Non-Combat Action Resolution for Phantom's Bane
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All non-combat actions in Phantom's Bane are resolved by rolling a Skill Check. Each Skill Check has at least three components: The character's Skill attribute score, the roll of one or more dice, and a target number. Some Skill Checks have a fourth component, which is a situational modifier applied because of some special circumstance.
When a Skill Check is required, a Skill Check Total is obtained by rolling the specified number of dice, then adding to the dice result the character's Skill attribute and any situational modifier that applies. The Skill Check Total is then compared to the target number. If the Skill Check Total equals or exceeds the target number, the attempted action is successful; otherwise, it fails.
In Phantom's Bane, you won't always know when a Skill Check is being made. A secret Skill Check can be made for your character at any time, usually to determine if your character notices something. Other Skill Checks do not need to be secret, but the dice are not always shown on the screen for every such Skill Check. However, if you see two dice rolled outside of combat, it is a Skill Check. Presumably, you'll at least have an idea as to why the Skill Check is being made based on the description given for your character's current location and situation.
Skill Check Example: Searching
Suppose Jharek, with a Skill of 5, is actively searching in the forest for gold dropped by slain or careless adventurers. This calls for a Skill Check with a target number of 9. One die is rolled for the Skill Check when performing this type of search, and a situational modifier of +2 is given to Jharek because he is actively searching. The die is rolled, and comes up 3. This gives Jharek a Skill Check Total of 3 (the die roll) + 5 (Jharek's Skill attribute) + 2 (the situational modifier for actively searching) = 10. This must equal or exceed the target number of 9, and since it exceeds the target number, the action is successful, and Jharek finds unclaimed gold in the area of his search.
For a second example, suppose Jharek was just walking along in the forest, and there happened to be some unclaimed gold lying on the ground near Jharek's path. The program goes ahead and rolls a Skill Check for Jharek, even though Jharek is not actively searching. In this situation, the target number is still 9, but Jharek does not receive the situational modifier of +2, because he's not actively searching. Thus, if the die roll this time is a 3, Jharek will not notice the gold lying nearby, because his Skill Check Total will be 3 (the die roll) + 5 (his Skill attribute) + 0 (no situational modifier) = 8, which is less than the target number of 9.
Note that you do not have to exceed the target number; if you meet the target number, you still succeed. So, in the last example above, if the die roll had been a 4 instead of a 3, this would have given Jharek a Skill Check Total of 9 instead of 8, and he would have matched the target number of 9 and so would have made the Skill Check, and would have noticed the piece of gold on the ground just before he walked past it.
Skill Check Example: Disarming a Trap
Not all target numbers are fixed in the game; some of them have a random component. One case in particular is that of disarming a trap. An attempt to Disarm a trap requires two dice for the Skill Check, and there is no situational modifier. The target number for the Skill Check is 9 plus the roll of two dice.
So, for Jharek, with a Skill of 5, he is at something of a disadvantage; his dice roll will have to be at least 4 points higher than the dice roll made for determining the target number.
The dice are rolled. The dice for the random component of the target number comes up 1 and 2. Adding these numbers with the base target number of 9, we get 12. Jharek isn't going to have a much better chance than this to disarm this trap.
Jharek's dice are rolled, and come up 2 and 4. Adding these numbers with Jharek's Skill of 5, we get a Skill Check Total of 11. Hmmm... Jharek's Skill Check Total fell one short of the target number of 12. Oops! Jharek's Disarm attempt has failed. The result of failing at an attempted non-Combat action varies with the situation, so we don't really know what happens to Jharek because of his failure. He might have simply failed to disarm the trap and now have a second chance at it. Or he might have triggered the trap and now takes damage from it. You'll never know what the consequences of failure are until your character fails!
Note: There's only one trap to disarm in Phantom's Bane, and even it doesn't necessarily have to be disarmed. So don't expect to be disarming lots of traps in the game just because I use the disarming of a trap for an example. Disarming a trap simply makes for a good example. (I just thought I should clarify that, so as not to mislead you about the game.)