Playing the game

Rolling against abilities

When your character attempts to undertake an action in the game that has a significant chance of failure, you will be required to roll against the appropriate score. Most of the time, for routine actions that a character can perform at their own pace, no roll is required. Sitting on a horse and trotting along a road, taking off or landing an airship on a flat field in reasonably good weather, understanding someone talking in a foreign language that you know, but are not neccessarily fluent in; none of these require a roll. However, chasing someone at a gallop on a horse, flying an airship through a narrow canyon or eavesdropping on a conversation in another language would all require a roll.

When using a Speciality, you simply roll 1 D20. If you roll equal to or less than your Rating, you have succeeded in what you are attempting. If you roll more than your Rating, you have failed.

Often the effectiveness of a Speciality will depend on how much you have succeeded a roll by, and this is referred to as your ‘degree of success’. For example, if a Speciality had a rating of 16, and the player rolled a 9, their degree of success would be 7.

Note that a roll of 20 will always fail, and that a 1 will always succeed. Further, these are also Critical Successes and Failures. A critical success means that it has gone far better than you might have hoped, and a critical failure means things have gone horribly wrong!

It should also be noted that in a case where it is only possible to succeed or fail on a 1 or a 20, rolling these does not require a roll for a critical. In such cases, success or failure is incredibly unlikely, and there is almost no chance of things going very wrong or very right. Any success or failure will be by the skin of your teeth, and no more.


Often, you will be rolling against one of your 5 core Attributes because you lack a Speciality required by a given situation. In this case, you suffer a -4 penalty to the Attribute being rolled against. Remember, 1s are always successes. This lack of Specialisation also effects combat, but this is dealt with later.

In cases where having one Speciality depends on having another (such as Cavalryman and Rider, or Offhand Weapon and Ambidextrous), if you have the first but not the second, you will be rolling at -4. If you have neither, you will be rolling at -8.

Other Modifiers

For most non-combat actions, the GM will assign a difficulty modifier between 0 and -10. 0 is an action that any moderately competent person with a little training in that field should have little problem completing. -10 reflects an exceptionally difficult action, that would take an expert (Or someone incredibly lucky) to complete.

An example of a 0 action would be attempting to climb a rough, sloping cliff, with plenty of hand and foot holds, whereas a -10 might be climbing a sheer wall, with only the tiniest cracks to provide purchase. Bear in mind that some things are simply impossible. For example, it doesn’t matter how good you are at climbing, if faced with a smooth, solid surface, there is no way you are going to be able to climb it without getting hold of some very specialised equipment.

In addition to the difficulty modifier, here are a few suggested additional modifiers:

Character is drunk: -2
Partial darkness: -2
Total darkness: -4
Character under attack: -4
Character on 5 Durability or less: -2
Character is tired: -2
Character is exhausted: -4

Depending on circumstances and the action undertaken, these modifiers won’t always apply. GMs should feel free to ignore these extra modifiers, or add more of their own devising.

Complimentary Specialities

Some Specialities add to your ability to better perform other tasks, covered by other Specialities. For example, it is fine being able to dodge blows. However, if you are able to leap aside or over a blow, it increases your chance of succeeding. In the same way, if you are attempting to frighten someone, it helps if you are incredibly well muscled and look capable of tearing their head off!

In game terms, possessing certain Specialities helps you to use other Specialities, although this may sometimes depend on circumstances. The GM is encouraged to use his discretion in deciding when having one Speciality will affect the chances of success in another.

If a character has this additional Speciality, he gains a +1 bonus to the Speciality he is using. If the complimentary Speciality has more ranks than the Specialit being used, then this bonus is increased to +2.

This means that it can be advantageous for characters to take ‘sets’ of inter-complimentary Specialities at character creation, leading to a greater degree of specialisation in certain areas.

Note that as said above this may not always apply, depending on circumstances.

