CHAOS OF THE OLD WORLD
Dice, Actions and Core Mechanics
NOW, ONTO THE CORE MECHANICS, DICE AND ACTION CARDS:
One of the new features of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay are the custom dice used during task resolution. The core set includes 36 custom dice. With these dice, the characters can perform a wide variety of actions while accounting for changing tactics, situations, and effects. Rather than numbers, these dice feature special symbols.
There are seven different types of custom dice used in Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. Each die has a specific colour and function. The dice are rolled in groups – called dice pools – to perform actions. Not every type of die will be used for every task. The dice used depend on a variety of factors. Here is a look at each of the seven different types of dice.
These purple eight-sided dice represent the challenges and difficulties facing a character when attempting an action. The results are generally bad for the character – most of the effects undermine success, or make it more likely that some sort of detrimental side effect will occur.
These blue eight-sided dice form the basis of a dice pool when performing an action, representing how important an individual characteristic is towards accomplishing the task. The higher a character’s Strength, for example, the more blue characteristic dice he contributes to actions based on Strength. Characteristic dice have beneficial symbols, and several blank sides. The blue characteristic dice can be converted into different dice based on a character’s current stance.
These green ten-sided dice represent the low-risk, low-reward stance a character can adopt while performing actions. The conservative dice reflect a measured, cautious, or thoughtful approach to the situation. The conservative dice have a very good chance of contributing towards the success of an action, but an overly cautious approach may cause delays.
These yellow six-sided dice represent dedicated training or exceptional aptitude with a skill or special proficiency. They feature a special symbol that allows a character to roll additional dice, as well as a symbol that can trigger special effects based on training or aptitude.
These white six-sided dice provide a slight edge for the character. Fortune dice are granted for tactical advantages, as well as by certain talents, party abilities, or by spending fortune points. Half of the sides of a fortune die are blank, the other half have beneficial effects.
These black six-sided dice impose a slight complication to a dice pool. Misfortune dice are assigned for tactical disadvantages, as well as for certain talents, conditions, or debilitating effects such as critical wounds. Half of the sides of a misfortune die are blank, the other half have detrimental effects.
These red ten-sided dice represent the high-risk, high-reward stance a character can adopt while performing actions. The reckless dice reflect an aggressive, fiery, or daemon-may-care approach to the situation. The reckless dice feature several potent faces with numerous positive effects, but also several blank sides and some drawbacks.
Actions, Checks & Resolving Tasks
Characters will attempt a variety of tasks to accomplish various goals and move the scenes and story along during a session. When the outcome of a task is uncertain, a character needs to perform some sort of action. Some actions are a general application of a characteristic or skill. Other actions are very specific, and are represented by an action card.
Once the appropriate type of action has been determined by the GM, the character may need to make a check to see whether or not the action succeeds. In simplest terms, a player creates a pool of dice, comprised of dice representing the different factors involved in the action. This could be a combination of several types of dice, and can vary from action to action, situation to situation.
After the dice pool has been created, the player rolls all of the dice and the results are evaluated. Some actions, particularly those represented by an action card, may have very specific results for success or failure. Other actions will have their results decided by the GM, based on the dice pool results, the character’s goals, and the situation.
The symbols that appear on the custom dice have specific effects on the outcome of task resolution. Not all symbols appear on all dice. After a dice pool has been rolled, the symbols are evaluated to determine which symbols influence the outcome of the task. If the task being performed was based on an action card, specific effects may be triggered based on the symbols generated by the dice pool. Otherwise, the GM interprets the symbols and resolves the task based on the action being performed.
The symbols and the dice they appear on can be a powerful narrative tool, allowing the players to visualise and interpret the outcome of actions in a variety of ways. This can be influenced not only by which symbols appear on the dice, but which dice those symbols appear on.
The Core Mechanic
The core mechanic refers to the task resolution system used to determine success and failure. In some respects, it is the engine that drives the game. The core mechanic in Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay is quite simple, and can be summarised as follows:
Roll a pool of dice.
After all other factors, if there is at least one success symbol, the task succeeds.
