Flipside Game Rules

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Whenever you are playing Flipside, you must follow the game rules. Depending on where you are playing, combat might be resolved using boffer weapons, toy guns, and birdseed "spell" packets, or it might be resolved using die rolls. The owner of the territory you're playing in will choose which set of rules will be used.

Boffer combat is not allowed in places where it would be illegal or dangerous. It may be okay to have sword fights in a park, but not at a mall. A friend's backyard might be safe for live combat, but not a library. The game distinguishes between these two "modes" of play (live combat and turn based), but many of the game's rules are common to both modes.

Common Rules

These rules are in play no matter which game mode is in effect.

The Most Important Rules

  1. The honor system: Play fair, don't cheat. Cheating ruins the game for everybody. If somebody is cheating, stop playing with them.
  2. Safety: Nobody should ever be injured during gameplay. Do not engage in risky situations. Do not make body contact or touch other players. We use a "lightest touch" fighting system. When attacking someone with a boffer weapon, you only need to touch them. You don't need to hit hard in order for your hit to count. If someone is swinging too hard, politely let them know.
  3. Keep It Real: Anything that you shouldn't do in real life, you also shouldn't do in-game. Don't create noise disturbances, trespass, or otherwise break the law.

In-Game and Out-of-Game

There are two “states” that someone can be in. You can be in an “Flipside” state (often reffered to as In-Game, or "IG"), or an “out of game” state (often abbreviated as OOG). To indicate that you are Flipside (and thereby, actively playing the game), wear a game badge or arm band. You cannot try to hide or camouflage your badge in any way to conceal whether or not you are IG or OOG. Likewise, you are not allowed to ask people what state they are in – if you can’t see their badge, you can’t tell whether they’re IG or OOG.

Sometimes, people in the game might play a pre-written role, called a non-player character, or NPC. Playing an NPC is a bit like method acting - you are playing as an alternate persona which everybody else must treat as real.

If you see someboyd playing an NPC, treat them as if they're a different person. If you are playing an NPC role, do not use information you learn as an NPC when you are playing normally. Doing so is called meta-gaming and is a form of cheating.

Game State Signals

  • Game Badges indicate that you are in-game as your normal self. (note: until the beta test is finished, an arm band will be fine. Arm bands may be any color except blue or orange)
  • Orange Arm Bands or NPC Badges are special markers which indicate you are playing an NPC. These characters have instructions given to them by an Adventure script or the Shaper. When you see someone wearing an NPC arm band, you do not recognize them as their normal persona. Any knowledge you learn while NPCing cannot be taken in-game.

Entering or Leaving

"Off-Stage" refers to any area where there are no players watching. You are off stage whenever you're not near by other players. You can only enter or leave the game when you're off-stage.

If you've recently fought another player, or there are other players who might be looking for you, you must stay off stage for at least ten minutes before you take off your badge.

There are certain times when you may be able to enter the game "on stage". For example, your character may be dead but you are summoned as an undead. Or you might be a monster who is touching a respawn point. In these cases, you are in-game and vulnerable to game effects from the moment you put on your badge or arm band.

Keeping It Real

Any action which you shouldn't take in real life, such as breaking the law, attack strangers with boffer weapons, or kidnapping someone and throwing them in your car, cannot be taken in-game either. In-game this restriction is called "Keeping it Real".

While playing the game, do not take actions which might disturb non-players. Our game is played in public, so we must take precautions to make sure we don't endanger people or break the law. This is one of the reasons why most players don't wear outlandish costumes or get in sword fights inside the mall. If you are in a crowded restaurant, it is definitely inappropriate for you to start throwing spells at people. Even mindless monsters cannot swing their weapons in contexts where it might scare people, accidentally hit a bystander, or draw police attention.

Cuts in Play

This rule is very important. If someone is hurt out-of-game, call out "Cut!" If you hear someone call "Cut!", you must immediately stop what you're doing and go down to one knee. If you see other people on one knee, they is probably a cut in effect and you should also go down to one knee. When the action is cut, the game is stopped, and everything should freeze. During a cut, you may not be communicating with friends, planning strategy, or fighting.

Cuts can be used to clarify rules or describe a special scene or effect, though this will not happen often. Since calling a Cut stops the game, do not call cuts lightly. They are usually used for emergencies, or to improve the flow of the game.

When the game resumes from a Cut, the person who called the cut will yell "everybody ready? 3-2-1, Action!"

In-Game Items

Some game items have a tag, a slip of paper which describes the item's properties. For example, a magic sword might have a tag which says "Once per day, you can swing this sword for 5 damage".

If the tag describes a physical item, you must have a prop representing that item in order to use it. So the tag alone is not enough to use a magic wand - you must also find a stick or object which fits the description written on the tag. The tag should, if possible, be attached to the prop.

Searching and Stealing

If someone is unconscious, paralyzed, asleep, or otherwise incapacitated, you may go up to the player and say "I search you." There are two types of searches: Quick Searches and Full Searches.

