Your rating represents a general ability to succeed in the narrative, but modifiers reflect specific conditions that may make it easier or harder to overcome particular story obstacles. They are applied to your ability to get a final target number (TN).
Positive modifiers are called bonuses; negative modifiers are called penalties.
Bonuses, may raise your ability high enough to gain a mastery, in which case you get the bumps up or down that a mastery would normally supply.
Penalties, may lower an ability to the point where it loses one or more masteries. In this case, you lose the bumps up or down you would normally get.
Your GM should only use modifiers to alter your target number due to unusual circumstances you helped to create, or have some control over. If an unusual situation applies to a resistance, the GM should choose a resistance that reflects that. Modifiers never apply to the resistance.
If penalties reduce your target number to 0 or less, any attempt to use it automatically results in failure. You must find another way to achieve your aim.
When you propose an action using an ability that seems completely inappropriate, your GM rules it impossible. If you went ahead and tried it anyway, you’d automatically fail—but you won’t, because that would be silly.
In some cases, though, your proposed match-up of action and ability is only somewhat implausible. A successful attempt with it wouldn’t completely break the illusion of fictional reality—just stretch it a bit.
Using a somewhat implausible ability is known as a stretch. If your GM deems an attempt to be a stretch, the PC suffers a -3, –6, -9 penalty, or a bump down, to their target number, depending on how incredible the stretch seems to the GM and other players. Your GM should penalize players who try to create a ‘do anything’ ability that they then stretch to gain from raising fewer abilities in advancement to ensure balance with other PCs.
A default stretch penalty should be -6.
The definition of stretch is elastic, depending on genre.
Your GM should not impose stretch penalties on action descriptions that add flavor and variety to a scene, but do not fundamentally change what you can do with your ability. These make the scene more fun but don’t really gain any advantage.
2.10.2 Situational Modifiers
Your GM may also impose modifiers when, given the description of the current situation, believability demands that you should face a notable bonus or penalty. Your GM should choose modifiers of +6, +3, –3, or –6. Modifiers of less than 3 don’t exert enough effect to be worth the bother. Those higher than 6 give the situational modifier a disproportionate role in determining outcomes.
During a long contest, they should typically last for a single round, and reflect clever or foolish choices.
- 2.1 Abilities
- 2.2 Possessions and Equipment
- 2.3 Contest Procedure
- 2.4 Augments
- 2.5 Advanced Mechanics
- 2.6 Resolution Methods
- 2.7 Resistance Progression
- 2.8 Degree of Victory or Defeat
- 2.9 Benefits and Consequences
- 2.11 Combined Abilities
- 2.12 Mobs, Gangs, and Hordes
- 2.13 Ganging Up
- 2.14 Mass Effort
- 2.15 Pyrrhic Victories
- 2.16 Mismatched and Graduated Goals
- 2.17 Difficult Automatic Victory