In order to accomplish anything, characters must act within the worlds that they find themselves in. However, the results of their actions are often far from certain. Simple things like opening unlocked doors can be resolved by simple narration, but anything where chance is involved, like striking an alert foe or attempting to persuade someone, dice need to be rolled to determine the result. This is done using the Roll and Keep system.
Roll and Keep system
In a roll and keep system, player’s roll an amount of ten-sided dice (d10s), and get to keep a certain number of them to count towards the final result. The end result is calculated by the number of dice that are over a certain number – called the number of successes.
If a rolled attribute is linked to a colour of mana possessed by the character, the character can keep as many dice as they have mana in that colour Note that this is permanent mana values, not what they temporarily have in their mana pool. If the attribute is not linked to the character’s mana, they can keep a number of dice equal to their total mana pool divided by the number of colours they don’t have mana in (rounded down to a minimum of 1). If the action is linked to a Speciality, the entity gets +1 dice for each relevant Speciality. 1 success is earned for each dice over a fixed value for the difficulty of the task.
Example: A character has 3 black mana and 2 blue mana, with specialities in Deceit (Cunning), Artifice (Intelligence), Stealth (Finesse) and Elemental Damage (Endurance). If he needs to roll to tell a lie, he would roll his Cunning stat + 1 for the Deceit speciality, and keep 4 dice (3 Black mana + 1 speciality). If he needed to test to understand a text on enchantments, he just roll his Intelligence stat (with no bonus dice), and keep 2 dice (2 Blue mana). If he wanted to test to resist fire damage, he would roll his Endurance stat +1 for the speciality, and keep 2 dice (5 total mana divided by the 3 colours he doesn’t have, rounded down to 1, +1 for the speciality). If he needed to test to strike an opponent with his staff in broad daylight, he would roll his basic Strength dice and keep 1.
A full list of action types and their associated attributes can be found here.
Successes and degrees of success
When keeping dice, only values over a certain number are considered a success.
When asked to roll dice to achieve something against or with an inanimate object (like trying to force a door, jump a canyon or extinguish a fire), successes are static numbers, determined by the difficulty of the action, as follows:
Easy – 3
Routine – 4
Straightforward – 5
Standard – 6
Challenging – 7
Difficult – 8
Extremely difficult – 9
Virtually impossible – 10
Usually, 1 success (1 dice equal to or over the required number) is enough to ensure an action resolves as desired. Multiple successes indicate the following degrees of success:
1 success – Marginal
2 successes – Moderate
3 successes – Complete
4 successes – Exceptional
5 successes – Phenomenal
Complex and Extended Actions
A particularly complex action may require multiple successes, and extended actions, going on over long periods of time (such as a marathon or a period of research lasting days or weeks), will require multiple rolls with a certain number of successes in each round of rolling. The exact number of successes required for an extented or complex action is determined by the GM.
Failure and Botching actions
Characters fail actions when they do not roll any successes. The door holds firm, the character fails to lift the heavy object, or to understand a particularly mysterious magical text.
Sometimes, failed actions can be attempted again, if a character has the time and the resources. The ability to repeat an actions is up to the GM.
However, there are circumstances where characters will fail so spectacularly that no repeat is possible, and the failure is harmful. This is called a botch. Characters botch a roll when they roll a 1 with no accompanying successes. The action fails spectacularly – a lightning bolt sets fire to a mage’s robe, a warrior’s sword swing slices through his boot, a would-be mugger trips and falls flat in front of their mark and so on.
The consequences of a botch are again determined by the GM, but should be detrimental to the character in question.
Opposed actions are those that a character takes where another character’s abilities directly affect the chances of success of the result. All opposed actions take into account a relevant attribute of the opposing character, whereas static actions do not. There are two types of opposed actions, directly and indirectly opposed.
Indirectly opposed actions
These are actions where a character is unaware of the action being taken against them, but their abilities still affect the chances of success. Examples include picking someone’s pocket or trying to sneak past someone; obviously the more observant characters are going to present more of a problem than the less observant.
To represent this, acting characters roll the attribute and speciality dice for their action, with a difficulty equal to the passive character’s relevant attribute and related specialities. So a character with Finesse 5 trying to sneak past a character with Acuity 2 would roll 5 dice at a difficulty of 2, while if the passive character had Acuity 4 and an Acute Hearing speciality, it would have a difficulty of 5.
Directly opposed actions
These are actions such as a tug of war or a barter, where the characters actively act against each other. In this case, both characters roll their respective dice pools against a static difficulty determined by the GM, and subtract any kept successes from their opponent’s successes. The character with the most successes after this wins the action.
Example: Two characters are in a long-distance race, one with Endurance 3 and one with Endurance 5 and a speciality in long-distance running. The terrain of the race is quite hilly, so the GM sets a difficulty of 7 for their rolls. The first character rolls 3 dice, the second character 6.
The first character gets 2 kept successes, the second character 3. The second character has 1 success remaining after the successes are subtracted and so wins the race, but only by a narrow margin.
A list of what attributes to use for a variety of opposed actions can be found here, but exactly what attributes are used in any given situation is down to the GM. For example, haggling with a merchant could be Cunning vs Charisma if the buyer is trying to charm their way into a lower price, Cunning vs Cunning if they’re trying to outwit the merchant, or Cunning vs Strength if they’re trying to physically intimidate them.