checks and difficulty

Rolling a Check

A “check” refers to a roll of dice to see whether your character has succeeded or failed in something they want to do.

Rolling checks may be a flat check (against a fixed value) or a contest (against another roll of dice).

In [ax], checks normally happen outside of combat. Specific rules exist for combat interactions, which normally do not involve difficulty. However, some combat Forms may involve checks.

To roll a check, roll a number of dice equivalent to the relevant Attribute. When rolling more than two dice, always take the top two dice, and discard the rest.

Flat Checks

When rolling a Flat Check, if you roll the value of the difficulty or higher, you succeed on that task.

Flat Checks will normally have a difficulty from 10 to 20, but for very low tier characters or NPCs, there may be difficulties lower than 10.

DMs can use the following table to create appropriate challenges for players. A Tier 0 character will normally roll 2d10 on average on their social checks, while an experienced character will roll closer to 4d10 or more on many checks.

DifficultyChance of success (2d10)Chance of success (3d10)Chance of success (4d10)
1615%29.9%48.5% *
1521%39.8%59.7% **
1428%49.8% *69.7%
1334%59.4% **78.0%
1133% ***75.7%89.7%
* mode / ** average / *** mode and average
Note: Flat check difficulties at Tier 5 should generally be set at 19 or higher, or merely dispensed with in favour of Contest Checks (see below).

A roll which creates a non-parallel contest can also create a flat check. For example, someone sets a trap and rolls an 17 to create the trap. Several months later, you attempt to disarm the trap. This is treated as a flat check to get a 17 or higher, rather than as a contest.


On flat checks, you can get another character to assist you. This gives +1 if their relevant social attribute is less than yours, and +2 if equal or greater.

Tools, circumstances, and the environment may offer small bonuses to your flat checks. Occasionally, your circumstances and environment may give penalties. Bonuses and penalties are more critical at higher difficulties.

Group Flat Checks

Occasionally, a DM may wish to split up a task instead of offering bonuses to make assistance more valuable with a relatively easy task. This is called a Group Flat Check.

On a Group Flat Check, a predetermined number of persons in a group must roll against the difficulty. If fewer than the requisite number of people are available, add 2 to the difficulty for each person missing. If more than the requisite number of people are available, subtract 2 up to a predetermined maximum of people.

For example: an anchor must be weighed using a capstan. Normally, this requires 4 people at a Difficulty of 12. 7 people are available, but there are 6 spokes on the capstan. A group of 6 people turn the capstan, reducing the Difficulty to 8.

On a Group Flat Check, the group succeeds provided at least 2/3 of the group succeed on their checks.

Contest Checks

Contests occur when two creatures are checking against one another simultaneously. The creature with the higher roll, taking the top two dice, succeeds, while the creature with the lower roll fails.

Because there are two competing rolls of dice, Contest Checks are substantially more random than Flat Checks, so a DM should generally avoid forcing Contest Checks on players. There are a few situations where a Contest may be desired, however. Here are some examples:

  • Two creatures with virtually identical Physique and Size are pulling on a rope from opposing directions. Roll a Physique Contest Check to see who wins (eventually).
  • Three characters attempting to Persuade a fourth character all succeed on their Flat Checks. Roll a Passion Contest Check to see whose advice the persuaded character follows.
  • In a quiz, two characters both get the answer to a quizmaster’s question using Genius Flat Checks. Roll a Passion Contest Check to see who gets to the buzzer faster.

Ties are fairly rare in Contest Checks except at very high levels, but if a Tie occurs, simply roll all the dice again.

Skipping a Check

Because there is always a nontrivial chance of failure, a DM can and should skip a check and allow a character to automatically succeed when their attributes make the task in question absurdly easy. As a rule of thumb, if the chance of failure is less than 1%, you can advise your DM to skip the check. This occurs at the following:

Number of dice rolledDifficulty
3< 5
4< 7
5< 9
6< 10
7< 11

Having to skip checks can be obviated by good DM practices when setting difficulty!