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Dice rolls should only be used to enhance realism and suspense. Straight forward rules and dice rolls make the game move faster and more time can be spent story telling and less rolling dice and looking up rules. Darkness uses a single roll to determine Success and Level of Success. This halves the dice rolling. All dice rolls in Darkness use this concept. In fact where possible rules are reused to keep the system consistent and compact.
Characters are rated with Statistics(Stats) and Skills. Stats are natural ability and Skills learnt ability. When a Character performs an action the GM may get the Player to Roll for the action to succeed. Rolls are made combining a Stat and a Skill (GM's discretion which). Stats range between 2 and 10 (normally) and skills between -2 and 8. The GM can then apply penalties or bonuses as he sees fit. The dice used is a d20 (20 sided) a successful roll being under Stat + Skill. The degree of success, the Success Level, is the resulting dice Roll plus the Skill (not Stat) the higher the better.
When several character co-operate to improve a Success Level, the character with the best Stat + Skill rolls, then adds the helping character's 'Skill' to his Success Level.
GMs can generate suspense by keeping secret the needed Success Level. A player will know he has succeeded but not whether it was good enough. This rule allows characters to compete with characters or forces in situations where how successful a roll is important. In competitive situations the highest Success Level wins.
Weapons combat works on the same principle, but Success Level is compared to a damage chart (which is included on the character sheet)
Opposed rolls. When an action is actively being resisted the 'victim's roll provides the Success Level the aggressor must beat.
Critical Hits. Rolling the exact number needed is a Critical Success. GM's should Double the Success Level and then interpret what has happened appropriately.
Closest Skill: In situations where the character has no appropriate skill for the task the closest skill available can be used and maybe at a penalty. Normally this is -2 but this is up to the GM.
Fumble : Rolling double over the needed number or rolling '20' are fumbles. These are BAD. GMs be creative, if a success level is needed for damage etc to the unfortunate use the dice roll.
Automatic Failure : Rolling a '19' always fails no matter what the characters skill. This is not a fumble but rather the simple fact that no-one is perfect, and that not all failures are life threatening.
Automatic Success : Rolling a '1'. Even if there was no chance to succeed fate can sometime smile on the persistent. This is only the barest minimum of success, the character will only be grasping the edge of the cliff, but at least they have managed to succeed. GMs should create an outcome that reflects the 'just' nature of the success.
The character sheets have all the needed rules on them so the only thing needed to run a game should be a d20. Oh and of course your imagination.
The World it self has aspects of the Dark Ages and the Dark Future. and everything in between so a story can change genre whenever needed. The GM need not be stuck in one genre. The whole World need not be used in fact games can be run entirely in one genre without ever crossing into other. The 'primitive' areas and the technological areas in fact go out of their way to stay separate form each other with their Laws and customs. Places are either the extreme or a combination of both.
An Undercity fairy tale, told to children who ask about the world outside the Undercities-
They had prepared for months, the unit had trained and studied the surface scans over and over. It was safe to tread the surface once more. The small group of volunteers had been gathered to make history to be the first into the light, to see the Sun once again after 5000 years entombed in their underground city. The unit commander was the first and only to step out then too stager back in again his dreams fading, a gaping wound where his heart once beat.
'Commander!! what was it??, what did you see??'
'I see only Darkness...'
And so was the outside world named, with a mans last breath.
Character Generation This guides you through the Character generation process
Character Sheet These have rules summaries on them. Should be the only 'rule books' needed to run the game.
Combat This section explains combat and game mechanics in more detail.
Arcana This contains the Magic and Special ability rules