Basic Dice Rules in Scarterra | World Anvil

Basic Dice Rules

My RPG system is based on D&D inspired lore combined with White Wolf's d10 system.   Basic Dice Rolls At its most basic. The storyteller assigns an Attribute + Ability combination and the player rolls a difficulty also assigned by the storyteller. In most cases the difficulty is 6. If the Storyteller doesn’t specify, assume difficulty 6.   Undermost cases attributes range between 1 and 5 dots and abilities range between 0 and 5 dots. A dot is a dice. So if you have six dots relevant to the thing you want to do, you roll six dice to do it.   For example, firing a bow requires Dexterity + Archery, so if you have three dice of Dexterity and two dice of Archery, then you roll five dice when firing a bow.   If the difficulty is 6, after you roll, every die that is showing a 6 or higher counts as a "success." If the difficulty is 7, after you roll every die that is showing a 7 or higher counts as a "success."    

The Rule of “1”

  Rolling a 1 is bad. Not only can it never generate a success, but it also nullifies a success. If you attempt a difficulty 6 task and you score “1” “5” “6” “8” the net result is one success rather than two.  

Botching a roll

  Sometimes a character doesn’t just fail. He fails spectacularly. If a character attempts a roll and scores no successes, and there are one or more “1”s showing on the dice, this signifies a botch. Note, no successes means not a single die hit the difficulty target. If you roll at least one success but roll more “1”s than successes, the die roll is treated as a simple failure, not a botch.   Results of a botch are never pleasant. They can be inconvenient or they can be deadly. Botch a pursuit roll on horseback, not only does the target get away but the horse rears and throws you out of the saddle. Botch a stealth roll, maybe you stepped on a cat’s tail and it meows loudly.    

Degrees of Success

  In some cases, you success or failure is binary. You either accomplish your goal or you don’t. You hit the target or you miss.   In most cases there are degrees of success. You can barely succeed or you can succeed brilliantly. In the case of shooting at a target, degree of success is the difference between clipping the edge of a target and pinpointing the bull’s eye. The more “successes” you roll, the greater your relative success at the task is.  

Trying it Again

  If a character fails a roll, they can usually try again, but in many cases, the second dice roll is at +1 difficulty.   In a social situation, it gets harder to influence someone because your target already has a first impression counter to what you want, so the difficulty going up makes sense. When attempting a physical feat, the character is probably more tired and frustrated now.   Sometimes failure does not impact a second try. It’s not a big deal if you miss a target in combat. People miss when making attacks all the time, and it is quite normal to need to attack several times before scoring a hit.    

Simple Rolls

  The character rolls once and either succeeds or fails.   The character takes an action and either succeeds or fails. The time it takes to complete the action depends on the nature of the action. It could represent a single action in a single turn or a month of hard work.   It takes a few seconds to fire a loaded crossbow at a target. It may take a week or more of asking questions around shady neighborhoods to try to find a buyer for stolen goods.   No matter how long the action takes the character to accomplish, the player resolves it in one dice roll.    

Extended Rolls

  The character works on a long project and makes several rolls to accomplish her goal. In most cases success is all but assured…eventually, but time is something of a factor. Can you get the castle wall repaired before the besieging army gets here? Can you finishing researching the new spell before the mage’s exhibition?   The Storyteller sets up a target of multiple successes (five, ten, twenty, etc) and the extended task is complete. You finished crafting the magic sword, or solved the riddle scrawled on the dungeon wall, or whatever the task was.   In most cases partial success means something. If it takes ten successes to climb a cliff face, assume the character is half way up the cliff face when she scores five successes.   A failure on an extended roll normally carries no penalty, the character simply progresses no further during that period of time. On a botch the whole endeavor is probably ruined or at least suffers a severe setback. In the case of climbing a cliff face, a botch means you get tangled or fall. If you are crafting a sword and roll a botch halfway through you overheat the blade and ruin the materials.    

