WFRP: Astounding Success

Last week we brought you part one in our new series of WFRP Blog posts. If you missed it you can catch up here. Today, Cubicle 7 writer Ben Scerri is looking at Success Levels. Join the chat over on Facebook and Twitter and let us know what you think! 

Hi, folks! It’s Ben again. The Old World is a brutal place, where it’s a struggle just to get by, and all-too-often you’re only winning because someone else is losing more than you… So today, I’m going to tackle something very core to the game: Success Levels!

Hang in there, buddy.

Success Levels (SL) come up in three main areas of play: Dramatic Tests, Opposed Tests, and specifically Opposed Tests in Combat. Let’s begin at the beginning, shall we?

Success Levels in Dramatic Tests

Sometimes it’s not good enough to know if you merely succeed or fail, and we need to know how much of a fool (or, Sigmar help us, a hero) you made of yourself. In these instances, we use Dramatic Tests. The Test follows the same usual pattern as a Simple Test, but the number you rolled, in addition to being higher or lower than your Skill or Characteristic being Tested, is important.

Salundra and Gunnar stroll into the Red Moon Inn in Ubersreik, excited by the prospect of a stiff drink to wash away the troubles of the day. Unfortunately, tonight the pub is patronised by a rowdy gang of locals who mistake Salundra’s noble swagger for the walk of the hated Altdorfers! A thug gets to his feet, swaying slightly, and starts ranting to the crowd about how unwelcome Altdorfers are, attempting to get the two thrown out. Salundra decides to make a joke of the man, and perhaps earn herself some free drinks from the locals, so she rolls a Charm Test. Because this Test has a range of potential results, it’s a Dramatic Test. Salundra rolls a 91 against her Charm of 28!

Once you’ve rolled, first figure out if you succeeded or failed, like a Simple Test. Remember, if the roll is equal to or lower than the target, you succeed; otherwise, you fail.

91 is a lot higher than Salundra’s target of 28, so this is a failure…

Next, we minus the target’s ‘tens’ column from the roll’s ‘tens’ column, to discover the SL. If the roll was a failure, we do the reverse.

The tens of the target was ‘2’, and the tens of the roll was ‘−9’. Therefore, 2 − 9 = −7 SL!

7 SL on a Dramatic Test is an Astounding Failure, which means, not only does Salundra fail to swing the crowd to her side, she gets a few ‘free’ drinks thrown her way… And not in the way she was hoping!

Success Levels in Opposed Tests

When two or more Characters go head-to-head, we call for an Opposed Test. All parties involved make a Test with a relevant Skill or Characteristic (it might be the same one, such as in a horse race both parties would Test Ride, or it might be different Skills, such as a thief hiding with Stealth and a guard searching with Perception) and then compare to see who won. Opposed Tests add a whole new element to SL, because an Opposed Tests doesn’t focus on Success and Failure as much as who scored more SL.

Gunnar can see the situation is turning quick, and if anyone knows when a fight’s about to break out, it’s a Slayer. He can see most of the patrons are armed at least with cudgels and daggers, so he decides to intimidate the instigator with his axe, hoping the crowd is encouraged to not draw their weapons, and leave this one to fists only.

Gunnar rolls 45 against his Intimidate of 43 — a failure with −0 SL. The thug rolls a 64 against his Cool of 29 — a failure with −4 SL. Even though both characters ‘failed’, Gunnar failed by fewer −SL, so won the Opposed Test: the patrons in the bar are still going to brawl, but they’re keeping their weapons in their belts as Gunnar slides his thumb along the edge of his axe, just like the great Troll Slayers do…

The Character who rolled better on an Opposed Test is considered the ‘winner’, with the other character being the ‘loser’. Please note that winning is not the same as succeeding! For most Opposed Tests, this distinction isn’t important...but it becomes very important when we get to combat. Speaking of which...

Success Levels in Combat

Most Actions in Combat will be Opposed Tests — either attacking an opponent with a Melee Skill, or using another Skill to gain Advantage over an opponent. But Combat is more dynamic than your average Skill Tests, and the range of potential outcomes and complications grows alongside that.

