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Rolling the Dice

Rolling the Dice

Most role-playing games use dice to help players and GMs determine the outcome of in-game actions. In Psi-punk, dice are used in the same way. When characters need to know whether or not they successfully performed an action—such as maneuvering a speeding vehicle down a narrow street while being chased, slugging it out with another combatant, or influencing a bouncer to let them into the night club without ID—dice are rolled.

There is no need to roll the dice when a character performs an action that is so easy as to be automatic. Likewise, an action so difficult that it has no chance to succeed requires no roll — it simply can’t be done. Dice are used solely in the middle ground where the outcome of an action is uncertain.

The GM is encouraged to keep die-rolling to a minimum. Do not make the players roll the dice when their characters do mundane things. There is no need to make a roll to see if someone can cook lunch properly, or pick an item from a shelf, or climb a ladder, and so on. Don’t even make them roll to climb a cliff unless it’s a difficult cliff or the situation is stressful, such as if the character is being chased.

For any action the player character wishes to perform in which the outcome is uncertain, the GM must determine which trait is tested (this will usually be a skill or a power). If the action is unopposed, the GM also determines the difficulty level — usually Fair.

Psi-punk uses “Fudge dice” for all rolls. Fudge dice are six-sided dice with two sides marked “+” (representing +1), two sides marked “–“ (representing -1), and two blank sides (representing a 0 value). To use Fudge dice, simply roll four of them (sometimes called “4dF”) and total the amount. Since a +1 and a –1 cancel each other, you can remove a +1 and –1 from the table, and the remaining two dice are easy to read no matter what they are. If there is no opposing pair of +1 and –1 dice, remove any blank dice, and the remaining dice are again easy to read.

The result of a die roll is a number between –4 and +4. On the character sheet, there should be a simple chart of the ability levels, such as the one below. To determine the result of an action, simply put your finger on your trait level, then move it up (for plus results) or down (for minus results).


Table: Trait Ladder


























For example, Ron, who has a Good Ranged Combat skill, is shooting in a rifle contest. The player rolls 4dF, using the procedure described above. If he rolls a 0, he gets a result equal to his skill: Good, in this case. If he rolls a +1, however, he gets a Great result, since Great is one level higher than his Good Ranged Combat skill. If he rolls a –3, unlucky Ron has just made a Poor shot.

It is not always necessary to figure the exact rolled degree. If you only need to know whether or not a character succeeded at something, it is usually sufficient for the player simply to announce the appropriate trait level and the die roll result. The game goes much faster this way.

For example, Sven is trying to out-maneuver his pursuers and needs to squeeze his speeding car in to a tight alleyway. The GM sets the difficulty to Great since this is a pretty difficult task, but luckily for Sven he has a Great Vehicles skill. He rolls the dice and gets a total of +2. He simply announces “Great +2” and zips in to the alleyway without so much as knocking over a garbage can along the way.

Of course, there are many times when you want to know exactly how well the character did, even if it’s not a matter of being close. If the character is writing an article for the local paper, for example, and his Language skill is Fair, you will want to figure out what “Fair +2” means. In this case, he just wrote a Great article! There are many other instances where degrees of success are more important than merely knowing success or failure.


Degree of Success

As we mentioned before, it is often important to know by how much you succeeded on a given check, especially during combat or when making other opposed actions (see below for more details on both of these rolls).

To determine your degree of success, simply roll the dice and compare your total result (after all modifiers have been applied) to the difficulty level of the check. For opposed actions, the difficulty level is always the total result of the opponent’s check. Your final result is known as your degree of success.

Degree of Success = Your Check Result—Difficulty

For example, Brad is trying to use mind control to force his will upon Matt, who doesn’t want any part of such things. Brad has Great Focus and rolls +2 on the dice, for a total initial result of Wonderful (+4). However, Matt attempts to resist by rolling a Mind check, which he has at a level of +1. He only rolls +1 on the dice, for a total initial result of Great (+2).

Brad and Matt compare their respective check results and find that Brad’s degree of success was Great

(Wonderful—Great = Great, or 4—2 = 2). Brad consults Psionics and Magic to determine what he can do with a Great degree of success on a mind control attempt.


Natural Rolls

Sometimes this book will reference natural rolls. Natural rolls represent the exact values listed on the dice, not including any positive or negative modifiers to the dice. For example, if Ron were to roll one + and three blank dice, he would have a natural roll of +1. Other times, the exact die results are observed. For example, it may be important that three of the dice were blank, regardless of whether or not the overall value of the dice is +1. Natural rolls are observed before any rerolls (see below) are made.

Initial Result

The result of a check before it is matched with the difficulty to determine a degree of success. This is different from a Natural Roll in that the Initial Result includes all applicable modifiers, whereas a Natural Roll observes only the dice.


Occasionally you will be given the opportunity to reroll one or more dice. When you do so, simply choose the dice you wish to reroll and give them another throw! You must keep the second result even if it is worse than the original (so think carefully about which dice you wish to reroll when the oppor- tunity presents itself).

You may be given the option to reroll one or more dice by spending a Luck Point or you may be given the option to do so when using certain powers, specialized skills, abilities or equipment. When an ability grants the use of a reroll, the number of dice you are allowed to reroll will be listed in the ability’s description.

For example, the ocular integration weapon Gift (see Guns in Psi-punk) reads “When using a weapon with this gift, the wielder gains a 1dF reroll.” This means that any time a character uses a weapon with ocular integration, he may reroll one of the four dice he used to make the initial check.

Certain abilities or gear may also impose reroll penalties. Any time you receive a -1dF or greater penalty, you must select a die with a + and reroll that die. If no + result was rolled for a check involving such a penalty, no reroll is made.

Re-roll penalties cancel any positive re-roll bonuses you may have. For example, if you gain +1dF re- roll from a Skill Specialization and a -1dF penalty from a faulty piece of gutterware, the two cancel each other out and no re-roll is made.

Action Modifiers

There may be modifiers for any given action, which can affect the rolls referred to in the preceding section. Modifiers temporarily improve or reduce a character’s traits.

For example, Ron, who is Good with his rifle, is Hurt (–1 to all actions). He is thus only Fair with his gun until he’s healed. Sven has a Good Vehicles skill, but a Gift called Getaway Driver gives him a +2 bonus to Vehicles skill checks when fleeing a scene or being chased.

Other conditions may grant a +/–1 to any trait. In Psi-punk +/–2 is a large modifier — +/–3 is the maximum that should ever be granted except under extreme conditions.