Contractors are busy bees, always running around and just doing lots of different things. Many times, these things can be done just by talking about it, but sometimes the possibility of failure is significant, and a more objective means of determining success is needed. That's where dice come in.
How to Roll High
House Games uses a D10-based dice pool system to resolve actions that have a chance to fail.
The first step is to determine your dice pool. This will most frequently be a number of ten-sided dice equal to the total of the relevant Attribute and the relevant Ability. For instance, your dice pool for shooting a gun will be equal to your Dexterity score plus your Firearms score. Since Attributes and Abilities are (generally) capped at 5, dice pools will mostly max out at 10 dice.
Next, the GM will set a difficulty for the roll. Base difficulty for all rolls is set at 6, which represents an action of average difficulty, and this may be modified by a number of factors, including the specific action being performed, environmental factors, and Secondary Abilities.
Finally, the player rolls their dice pool, and counts up the number of dice which display a number equal to or higher than the stated difficulty. Each die which crosses the difficulty threshold is considered a "success". The player counts up the total number of "successes" they achieved, and relays it to the GM, who lets them know how effectively they were able to act. If you roll a 1, one success is subtracted from your total successes (the exceptions to this are rolls to determine damage dealt and Initiative rolls, which don't count 1s).
As an example, in order to sneak down an alley, the GM would ask you to roll Dexterity + Stealth. If your Dexterity is 3 and your Stealth is 2, you should roll 5 dice. If the Difficulty is 6, and your results are 2, 4, 5, 6, and 8, you have 2 successes. As another example: Smitty the hacker wants to access a restricted website. His GM tells him to make an Intelligence + Computer roll at Difficulty 6. This means Smitty takes his Intelligence (3) and adds it to his ranks in Computer (5) and rolls the appropriate number of dice (a total of 8). Any die that comes up equal to or higher than the Difficulty (in this case 6) counts as one success.
If you do not have any ranks in a relevant Ability, you may roll using only the relevant Attribute, but the Difficulty is increased by 1. For example, if you are attempting to sneak down an alley but do not have any Stealth, you may roll only Dexterity, but the Difficulty will be 7 rather than 6. If the modified Difficulty is greater than 10, the number of successes required is increased by a number equal to (Difficulty – 10). If the number of successes required is greater than you can possibly obtain, you cannot succeed.
On the other hand, if you have a relevant Secondary Ability, which are subcategories of Abilities that represent greater specialization in one aspect of an Ability at the expense of the various other parts, your difficulty will be reduced by 1 in combat and 2 out of combat. To continue with the example, if a character has the Secondary Ability of Sneak, that means that while they aren’t so great at hiding behind trashcans, they are fantastic at sneaking down alleys, so they would roll their dice at Difficulty 4.
Difficulty can also be increased or reduced by various situational factors, as well as by some powers. Base difficulty is 6, and modifiers either add to or subtract from that number. For instance, an attempt to climb a wall which had been greased might be at +3 difficulty, bringing it up to difficulty 9. On the other hand, the wall might be an ordinary, ungreased brick wall and the player has secured his grappling hook to water pipes on the roof, which might be at -2 difficulty, for a final difficulty of 4. The size of a modifier for a situation is at the GM’s discretion, but any modifiers from powers are set in stone. The final, modified difficulty cannot be reduced below 2 for non-combat rolls, or 3 for combat rolls.
Parameters for Success
The degree to which you complete an action depends on the number of successes you achieve on your roll.
In general, the more successes you roll, the better you perform at your task. One success indicates you barely or only partially complete the action, three indicates average success, and five indicates complete success. If you have 0 successes, you fail. If you roll more 1’s than successes (giving you an end result below 0), you "Botch" and something goes horribly wrong with your attempted action. A character who fails an action may be permitted to try again at the GM's discretion, but the Difficulty increases by one for each unsuccessful attempt.
However, there are some fairly common scenarios in which success is determined differently.
Many actions in House Games fall under the heading of "contested actions", with combat being the most common example. A contested action occurs when two characters attempt actions that oppose each other. For example, if I attack you with my sword and you attempt to parry with your dirk, our actions cannot both be successes. Another case that would be considered a contested action would be if an action came up against an effect that was providing some form of passive resistance. This occurs commonly with Willpower, which is often used as an automatic defense against various different Powers.
When taking a contested action, both parties roll, and the party with the greater number of successes is the victor. The successes of the loser are subtracted from those of the winner. A tie goes to the defender (because the winner has 0 successes). In a contested action, the Difficulty is 6 unless the rules or the GM indicate otherwise.
Many actions will have a direct scale of effectiveness that depends on the number of successes gained from a roll, where each success increases the output of the action by a fixed amount. The most common example of this would be running over some distance. Your speed (and thus the amount of distance you can move over a fixed time, such as Combat Turns) scales up with each additional success.
Many Powers use some sort of scale based on the results of a roll; in the event of this, the scale will be notated within the Power description.
Working Together and Time
Some (but not all) rolls may be made as extended rolls, with successes accumulating over time.
If two characters are able to work together, each rolls separately and their successes are totaled.
Turn-Based Actions and Dice Splitting
In some situations, including all combat, the large number of people doing things at once requires a turn-based format, with each turn representing 3 seconds. When this happens, characters have one action per turn. You may attempt to multitask this action by splitting your dice pool. This is done by dividing the LOWER dice pool of the 2 (or more) actions you want to take between the rolls. A dice pool must consist of at least two dice. Roll all actions at the reduced number of dice. While split actions are simultaneous, they are subject to interruption. If this occurs, you may lose the other split actions.
An exception to this is that you may not make more than 1 attack per turn in combat. So you may split your dice pool to attack and reserve the rest to dodge, but you may not split your dice pool to attack and then attack again.
If an action cannot be split, it is referred to as “committed.” For example, spells are always committed. Also, extra actions from any source are committed and may not be split.