfilm in the city archives.
  • Legerdemain
    Sleight-of-hand, lock-picking, pickpocketing, and other actions demanding manual dexterity.
  • Medicine
    First aid, care, anatomy, surgery, etc.
  • Melee
    Close range handheld weapons, from knives to clubs to battle-axes.
  • Occult
    Knowledge of mythology, legends, religions, rituals, pop-culture magic, etc. This ability does not grant supernatural powers by itself.
  • Performance
    Acting, singing, dancing, working a crowd, etc.
  • Science
    Physics, math, chemistry, biology, etc.
  • Stealth
    Sneaking around, hiding things, misdirection
  • Survival
    Skills relating to obtaining food, water, and shelter as well as avoiding danger in natural environments.
  • Technology
    Knowledge of technology, including general use, programming, and hacking

Secondary Abilities

Secondary Abilities are Player-defined Abilities that are more specific than Primary Abilities. To balance their reduced scope, they offer a -1 Difficulty reduction any time they are rolled in place of a Primary Ability. You can invent as many as you'd like.

Secondary Abilities must be more specific than Primary Abilities. "Being Badass" is not a valid Secondary Ability. A Secondary Ability may not grant any supernatural power. 

Mechanics of Secondary Abilities

Secondary Abilities may be rolled in place of Primary Abilities in two circumstances. 

  1. The Secondary Ability's specialization applies. In such cases, the roll is made at -1 Difficulty.
    1. For Example, you have "Baseball" as a Secondary Ability, and you are trying to throw a small object, slide, bat, or sprint. Another example: you have the "Hacking" Secondary Ability and are trying to access someone else's account online, find a security flaw, or disable a security camera.
  2. The Secondary Ability's specialization doesn't directly apply, but it implies skill in the relevant action. In such cases, if the Player decides to utilize the Secondary Ability, the roll is made at +1 Difficulty.
    1. For Example, you have the "Baseball" Secondary Ability and are jumping or catching someone who is falling from a window. With the "Hacking" Secondary Ability, perhaps you are trying to convince someone to give you their password or doing some general programming. 

In these cases, the roll's dice pool is determined using the rating of the Secondary Ability instead of the Primary Ability.

It is up to GM's discretion whether or not, and how, a Secondary Ability applies to a given action.

Example Secondary Abilities

These are a few examples of Secondary Abilities. There are infinite possibilities. 

  • Skating
  • Enigmas
  • Con Artistry
  • Knives
  • Hacking
  • Video Games
  • Cooking
  • Swimming
  • Gymnastics
  • Physics
  • Demonology
  • Basket-weaving
  • Construction
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Being Pitiable
  • Jumping
  • Climbing
  • Farming
  • Trapping
  • Tracking
  • Taming
  • Digital Surveillance
  • Breaking-and-entering
  • Lockpicking
  • Piloting Aircraft.

Limits represent events or choices which could be traumatic to a Contractor. During Character Creation, Contractors begin with three Limits.

Normal, "well-adjusted" humans have these three Limits:
  • Anguish
    If you are ever tortured or made to experience an extended period of physical or mental agony, make a Trauma roll.
  • Atrocities
    Make a Trauma roll if you ever witness a humanitarian atrocity such as massacre, torture, extreme abuse etc.
  • Murder
    Make a Trauma roll if you ever kill someone for a reason other than immediate self-defense.

Contractors with abnormal psychology-- such as sociopaths, zealots, or aliens-- may choose from a selection of alternative Limits or create their own.  Self-created Limits are subject to GM approval.

Crossing Limits

If a Contractor crosses one of their Limits, their Player must make a Trauma Roll (roll Mind Difficulty 8, Penalty applies). Failing a Trauma roll causes either mental damage or a new Trauma (GM's choice).

Sometimes you must compromise your values to win

Examples of Alternative Limits

  • Betrayal
    You are extremely sensitive about being lied to or misled. Make a Trauma roll whenever you discover you've been tricked or lied to about something serious.
  • Capture
    If you are ever held against your will, imprisoned, or tied up, make a Trauma roll.
  • Failure
    You are a perfectionist or a megalomaniac and cannot tolerate major failures of any sort. Make a Trauma roll every time you lose a Game or fail a task in your area of expertise.
  • Injustice
    Any time you allow someone (through action or inaction) to escape justice for a major crime, make a Trauma roll.
  • Lifesaver
    You cannot bear the guilt of taking a life. If you are ever responsible for someone else's death, either through action or inaction, make a Trauma roll.
  • Monsters
    Make a Trauma roll each time you see a new monstrous supernatural creature. Lovecraft, eat your heart out.
  • Near-Death Experience
    The frailty of your own life terrifies you. Make a Trauma roll after any near-death experience (such as being Incapacitated or hanging from a cliff by your fingertips).
  • Sin
    You are a true believer with a specific religious code, defined at Character creation. Make a Trauma roll any time you violate this code.
  • Submission
    You are a controlling narcissist. Make a Trauma roll if you ever go along with someone else's plan or idea, whether by force or choice.

Assets and Liabilities

Assets and Liabilities represent specific traits of a Contractor that give them advantages or disadvantages.  A full list of them can be seen on the Create Character page.

Assets and Liabilities can be taken at Character Creation or later by spending Experience. However, spending Experience outside of Character Creation to purchase new Assets or remove Liabilities is restricted and subject to Playgroup Leader approval.

Through the course of play, Contractors' situations may change in a manner that matches an Asset or Liability. Say they come into a huge amount of money (Rich) or are cursed (Curse) or gain an enemy (Enemy). Contractors may have these statuses without formally taking a matching Asset or Liability by marking them down as either a Condition or a Circumstance.

Assets and Liabilities are separated into three categories:

  • Physical, which represent specific physical capabilities or defects such as ambidexterity, a poor sense of hearing, or a missing leg.
  • Background, which represent facts about the Character's history or backstory such as income, contacts in the criminal underworld, or having been raised by wolves.
  • Mental and Emotional, which represent different facets of a Character's mental or emotional state such as the ability to rationalize their behavior, an overriding belief in the sanctity of life, a jaded outlook that leaves them resistant to emotional control, or an innate trust of others.

Additionally, some Assets and Liabilities are restricted, meaning that they can only be taken with the approval of your Playgroup's leader, even at Character creation.

Conditions and Circumstances

During the course of a Contract, Contractors may experience a variety of long-term consequences for their actions.  In the case of Injury or a traumatic experience, this may leave them with a Battle Scar or a Trauma, but other situations may lead to a Contractor acquiring either Conditions or Circumstances.

Conditions are GM-assigned status effects, including supernatural curses and enchantments.  Conditions will have a specific system associated with them, written by either the GMs or a Playgroup Leader.  They are only guaranteed to function within the Playgroup where they were obtained; whether or not they function when a Contractor travels to a new Playgroup is entirely up to the new Playgroup's Leaders.

Circumstances describe the social status of a Contractor across the Playgroups they have visited.  Enemies, contacts, wealth, and legal issues are all examples of Circumstances.  These are generally specific to the Playgroup where they were obtained, and do not follow Contractors when they travel, but GM's and Playgroup Leaders may choose to allow them at their discretion.

Conditions and Circumstances both have some overlap with Assets and Liabilities, however, unless the Asset or Liability was taken at Character Creation or purchased using Experience, it should be recorded as a Condition or a Circumstance rather than as an Asset or Liability.

A Contractor's Character Sheet has a space to detail their Equipment in the Stock tab. Players manage the contents of this field and can bring anything their Contractor could reasonably gain access to. Artifact Gifts are tracked in their own separate space on the Character Sheet.

Restricted objects such as drugs or military weapons require either the Stockpile or Arsenal Asset

Some GMs may be charitable, but in general if your Contractor doesn't have it written in their Equipment list, they don't have it.

Carrying a small amount of gear won't typically cause any penalties, but if you bring too many things, you will become Encumbered, and your ability to move around will be restricted.

See the Weapons and Armor sections for more information on their relevant combat stats.

Equipment Denial

Some Contracts and circumstances may dramatically restrict a Contractor's access to their Equipment. They may be teleported to the site of a Contract in their pajamas, for example. This is entirely fair and acceptable. Crafted Artifacts or Legendary Artifacts may be stripped or stolen just as easily.


A Trophy is a supernatural item that is obtained during a Contract that is not an Artifact, or was not created through the Gift Builder.  These items are tracked separately on the Character Sheet, and are only guaranteed to function within the Playgroup in which they were obtained.

Source is an additional resource all Contractors automatically receive when they get their first Gift. It can be used in place of Exertion to activate any Gifts which require Exertion as an activation cost. 

When a Contractor gets their first Gift - generally after their first successful Contract - they receive a Source pool with a Capacity of 1. This Capacity can be increased by spending (current rating x 2) Experience Points. Spent Source regenerates at a rate of one point per day. 

Each Contractor's Source pool may be renamed to match their paradigm. For example, a Pyromancer that fuels their Gifts with their inner rage may have a Rage pool, a Vampire might have a Blood pool, etc.

Body represents a Contractor's physical fortitude and overall health.  Body is depleted by being Injured, which can lead to an increased Penalty, or death in severe cases. Body is rolled when a Contractor's physical endurance is tested, such as when resisting poisons, diseases, or air deprivation.

