Rolling dices in PACG is the most common action you’ll be performing throughout the game. You constantly have to do “checks” before you can actually combat a monster or acquire an object or discover the next card on your location.
There is a lot of confusion around the sequence of adding your bonus to your roll. Let’s walk you through some example to help you understand the mechanics of attempting a check. Attempting a check requires several steps which are explained below (based on the rulebook):
- Determine Which Die You’re Using
- Determine the Difficulty
- Play Cards That Affect the Check (Optional)
- Use Characters’ Powers (Optional)
- Assemble Your Dice
- Make the Roll
- (If in combat)Take Damage, If Necessary
- (If in combat) Resolve the Encounter
The actual check encompasses everything from “Determine which die you’re using” through “Make the roll.” “Take Damage, If Necessary” is resolving that check—it’s not really part of the check, but it’s tied to it (and “you may play another armor on this check” is a more sensible statement than “you may play another armor at this time to reduce damage from the same check”). “Resolve the encounter” is resolving the encounter.
It is pretty important that the act of determining the skill you’re using is a separate step that happens before you play cards that affect the check. If it weren’t, you could have the following undesirable scenario:
I’m making a Combat check, and have not yet played a card to change the skill, so I’m using Strength. I play Blessing of Gorum to add 2 dice to my Strength-based combat check… and then I play Frost Ray, changing my combat check to Arcane + 2d6. That opens a giant can of timing worms: Does the blessing still apply? If it did, what type of dice did it add? The separation of those events is deliberate and meaningful.
For a character whose melee skill refers to their strength, when they use their melee skill they are also using their strength skill. So for them, Blessing of Gorum would add 2 dice when they make a melee combat check, because for them that also counts as a strength combat check. That would include Valeros, Amiri, Seelah, and Kyra. If a character had Melee: Dexterity +2, Gorum could not add 2 dice if they wetter using their melee skill.
A “Melee combat check” is a combat check where either (a) you use the MELEE skill or (b) a card with the Melee trait has been played (e.g. most hand-to-hand weapons have this). A “Ranged combat check” is one where either (a) you use the RANGED skill or (b) a card with the Ranged trait has been played (e.g. most bow weapons have this trait).
If multiple options are listed in one check circle or in multiple circles separated with “OR” then you need to choose ONE of them. You can choose ANY of the listed options, even if it is a skill that is not listed on your character sheet. If multiple checks are required (e.g. “Combat 9 THEN Combat 11”) then the turn character has to pass at least one of them. Any other character at the same location can attempt the other one.
Let’s go through an example of when you play a blessing, it adds just the die, not the modifier. The die is the die (d4, d6, etc) the other part is a modifier (the +1, +2 etc). If you were Valeros, for example, and you played a weapon that said to roll your Strength/Melee die + 1d8, you would sort of take that to mean “1d10 +3 + 1d8”. But it doesn’t quite technically mean that. Here is how it works in attempting a Check with Valeros:
- Determine which die you’re using. Valeros plays a weapon that says to roll his Melee die + 1d8. But at this point, all that matters is he’s using is his Melee die.
- Determine the difficulty. Let’s say it is 10.
- Play cards and use powers that affect the check (optional). Valeros plays a Blessing of the Gods to add 1 die to his check.
- Assemble your dice. Since he’s using his Melee die, Valeros grabs a d10. He also grabs the d8 from playing the weapon. And since the BotG added a die, he grabs a second d10.
- Attempt the roll. Valeros rolls all the dice. He gets 9 total from the dice. But this step also tells him to add in any “modifiers” that apply to the check. Since he used his Melee he has a +3 modifier that he adds in now. So the result is 12.
- Take damage if you fail a check to defeat a monster. He didn’t fail.
So basically your Melee skill consists of a die and a modifier. Skill feats are modifiers too. And some weapons have modifiers (i.e. 1d8+1). And any time you use your Melee die, you get to apply your Melee modifier.
But you grab all your dice when you “assemble the dice” and you apply the modifier when you “attempt the roll.” That subtle distinction in the steps is why it can tell you to roll your Melee die and at the same time tell you that when you add a die, you only get a die. Just remember that any time you use your Melee die, you get to add your Melee modifier to the total result.
Here is the extract from the rulebook :
[Rulebook V3 – Page 11] Assemble Your Dice. The skill you’re using and the cards you played determine the number and type of dice you roll. For example, if you’re attempting a check using your Strength skill, and your Strength die is d10, you’ll roll 1d10. If another player played a blessing to add a die to your check, you’ll roll 2d10.
