Embers How To Play
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Forming a Dice Pool
Anytime you roll dice in Embers, you'll form the dice pool using the following rules.
Your Positive Dice
Whenever the GM asks you to roll dice, it will be for a given Characteristic and Skill.
Whichever of the two is higher determines how many green Ability Dice to grab. Whichever of the two is lower determines how many of those green dice get "upgraded" to yellow Proficiency Dice.
Examples: The GM calls for a Stealth (Agility) roll. Ada has Agility 3, Stealth 1, and thus grabs two green Ability Dice and one yellow Proficiency Die. Bob has Agility 1, Stealth 3, and thus also grabs two green Ability Dice and one yellow Proficiency Die. Cade has Agility 4, Stealth 0, and thus grabs four green Ability Dice. Dan has Agility 2, Stealth 2, and thus grabs two yellow Proficiency Dice.
Sometimes assistance, gear, or other circumstances will add blue Boost Dice to your roll.
Your Negative Dice
The GM will tell you what to add here. To summarize, the purple Difficulty Dice represent the difficulty of whatever you're trying to do. Sometimes this difficulty "upgrades" those dice into red Challenge Dice. And certain circumstances can add black Setback Dice.
Example: Sneaking past these guards is an Average (2) task, which means the players would add two purple Difficulty Dice. However, the guards have a special talent which upgrades one die, so the GM tells the players to add one purple Difficulty Die and one red Challenge Die to their Stealth rolls.
Reading the Dice
After you've rolled the dice, follow these steps.
- Your Success symbols and Failure symbols cancel each other out. (For this purpose, count a Triumph as a Success and count a Despair as a Failure.) If this leaves you with any Success left over, you succeeded! If not, you failed! The amount left over determines the magnitude of success or failure.
- Your Advantage symbols and Threat symbols cancel each other out. If this leaves any Advantage left over, you can use it to gain a helpful benefit (see the relevant table). If it leaves any Threat left over, the GM can use that to make your life worse (also via a table). This is completely unrelated to Success/Failure! You can succeed with threat, fail with advantage, etc.
- Finally, if you rolled any Triumph you can spend it for a potent benefit (think super-Advantage). And if you rolled any Despair the GM can spend it to wreck your day (think super-Threat). Neither Triumphs nor Despairs can be canceled, not even by each other; if you roll both, things are about to get interesting.
If two characters are working together on a task, they may use the Characteristic of one and the Skill of another when forming the dice pool. If this wouldn't give any benefit, instead add a blue Boost Die.
In combat (below), the assistant must go earlier in the initiative and take a Maneuver to help. The primary actor then takes whatever type of activity the task requires (usually an Action).
As usual for an RPG, fighting requires a few extra details.
At the beginning of a combat, each character rolls Cool (Presence) if they were expecting this fight and prepared for it, Vigilance (Willpower) otherwise. The Difficulty is usually 0 (no negative dice). Characters are then ranked by Successes, using Advantage to break ties. (If still tied, PCs beat NPCs.)
These "initiative slots" can be shared freely among PCs! In other words, if Ada is at the top of the initiative track, but she'd rather have Cade go, that's fine — as long as each character acts once during the turn. The same applies to the NPCs on a given side.
There are three categories of activities one might undertake in combat.
- Incidentals: Speaking a sentence, dropping something, looking behind you, etc.
- Maneuvers: Aiming, moving one range band, assisting another character's action, opening a door, standing up, etc.
- Actions: Attacking, unlocking a door, performing first aid, hacking a computer, etc.
In a single combat turn, characters may take any reasonable number of Incidentals (use common sense), one Maneuver, and one Action. Alternatively, they may take two Maneuvers by either suffering 2 Strain or giving up their Action — or take three Maneuvers by doing both.
An attack is just a combat skill check, usually against a fixed Difficulty (the target doesn't roll any sort of defense).
If you hit, look at your weapon's Damage, add +1 for every Success, and subtract the target's Soak. The remainder (if any) comes off the target's Wounds — or Strain, for nonlethal weapons.
Advantage can be spent during an attack for a variety of effects, possibly including a Critical Injury. (The amount of Advantage required to cause a Critical Injury varies from weapon to weapon.)
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