A Contractor's rating in Body is equal to 5 + (Brawn / 2, rounded up). A moderately fit human will thus have a Body rating of 7, while hulking brutes will have 8 Body and weaklings will have 6 Body.  The character sheet on The Contract website calculates this automatically, but here's a table.

Brawn rating Body rating
1 or 2 6
3 or 4 7
5 or 6 8
7 or 8 9


Rolling Body

When a Contractor's physical fortitude is tested, the GM may ask them to roll their rating in Body. The number of dice rolled in a Body roll is equal to the Character's permanent Body rating (5 + Brawn / 2, rounded up) but is reduced by their Penalty, as normal. Unless stated otherwise, the Difficulty is the standard 6.

Depleting Body

The overall effect of a Contractor's current Injuries is summarized by depleting their Body. The amount of Body a Character has remaining is equal to the Severity of their worst Injury plus the number of other Injuries they have. A Contractor's Body will heal over time, depending on the Severity of their Injuries, but particularly brutal injuries can cause permanent and debilitating Battle Scars.

If a Character's Body is fully depleted, they are Incapacitated - they cannot move on their own, automatically fail any Actions that requires a roll, cannot activate any Gifts, and can only speak at a whisper. If they are Injured beyond Incapacitated, they die.  Death should be avoided if at all possible, as there is not generally any support for resurrection in The Contract.

Whenever a character takes damage, they receive an Injury. Injuries deplete the Contractor's Body, and taking too many Injuries causes Death.

An Injury's Severity rating determines how deadly it is, how difficult it is to stabilize, and how long it takes to heal. Injuries of Severity 4 or greater cause Battle Scars and will worsen until properly Stabilized.

An Injury's Severity is equal to the amount of damage taken when it was received. For example, taking six damage grants a Severity six, Critical, Injury.


Injuries heal in parallel. Each time a month passes, all of your Injuries are reduced in Severity by 2 levels. If you have three Severity three (Threatening) Injuries, they will have each reduced to Severity one (Minor) Injuries after a single month.

How this healing rate manifests depends on how your Playgroup treats the passage of time. Usually, a month passes each time a Contract occurs in a given Playgroup.

Will to Survive

Once per Contract you may reduce an incoming Injury’s Severity by up to 4 levels (to a minimum of Severity 4). You take a point of Mind damage, and the Battle Scar you suffer from this Injury always remains after the Injury is healed, regardless of Stabilization.

You must use Will to Survive as the Injury is taken, after Armor and bonus damage is calculated and before the Injury is recorded on your sheet.

GM Tip

Injuries in The Contract should feel significant and inconvenient. Don't be afraid to be brutal in describing deep lacerations, collapsed lungs, and broken bones. Remember: seven Severity-1 Injuries will kill most people. 

Severity Description
1 - Minor A deep cut, a small fracture, a sprain, extreme exertion. These Injuries can't be ignored, but they don't demand immediate attention. Wounds at this level may leave aesthetic scarring, though they need not be tracked as Battle Scars. 
2 - Moderate A deep gash, a small but severe burn, muscular blunt trauma. 
3 - Threatening A puncture, a medium sized burn, a fracture. 
4 - Serious Maimed hands, punctured lung, shattered ankle.
5 - Severe Lost fingers, multiple stab wounds, a nasty gunshot.
6 - Critical Critical injuries include severed limbs, multiple or severe abdominal stab wounds, body-wide injuries etc.
7+ - Deadly If you survive an Injury like this, it’s a miracle. Examples: being shot in the head / neck, body-wide compound fractures, severed arteries, etc.


Not all Injuries heal cleanly. Battle Scars represent disabilities and disfigurements caused by Injuries. For example, a severed hand, a lost eye, or a wheezing cough. Battle scars that are not properly treated are permanent and can only be removed through relevant Gifts. 

Taking an Injury Severity 4 or greater causes a Battle Scar 
  • Severity 4: a Minor Battle Scar
  • Severity 5: a Major Battle Scar
  • Severity 6: a Severe Battle Scar 
  • Severity 7+: an Extreme Battle Scar

The specifics of the Battle Scar are usually decided when the Injury is treated (see Stabilization). However, GMs may choose to apply an untreatable Battle Scar immediately if the narrative demands it (for example, if a Contractor’s arm is run over by a steam roller). 

An Injury worsening in Severity does not cause a new Battle Scar or restart degradation.

Penalties from Battle Scars do not stack with wound Penalty. Instead, the highest penalty is used. 

A Contractor’s rating in Body is reduced by 1 for each Battle Scar after their fourth.

a missing eye is an example of a Battle Scar

Example Battle Scars

The online Character Sheets provide a helpful selector for pre-made Battle Scars complete with systems, however GMs may design custom Battle Scars as well.

Minor Scars (Severity 4)
  • Chronic Pain (Your Penalty is always at a minimum of -1.)
  • Disfigured (All social rolls are made at +1 Difficulty. The Asset Beautiful is suppressed as long as you have this Battle Scar)
  • Missing Fingers (You are at a -1 die penalty for any roll utilizing the affected hand.)
Major Scars (Severity 5)
  • Limp (Your movement speed is reduced by half.)
  • Lost Hand (Any Actions requiring the affected hand fail automatically. You are -1 to -3 dice on any rolls to perform Actions which require two hands, depending on the Action.)
  • Missing Foot (Your movement speed is reduced by half.)
  • Mute (You cannot speak or sceam.)
  • One Eye (All Perception rolls utilizing sight are rolled at +2 Difficulty. Any Actions involving depth perception are rolled at +1 Difficulty.)
Severe Scars (Severity 6)
  • Deaf (You automatically fail all rolls which require hearing and are at -3 dice for multisensory rolls.)
  • Missing Arm (You are -2 to -4 dice on any rolls to perform Actions which require two hands, depending on the Action. Athletics rolls are made at +1 Difficulty.)
  • Missing Leg (You move at one quarter movement speed with a prosthesis or aid. You cannot Dash or Sprint,)
Extreme Scars (Severity 7+)
  • Blindness (Any rolls which require sight are automatically failed, and any Actions which would be made easier by sight are rolled at between +1 and +3 Difficulty, depending on the Action.)
  • No Hands (You do not have functional hands. Any Actions which require manual dexterity automatically fail. Any actions which would be assisted by having hands are rolled at between +1 and +3 Difficulty.)
  • Paraplegia (You cannot effectively move without a wheelchair or other bulky mobility device.)

Degradation and Stabilization


All Injuries Severity 4 or greater require advanced medical treatment and will degrade, worsening in Severity by one level every half hour until Stabilized. 

GM Tip
This degradation rate assumes that the Injury is receiving basic care (such as applying pressure), and GMs may increase the rate of degradation if an Injury is grossly neglected. Basic care does not require a roll and can usually be performed by the injured character.


Stabilization represents a major treatment of a Severity 4+ Injury: closing wounds, setting broken bones, field surgery, etc. The amount of time stabilization takes depends on the treatment, and an Injury cannot degrade during a Stabilization attempt. Each Injury can only be successfully stabilized a single time.

An attempt at Stabilization is classified as either Proper or Makeshift depending on the supplies brought to bear:

Injury Severity Equipment Needed for Proper Stabilization
Severity 4 Advanced first aid kit (antiseptic, bandages, splints, stitches / staples, tape, etc).
Severity 5 Field surgery kit (splints, field surgery tools, morphine, donor blood, etc).
Severity 6 Requires surgery theater (vets / doctor’s office, hospital)


Proper Stabilization

To attempt a Proper Stabilization, the character performing the treatment must have the appropriate equipment.

Using appropriate medical supplies, Roll Intellect + Medicine, Difficulty equal to the Injury’s Severity.

Even a partial success will Stabilize the Injury and stop its degradation. Complete success (Outcome 4 or higher) puts the Injury on track for a clean heal, and any Battle Scars caused by the Injury will disappear when the Injury is fully healed.

Unsuccessful attempts can be retried at +1 Difficulty per failure, and each botched attempt increases the Injury’s Severity by 1. 

Makeshift Stabilization

Roll Intellect + Medicine, Difficulty higher than the Injury’s Severity, based on the tactics and supplies used.

A partial success will still stabilize the Injury and stop its degradation. However, any Outcome less than 4 worsens the Injury’s Severity by 1. Regardless of the treatment’s Outcome, any Battle Scars caused by the Injury will persist after it is fully healed.

Unsuccessful attempts can be retried at +1 Difficulty per failure, and botches also worsen the Injury’s Battle Scar.

When a character's Body is reduced below zero or they are otherwise killed, that character is immediately considered dead and cannot take any more Actions or use any more Gifts

GMs may allow "dead" characters to speak a few final parting words to their teammates before they pass on. There is no better send-off than cradling someone in your arms and listening to their dying wish, their largest regret, or offering support as they slip from this life to the next.


It can be tempting to meta-game or justify a Contractor death away, but Harbingers consider dead characters to be losers not worth the effort, regardless of what the players want. There are some Effects which can situationally prevent your death, but true resurrection is extremely rare, and when allowed at all, involve hefty penalties and terrible costs.

Coins of Charon

These are awarded when one of your Contractors dies in a Game. You may use a coin of Charon to start a new Contractor with a single Gift Credit

Death on the Website

You can declare the death of any Contractor you can edit via their Character sheet. They cannot be played in any Games while dead and will appear in the Graveyard. You can void a Contractor's death from the "Edit Obituary" page on the Character Sheet. Any Contractor who has had a death Voided will have a notice appear on their sheet informing prospective GMs of the Contractor's history, to help avoid shenanigans.

