Umbral Domains: Skaldic System

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The Skaldic System

Tired of rolling and sorting those massive dice pools? The Skaldic system (an older, more genericly titled version of which can be found here) switches from a multi-d10 system to a single d8 (well two d8s if you cound the one your opponent's rolling). Determining botches is simpler too.

The Basics

Note: There is a conversion factor between the Storyteller system Difficulty and the difficulty (DC) of the Skaldic system. To make these terms easier to differentiate the Storyteller system Difficulty will be spelled with a capital "D" while the Skaldic version will always be abbreviated "DC". Similarly "Successes" are capitalized in the Storyteller system while the analogous term in the Skaldic system is "Margin of Success", always abbreviated "MoS".

When attempting an action that is opposed by another character the player typically adds together the following variables:

1d8 + Attribute + Ability - DC of action
1d8 + Attribute + Ability - DC of action

If the characters are taking actions that have an identical DC then you can ignore the DC when doing the above calculation. Also in some cases a quality will be added instead of "Attribute + Ability", as in the case of Arete, Willpower, and Glamour.

If the player is undertaking an action that's not directly opposed by another character then the Storyteller (a.k.a. "Skald") is considered their opponent. In such cases the rolls made are:

1d8 + Attribute + Ability - DC of action
1d8 + (nothing)

In either case above the difference between the player's roll and the opponent's (or Storyteller's) roll is considered the "Margin of Success" or MoS. The amount of the MoS is plugged in anywhere the old Storyteller system would've used a number of Successes. If there was no MoS then the action is considered a regular failure.

Difficulty and DC

The conversion from Storyteller Difficulty to Skaldic DC is simple:

Storyteller Difficulty + Storyteller Thresholds -4 = Skaldic DC

A convenient scale of DC is listed below along with comperable Difficulties from the old Storyteller system for convenient comparison:

Old Storyteller
Description - Cooking example.
Typically no difficulties below 2.
Trivial - Normally you wouldn't even roll this.
Easy - Making a PB&J sandwich.
Routine - Cooking a frozen pizza.
Straightforward - Cooking from a simple recipee.
Standard - Cooking a typical dinner.
Challenging - Comming up with your own simple recipee.
Difficult - Cooking a major holiday meal with multiple courses for several people.
Exceptionally difficult - Inventing elaborate recipes, catering a major event.
+1 Threshold
Difficulty verging on impossible (for mortals) - Inventing elaborate recipees while catering a major event (+2)...using nothing but the leftover scraps from a previous meal (+2). Or feats of gastronomic prowess to tempt the palates of the very gods!


Spending most qualities (Temporary Glamour, Quintessence, etc.) just add to a player's total when rolling the dice. However, each point of temporary willpower spent actually adds 1 directly to the MoS of a roll even if the character's roll would normally produce no Margin of Success. Declaring that you're spending willpower in advance will turn any roll into at least a slight success.


If the character rolls 1 on the 1d8, they may have a botch. When a 1 is rolled, re-roll the 1d8. A botch occurs if the roll was higher than the character's attribute+ability total, but a roll of 8 always counts as a botch even when the characters attribute+ability total is 8 or more. Spending at least one point of temporary Willpower avoids a botch.

Multiple Actions & Split Dice Pools

Nothing really groundbreaking here, but for the sake of clarity:

When attempting multiple actions in a round you have to your reduce your chances of success to make the attempt. To do this first determine the smallest attribute+ability combination for all the actions you intend to take in that round. Then divide up this total among all the actions you intend to take as you see fit. Actions which don't normally use a dice pool (such as running a moderate distance in a round) subtract 1 from your total, while free actions (most talking, etc.) do not reduce the total at all.

Extended Actions

Extended actions are those that can be completed through multiple cumulative attempts. With extended actions the Storyteller sets a DC, required MoS, and time incriment that each attempt can take. Each time the character makes an attempt they spend an incriment of time and roll against the DC set by the storyteller. Any MoS they obtain through this process is cumulative with later attempts. The character completes the action when they've accumulated a total MoS equal to the value set by the Storyteller.

In general rolling less than the DC doesn't detract from the character's accumulated MoS, but a botch will. Of course on an extended action the character can always try to play it safe (see below)

Playing It Safe

By not rushing or by being in particularly unstressful situations, the character can "play it safe". Situations where one character is facing off against another are almost always too stressful or at least competitive to play it safe. Similarly it's not possible to play it safe on actions taken near combat, while actively participating athletics or while undertaking emergency procedures. However a myriad of unopposed tasks, especially routine extended actions, may use this system.

When playing it safe the player doesn't roll any dice, but just uses Attribute + Ability -DC to determine their margin of success.

Injury & Health Levels

With the Skladic system the chances of success are often very close to those in the old Storyteller system. However, due to a quirk of the mechanic, the Skladic system produces about twice as much damage as the Storyteller system did. To account for this characters are provided with additional health levels: Two of each health level to be exact.

Draw an extra little box next to each health level on your character sheet.

Note also that damage from an attack works just like any other character vs. character roll, using the following comparison. For melee weapons:

Attacker Damage
Defender Soak
1d8 + Strength (if applicable)
+ Weapon Damage
1d8 + Stamina (if applicable)
+ Armor

Even if the defender has no armor and can not apply Stamina to their soak they still roll 1d8 for their soak. Don't worry about factoring in the DC for damage. You can always assume it cancels out on both sides.

--Peter K. 21:22, 2 May 2006 (PDT)