Prism Chapter 14 Actions

Art copyright  Doug Beekman, used by permission14.1 Resolving Skills

Most actions to be resolved involve some skill.  This includes rolling to see if your character knows something as well as being able to do something.

Maneuvers are classified as being either Static or Moving, and are referred to as SMs (Static Maneuvers) or MMs (Moving Maneuvers).  SMs are usually those not involving movement: knowledge, attempts to use items, etc.  MMs, however, usually involve movement, such as running, jumping, and throwing.  The real difference is that MMs have a range of success levels, while SMs either succeed or fail (with a provision for partial success, fumble, or extraordinary success).

To resolve an action, roll open-ended percentile dice (dô), and add the SV for the relevant skill.  In most cases, the GM will apply relevant modifiers; sample modifiers are listed below.  He will then consult the appropriate column of Chart 14.1 to read a result.

The results for the MM column are usually percentile results; many of the skill descriptions will tell how to interpret these.  In general, the GM will consider the result to be the percentage of the total task the character has accomplished.

When a character fails at an action, in some cases, they can just try again.  For example, trying to shoot a basketball is something you can try over and over until you get it.  For some skills, you can try again and again, but if you didn't get it in the first few tries, you probably won't.  Examples include picking locks, identifying a magic item, or repairing a vehicle.  In these cases you've used your best techniques on the first attempt and have to fall back on other, less effective approaches.  Each failure you've had with this particular attempt gives you a cumulative -25 to subsequent attempts.  You can start over with no penalty when you have new information available to you, or when you've trained in that skill since your last attempt, at the GM's discretion.

Chart 14.1 Maneuvers

Roll Moving Maneuver (MM) Static Maneuver (SM)
up to -25 Extraordinary Failure: You fail miserably.  If possible, you achieve the opposite of the intended results.  You're "in a slump" (at -50) at this and similar actions until you get a full success.
-25 to 05 Fumble: You fail thoroughly, causing some negative side effect.
06 to 15 0% Failure: You do not know or you cannot do what you have attempted.
16 to 25 10%
26 to 40 20%
41 to 55 30%
56 to 65 40%
66 to 75 50%
76 to 80 60%
81 to 85 70% Partial Success: You accomplish about half of your action.
86 to 90 80%
91 to 100 90% Near Success: You can do most of your action, or suffer a side effect.
101 to 110 Unrelated Success: You fail at the intended effect, but accomplish something else beneficial you weren't even trying to do.
111 to 130 100% Success: You achieve your maneuver successfully.
131 to 160 110%
161 to 175 120%
176 to 250 Critical Success: Your move succeeds dramatically.  If your success cannot be improved, it took half the expected time.
251 and up Extraordinary Success: You succeed as well as possible!  You're "in the zone" (at +50) at this and similar actions until your next failure.

Chart 14.2 Common Maneuver Modifiers

Condition Movement Items Influence Magic Perception
General Difficulty Routine +30 +30 +30 +30 +30
Easy +20 +20 +20 +20 +20
Light +10 +10 +10 +10 +10
Medium 0 0 0 0 0
Hard -10 -10 -10 -10 -10
Very Hard -20 -20 -20 -20 -20
Extremely Hard -30 -30 -30 -30 -30
Sheer Folly -50 -50 -50 -50 -50
Impossible -70 -70 -70 -70 -70
Wounds Lost 25-50% of Hp -10 -10 -5 -10 -7
Lost 51-75% of Hp -20 -20 -10 -20 -20
Lost 76-99% of Hp -30 -30 -20 -30 -40
Stunned -25 -75 -75 -75 -50
Bleeding, per hit/round -10 -5 -10 -10 -5
Distractions Near or In Melee -5 -10 -30 -5 -30
Loud Noise -5 -5 -25 -35 -10
Character Running 0 -40 -5 -20 -50
Encumbrance Total Penalty = X X X 0 0 X / 4
Item Quality Inferior -5 -40 0 -20 0
Poor -2 -25 0 -15 0
Average 0 0 0 -5 0
Good +5 +15 0 0 0
Excellent +7 +30 0 +5 0
Terrain Flat +5 +10 0 0 +5
Smooth -5 0 0 0 +10
Rough 0 0 0 0 -7
Steep -30 -15 -5 0 -10
Obstructed -20 -30 -30 0 -40
Mana Level Low 0 0 0 0 -30
High 0 0 0 0 +20
Concentrated Node 0 0 0 0 +40

14.2 Unskilled Actions

Some actions do not use a corresponding skill.  These are described below.

Art copyright  Lou Frank, used by permission14.2.1 Movement

Whenever your character attempts to run at faster than his basic Encumbered MV, you will have to make a maneuver roll.  (Your normal MV represents a walking pace.)  You should choose how much faster than normal you want to be running; this factor is called your pace.  As a general guideline, jogging is 1.5 times normal, running is 2, and sprinting is 3; 5 is about the fastest you can attempt.  Make a moving maneuver using only your Quickness stat (or Running skill if you have it) and your Total Penalty as bonuses.  The GM will add 110 and subtract thirty times your pace.  When a percentile result is returned, multiply it (as a percentage), your MV, and your pace together, for the actual amount of movement available to you this action.