Mind represents your Contractor's mental and emotional fortitude.  Mind is rolled to cope with potentially traumatic events and to resist urges and outside influences. It also acts as a sort of "health pool" for short-term mental wellbeing.

A Contractor's rating in Mind is equal to Intellect + Charisma + 1, with a maximum of 9. An average human will thus have a Mind rating of 4-6, while the enlightened will have 8-9 Mind and the especially weak-willed will have 3 Mind.  The character sheet on The Contract website calculates this automatically.

Mental Damage

Mental Damage is caused by Exertion, failing a Trauma Roll, or certain supernatural attacks. A partially depleted Mind contributes to a Character's Penalty, and a fully-drained Mind is incapacitating. If you are incapacitated from Mind damage, you receive a new Trauma. 

Mind recovers at the rate of one point per night of restful sleep.

Rolling Mind

When a Contractor's mental fortitude is tested, they must roll Mind. This is one of the only three rolls in The Contract that is not made by pairing an Attribute and an Ability (the others are Body rolls and Initiative rolls).

The number of dice rolled in a Mind roll is equal to the Character's permanent Mind rating (Intellect + Charisma +1, maximum of 9) but is affected by their Penalty as normal. Unless stated otherwise, the Difficulty is the standard 6. 

A Trauma Roll is a special kind of Mind roll, which is made if a Contractor violates any of their Limits. A Trauma Roll is made at Difficulty 8. Failing a Trauma Roll causes either one point of mental damage or the development of a new Trauma. Botching a Trauma roll causes one mind damage and the formation of a new Trauma.

Traumas manifest immediately and should be chosen at the time the roll is failed.

Traumas represent long-term mental health issues such as phobias, delusions, compulsions, and other instabilities.

Obtaining Traumas

Traumas are caused by failing a Trauma Roll, suffering a Complication or via supernatural attack. Think of them as Battle Scars for the mind. 

A Trauma Roll is triggered when a Contractor crosses one of their Limits, as well as by certain Liabilities and Gifts. They must make a Mind roll at Difficulty 8, standard Penalty applies. Failure results in either a new Trauma that forms immediately or a point of Mind Damage (at the GM's discretion). 

GMs and Players often work together to come up with the new Trauma, but the GM has the final say.

Impact of Traumas

Most Traumas outline some triggering circumstance where a Contractor my lose control. When this situation arises, the Contractor must make a self-control roll (Mind, Difficulty 8) to maintain control. Failing a self-control roll generally causes the Contractor to take an Action they otherwise wouldn't, but it does not cause an additional Trauma or Mind damage.

A Contractor's Mind rating is reduced by 1 for each Trauma after their fourth. A Character with 6 Mind and 7 Traumas would effectively have 3 Mind. 

Curing Traumas

Due to the Imbued status of Contractors, Traumas can be cured by spending 3 Experience and engaging in therapy during a Downtime. Therapy involves opening up to a councilor about the circumstances that led to the Trauma. They may also be removed without an Experience cost using certain Effects.

Good Traumas can be tricky to invent. Ideally, they are related to the situations that caused them and have a systemed gameplay impact. Usually a Trauma will specify a situation in which a Player must roll Mind to maintain control of their Contractor. Failing a Trauma's Mind roll can have extremely dangerous consequences. 

Below are a few stock Trauma types that can easily be adapted.


A delusion is type of psychotic disorder, manifested as a belief that is firmly maintained despite being contradicted by reality or rational argument. A Contractor with a delusion must roll Mind in order to recognize a fact over their delusion or to make any decision based on facts rather than their delusion.


  • Delusion that all politicians are lizard people and aren't actually human
  • Delusion that guns are harmless
  • Delusion that modern medicine is ineffective
  • Delusion that you cannot be injured and/or are immortal
  • Delusion that the people one kills are merely sleeping
  • Delusion that you're being persecuted or treated in some other undesirable way by a person or group.
  • Delusion that you're an extremely important, powerful, and/or competent person.
  • Cotard's Delusion: The belief that you are already dead, do not exist, or are decaying and rotting away.


A Compulsion manifests as a specific activity or behavior which the Contractor feels compelled to do, and is frequently unable to stop themselves. When the Contractor has an opportunity to fulfill their compulsion, they must succeed a Mind roll to resist the urge.


  • Compulsion to never leave equipment behind, even for a moment
  • Compulsion to steal items of emotional value
  • Compulsion to check rooms for listening devices before having private conversations
  • Compulsion to mutilate corpses in a certain way
  • Compulsion to attack people who make a joke at their expense 


A type of anxiety disorder which manifests as an overwhelming fear. Phobias are always unreasonable or are a rational fear taken to an unreasonable level. When the Contractor encounters the subject of their phobia, they must succeed a Mind roll or enter a fight-or-flight response (determined by the GM).


  • Phobia of swimming
  • Phobia of shapeshifters
  • Phobia of tight spaces (claustrophobia)
  • Phobia of doctors
  • Phobia of holding guns
  • Phobia of heights
  • Phobia of entering strange-smelling buildings

When the chips are down and the stakes have never been higher, a Contractor can Exert themselves, channeling their willpower into a single Action at the cost of their mental state. 

Exertion comes at a cost. Exerting the Mind causes a single point of Mental Damage

Uses of Exertion

  • A Contractor may exert themselves to gain +1 to the Outcome of a roll AND to ignore their Penalty for the Round. Exertion cannot be used to gain +1 to the Outcome of Initiative or Trauma rolls.
  • Activating most Gifts requires Exertion. A point of Source may be spent in lieu of this cost, if available. 
  • Desperate Reaction: If you have already spent your Action for a given Round and have not Exerted yourself, you may Exert your Mind to Dodge or Defend against an incoming attack. Your next Action is performed at a -2 dice penalty.

Limits of Exertion

  • A Contractor cannot Exert themselves more than once per Round in combat. That means that Exertion benefits cannot be stacked, and you cannot Exert yourself after activating a Gift if you Exerted yourself to activate it - though if you spent a point of Source on your Gift activation, you will still be able to Exert your Mind during that same round.
  • Whenever Exertion is used to gain +1 to an Outcome and to ignore penalties, the Player must declare that they are exerting themselves before they roll.

A Contractor's Penalty is the sum of the Mind and Body penalties caused by taking mental and physical damage. All of a Contractor's Dice Pools are reduced by their Penalty, to a minimum of two dice. 

Penalty also affects movement in Combat. Free movement is decreased by 5 feet per point of Penalty to a minimum of 5 feet. 

A Contractor may ignore their Penalty for one Round by Exerting themselves.

Calculating Penalty

A Contractor's Penalty is automatically calculated by the Online Character Sheets and appears between their Mind and Body ratings. If you are using pen and paper, refer to the following tables and add the Contractor's Mind and Body penalty together to obtain their total Penalty. 


The penalty from Injuries is as follows:

Body Remaining Physical Penalty
6+ - Bruised None
5 - Hurt -1 Dice
4 - Injured -1 Dice
3 - Wounded -2 Dice
2 - Mauled -3 Dice
1 - Maimed -4 Dice
0 - Incapacitated Unconscious or unable to move
<0 - Dead See you in the Graveyard


The Penalty from Mental Damage and Exertion is as follows:

Mind Remaining Mind Penalty
6+ - Distracted None
5 - Rattled -1 Dice
4 - Worried -1 Dice
3 - Alarmed -2 Dice
2 - Frantic -3 Dice
1 - Delirious -4 Dice
0 - Incapacitated Reduced to a sniveling wreck, fainted, or otherwise unconscious.  Can take no actions.


Contracts almost always involve some amount of Combat, or characters committing acts of violence against other characters. The outcome of Combat is often determined less by the raw stats of those involved and more by the circumstances of the fight. Running headfirst into every encounter will result in serious Injury and Death. Contractors should strive to be creative and create other advantages such as an ambush, a numbers advantage, a setting advantage, etc. Combat has no direct reward (such as Exp), and so avoiding unnecessary combat is a wise and successful strategy.

Players do not need to fully understand these rules before playing, but GMs must know them before they GM a Game.

Some additional, optional Combat rules can be found in the Supplementary Combat Rules guide.

During combat, the real-time pace of gameplay is paused, and the action is split into Rounds, each of which is approximately three seconds long. During a given round, each character has a chance to act, taking turns in an order determined by Initiative. This turn-taking helps make sense of the chaos of Combat, but flavor-wise, these actions are all happening at roughly the same time.

Most combats resolve in two to four rounds. If your Playgroup's combats regularly last more than five rounds, GMs should re-evaluate how they are setting up encounters.

In Each Round

Each Character may move and take one Action on their turn. If necessary, they may choose to spend their Action on a Reaction.

At the start of combat, each character rolls Initiative to determine their place in the turn order. 

An Initiative roll is Dexterity + Perception, difficulty 6. This roll is affected by dice Penalties, and Exertion cannot be used to ignore the Penalty or to gain +1 to the Outcome. 

The result of the Initiative roll is used for the duration of Combat. Characters act in order of highest to lowest Outcome. Ties are broken by the size of the characters' initiative dice pools, then by the GM's discretion. A negative Outcome on an Initiative roll has no result other than a poor position in the turn order. 

