Wednesday, October 2, 2019

The Clout Primer

It occurs to me that I haven't yet told you how Clout is played. Here is the "bullet point edition" of Clout. It should be enough to give you a sense of how the game is played. Note that this is still early days, and things may change. For example, I'm currently reworking the way armor and weapons work and the damage system keeps flopping between the one presented and a "pointless" system.


Clout is a game of gritty, over-the-top cinematic and pulpy action and adventure. It is not meant to simulate realism.

Character creation:


  • Pick three skills (from the skill list) that you're good at
  • Pick three skills (from the skill list) that you suck at
  • Skill list:
    • Aiming
    • Athletics
    • Burglary
    • Driving
    • Fighting
    • First Aid
    • Health
    • Nimbleness
    • Observation
    • Persuasion
    • Stealth
    • Wilderness Survival
    • Will-Power


  • Pick three tags
    • One that will almost always be an advantage
    • One that will almost always be a disadvantage
    • One the can either, depending on the situation


  • You start with three Clout.

Game Play:

  • Roll 1d12.

    • There are no modifiers to this roll. Ever.
  • Consult:

N/ACritical Success
7-9Partial success/failure
  • This called the rule of 7/10, because 7+ is a partial success and 10+ is a full success. That makes it easy to remember.

  • The player may apply tags to boost the result by one level for each tag applied.

    • To apply a beneficial tag, the player must spend clout.

      • Each tag applied costs 1 "point" of clout.

      • Exception: Applying a good skill is free.

      • The tag can be attached the character, a piece of gear, the location, the situation, or maybe even an enemy.

      • This is the only way that a player can achieve a critical success.

    • For example, raising a Failure to a Partial would require applying one tag (and spending 1 clout "point"), no matter if the die roll was a 2 or a 6.

  • Players can also be offered Clout by applying a "negative tag" that will lower the result by one level.

    • A player can refuse the offer, but they must spend clout instead.

    • The offer can come from the GM, or from another player.

  • After all is said and done, if the final result is a Failure or worse, the player gains Clout.

  • NPCs never roll. The story is about the PCs. If an NPC tries to do something, focus instead on how the PCs try to stop them.


  • Combat is just a task using the Fighting or Aiming skills.

  • Generally (but not always):

    • On a failure, only the PC takes damage

    • On a partial, both the PC and the bad guy take damage

    • On a success, only the bad guy takes damage

    • On a critical, roll extra damage, or hurt two bad guys, or whatever

  • Standard damage roll is the lower of 2d12

  • Gear (weapons and armor) affect the damage roll based on their tags.

  • Weapons and armor can be none, light, medium, or heavy

  • Light armor protects against light weapons, but not against medium or heavy

  • Medium armor protects against light and medium weapons, but not heavy.

  • Heavy armor protects against all weapons

  • Protection means that the damage suffered is the lower of 3d12

  • Protection must be invoked (spend Clout).


Every PC has distinct 12 hit points.

  • A hit marks off only the indicated hit point

    • If the indicated hit point is already marked off, go to the next higher that's available.

    • If any of the hit points in group 6, 7, or 8 are marked, the character has a minor wound. Describe it. This counts as a negative tag and can be applied.

    • If hit point 9 or 10 is marked, the character has a major wound. Describe it. This counts as a negative tag and can be applied. Compelling this tag drops the result two levels instead of one!

    • If hit point 11 is marked, the character is seriously injured. Describe it. This counts as a negative tag and can be applied. Applying this tag drops the result three levels instead of one!

    • If hit point 12 is marked off, the character is out of action. He's not necessarily dead. He might be unconscious, or captured. But he might be dead

1 comment:

  1. I appreciate the simplification of rolls and damage mechanics here. The use of the "clout" points offers that conditional strategy - newer players don't need to worry about it heavily, experienced players could dive in more.
    One point I'm a bit fuzzy on is applying a negative tag. The post indicates that another player or the GM can offer this, and if accepted apply the negative tag as described.
    Since clout is 'offered' in this case, is it one player giving one of their own 'clout' points to the other on the negative tag usage, or moreso presenting the option to take the hit and gain a new 'clout' point?
    The sub-bullet indicates that if refused, clout is spent?
    Couldn't this result in players forcing each other out of clout, or the GM keeping the clout points at nothing?
    Or am I misreading/missing some context?

    Thanks again for the update!