For example, if Tomalfson attempted to run, he would make a roll; suppose he rolled a 55.  Then he adds in his Quickness (since he has no skill in Running), which is -9, and his Total Penalty, which is -65.  The GM adds 110 and subtracts 60 (30 times his pace of 2).  The total is 31, which results in 20%.  His available movement is 20% of 2 times his Enc.  MV of 26, which comes out to 10.4.  Tomalfson learns that he simply cannot run in that armor until he trains a lot more in maneuvering in it!

If a movement roll results in a fumble, assume the character tripped and failed to get anywhere.  An extraordinary failure should probably require the character to roll a weapon fumble, if he had a weapon out, or take some damage (such as an attack on the Fall/Crush chart), as appropriate to the situation.  Critical or extraordinary success probably means the character is already where he wants to be and ready to act with no penalty.

14.2.2 Perception

Whenever there is a chance of your character noticing some interesting fact, the GM will make a perception roll on his behalf.  If the thing to be noticed corresponds to one of the "Detect" skills, he will use your SV in that skill.  However, it is not uncommon for a general perception roll to be necessary, to notice some out-of-place detail or unusuality.  In this case, the GM will use only your Perceptivity stat as well as appropriate modifiers.  Perception is generally a static maneuver.

14.2.3 Resistance

Sometimes your character may need to resist against a poison, disease, or magical effect.  In this case, the GM will actually roll an attack made by the offending substance.  The GM will know how potent it is, in terms of a potency (a number like an SV).  He will roll a maneuver using this potency and your appropriate resistance; "success," in this case, is favorable to the poison, not to you.  Essentially, the poison, disease, etc., is making a maneuver to affect you.  This is called a potency roll or a resistance roll.

The GM will also assign a potency for magical attacks.  When a spellcaster is responsible for the attack, the potency is equal to the appropriate magical skill.

GMs will determine the meaning of such things as Fumble and Critical Success, as always.

14.2.4 Stats

Art copyright  Doug Beekman, used by permissionSome maneuvers are essentially tests of specific stats.  Examples of uses of all stats follow.

Maneuvers like this, which do not involve a specific skill but do tend towards a stat (or in some cases, the average of several stats) will use the stat as a bonus.  Particularly intensive tests of a stat may use the stat doubled (which makes high stats higher and low stats lower).

14.2.5 Combat

Combat attacks are described in detail in Arms Law & Claw Law™ and Spacemaster™.  Use the SV (in the weapon or martial arts attack being used) as an OB.  The DB is used as calculated in section 11.1.3.  See also Chapter 15 and the alternate initiative system, IRIS.

Art copyright  Eyal F., used by permission14.2.6 Breaking Objects

Whenever the GM needs to determine whether some item or object breaks under stress, the approach is identical to the potency roll technique.

First, the GM should decide how "potent" the attack is.  In the case of a person trying to break something, assuming they have a hard surface to smash it against or similar leverage (rather than holding it in both hands and bending, which is far harder), they can use 5-10% of their LC (lift capacity) as an effective "potency." The GM should feel free to modify this heavily based on the particular method being used.  In general, the potency should be around 10% of the number of pounds of force being applied.

Next, the GM will assign a "resistance" depending on how strong this substance or item is against this type of breakage.  Something like solid lumber would be about a 0.  Iron would be up to -75 to break (depending on the type of attack), while balsa wood might be as much as +100 to break.  Crystal is very easy to break in some ways and hard to break in others; metals that are very, very cold break easily; and many other materials vary greatly in their "resistance" to breakage.

Now the GM can make the roll as a potency roll.  Success implies the item breaks.  Use the MM column to get a good idea for how thoroughly it breaks.  Remember that this can be modified very heavily based on circumstances.

14.2.7 Others

A very few actions will not be modified by anything specific.  These are usually pure chance.  The GM will assign a percent chance of success; use this number as you would an SV.

Art copyright  Ragnarok Press14.3 Plot Points

Plot points represent a chance for the player to change the course of the game -- to effect a dramatic twist in the story, to turn the tables, to save the day or just save his character.  Spending a plot point is like getting a jolt of luck, and plot points are often used at the most dramatic moments of a story, or their use creates the most dramatic moments.

Note that the character does not know about plot points and can't count on them; only the player knows about them.  Plot points exist on the meta-game level, not (generally) within the game.

Whenever a character has a plot point available it can be spent at any time the player desires.  Here are the things you spend a plot point to accomplish:

Plot points, once spent, are lost and never return, though you can get more during development by trading in six development points for one.  Be sure to update your character sheet when you spend one; this reduces the number available but not the total.


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