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Solar Blades & Cosmic Spells - Core Rules - Part III

Ok, this is the last part of the Core Rules section of Solar Blades & Cosmic Spells book. There are other details explained in the book, such as the use of the character's Concept, how to use Complications and other rules, but those are complementary rules.

Today we take a look at Criticals and Fumbles, the Durability Roll (for pretty much any resource that can be depleted) and the Luck Roll!

Critical Success and Fumble

Sometimes, things go extremely well. On others, all hell break lose. When making an Attribute Test, there are special results called Critical Successes and Fumbles.

A Critical Success occurs when a player rolls the exact score of the Attribute tested on the d20, or when NPCs and opponents roll a natural “20”. This means the task attempted is accomplished extremely well, and further benefits might be gained, according to the Overlord judgment.

Kaylia broke in a Galactic Overlord’s Punishers Fortress to hack into their computers and delete the information they had about her ship in there. She got to the terminal and started operate it searching for the information. The Overlord, then, asked for a Difficulty 3 Intellect test, and Alice rolled a 14, her exact Intellect score, scoring a Critical Success. Not only she found the information about her ship and deleted it, she found out about a valuables cargo arriving in a few days that she could intercept to make a few Credits!

A Fumble happens on a roll of natural “20” for players and on a roll of “1” for NPCs and opponents, and it represents a catastrophic failure. Not only the task is unsuccessful, but the situation is aggravated, and complications arise in consequence of the action. Again, the Overlord should use his judgement when deciding what happens.

On her way out, sneaking through the corridors, she saw two Punishers standing guard. To pass through them unnoticed, the Overlord asks for a Difficulty 1 (they are 3HD opponents and she is a 2nd level character now) Agility test. She rolls the d20 but gets a 20, obtaining a Fumble. She tripped on some electric cords on the ground, attracting attention from the Punishers and accidentally fell on the alarm button, alerting the whole battalion. She better run fast now.

Durability Roll

In the grim and harsh Universe of Solar Blades & Cosmic Spells, nothing lasts forever. Swords can brake, pistols may run out of ammo, armors can be reduced to more pieces, and energy cells can be quickly drained. Hence, every item has a Durability score, symbolizing how deteriorated an object is. This rating varies from 0 to 5, 0 being a destroyed or completely drained item and 5 being a very sound and durable item that has been barely used. The usual score for most items is around 3. This Durability score can be used for almonds any resource that can be used, like items, fuel, food, and even favors with people and factions.

To keep track of the deterioration, we use Durability Rolls, which consists of rolling a d6 and comparing the result to the Durability score. O result of equal to or lower that number means the item has not lost its durability, charges or whatever represents their resources. However, a result higher than the score means the resource has been diminished and the Durability is reduced by 1. The frequency of the Durability Rolls depend on how unforgiving the Overlord wants his setting to be, varying from one every encounter he item is used to once every adventure.

As this score decreases, the item runs the risk of being destroyed or completely depleted. Players can and should try to repair them, either paying someone to fix it, getting more ammunition, buying more fuel or whatever needs to be done (and the Overlord should make sure that advanced technological items are harder to fix or recharge). Once the Durability score reaches zero, the resource is depleted, the item is destroyed, there is no more ammunition or charges, or otherwise the item is unusable.

Kaylia heavy pistol started the game with a Durability of 3, but along the many perilous forays through the stars, the pistol’s Durability has been reduced to 1. Now, she finds herself stranded in a wasteland covered planet, where her ship has crashed. The Overlord remembers he hasn’t asked for a Durability Roll for a fee sessions and asks for one now, and Alice, Kaylia’s player, rolls a 4. This means her pistol is out of ammunition. Let’s hope she does run into trouble.

Luck Roll

They say our luck is written in the stars, but stars can actually die. Every player character has a Luck score, representing his inherent ability to be in the right place at the right time, the favor of the cosmos or, simply, plain luck. Thus, whenever a situation arises in which the capability of the character has no influence and the Overlord still wants to decide it by chance, he can call for a Luck Roll.

This consists of rolling a d6 and comparing it to the character’s Luck score. If the result is equal to or lower than the Luck score, the situation develops in favor of the character. He was lucky. On the other hand, rolling above that score means things go south for him, and his Luck score is reduced by 1 until the end of the adventure. He was unlucky. What that means will vary from situation to situation, and is determined by the Overlord. Once the Luck score reaches zero, the character fails all subsequent Luck Rolls.

Kaylia has now found some ruins in the wastelands her starship crashed. Desperate for food and water, she rushes in, and starts going through the place. The Overlord haven’t decided what’s in there, so he asks for a Luck Roll. Being human, Kaylia has an initial Luk score of 4. She rolls a 2, meaning she did find water and a few rations. It won’t last long, but that will keep her alive a few more days.

When to use a Luck Roll?

But when does the destiny of the adventurers should rest on their luck? Well, whenever they can’t rely on something else, basically.

The Luck Roll can be used by the Overlord as a tool for determining whether a previously undefined fact about the environment or scene is true or not, especially when this affects the interest of the player characters. Is there a patrol passing through at that moment? Are there any hover cars parked around fast enough to outrun the Punisher’s speeder that is approaching? Is there food or water in the ruins found at the Purple Desert? All of this can be decided by a Luck Roll.

It’s important to notice that Luck Rolls can be the result of both the players question about the scene (“so, is there any barrels of oil inside the workshop?”) or the desire of the Overlord to find out about something (“as you remove the crystal from the main generator, the whole complex starts to shake, and rocks start falling from the ceiling. Make a Luck Roll to see if any one of them falls on you!”).

Refusing a Lucky Roll

A player may want to preserve his Luck for later, and refuse a Luck Roll. That makes the scene develops as if he had failed the roll but doesn’t reduce his Luck score as an actual failure. Thus, the Overlord should try to at least imply the possible consequences of each Luck Roll, so players can make informed decisions about risking their Luck.

As Kaylia was about to exit the ruins, she finds a loose flagstone on the floor and lifts it up. Inside, she can see a small set of stairs leading to a rough hewed tunnel that still has some functioning lights, with wires running through the floor. Thinking on saving her batteries, she asks if there is a flashlight nearby on the ruins, and the Overlord asks for a Luck Roll. Not wanting to risk her Luck too often, she refuses and no flashlight could be found.

Refreshing Luck

At the beginning of each adventure, the character’s Luck score is refreshed to its original value, unless something in the current events of the campaign dictates otherwise (like a curse, a technological device that draws the favors of the Universe, or something similar). Luck comes and goes in the galaxies of Solar Blades & Cosmic Spells, and as the literature that inspires the game, adventures as usually episodic, with some amount of time between them. This allows for the stars to realign and set the destinies back on track.

Kaylia had to count on her Luck several times in her time amongst the stars, even had an occasion where her Luck score was reduced to zero. Thankfully, in this new adventure, her Luck score was back to 4!

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