The Rolling System
Most of this game operates off of a very simple system: whenever you want to do something, you roll 1d20, and try and get below a target number. If you get below, you succeed.
John is a new adventurer, and he is a little stronger than average. John has 11 Strength. His GM says ‘John, roll a Strength check to break down the door.’
John rolls 1d20. If he gets 11 or less, he manages to break down the door. 12 or higher means he fails.
However, if his GM decided the door was reinforced, then he might say ‘John, roll a Strength check with -3.’
This means, for the purposes of breaking down this door, John treats his Strength as 3 lower, in this case, he has to roll 8 or lower to break down the door.
And that’s it. Except for any special abilities or damage rolls, you just are rolling a d20, and hoping you get low.
Ability scores are your baseline for pretty much everything you do. They are how smart your character is, how tough, how quick-witted, everything.
When determining your ability scores, you roll 4d4 for each one, in order. After you have rolled each ability score, you can choose to either switch two of your scores around, or reroll 1 score. If at least 5 of your scores are 8 or lower, and you have no score of 12 or higher, you may reroll all your scores.
You also have an ability score modifier, which adds to some of your secondary stats or damage rolls. It is equal to: your ability score divided by 3 - 3, rounded down (for example, 11 divided by 3 is 3 when rounded down, -3 is 0. 12 divided by 3 is 4, -3 is 1). Modifiers can be negative.
Certain races might have a + or - to an ability score. If you have a + to an ability score, you roll 5d4 for that score, and use the 4 highest dice. If you have a - to an ability score, you do the same, but use the 4 lowest dice.
When you level up, you can increase ability scores. Choose 1 ability score, and the rest of your group chooses another that they think makes sense for your character, in secret. After that, roll 3d6 for each score. If the resulting number is greater than the ability score, the ability score increases by 1. Unless otherwise stated, an ability score can never be higher than 18.
Agility. This is how quick and stealthy your character is, as well as their overall ninjaness. It is rolled when you try to do something like pick a pocket or land on your feet. It determines your defence, stealth, and speed, as well as your attack and damage with ranged and light weapons.
Charisma. This is how approachable, attractive, and persuasive your character is, as well as their ability to lie and sense of conviction. It is rolled during some social interactions, or sometimes when trying to tame animals. It determines your conviction.
Composure. This is how calm, collected, and stoic your character is, as well as their morale. It is rolled when you are resisting a fear attack, keeping your nerve against overwhelming odds, or resisting torture. It determines your sanity.
Endurance. This is how tough your character is, and how much they can take before breaking. It is rolled when you are crossing a desert on little water, trying to stay awake for long periods of time, or trying to not die. It determines your health.
Intelligence. This is how book-smart your character is, and how good their memory handles information. It is rolled when trying to solve a puzzle, build some architecture, or remember a monster’s weakness. It determines your skills, as well as how fast they increase.
Luck. This is how lucky your character is, and how much plot-armour they have. It is rolled for things your character’s skills and abilities wouldn’t matter against, such as who the avalanche decides to fall towards (although then you could make a check to avoid the avalanche). It determines your luck points.
Strength. This is how strong your character is, and how much force they can bring to bear. It is rolled when you want to muscle your way through a crowd, or bash someone over the head. It determines your encumbrance, as well as your attack and damage with melee weapons.
Wisdom. This is your character’s perceptiveness and insight, as well as their sense for nature. It is rolled when you want to forage for food or be certain if someone is lying to you or not. It determines your perception.
Wits. This is your character’s quickness of mind, as well as how fast they are to react to a situation. It is rolled when you need to solve a problem quickly (and intelligence to see if you actually can), or when improvising. It determines your initiative, as well as your attack and damage during surprise rounds.
Vital Statistics are special things you roll in certain situations, or resources that deplete over a period of time. Some classes will increase Vital Statistics.
