I have a bad feeling about this...
You want to accomplish a goal, but something or someone is in your way. A person might be keeping information private that you desperately need, a locked door might block you from moving forward to save your friend, or a group of thugs intercepts you in an alley and wants revenge for something you've done to them in the past.
That's a challenge that needs to be overcome.
To see how it turns out, we make an action roll by going through the following steps:
1. Player Sets Their Goal
The first step in knowing whether or not your character overcomes the challenge is to know what they are doing and what is their goal.
Once the goal of your character has been established, the player decides which one of the 12 actions they are going to use. Are they Bonding with a local merchant, or Swaying them into thinking that their prices are too high?
The action rating is used to define the initial dice pool of the roll.
In Charge, NPCs don't roll for their actions. NPCs automatically succeed at their actions unless players attempt to intervene. In this case, an action roll does double-duty: it resolves the action of the PC as well as any NPCs that are involved. This encourages players to get involved in the action and be proactive, rather than to sit back and be a passive participant.
The action roll tells us the results, and the consequences of an action at the same time.
On a 6, the PC wins and gets what they wanted. On a 4 or 5, both the PC and the NPC have an effect on the result. On a > 1-3, the NPC wins and the outcome results in a consequence for the PC.
2. GM Sets the Risk
The GM sets the risk of the action based on what has been established in the narrative.
The risk is either, low, moderate or high.
- When the risk is low, things are under control. Even if things go wrong, there is a way out.
- When the risk is moderate, the situation is dangerous. If you fail, there will be repercussions.
- When the risk is high, the odds are against you. Attempting to go against them might backfire heavily.
By default, an action roll has a moderate risk. You wouldn’t be rolling if there was no risk involved.
The GM uses the narrative context to determine which risk to pick.
The action being used is another thing that might affect the risk of a roll — you are trying to convince a merchant who's in a bad mood, using Sway might be pretty high risk. Bond on the other hand could put you in a more low risk position, considering the situation.
The risk helps determine what failure looks like.
3. GM Sets the Effect Rating
The risk isn't the only thing that helps resolve the end result of a roll. Even in a high risk situation, succeeding on a roll might still have a great effect on the narrative.
In Charge, there are 3 possible effect ratings: great, standard, and limited. In most common scenarios, if you are rolling to overcome something, you are probably looking at generating a standard effect. The GM is responsible for telling you this information.
If a heavy door is blocking your way, you could use Finesse to pick the lock. This might generate a standard effect, since it will take some time to do, but the roll would be low risk. You could also try to use Tinker and wreck the door open with an explosive. This may create a great effect, but might be a high risk situation as it could create a lot of unwanted attention.
The effect rating helps determine what success looks like.
The Fourth Effect Rating
We said there were only 3 effect ratings, and that was actually a little bit of a lie since there's a fourth one called the no-effect.
The GM can use this when a task is so difficult that whatever the PC attempts, there is no chance of success.
Obviously, doing nothing is boring. That's why you can boost that no-effect to a limited effect if you Push Yourself using charges of momentum. More on that in Even the Odds.
The Impact of Effect & Risk
The effect and risk help us understand what happens in the narrative, but they also have a mechanical impact on the game.
To know what impact they have, numerical ratings are attached to them.
Risk Effect Rating High Great 3 Moderate Standard 2 Low Limited 1
When a roll succeeds, you use the effect rating to see how many segments you tick on progress clocks, how much information the character gets out of an investigation, etc.
When a roll creates a consequence, you use the risk rating to see how many segments you tick on danger clocks, how much stress a character gets when they are harmed, etc.
While the GM usually sets the initial ratings, the entire table should participate in the discussion to make sure all aspects of the fiction are taken into consideration before an action roll is made.
More on clocks in Mechanics » Clocks
4. Player Evens the Odds
Even if the odds are stacked against them, your character still has aces up their sleeves.
The player can decide if they want to even the odds by adding bonus dice to their pool.
You can normally get two bonus dice for your action roll.
For one bonus die, you can get assistance from a teammate. They consume 1 momentum, say how they help you, and give you an extra 1d6.
For another bonus die, you can use one of the following methods
When you push yourself, you consume 2 momentum per push to gain one of the following bonuses.
- Add an extra 1d6 to your dice pool.
- Increase the effect of your roll.
- Take action even if you were taken out.
When you add tension to an action roll, you can ask the GM "What would adding tension look like here?". The GM then offers a consequence, like ticking segments on a danger clock, inflicting stress on your character, or adding more drama to the narrative.
If you accept the consequence, add an extra 1d6 to your current dice pool.
There could be scenarios where adding tension isn't an option. In that case, the GM can simply communicate that to the player so that they look into other ways to even the odds.
When you assist a PC, you consume 1 momentum, to give an extra 1d6 to their roll. When doing this, you also expose yourself to possible danger.
You can also even the odds by using either of the following methods.
Use an Asset
Assets are an optional rule available in Extras » Asset Extra which gives an additional way to even the odds.
So now, let's go over all of this again to recap what happens when you make an action roll.
- Pick an Action and find out how many dice you need to roll (the action rating)
- Determine the risk (1 low ► 2 moderate ► 3 high)
- Determine the effect rating (3 great ► 2 standard ► 1 limited)
- Add 1d6 if: you push yourself (2 momentum) -or- if you add tension to the scene.
- Add 1d6 if you have assistance (they consume 1 momentum)
- Roll and wish for the best!
- On a 66 critical success, you greatly overcome the obstacle
- On a 6 full success, you overcome the obstacle.
- On a 4-5 partial success, you overcome the obstacle, but there's a consequence.
- On a 1-3 bad outcome, you fail at overcoming the obstacle, and there's a consequence.
Xavier's character wants to take out a guard without him noticing anything. He decides to use Sneak. The GM looks at the situation and assesses that it is of moderate risk since the guard might not be alone, but the outcome would be of great effect because the guard isn't on high alert. Xavier doesn't want to leave everything up to chance, and decides to even the odds. He declares that his character will push themselves to get an additional 1d6 by diving in the water to get closer before taking the guard out. Xavier rolls his dice pool and... gets a 5, partial success! The GM then says that Xavier's character takes out the guard, but ticks 2 segments on an "Alert Clock" because of the noise Xavier's character made pulling the guard in the water.