Rolling Dice

There’s no point in rolling dice unless you know what results you’re looking for. Whenever you try to perform an action, the Storyteller will decide on an appropriate difficulty number and tell you her decision. A difficulty is usually a number between 2 and 10 (but generally between 3 and 9). Each time you score that number or higher on one of your dice, you’re considered to have gained a success. For example, if an action’s difficulty is a 6 and you roll a 3, 3, 8, 7 and 10, then you’ve scored three successes. The more you get, the better you do. You need only one success to perform most actions successfully, but that’s considered a marginal success. If you score three or more, you succeed completely.

The following charts should give you a good idea of how to combine difficulties and degrees of success.

Difficulties

Three Trivial (scanning a small crowd for a familiar face)
Four Easy (following a trail of blood)
Five Straightforward (seducing someone who’s already “in the mood”)
Six Standard (firing a gun)
Seven Challenging (locating where those agonized whispers are coming from)
Eight Difficult (convincing a cop that this isn’t your cocaine)
Nine Extremely difficult (walking a tightrope)

Degrees of Success

One Success Marginal (getting a broken refrigerator to keep running until the repairman arrives)
Two Successes Moderate (making a handicraft that’s ugly but useful)
Three Successes Complete (fixing something so that it’s good as new)
Four Successes Exceptional (increasing your car’s efficiency in the process of repairing it)
Five or More Phenomenal (creating a masterwork)

Naturally, the lower the difficulty, the easier it is to score successes, and vice versa. Six is the default difficulty, indicating actions neither exceptionally tricky nor exceptionally easy to accomplish. If the Storyteller or rulebook ever calls for you to make a roll, but doesn’t give you a specific difficulty number, assume the task is difficulty 6.

The Storyteller is the final authority on how difficult attempted actions are — if the task seems impossible, he’ll make the difficulty appropriately high, while if the task seems routinely easy, the difficulty will be low (if the Storyteller decides you even have to roll at all). A difficulty 3 task is so easy that it probably doesn’t merit a die roll, but a fluke failure or extraordinary success might sometimes make it worth the chance.

At difficulty 10, the results curve becomes very anomalous – indeed, there are a few dice pools for which the likelihood of botching actually increases over having a smaller (and thus theoretically “worse”) dice pool. Be careful when assigning such a high difficulty to an action.

How to Roll


On LAIA we roll our dice in the #dice channel. Use the command:

?throw x y # comment

Where you change out x for your dice pool, and y for the difficulty of the roll. Although it isn't required, we recommend adding a comment about what the roll is for.

When you make a roll, you'll get a reply in return that looks somewhat like this:

# ?
Details:[xd10c[>=y]-@c[=1] (? ? ?)]


Except with numbers in place of the question marks. This is the result of your roll. The number in place of the blue question mark is the sum total of successes. If this number is positive, you succeeded, to a degree determined by the chart above. If this number is zero, you failed. If it is a negative number, you botched. The sum is determined by the numbers below, within the parentheses. Any number at or above your difficulty is considered a success. 10s and 0s however, behave differently.

We always recommend you double check your numbers instead of just checking the sum total, especially if you're making a roll that a speciality applies to. If your character is attempting a roll for something they have a speciality in, 10s count as two successes rather than one.

If one of the numbers you roll is a 1, it will completely cancel out one of your successes. It cancels out in order from left to right. This means that if you were to roll (10 1 2 6) on a difficulty 6 roll, the 10 would be cancelled out, but you would keep the 6. The speciality bonus does not apply to cancelled 10s.

Failure

If you score no successes on a roll, your character fails his attempted action: He misses his punch. The file is encrypted too well. The Prince doesn’t believe her alibi. Failure, while usually disappointing, is not so catastrophic as a botch (see below).

Example: Your character is attempting to eavesdrop on the greasy-looking guy with a bag of pills who’s talking to the blonde in the corner of the bar, and is trying to look nonchalant by the pool table. The Storyteller tells you to roll your character’s Wits + Subterfuge (difficulty 7). You roll and the dice turn up (2 5 6 6 4 3) — no successes.

The Storyteller rules that the greasy guy notices you making an awkward show of pretending to chalk your cue and stops talking to the girl, staring your character down instead. He doesn’t draw a weapon or bolt for the back door, but whatever this deal is isn’t going any further….

Bear in mind that failure is simply that: failure. All it means is that the attempt didn’t produce the desired result. Judge the narrative accordingly, but a failure probably doesn’t in itself result in any harm to the character unless the circumstances would dictate such. A failed attempt to jump the gap between two buildings probably doesn’t result in a breakneck plummet, but perhaps the character lands clumsily on a fire escape below the intended rooftop, or maybe she knocks the wind out of herself and is desperately hanging onto the ledge.

Botch

Bad luck can ruin anything. One more basic of a roll is a “botch.” Whenever one of the dice comes up as a 1, it cancels out a success. Completely. Take the die showing 1 and one of the dice showing a success and set them aside. In this manner, an otherwise successful action may be reduced to failure.

