Now it’s time to start doing something. You need to leap from one moving train car to another. You need to search the entire library for that spell you really need. You need to distract the guard so you can sneak into the fortress. How do you figure out what happens?
First you narrate what your character is trying to do. Your character’s Attributes and skills provide a good guide for what you can do. How do you know if you’re successful? Often, you just succeed, because the action isn’t hard and nobody’s trying to stop you. But if failure provides an interesting twist in the story, or if something unpredictable could happen, you need to break out the dice.
Once you roll your dice, add your attribute bonus and any bonuses from skills, aspects, or stunts. Compare the total to a target number, which is either a fixed difficulty or the result of the GM’s roll for an NPC. Based on that comparison, your outcome is:
- You fail if your total is less than your opponent’s total.
- It’s a tie if your total is equal to your opponent’s total.
- You succeed if your total is greater than your opponent’s total.
- You succeed with style if your total is at least three greater than your opponent’s total.
Your action was an Epic Success if you succeed by 7 or more. You gain the effects of a success with style. Additionally, your character immediately regains one or more of their spent legend points (a hero’s legend is fueled by tales of their great deeds). Additionally, this success should be described in a way that pushes the boundaries of possibility.
Now that we’ve covered outcomes, we can talk about actions and how the outcomes work with them.
You use the overcome action when you have to get past something that’s between you and a particular goal—picking a lock, escaping from handcuffs, leaping across a chasm, flying a spaceship through an asteroid field. Taking some action to eliminate or change an inconvenient situation aspect is usually an overcome action; we’ll talk more about that in Aspects and Fate Points. The target of your action may get a chance to use the defend action to stop you.
- If you fail: You have a tough choice to make. You can simply fail—the door is still locked, the thug still stands between you and the exit, the enemy spaceship is still On Your Tail. Or you can succeed, but at a serious cost—maybe you drop something vital you were carrying, maybe you suffer harm. The GM helps you figure out an appropriate cost.
- If you tie: You attain your goal, but at some minor cost. The GM could introduce a complication, or present you with a tough choice (you can rescue one of your friends, but not the other), or some other twist.
- If you succeed: You accomplish what you were trying to do. The lock springs open, you duck around the thug blocking the door, you manage to lose the alien spaceship on your tail.
- If you succeed with style: As success (above), but you also gain a boost (see below). A boost is a special “one-use” aspect that you create and evoke once for free, and then it goes away.
Create an Advantage
Creating an advantage is anything you do to try to help yourself or one of your friends. Taking a moment to very carefully aim your pistol, spending several hours doing research in the library, or tripping the thug who’s trying to rob you, these all count as creating an advantage. The target of your action may get a chance to use the defend action to stop you. The advantage you create lets you do one of the following three things:
- Create a situation aspect.
- Discover an existing situation aspect or another character’s aspect that you didn’t know about.
- Take advantage of an existing aspect.
If you’re creating a new aspect or discovering an existing one:
- If you fail: Either you don’t create or discover the aspect at all, or you create or discover it but an opponent gets to invoke the aspect for free. The second option works best if the aspect you create or discover is something that other people could take advantage of (like Rough Terrain). You may have to reword the aspect to show that it benefits the other character instead of you—work it out in whatever way makes the most sense with the player who gets the free invocation. You can still invoke the aspect if you’d like, but it’ll cost you a fate point.
- If you tie: If you’re creating a new aspect, you get a boost. Name it and invoke it once for free—after that, the boost goes away. If you’re trying to discover an existing aspect, treat this as a success (see below).
- If you succeed: You create or discover the aspect, and you or an ally may invoke it once for free. Write the aspect on an index card or sticky note and place it on the table.
- If you succeed with style: You create or discover the aspect, and you or an ally may invoke it twice for free. Usually you can’t invoke the same aspect twice on the same roll, but this is an exception; success with style gives you a BIG advantage!
If you’re trying to take advantage of an aspect you already know about:
- If you fail: You don’t get any additional benefit from the aspect. You can still invoke it in the future if you’d like, at the cost of a fate point.
- If you tie or succeed: You get one free invocation on the aspect for you or an ally to use later. You might want to draw a circle or a box on the aspect’s note card, and check it off when that invocation is used.
- If you succeed with style: You get two free invocations on the aspect, which you can let an ally use, if you wish.
Use an attack when you try to hurt someone, whether physically or mentally—swinging a sword, shooting a rifle, or yelling a blistering insult with the intent to hurt your target. The target of your attack gets a chance to use the defend action to stop you.
- If you fail: Your attack doesn’t connect. The target parries your sword, your shot misses, your target laughs off your insult.
- If you tie: Your attack doesn’t connect strongly enough to cause any harm, but you gain a boost.
- If you succeed: Your attack hits and you do damage. See Damage, Stress, and Consequences.
- If you succeed with style: You hit and do damage, plus you have the option to reduce the damage your hit causes by one and gain a boost.
Use defend when you’re actively trying to stop someone from doing any of the other three actions—you’re parrying a sword strike, trying to stay on your feet, blocking a doorway, and the like. Usually this action is performed on someone else’s turn, reacting to their attempt to attack, overcome, or create an advantage. You may also roll to oppose some non-attack actions, or to defend against an attack on someone else, if you can explain why you can. Usually it’s fine if most people at the table agree that it’s reasonable, but you can also point to an relevant situation aspect to justify it. When you do, you become the target for any bad results.
- If you fail: You’re on the receiving end of whatever your opponent’s success gives them.
- If you tie or succeed: Things don’t work out too badly for you; look at the description of your opponent’s action to see what happens.
- If you succeed with style: Your opponent doesn’t get what they want, plus you gain a boost.