Dice and Rolling

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VERS -> Book I - Player Rules -> Basics -> Dice and Rolling

Finally, there are the dice. In real life there are lots of complex interactions between physics, psychology, and sociology that go into every single event that happens across the planet, with many of those interactions unknown to the people participating in them. The rules system cannot recreate all those interactions without becoming as complex and labyrinthine as reality itself. Instead, the rules deal with the largest, most obvious components to interaction, and dice rolls fill in the blanks. Why did your carrot cake not turn out as well this time as it did last time? Maybe you can pick out the exact deviation, but more likely you have no idea. It was random chance as far as we can tell.

That is where the roll of the dice comes in, generating a slight randomness that not only helps model the tiny fluctuations in real life that determine why things happen in different ways, but it is also a tool of balance and fairness, so that no character is always right, successful, or important while others are not.

VERS uses only six-sided dice (called d6 in gaming terms) for three reasons: they are widely available, coming included with many commercial board games; using one type of dice reduces complexity; and the results of rolling 3d6 creates a statistical phenomenon known as “the bell curve”.

The bell curve concept essentially means that roll results will tend to clump together around the median value. This narrowing of the results reduces the effect of both really high and really low rolls on gameplay. The anticipation of results is also easier for players when making decisions and for GMs when designing episodes, making outcomes feel “fairer”. It also reduces the need for large bonuses or penalties to offset the general randomness of the dice.


All rolls in VERS are what is referred to as “roll under.” This means that lower results on the dice are better. While this may seem counterintuitive at first it will quickly become second nature. Rolls have what is called a Competence Target (aka CT), equal to the largest roll result that will yield a success. This value is derived by adding the ranks of the relevant Attributes and/or Skills to the base target of 10. For example, a character who needs to move a huge boulder that is blocking the path needs to make a Strength roll. She has 3 ranks of Strength, so she would have a Competence Target for her roll of “13/-” (read as 13 or less). To determine whether the character succeeds or not, the player simply rolls 3d6, adds any penalties, and compares the result with the Competence Target for that action. If the modified result is less than or equal to than the CT the action is successful. That is literally the way every roll in the system is done, with just one simple mechanic.

VERS is unique in that all dice rolls are made by the players. In other words, if the player’s character is performing an action against another (non-player) character, the player rolls the dice. The target character is represented as a penalty to that single roll. If another character is performing an action against the player character, the player character makes the reactive roll. Again, the attacker is represented as a penalty to that reactive roll. In this way, the entire game is player centric; the success or failure of all of their endeavors rests in their hands.

Failure is Not the End

Failing a roll should not automatically mean that the desired outcome does not come to pass, however. Sometimes it makes more dramatic sense for the action to succeed but with some sort of complication, such as picking the lock but setting off the alarm at the same time. The character gets what they needed, but the drama of the story is also heightened, and the characters have a new situation to react against, pushing things forward.

To this end, every time a roll is going to be made, the player needs to state exactly what they want to accomplish, such as "I want to pick the lock carefully so that no alarms are set off," or "I want to leap down from the balcony and roll to my feet." This makes the GM aware of not just what you are doing but what you want to accomplish. Maybe, on a failure, you leap from the balcony and roll to safety, but slip on the dew-covered grass and wind up prone instead. You are safe and unharmed, but you have failed in the overall sense of what you had wanted to accomplish.

Types of Rolls

Difficulty Rating Examples
DR Meaning Example
0 Extremely Easy Walking on a paved, flat road
1-2 Easy Running across a rocky field
3-4 Moderately Hard Running up a steep, rocky incline
5-6 Hard The above while carrying 60 kgs
7-8 Extremely Hard The above while also dodging arrows
9-10 Nearly Impossible The above while also being on fire

All rolls fall into three broad categories: active, passive, and reactive. This division is based on two principles. First, who is initiating the action, the player or the GM? If the player is initiating the action it is either an active or passive action. If an NPC or the environment is initiating the action towards a character it is a reaction. Player actions initiated towards NPCs are Active Rolls, which means they are actively resisted by the NPC's attributes, while actions initiated towards the environment are Passive Rolls. Reactive Rolls can be resolved as either Active or Passive rolls based on the origin of the threat.

Active Rolls are resolved by using the opponent's Competence in the opposed skill or figured attribute. A Passive Roll, by contrast, uses a static Difficulty Rating (DR, see the table) as a penalty on the roll. In either situation, if the roll is under the character's modifier Competency Target it is a success. Active and Passive rolls take a minimum of a Simple Action to complete, whle Reactive rolls take up the character's Reaction.

Better Than Success

Just determining if an action succeeded or failed is not always the most dramatic or interesting. This is where Degrees of Success come in. Whenever a dice roll results in a success, the roll is said to have Degrees of Success equal the amount the roll was under the Competence Target. Similarly, a roll has Degrees of Failure equal to the amount it went over the Competence Target. In other words a roll result of 8 with a CT of 13/- would give 5 Degrees of Success. These Degrees of Success are used to power Stunts, which are discussed in more detail in the Gameplay chapter, but suffice to say they are extra effects of the roll which give them some edge. Similarly Degrees of Failure can power Stunts against the character.

VERSIcon.png VERS Playtest v20.7 - Online Rule Reference
General Rules Basics
Making a Character Character Profile - Mechanical Aspects (Attributes - Skills - Abilities - Gear)
Gameplay Mental Conflict - Physical Conflict - Social Conflict - Stunts
GM Info NPCs
Optional Rules Not Yet Complete
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Advanced Techniques Not Yet Complete
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Example NPCs Animals - People - Fantasy - Horror - Sci-Fi