Claws of the Dragon
Earthdawn uses flexible rules system based on a difficulty-number system. To resolve uncertain actions, a die or group of dice (Action Dice) is rolled and compared to a difficulty number. Meeting or exceeding this number denotes success. The type and quantity of dice rolled is described by a Step, which is typically derived from an individual’s attributes, abilities, and quality of equipment.
Ranks and Steps
Almost all abilities in Earthdawn are rated by Rank and Step Numbers. The Rank number is the measure of proficiency in a skill or talent. Rank numbers are often added to an Attribute Step to determine an Action Step. The Step Number determines what Action Dice a player rolls to attempt an action. (The Step Number also indicates the average roll of its Action Dice.)
Bonuses and penalties are applied to the Step or difficulty before Action Dice are rolled.
Me’gana has a Dexterity Step of 7 and three Ranks in Melee Weapons. This gives her a Melee Weapons Step of 10 (7 + 3 = 10). Looking up this Step Number on the Step/Action Dice Table reveals that she rolls 2D8 Action Dice when making a Melee Weapons Test. If an effect gives her a + 1 bonus to Melee Weapons, she rolls Step 11, D10+D8.
Action Dice, as determined by the Step Number, are rolled whenever a variable result is needed. The dice are rolled and added together. These rolls fall into two categories:
- Action Tests: Rolls that are compared to a Difficulty Number to determine success.
- Effect Tests: Rolls that simply represent a value, such as a damage roll.
The higher a roll in relation to the difficulty number, the greater the success, as measured by result levels—Average, Good, Excellent, and Extraordinary—which describe a degree of success under various circumstances. A failure is Poor and a significant failure is Pathetic.
If all the Action Dice rolled for an Action Test come up as ones, then the character automatically fails and is considered to have rolled a Pathetic result, regardless of the total rolled.
When you roll the highest possible number on an action die, you immediately get to roll another die of the same type—this is a Bonus Die. Add the result of the Bonus Die to the rest of the Action Dice rolled. If you roll the maximum on a Bonus Die, you get yet another Bonus Die!
Poohrt rolls a D8 and a D6 (a Step 9 Action Test). The results are an 8 and a 6, the highest numbers on each die. On his D8 Bonus Die he rolls a 2, and then a 6 on his D6 Bonus Die—this entitles him to another D6 Bonus Die for which he rolls a 3. Adding together all the rolls gives the player a total of 25 for his Action Test (8 + 6 + 2 + 6 + 3 = 25).