  • A Quick Search involves grabbing an object out of an unconscious character's hands. Obvious items such as swords, worn talismans, or any immediately visible prop can be taken immediately.
  • A Full Search is needed to take items out of pockets and pouches. You must count to sixty while pretending that you're patting down and searching the person. During this 60 seconds, the target of the search will pull out all his in-game tags and shuffle them. At the end of the 60-count, he will then fan them out, and you may pick one. If someone searches you, please be quick to hand over your items and do not whine or take an extra-long time to get them out in hopes that someone will come and save you from being robbed. Items that aren't a part of the game cannot be taken at all.

You can only be targeted by a Full Search once per person per hour. That means that if someone full searches you at 11 PM, that person can’t do it again until midnight.

All props remain property of the owner even if they are stolen in-game. A tag may change hands, but the prop itself must be returned to the person who it's been stolen from at the earliest convenience.

Certain tags, labeled "unstealable", cannot be stolen.


Certain game effects are linked to key words, called "calls". These calls let other people know that a game effect is taking place. For example, if someone says "3 damage" while swinging a sword at you, you will take 3 wounds if it hits.

If you are delivering a call with your weapon, you must say the call as you're swinging. If you're delivering a call with a spell packet, you must say the call before you throw the packet.

Any time you are hit with a game effect, you must roleplay your reaction. If somebody hits you with a sword, you don't have to drop to the ground screaming, but you should at least go "ugh".

The RP The Damn Effect Rule - If you use up an expendable skill and the target doesn't role play the effect or call a defensive skill in reply, the skill is not used up. At the very minimum, they have to call “ugh” to indicate to you that they registered the attack.

See also: List of Game Calls

Life and Death

Attacks: All weapons do one point of damage (called a wound). People can use certain skills and abilities which may change this – if they call out a game effect or number of damage when they attack, the weapon delivers that game effect or number of damage instead of a wound.

Health: Every character has a certain number of health. This is the number of wounds you can take before you lose consciousness. All characters begin with five health. (You can gain two more by picking the skill Toughness.) You cannot fall into negative numbers. For example, if you have two health left, and somebody hits you for ten damage, you will only be at 0 health.

Armor: Certain spells or abilities can grant you additional protection, called armor. Armor works just like health, except that points of armor are lost before health. Once it is lost, armor is not refreshed by healing spells, it needs to be refit. The spell or ability which grants you the armor will describe how to refit it. You may only benefit from armor from one source. If you have multiple spells or abilities which grant you armor, they do not stack, you only use the highest of them. For example, if you were granted 1 point of armor from a spell, and 1 point of armor from an item, you still only have one point of armor. Note that there is no bonus for wearing real armor.

Unconsciousness: When you have zero health left, you must fall down and act like you're knocked out. While you're playing dead, you can't look around, call out for help, use items or skills, or do anything. If you're lying in the middle of a battle, you're allowed to crawl a few feet over so you don't get stepped on.

Once you reach 0 health, you will be knocked-out for five minutes. While unconscious, you are helpless against any attempts to kill you. During this time someone may lay a weapon on your torso and deliver a Death Blow. To do this, they say "Death Blow 1, Death Blow 2, Death Blow 3". This must take at least three seconds, and anyone may stop it by knocking the killer's weapon aside. When the blow is finished, you say "I die", and take off your game badge or arm band. If someone death blows you while you are still conscious, you may say "no effect" and ignore the blow.

If you are unconscious for five minutes and you do not receive a death blow, you will have completed a 5-minute rest. You regain all your health and encounter skills, and are conscious again.

Death: If you are killed, you immediately leave game for the rest of the day. You will recover at sunrise with no wounds.


Each character has three pools of resources:

  • Fortitude
  • Reflex
  • Will

Characters have 10 points to divide between these 3 categories. You may gain more points as you level up. Certain powers, items, or facilities may give you options for spending these points. For example, a power may let you spend 2 points of reflex to dodge an attack that otherwise would have hit you. These attributes are refreshed to their full value at the beginning of each adventure scenario.

  • Vitality - Vitality is your "hit points". Everybody begins with 5 vitality. Right now there's no way to upgrade it but we'll get to that later.

Dragging Someone

An incapacitated or otherwise immobile character may be dragged. To do this, you must have two free hands (so all in-game items you are holding must be sheathed or dropped). Put a hand on the character's shoulder and say "I drag you". Once the character stands up, you may move at a walking speed with the character. Using any in-game skills or taking damage while dragging causes the dragged character to be dropped.

When you drop a character, he must lie down where you dropped him. If you pick him up again, you have to wait for him to sit down and stand back up.

Turn Based Combat

When the game is in "turn based" mode, and a fight breaks out, somebody will call out "Fight!". At this point, everybody freezes where they stand.

In Turn Based Combat, players take turns making a single action. The encounter is divided into rounds - during a round, each player gets to go once.

Round sequence

The Initiator (whoever initiated the encounter by calling "FIGHT") gets to go first. The sequence of the round is determined by proximity to the Initiator. Whoever is standing closest to him goes next. If more than one player is equally close, the Initiator will choose the order in which they act. Once the first round has passed, people will continue to act in this order until everybody agrees the combat is over.