Attack. You attempt to roll under this when you are attacking an opponent, if you succeed, your attack hits. It starts at 10, and increases by 1 at even-numbered levels, up to a maximum of 15. In addition, if you are using a weapon, you may also add your relevant ability score (usually either agility, strength, or wits) to the number, up to a maximum of 18. When attacking an opponent with a bonus to defence, you reduce your attack by that number (if the number is negative, you increase your attack).
Defence. You attempt to roll under this when an opponent is attacking you, if you succeed, the opponent misses. It is 10+your agility modifier (this means it can be lower than 10 with a negative modifier). Wearing armour can increase it by up to +6 (depending on the armour), while using a shield increases it by +1. It has a maximum of 18.
Health. This is a number that is reduced whenever you get hit by an attack or other hazard. It is equal to ⅓ your Endurance. At level 2, it increases to ½ your Endurance. At level 3, it increases to your Endurance. Every level thereafter, it increases by 1.
If you are ever reduced to 0 health, or hit while at 0 health, or end your turn at 0 health, you must make an Endurance check. If you fail, you fall unconscious. While unconscious, you must make an Endurance check every round. If you fail the Endurance check, you die after 1d4 rounds. For +1 Endurance modifier you have, increase the dice by 1 (1d6 at +1, 1d8 at +2, 1d10 at +3, and 1d12 at +4). It is an Intelligence or Wisdom check, with a penalty equal to the number of rounds you have been dying, with a healer’s kit, to save someone. If you succeed the Endurance check, you are instead unconscious for the next 1d12 hours, after which you regain 1 hit point. You regain 1d6+your level of them with a 1 hour lunch, and all of them with an 8 hour sleep.
Sanity. This is a number that is reduced whenever you see something that could make you go crazy. It is equal to ⅓ your Composure. At level 2, it increases to ½ your Composure. At level 3, it increases to your Composure. Every level thereafter, it increases by 1.
If you are ever reduced to 0 sanity, you suffer a madness, which could be permanent or temporary. You regain 1 with an 8 hour sleep, but only while you are not in a stressful situation (such as dungeon delving).
Luck Points. These are points you can spend to make things go your way. You have Luck points equal to your luck modifier, and gain another one at level 4, and every level thereafter. At any time, you can expend any amount of luck points to increase or decrease the result of any roll by the amount of luck points you spend. You regain all of them with an 8 hour sleep.
Conviction. These are points you can spend to be more successful doing things you are passionate about. Choose 1-3 goals (for example, Tim the paladin chooses ‘kill all demons,’ and ‘save all innocents’). They should not be something like ‘get all the gold.’
You have Conviction equal to your Charisma modifier +1, and gain another at every level divisible by 3 (3, 6, and 9). At any time, you can expend a Conviction to get +1d6 to a roll related to your goal.
If you are ever at 0 hit points, but attempting to fulfill your goal (and could within the next few minutes), you can choose to lose all your Conviction. Roll 1d6 for each Conviction spent. The new number is your new maximum hit points and current hit points. After your goal is fulfilled, or after 30 minutes, your maximum hit points go back to normal and your current hit points go to 0.
Initiative. This is what you try to roll under at the beginning of combat. It is equal to your Wits. If you roll under it, you get to go before your opponents. If you roll above, you go after.
Stealth. This is what you roll when trying to hide from people. It is equal to 5+your Agility modifier. If nobody is actively watching for you (sleeping guard, someone walking down a busy street), you may double your Stealth.
Perception. This is what the GM rolls for you when you try to notice sneaking enemies. It is equal to your Wisdom, or half your Wisdom if you are sleeping or not actively watching for opponents.
Speed. This is what you roll when trying to run away, or whenever you need to outrun someone. It is equal to 10+your Agility modifier.
Save. This is what you roll under when trying to avoid something bad or magical coming your way. It is equal to 5+your level. In addition, if the activity would depend on an ability score (avoid the falling boulder), you may add your modifier for that ability score.