Dice rolls in Legends Never Die! are simple, and will likely take more to explain them than to use them.
You have a score that might be 8, 15, or 23. Rolld20 and compare against this total.
- Poor: If you roll above the score, it’s Poor – which usually means a failure.
- Average: If you roll equal or under your skill, its an Average success, the least impressive success.
- Better Quality: each halving of the score up to a point gives another success level.
- Good: at half score or less, you get an outright success, often with no drawbacks.
- Excellent: at half Good, or Quarter total Score, you get an Excellent success.
- Spectactular: at half Excellent, or 1/8th Score you get a Spectacular result. Only check this level if your score is 20 or higher.
Notice that there’s no special result on rolls of 1.
Notice that those success levels spell out PAGES. That gives the dice system its name.
Most rolls are opposed. You roll and your opponent rolls. The winner gets 1 Victory Level for each rank of success better than your opponent.
Alternatively, treat it as 0 Victories at Poor, +1 for each rank above this. So if I roll an Average success (1 Victory Level), and you get an Excellent result (3 VLs), you win with 2 VLs.
In combat, the winner buys different advantages for each Victory Level. Outside of combta, the GM uses the winner’s Victory Levels to adjudicate the result using these grades as a guide:
- 0: A draw or partial success, see that tab.
- 1: A success with a drawback, the least quality of success.
- 2: a solid success with no drawbacks.
- 3+: an exceptional success. Narrate the victrory along with some kind of advantage.
When you and your opponent get the same level of success, it is a partial success. Exactly what happens here is open to some interpretation. It is meant to be an almost but not quite result, or ab I’d have totally made it – but what happened there?.
This essentially means attacker gained one success, and defender gained one success. But we don’t want “nothing happens” very often, so we want to make this asynchronous (one side gets something, and the other side gets something different).
This is a very common result, so don’t treat it as too special. The two common sitations: Player is attacking, and Player is defending.
- When Player is Attacking: They roll damage (or do something appropriate to their action) and the GM takes a GM Move. See the rules for GM Moves.
- When Player is Defending: Nothing Happens (really). Describe this as the NPC character almost striking but being stopped by the actions of the player’s character.
This system creates a roll system that is very swingy. That is okay. Someone with high skill can be beaten by a weak oppoent who gets lucky. There are some situations where this might not be appropriate. If so, just use an unopposed roll and reduce the Victory Levels awarded by 1 (so Poor is actually -1).
Players always have the ability to spend Glory to get their characters out of there, and the GM might spend a VL to buy a GM Move to make things more interesting (which might mean more dangerous).
Players can also spend Glory to improve their successes and can overcome the tyranny of the dice.
There is a special result. If you roll a natural 20, or over double you score, it’s Terrible.
On a Terrible result, the GM should ignore the opposed result and narrate something disastrous but not immediately damaging. It should be something unrelated to your own skill. It doesn’t make you look like an incompetent fool, and should create opportunties (an opportunity to escape when outmatched for example). It can be a good thing.
You are fighting thoridan on the battlements and roll a 20. Throidan rolls a 7, normally enough for a Good success. He should win with 2 VLs, but your Terrible result overrides that. The GM declares the crumbling battlements give way beneath you and you fall to a haycart below, losing your sword (a valuable bound daemon!). Now you can’t eeasily continue this fight. It is possible, but it’s easier to run away.
The GM might have just as easily had you knocked to the ground and your weapon scattered some distance away (maybe the battlements crumbled, and you caught yourself, falling into the courtyard instead). Then the fight could continue in place with your starting from a disdvantage.
On such rolls, the player might be asked what they prefer to happen. They never allow the players character to achieve their goal, but might help them stay alive (with a bit of frustration).
For the most part, PvP situations are handled like any other. It’s talked about a little bit in the rules. But one thing not addressed is the effect on Loyalty (also described in the rulebooks).
If you attack someone, they reduce their loyalty to you by one. They might still have some sense of debt or allegiance to you if you offend them – that’s normal. But keep at it and you’ll push them too far.
Attack here can mean oppose or undermine, it isn’t confined to attacks with weapons. The GM will have to adjudicate this.
The penalty should usually only be applied once per Scene, but also means that loyalty can’t increase during that scene.
Behind the Curtain – Why This System?
This section is just for people who like to understand why mechanics are the way they are.
The origin of this dice roll system came from observing HeroQuest (or Hero Wars as it was then).
In that system, you roll d20 against your score, with special effects occuring on 1 or 20, and compare success against opponent. For each multiple of 20, halve your skill and add a Mastery, a bonus success.
A skill of 47 would become 23m then 11mm (with the m meaning +1 success level). The goal was to reduce the range so a single d20 roll was always meaningful.
This system worked well to separate beginners from superheroes, but had some very weird probability bumps with the range of increasing skill levels.
I started thinking about a system that could be used across a wide range of skill levels (20, 40, 80, 160, etc.) with more consistent graphis of probability, but hit the problem: could I really ask players to calculate 1/4 or 1/16th skill on every roll.
Then I played Alternity (1st edition) and it had the solution: simply write the target number of the character sheet. If you have a skill of 23, write 11/5/2 on the sheet so players can see them at a glance. When they roll a die. they can see how well they’ve done immediately.
I also considered what happened for skills above 40, 80, 160 and so on, but it’s not really relavant for this game. There, you can see the origin and development of the PAGES dice roll.
Read Legends Never Die!