Our first Preview featured HârnMaster's familiar core dice roll, the d100 Mastery Test. Its four results -- Critical Failure, Failure, Success, Critical Success -- help describe the outcome of risky or uncertain endeavors involving both raw talent (such as Strength or Dexterity) and honed skills (such as Awareness or Stealth).
The simplicity and immediacy of the d100 test serve well the sense of realistic, dangerous adventure expressed in the setting. A great part of the fun of role playing a character in Kèthîra is negotiating the ever-present lethality of the game's combat system and the gravely consequential nature of its magic.
As a small boon to characters navigating the mundane obstacles they face, the new edition of HârnMaster introduces the Fate Roll. Far from an automatic "get-out-of-jail card", the Fate Roll simply offers the chance to improve the outcome of certain d100 Mastery Tests.
Here is how it works: Player characters start with around five Fate Points, varying more or less by age and folk. During game play, the moment a character's test generates a success level (CF/F/S/CS), the player may decide to make one Fate Roll to improve it.
A Fate Roll may only be attempted to improve the test of a skill from one of the six mundane Skill Groups (Nature, Craft, Combat, Physical, Lore, and Social). Skills from the seventh Skill Group (Esoterica) may not be the target of a Fate Roll. Thus, a character could attempt a Fate Roll to improve a Stealth test (Physical) but not to improve a Telepathy test (Esoteric). A Fate Roll tests the character's Aura attribute, an ML equal to its score times five. This represents how strong the character's soul is tied to the "cosmic all" (to Keléstia). The EML also includes what is called the Sunsign Modifier of the Skill Group to which the skill in question belongs.
For example: A PC with five Fate Points tests Stealth ML70 and rolls 83 -- Failure (F). Before the game proceeds, the player decides to make a Fate Roll. The PC has an Aura ML60 (from an Aura score 12) and a Tai sunsign. Since Stealth belongs to the Physical Skill Group, there is a +5 bonus to the Fate Roll (due to Tai being the PC's sunsign) -- for a final Fate Roll EML65.
By the way: As part of this preview, we share with you the new HârnMaster's Sunsign Modifiers Table. You can download it from the Free Stuff --> Previews section.
The result of the Aura test Fate Roll determines whether the initial skill's test improves and whether the character loses Fate Points (FP) in the process:
Aura CF: No effect, but the character loses one FP.
Aura F: No effect.
Aura S: Success level of initial skill improves by one, and the character loses one FP.
Aura CS: Success level of initial skill improves by one, and the character loses zero FP; or Success level of initial skill improves by two, and the character loses one FP (player chooses).
Apply the Fate Roll result to the initial test’s success level and proceed as if that were its in-world result all along. Only one Fate Roll attempt is allowed per situation.
Returning to the above example: A Fate Roll test is made against the PC's Aura EML65 in an attempt to improve the initial Stealth test Failure (F). The roll is 43 -- Success. The initial Stealth test Failure (F) improves by one success level to a Success (S); and the PC reduces the Fate Point total by one, to four.
Players can attempt Fate Rolls to increase initial successes and even beyond a CS -- simply add one star victory per success level (see Preview 1 for the rules on victory stars). Players often select this tactic when their characters face opposed rolls, especially in combat to achieve "super" critical successes or overcome ill-timed critical failures.
Recall: Fate Rolls cannot be attempted to improve the success level of skills in the Esoteric Skill Group, such as spellcasting tests. They also cannot be made while characters suffer Aural Shock or when their Fate Points drop to zero.
Finally, an important benefit of the Fate Roll mechanic is that it fosters new applications for several divinatory skills, such as Runecrafting, Tarotry, and Astrology. These allow for special modifications to certain Fate Rolls and for replenishing or offering extra, targeted Fate Points.
Even before Keléstia Productions publishes the next edition of HârnMaster, you can try out Fate Rolls in your own games, either logically assigning Sunsign Modifiers as appropriate or just ignoring them for the time being.