Reliability Number Physical / Metaphysical Law in Tales of Justice | World Anvil

Reliability Number

It works like this:
A Gadget User has a Gadget.

I have an Ultrasonic Parsnip Peeler!

— - Kamikaze Clyde of the Freakshow

Uhh. Good? For you?

Absolutely! I built it myself! Doc Hoaxial let me borrow her workroom!

It's got fourteen settings, look!


It can automatically detect parsnip cankers!

— - Kamikaze Clyde of the Freakshow

Yeah, that's great, Clyde.


  • Reliability Numbers appear only in Gadgets.
  • Reliability Checks exist for Automatic Actions and Dice Actions in Gadgets.
  • Not all Gadgets have R#s listed.
  • If no R# is listed, that R# is actually 0. Congratulations! No Reliability Failure!
  • Any die roll made for a Gadget with a R# has to be higher than the R# right from the start.
  • Failing the R# means that Ability of the Gadget drops to 00 APs.
  • Repairs require time and skill, and might require purchase of resources.
We elsewhere covered that there are two general categories of Abilities: Automatic Actions and Dice Actions. Let's start with the latter, since they are more likely to crop up with action-packed Gadget usage.

Dice Actions via Gadget Usage

The Character goes to make a Dice Action.

Some people say parsnip peeling is an Automatic Action.

Those fools are going after tame, already deceased parsnips.

I'm an enlightened Freak! I'm into vibrant food!

Them Vibrant Parsnips are slippery little munchies!

— - Kamikaze Clyde of the Freakshow

Yeah, Clyde, that's grand of you. Anyhow. Since you are using your Gadget for a Dice Action, you pick up two d10 and you roll them.





— - Kamikaze Clyde of the Freakshow

And the dice come up with a number below your Gadget's built-in Reliability Number.


— - Kamikaze Clyde of the Freakshow

How could this be!

— - Kamikaze Clyde of the Freakshow

Cruel, cruel Destiny!

— - Kamikaze Clyde of the Freakshow

Okay, now, wait, GM. I know a three and another three makes six. And I understand that my Ultrasonic Parsnip Peeler has a Reliability Number of 7.


Two threes are doubles!

I thought that meant I get to reroll and add? Please, miss?

— - Kamikaze Clyde of the Freakshow

In almost all cases, Doubles on the d10s does in fact mean "reroll and add", Clyde. That is correct. The exceptions are when those doubles are both ones, and when the first throw of dice on any given Gadget use is below or equal to its Reliability Number. If you had rolled double twos as your starting roll, that would also be a Reliability Failure; four is also lower than seven.
On the other hand, if your first roll had been double fours, Clyde, and your follow-up had been double threes? Or even double ones? You would be safe from the Reliability Failure because that first throw was higher than your Reliability Number.

Awww poot!

— - Kamikaze Clyde of the Freakshow

Did you. Certified tough guy. Dangerous motorbike gangster. Just say "poot"?

To the GM? You're pootin' right I said "poot"! I ain't enabling the Anglo-Saxon monosyllables when I have other Gadgets built right into my personal parts!

— - Kamikaze Clyde of the Freakshow

I have no idea what to say in response to this.

This happens every time a Gadget gets used for any kind of Dice Action, even if it is an Ability that would normally be Automatic but is requiring a die roll due to action-packed circumstances.
When one of its Attributes or Abilities gets activated via Dice Action, if the first roll of the dice for that particular attempt to Do The Thing is equal to the Reliability Number or less than the Reliability Number, two things immediately happen:
  1. The attempted Action, in this current moment, is cancelled. No substitution Dice Action can be attempted in this initiative round. Full Dodge might be allowed, and if so will take up next round's Initiative as well; if not in combat, it's time to let another Player have the GM's attention while you make sure the damage does not spread to other Gadget functions. Nor to your other Gadgets, if for example you happen to be a member of the Freakshow.
  2. That particular ability of the Gadget breaks down. It needs repairs. The fix might be as simple as "change out the battery" or "reboot" or "clean it properly", or the fix might be as complicated as "set aside some major time to work on repairs instead of adventuring".

Automatic Actions via Gadget Usage

The Character goes to make an Automatic Action.

Miss? I don't never have to roll for canker-detecting. So that can't suffer a Reliability Failure. Right?

— - Kamikaze Clyde of the Freakshow clutches his Ultrasonic Parsnip Peeler as close to his chest as his cybermodified arm bracers will allow.

Oh, Clyde.
If that were true, people would make Gadgets full of Automatic Powers and give them the worst possible Reliability Number every time.

Sounds like S-Mart store brand goods to me, Miss.

— - Kamikaze Clyde of the Freakshow

Automatic Actions are, indeed, automatic. They happen mostly without die rolls.
When someone uses a Gadget's Ability to do an Automatic Action for the first time on a given day, the Character needs to make a Reliability Check for that particular Ability. If the resulting roll is equal to the Reliability Number, or less than that number, then the Ability breaks down before it can be used. Just like the Dice Ability we tested above, the Automatic Ability drops to 00 APs until it can be repaired.

Ohh. I get it!

That must be why Madame Mayhem runs a test cycle on each piece of her gear as she's suiting up. So she knows right off the bat if something's going to be buggy for the day.

— - Kamikaze Clyde of the Freakshow continues to clutch his Ultrasonic Parsnip Peeler as close to his chest as his cybermodified arm bracers will allow.

How do you know she does that, Clyde? Be precise!

— - Kamikaze Clyde of the Freakshow looks awfully shifty.

I know someone in the Henchmen's Union who did a job for her?

— - Kamikaze Clyde of the Freakshow does not sound like he believes his own story.

Tell you what: You can explain it to her. In person.

No, thanks.


Repairing Gadget Reliability Numbers versus Character Recovery

For comparison purposes, remember that certain events can cause a Character's innate Abilities to also stop working. They might Push an Ability, roll low, and burn it out; they might experience a Loss Vulnerability, or an adversary might use various means to directly neutralize or harm that Power or Attribute.
Innate Abilities can be recovered via Recovery Check or Desperation Recovery or other means. Sometimes that takes longer than repairing a Gadget. Sometimes it's faster, cheaper in the Wealth Check sense, involves fewer Hero Points, or merely simpler for the Character to arrange.
On the other hand, Gadgetry -- and, particularly, its subskill Build Gadget -- is necessary to make any repairs. Build Gadget cannot be used unskilled, no matter how high the default Intelligence may be! Be a Gadgeteer, or be on friendly terms with a Gadgeteer who can be trusted to spend your Hero Points on your behalf if the repair is difficult.


Author's Notes

This page is essentially a rephrasing of the first paragraph under "Reliability and Dice Actions" and the first paragraph under "Reliability and Automatic Actions", both on page 112 of what we call the "White Book": DC Heroes Role-Playing Game 3rd Edition, published in 1993 by Mayfair Games Inc. All phrasing on this page is our original creation, but we are re-explaining their concept. I hope it is easier to understand and remember!

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