Don’t Roll Twice for the Same Thing

Don’t Roll Twice for the Same Thing

Don’t Roll Twice for the Same Thing

When you face danger, you make an Action roll. Also, you can roll Effect to resist a bad outcome. However, don’t roll both for the exact same thing.

For example, Arlyn is dueling a Red Sash on the roof. The Red Sash drives her back with a flurry of feints and slashes, and there’s a danger that Arlyn will be forced over the edge during the skirmish. Arlyn’s player makes an Action roll to see how her counter-attack goes and if the danger manifests. She rolls badly and the danger manifests. This means that Arlyn is forced over the edge and falls off the roof.

But she can roll to resist, right? Yes. She can resist the harm that results from the fall (using Force, presumably). But she shouldn’t roll to resist being forced over the edge. That’s already been determined by her Action roll. The resistance roll answers “how bad is the fall?” Does she simply take some stress and catch herself on a railing on the way down, or does she end up with a lasting effect as she breaks her leg when she hits the street?

Here’s another example:

Cross is sneaking into the Red Sash’s temple, trying to elude the notice of their guards. He rolls Prowl and gets a result that the danger manifests. A guard notices him! But how much? How alerted is he? Cross’s player can roll to resist the effect. If he pays the resulting stress cost, then the guard hasn’t raised the alarm or seen Cross’s face, but the danger did manifest, as a result of the Action roll. So this is the classic case where the guard and his partner say, “Hey, did you see that?” “What?” “Something over there by the pillar.” “Probably nothing.” “Yeah, I’m gonna check, though.”

If Cross’s own Effect roll is enough to overcome the obstacle, then he hears that conversation in the distance behind him as he slips inside the temple. If he hasn’t overcome the obstacle yet, then he’s hidden behind the pillar as the guard strolls over to investigate.

In other words, the Action roll determines whether something happens or not. The Effect roll determines how much of that event manifests or how bad it is. Don’t roll both Action and Effect to determine the same thing. Each roll has a concrete result that affects the situation.


There have been some good conversations about this kind of thing, so I thought I’d weigh in with an “official” bit of text about it. This will form the basis for a similar section in the book.