Dungeons of Olde

Trashing old-school dungeons, one tile at a time!

Check Dice

WARNING: Outdated Rules

The rules in this section have become obsolete following the recent rules overhaul. The most current version of the rules are those included in the Core Rules section of this website.

Usually, when a character attempts a task that has a chance of failure, two die rolls are involved. The first roll, a Check roll, checks whether the character succeeds in his attempt at all. If his attempt is successful, the character makes a second roll, an Effect roll, to determine how effective his success was.

Check Rolls

Any effort by a character to do something difficult enough that there is at least some chance of failure is called an Attempt. Every Attempt tests one of the character’s Primary Stats. For example, an Attempt to toss another character up to a high ledge would test a hero’s Brawn, while balancing on that ledge might take Finesse; a hero relies on Nerve to tell a convincing lie, but he needs Savvy to recognize a lie he’s told.

In order to succeed in her Attempt, a character must roll equal to or above a certain number—based on the Challenge presented by the task—using her Check dice for the relevant stat. The Check roll is an unlimited roll. The number that the character must meet or beat is determined by the nature of the task.

Checks against the environment

When the character makes an Attempt with no obvious opponent, the Challenge value of the task is a set number, determined by conditions existing in the environment. For example, Lunk the Barbarian is trying to push open a very heavy door, requiring a Brawn Check. Since there’s no one working against Lunk, using their Brawn to hold it closed, his Attempt is being made against the environment.

Environmental Challenges range from Trivial to Impossible, and each Challenge level has an associated Challenge Value, listed in the table below. In order to succeed in Attempt against an environmental Challenge, the character must roll the Challenge Value or better with his Check Dice for the relevant stat.

The level of a given Challenge is set by either the game master, if there is one, or the scenario rules, if there is no game master. In this example, Lunk and his associates are playing a scenario without a game master, but the scenario text indicates that pushing the door open is a Hard Challenge requiring Brawn. Thus, Lunk must roll an 8 or better on his Brawn Check Dice; since Lunk has Brawn 9 and Check rolls are unlimited, he’s rolling 2d10-1 unlimited. He dice come up 4 and 5, for a total roll of 10; Lunk manages to force the door open, so the party may proceed into room beyond.

Environmental Challenges Table

Rank Rating
Trivial 3
Easy 6
Moderate 9
Hard 12
Heroic 15
Superhuman 18
Godly 21

Checks against opponents

When a character attempts to do something to another character, the difficulty of the task is determined by the ability of the target character, rather than the environment. In such a case, the Attempt is said to be Opposed, and the characters involved must resolve an Opposed Attempt by rolling their Check Dice for the relevant Stats against one another. Exactly which Stats will be relevant will depend on the nature of the task being Attempted, but both characters’ Check rolls will be unlimited.

In an Opposed Attempt, the character making the Attempt is the Instigator, and his opponent is the Target. To resolve the Attempt, each character rolls their Check Dice for the relevant Stat. If the Instigator’s roll is equal to or higher than the Target’s roll, his Attempt succeeds; if the Target throws the higher total, the Attempt fails. Note that the Attempt succeeds on a tie, since the Target’s Check Dice roll is essentially setting the Challenge level for the task, and rolling the exact Challenge Value is a success.

For example, Keen the Rogue wants to talk her way into a fancy party so she can “liberate” some jewelry from the nobility in attendance. She cooks up what she thinks is a plausible explanation, that she has an urgent message for Duke of Url, whom she knows is in attendance. To sell this lie to the guards at the door, she must make an Opposed Attempt pitting her Nerve against the Savvy of the sergeant of the guard. Keen’s Nerve is an 8, so she’s throwing 2d8 for her Check Dice; the sergeant is relatively bright for a grunt, with Savvy 6, so he’s throwing 2d6. Keen rolls a 11—not bad!—, but the sarge’s unlimited roll explodes, producing a final result of 13, and he sees through Keen’s ruse. Recognizing the better part of valor, Keen quickly disappears down an alley before the guards can grab her!

Adjusting Checks

There are often extenuating circumstances affecting an Attempt to accomplish a task. A character may have exceptional skill at the task being attempted; he might spend extra time to prepare; or an ally may try to assist him. In such circumstances, Adjustments may be applied to the Check Roll before resolving the Attempt, effectively making success more or less difficult to achieve.