Occasionally, truly bad fortune strikes. If none of your dice comes up a success, and one or more dice are dice showing 1, the roll is a botch. If you score at least one success, even if that success is canceled out and additional 1s remain, it’s just a simple failure.

A botch is much worse than a normal failure — it’s dramatic misfortune. For instance, rolling a botch when trying to fast-talk the Sheriff might make him think you’d better go see the Prince to explain yourself. Botching a Stealth roll when breaking into an apartment makes so much racket the neighbor calls the police. Botching an Animal Ken roll enrages the animal. Botching an Athletics roll means you gauged the width of the gap between the two buildings incorrectly… and look at all that chain-link fence and razor wire rising up to meet you. The Storyteller decides exactly what goes wrong; a botch may produce a minor inconvenience or might result in wholesale catastrophe.

Example: Your character is desperately fleeing from the Archbishop’s most zealous Paladins, and all that’s standing between him and the safety of his haven is a freight elevator that leads up to the service docks of the meatpacking plant. You roll your character’s Stamina + Athletics (difficulty 8), hoping to outpace your pursuers to the elevator and get (9 1 1 8 1). Even though you rolled two successes, the 1s cancel them both out. The sum totals to #-1. The action is a botch. The Storyteller rules that you make it to the elevator — but it’s jammed. No choice but to turn around and face them….

Botching is a place where some creativity on the part of the Storyteller goes a long way. There’s nothing wrong with having a botch signify a dropped gun or stalling out a car in a chase, but a botch might also be an odd fluke that happens at an incongruous time or a butterfly effect that may haunt the chronicle at a later point. Instead of dropping the gun, maybe a botched firearms roll signifies that the gun went off to close to the shooter’s face, blinding or deafening her. Maybe the botched Drive roll suggests that, as the car fishtailed around the corner, the captive Toreador in the back seat made a break for it or the manila envelope full of the incriminating photos fell out the open window. Botches should create a new dramatic twist to the scene in which they occur. They don’t have to be reliable pratfalls.

Trying It Again


Failure often produces stress, which often leads to further failure. If a character fails an action, he may usually try it again (after all, failing to pick a lock does not mean the character may never try to pick the lock again). In such cases, though, the Storyteller should increase the difficulty number of the second attempt by one. (Note that the Storyteller may choose not to increase this difficulty, at her discretion.) If the attempt is failed yet again, the difficulty of a third attempt should increase by two, and so on. Eventually, the difficulty will be so high that the character has no chance of succeeding: The lock is simply beyond her ability to pick and she’s frustrated with the whole affair.

Examples of when to use this rule are: climbing a fence, searching a computer archive, or interrogating a prisoner. After all, if you couldn’t find a handhold, discern the proper file name, or get the prisoner to talk the first time, there’s a reasonable chance you might not be able to do it at all.

Sometimes the Storyteller shouldn’t invoke this rule. For example, failing to shoot somebody with a gun, detect an ambush, or keep on another driver’s tail are to be expected in stressful situations. Such failure does not automatically lead to frustration and failed future attempts. The intent with the Trying It Again rules is to increase the likelihood of either success or interesting failure.

Example: Your character has been “asked” to do a little bit of liaising between an up-and-coming Ventrue and a pack of Gangrel who claim the domain the Ventrue wants as her own. You’re meeting the pack’s bigshot behind a coffee shop in an ethnic ghetto, and things aren’t going well. You try to put a positive spin on the Ventrue’s interest in the Gangrel domain, so the Storyteller suggests that you roll Wits + Streetwise (difficulty 6) to gracefully describe the Gangrel domain as a liability they’d be better off letting go. You roll the dice, but your effort fails, and the Gangrel leader objects to your characterization of his domain as a shit-stained urban blight. You try to make amends, but this time the Storyteller tells you the difficulty is 7. Your character has some backpedaling to do, but you can’t backpedal so far that you make the Gangrel want to stay. Good luck.

Extended Actions


Sometimes completing a task takes longer than the increment of time in which the Storyteller chooses to conduct the scene. When you need multiple successes to score even a marginal success, you’re undertaking an extended action. For example, a Nosferatu might spend all night listening in on a conversation between to scheming Kindred, or a Gangrel might be engaged in fleeing (or pursuing…) mortal police for a prolonged period of time.

In an extended action, you roll your dice pool over and over at subsequent intervals, trying to collect enough successes to succeed. For example, your character is trying to dig a temporary haven in the forest floor, using only his bare hands. The Storyteller tells you that you need 15 successes to hollow out a den that provides sufficient protection from the sun. You’ll eventually succeed, but the longer you go, the more chance there is of you botching and collapsing the tunnel. What’s more, if you have only so many turns before dawn, the speed with which you finish your task becomes doubly important. The Storyteller in all cases is the final authority on which tasks are extended actions and which aren’t.

You can usually take as many turns as you want to finish an extended action (but situations being what they are in Vampire, you won’t always have that luxury). If you botch a roll, however, you probably have to start over again from scratch, and likely have some other resultant catastrophe to worry about. Depending on what you’re trying to do, the Storyteller may even rule that you can’t start over again at all; you’ve failed and that’s that.

