In the course of playing our games, the players decide how their characters act and how they attempt to achieve goals or accomplish missions. When a player announces that his or her character will attempt a certain action, the GM must have a method to decide whether the action succeeds or not. The chance for success of the action is based on how difficult the GM decides the action is and the skills and attributes that the character might have that can be applied to the action.
Most important actions in game are resolved using the roll of the dice. We use a 100 sided die or D100 for our system. Each action is expressed as a specific task and the die roll determines whether the player attempting the task was successful or unsuccessful and if an extraordinary success or failure occurred.
*insert section on how to use the offsite die roller here*
In order to understand Task resolution, the following terms must be defined. They are gone over in more detail in their own sections of the guide.
Ability Scores (ABLs) - These are the numerical quantification of the character’s mental and physical attributes and are divided into Strength (STR), Dexterity (DEX), Endurance (END), Comeliness (COM), Intelligence (INT), Education (EDU), Charisma (CHA) and Perception (PER).
Skills - These represent the knowledge and expertise gained by the characters in certain specific areas. A higher skill number indicates a greater familiarity and facility with the topic at hand. For example, the skill “Navigation: 3” indicates that the character has level 3 ability in being able to find his or her way around using the stars or landmarks.
Controlling Ability Score - Each skill has a controlling ability score, which is the ABL that is most directly used when exercising that skill. For example, PER is the controlling ABL for Navigation, signifying that the skill is based most directly on the character’s attentiveness and interest in his surroundings. On the other hand, the controlling ABL for the Chemistry and Geology skills is EDU, meaning that those skills are most closely linked with factual information that the character has gained over his or her lifetime of learning.
Talent - A Talent is the level of a skill added to the value of that skill’s controlling ABL. For example, a character has PER 9 and EDU 7 with skill levels of Navigation 3, Chemistry 3 and Geology 5. The character’s talents in these areas are therefore: Navigation (9+3=): 12, Chemistry (7+3=): 10 and Geology (7+5=): 12.
When recording skill levels on the character sheet, skills and talents should be separated by a slash. In the example given above the player should write 3/12 next to Navigation, 3/7 next to Chemistry and 5/7 next to Geology. All bonuses or penalties from advantages and disadvantages are applied to the talent unless otherwise noted.
In all cases, the value used in game for task resolution is the talent and not the skill alone. Unless specifically noted otherwise, any reference to a skill name in the rules (e.g. “an easy test of Navigation”) means the talent and not the skill alone.
Tasks - The main use of Talents in the game is to determine the success or failure of actions attempted by the character. Actions depending on their use are called Tasks, or sometimes tests or checks. To resolve these tasks, the players roll dice with success depending upon the character’s talent rolled against the difficulty level of the task at hand. One of the GM’s main jobs is to adjudicate character attempts to accomplish these various tasks.
Some tasks can obviously not be done, no matter how skilled the character is. For example, rebuilding a blown engine without parts or tools, or cooking a meal without a heat source and ingredients. Other tasks, like loading bullets into a clip, are so simple that it’s assumed any character with basic intelligence can carry them out successfully. In between these two extremes however, lie a multitude of tasks which the GM will be called upon to adjudicate. Some tasks that are used repeatedly in the game, such as maintenance and combat, are discussed in their own sections. Others are determined by the GM on an individual basis.
When determining the success of a character’s attempt to perform a task, the GM considers two factors; how difficult the task is and which skills or ABLs are relevant.
Difficulty Level (DIFF) - While there are numerous shades of difficulty in tasks, for the purpose of the game, all tasks are broken down into six categories: Easy, Moderate, Average, Difficult, Formidable and Impossible. (Note that the use of the word impossible denotes the highest level of difficultly in the game, rather than meaning something that absolutely cannot be done. Whenever these six words appear capitalized in these rules, they refer to a difficulty level.)
For example, a mechanic needs to repair a farmer’s tractor in return for a safe place to sleep and a square meal. The GM first decides roughly what the tractor’s problem is. This not strictly necessary but it helps both the players and GM visualize the situation. Then, he or she decides if the repair is Easy, Moderate, Average, Difficult, Formidable or Impossible. If the engine only needs the battery connected, the mechanic’s job would be easy. If it needs a short length of wire cut and put into place, their job would become Moderate. If it needs a hole in a metal tube soldered, the task would be average. If it needs a new timing gear filed from a piece of sheet metal, the task would be difficult and if it required a new crankshaft, the task would be Impossible.
The GM may further decide to break the task into two or even more parts. Using the above example, the GM may decide that the tractor needs a part that the mechanic does not have and cannot make. In this case, determining the problem might be an Average task but the repair would be Formidable or perhaps Impossible (which could lead to a side plot to locate the proper part).