Complicating Factors

  • Ambushes: A character who is ambushed or caught flat-footed automatically loses Initiative.  This is usually dictated by the tactical situation rather than dice rolls.  For example, if you round a corner to find guards waiting for you with rifles leveled, you've been ambushed.
  • Sneak Attacks: If a character not in Combat makes an attack while undetected, it is considered a sneak attack. Generally, this requires succeeding on a contested roll of the attacker's Dexterity + Stealth versus the victim's Perception + Alertness. A successful surprise attack grants a free attack which takes place before Initiative is rolled.  A surprised target cannot make a Reaction.

When it is your turn in a Combat, you may take an Action. This could be activating a Gift, Attacking, dragging your unconscious friend to safety, or anything you'd like. Many Actions that do not normally require a roll will require one in Combat due to the time pressure and higher stakes. You may be able to climb a tree no-problem normally, but can you do it while the police are shooting at you?

An attack represents an all-out attempt to kill your target. To make an Attack: pick a target in range, specify how you'd like to hurt them, then roll. The relevant Attribute, Ability, Difficulty, and Damage is determined by your weapon, but GMs may apply a Difficulty modifier at their discretion, depending on the circumstances. Shooting a point-blank target is much easier than firing from a moving vehicle during a rainstorm.

While it is often true that the best defense is a good offense, be warned that committing to an attack can leave you vulnerable.

GM Tip
Oftentimes Players will specify some details about the manner in which they are attacking ("I take aim and fire" or "I slide under the creature's belly and stab upwards"). Most of the time, these can be interpreted as standard all-out attacks without additional modifiers. Once the roll is complete and Damage has been determined, narrate the attack based on the Outcome, especially if the Player was not specific in how they wish to attack. This a great opportunity to help Players feel badass.
GM Tip
Not every aggressive action is an all-out attempt to kill. If a Contractor slaps someone, tackles a target to the ground, or jams their knife into their prisoner's hand, don't have them roll for an all-out attack that might kill their target. Remember, more skilled Contractors are more capable of controlling their attacks, not less.

Called Shots

Inevitably someone will want to make a specific aimed attack targeting a hand, an eye, or a weak spot. When such attacks go beyond flavoring and assume strategic importance, the GM should call for a Called Shot

  1. A called shot must be declared before the dice are rolled.
  2. A called a shot must be within the maximum listed range of a weapon if applicable.

The Contractor then makes their attack as normal. A Contested Outcome of 4 or higher is required to hit a target the size of an arm, leg or larger. A Contested Outcome of 6 or higher is required to hit a target is the size of a hand, head, or smaller. If you score less than the required Contested Outcome, you still hit your target, but not in the chosen location, and your damage is cut in half.

A successful called shot levies benefits at the GMs discretion such as Battle Scars, armor penetration, or extra damage. When aiming at extremities, a successful Called Shot limits the maximum damage to a Severity 5 Injury. Additional damage is wasted.

Grappling and Choking


  • You may Grapple a target with Brawn + Brawl, either as an Action or Clash. The target may dodge, Defend, or Clash as normal. If their Outcome is higher than yours, the Grapple fails. 
  • If your Outcome (not Contested Outcome) is equal to or greater than their Brawn, the target becomes Grappled. They take no damage, but they will not be able to use their Movement until they break free.
  • Grappled targets may use their Action to attempt to break free by rolling either Brawn or Dexterity + Brawl. If they do not, they remain Grappled.
  • While Grappling a target, you may contest any physical Actions they take as a Reaction by rolling Brawn + Brawl.
  • If your target attempts an attack with a weapon, you may opt to clash with them using that weapon. When you do so, both of you use Brawn + Brawl instead of the weapon’s standard roll. 


  • When grappling a target, you can attempt to choke your target instead of constraining their arms. The grappled target cannot speak or breathe until they escape the grapple.
  • While choking a target, you may use your action to choke the life out of them, cutting of blood flow and their airway.
  • This is a standard Brawn + Brawl attack. If the target successfully defends, they break the grapple.
  • You may count any successful attempt to maintain your grapple on the target as one of these attacks.


A Garrote is a melee weapon that may use Brawl or Melee in much the same way as a knife. They are Difficulty 8 to use, though that Difficulty drops by -2 if you are able to surprise a target from behind. A garrote operates like a chokehold above, however the attacker may maintain the original grapple roll if they wish. It is not generally possible to escape a successful Garrote Attack. To escape without a relevant Gift, one must defeat the person maintaining the garotte.

A rope or sash garotte operates as a Chokehold above in every other respect. A Wire Garotte can deal real damage, even taking heads off.

Damage done while choking with a Garrote does not suffer the -2 Damage penalty intrinsic to unarmed attacks.

Quick Actions and Multi-Tasking

Under some circumstances, a player may wish to do more than one thing during a single round of combat, and there are a couple different ways this can happen, the most common being Quick Actions.

Certain tasks that are unlikely to fail and don't warrant a full Action (such as drawing a holstered, accessible weapon) can be taken as Quick Actions. These actions do not need to be rolled and merely subtract 2 dice from the rest of that round's Action (to a minimum of 0).

Other tasks might need a definitive Outcome in order to make sense (such as shooting at more than one target) or might be more complex and involve multiple Abilities (such as sword-fighting while on horseback).  In this case, the player will make a single roll (determined by the GM), and their Outcome will either be distributed between the different actions, or will account for the success or failure of both tasks equally.

If there is a Contested Action involved (which includes most Combat), the Outcome on your roll will be distributed to the different actions prior to calculating a Contested Outcome. In the case of a split attack, you only apply half your Weapon Damage and Bonus Damage (rounded up) to any targets you successfully hit.

If a player wants to multi-task, it is entirely up to the GM how the dice are handled, whether one thing can be done as Quick Action or not.

Committed Actions

Some actions are demanding or require a high level of focus, and thus you cannot multi-task while doing them.  This includes any Gift which requires an Action as a part of it's activation, but also covers some heavy weaponry such as mortars, heavy machine guns, and sniper rifles.  If an action is Committed, you cannot perform Quick Actions in the same round, and in some cases your Movement may be limited as well.

Mental Actions

Can you think and act at the same time? Not really, it turns out. Whether or not Mental actions require a roll is largely up to GM's discretion, but generally any concerted thinking ("What do I know about this creature?", "How can I solve this door puzzle before the scarabs eat us?") is treated like a standard Action. Sometimes general awareness or "passive" mental actions (does the player notice the shark swimming up behind them?) can be rolled with their own pools without subtracting from the rest of the Action.

Holding Actions

Characters may "hold" their Action by specifying an Action and a Condition under which the Action will occur. For example, they may say "I want to shoot the first person who turns this corner." or "I will slit the hostage's throat if they struggle." or "I will follow Jennifer and stab anyone who tries to attack us."

Characters may make a Reaction, even if they are currently holding an Action.

A held Action lasts until the Character's next Action, but actually following through on a held Action will use up the current round's Action, regardless of when the Action was originally held. For example, Jeff declares "I will pull the lever on the electric chair if the convict starts to turn into a werewolf." The current round ends and the next round begins. The convict (whose initiative puts their turn before Jeff's) then begins to sprout fur and fangs. Jeff can pull the lever, but doing so will forfeit the current round's Action. 

Held Actions resolve before the Action that triggered them unless the triggering action is the firing of a firearm. Firearms cannot be reacted to without a relevant Gift.

Reactions allow a character to take their Action prior to their placement in the turn order, so long as it is in reaction to another event. Reactions are almost always defensive moves of some kind. The three main Reactions are Dodging, Defending, and Clashing.

Characters cannot React to Firearms attacks without a relevant Gift. However, they can React to someone drawing a gun before an Attack is declared.

Doing a Reaction will "use-up" the round's Action, essentially putting one Character on the defensive. Similarly, using your Action for a given Round means it will no longer be available to use as a Reaction during that Round.

Desperate Defense

If you have already spent your Action for a given Round and have not yet Exerted yourself that Round, you may Exert your Mind to make a Desperate Defense. You may then make a Reaction as normal, but your next Action afterwards is performed at a -2 Penalty.

Note that you cannot Clash as a Desperate Defense.

To dodge an attack, roll Dexterity + Athletics. Dodging is a Contested Action against their attack, so the Outcome of the dodge roll is subtracted from the Outcome of the attack roll, giving a Contested Outcome which determines whether the attack was successful. If the Contested Outcome is 1 or greater, the attack hits, but if it is 0 or less, the attack misses.

As always, the standard Difficulty is 6, but GMs may increase or decrease it depending on the situation. If you are laying on your back, it may be more difficult. If the attack is slow and ponderous, it may be easier. 

Characters may also "Evade" with their primary Action on their Initiative. Make a Dexterity + Athletics roll, difficulty 7. The Outcome of this evasion roll can be divided up and spread around to contest any incoming attacks. For example, if you get an Outcome of 3 on your Evade roll, and two attackers each have Outcomes of 2 on attacks against you, you can subtract 2 from the first attacker, bringing the Contested Outcome of their attack to 0, but do not have enough left over to reduce the second attack's Contested Outcome down to 0. You will evade the first attack but be hit by the second.

Sometimes, it's possible for a character to use their own weapon to Defend against an incoming attack. Defending in this way uses their weapon's standard attack roll and Difficulty. Defending is a Contested Action against their attack, so the Outcome of the defensive roll is subtracted from the Outcome of the attack roll, giving a Contested Outcome which determines whether the attack was successful. If the Contested Outcome is 1 or greater, the attack hits, but if it is 0 or less, the attack is stopped.

