A die code shows how good a character is in a particular area, how harmful a weapon is, how useful a special ability or tool is, and so on. Each die code (also known as a value) indicates the number of six-sided dice you roll (1D, 2D, 3D, 4D, 5D, etc.), and sometimes an added bonus of “+1” or “+2” — referred to as pips — you add to the total result you roll on the dice.
An advantage, special ability, or piece of equipment may provide a bonus to the roll. If the bonus is in the form of a die code (such as +1D), then you add the listed number of regular dice to the amount you would roll. If the bonus is in the form of a number (such as +2), then you add the amount to the total that you rolled on the dice.
Example: A shovel adds 1D to digging attempts. A character who decides to dig a hole uses her lifting skill. If your character has a lifting skill of 4D, you would roll ﬁve dice to determine how well your character dug the hole with the shovel.
Whenever any player, including the Game Master, makes any roll, one of the dice must be different from the rest (in size or color). Designated as the Wild Die, this odd die represents the vagaries of life — like the direction of the wind affecting the ﬂight of a bullet — that are too small to warrant their own difficulty modiﬁers.
Example: Your character’s Reﬂexes attribute is 3D+1, so if your character tried to jump onto a table, you would roll two regular dice and one Wild Die.
If the player has only 1D to roll, then that one die is always the Wild Die.
If the player rolls a 6 on the Wild Die, this is called a Critical Success and she may add the 6 to her total and roll the Wild Die again. As long as she turns up Critical Successes on that die, she may continue to add them to her total and continue to roll. If she rolls anything other than a 6, she adds that number to the total and stops rolling. If the player rolls a 1 on the initial toss of the Wild Die, this is called a Critical Failure, and the Game Master may chose one of two options for the result, depending on the gravity of the situation.
1. The Critical Failure cancels out the highest roll. Then the player adds the remaining values, and the roll is determined normally.
2. Add the dice results normally, but a complication occurs. The Game Master gauges the signiﬁcance of the complication by the total generated — from a funny, “nearly didn’t do it” result for a high total to a serious, “we have a problem” obstacle for a low total.
When using the second option, make certain the complication chosen relates to the task attempted. It should serve as an extra, minor obstacle the characters must now deal with or, more often, as a place to insert a bit of comic relief. Only on rare occasions (such as numerous poor decisions by the players) should a complication be without solutions or even deadly. The complications can also serve as opportunities to bring nearly invincible characters down to a more reasonable level.
Note: Unlike rolling a Critical Failure initially on the Wild Die, no complications occur when a 1 shows up on later tosses of the Wild Die in the same roll.
Improving a Roll
The average person fails at average activities nearly half of the time. Characters aren’t average people, so they need ways to beat those odds. Thus, they have Character and Fate Points, which represent those surges of adrenaline, sudden insights, and other unexplained helpful acts of chance.
Players may not trade Character Points for Fate Points, nor may they trade Fate Points for Character Points. A player may only spend her Character and Fate Points on her character’s rolls. She may not spend more Character or Fate Points than the character has listed on her sheet. Except when allowed by the Game Master for exceptionally cinematic situations, players may not use Character Points and Fate Points on the same roll.
Whenever a player makes any roll (attribute, skill, damage, special ability, and so on), he has the option to spend Character Points to increase the total rolled. He may spend one Character Point for each extra Wild Die rolled, to a maximum decided upon by the Game Master and based on the challenge level of the adventure. (For adventures with easy challenges, the maximum is two; for more cinematic adventures, the maximum is ﬁve; for universe-shaking ones, the maximum is unlimited.)
A player may choose to spend Character Points before or after he makes a roll — or both — but always before the Game Master determines the result. The Game Master need not tell the player whether he should spend more points to improve a roll.
Extra Wild Dice gained from spending Character Points each work like a normal Wild Die except that a Critical Failure counts as a 1; it does not adversely affect the roll. Because of the special nature of Character Point Wild Dice, the player may wish to roll these dice separately from his normal Wild Die.
Once used, the character loses the point. Players get Character Points for their characters by overcoming obstacles, role playing well, and having fun. They can also use Character Points to improve skills (see the “Improving Characters” chapter for details).
Each players’ character has a personal moral code, generally involving a sense of honor and justice. The devotion to this code is represented by Fate Points. Violating that code takes a little bit away from that nature, which is represented by a loss of Fate Points.
Example: Heroic characters receive Fate Points for doing good, such as protecting innocents, bringing an evil character to justice (regardless of the justice system’s ﬁnal decision), preventing damage, and saving a life (except the character’s own). Heroic characters lose Fate Points for performing evil actions, such as stealing, maliciously destroying property, taking a life, and other terrible acts, especially if they use Fate Points to accomplish that harm.
Individual ethical codes may differ from the heroic code, but the more well-deﬁned the code is, the easier it is for the Game Master to determine when to reward Fate Points — and when to take them away.
When a player feels she needs even greater help for her roll, she may spend a Fate Point to double the number of dice she normally gets for that roll. However, the player only rolls one Wild Die. Furthermore, anything that’s not part of the character — weapon damage die codes, equipment bonuses, and so on — is not doubled.
Example: Your character has a demolitions skill with a die code of 4D+2. Normally, you would roll three regular dice and one Wild Die and add two pips to the total. But this time, you want to make sure the villain’s car doesn’t ever move, so you spend a Fate Point. This allows you to roll seven regular dice and one Wild Die and add four pips to the total (for a total of 8D+4, or twice what you’d normally roll).
Usually, a player may use only one Fate Point per roll per round, though a character may improve several different actions in a round with Fate Points. Particularly beneficial or malicious deeds presented and role played well by the player or Game Master may warrant additional Fate Point expenditures. In the general course of play, a Fate Point is useful for one roll only. However, once per game session, a player may choose to spend a Fate Point climactically, which doubles all of the character’s rolls for that round. The Game Master also may allow players to spend Fate Point climactically several times during the highest point of the adventure (the climax), even if it takes place over multiple game sessions.
Players may only spend Fate Points before making a roll. Further-more, double the initial number before applying any die code penalties and bonuses.
Once used, the character loses the Fate Point — but she may earn it back at the end of the game if it was used for a deed that supported her moral code. However, if the character used a Fate Point to go against her moral code, the Game Master may decide that it costs an additional Fate Point.
As characters become more experienced, the Game Master may include further restrictions on Fate Point use. Game Masters might allow moderately experienced characters (those with at least 6D in several skills) to spend Fate Points only on actions that promote the story line, while highly experienced characters (those with at least 9D in several skills) might be permitted to use Fate Points only during climactic moments in the campaign.