When a character attacks another character in melee, they roll an Opposed Test with the appropriate Skill — Melee (Basic), Melee (Two-handed), etc. The Defender rolls with an appropriate Skill, depending on how they’re protecting themselves — Melee (Basic) if they’re parrying with their main weapon, Melee (Parry) if they’re using a main gauche or similar, or Dodge if they’re trying to get out of the way entirely!

The result of this roll is different depending on who wins the Opposed Test: if the Attacker wins, they deal Damage, and if the Defender wins, the blow is deflected.

Salundra seizes the initiative and dives at the thug, swinging her fists wildly — she rolls 14 against her Melee (Brawling) of 49: success with +3 SL! The thug, blindsided by Salundra’s ferocity, attempts to duck out of the way — he rolls 33 against his Melee (Brawling) of 36: success with +0 SL.

The difference in the SL of an attack Action — in both melee and at range — is added to the Damage dealt. If this would be a negative difference, it is made positive (e.g. −1 SL vs −6 SL = +5 SL).

The total SL is +3 for the above attack, and Salundra is Unarmed with a Damage of +SB+0. Salundra’s Strength is 36, so her Strength Bonus is 3, making a total Damage of 6! The thug is wearing no armour on his Right Leg (where the blow hit), so only reduces this by his Toughness Bonus of 3, to 3 Wounds. Salundra went low, it seems, and only narrowly missed a punch to the groin!

Criticals & Fumbles

But remember what I said about winning not being the same as succeeding? Take another look at the thug’s roll above — a 33… That’s a Critical! Remember that rolling doubles on a successful Melee Test results in a Critical, whilst rolling doubles on a failed Test results in a Fumble.

Even though the thug failed to win the Opposed Test — and therefore was hit by Salundra — he managed to deal a Critical Wound to her!

The thug rolls 1d100 to determine where the Critical Wound falls, and scores a 19 — Left Arm. He rolls 1d100 on the Critical Wound Table, and scores a 22 — a Sprain! Whilst Salundra goes low to punch the thug in the groin, he jumps back and swings his fist down. The blow cracks against Salundra’s left shoulder, janking it out of place, and giving her a Torn Muscle (Minor) injury, as well as dealing 1 Wound unmodified by her Toughness Bonus or Armour!

In this way, combat is always dangerous. There is never a situation where you’re entirely safe to get mucked in!

Gunnar follows Salundra into the fray, swinging his ham-sized fists left and right. He goes to beat up one of the thug’s cronies, and rolls a 55 against his Melee (Brawling) of 45 — a failure with −1 SL. The crony is so utterly thrown off by this assault, he rolls a 92 against his Melee (Brawling) of 31 — a failure with −6 SL! Gunnar won the Opposed Test, so deals Damage equal to the difference in the SL (+5) added to his SB (3) for a total of 8 Wounds!

However, Gunnar also rolled a double on a failed Test, so Fumbled. He rolls 1d100 on the Oops! Table, scoring a 44 — his manoeuvre left him out of place, with a −10 penalty on his next Action. Not surprising, given how reckless he was being!

When SLs are Tied

In the event that both Characters score the same SL on an Opposed Test, we compare the relevant Skill or Characteristic being rolled, with victory going to the higher trait. If there’s still a tie, the GM can either count it as a stalemate and nothing progressed that Round — two equally matched fighters circling each other, failing to get the upper hand — or the GM may ask for the Test to be retaken.

The crony recovers from Gunnar’s blow to the gut, and swings a fist in return, rolling a 25 against his Melee (Brawling) of 31 — success with +1 SL. Gunnar, surrounded on all sides, decides to duck to the side, rolling a 21 against his Dodge of 33 — success with +1 SL. The SLs are tied, but Gunnar’s Dodge (33) is greater than the crony’s Melee (Brawling) (31), so Gunnar wins the bout, and the swing goes over his head through empty space.

‘It’s Not About Winning or Losing…’s how you die along the way.’

Right? That’s how the saying goes, yeah?

Success Levels add a level of granularity that lets Players and GMs alike express the true range of possibilities in WFRP — from horrible farce to dashing heroics. If you’ve any questions about the above, ask away on our social media channels, and we’ll answer you as soon as we’re finished beating up these rascals in the Red Moon Inn (because, let’s face it, Salundra and Gunnar are going to need all the help they can get).

Until next time, folks!