For each Unopposed action, the GM sets a Difficulty Level (Fair is the most common) and announces which trait should be rolled against. If no Skill seems relevant, choose the most appropriate Attribute. If there is a relevant Skill, but the character is untrained in it (it’s not listed on his character sheet), then use the default: usually Poor.
If a high attribute could logically help an untrained skill, set the default at Mediocre. For example, a character wishes to palm some coins without being observed. The GM says to use Sleight of Hand skill, but the character is untrained in Sleight of Hand. The player points out that the character’s Dexterity attribute is Superb, so the GM allows a default of Mediocre Sleight of Hand for this attempt.
The player then rolls against the character’s trait level, and tries to match or surpass the Difficulty Level set by the GM. In cases where there are degrees of success, the better the roll, the better the character did; the worse the roll, the worse the character did.
In setting the Difficulty Level of a task, the GM should remember that Poor is the default for most skills. The average trained climber can climb a Fair cliff most of the time, but the average untrained climber will usually get a Poor result. In the example in Section 3.2 (Nathaniel shooting at an archery target), if the target is large and close, even a Mediocre archer could be expected to hit it:
Mediocre Difficulty Level. If it were much smaller and farther away, perhaps only a Great archer could expect to hit it regularly: Great Difficulty Level. And so on.
Example of setting Difficulty Level: Two PCs (Mickey and Arnold) and an NPC guide (Parri) come to a cliff the guide tells them they have to climb. The GM announces this is a difficult, but not impossible, cliff: a Good Difficulty Level roll is required to scale it with no delays or complications. Checking the character sheets, they find that Parri’s Climbing skill is Great and Mickey’s is Good.
Arnold’s character sheet doesn’t list Climbing, so his skill level is at default: Poor.
Parri and Mickey decide to climb it, then lower a rope for Arnold.
Parri rolls a +1 result: a rolled degree of Superb. She gets up the cliff without difficulty, and much more quickly than expected.
Mickey rolls a -1, however, for a rolled degree of Fair. Since this is one level lower than the Difficulty Level, he’s having problems. Had Mickey done Poorly or even Mediocre, he would perhaps have fallen or not even been able to start. Since his rolled degree is only slightly below the Difficulty Level, though, the GM simply rules he is stuck half way up, and can’t figure out how to go on. Parri ties a rope to a tree at the top of the cliff, and lowers it for Mickey. The GM says it is now Difficulty Level: Poor to climb the cliff with the rope in place, and Mickey makes this easily on another roll.
Arnold would also need a Poor rolled degree to climb the cliff with the rope, but since his skill is Poor, they decide not to risk it.
Mickey and Parri have Arnold loop the rope under his arms, and pull him up as he grabs handholds along the way in case they slip. No roll is needed in this case, unless they are suddenly attacked when Arnold is only half way up the cliff. . . . (The whole situation was merely described as an example of setting Difficulty levels. In actual game play, the GM should describe the cliff, and ask the players how the characters intend to get up it. If they came up with the idea of Parri climbing the cliff and lowering a rope, no rolls would be needed at all unless, possibly, time was a critical factor, or there were hidden difficulties the GM chose not to reveal because they couldn’t have been perceived from the bottom of the cliff.) Occasionally, the GM will roll in secret for the PC. There are times when even a failed roll would give the player knowledge he wouldn’t otherwise have. These are usually information rolls.
For example, if the GM asks the player to make a roll against Perception attribute (or Find Hidden Things skill), and the player fails, the character doesn’t notice anything out of the ordinary. But the player now knows that there is something out of the ordinary that his character didn’t notice. . . . Far better for the GM to make the roll in secret, and only mention it on a successful result.