Unarmed characters may Defend against unarmed attacks. Characters armed with a melee weapon may Defend against unarmed, melee, or thrown projectile attacks. Firearms can be used as melee weapons to Defend and can only be Defended against by those in melee range, provided the attacker did not have the attack prepared (ie. you may defend against someone in reach who is drawing a firearm or starting to aim at you, but not against someone who was already aiming at you pulling the trigger.)

Characters may Defend against attacks made on other Characters if they are within range. 

GM Tip
Defending against unarmed attacks with a melee weapon is usually done at -1 Difficulty.

A character wielding a melee weapon may choose whether they want to Defend against unarmed attacks using their weapon or Brawl roll.

Clashing is type of a high-stakes Reaction that gives the defender a chance to deal damage back to their attacker.

A character in a position to Defend against an attack may choose to Clash instead. Unlike Defending, Clashing is not handled as a Contested Action. The rolls are the same as for Defending, but instead of subtracting Outcomes from one another, both Outcomes are compared, and the Character with the higher Outcome deals full damage to their opponent.

In the event of a tie, both characters successfully deal full damage.

Note: you cannot Clash as a Desperate Defense. 

All characters get a chance to move each round on their Initiative. The distance they can move is determined by the Attributes Dexterity and Brawn, as well as by the Ability Athletics.

Characters may take their Movement either before or after their Action, but never before and after. This means you cannot run out of cover, attack someone, and run back behind cover. Characters that have already spent their Action (usually as a Reaction) may still move on their turn.

Free Movement

During their Movement, each character may move 5 + (5 x Dexterity - Penalty) feet without incurring a dice penalty. Minimum 5 feet.


A character may extend their Combat Movement by up to 5 feet per point of Brawn they possess. Doing so incurs a -1 dice penalty for their Action that round. If they have already taken their Action and did not save dice to sprint, they can only use their Free Movement.

All-out Sprints

If a character commits their entire Action to sprinting, roll Brawn + Athletics. They travel 5 x (Outcome + Dexterity rating + Brawn rating + 1) feet.

When performing an all-out Sprint towards a target, excess sprint distance can be used to “follow” the target if they move before the sprinter's next movement.


Movement over difficult terrain is rarely free and may often require a roll. GMs may levy penalties to Movement based on the terrain at their discretion. 


Jenny the Blade, a knife-fighter from the rough streets of Belfast, wants to charge the armed guards surrounding the vehicle she's trying to rob and slash at their throats.  She is 35 feet away, and has 4 Dexterity and 3 Brawn. She is able to move 25 feet for free thanks to her 4 points in Dexterity, and can move up to 15 more feet due to her 3 points in Brawn, so she can cover the full distance, but because she went 10 feet over her base movement speed, she loses 2 dice on her attack roll.

All standard movement, Combat Actions, and rolls assume that a Contractor is carrying some amount of weight, such as a backpack or satchel.  If a Contractor is totally unencumbered (i.e. carrying nothing but maybe a small object in their hand, plus their clothes), they receive a +1 dice bonus to all physical Actions.

A Contractor can carry 15 pounds per point of Brawn with no penalty. Once they hit that limit, they are considered Over-Encumbered, and take a -1 dice penalty per 25 pounds over their limit.

Other Kinds of Movement


A character can jump 1 vertical foot or 4 horizontal feet per point of Brawn without needing to make a roll. These numbers are assuming a running jump; for jumping from a standstill, they are cut in half. 

In Combat or when the stakes are high, jumping requires a Brawn or Dexterity + Athletics roll in order to successfully make the full distance.  

If a Character attempts a jump which is longer than they could ordinarily make, the Difficulty of the roll is increased by 1 for every extra foot they need to clear.


Climbing always requires a Dexterity + Athletics roll. Characters may move 5 + (2 x Outcome) feet. The Difficulty is set by the GM, based on the surface they are scaling, with a ladder being difficulty 5, and a challenging cliff face at difficulty 9.


Characters must roll Dexterity + Athletics to swim during Combat. They move (Outcome x 5) feet. Any amount of encumbrance at all - for example, if you are wearing a backpack - cuts this speed in half.  A character at full encumbrance who finds themselves stuck in the water is unable to swim, begins to sink down, and will eventually Drown.

If a character is hit by a successful Attack, they will take Damage.

Damage dealt = Contested Outcome + Weapon Damage + Bonus Damage - Armor. Bonus Damage can be obtained through Gifts, and different sources of it do not stack. If the Contested Outcome is less than or equal to 0, that means the attack failed, and thus no damage is dealt (calculate this before Weapon Damage and Armor are taken into account). In a case where you have split your Outcome to attack two targets, the Weapon Damage and Bonus Damage values will be halved (rounded up).

When a character takes damage, they receive a new Injury with Severity equal to the total Damage dealt from that Attack. Minor injuries, while still serious, heal relatively quickly and do not impair the target much. Severe injuries can cause Complications and are much more difficult to treat. 

Accumulated Injuries will begin to degrade a character's Body, eventually leading to Death.

When attacking, the relevant Attribute, Ability, and Difficulty for the attack roll, as well as the Damage modifier, all depend on the type of weapon. Described below are the most common classes of weaponry. The Difficulty of these rolls may be decreased or increased based on situational factors at the GM's discretion.

The specified rolls are for all-out attacks made with the relevant weapon. Weapons can be used in other ways with varying difficulties. For example, while the roll to actually Injure someone with a slingshot is Difficulty 8, merely hitting a person's body would be Difficulty 6 and wouldn't do any damage.  

Note that while Guns are quite powerful, they can be difficult to transport and obtain. With a couple of Gifts, Contractors can make effective use of any type of weapon. Using Secondary Abilities can also be very helpful in making the most out of your weapon of choice.


All gun attacks are rolled with Dexterity + Firearms.

The effective range listed is not a maximum range.  Guns may be fired at targets beyond that range, with the Difficulty increasing by +1 for each increment of the listed range, up to a maximum of 3x the listed range.  For example, if a Contractor shoots with a handgun at a target 70 feet away, it is rolled at +1 Difficulty.  Once the target gets further than 100 feet away, the Difficulty will increase to +2, and the maximum distance at which they can be hit is approximately 150 feet (three times the listed effective range).

Contractors may reduce the Difficulty of a firearms attack by spending time aiming. -1 Difficulty per Round spent aiming, to a minimum of Difficulty 4 for stationary targets and Difficulty 5 for moving targets. 

This bonus can only be gained if the shooter is standing still.

Weapon Base Attack Difficulty Weapon Damage Effective Range Reload After X Combat Turns
Handgun Difficulty 6 1 50 feet 6 turns
Shotgun Difficulty 6 2 75 feet 3 turns
Rifles Difficulty 6, +1 at melee range 2 400 feet 10 turns
Heavy Sniper Rifles Difficulty 6, +3 without a tripod or at melee range. Tripods take one Action to deploy. 3 1500 feet 5 turns


Note: Tracking reloads / ammo is an optional rule at the GM's discretion.

GM Tip
"What'd you say?" Firing unsuppressed firearms in enclosed locations can cause temporary hearing loss, and it is entirely fair to levvy temporary Perception penalties for affected characters where hearing is a factor.
GM Tip
Baptize that pistol. Firearms that have been fired underwater or submerged for a while generally need to be disassembled and cleaned before they can be fired reliably again. Bullets cannot travel effectively through water at any range, although you may allow for damage if the barrel is pressed against a target.

Melee Weapons

Weapon Attack Roll Weapon Damage Other Notes
Hand-to-hand, biting, choking Brawn + Brawl Difficulty 6 -2  
Knife or Dagger (Brawn or Dexterity) + (Melee or Brawl) Difficulty 6 0  
Edgeless thrusting sword (Rapier) Dexterity + Melee Difficulty 6 1  
Sword or Axe Brawn + Melee Difficulty 6 1  
Greatsword, Giant Axes Brawn + Melee Difficulty 6 2 Two-handed weapons
Club Brawn + Melee Difficulty 6 0 Most improvised weapons fall into this category



Weapon Attack Roll Weapon Damage Range
Throwing knife / shuriken Dexterity + Athletics Difficulty 6 0 (damage capped at your Brawn rating) 50 feet
Throwing axe / javelin Brawn + Athletics Difficulty 6 1 (damage capped at your Brawn rating) 50 feet
Improvised Thrown weapon Brawn + Athletics Difficulty 7-9 (GM's discretion)  0-1 (damage capped at your Brawn rating) 50 feet
Bow Dexterity + Athletics Difficulty 8, requires Brawn 3 to use 1 150 feet
Crossbow Dexterity + Firearms Difficulty 8 2 150 feet
Sling Dexterity + Athletics Difficulty 8 1 150 feet
Slingshot Dexterity + Athletics Difficulty 8 0 150 feet



Weapon System
Handheld Stun Gun Roll Dexterity + Brawl, Difficulty 7. The target may contest by dodging or Defending. If the Contested Outcome is positive, the target must roll Body, Difficulty 9, adding their Armor rating to the Outcome. If they fail, they are stunned and lose their next Action. Otherwise, they suffer a Penalty of 4 - Outcome to their next Action. If they Botch, they are stunned and take a Severity-1 Injury.
Ranged Stun Gun

Roll Dexterity + Firearms, Difficulty 8. Maximum range is 35 feet. If the Contested Outcome is positive, the target must roll Body, Difficulty 9, adding their Armor rating to the Outcome. If they fail, they are stunned and lose their next Action. Otherwise, they suffer a Penalty of 4 - Outcome to their next Action. If they Botch, they are stunned and take a Severity-1 Injury.

