When your character is trying to accomplish something, and the outcome is in doubt or dramatically relevant, you need to make a draw. You will draw a random card numbered 1 (ace) through 10 from a Storyteller, and add that number to your relevant pool representing your character’s inherent abilities. A pool consists of an Attribute + Skill, Attribute + Special Training, or Attribute + Attribute. There are also a number of miscellaneous other things that might add to your character’s pool, such as Advantages or Tools. The Storytellers might also inform you of other special circumstantial modifiers.
Resolving a Draw
Once you have pulled your card and calculated your pool, you should add them together. A total of 2-7 is a failure, with 8+ being a success and 20+ being an exceptional success. Sometimes, it’s enough to just succeed, but for certain actions, the number of successes matters. In that case, you would count your number of successes, as shown below.
If the total value is 8-10, you gain one success. If the total value is 11-13, you gain two successes. If the total value is 14-16, you gain three successes. And so on, for every increment of 3 afterwards.
If you draw a 10, you get to shuffle the 10 back into the deck and draw a second card, adding the two together. If your second card is a 1 (ace), you do not automatically fail your action, you simply have a value of 11 to add to your pool. If your second card is a 10, you do not get to draw a third card (unless this is a Chance Draw); you simply have a value of 20 to add to your pool. Some special cases can change this from being not only 10-Again, but 9-Again or even 8-Again as well!
If the first card you draw at any time is a 1, your action automatically fails. Failing in this manner is not any different from a regular failure. If this was a chance draw, that failure is upgraded to a dramatic failure. Many actions will have a special condition for failing in this manner.
If for any reason your total pool before drawing a card is less than or equal to 0, you instead make a chance draw. You draw a card and add nothing to it. Drawing 2-9 is a failure, while drawing a 1 is a dramatic failure. If you draw a 10, you gain one success and get to draw a second card. If you draw a second 10, you gain a second success and can continue drawing until you no longer draw a 10. In a chance draw, you only earn successes if you draw a 10; it doesn’t matter what the sum of the cards you draw is. Drawing five successes on a chance draw is an exceptional success.
Types of Draws
Draws represent an action your character takes that has some effect on the in-game world or characters. They can represent the effect of your roleplaying through a situation, or things your character does that you can’t do or portray as easily.
An instant action is the basic action that players make draws for. This is something that a character can do immediately, pretty much in real time. A player states what their character is doing, makes the draw, and the result happens. Examples include investigating a room for clues, lifting a heavy object, or providing basic medical treatment.
Contested actions are a special type of action. Contested actions include attempting to Dominate someone or a foot race. In a Contested action, each player makes a draw as normal, and then compares successes gained. Whoever has the higher number of successes is the winner; their net success is determined by subtracting their opponent’s successes from their own. If one side has 5 more successes than the other, that side has a dramatic success while the other side suffers a dramatic failure.
Teamwork actions are another special type of Instant actions. When two or more characters work together, one person takes the lead. The character is the primary actor, and that player of that character assembles her pool as normal. Anyone assisting draws for their own pool before the primary actor; they may be using the same pool, but not always (representing actions that might take multiple parts or are assisted in different ways). Each success they receive gives the primary actor a +1 bonus. If one of the secondary actors gets a dramatic failure, the primary actor suffers a –4 penalty.
Extended Actions take place over periods of time. Examples include picking a lock, hot wiring a car, or navigating in the wilderness. Each draw made by the player represents the passage of a certain amount of time, as determined by the Storyteller. Depending on the situation, each draw might encompass one round of combat, twenty minutes of effort, or a full night of work.
Successes from each draw are tallied until they equal or exceed the target number of successes to complete the task. A failure on any draw generally does not impose any penalties to subsequent draws – it simply means that time was wasted. Sometimes though, a failure on a draw as part of an extended action will give the character the Tilted or Wounded Condition if the failure was severe or life threatening.
Extended actions can also be Contested, involve Teamwork, or both. Unless otherwise noted, gaining an exceptional success on an extended action is no more special than the large amount of success you are adding to the effort at one time, while gaining a dramatic failure subtracts one success from your accumulated total.
Downtime Actions are not actions in the same sense as these. They represent your character’s efforts in the time in between games. See the Downtime Actions page for the full details.