Stat Tests can be considered the Active Use of Character Stats to overcome environmental obstacles, problem solve, or push forward narrative actions. When any kind of stat test is required (i.e. roll vs “stat”) you must roll equal to or less than the stat, on a D20, to be successful. Note that a roll of 20 is always a fail even when the stat is equal to a natural 20 (or higher than 20 through buffs/enchants/etc). In some cases stat tests may involve several consecutive rolls or averaging two or more stats into one roll.
All stat tests are forced at the discretion of the GM as required by the task at hand. However as a guideline, stat tests should only be used if the task is difficult enough to warrant a chance of failure and/or where failure would result in a tangible consequence.
Example: walking through a field with even and level ground would rarely if ever require an Agility test, but climbing up a weathered rope ladder would likely require an Agility test, as the chance of a misstep is possible, and doing so could cause fall damage.
Likewise if a task is completely inappropriate or effectively impossible, the GM may decide that even a successful stat test would not make it possible.
Example: a human could not under any normal circumstances run through the thick stone walls of a castle, though it may be amusing to see them try (and take collision damage)… therefore a successful Strength test would have no effective use and could simply be skipped by the GM
When stat tests are required in combat they are generally treated as instants, especially if they require some sort of physical action (i.e. a strength test to shove past a barrel that’s blocking a hallway while on the way to attack someone).
When two individuals are competing against each other to achieve an Active Use of one of their Character Stats, a separate type of stat test called a stat roll-off may be required. A good example of the difference would be a single individual attempting to lift a large rock would require a Strength stat test where as two individuals competing in an arm wrestle would require a Strength stat roll-off. In some instances a stat roll-off might involve each individual using a different stat such as when attempting to tame certain animals.
Regardless of which stats are involved when a stat roll off is required, each of the individuals rolls a D12 and adds that to the stat in question. The individual with the higher number wins the roll-off. In the event of a tie it is considered a stalemate, which could necessitate another roll depending on the situation. All stat roll-offs are subject to the discretion of the GM as required by the activity at hand. When stat roll-offs are required in combat they are generally treated as instants for the individual that started the process requiring the roll-off, especially if they require some sort of physical action (i.e. a strength roll-off to wrestle past an enemy that is blocking a hallway while on the way to attack someone else).
Some Examples of Possible Stat Roll-Off Scenarios
|Strength vs Strength||arm wrestle, wrestling match, actively attempting to prevent someone from getting by you|
|Strength vs Stamina||trying to forcibly move someone that refuses to move|
|Charm vs Wisdom||trying to sweet talk a noblewoman into leaving the bar with you so that you can rob her blind in the back alley|
|Stamina vs Stamina||a long distance foot race between two individuals with relatively equal movement stats|
|Intellect vs Intellect||a battle of wits, a riddle contest (though something like this could also just be facilitated through role playing elements set out by the GM)|
|Avoidance vs Perception||a non stealthy trying to sneak past a guard while his back is turned|
|Initiative vs Initiative||a test of reflexes (such as with a Ward-off)|
|various vs Resolve||intimidation and/or persuasion|
As with stat tests, if a GM decides that a particular contest is so one sided as to not be worth even rolling (i.e. a Giant arm wrestling a Halfling) they may simply determine an appropriate outcome.
Advantage and Disadvantage
Stat rolls are assumed to represent attempting to do something under normal conditions and are therefore unmodified. However, in some situations a GM may decide that a particular activity requiring a stat test or stat roll-off is more or less difficult than normal. In these cases GMs may assign advantage (less difficult) or disadvantage (more difficult) to the dice rolls at their discretion, such as “you’re nursing a serious hangover so I’m going to give you -3 disadvantage on the agility test to jump from one moving wagon to another”. This could also be denoted by a particular skill or ability, such as “cause X effect if passing an agility test, with +1 Advantage per rank of the skill”.
GMs may also wish to grant advantage as a means of rewarding a particularly clever or creative approach to a problem, such as character describing in detail how thoroughly they searched the room for hidden treasures. Conversely, disadvantage could be used as a means of penalizing a poorly thought-out plan or as a subtle nudge that maybe a different approach would bear better results.
