Once the players choose a plan and provide its detail, the GM cuts to the action—describing the scene as the team starts the venture and encounters their first obstacle. But how is this established? The way the GM describes the starting situation can have a huge impact on how simple or troublesome the venture turns out to be. Rather than expecting the GM to simply “get it right” each time, we use a dice roll instead. This is the engagement roll.
The engagement roll starts with 1d for sheer luck. Modify the dice pool based on the following factors:
The engagement roll assumes that the PCs are approaching the target as intelligently as they can, given the plan and detail they provided, so we don’t need to play out tentative probing maneuvers, special precautions, or other ponderous non-action. The engagement roll covers all of that. The PCs are already in action, facing the first obstacle—kicking open the warehouse door; sprinting past the military checkpoint, racing towards the test site; passed the gang lookouts, approaching the leader; etc.
Don’t make the engagement roll and then describe the PCs approaching the target. It’s the approach that the engagement roll resolves. Cut to the action that results because of that initial approach—to the first serious obstacle in their path.
The outcome of the engagement roll determines the position for the PCs’ initial actions when we cut to the score in progress.
1-3: serious trouble. You overreached your abilities, are overwhelmed, or face desperate consequences.
4 or 5: risky situation. You need to act under fire. A threat will take charge if you don’t respond immediately.
6: have the advantage. You can see the approaching danger and have a chance to act first. You have the upper hand.
No matter how badly you roll, the worst you’ll face is serious trouble. The game assumes you did enough planning to get some measure of success. You will always reach that first obstacle with a chance to act.
How Long Does it Last?
The engagement roll determines the starting scene for the PCs’ actions. The engagement roll is a quick short-hand to kick things off and get the action started—it doesn’t have any impact after that. The PCs will act, and the world will react to the new dynamic.