Because extended actions are often quite apropos for describing certain feats, they’re used frequently in Chapter Six. However, because of the amount of dicerolling involved, extended actions should probably be kept out of the more intense sessions of roleplaying. Note that the interval for a roll in an extended action need not be only a turn. It can be any segment of game time as determined by the Storyteller. For example, a Giovanni searching tombs for corpses with special qualities might roll once to determine the progress made in a night’s grave robbing. A Ventrue might attempt a long-term seduction of a rival’s mortal daughter. Many protracted Discipline powers (like Conditioning) invoke extended actions that take place over a long period of time. For more information on time intervals
and how they relate to game systems, see p. 254 of the core rulebook.

Example: Veronica Abbey-Roth is trying to drum up a large portion of capital for a certain upcoming project of hers. Even though she has Resources 4, the Storyteller rules that she’d have to liquidate much of her belongings to get the money she wants. So Veronica decides to play fast and dirty with her money, running a number of illegal operations and playing a very intricate game with the stock market to raise the money she needs. The Storyteller decides that for Veronica to reach her goal, Lynn will have to score 18 successes on an extended Wits + Finance roll (difficulty 7 — this is an intrinsically tricky way to earn money). What’s more, since this sort of thing takes time, she can make only one roll per night of game time.

Veronica has Wits 3 and Finance 4, so Lynn rolls seven dice each night. She gets three successes on her first roll — things are opening up nicely. On her second roll, she gets two successes, for a total of five. Unfortunately, luck isn’t with her on the third roll. She gets (3 4 1 6 4 1 6) — a botch! The Storyteller rules that one of Veronica’s brokers has gone sour, and she’s actually lost money on the transaction. But the efforts of three nights’ work have been neatly condensed into five minutes or so of real time. As the game continues, Veronica is left with a tighter budget for a while, and the choice of trying again (and running the risk of attracting the Justice Department’s attention) or abandoning her grandiose plot.…

Resisted Actions


A simple difficulty number might not be enough to represent a struggle between characters. For instance, you may try to batter down a door while a character on the other side tries to hold it closed. In such a case, you’d make a resisted roll — each of you rolls dice against a difficulty (often determined by one of your opponent’s Traits), and the person who scores the most successes wins.

However, you’re considered to score only as many successes as the amount by which you exceed your opponent’s successes. In other words, the opponent’s successes eliminate your own, just as 1s do. If, for example, you score four successes and your opponent scores three, you’re considered to have only one success: a marginal accomplishment. It’s difficult to achieve an outstanding success on a resisted action simply because someone else is working to prevent you from achieving your objective. Even if your opponent can’t beat you, he can still diminish the effect of your efforts.

Some actions (debating an opponent in front of an assembled Elysium, a cat-and-mouse pursuit) may be both extended and resisted. In such cases, one or the other of the opponents must achieve a certain number of successes to succeed. Each success above the rival’s total number in a given turn is added to a running tally. The first to achieve the designated number of successes wins the contest.

Example: Veronica, prowling for trouble at the latest Camarilla soiree, has determined by night’s end to spite her rival, a Ventrue by the name of Giselle. Giselle arrived at the fête with her latest childe in tow: Tony, a talented and delicious young man with a medical license and a much-vaunted pedigree. Veronica decides that there would be nothing more amusing than stealing Giselle’s childe away from her for the evening — of course, that’ll take some doing, as Giselle will be watching him like a hawk.

Lynn (Veronica’s player) and the Storyteller roleplay out much of the initial three-way conversation (as well as the covert knife-edged glances) between Veronica, Giselle, and Tony. Finally, the Storyteller has Lynn roll Veronica’s Manipulation (3) + Subterfuge (3), resisted by Giselle’s Manipulation (3) + Subterfuge (4). Lynn rolls six dice versus a difficulty of 7 (Giselle’s Manipulation + Subterfuge). The Storyteller rolls Giselle’s seven dice versus difficulty 6 (Veronica’s Manipulation + Subterfuge). Lynn manages to score four successes, while Giselle remarkably manages only three. Giselle’s successes subtract from Lynn’s, leaving Lynn with one success. Tony opts to make the rounds with Veronica, although her marginal success means he casts a few longing glances Giselle’s way.…

Teamwork


You don’t always have to go it alone. If the situation warrants (usually during an extended action such as staking out a suspected Sabbat or decoding an Aramaic inscription), characters can work together to collect successes. If the Storyteller decides that teamwork is possible for the task in question, two or more characters can make rolls separately and add their successes together. Their players do this by each rolling their own character’s appropriate dice pool (they do not combine their Traits into one dice pool).

Teamwork can be effective in many situations — restraining the frenzied Gangrel, gathering some physical resource, or doing research in the library, for instance. However, it can actually prove to be a hindrance in certain situations (including most social interaction such as fast-talking or seducing a subject, where too many people can overwhelm a single subject). As well, one person’s botch can bollix the whole attempt.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 License