[What follows is from a small 12-page pamphlet distributed with The Wyld Hunt. The rest of the rule book can be found here.]
The basic Arcadia: The Wyld Hunt rules are very simple and straightforward. They are intended to be a quick-to-learn system. However, there are many more bells and whistles which can add depth, and richness to your game. Feel free to use any or all of these play variations.
This is perhaps the most appealing aspect of Arcadia: The Wyld Hunt. Your character’s journeys don’t simply begin and end with a single game. Your character journeys throughout each and every Quest she undertakes. Playing the same character throughout Quests is called chronicle play.
Each Quest Card has an experience point value listed at its bottom. Quest Cards in The Wyld Hunt are each worth one experience point. However, Quests in later editions, like King Ironheart’s Madness, will be worth more points. A character only gains the experience point if she completes her Quest (thus winning the game). Once earned, an experience point functions much like a starting character point. It can be spent to acquire a Merit or used to “buy off” a Flaw. Experience points are spent on a one-for-one basis; many times you’ll have to save up two or three points before you can purchase the Merit you want or buy off the Flaw that you don’t want.
However, experienced character[s] have it tough. For every two full experience points that a character earns in her career, add one to the Waylay ratings of each of the subsequent Quests she undertakes, This represents the character’s degree of fame or infamy, and increases the number of opponents who attempt to stop her from completing her Quests. Obviously you will spend experience points as you earn them, but you also need to keep a record of the total number you earn throughout your career to gauge the increasing difficulty of your Quests.
When players choose the characters they will play with, they must agree that their choices are fair and balanced. If a player doesn’t want to pit a new character against a significantly more experienced one, she doesn’t have to. The idea is to have fun and play fair, not thoroughly trounce some unwitting fool.
Although intended for two players, Arcadia: The Wyld Hunt can be adapted for three, four or five players. The more the merrier. Multi-player games are handled almost exactly as two-player games are, with a few exceptions.
Each player has one and only one opponent who can Waylay him. Opponents are decided before play begins. Your opponent draws Waylays based on your Quest’s Waylay Rating. You opponent also selects any Quest-related challenges for you (such as deciding the location of your base Camp and specifying any nebulous Leagues).
Play begins with the lowest rolling player and goes clockwise around the table.
As always, on[c]e a Waylay is in play any character can encounter it.
Arcadia: The Wyld Hunt can also be played by a single player with only a few minor changes to the rules. (But just remember, it isn’t fair to build up a character through solo play and then pit him against an unsuspecting, inexperienced opponent.) Play 10 Leagues per Quest instead of the normal five. Additionally, select the least convenient Base Camp, Treasure Leagues and objective Leagues for the Quest.
Although you select your own Waylays, you must select a minimum number in points equal to your Quest’s Waylay Rating. If you can’t evenly match the Waylay Rating with the ratings of cards available, you must exceed the Waylay Rating if possible. Once selected, your Waylays are shuffled and placed face down in a pile. Each time you move into a new league, draw the top Waylay Card from the pile. If the Waylay can be played on the League’s Terrain, you automatically encounter it there. If the Waylay cannot be played, it goes to the bottom of the Waylay deck. Of course, in tests you must roll for both your character and the Waylay encountered.
Epic play has only been touched on briefly in the basic rules. Epic play involves attempting multiple Quests at once. Epic play, when combined with multiple players and chronicle play, can create some very dynamic Arcadia adventures.
With epic play you [use] the combined Waylay Ratings of all your Quests. You must lay out five Leagues for each Quest you are attempting. If you’re on two Quests and your opponent is on two, you will lay out a total of 20 League Cards at the beginning of the game. Although you can pursue your Quests in any order, Quests must be completed in order of increasing Rating. For example: If you are attempting Middlemarch Invaders (Quest 25) and Even Dragons Pay Taxes (Quest 7), you can fight off the Invaders throughout the game, but you must collect Splendourscale’s Taxes and return to your base Camp before you completely drive the Middlemarch armies from Ardenmore.
Some Quests stipulate that you return to Base Camp in order to complete the missions. If a Quest makes no such demand, you may immediately pursue the next Quest from the destination League of the first.
For every two Quests that you complete beyond the first, you gain an additional experience point. it is possible for two opponents who are both attempting multiple Quests to both gain experience points even though only one completes all of her Quests. The opponent may accomplish some, and earn experience points for them, but leaves others unfinished.