Your character sheet starts out incredibly simple:
- Character Name
- Loot (3)
- Skill “Try Something New (1)”
- XP (0)
Character Name is simply what your character is called.
Loot is essentially the character’s health. When the kids enter Mystery Mansion, the 3 Loot each of them has represents the fistfulls of candy they acquired during their earlier trick-or-treating in the neighborhood. Certain events may cause a character to lose Loot (taking damage, for example), and others may cause a character to gain Loot (such as finding treasure). Loot is highly cherished, and only be given away once received under one very specific circumstance, covered later under “Sharing is Caring.”
Try Something New (1) is the skill all characters start with. It’s a catch-all that allows a character to try any reasonably possible action. As with all skills, the parenthetical number following the name represents the number of six-sided dice rolled when using that skill. Characters will gain more skills throughout play.
XP, or Experience, starts at 0 for all characters. XP is marked on characters’ sheets when they fail an attempted action. XP may be spent at any time after an attempted action. Earning and spending XP is covered below, in “Character Advancement.”
More on Skills
“Skills” is a generic term for anything a character can do. When a character attempts to perform an action, the player determines the most relevant skill to use and rolls a number of dice equal to the level of that skill. If there is no relevant skill, then Try Something New.
Skills should start out broad. At the broadest levels, they can represent inherent attributes, such as being Smart, Fast, or Strong. They can also represent something like a career or character class, such as Thief, Bully, or Mad Scientist. As new skills build on broader skills, they should get more specific.
One of a character’s first rank-2 skills should relate to his costume. Needless to say, this is a story about the active imaginations of children, so a good avenue to focus that creativity is to develop skills using the character’s Halloween costume as a unifying theme. This is also a good way to inject fantastical elements into the story. The mansion is far more than just an old house on a hill, so rest assured the story has plenty of room for the surreal. Go wild!
Kevin has just used Try Something New to slide down the bannister. If it results in a skill upgrade (more on this below), the new skill will be a broad 2-point skill to support this feat of athleticism, so Kevin’s player calls the new skill Athletic (2). Later, Kevin successfully scales an impossibly tall bookshelf using the Athletic skill, and earns another upgrade. This will be a 3-point skill, which Kevin’s player calls Climbing (3). Please note, this is a fairly plain example for ease of conveying the concept.