Game Play: Theme Use

Themes alter the world around your character, bringing certain story elements into play. Twists are spent “through” these Themes to alter the story. The more Twists you spend, the greater the effect you can achieve.

Each game session you start with a number of Twists equal to your character’s Import. You use them to create Advantages or Complications – typically Advantages for yourself or Complications for others

To activate a particular Theme, you spend a number of Twists equal to the level of the Effect you want to create. If you want a Minor Complication, that’s 3 Twists. If you want a Major Advantage, that’s 7 Twists. Once per scene you can generate a Trivial Complication or Advantage for free. If your GM tells you that you can’t benefit from this (as part of the GM’s plot, no doubt), you receive a Twist the first time this happens in a game session.

Plot Immunity

Spending 5 Twists will allow you to invoke “Plot Immunity” for your character. Plot Immunity must be focused through your Themes, or involve your Capabilities or Professions in some way. If you activate Plot Immunity, your GM cannot face you with the same hazard in the same game session.

Taking Complications

The greatest source of Twists is from taking Complications. You, the player, are allowed to describe problems that your character must overcome.

You can choose any sort of Complication you like. Generally, only rough descriptions are necessary. Your GM will fill in the rest. The level of the Complication indicates the number of Twists that are available by willingly accepting the listed Complication. Subtract your character’s Tech score from the number of Twists you would gain. If you have a Core Value that aligns with the Complication that you are taking, and that CV is rated 3 or higher, you gain an extra Twist from that Complication.

You can hold no more than 10 Twists at one time.


  • All characters in SA have Neuroforms, Capabilities, Civilizations, Expertise, and Core Values. Only player characters have Themes. Not even the most important of GM characters has Themes, or Twists with which to activate them.
  • When dealing with a Complication that you willingly accepted, you cannot spend Twists to ameliorate its effects in any way at all. This is known as the "Frying Pan Rule."
  • You may activate Themes based on player knowledge, even if your character lacks that knowledge. They are explicitly metagame-level abilities.
  • You cannot use Themes to affect other characters directly with a Complication, though you can give them an Advantage.


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