Target must re-roll Body for the next 3 Rounds or until the darts are removed or they gain an Outcome of at least 4 on their Body roll.

Mace / Pepper-Spray Roll Dexterity + Brawl, Firearms, or Athletics, Difficulty 8. The target may dodge or Defend. If the Contested Outcome is positive, the target is blinded for 10 Rounds (30 seconds). Blinded targets automatically fail any roll requiring sight and suffer up to a -3 dice penalty to any roll that would benefit form sight. A sight penalty of -2 dice lingers after the initial 30 seconds until the target can properly wash their eyes. Does no Damage.

Armor reduces the damage from incoming Attacks as well as from some Gifts or supernatural abilities.  If an attack roll is successful, the damage dealt will be reduced by the Armor value.

Armor from multiple sources cannot stack. Instead, the highest armor amount is used. 

Bulkier Armors levy a penalty on any physical actions taken by their wearer. Penalties from all sources stack. 

Armor Armor Granted Penalty Notes
Layered/rugged Clothing 1 0 Examples include tough leather jackets, layered denim, etc.
Reinforced Clothing 2 0 Technologically-advanced clothing designed as armor
Flack Jacket and Helmet 3 0 This armor is obvious and unusual, and may cause social issues depending on the area.
Bomb Suit 6 5 Movement is severely limited
Full Plate 4 3 Full Plate weighs 45 lbs.


Bomb Delay System Notes

Frag Grenade

(2 lbs)

2 rounds Targets within 5 feet take 15 dice of damage, decays by 1 die per 5 feet out, stopping entirely at 50 feet Effective throwing range of 100 feet

Stick of Dynamite

(0.5 lbs)

Fuse (variable) Targets within 5 feet take 10 damage, outside radius take 10 dice of damage, decays by 5 dice per 5 feet out Effective throwing range of 50 feet. Semi-volatile, risk if stored improperly

Brick of C-4

(1.25 lbs)

Detonator (variable) Targets within 5 feet take 15 damage, outside radius take 15 dice of damage, decays by 5 dice per 5 feet out M112 demolition block, US military

Satchel Charge, WWII

(10 lbs)

Detonator (variable) Targets within 15 feet take 15 damage, outside radius take 15 dice of damage, decays by 5 dice per 15 feet out WWII era, US Army M37 Demolition Kit

Satchel Charge, modern

(20 lbs)

Detonator (variable) Targets within 20 feet take 15 damage, outside radius take 15 dice of damage, decays by 5 dice per 20 feet out US Army M183 Demolition Charge Assembly

Small IED (letter bomb) 

(10 lbs)

Fuse / Detonator Targets within 5 feet take 15 damage, outside radius take 15 dice of damage, decays by 5 dice per 5 feet out Volatile, high risk of accident

Medium IED (package / container) 

(100 lbs)

Fuse / Detonator Targets within 20 feet take 15 damage, outside radius take 15 dice of damage, decays by 5 dice per 20 feet out Volatile, high risk of accident

Large IED (car bomb)

(1000 lbs)

Fuse / Detonator Targets within 65 feet take 15 damage, outside radius take 15 dice of damage, decays by 5 dice per 65 feet out Volatile, high risk of accident


General System

High Explosives deal 15 flat damage within their Lethal Radius (covers a circle up to R feet from the center of the blast).  Outside the Lethal Radius, they instead do 15 dice of damage, and for every additional R feet outside the Lethal radius, the dice pool decreases by 5.

The radius R is calculated based on the weight in pounds of the explosive material, using one of the following formulas:

  • R = 4 x SQRT(W/2) for Secondary Explosives, which includes things like TNT and C-4.
  • R = 2 x SQRT(W) for Primary Explosives, which includes most homemade bombs

A High Explosive bomb can be detonated manually through a remote control, through a timer, or through a triggering mechanism such as a tripwire or a pressure plate.  The stats for damage are the same regardless of detonation method, and depend only on the weight of the explosive material.

Cooking off Grenades

You may "cook off" a frag grenade by holding it for a round and then throwing with a Perception + Athletics roll, Difficulty 7. Failure or partial success indicates a dangerous throw. A 2-round cookoff (explodes immediately, but may be reacted to) is rolled at Difficulty 9. 

Other Sources of Damage


Falling - and subsequently landing - deals 1 Damage per 10 feet fallen, up to a maximum of 20 Damage at 200 feet.  Armor does not apply. 

GMs may allow Athletics rolls, Gifts, or less-splatty surfaces to mitigate the severity of the damage somewhat.

Fire and Electricity 

Electricity and Fire Damage give an Injury that increases in Severity the longer exposure is maintained. 

Electrical Damage

The following table gives Damage per turn from electricity.  No attack roll is made; damage is automatic. Ordinary Armor will not apply to electricity damage, but specialized grounding Armor, can stop it entirely.

  • Minor: wall socket -   One level per turn  
  • Dangerous: electric prison fence -   Two levels per turn 
  • Deadly: junction box -  Three levels per turn 
  • Fatal; main feed line, subway rail -   Four levels per turn 

Fire Damage

The following table gives damage per turn from fire.  No attack roll is made; damage is automatic.  A character's Armor rating is "spent" as it reduces the damage from fire, meaning that if a Character as 2 armor, it will prevent the first 2 Damage from fire, but not subsequent damage on future rounds. 

  • Torch; a part of the body is exposed to flame:  One Damage per round 
  • Bonfire; half of the body is exposed to flame:  Two Damage per round 
  • Raging inferno; entire body is engulfed in flame:  Three Damage per round


Normal blood loss is accounted for by the standard Injury system, but for cases where blood is specifically drawn (e.g. by a medical professional or a vampire), this system may be more suitable.

A character who has lost blood without taking Damage is given an Injury representing blood loss. This Injury’s Severity = twice the number of pints of blood lost. If a character loses blood once and then gives blood later, the existing Injury’s severity is increased. 

Unlike other Injuries, the recovery time for blood loss may be greatly reduced via a blood infusion. Each day a character receives blood, their blood loss Injury is reduced in severity by one level.

Toxins: Poison, Disease, and Climactic Conditions 

Mundane poisons, diseases, radiation, and the like are modeled as Toxins.  

Toxins have a Lethality rating, an Onset Time, and a Toxicity rating. Upon being inflicted with a Toxin, a Character rolls Body, Difficulty 7. The Onset time is multiplied by this result. The Character in question then receives Damage equal to the toxin's Lethality rating every Onset Time. This Damage can be soaked with Brawn (reduced to a minimum of 1) and worsens the severity of the Injury it causes instead of applying a new Injury each time. The damage continues until a Toxin's Toxicity rating is reached. 


Curare: Lethality: 5, Onset: Immediate, Toxicity: Terminal

You are hit with a curare dart. You roll Body, Difficulty 7 and gain two successes. Starting in two rounds, you suffer 5 Damage (minus your rating in Brawn, to a minimum of 1) every two rounds until you die or are cured.

Nonlethal poisons and diseases use the Toxicity to "cap" how much damage may be applied. The common cold would have a Toxicity rating of 1 or 2, meaning its Injury can only reach Severity 1 or 2. Similarly, Tranquilizers would have an upper limit on how much effect they can have within the specified time frame unless they have a significant lethal factor.

Environmental Damage

Extreme temperatures and adverse climactic conditions use the Toxicity mechanic.  Climactic conditions should be rated in Severity from 1 to 5 (adjusted for protective gear), or higher for supernatural or extraterrestrial conditions.


Alcohol reduces Dexterity and Intellect by 1 for every 2 drinks.  One point is recovered per hour. 

Knockout gas such as BZ and Kolokol-1 require a Body roll at Difficulty 9 each turn spent in the area of effect, plus the turn after leaving it.  An Outcome of 3 or higher allows full action.  An Outcome of 1 or 2 allows the character to crawl out of the gas, with no other action possible.  An Outcome of 0 indicates the character is overcome by spasms that turn, and a botch indicates the character is Incapacitated. 


Characters can hold their breath for 35 seconds x Body rating. They may Exert their Mind for an additional 10 seconds. This assumes no strenuous activity. Characters then suffer a Severity 1 Injury every round until they die.

Gifts are the supernatural abilities and equipment that Contractors will accumulate over time as they complete Contracts. They are the reason Contractors risk their lives on the Harbingers' missions and the primary means of Advancement in The Contract.

A Contractor’s Gifts are an awakening of their personal potential, and are therefore almost always unique to each individual. Each Gift has a specific, predetermined behavior, but their effects are drawn from a mind-boggling array of possibilities. This means that any Contractor can gain access to the sorts of powerful abilities you’d hope a Character with their concept would have. This is as true for generic archetypes (sorcerers, ninjas, super-soldiers, werewolves, etc) as it is for more unique concepts (stage magician, graffiti artist, plumber, basket-weaver, or really anything you feel inspired to create).

Gift Building Blocks

The Contract has four available Gift Types:

  • Powers: the innate ability of a Contractor to channel some Effect through themselves.
  • Legendary Artifacts: a unique and powerful item which a Contractor can wield to achieve a number of Effects.
  • Artifact Crafting: the ability to create powerful items which can be consistently used to achieve a given Effect.
  • Consumable Crafting: the ability to create a number of single-use items which are easy to activate but can only achieve an Effect once.

