The Abstraction Layer

Valence is a modular game. It's designed so that any one part of the game can be swapped out for a replacement, from the basic attributes to the dice-rolling mechanic to a particular type of squad action to the entire Lording system.

To make this happen, Valence has something called an Abstraction Layer. This is the piece of the game that sits between all the other pieces and helps to translate things from one subsystem to another.

In play, the Abstraction Layer should fade into the background. You'll need to calculate some values for it from time to time (such as when you create your character), but after that you shouldn't have to pay attention to it.

If you write a new component for Valence, or swap out an existing one, that's where the Abstraction Layer really shines. You only need to create that component and update the Abstraction Layer. You don't need to go through every single other system and look for interactions. Subsystems don't interact with one another directly; they all go through the Abstraction Layer.


Values in the abstraction layer come in three types:

  • Descriptors, which have no numerical values (you either have them or you don't), and
  • Ratings, which are expected to be in the 1-20 range but might occasionally be outside it. Ratings are created as needed - you might be recalculating them on a regular basis, or they might keep the same value for a long time.
  • Totals, which are numerical values that start at 0 and keep accumulating, with the expectation that they rarely go over 100.

You can change these defaults if you want to make a total overhaul of the system rather than just developing a new component. The key is not so much what the defaults are, but that you have defaults and stick to them unless you want to intentionally change them.


The Abstraction Layer in Valence includes the following values:


  • Skill Rating: Add an appropriate Attribute to an appropriate Background. If multiple scores are appropriate, use the highest one. The higher your Skill Rating, the more effective your character is at a particular task.

Squad Actions:

  • Action Rating: Add an appropriate Allegiance to your normal Skill Rating. If multiple allegiances are appropriate, use only the highest one.


  • Damage: Set by your equipment
  • Armor: Set by your equipment

System Assumptions

Fallout and Casualty rolls handle stress and damage on the characters. Recovery depends on training and medical technology. These things are currently handled by the Attribute system.

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