Automatic Tasks - The GM may judge that certain of the character’s actions need not be rolled for. These would be actions of a routine nature using skills that the character possesses. For example, a GM will usually not require a roll for a character with the Drive Car skill to drive five minutes down a clear road, assuming reasonable weather conditions, etc… this can reasonably be thought of as an automatic task, however there is no such thing as a difficulty of “Automatic”. The GM is always the final judge of what actions do or do not require rolls. Players should never assume that a task is automatic because there is no such thing until the GM says there is.
The GM must decide which Talent or ABL is relevant to the performance of the task. In the above example, the character’s Mechanic talent is obviously the important one. If the task is one to which no skill is relevant but an ABL is (for example, lifting a safe requires only strength and no real skill), then it is an ABL only task. If it is a task requiring skill, then the closest appropriate Talent is used.
ABL Only Tasks - In the case of ABL only tasks, simply double the ABL for the Talent level.
Unskilled Tasks - Sometimes a character may not have the skill specified to accomplish a certain task. The character may still attempt the task but with an unskilled penalty. Because the character does not have the needed skill, he or she uses the Controlling ABL for the missing skill by itself and must roll the task at one difficulty level higher than it otherwise would have been.
Note that an Unskilled task is different from an ABL only task. An ABL only task is one for which no particular skill is useful. The unskilled task is used when the GM defines a task as requiring a certain skill but the character attempting the task does not have that skill.
Easy = Talent X 5
Moderate = Talent X 4
Average = Talent X 3
Difficult = Talent X 2
Formidable = Talent X 1
Impossible = Talent X ½
Once Difficulty and the relative Talent have been determined, the task is resolved as a d100 roll against that Talent. Before rolling, the Talent is modified by the task’s DIFF as indicated by the chart above. Whenever multiplying a Talent by a fraction, round the result down. This number is the player’s target number. The GM will apply further situational modifiers to the target number as required. If the D100 roll is equal to or less than the target number, the character has succeeded in the task.
For example, a character with a Talent of 12 has the following target numbers based on difficulty: Easy = 60, Moderate = 48, Average = 36, Difficult = 24, Formidable = 12 and Impossible = 6.
Automatic Success or Failure - In the game, a task roll of 5 or less is always a success and a roll of 95 or higher is always a failure, regardless of Skill, Talent or Difficulty. Thus, every character stands a chance to succeed no matter how daunting the task, or a chance to screw up, no matter how seemingly routine.
Returning to the mechanic in the examples above, if he had a mechanic skill level of 8 and an INT of 7 (the Controlling ABL of Mechanics), he would have a Talent of 15 and would need to roll a 45 or less on the D100 to succeed at a DIFF of Average. He would need to roll a 7 or less on the D100 to succeed at an Impossible task (15 X ½ = 7 rounded down).
If the same character were rolling an ABL only task involving INT, he would need a roll of 42 or less for an Easy task and a 3 or less for Impossible. Note, however that 5 or less is always a success, regardless of target number.
Opposed Tasks - In some cases, attempts to complete a task will be met with opposition from other characters. There are three types of opposition.
First, a character may be trying to succeed at a task and another may be trying to prevent him. One or the other must succeed. Take the Talent of the character making the task attempt and subtract the talent of the character trying to prevent him. The number remaining is the target number. Obviously, if the opposing character’s Talent is higher, the attempt fails automatically.
Secondly, two or more characters may be trying to succeed at the same task in a competition in which it is not certain that anyone will succeed. For example, two characters are racing to solve a complex mathematical problem. Both characters roll their Math Talents, in this case at Difficult, and the one who succeeds is the one who rolls the furthest below the roll he would need for success without opposition. The first character has a target number of 24 and rolls a 22 on the D100 so he gets the question right, but the second character, who has a target number of 16 and rolls an 8, wins the contest because he beat his roll by 8 instead of 2. Of course, it is possible for both contestants to get the question wrong. Roll again in case of ties.
Thirdly, there are situations where, like the second case, two or more characters are trying to succeed at the same task, but this time there must be a winner, for example, a footrace or a game of poker. Characters roll as above. If none of the characters rolls success, the winner is the character who failed by the smallest amount. Roll again in case of ties.
Outstanding Success - A Character who attempts a task and beats the target number by 40 or more has achieved an outstanding success. If, for example, a character had a target number of 64 and rolled a 20 on the D100 that would be an outstanding success.
How the GM handles Outstanding Success is dependent upon the situation. Generally, the task is done much more quickly than would usually be the case or some kind of bonus is awarded on top of the success. The character trying to break down the door might, for example, also knock the person holding it shut unconscious, or knock it off its hinges with such force and noise that the room’s occupants must roll a Cool check for panic. There will be more on Panic in the Combat section.
Catastrophic Failure - This is the opposite of Outstanding Success. A character who fails in a task by 40 or more may have suffered a Catastrophic Failure. To find out, the character rolls again for the same task at the same DIFF. If this roll also fails (this time by any amount) then the character has suffered a Catastrophic Failure. If the roll succeeds, then it’s just a regular failure. As with Outstanding Success, the consequences of this are up to the GM. For example, the character trying to break down the door might hurt their shoulder in addition to not breaking the door down.