Every good story has a healthy dose of action and excitement, such as ambushes by foes, high speed chases, and fire fights. Players describe character actions and then roll dice “Checks” to see if they work. When a player rolls a successful check he gets to describe “Good Stuff”, but on a failure the GM describes “Bad Stuff”.
The common dice roll is called a Check. The player rolls 3d6 and counts the number of dice that roll 4+. Each die that rolls 4+ counts as a “success”. Since three dice are rolled, a Check has four possible outcomes: 0, 1, 2, or 3 successes.
If the player rolls 2-3 successes he gets to describe Good Stuff, otherwise the GM describes Bad Stuff. Good Stuff is usually whatever the character was trying to do, such as to cut down a foe with his sword, pick a lock, or jump across a pit. Bad Stuff is when the world acts against the character, such as when his opponent shoots him, he runs out of ammo, his weapon malfunctions, or he crashes his vehicle. Always describe the outcome from the perspective of the character.
Typically the player describes Good Stuff whenever it happens, and the GM describes Bad Stuff, but this is a group storytelling game so try to collaborate whenever possible, especially when a successful Check should reveal new information to the player.
If the player rolls 3 successes then he gets to describe Extra Good Stuff, and conversely a roll of 0 successes results in Extra Bad Stuff. In some cases there may not be a big difference, but the player or GM should try to add detail when that helps the story. For example, if a character was trying to shoot a foe and rolled Extra Good Stuff then the player might describe a “critical hit” and get an Advantage on the Damage Roll.
To recap, the four outcomes of a Check by number of successful rolls of 4+ are:
- Extra good stuff (3)
- Good stuff (2)
- Bad stuff (1)
- Extra bad stuff (0)
Note that some rolls may have extra dice, but there are still only these four standard outcomes, so extra good stuff is any roll of 3 or more successes.
Players roll all Checks, and every Check is made from the perspective of a character. This is for a few reasons: fun, a sense of empowerment, keeping players in-character, and to unburden the GM.
A player may roll an extra 1d6 on a Check if he can claim a strong situational Advantage for his character, for example:
- attacking a defenseless foe
- defensive fortifications or high ground such as a rooftop
- attacking by ambush or surprise
- firing from an elevated position above the target
- cover or concealment that assist with hiding
- a defensible choke point, such as a door, stairway or bridge
Advantages are “easy come, easy go”. A PC needs to do something to seize an Advantage, but can lose it just as easily. For example, a PC might gain an Advantage by taking cover in a doorway, but would lose it by moving out of position.
A PC can also lose an Advantage if the player rolls Bad Stuff and the GM opts to remove an Advantage instead of some other mishap. If lost in this way, the PC can’t usually gain that particular Advantage again during the same Scene.
In some cases PCs will need to make a Maneuver Roll to earn an Advantage. This can happen if the PC is trying to “out maneuver” foes such as via stealth, or if a foe also seeks to claim the same Advantage.
A Player can only make use of a single Advantage on each roll, and it must be rolled along with the 3d6 basic dice. For example, if a character has two Advantages only a single extra die may be rolled. However, it’s still worthwhile to gain multiple Advantages, in case not all of them are applicable, or some are lost, or just to deny them to foes.
Each Advantage can apply to only a single type of roll, one of: Maneuver, Attack, Defend, Damage, Saving Throw, or Recover. For example, a player declaring a “high ground” Advantage could choose whether that helps to Attack or Defense, but it cannot be both.
If an Advantage is from an active Ability then the player should roll the actual die from that Ability instead of 1d6.
Advantages are core to smart tactical play. Players should look for Advantages in every situation, seeking to take and hold whatever Advantages can be found. Sometimes having an Advantage can negate the Advantage of a foe. For example, only one fighter can really have the “high ground” or control the center of a bridge, so sometimes controlling an Advantage is worthwhile just to deny it to your foes.
Difficulty, Disadvantages, and Ugly Dice
The GM can raise the Difficulty of a Check by requiring the player to roll “Ugly Dice“. These are negative dice, so when one of them rolls 4+ it counts against the overall roll. For example, on a 3d6 roll of 2,4,6 is normally Good Stuff, but an Ugly Die roll of 5 would bring it down to Bad Stuff.
The GM might raise the difficulty if a character is trying to do something really hard, like climb a tall cliff or wrestle a bear.
The difficulty should also be raised when the character is at a serious Disadvantage, such as when he is unarmed but facing an armed assailant.
When a player isn’t satisfied with a Check, he can optionally use Influence Dice to get a better result. The player chooses one or more Influence Dice and rolls them together. This gives the player more chances to roll successes. Any successful Influence Dice are set aside, not usable until refreshed (see Influence).
Players only get one chance to use Influence on each roll; a player may not roll one Influence Die and then see how it goes, and then roll another. Also, your d12 and d20 Influence Dice are special and may only be used when naming a Signature.
Advanced: Players can help any Check, not just those of their own characters. For example, if John fails a Check for his character, then Steve might roll Influence Dice to help. This kind of help needs to be role-played as a character the second player controls, and requires naming of a Theme or Asset.