For example, picking a complex lock is a Superhuman Challenge to Savvy, requiring a 12 or better on the Check Roll. Such a Challenge would ordinarily be almost impossible for Keen, who has an unexceptional Savvy of 5—she can’t roll a 12 on 2d6-1 without at least one exploding die. But if Keen has the Master Lockpicking skill, her Savvy Check Roll is adjusted by +3 when she Attempts to pick that lock. Her Savvy Check Roll comes up a 9, but with the +3 she gets for Master Lockpicking adjusts her roll to a 12, and she pops the lock open. Let’s hope there’s something good inside!

In general, Adjustments are made due to qualities or conditions directly affecting the character making the Attempt, rather than environmental conditions. For this reason, Adjustments affect the amount rolled on the Check Dice, before it is compared to the value of the Challenge. If the condition affecting the difficulty of the task seems tied more to the circumstances than to the character making the Attempt, it’s the Challenge level that should change. When Keen was attempting to pick the lock, if she used a +1 set of magic lockpicks, that +1 would have been applied to her Check Roll; if the task was made more difficult by the fact that the lock was rusty, then the Challenge of the task should have been raised to Impossible.

Adjusting Checks in Opposed Attempts

Adjustments will often need to be made when resolving Opposed Attempts. The rolls of either the Instigator or the Target, or both, may be Adjusted, depending on the circumstances. Each character rolls their Check Dice, and then applies their Adjustments to their total, before the final comparison is made.

For example, Audacia surprises her friends by challenging Lunk to an arm-wrestling match, which would be resolved in an Opposed Attempt of Brawn vs. Brawn. Ordinarily, Audacia’s Brawn of 4 would pose no serious threat to Lunk, with his 9 Brawn, but today there are special circumstances. Audacia has cooked up a Potion of Ogre Strength that she wants to test out, which gives her +5 on all Brawn Checks. By coincidence, Lunk is also suffering from a cold he caught when he passed out in the gutter outside the tavern on a cold night last week, so he’s taking a -2 on all of his Brawn Checks. They square off across the table, and toss their Brawn Check dice. Audacia rolls a 5 on 2d4, and Lunk scores a 12 on his 2d10-1. (Neither character rolled any exploding dice.)

Under normal circumstances, this would be a painful if unsurprising defeat for Audacia, but both characters have Adjustments to apply to their Check Rolls. Audacia’s Brawn Check becomes a 10 (her roll of 5, plus 5 for the potion), while Lunk’s Check fades to a 10 (his roll of 12, minus 2 for the cold). Since ties go to the Instigator, Audacia presses Lunk’s wrist to the table after a long, difficult arm-wrestling match!

Assisting an ally in an Attempt

When two or more characters work together to accomplish a task, they may have a better chance of success. In any such Attempt, the character with the highest value for the relevant Stat serves as the Instigator; any characters who try to help are treated as Assistants. Assistants will make a special roll, called an Attempt to Assist, to see if their effort to help the Instigator is successful; these rolls occur before the Instigator’s Check Roll to resolve the Attempt. The Attempt to Assist is an unlimited die roll.

The Challenge Value for an Attempt to Assist is equal to the value of Instigator’s relevant Stat. If the Check Roll in the Attempt to Assist equals the Instigator’s Stat value, the Instigator gets a +1 Adjustment to his own Check Roll for the Attempt. An additional +1 is earned for every point by which the Attempt to Assist roll exceeds the Instigator’s Stat value.

Suppose Lunk needs to push open an even heavier portal than before—this one made of thick stone—which is set as a Superhuman Challenge to Brawn (Challenge value 12). Lunk’s Brawn Check dice are 2d10-1, so he’s got a decent chance of succeeding on his own. This is an important door, though, and the party doesn’t want to take any chances, so Keen steps up to lend a hand. Before Lunk rolls his Attempt to open the door, Keen makes an Attempt to Assist him. She rolls her own Brawn Check Dice (2d6) against Lunk’s Brawn value of 9. Keen rolls a 9, equalling Lunk’s Brawn. When Lunk makes his Attempt, he adds a +1 Adjustment to his Brawn Check Roll. If Keen had rolled a 10, exceeding Lunk’s Brawn by 1, she would have earned an additional +1 Adjustment, for a total Adjustment of +2 to Lunk’s Attempt.