You make an action roll when your character does something potentially dangerous or troublesome. If there’s no danger or trouble at hand, you don’t make an action roll. You might make a fortune roll or a downtime roll or the GM will simply say yes—and you accomplish your goal.
To make an action roll, we go through six steps. In play, they flow together somewhat, but let’s break each one down here for clarity.
1. Player States Their Goal
Your goal is the concrete outcome your character will achieve when they overcome the obstacle at hand. Usually the character’s goal is pretty obvious in context, but it’s the GM’s job to ask and clarify the goal when necessary.
“You’re punching him in the face, right? Okay... what do want to get out of this? Do you want to take him out, or just rough him up so he’ll do what you want?”
2. The Player Chooses the Action
The player chooses which action rating to roll, following from what their character is doing on-screen. If you want to roll your Brawl action, then get in a fight. If you want to roll your Enforce action, then order someone around. You can’t roll a given action rating unless your character is presently performing that action in the fiction.
3. Add Bonus Dice
You can normally get two bonus dice for your action roll (some special abilities might give you additional bonus dice).
For one bonus die, you can get an assist from a teammate. They take 1 stress, say how they help you, and give you +1d.
For another bonus die, you can either push yourself (take 2 stress) or you can Sell Out (you can’t get dice for both, it’s one or the other).
Fortune favors the corrupt. When your PCs leverage the advantages of oppression, they sell out their beliefs for short term benefit.
If a player compromises their values or furthers oppression in the world, they can gain +1d on any roll.
Common examples include:
Common forms of corruption include:
Any player or the GM can propose a way to sell out. The PC compromises themself regardless of the outcome of the roll. They make the choice, pay the price, and get the sell out point to trade in for a bonus die whenever they want.
Selling out is always a free choice. If you don’t like the proposed option, just reject it (or suggest how to alter it so you might consider taking it). You can always just push yourself for that bonus die instead.
If it’s ever needed, the GM has final say over which sell outs are valid.
4. Factor in Conditions
Check to see if the player has a relevant condition. Each condition is connected to a specific attribute. If you have a condition, and you are using an action under its attribute, you need to roll a condition die. You can add a different colored die to the dice pool or roll the condition second.
5. Roll the Dice and Judge the Results
The player adds any dice to their relevant action rating and rolls. If you have a condition, also roll a condition die.
The action roll does a lot of work for you. It tells you how well the character performs as well as how serious the consequences are for them. They might succeed at their action without any consequences (on a 6), or they might succeed but suffer consequences (on a 4-5), or it might just all go wrong (on a 1-3).
If the player rolled a condition die, layer its result on top of the main roll:
For all condition die results, the player proposes the negative or positive condition effects, but the GM has the final say on what fits in the fiction.
When you narrate action after the roll, the GM and player collaborate together to say what happens on-screen following one key rule: for every action, there is an equal reaction. Success and consequences should all parallel the action the character took. If the character took a bold, risky action, the consequences should be equally dramatic. If the character strategized and planned to keep a low profile, the consequences should still have weight, but match the subtle, tense tone of their approach. See the Outcomes chapter for more information about dealing with roll results.
6. Respond to Outcomes
The PCs are the protagonists of the story, and the players co-create the story with the GM. This means players have the ability to tweak a roll result before you determine the final narrative outcome. You do this through two methods: make a resistance roll or overcome limits.
When you make a resistance roll, you mitigate the impact of consequences. Players propose how a character tries to minimize the fallout of a complication and how that would decrease its severity. Determine the most appropriate attribute based on the fiction and roll a number of 6-sided dice equal to that attribute. Resisting costs you 6 stress minus the highest roll.
When you overcome limits, you turn a failure into a success. Mechanically, it is as if you rolled a 6: you succeed without any consequences. To overcome your limits, mark the condition associated with the attribute of the roll you made. You can only mark a condition in each attribute once before you need to recover. Describe how you persist despite apparent failure, and how that results in your current condition.
Choosing to overcome limits allows players to succeed on the rolls they care most about. However, the condition will persist until they are able to recover from it, and that condition may complicate future rolls using the same attribute.