Gifts in The Contract are built from Effects. An Effect defines what the gift actually does, or the 'effect' it has on the world around you. So, for example, both a werewolf and a magical girl character would use the Effect 'Alternate Form', though on the surface they may seem to be quite different.

An Effect can be endlessly customized by changing it's Activation Style, adjusting it's Parameters, or adding a variety of Enhancements and Drawbacks.

Players can create their own Gifts through this website or use and/or customize one of our Stock Gifts.

Obtaining Gifts

The primary way of obtaining Gifts is through successfully completing a Contract.  Any time a Contractor is victorious, they are given a Gift Credit, which can be used to either purchase a new Gift or improve an existing one.  There are some additional methods of gaining or improving Gifts:

  • Coins of Charon - If a Contractor dies, that player will receive a Coin of Charon, which can be used to allow a new Contractor to begin play with a single Gift Credit.
  • Gifted - The Gifted Asset also allows a new Contractor to begin with a Gift Credit, although it is restricted and requires Playgroup Leader approval.
  • Into The Fold - You will gain an Improvement for running a Contract that includes at least one brand new player.
  • The Golden Ratio (optional) - Playgroups may choose to turn this setting on, but it is off by default. As a GM, if you run a Contract in which at least one Contractor dies and at least one other Contractor wins, you have achieved the Golden Ratio and will gain a single Improvement that can be used to enhance one of your Gifts (but not to buy a new Gift).
  • Journals - Finally, if you write in-character Journals detailing your Contractor's experiences during various Contracts, you will not only gain Experience but also gain an Improvement for every 4 game journals written.

A Gift Type represents the way a Gift manifests itself. There are four different Gift Types to choose from, though not all Effects are available with each Gift Type.

Powers are a {{contractors|Contractor's}} bread and butter. They can represent something innate to the Contractor themselves, or the ability to channel power from the world around them. They may be obvious or subtle, arcane or technological, actively called upon or passively empowering.

Powers are the only Gift Type that doesn't always require some form of equipment, making them the most reliable.

Examples of Powers include:

  • Any superpower
  • Magical spells and divine invocations
  • Cybernetic implants and other bodily augmentations
  • Supernaturally honed Abilities
  • Mythical Brawn, Dexterity, Intellect, Perception, or Charisma
  • Beneficial effects stemming from your Contractor's otherworldly nature

If your idea for a Gift isn't obviously one of the other Gift Types, it's probably a Power.

Legendary Artifacts

Legendary Artifacts are high-risk and high-reward. They are unique, one-of-a-kind items, stronger on average than Powers or crafted items. However, they can be lost, destroyed, or even stolen by other Contractors, as well as temporarily stripped by the GM in some circumstances. While there are ways to protect Legendary Artifacts, some risk always remains.

As your Contractor progresses, you may invest multiple Gifts and Improvements into a single Legendary Artifact, granting it multiple activated and passive Effects. Just remember, your Legendary Artifacts can be used by anyone, whether or not you're still alive.

Examples of Legendary Artifacts Include:

  • Unique alien technology
  • Mythical relics
  • Family heirlooms
  • One-of-a-kind creations

Any extraordinary equipment your Contractor did not create themselves is a Legendary Artifact.

Excalibur is an example of a Legendary Artifact

Consumable Crafting

Consumables are single-use items that can be shared and traded around. They usually can only achieve an Effect once before being 'consumed', but they generally do not require any Exertion to activate.

Consumables can only be crafted during the Downtime between Contracts. Each Downtime, Contractors can craft one of each of their Consumables for free, and additional Consumables may be crafted at a cost of 2 Experience each. Spending a Gift Credit or Improvement to improve an existing Consumable Crafting Gift will also give you an extra free Consumable.

Examples of Crafted Consumables Include:
  • Potions
  • Specialty ammunition
  • Settable traps
  • Deployable super-tech
  • Magic makeup
  • Energy drinks that turn you into a mongoose

If it's supernatural, single-use items your Contractor makes, it's Consumable Crafting.

Artifact Crafting

Crafted Artifacts are powerful items - not quite so strong as Legendary Artifacts, but possible to replicate. This allows you to barter and trade with other Contractors, rivaling even the Gifts they receive from the Harbingers. However, the cost to create these artifacts is steep.

Upon receiving a new Artifact Crafting Gift, you may craft that artifact once for free. You can also craft a free copy any time you improve an Artifact Crafting Gift by spending an Improvement or Gift Credit. Otherwise, Artifacts can only be crafted during Downtime, and it costs your Contractor an amount of Experience equal to 1 + it's Gift Cost.

Examples of Crafted Artifacts Include:

  • Extraordinary weapons and armor
  • Skunkworks prototype devices
  • Spellbooks
  • Alien technology
  • Super-suits for your team

If you're looking to rival Hephaestus or Stark, you want Artifact Crafting.

Effects are fundamental building block of Gifts, and each completed Gift is built by starting from a single Effect. Each overall functionality a Gift might have (e.g. injuring someone, memory manipulation, investigating an individual) has a representative Effect. 

Effects are esssentially a generic starting point for a Gift which defines the core of what the Gift does. When building a gift, it is crucial to identify this element within your concept. For example, if your vampire assassin character wants to remain unseen while stalking their prey, the core thing which this Gift does is make them hard to detect, so you would use the Obscure Effect. If your alchemist wants to develop a lethal poison, the ultimate goal is to hurt some, so they might want the Injure Effect - however, if they prefer to slowly debilitate their target over time, Afflict might serve their purposes better.

Any given Effect can be used to create a vast number of mechanically and flavorfully distinct Gifts. There are currently over 90 unique Effects available in The Contract. Each Effect is further customized through using whichever Activation Styles, Parameters, Enhancements, and Drawbacks are available for it.

Effect Categories

Effects are grouped into 10 categories based on their function.

  • Awareness
  • Communication
  • Defensive
  • Health
  • Influence
  • Mastery
  • Material
  • Metamorphism
  • Mobility
  • Offensive

These categories serve no mechanical purpose, but exist to aid in narrowing down the correct Effect to use for a given Gift concept.

Activation Styles

Some Effects have different possible methods of implementation which are meaningful enough that they must be mechanically differentiated; these are called Activation Styles. There are four possible Styles an Effect can have:

  • Activated: An Effect with the Activated Style requires the user to do something, generally Exert their Mind and/or spend an Action, to activate the Effect. These generally impact the user directly, rather than the people around them.
  • Targeted: An Effect with the Targeted Style requires the user to select a target and do something, generally Exert their Mind and/or spend an Action, to activate the Effect. These impact the people and world around the user, though they can also sometimes be self-targeted.
  • Trap: An Effect with the Trap Style is placed by the user, and is then triggered later by something else.
  • Passive: An Effect with the Passive Style is always on, without requiring any Action or Exertion to activate. These generally impact the user directly, rather than the people around them.

Most Effects only have one or two Styles available, and it is chosen during Gift creation.

In some cases, changing the Activation Style of a Gift can either increase or decrease the Gift Cost.

Many Effects have Parameters. These represent a linear progression of balance-relevant values that are relevant to all Gifts created from a Effect. Examples include the range at which the Gift can be used, or the time it takes to activate. Increasing a Parameter by a level will also increase the Gift Cost by 1, and vice versa.

Parameter values are generally restricted based on Contractor Status, both to keep Gifts balanced at all levels, and to allow certain Effects - which would otherwise be too powerful - to be made available to Novices.

Enhancements and Drawbacks

Enhancements and Drawbacks are the primary means of customizing the mechanics of your Gift.

Enhancements and Drawbacks can fundamentally alter the default behavior of an Effect. Each Enhancement you take increases the Gift Cost by one, and each Drawback decreases it by one. As such, their effects are significant. 

The generic effect that comes with each Effect can be underwhelming, but you can quickly increase the potency of the Gift by taking Drawbacks. Be careful about taking too many Drawbacks; an unusable Gift is not fun. We recommend taking no more than three on any given Gift.

Simple dice bonuses and roll modifiers are not common. We make an effort to supply Enhancements and Drawbacks that enable a variety of flavors and concepts, and cause interesting gameplay and story situations. 

Some Enhancements and Drawbacks are available on several Effects, but many are unique to a given Effect.

Building A Gift

At a glance, the procedure for creating a new Gift is as follows:

  1. Come up with an idea for a Gift that fits your Character Concept.
  2. Visit the Gift Builder page and select a Gift Type and Effect that matches the idea you just conceptualized.
  3. Select Enhancements and Drawbacks and adjust Parameters and Activation Style to customize the Effect to your liking.
  4. If the Gift costs more than one Gift Credit, add Drawbacks and adjust Parameters until it has a Gift Cost of 1 (it can be improved in the future).
  5. Fill out the Gift's Visual Description to establish its flavor and make it clear to any GMs how the Gift will look when it is used during a Contract.
  6. Name the Gift, and add a cool Tagline if you can think of one.

Congratulations, you just made a Gift!

Every Gift you make has a Gift Cost associated with it. This is the primary method of ensuring that Gifts are generally balanced across all Contractors and Playgroups. The Gift Cost is displayed within the Gift Builder as you are creating a new Gift, and is also displayed alongside each Gift on a Contractor's Character Sheet.

