Wolfstar World: The Core Mechanic

Sometimes it's fun to describe a situation in a story, and then randomly determine how well or how poorly it goes, or to randomly pick an outcome from different possibilities. Sometimes, when you're playing pretend, it's fun to engage the shared imagined world by flavoring what happens with simple tricks of probability. This is why we have dice in a Storygame.

The Basic Rolls

In WSW there are three basic reasons to roll the dice.

To See How Well You Do Something - the most basic roll is just to determine how your effort ends up looking. When you describe what you're doing to the GM and they feel what you're doing is interesting enough to throw in some random results, they might call for a roll. To make any roll you will gather a dice pool based on your character sheet [see below] and roll them to determine how many "Hits" you get. The more Hits you roll the better your results will be.

When it comes to a simple roll just to see How Well You Do, the dice can determine failure, look, or even results, but the end result is a choice. That means it does not necessarily mean your action must fail with no Hits. For a roll that is non-essential to your circumstances or the trajectory of the story this might mean you fail, you screw up, or that you achieve what you wanted just fine, but look pretty foolish in the process. The dice are meant to be interpreted into fun fiction, not meant to be hard science that breaks down your story. When you make a roll just to see how well you do something, passing or failing is not a strict necessity, what's important is what the effort looks like in the fiction, and what cool things can come from how you pull it off (or don't).

To See Who Wins - the most common roll is meant to determine if you succeed or if you fail at something. The GM will make this clear when you're rolling, if it's uncertain at all. This kind of roll is to determine if your effort succeeds or fails, and the dice are what determines the outcome. In this case the dice should be treated as the final word on what happens, but should still be used to conjure interesting fiction. Rolling to see who wins can be your character versus another character, another player's character, or just something working against you in the fiction.

To Clarify Something - when you want your character to discern something in the story, and it would be fun to see how much the discover and how much remains a mystery, you can roll dice to ask the GM questions. This works the same: gather a dice pool and roll. Every Hit you roll can be traded to ask a type of question, the more Hits you spend the more elaborate of a question you can ask, and the more illuminating the answer will be.

Building A Dice Pool

To make any roll you're going to gather up between 1 and 10 dice to roll. All dice used in this game are d10s.

Every action begins with the player describing what their character does. From there, if it's not obvious, the GM will tell the player what Stat they should roll. The Player, in turn, chooses which of their Skillsets is most applicable, and, if they have a Specialty that applies to this particular effort as well.

The Formula
Stat + Skill = Die Pool

Stat - the GM will tell you which stat you should roll based on one of two things: which Stat makes sense, or which Stat could be fun to test. Each Stat also determines the nature of it's failure. So, if you're throwing something, and the GM asks you to roll a Stat other than Dexterity, it means whether or not you hit your target is probably not up for failure. Dexterity is the only stat that marks physical coordination. If the GM calls for a Stat that is not obvious ask them why - they should always explain the nature of what could go wrong on a roll.

Skillsets - the Player that owns the character is always the one to determine if their Skillset is applicable to an Action or not. Everything from the nature of the task, the circumstances of the scene, the state of the character and everything else that could be brought to bear by imagination is justifiable reason to use or not use a Skillset. The goal is to have fun, and to play true to your character, not to swell your dice pool. In any circumstance, however, you can only roll one Skillset into a roll.

Specialties - Specialties are specific actions or knowledges that you're exceptionally good at. You can use one Specialty for a roll, so long as it belongs to the Skillset that it's written under. When you make a roll using a Specialty, it means any dice that do not roll a Hit or a 1 can be re-rolled. You can re-roll one die per dot you have in that Specialty.

Reading the Bones

When you make a roll there are a handful of elements to interpreting the resulting fiction

Steps to Taking an Action:
One: Describe your Action - be clear about your intentions and what you would like to see happen.

Two: Stat, Difficulty and Stunt - the GM will tell you what Stat to roll, why, and what the Difficulty is.

Three: Gather your Dice Pool and Roll - Stat + Skillset

Four: Hits - if you rolled at least one Hit you succeed at your action, the more Hits you roll the better things turn out. If you roll no Hits you fail or things go poorly. If you roll zero Hits and at least a single one then the failure has consequences. If you roll 3 or more 1s, the action always has consequences. For every dot you have in a specialty, you can re-roll a die that is not a Hit or a 1.

Five: Vs. Threats - if you're rolling dice against something that can thwart you or actively try and stop you, the GM will roll dice as well. Each Hit the GM rolls cancels out one Hit from your own results. If you still have at least one Hit you succeed at your action, the more Hits remaining the better things turn out. If you roll no Hits you fail or things go poorly. If you roll zero Hits and at least a single one then the failure has consequences, or, possibly, creates a benefit for the threat against you.

Checks - when you're simply rolling to find out what happens, or when you're rolling to perform a task that can succeed or fail, you're rolling to Check what happens. This means you're not opposed and you're just rolling against a Difficulty to see what happens.

Contested Actions - when you're rolling against a Threat to find out what happens, the description for each player determines their own Difficulty and they roll. Whoever rolls more Hits overcomes the other, the more Hits, the more overpowering their results.

The Scale For Checks and Contested Actions
<0 Hits = Fail - you do not achieve what you set out to do, or, you do so marginally and at a cost
1-3 Hits = Just Barely - you manage to do what you wanted, without consequences, but only just barely
4-6 Hits = Just Right - your action comes off clean and cool, just like you intended
7-9 Hits = Impressive! - your action worked out better than you thought! The GM will explain what good results from this impressive feat
10+ = Shocking - your action was not just impressive, it was the slow-mo shot in the best part of the film. The GM will give you a mechanical bonus for this.

Clarifying Actions - when you basically want to see what your character notices, knows or figures out, you'll roll dice to ask the GM questions. Describe what it is you're studying or contemplating, and the GM will tell you what Stat to roll.

The Scale For Clarifying Actions
<0 Hits = Confusion or Uncertainty - the GM will tell you what you must do to get your answers, or why you can't figure things out for the moment.
1 Hit - ask the GM a Yes or No Question - they can only answer Yes, No, or Maybe.
2 Hits - ask the GM one question, and they will answer with impressions or multiple possible answers.
3 Hits - ask the GM one question and they will reply with insight and elaboration.

For All Rolls: Ones, Tens and Botches

In every clatter of the dice there are Ones and Tens. These high and low numbers add more to the outcome.

Tens - when you roll a Ten it counts as two Hits.

Ones - when you roll any Ones the GM can add a complication to your Roll. This can be where you end up, what you do or do not notice, what you may or may not grab or drop, or any small thing that complicates your efforts.

If you roll more than 3 Ones, the result can be treated like a Botch

Botching - whenever your roll zero Hits and at least a single One or when you roll three Ones on any roll you have Botched. This means things don't just fail, they go badly. Botches don't have to override your success, but they do create consequences that should be immediate.

When you Botch the GM can affect your character mechanics as well - this could mean loosing Focus or taking a Wound or a Condition.

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