Actions and Tests

Actions and Tests

During gameplay, you will have to make choices on behalf of your character. These choices often come down to the selection of an Action. Throughout this book, Actions are presented in a special bold font. Actions are a set of codified rules for dealing with uncertain outcomes. Not every choice you make is an Action. Many choices you make for your character simply involve telling the GM what you want your character to do.  If the outcome of a choice is relatively certain, it simply happens in the narrative, and you and the GM will describe the result. 

However, if the outcome is not certain or it is particularly dangerous, you may have to perform a specific Action to resolve the outcome. For instance, if your character wants to approach a nearby door, they can simply do so.  But if that door is on the other side of a deep chasm, it may be uncertain if your character can even reach the door. If you choose to try and leap over the chasm, in order to reach the door, then you would take the Jump action to resolve the outcome of that choice.

When determining the outcome of an Action, you will likely have to make a Test. Tests are made by rolling a d20, often simply called a roll, then comparing the result to a Target Number, the TN. Generally, if the die result is equal to or less than the TN, you succeed at the Test.  If the die result is higher than the TN, you fail the Test.

Target Number  = Rank + Modifiers

The TN is determined by combining a Rank with any Modifiers that should be applied to the die roll. A character’s Skills, Attributes, and Resistances all have a Rank. We’ll discuss those topics in the next chapter on characters. Modifiers are discussed below in the next section.                    

Special Outcomes

There are sometimes special outcomes that occur when a specific number on the d20 is rolled. For instance, there is always a special outcome when you roll a 1 or a 20 on the die.

Complication – If the d20 rolls a 1 on the die, it is called a Complication. Rolling a Complication is not always a positive outcome.  A Complication is usually a Success, however, there is a special complication to that success.  This is an opportunity for the GM to spice things up and introduce a wrinkle to the story, to make things more complicated for your character. Your character might succeed at the task, but you may have to pay a cost for that success, or the extent of that success might be less than what you had wanted. The complication may have nothing to do with your character’s current action. It could be a new event that simply makes the current scene more complex.

 Critical Failure – If the d20 rolls a 20 on the die, it is called a Critical Failure. Unlike many other d20-based roleplaying games, rolling a 20 is a bad result. This means that not only did you fail at the test, but there will be an additional negative outcome. It is the worst possible result on any Test. If a Critical Failure result is not indicated for a particular Action, the player and the GM are encouraged to envision what horrible event might have transpired as a result of the attempted Action.

 Critical Success – If the d20 rolls the Target Number exactly on the die, it is called a Critical Success. A Critical Success is a type of success and usually has an additional special benefit. If a Critical Success result is not indicated for a particular Action, the GM is encouraged to envision an extra beneficial outcome for the Action. However, some Tests (Complex, Conflict, Attack) have a specific benefit for a Critical Success outcome.


Modifiers are additions or subtractions to the Target Number based on mitigating factors. Rarely will you have more than one or two modifiers applying to a single roll. There are three major types of modifiers in the game: item, condition, and situation. Modifiers of the same type do not stack up. You only apply the sum of the best and worst modifier of each type. For instance, if your PC had a +4 condition bonus from one effect, a +1 condition bonus from another effect, and a −2 condition penalty from a third effect. Your total condition modifier would be +2. You sum the best bonus (+4) with the worst penalty (-2) to receive the total modifier of that type (+2). In particularly complex cases, this is done separately for each of the three modifier types. The main types of modifiers are as follows:

Item Modifiers – Bonuses or penalties related to equipment, tools, and items. These bonuses and penalties are often semi-permanent, lasting as long as the character is using that item.

Condition Modifiers –Bonuses or penalties related to ongoing effects, called Conditions. These can be caused by special actions or magic powers and are usually linked to a character’s current state.

Situation Modifiers – Bonuses or penalties related to the current circumstances. These are often temporary and highly dependent on the GM’s discretion. The GM can give situation modifiers to any Test in order to adjust the ease or difficulty of the task.

Untyped Modifiers – There are also untyped modifiers that can come into play. If a modifier does not specify its type, then it is an untyped modifier. Unlike normal modifiers, untyped modifiers DO stack with each other, such that multiple untyped bonuses and penalties would all add together.  Untyped modifiers are usually the result of specific rule elements, like the penalty for combined actions, like a Charge, Range Penalties for ranged weapons, or a bonus such as from Applying Grit.

Target Number Limits:  The TN can never be lower than 3 or higher than 18. If Modifiers would bring the TN below 3 or higher than 18, the TN is set to 3 or 18 respectively. This ensures there is always a chance for failure or success in every roll.