Each Enhancement you add to a Gift will increase the Gift Cost by 1. Conversely, each Drawback will decrease the Gift Cost by 1. Increasing and decreasing the level of a Parameter will similarly increase and decrease the Gift Cost by 1. Finally, some Activation Styles will either increase or decrease the Gift Cost.

A Gift may only be given to a Contractor who has enough available Gift Credits and Improvements to match the Gift's Cost. Generally speaking, this means that when a Contractor completes a Contract and gets a new Gift, it must have a Gift Cost of 1, since Contractors only receive a single Gift Credit per Contract as a reward.

Gift Description

A Gift's Description is extremely important. Here you must describe, in non-mechanical terms, what the Gift is, what it looks like when used, and any other details you wish to establish. 

The text you enter here can have real, significant, in-game impacts. For example, when creating a Gift with the Injure Effect, you may choose to flavor it in many ways. If you put "hurls a ball of white-hot fire" in the Description, your Gift may behave very differently in-game than if you put "causes the target's internal organs to fail." The mechanics (dice, damage, etc) will be the same, but there may be significant secondary effects to using a fireball at, say, a gas station. 

Likewise you may establish additional limitations on your Gift, if desired. For example, if you specify "Preston must flourish his hands and shout 'Magic Missile!'", then a hand flourish and a shout are now officially required to activate the Gift. 

The amount of freedom provided by the Description field is limited balance-wise to what could intuitively be called less than a "{{gifts-improvements|Gift Credit's}} worth" of impact. Refer to the Effect's Enhancements and Drawbacks for reference. You can never specify mechanical modifiers in the Description. Playgroup Leaders have the final say as to whether or not a given Gift's Description goes too far. Players should act in good faith and not abuse the freedom afforded by the Description field. 

GMs must respect the Description text of a Gift, but they are free to use their discretion in the extent of its effect. A fireball-flavored Injure Gift can reasonably be expected to detonate an open can of gasoline, but the GM is well within their rights to say that it cannot light a building on fire. The only part of a Gift that is truly sacred and not subject to GM discretion is the System Text, which is derived from the Effect, Enhancements, Drawbacks, and Parameters.

Treat the Description field as you would your equipment list. If you want to establish something, do it up-front. GMs can fill in the blanks you leave at their discretion (though it is bad form to be malicious or go against the intent of the Gift). Providing more detail will always result in a more consistent, well-defined Gift. 

System Text, Tagline, and Gift Name

The final three elements of the Gift Builder are the easiest to fill out when creating a Gift.

The System Text describes the mechanical rules of a Gift. Each Effect has a default System Text, which is then modified through the various customizations you make. The Gift Builder will automatically populate the System Text for you, including any modifications from Parameters, Activation Style, Enhancements, and Drawbacks. It is useful to double check this text before saving your Gift, to make sure it has the mechanical impact you intended. 

Finally, your Gift needs a Name! This can be whatever you like, though it is helpful for anyone looking at your character sheet if the name is related to the actual Gift you've made. The Tagline field is optional but it can be useful to introduce the Gift in a fun and flavorful way.

The Contract offers a selection of premade Stock Gifts that are designed around a variety of different concepts, and can be given to a Contractor as-is or can be easily modified into a new version.  They are available here.

Restrictions on Gifts

There are a few important restrictions on the Gifts that a Contractor can take.

1. They must be created using the Gift Builder

In general, winning in a Contract allows you to create a single Gift using the Gift Builder on this website. Playgroup Leaders can, if they wish, create House Rules which allow for alternate systems for making Gifts, or can even grant rewards which aren't Gifts at all, but a Contractor who has Gifts or rewards that are not created through the Gift Builder or are made using alternative systems will be locked to their own Playgroup.  This rule is very important for ensuring a balanced game and for allowing Contractors to be portable.

2. Your Character must be eligible to recieve the Gift

A Contractor can only receive a Gift with a Gift Cost equal to the number of Gift Credits and Improvements they have available to spend.  The online Character Sheet keeps track of total Gift Credits and Improvements earned, as well as the total cost of all Gifts on a given Contractor, and an alert will pop up on any Character Sheets which are out of balance.

Some Effects, as well as some Enhancements and Parameter levels, are restricted to only Contractors who have achieved a certain Status.  This prevents Newbie and Novice Contractors from having access to overly powerful Gifts, and also restricts access to Effects and Enhancements which would significantly impact game design - for example, the Intangibility Effect is restricted to only Veteran Contractors (25+ wins), because the ability to walk through walls would make a large number of potential Scenarios much more dificult to design.

3. They must fit the Character's concept

Contractors should strive to take Gifts which fit within their Character Concept.  The Contract does not have a "class" system to restrict what Effects a character has access to; instead, players are free to match any Effect with any Character, as long as it can be justified in some way.  This rule is subjective and flexible, and exists primarily to encourage well thought-out, cohesive Contractors rather than prohibit experimentation and fun.

4. Playgroup Leaders can veto Gifts

Playgroup Leaders are responsible for checking on Gifts within their Playgroup to make sure players are following these guidelines.  Additionally, Playgroup Leaders can veto a Gift for any number of other reasons, and can even prohibit Contractors from other Playgroups from going on Contracts in their Playgroup if the Contractor's Gifts are problematic.  Some examples of this include:

  • The Gift violates a house rule
  • The Gift's Description has too many balance implications or was not created in good faith
  • The Gift abuses the freedoms afforded by the Gift Builder to nullify Drawbacks, create an infinite combo, or is otherwise unbalanced due to shenanigans
  • The Effect is restricted due to the Playgroup's chosen Setting (e.g. Hack may be restricted in a cyberpunk Setting)

Optional Rules

These rules cover additional edge cases and situations that may arise during a Contract. Everything in this section is optional reference material. GMs and Players are not expected to be familiar with these rules, and any of the situations they describe can be resolved through standard GM Discretion. 

They are provided here for Players who like extended, structured rules and as an example of what The Contract's developers would rule in these situations.

Supplementary Combat Rules

Attack Difficulty Modifiers

GM's may use their discretion to adjust the difficulty on any roll based on situational factors, but here are some useful examples of potential difficulty modifiers during Combat.

If your target is...

  • Behind cover: +2 difficulty
  • Immobilized: -3 difficulty
  • Running: +1 difficulty
  • Roughly the size of
    • A normal adult human: base difficulty
    • A child: +1 difficulty
    • A house cat: +2 difficulty
    • A small mouse: +3 difficulty
    • A horse: -1 difficulty
    • A truck: -2 difficulty
    • A house: -3 difficulty 

If you are...

  • Behind cover: +1 difficulty, can't use turns to Aim but can dodge as a free action
  • Using your off hand: +1 difficulty
  • Using a Secondary Ability: -1 difficulty
  • Firing blind: +4 difficulty

If your surroundings are...

  • Dark: +2 difficulty, down to +1 with Perception at 5
  • Foggy:  +3 difficulty, down to +1 within melee range
  • Stormy (torrential rain, heavy snow, hail): +1 difficulty
  • Underwater, and you are using a...
    • Knife/your bare hands:+1 difficulty
    • Small melee weapon (short swords, hand axes, clubs): +2 difficulty
    • Large melee weapon (long swords, polearms, flails): +3 difficulty
    • Throwing weapon: doesn't work
    • Firearm: doesn't work, with the exception of harpoons and some specially designed pistols

A standard Offensive Action represents an all-out attack. This means that, for Firearms, you shoot a number of bullets equal to your Rate of Fire.  Some single-action revolvers and rifles have a rate of 1 bullet per 3-second round, but the vast majority of modern guns are semi-automatic, meaning they can fire 2 or 3 bullets in a span of 3 seconds without losing too much effectiveness.  The Difficulty and Base Damage for guns is based on using a semi-automatic rate of fire (when applicable).

GM Tip
Be sure you narrate with this rate-of-fire rule in mind, and keep your players abreast of this particular nuance of the system, especially if they are new.  For example, if a player simply says "I attack!", you'll depict the scene with multiple shots being fired.

Fully Automatic Weapons

Fully automatic weapons, such as machine guns and some rifles, are able to make a special type of attack.  They may "sweep" an area with the weapon, covering 5 feet per 10 rounds expended, or a 10 feet area for an average assault rifle.  This attack will damage anyone within its area of effect; however, characters in that zone are given the ability to Dodge, which ordinarily cannot be used to avoid a Firearms attack roll.  Damage is calculated normally but is done separately for each person within the area of effect.

Realistic Weaponry

The combat system simplifies the stats of firearms significantly, treating all guns of a particular type the same. Simplicity lets the focus remain on telling a good story, rather than min-maxing your gear.

However, Playgroups can feel free to develop more realistic (and more complicated) firearm systems.  If Players are interested in being meticulous about specific weaponry they can keep precise track of their magazine capacity and ammo usage per round, and GMs can establish their own values for gun damage, range, rate of fire, etc, which takes into account differences between various weapons within the same class.

For the sake of balance, we recommend at least starting with the default values as a base and then adjusting from there based on specific knowledge about a particular gun.

Specific Situations


If a character is being held hostage (say someone is holding a gun to their head), if they attempt to break out, roll Initiative. If they lose initiative, an attack may be made against them at a massive advantage. IF, on the other hand, the hostage taker decides to attack, they get one free attack before initiative is rolled. 

"Mexican Standoff"

The first attack is free. Then Initiative is rolled. If you attack the target you were already aiming at, you get a big bonus.