Die Rolls

Do you hit? All players should be carrying a 20 sided die. It is advisable to carry a clear plastic box or flat surface to aid in rolling. Any time you attack, roll the d20. A roll of 10 or higher counts as a hit. Certain skills, items, or powers might affect this roll.

On Your Turn

During your turn, you may take one action. Your options:

  • Attack: Make a normal attack using a weapon you're holding.
    • If you target another player with a melee attack, you must be close enough to touch the person's torso. If you are holding a weapon prop, you must be close enough to touch them with the weapon.
    • If you target another player with a ranged attack, you must be within 20 feet of them, and must be able to see their head or torso. Line of sight cannot be broken by an object that the person holds.
  • Move: Take 5 steps in any direction. At the end of the move, you are allowed to crouch, lay down, or otherwise take cover. You must maintain that position until the next time you move.
  • Change Gear: Draw a weapon, sheath a weapon, otherwise change what you're holding.
  • Skill: Use an ability from your character sheet.

Opportunity Attacks: If you make a ranged attack while another player is within arm's reach of you and has a melee weapon ready, they can make an attack immediately afterwards for free.

Performing Long Actions, Passage Of Time - A combat round represents about 10 seconds of real time. If the rules refer to an action taking 30 seconds, that means it takes 3 full rounds. If something takes 3 seconds to complete, it still takes one full round. Each time you perform the action, you must say it out loud.

For example, to use the "Take a breath" skill, you must concentrate for 30 seconds. That means you must spend 3 consecutive turns where your only action is saying "Take a breath".

Live Combat

All weapons in the game must be padded foam boffer weapons which are safe to fight with. Our goal is that no one should get hurt while playing. Though your character may be injured or killed, you (the player) shouldn't suffer the same risk.

Any character can use a one handed foam “boffer” weapon. All weapon swings do one point of damage unless you call something out, in which case they may inflict more damage, or a status effect. Certain skills will allow you to use game calls with your weapon.

Weapons larger than 48 inches are called Great Weapons and require two hands to use. To use a great weapon or shield you must have the skill Martial Styles. Both hands must be on the weapon's grip in order for a hit or block to count. Martial Styles also allows you to use a shield. The perimeter of a shield must be covered in foam. A shield may not be used to attack or touch another player in any way.

To use a weapon in your off hand, you must have the skill Two Weapon Styles. One of the weapons must be a short weapon or dagger.

Weapons must be safety-approved by the Warden of whatever territory you are in.

__Weapon Type_________Measurements__

Small weapons..............Up to 24”
Short weapons..............25” – 36”
Long weapons...............37” – 48”
Great weapons..............49” – 72”

If your swing connects with your opponent's body on anywhere except for the hands, head, neck, or groin, the opponent takes a point of damage (called a wound). All swings must be between roughly 45 and 90 degrees and must be delivered with a safe approved boffer weapon.

It is considered courteous to call "hit" or "ouch" or "got it" after you are hit to let your opponent know that you registered the attack. We encourage you to role play the damage – after all, you just got hit with a sword – act like it!

Drum Rolling: Any swings of less than 45 degrees, or more than three strikes against the same body part do not count. This is called "machine gunning" or "drum rolling".

Flurries: After you take three swings, whether they hit or miss, you must pause for at least one full second. If someone attacks you and does not pause, every additional hit after the third does not count. You must say "flurry" to indicate to your opponent that the attack did not effect you because they have not paused.

Safety Guidelines

Lightest Touch: Our game uses a "lightest touch" boffer style. This means that you only need to swing hard enough to touch your opponent with your weapon. A hit still counts even if it only grazed you. There is no such thing as "not swinging hard enough for the hit to count".

We want to emphasize that “boffer sword” fighting is an entirely unique style – it is not trying to emulate what a real sword fight would be like, nor is it trying to be overly-realistic. The emphasis in boffer combat is on speed, skill, and finesse – not strength or landing hits on vital areas.

Charging: You are not allowed to touch your opponent in any way shape or form except for through safety-approved boffer weapons and spell packets. Any type of body contact is called "charging" An opponent is also charging if they are close enough to you so that you can reach out and touch their torso.

Violations: People who are found to be fighting in an unsafe way may be issued a yellow card or red card from a local Warden. If a Red Card is presented, you (the player) will have your right to use weapons removed for the night.

Legal Targets: Strikes to the head, neck, or groin are illegal. Shots against the hands do not count if they are currently holding something. Anyone found to be repeatedly striking these spots will be issued a yellow or red card by a warden. Safety reports may be filed on the website.

Weapon Construction: In order to ensure that all weapons are safe, they must adhere to certain safety guidelines, as described in this document. At any time, the Warden of the territory you are in may ask to check your weapon. If they find any fault with its construction, such as thin foam or exposed pipe, they will reject the weapon. This means you may not fight with it until it is fixed or remade.

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