Resisted Rolls

  Two characters have diametrically opposed goals. If you shoot an arrow at a target trying to not be shot, roll the shooters Dexterity + Archery against the target’s Dexterity + Dodge. Two businessmen haggling would both roll Manipulation + Commerce against each other. Sneaking past a guard pits the sneaker’s Dexterity + Stealth versus the guard’s Perception + Alertness.     In most cases a contested roll is attempted at difficulty 6 for both parties, but if circumstances are unequal the storyteller could apply different difficulties. In the above stealth example, if the sneaking character has to cross over wide open ground with no cover, he might have to roll difficulty 8 while the guard only has to roll difficulty 6. If the sneaker has lots of cover and appropriate camouflage he may only need to roll against difficulty 5. If the guard is distracted, sleep deprived, and/or intoxicated he may have to roll against difficulty 8 instead of the usual 6.   In most cases, even if the loser of a resisted roll doesn’t equal or beat the other’s successes, they can still diminish their opponent’s degree of success. For unsuccessful dodge can turn an attacker’s three success hit into a one success hit which can turn a lethal strike into a glancing blow. Success left over after a resisted roll are called net successes.   In most cases, Resisted Rolls are Simple Rolls. In some cases, you can have a Resisted Roll that is also an Extended Roll (like a tug of war game or a musical “duel” to win the crowd’s favor). The contest continues until one contestant meets a threshold of net successes set by the storyteller, usually three or five.    

Cooperative Rolls

  A cooperative roll is when multiple characters attempt to contribute to the success of the same endeavor. In many cases this is not practical. You cannot have two people fire a single bow, but you can certainly have two people build a barn.   If the storyteller allows a cooperative roll, all the characters involved pool their successes into one pool. This can be a Simple Roll or an Extended Roll, but it’s usually an Extended Roll.    

Reflexive Dice Rolls

  Reflexive dice rolls are purely a reaction to external events and not based directly on character decisions such as making a roll to stay in the saddle when the horse they are riding suddenly bucks.   The most common reflexive roll is soaking damage which uses Stamina, Stamina + Armor rating, or just armor rating depending on the source and type of damage   Reflexive dice rolls also include saving throws which typically involve Willpower, Stamina, or Wits rolls against various attacks.   Reflexive rolls never impose multi-action penalties. Reflexive rolls based on Willpower or a single attribute never suffer wound penalties.   The only times wound penalties apply is when a reflexive roll involves an attribute + ability such as rolling Wits + Ride roll to stay in the saddle when a horse suddenly rears.    

Taking Multiple Actions

  In most cases, taking multiple actions occurs in combat but there are rare situations in which you can split actions outside of combat.   If you choose to take two actions in a single turn, you receive a two-dice penalty on the first action and a three dice penalty on the second action.   If you choose to take three actions in a single turn, you receive a three dice penalty on the first action, a four dice penalty on the second action, and a five dice penalty on the third action.   And so forth and so on. You can keep taking multiple actions as long as your dice pools are not reduced to zero.

Difficulty Chart

  3 Easy (sharpening a blade)     4 Routine (calming a trained dog)     5 Straightforward (seducing someone who is already in the mood)     6 Standard (swinging a sword)     7 Challenging (firing an arrow at long range)     8 Difficult (forging a fine blade)     9 Extremely difficult (fighting blind)     Rolls can be difficulty 2 or difficulty 10 but in most cases it’s not worth rolling them. Difficulty 2 is almost impossible to fail at. Difficulty 10 you are about as likely to botch as you are to succeed.   Each die that shows a number equal to or greater than the difficulty required counts as a single “success” Each "1" rolled counts as a negative success.

Degree of Success Chart

One success Marginal (landing a glancing blow)   Two successes Moderate (making a handicraft that is ugly but functional)   Three Success Complete (fixing something so it’s as good as new)   Four Successes Exceptional (making a perfect translation of an obscure text)   Five+ Successes Phenomenal (creating a masterwork)

Articles under Basic Dice Rules



Cover image: Symbol of the Nine by Pendrake

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