We have already talked about Skills – your attempt to do something by beating a Difficulty Category (DC). Now I want to talk about Saves which are an attempt to avoid harm or failure by beating a Threat Number (TN).
Saves are only ever called for as a result of conflict. It might be social conflict, horror, chases, dramatic scenes or violent conflict. In each of these cases someone or something has happened which threatens you in one way or another, and tests your resilience. The result of your Save Check (sometimes called Saving Throw) will determine whether you have resisted the threat or fallen to it. The degree to which you make or fail the save will indicate the degree to which you are affected.
So while Skill checks are made against a DC (Difficulty Class) in order to accomplish something, Saves are made against a TN (Threat Number) in order to avoid impairment.
In each case making the save by 10 or more over the TN is a perfect success and you are unaffected.
Making the save, but by less then 10 over the TN, is a success with a short term consequence – you are Dazed, which makes you more vulnerable until you’ve been able to remove that condition. It is simple to remove a Dazed condition (it just takes a single action) but there might be additional considerations that cause you to put it off – perhaps you desperately need to reach the control deck AND pull the emergency lever, so you decide to leave the Dazed condition in place for an extra round while you concentrate on the bigger threat.
When someone is attempting to captivate you, seduce you, persuade you, dissemble with you, taunt you, swindle you or sow distrust, you may have to make a social save.
First of all they will be making a skill check against a DC which reflects how difficult it should be to attempt – so sowing distrust amongst criminals is quite a routine check. On the other hand seducing someone and binding them to you emotionally is an exceptional check.
If the check is failed, then their attempt to manipulate your emotions has failed too. They cannot try again for a day.
If the check succeeds, then the target has to attempt a social save to reduce the side effects.
If the check succeeds really well, and they beat the DC by 10 or more, then it is a critical success and the TN is increased by 5.
Failing a social save indicates how long your opinions, emotions or whatever remain affected.
- If you fail the Save, then you are Persuaded and the effect will last for an hour or more.
- If you fail the Save by 10 or more then you are Convinced and the effect will last for one or more days.
- If you fail the Save by 20 or more, then you are Overwhelmed and the effect will last for one or more months.
A campaign which focusses on the potential for cosmic horror may make much use of horror saves, but they can be usefully used in a wide range of standard adventures too. Combatants may attempt to scare their foes by using their Coercion skill to gain an advantage. You might come into possession of unnerving information or catch on fire – any of which might impair your ability in one way or another.
- TN 10 – you come into possession of disturbing information. You learn that a trusted friend has betrayed you.
- TN 15 – you catch on fire or are doused with powerful acid.
- TN 20 – you are surprised by something terrible – horribly mutilated corpses, a large predator bursting out in ambush.
- TN 30 – you are confronted by something spine-chillingly alien. An unknown horror, a chest bursting alien and so forth.
Failing a horror save limits your actions and gives some roleplaying tips to enjoy
- If you fail the Save, then you suffer Fear. Your knees have turned to jelly and every instinct is telling you to run for your life. You cannot concentrate enough to take “double actions” until recovered.
- If you fail the Save by 10 or more then you suffer Terror. You have a panic attack, scream or shout and drop things you are holding. You find it difficult to function effectively hand only have one action each round until recovered.
- If you fail the Save by 20 or more, then you suffer Horror. You are frozen in place, unable to take your eyes off the horrible thing you have seen. You are doomed and you know you can’t do anything to prevent it. You cannot take any actions until you recover.
Chase saves are made during chases on foot, in vehicles or in spacecraft. Each round of a chase the target and the pursuer make opposed skill checks and the loser of the opposed check has to make a Chase save against the environmental risk TN. The more dangerous the environment which the chase is taking place in, the higher the TN. Driving down a highway is less risky than driving the wrong way down a highway!
- If you fail the Save, then you have a Collision and must make an appropriate damage save.
- If you fail the Save by 10 or more then you have a Crash and you must make a more difficult damage save.
- If you fail the Save by 20 or more, then you are Caught. The chase comes to a premature end and your opponent has won.
A dramatic conflict is used to resolve tense manhunts, careful hacking, bold infiltration, dangerous interrogation and large scale battles. The process is similar to Chases, but the TN is set by the degree of Peril rather than an environment. Infiltration by getting in with the cleaning staff takes longer to accomplish than a brazen challenge to the boss at a social event, but the peril TN is considerably lower! Similarly attempting to evade a manhunt in the wilds has a lower TN for failure than attempting to hide in plain site in the midst of those searching for you.
- If you fail the Save, then you have a Crisis.
- If you fail the Save by 10 or more then you have a Disaster.
- If you fail the Save by 20 or more, then you are Catastrophe.
The specific meaning of each of those results depends upon the dramatic conflict in question – but rest assured, if it sounds worse it is worse.
You may be called upon to make a Stun save as a result of unarmed combat, stunners, environmental threats or drugs amongst other things. The more you fail the save by, the more restricted you are in terms of the actions you can accomplish. Recovery from Stun is quicker and easier than recovery from Lethal damage.
- If you fail the Save, then you are Staggered. You cannot take “double actions” until recovered.
- If you fail the Save by 10 or more then you are Stunned. You are knocked prone and only have one action each round until recovered.
- If you fail the Save by 20 or more, then you are Unconscious. You pass out and cannot take any actions until you recover.
You may be called upon to make a Lethal damage save as a result of armed combat, poison and most other sources of harm. The base TN depends upon the weapon used or source of harm.
- If you fail the Save, then you are Injured. You cannot take “double actions” until recovered.
- If you fail the Save by 10 or more then you are Wounded. You are knocked prone and only have one action each round until recovered.
- If you fail the Save by 20 or more, then you are Dying. You pass out and cannot take any actions until you recover.
You have places on your character sheet to mark conditions you are suffering. If you fail a save and you already have that condition checked on your character sheet, then you mark the next most serious position in that damage track.
So if you received a nasty kick and failed your Stun save, making you you Staggered and then the other bad guy smashes a chair over your back and you fail the save again – the Staggered position is already marked, so you mark the next condition down and you are Stunned even though you only just failed the Saving Throw again. If you subsequently fail again before you have had the chance to recover any stun damage, you will be Unconscious.
The precise mechanism for removing marks from any of your Save condition tracks varies depending upon which kind of save it is. The general rule is that you have to remove the most serious condition first on any given track, working your way back up to the least serious condition.