[Rulebook V3 – Page 11] Attempt the Roll. Roll the dice and add up their value, adding or subtracting any modifiers that apply to the check. If the result is greater than or equal to the difficulty of the check, then you succeed. If the result is lower than the difficulty, then you fail. No matter how many penalties are applied to a die roll, the result cannot be reduced below 0.
[Rulebook V3 – Page 11] If, on your character card, the skill you’re using refers to another skill, both skills count for the purpose of determining the type of check. For example, if you’re using the Arcane skill on a combat check, and your character card says that your Arcane skill is Intelligence +2, the check counts as both a combat Arcane check and a combat Intelligence check.
See FAQ that clarifies: If I’m making a Perception check, and my Perception is based on my Wisdom, do cards that help Wisdom checks help my Perception? Resolution: On page 11, insert this paragraph at the end of “Play cards and use powers that affect the check”: “Some cards and powers affect only specific types of checks, such as Dexterity checks, Acrobatics checks, or noncombat checks. If, on your character card, the skill you’re using refers to another skill, both skills count for the purpose of determining the type of check. For example, if you’re using the Arcane skill on a combat check, and your character card says that your Arcane skill is Intelligence +2, the check counts as both an Arcane combat check and an Intelligence combat check. Traits also determine the type of check; for example, if you’re making a combat check and you played a weapon that added the Ranged trait, it counts as a Ranged combat check.”
[Rulebook V3 – Page 22] Add Only What You Are Told to Add. If a card adds another die, that’s all it gives you: a die. It doesn’t give you your bonuses again. It doesn’t give you the skill associated with that die. It doesn’t give you the ability to recharge an Arcane spell if you don’t have the Arcane skill. When you play a Longbow to add your Strength die to a Combat check, you don’t get to play a Blessing of Gorum to add 2 dice, because you’re not attempting a Strength check. You just get a die.
With all this explanation in mind, please find below the sequence summary for a check :
1. Choose which skill to test
- Action: Pick one of the check options from the card. ONE card or power that lets you change the skill used for the check can be used at this step. If you picked a ‘combat’ check you now need to finalise whether you are using STRENGTH or MELEE (or some other skill via card / power effect). You can always choose to roll 1d4 for a skill not printed on your character sheet (but that skill has no link to the skills which are printed on your sheet).
- Note: This step is written in the manual as “Determine Which Die You’re Using”.
2. Determine the difficulty
- Action: Take the base number printed on the card being encountered and add/subtract any penalties/bonuses to work out the total you need in order to pass the check.
- Note: Some game events might “add one to all checks this turn” so the card’s printed check number is increased by one. If you have a card that says “play this to defeat…” or “play this to succeed” then the turn character can play such a card from their hand to auto-pass the check. Go to step 7.
3. Play cards and/or powers that affect the check
- Action: Each character may use each of their powers once and play one of each type of card to help pass the check.
- Note: Only cards/powers relating to the check and/or the SKILL being tested can be played (e.g. you cannot play Cure at this point, you cannot evade, you cannot cast Glibness if it’s a WISDOM check, you cannot use ‘combat check’ buffs on a noncombat check, etc).
4. Assemble your dice
- Action: Assemble the physical dice related to the skill you’re using for the check and the cards/powers played to boost the check.
- Note: When you “add a die” it is a die of the same physical type that ends up representing your chosen skill.
5. Make the roll
- Action: Roll all the dice, then add all the fixed number bonuses that apply to the skill being used and/or the check itself. Then compare your total to the required check level to see if you passed or failed.
- Note: Don’t forget to apply any penalties such as the Warlord’s “subtract one from every die rolled”.
6. Take damage
- Action: The damage dealt to you is equal to the difference between your ‘roll’ (dice + modifiers) and the check level (+/- modifiers). Discard a number of cards from your hand equal to the remaining damage. If the damage is higher than the number of cards in your hand; the action of discarding all cards from your hand is considering that all damage is paid for since you don’t have any other cards to discard from your hand.
- Note: Only if you fail a check against a monster (unless the encountered card says otherwise). Are there more checks needed to pass this encounter? If that’s the case, go back to step 1 to repeat the steps.
7. Resolve the check
- Action: If you passed a bane check then it is ‘defeated’ and banished. If you failed then the bane is shuffled into the location deck it came from. If you passed a boon check then put it in your hand. If you failed then the boon is banished.
- Note: Summoned banes are always banished, even if evaded or undefeated.