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Roll under, with clarity - Devlog #24

Some of the most important things to me as I work on any of my games is that they're simple, streamlined, and easy to understand. These principles are pretty common for someone who comes from UX and product design. With this in mind, one of the many things that I find complicated about a lot of gaming systems that I think can be improved is skill checks.

Often, when my groups are playing a game, or I'm watching/listening to an actual play, players are unclear about what number they need to roll to succeed. This adds time between rolls to figure things out, confusion, and sometimes emotional upset.

Important questions:

  • What if the target number is always the same?
  • What if we could rely on something the players already understand to make difficulty clear?

Bug & Claw's Tests

An attribute test, or just “test” for short, is how a character determines if they can do something challenging outside of combat. The difficulty should usually be provided beforehand– determined by the size of dice you roll (D2 and D4 being the easiest, and D20 and D100 being the hardest or near impossible, for example). Your attribute scores tell you the minimum number you need to roll to succeed, achieving a result equal to or less than your attribute score.

If a character would automatically pass a test regardless of their roll because their attribute score is so high, there is no need to roll. If a situation is not challenging then there should be no test to begin with– Do not overuse attribute tests.


  • D2: Absolutely trivial
  • D4: Simple
  • D6: Easy
  • D8: Moderate
  • D10: Hard
  • D12: Very Hard
  • D20: Difficult
  • D100: Near impossible


  • 1: Critical success
  • Inbetween: Full success
  • Exact number required: Partial success
  • Inbetween: Failure
  • Highest number possible: Mishap

E.g. A character with a Strength score of 4 wants to push a heavy crate out of the way. It's a pretty easy test of Strength, so they roll a D6. They roll a 3, and compared to their Strength it's a Full success. They can move the crate out of the way easily.


If I said to a player "roll a d8 Charisma test" they would know generally how hard it is as well as wha their relative chance of success is based one their own attributes. The scale of the dice from smallest to largest is a straight-forward thing most of us can grasp. I know it's hard to combat the whole "nat 20" mentality that the d20 system has created, but I think there's something good here that just needs to be massaged. Stay tuned.