A Matter of Style

A Matter of Style is a story engine for two participants to generate tales of cyberspace battle. It is designed for use in an online "conference" or "chat" environment.

The setting of A Matter of Style is the cyberpunk genre of SF. The world is dark, nasty, and high tech. The Net encompasses most of the computers in the world, and through the marvel of the cyberdeck it's now possible for people to wire themselves into the Net. The deck programs create a construct to symbolize the decker, and with the speed of modern telecomm computer access takes on a whole new meaning.

Of course, deckers sometimes want what others don't want them to have...

Starting your Decking Career

You begin cyberlife with a handle (a name you pick, poser!) and 15,000 Reputation Points. You don't have stats, or skills, or anything else.

Take a good peek at the first three digits of your Reputation Point, or RP, total. That's how many Stat Points you get for your next match. (For you wiz mathgeeks, 1% of your current rep, dropping fractions.) As your rep goes up, so do your stats. If rep goes down, too bad. (And yeah, if you get up to 100,000 RP you'll look at the first four digits instead of three. Dream on. More likely you'll get squished down to 9,999 RP or less and only check two.)

You'll put your Stat Points into four Stats when you start a fight. Normally, you want to use all your Stat Points. But some deckers like to appear weaker than they are and then surprise their opponent with their real power. The Stats are:

  • Armor: How well you take getting thumped.
  • Chrome: How well you dish it out.
  • Style: How well you put it on to impress.
  • Wires: How well you put moves on the other deckers.

Put as many or as few points as you like into each Stat, even as little as 1, so long as your total is right. But you have to put at least 20 points into Style, or the other deckers will snort in derision.

If you hose the stats, don't worry. In cyberspace, you can always blow a turn to reprogram and move Stat Points around. And in a new fight, you can do a completely different setup.

Interfacing

When two deckers decide to mess with each other's netlife, it all starts with the challenger announcing how many Stat Points he will spend on Style in this fight. (If there is no challenger, create one! What's life without challenge?) The challenger also announces the Stat Points to be spent on one other Stat.

The challenged decker then determines and announces the Stat Points to be spent on each of the four Stats, after which the challenger announces spends for the two remaining Stats.

The decker who spent the most points on Style goes first. (Style is everything.) Ties go to the challenger.

What You Do On Your Turn

You can do one of seven things on your turn. Announce it, and roll a 100-sided die (d100) where the rules tell you to.

When dice are rolled, nothing happens--most of the time--unless it's your turn and you roll the higher total. Deckers take turns back and forth until one or the other jacks out or loses all Stat Points.

Attack: Go ahead, make their day...
Decker: Roll d100 and add Chrome to get a total.
Opponent: Roll d100 and add Armor to get a total.
If Decker has the higher total, find the difference between the totals. Subtract that many points from Opponent's Armor. If Armor is reduced to zero, apply the excess against Wires, or Chrome once Wires is zeroed, or Style as a last resort, until all points are used.

Moves: When you've got the moves, you rule the net...
Decker: Roll d100 and add Wires to get a total.
Opponent: Roll d100 and add Wires to get a total.
If Decker has the higher total, find the difference between the totals. Double it. Decker gets to add this number to any dice total rolled on Decker's next turn. (Not when responding on opponent's turn!)

Trick: When you need that little extra edge to survive...
Decker: Roll d100 and add Wires to get a total.
Opponent: Roll d100 and add Wires to get a total.
If Decker has the higher total, find the difference between the totals. Decker gets to add this number to his responding dice total on the opponent's next turn.

Taunt: Even in defeat, there is always style...
Restriction: Decker must have a Style of 20 or more to Taunt.
Decker: Roll d100 and add Style to get a total.
Opponent: Roll d100 and add Style to get a total.
If Decker has the higher total, subtract 10 from Opponent's Style. (But do not reduce Opponent's Style below 10. Only reprogramming or massive damage can do that.)

Pose: Ignore your opponent and strut for the audience...
Restriction: Decker must have a Style of 20 or more to Pose.
Decker: Roll d100 and add Style to get a total.
Opponent: Roll d100 and add Chrome to get a total.
If Decker has the higher total, find the difference between the totals and add it to the Decker's RP total. If Decker still has Stat Points not yet being used for Stats in this match, Decker may also select Reprogram as next turn's action and transfer in unused Stat Points up to this difference to any chosen Stat(s).

However...if Opponent has the higher total, find the difference between the totals. Subtract that many points from Decker's Armor. If Armor is reduced to zero, apply the excess against Wires, or Chrome once Wires is zeroed, or Style as a last resort, until all points are used.

Reprogram: In netlife, the fantastic can be real...
Decker may move any number of Stat Points from one Stat to one other Stat. Wanna crush her like a bug? Chrome up. Wanna razzle-dazzle him? Wires away! Need a little support? Armor is cheap. The only restrictions:
  1. No Stat can be reduced below zero.
  2. Style can never be increased; only reduced.
  3. Decker may only tap Stat Points unused at start by Posing one turn and Reprogramming the next, and then only up to the number earned from Posing.
Jackout: Bad hair days are part of netlife, chummer...
Decker concedes defeat by jacking out. Why do this? Read on.

Consequences

When someone jacks out, or loses all of their Stat Points, the fight is over, the opponent wins, and the fun begins.

Standard RP Award: Take the current Style points of the winner. Multiply this by the Style points the loser started with. This product is the Reputation Point award for the winner.

The Loser: If the loser jacked out, subtract half the RP award from the loser's Reputation Points. (Round up.) But if the loser got slotted all the way to zero Stat Points, subtract the whole RP award instead of just half. Total humiliation is not a good thing.

Mismatch Exception: If one decker's Reputation Point total at the start of a fight is more than twice the other's, it's a mismatch. Should the decker with the greater RP total win, the standard RP award is halved. (There's no glory in slumming, poser.) But if the other decker pulls out a victory, the standard RP award is doubled. The loser's penalty in each case is based on the revised award.

Grudge Match Exception: If two deckers rematch before each has netdueled at least one other opponent, it's a grudge match. It doesn't matter if a decker jacks out of a grudge match or not; the loser will take the full RP hit instead of half anyway.

Copyright and Distribution

A Matter of Style: A Story Engine for Cyberspace Battles is copyright © 1993, 1994 by Randall Stukey and Glenn E. Overby II.

A Matter of Style is a copyrighted freeware game system. It is fully protected under US Copyright Laws and this protection is extended to almost all other countries by the Berne Convention and other copyright treaties. You are encouraged to provide complete and unaltered free copies to your friends. Note the word free: you may not charge any type of fee for providing this game. You are also encouraged to upload text copies of it to your favorite BBSs and Online Services, however, no fee for downloading any file or message containing this game or material based on this game may be charged beyond the normal connect charges for using the service in general. In all cases, these copyright and trademark notices must remain on the document in whatever form it is distributed. The authors are not going to make money off of A Matter of Style, nor will they allow others to do so.

A Matter of Style and Story Engine are trademarks owned by Randall Stukey.

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