Sometimes, despite our best efforts, we don't always win. But not all failures are equal—sometimes we mess up a little, sometimes we mess up catastrophically. Sometimes, we even have a chance to prevent failure—at a small, extra cost.
This chapter introduces degrees of success, allowing you to judge the scale of success and failure accordingly.
When you attempt an action that has a chance of failure, compare your result to the DC and check the list below to see just how well you did.
Krazak is critically hit by an enemy. He takes damage for failing to dodge, then additional damage (the crit damage) for critically failing—two consequences.
When a character succeeds with an ability check or attack roll, something good happens and they get what they wanted. The type of this reward is often clear from the context of the character's action—you hit the monster, you unlock the chest, you identify the potion, etc.
But if the reward isn't clear—or you want to give a character an extra boon for a critical success—consider some of the examples below.
|1||You restore some hit points|
|2||You gain a hit die|
|3||You find some extra gold|
|4||You gain a favor from an ally|
|5||You regain a spell slot|
|6||You deal extra damage|
|7||You heal some mental stress|
|8||You may spend a hit die to recover some hit points|
|9||You may switch places with a nearby ally|
|10||You can move to an advantageous position|
|11||You learn a piece of rare information|
|12||You (temporarily) lose one level of exhaustion|
|13||A magic item regains one charge|
|14||The locals hear about your achievement|
|15||You apply a condition to your enemy|
|16||A god notices your achievement|
|17||A condition improves|
|18||You gain advantage to your next roll|
|19||Your enemies are intimidated by you|
|20||You move your enemy|
When a character fails an action, something bad happens. The type of this consequence is often clear from the context of the character's action—you take damage from an attack, you anger the guards, you fall into the pit, etc.
But if the consequence isn't clear—or you want to give a character an extra consequence for a critical failure—consider some of the examples below.
|1||You or an ally take damage|
|2||An enemy reacts and takes an action|
|3||You gain some mental stress|
|4||Take a notch on your weapon/armor/item|
|5||You lose an item|
|6||One of your conditions worsens|
|7||Your torch goes out|
|8||An NPC becomes hostile to you|
|9||You lose some gold|
|10||You learn some misinformation|
|11||Your enemy becomes enraged|
|12||You gain the attention of the local guards|
|13||You drop your weapon|
|14||You stop and fall prone|
|15||You are poisoned or diseased|
|16||You are imprisoned|
|17||A crowd turns against you|
|18||A higher authority learns of your misdoings|
|19||A god punishes you|
|20||You lose some ammunition or hit dice|
When you fail by a narrow margin, you may choose to succeed at a cost instead—you get what you want, but something bad happens to you as a consequence.
This may require some negotiation with the GM—if you can't both agree on the cost, you can't succeed. Check the Offerings table below for some inspiration.
|1||25% or 50% of your total hit points|
|2||You lose one or more hit dice|
|3||You lose one or more spell slots|
|4||An item gains a notch|
|5||You gain a condition|
|6||You gain the attention of the enemy|
|7||You are moved into a disadvantageous position|
|8||You lose an item|
|9||You gain a level of exhaustion|
|10||You lose some gold|
|11||An NPC is put in a perilous situation|
|12||You lose renown with a person or faction|
Here are two examples of how to use degrees of success in your game—one to demonstrate Success at a Cost and a negotiation, and another to show critical failure in action.
Chansi is trapped on a collapsing ledge over a dark abyss. Luckily, her friends have thrown down a rope for her to climb to safety.
Viridan, meanwhile, has bluffed his way into a meeting with a local lord—Erasius, Lord of Brekenwell. Viridian hopes to convince the lord to lend his support in the defence of a nearby village.