Almost all the other factors influencing the outcome of tasks modifies or interacts with one of these two fundamental elements – the pool of dice, or the results on the dice after they are rolled.
And while the presence or absence of success symbols indicate the basic success threshold — was the task accomplished? — the other symbols can contribute to the magnitude of the effect, and help describe how and why the task succeeds or fails.
Bonus Sneak Peek
Creating a Dice Pool
Before the core mechanic comes into play, it needs a reason – this reason is usually the action being attempted. In Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, when the outcome of a task is uncertain, resolving the action generally relies on a skill or characteristic check.
If the action being attempted is based on an action card, the related skill or characteristic to use in the check appears on the card. For actions that do not rely on action cards, such as a standard use of a skill, the skill used determines which characteristic the check is based on.
The first step in assembling a dice pool is taking a number of blue dice equal to the hero’s characteristic rating, and any white fortune dice that may be associated with the characteristic (showing a slight edge, knack, or advantage with that ability). If the hero has training in the relevant skills, he adds one yellow expertise die to the dice pool for each level of training.
Next, the GM determines what challenges or potential misfortunes face the character, and adds the appropriate dice to the pool. This is based on the inherent difficulty level of the attempted task, as well as any other factors that try to undermine the character’s chances of success.
Finally, before rolling the dice pool, the player converts some of his blue characteristic dice into stance dice. This step is not optional – the player must convert a number of blue dice into a number of stance dice based on his depth on the character’s stance meter.
The player also has an opportunity to spend fortune points to modify the dice pool. For each fortune point spent, one white fortune die is added to the pool.
Example of Assembling a Dice Pool
Mellerion the Wood Elf hunter is attempting to climb a cliff. This is an application of the Athletics skill, which is based on Mellerion’s Strength, which is 3 — and average rating for a Wood Elf.
The player starts his dice pool by taking three blue characteristic dice, which is equal to Mellerion’s Strength rating. Mellerion has one level of training in Athletics, so he gets to add one yellow expertise die to the pool.
Based on the situation, the GM determines that the cliff is fairly steep, but there are roots and footholds along the way, making this an Average difficulty check, which adds two purple challenge dice to the pool. The GM had described the light drizzle earlier in the scene, which is making things a bit slick, so the GM also decides to add a misfortune die to the pool.
Before attempting the task, Mellerion had adjusted his stance to one space deep on the conservative side of his stance meter — he wants to be a bit more careful in his ascent, since the rain is causing a complication. Since he is one space deep on the green conservative side, Mellerion’s player swaps out one of the blue characteristic dice with a green conservative die.
With no other factors influencing the task, the final dice pool consists of 2 blue characteristic dice, 1 yellow expertise die, 1 green conservative die, 2 purple challenge dice, and 1 black misfortune die.
FINALLY, I’M POSTING THIS SAMPLE OF A CHALLENGE:
In the grim setting of the Old World, life can be difficult, and things rarely go exactly as planned. Obstacles crop up, other characters offer resistance, and some actions are just inherently more difficult than others. In Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, these difficulties and complications are represented by challenge levels and misfortune.
Thankfully, sometimes things do go in the character’s favour, whether it’s having the right tool for the job, gaining tactical advantages, or simply having fortune on his side. These minor beneficial effects are often managed with the use of fortune dice. These factors can influence task resolution just as the adventurer’s characteristics and training can.
Challenge Dice & Challenge Levels
For standard tasks, there are five challenge levels – Simple, Easy, Average, Hard, and Daunting. A standard task’s challenge level is a general indication of how difficult something is to accomplish, or how much resistance there is to achieving success. It represents the baseline, default difficulty inherent to the task. In addition to providing a general classification to describe difficulty, the challenge level also indicates how many of the purple challenge dice are added to a dice pool when attempting that particular task.
For example, the steepness of a cliff doesn’t change depending on who is trying to climb it. The complexity of a lock securing the baron’s keepsakes is the same regardless of which thief is trying to pick it. These represent the basic challenge posed by the task — how difficult the task is to accomplish based on its own intrinsic complexities.
