Skill Checks and Attacks

Skill Checks

While most things your character does will not require a roll--like eating breakfast, opening a door, or walking down the street--the important things you do will. When you’re faced with climbing a sheer cliff, trying to decapitate a charging orc, or attempting to charm your way into a party without an invitation you will need to make a Skill check.

When performing a Skill Check, first you roll 1d20, then add:

  • A relevant ATT score
  • Add up to one Skill which is applicable to what you’re trying to do and matches the ATT being used
  • The Bonus of up to one piece of equipment (weapon or tool) you’re using to perform the Skill Check.

If you do not have a Skill which can be applied to a Skill check you will still apply one ATT score, though you’re welcome to bargain with the GM as to which one it should be.

After you have rolled your die, and added your ATT and Skill the GM will describe how your attempt turns out in line with the rating system described in The Basics. So a result of 1-10 will be an Unremarkable attempt, 11-20 a Good attempt, and so forth. In the case that your attempt is not enough-- for instance a Good try at climbing a Legendary cliff--you have failed or in some way only half succeeded.

Fail or succeed, a Skill Check will always advance the story, have real consequences, and can not be immediately repeated by either you or another character. If you fail to climb the cliff you may fall and break your leg, causing the party to need to set camp, and set your leg back in place. Or you may catch yourself halfway through the fall and find an entrance to a cave tunnel which allows you to find a different, longer way to the top. Or you may make it partway up the cliff, and realize that you could climb the rest of the way, but it would take you twice as long to do so as you initially thought it would. You will not, however make it halfway up the cliff and then need to make a second identical roll to make it the rest of the way. Skill checks, whether they fail or succeed, are made a single time, and advance the story.


When performing a Skill check you can gain a bonus or penalty to your roll called Circumstance, based on temporary or situational things that either aid or hinder your attempt. If you’re attacking a target and another ally is flanking and distracting them this could grant you a Circumstance bonus. If you had sprained your wrist and were using a sword on the same attack you could take a Circumstance penalty. Circumstance is always given in ranks of plus or minus 5, 10, 15, 20, etc, and players are encouraged to ask about and suggest giving out Circumstantial bonuses while playing.

It should be noted that Circumstance is always given to the person performing a Skill check. So if a person is taking cover from an archer behind a stump, then the archer takes a Circumstance penalty to their attack, instead of the defender gaining a circumstance bonus to their defense.

Critical Failure, and Success

When performing a Skill Check if you roll either a 1, or a 20, on your 1d20, then your attempt either Critically Failed (in the case of a 1) or Critically Succeeded (in the case of a 20). In the case of a Critical Failure treat a roll of 1 as a -10, and regardless of the total result your action will go awry, or fail outright in some way. In the case of a Success, treat the 20 as a 30, and regardless of the total result your action will succeed in some spectacular way, at least partially. After either of these take place the GM will put down a square of Empowered Ground nearby, a type of special Terrain (see Terrain Below) that will grant Circumstance to anyone who stands in it.


While many Skill Checks will be made against static things which cannot defend themselves, such as cliffs that need climbing, doors that need bashing, and locks that need picking, an equal amount will be made charming guards, killing nobles, and teleporting goblins off of cliffs. In this case the Skill Chec is considered an attack and target will defend against it as outlined in the next section, Defense.

It should be noted that Attacks made from stealth--or on targets otherwise unaware or unable to defend themselves--will gain Circumstance or will bypass defense. Usually a totally unaware or helpless target will be treated as without defense, while an alert but unaware target will still get their defense, but the attacker will gain Circumstance.


In the event of a Contest between two targets, such as arm-wrestling, playing cards, or the like, then both parties should perform a Skill Check and the higher one wins out.


Every time you roll a die to perform an Action it is a Skill Check. While making a Skill you first add an applicable ATT, any Circumstantial modifiers, and then may add up to one applicable Skill, and the Bonus from up to one tool or weapon you are using to perform the Skill Check. Fail or succeed, your Skill Check will move the story forward and cannot be repeated or attempted a second time.