Because the mechanics of stat tests and stat roll-offs are different, the modifiers for advantage and disadvantage are applied differently for each.
- Stat tests: advantage or disadvantage effectively acts as a temporary increase or decrease to that stat for the task at hand (i.e. a -2 Disadvantage for a Wisdom test reduces a characters Wisdom from 14 down to 12, for the duration of that task)
- Stat Roll-offs: advantage or disadvantage is applied directly to your d12 dice roll (i.e. +1 Advantage for an Initiative vs Initiative stat roll-off, grants the instigator of the stat-roll off 1d12+1 added to their Initiative stat)
The amount of advantage or disadvantage applied is at the GMs discretion, however when constructing a campaign the table below can provide a general guideline. It can also be used to convert from other gaming systems such as 5E SRD.
|Very Easy||+10 Advantage|
|Very Hard||-15 Disadvantage|
|Nearly Impossible||-20 Disadvantage|
Note: If converting from 5E SRD, use a conversion of: 10 – DC = RoS +/-
Advantage and disadvantage modifiers are a very useful tool for GMs to improvise when the rule set simply can’t address every circumstance that might occur in an adventure. However, when used in an improvisational manner, GMs should typically only grant between 1 and 3 points of advantage or disadvantage, and certainly rarely higher than 5. GMs that go beyond these limits too frequently may leave players feeling as though their stats, and their decisions, don’t really matter.
Example: Climbing a rope would normally require a character to pass an agility test. However if an unexpected rain storm has made that rope slick, the GM may decide that this is more difficult than normal, and therefore apply -3 disadvantage to the Stat roll. Likewise if someone has tied knots in the rope to make it easier to climb the GM might choose to apply +2 advantage to the roll.
Additional caution should be exercised when using advantage and disadvantage to indicate a leaning one way or the other during a stat roll-off, as the stat difference between the two characters involved is already taking into account a measure of advantage and disadvantage. Advantage and disadvantage may however still be appropriate to use in a stat roll-off if there is a difference in the size of the participants (see Creature Sizes).
Example: If two human barbarians are having a wrestling match, and one is obviously more muscular, this theoretically should already be taken into account by the relative difference in their Strength stats, therefore no advantage or disadvantage is required. However if the same human barbarian is wrestling an ogre, the human may be given -2 disadvantage due to the size difference.
On a stat test, advantage can be treated as adding to the characters Stat value, though would also be equivalent to reducing the d20 roll by that amount. Disadvantage would be to reduce the characters Stat value by that amount, or equivalent to increasing the d20 stat roll. Whichever way you choose to apply it, advantage ALWAYS makes success more likely, while disadvantage makes success less likely.
Assisted Stat Tests
At times a character may find a particular task is beyond their ability to complete, or so unlikely as to not be worth the risk of failure. In cases such as this, players may choose to work together, with one or more player character assisting the character that is attempting the stat roll. The GM can deicide whether or not this is appropriate in any given situation. For example, it would be appropriate to allow a second character to assist with a strength test for pushing open a heavy door. However, if their was a complex latching mechanism on that door which required agile hand movements to open, it would be unlikely that a second set of hands would make the required agility test any easier.
When a valid assisted stat test is taken:
- add half of the assisting characters stat (rounded down) as advantage to the character who is leading the effort.
Example: A minotaur (with strength 15) and an halfling (with strength 10) are attempting to get through a heavy door built by giants. Though the latch is simple enough, it is 10 feet up and only the Minotaur can reach it. So he attempts to open the latch and then push on the door. Because the door is so heavy the GM decides to apply -5 Disadvantage to the minotaur’s strength test. He rolls a 14, which normally would be sufficient, but due to the disadvantage this results in a failure. Trying a second time the halfling puts his back into it as well, granting 1/2 of his 10 strength as advantage. This +5 advantage cancels out the -5 disadvantage, and the minotaur this time rolls a 13. With the halflings help they are able to open the door, and for the rest of the campaign the halfling can now freely mock his minotaur friend for not being able to open doors without him.