This is a brief (but by no means exhaustive) list of Specialities, and those that may compliment them:

Stealth Woodsman, Mountainman, Plainsman, Streetwise, Courtier
Evasion Leaper, Tumbler, Zero Gravity
Intimidator Strongman, Conman, Actor
Haggler Conman, Charmer, Seducer, Etiquette
Charmer Seducer, Conman, Etiquette, Actor
Climber Mountainman, Woodsman, Ice Dweller, Strongman
Navigator Woodsman, Seaman, Plainsman, Desert Dweller, Ice Dweller, Georgrapher
Hunter Stealth, Woodsman, Plainsman, Mountainman Ice Dweller, Desert Dweller, Trapper, Bowman
Detection Sharp Hearing, Sharp Vision, Nightvision
Any close comabt Speciality Strongman, Evasion (See Combat)
Any ranged combat Speciality Sharp Vision (See Combat)
Throwing Weapon Specialities Strongman

Opposed Rolls

While most rolls will be a straight roll to determine if a certain thing is known or not, or to determine success in some action or other, some rolls are different. These are attempted actions that will affect someone else directly, and thus that person will usually be able to attempt to resist the action.

A good example of this is those rolls made against Personal and the derivative Specialities. These deal with deceiving or otherwise manipulating other people. The victim of such attempts will often be able to perceive the deceit or attempted manipulation and resist it. Another example is in combat, when a character is attempting to wound another, but this is a special case and will be dealt with in more detail later.

In game terms, the character performing the action rolls against the relevant statistic or related Speciality (at the usual -4 if lacking the relevant Speciality). Their victim may then attempt a saving roll, either against the same Speciality if they possess it, or against their basic Attribute, modified in either case by the amount the character passed their roll by. (When attempting to resist Personal-based deceit or manipulation, the victim rolls either against the Discern Speciality, or against Wits, not Personal) If rolling against their base Attribute, they also receive the usual -4 modifier.

Also note that one or both of the people involved in the action may also be subject to some of the modifiers listed above, or to others specific to the situation and the characters involved.

As an example, a character with Conman 13 is attempting to lie to another character, with Wits 9.

The first character rolls a 9, thus succeeding by 4. The victim does not possess Discern, so he is at an overall negative modifier of 8 (-4 for not having the Speciality, and -4 for his opponent’s roll). To detect the lie, he must roll a 1! He rolls a 7, and is totally convinced.

For another example, a character with Brawn 14 is chasing a character with Sprinter 16. The character rolls against his Brawn with a -4 penalty, and gets a 4, thus succeeding by 6. His quarry rolls against Sprinter, with a modifier of -6. He rolls a 9, just about escaping.

Note that Personal Specialities do not work on undead and other unintelligent beings. They have no minds or emotions to manipulate.

Damage Outside Combat


For every six feet after the first that a character falls, they should receive 1-5 points of Durability Damage. If they fall more than 12 feet, they should also suffer 1-5 points of Brawn and Coordination Damage (Roll separately)


Every thirty seconds after the first 30 that a character goes without air, they should make a Brawn roll. If they fail, they should lose 1-5 Durability. Each roll after the first should have an additional -2 penalty (so -2 for the second roll, -4 for the third and so on.)

Unconsciousness and Death

At 0 Durability, a character is likely to collapse. They must pass a Brawn roll with a -5 penalty or collapse unconscious for 1-10 minutes.

Once a character drops below 0 Durability, they are dying. They need to pass a Brawn roll at -10, or fall unconscious. Unless they receive help in the form of a Doctor roll or a healing spell or ability of some sort, they will soon die.

Each round, or every 5 seconds, roll on the table below using a d20. If you roll more than the number indicated, the character loses a number of Durability points equal to the amount the roll was failed by, divided by 2 (rounding up). Next round, their new Durability score is what is rolled against. If the character is still conscious, each time their Durability falls, they must re-roll the Brawn test to retain consciousness, still at -10.

Durability Roll less than:
-1 18
-2 16
-3 14
-4 12
-5 10
-6 8
-7 6
-8 4
-9 2
-10 Dead

A successful Doctor roll or healing spell will bring them back up to 0 Durability, but they will remain unconscious for 1-10 hours.

Playing the game

Generic, Endlessly Applicable Roleplay System (3rd Ed.) DrMagister