By comparison, an average task represents a routine action where success is common enough to be expected, but failure is not surprising when it does occur. A typical character with the proper training, resources, and the right approach to the situation should reasonably expect to succeed at average tasks more often than he fails. An average task adds two purple challenge dice to the action’s dice pool.
While challenge levels represent the default difficulty of a task, few tasks are attempted in a complete vacuum, immune to outside influences. A variety of factors can impact success and failure. The niggling complications that undermine success are referred to as misfortunes. Misfortunes come in many shapes and forms, but are represented in the same manner – black misfortune dice added to the dice pool.
For each complication that makes this particular attempt less likely to succeed, the Game Master adds a misfortune die to the dice pool. Misfortune can represent a variety of factors – bad weather, lack of proper equipment, being pressured and out of time, the effects of a nagging critical wound, or being vastly outnumbered are just a few examples.
The white dice are fortune dice, and represent small ways that things tend to go right for a character. The fortune dice have a few sides with beneficial symbols, and no detrimental symbols. Fortune dice most often represent things working in favour of the character like having the proper equipment or resources, ample time, or a good strategy. Fortune dice can also be awarded by the GM for clever thinking, enjoyable roleplaying, or tactical advantages. Finally, players can spend fortune points to add fortune dice to their dice pools. Each fortune point spent allows the player to add one fortune die to his pool.
An Example Using Challenge, Misfortune, and Fortune
On two separate days, two different characters reach the same spot at the base of a cliff and attempt to climb it to reach the summit. The cliff is the same steepness each day — it isn’t changing. The default difficulty for climbing the cliff is based on the inherent challenge posed by the cliff itself, and not other factors. In this case, the GM determines that climbing the steep cliff is a Hard challenge, which adds three challenge dice to the pool.
On day one, Mellerion the wood elf hunter arrives at the base of the cliff. It’s a crisp, clear day. It’s bright and sunny out. He’s got ample time. He has a rope, pitons, and some climbing gear. The difficulty of the cliff hasn’t changed — but the circumstances surrounding this particular attempt to climb it are pretty favourable. Rather than impose misfortune dice on the task, the GM would more likely award several fortune dice, reflecting the optimum conditions and appropriate equipment.
On day two, Aldo the human thief arrives at the cliff. It’s pouring rain, and he arrives in the thick of night. While he’s being chased by the town watch. While he’s carrying a heavy, cumbersome bag filled with his ill-gotten gains from tonight’s haul. And he slipped in the mud on his way here and sprained his ankle. Again, the default difficulty posed by the cliff or the climb itself hasn’t changed – it’s still the same height and steepness as when Mellerion attempted his ascent the day before.
However, now there are a variety of factors undermining Aldo’s chances for success on this particular attempt. The GM would probably add several misfortune dice to Aldo’s dice pool – reflecting the darkness, the slick conditions from the rain, the awkwardness of the heavy bag Aldo is carrying, the fact Aldo twisted his ankle, and so on. Exactly how many misfortune dice are added is up to the GM, based on how the story has progressed, and how significant a factor he feels these circumstances are to success or failure.
Combat Tactics & Modifiers
Advantages and disadvantages during combat work the same way as advantages or disadvantages work while attempting skill checks or social actions – the application of fortune and misfortune dice. The GM should be willing to add fortune dice to actions that benefit from advantages, and likewise impose misfortune dice to actions suffering from disadvantages. The more significant a particular advantage or disadvantage, the more dice the condition can add to the action. There are a number of possible conditions and situations that could warrant modifiers.
Here are several examples of possible advantages that could warrant fortune dice being added to a combat action’s dice pool:
Outnumbering the opponent
Strong tactics and strategy
Sneaking up on an opponent
Ambush or surprise
Creating a distraction
The opponent is prone or incapacitated
Clever, creative use of the scenery
Great roleplaying or dialogue
And here are several examples of possible disadvantages that could warrant misfortune dice being added to a combat action’s dice pool:
Being outnumbered by opponents
Inclement weather (heavy rain, strong winds)
Bright, dazzling light
Target hidden, behind cover, or obscured
Being intimidated or frightened
Groggy, exhausted, lack of sleep
HERE’S A LINK TO MOVEMENT AND MANUEVERING: