Bullets are a type of token that can be used to help characters by adjusting die rolls or various game circumstances. They are meant to tweak situations to increase the odds of survival and success. However, they come with a risk. Each time a Bullet is spent, it will pass to the Game Master to be potentially spent against the players.
Bullets function in a “fixed economy,” meaning there are always the exact same number in play. Bullets do not typically get added to or removed from the table.
Whenever a character enters the game, they start with three Bullets. This is the only way that Bullets can enter circulation. Therefore, at any point during play, the number of Bullets on the table should be exactly 3 x <the number of players>. For example, if there are five players, there are 15 total Bullets.
The Game Master does not count as a player and does not start with any Bullets of their own.
In order to explain when and how Bullets may be spent, it's important to introduce the concept of an Immediate Chain of rolls. The Immediate Chain represents any rolls that have already been made and the rolls that are a necessary, inescapable consequence of rolls already made. In other words, roles that are required to happen because of the rules or perhaps a chain of events in the game world that are never interrupted by player or NPC choice. One thing forces the next to happen.
For example, the rules necessitate that an attack roll will result in a damage roll. Thus, the damage roll is a direct consequence of the attack roll, so those two rolls form an Immediate Chain of rolls.
If a player-character chooses to mend the wound of the injured person, that came as the result of a choice—not something the rules or situation forced to occur just then. Thus, the medical roll is not part of the Immediate Chain of the attack roll.
As another example, imagine a player-character meddling with a blocked passage in a mine. She botches the roll to clear it, and the Game Master declares the failure is causing rocks to fall on the entire party. The initial botch, the Agility checks to dodge the rocks, and the damage dealt by any rocks that hit are all knit together as a chain of consequences, resulting from a single choice. Thus, they form an Immediate Chain.
However, if a player makes a Body check to dig out a friend trapped under a rock, that represents a new set of circumstances and choices, and thus it's not part of the prior chain.
Players may spend bullets in the following ways:
Any bullets spent by the players go into the GM's bullet pool.
If any Bullets have been spent by the players—and thus been given to the Game Master—the Game Master may spend those Bullets on behalf of NPCs in the exact same way players spend them for their own characters. This may be done for any NPC, whether friend, enemy, or neutral bystander.
When the Game Master spends Bullets, they should be given to the player that is most affected by the expenditure. For example, if the Game Master uses a Bullet to help an NPC notice that a player-character is lying about the value of a trade item, that player should get the Bullet.
If multiple players are affected by the expenditure (for example, a merchant hiding an item from the entire party) or no players are affected by the expenditure (for example, a friendly NPC buying down the damage of an enemy attack), then the Game Master may pick the recipient player in any way they choose.
Players may not spend Bullets on behalf of NPCs or other players, even if the result would be beneficial to them. For example, a patient may not add a Bullet to their doctor's medical check.
Players may, however, give their Bullets to anyone else at the table. However, Bullets traded in this fashion may not be used to modify anything that has already occurred or anything that is an inescapable consequence of rolls already made or actions already declared.
Bullets may not be used to modify the same roll. For example, a player could not spend two Bullets to add two additional damage dice to an attack. However, Bullets may be used to modify related rolls. So a player could spend one Bullet to add a die to the skill check to attack someone and then apply a second Bullet to increase the damage by one die.
Bullets may not be spent to oppose other Bullets already applied to a roll. So if a player uses a Bullet to increase their damage by one die, the Game Master may not spend a Bullet to remove the die that was added. If two people wish to modify the same roll, you can use this chart to determine who wins the right to spend a Bullet.
Whenever a player-character enters or exits the game, the Bullet economy will require some adjustment.
If a character dies—or permanently leaves the game for any reason—three Bullets should be removed from play. The Game Master should begin by giving up their own Bullets. If the Game Master does not have enough Bullets, then any remaining Bullets will be taken from players. Taxing the players like this should be done one Bullet at a time, picking the player that has the most Bullets. If multiple players have the same number of Bullets, the Game Master may either choose the player to remove a Bullet from or roll randomly to pick the target player.
Whenever a new character enters the game—whether because a new player joins or someone that lost their character makes a new one—that player immediately gets three Bullets.