Action Basics

At this point, you should know how to play role-playing games and create the character you’ll portray. Now it’s time to learn how to actually play the game. Remember, APEX is designed to be quick and easy, so much of the detail is left up to your imagination. There are plenty of optional rules to expand the game, however, and you are encourage to pick and choose to fit your style of play and the setting of the game.

Fundamentals 

APEX uses a simple and familiar system to determine when characters succeed and fail at certain exciting, dangerous, or important activities. In a nutshell, whenever you want your character to do something of this nature. you’ll select an appropriate Ability, roll your dice, and compare it to a Target Number. If you roll equal to or above the Target Number, your succeed. You’ll typically only need to roll whenever the Narrator deems that the situation calls for it, usually because there’s a fair chance that if you fail, something significant will happen. Success means your character performs well enough for things to go their way, but failure doesn’t always indicate a complete loss. In some instances, Narrators can avoid complete failures, and are encouraged to use other negative effects like temporary setbacks, mediocre results, irritating side effects, or other less then desireable consequences.

So what about really, really good successes and really, really bad failures? Those come in the form of Crits, and Botches respectively. Crits are a little easier to get than Botches. Whenever you roll more than five over the Target Number, it’s a Crit, which means an extra degree of success that helps make the outcome significantly better. For each extra addition of five over the Target Number, it’s another Crit. So if you roll ten over the Target Number, it’s two Crits. Fifteen over the Target Number is three Crits, and so on. The benefit of Crits can come in many forms, either determined by the action or by Narrator discretion. And then there are Botches. When all the dice that you roll show results of 1, you Botch. That means if you’re rolling a Dice Pair and they come up snake-eyes, it’s a Botch. If you’re rolling any extra dice, those must show results of 1 as well, thus reducing the chances of a Botch when you roll extra dice.

When testing your character’s capabilities against the environment, a situation, or an inanimate object, you’ll roll your Ability Dice against a default Target Number of 10. If your roll is equal to or above 10, your endevour is successful. If you roll less than 10, it’s a failure in some capacity. Here are a handful of examples to get you familiar with the idea:

  • You want to dive over a bar to take shelter from incoming gun fire… you would roll your Agility vs. 10… Success means you deftly leap over the bar and land ready for action… Failure means you get over the bar, but you land prone and must spend an additional action to stand up…
  • You want to climb up a steep ledge to get better footing on the mountainside… you would roll your Athletics vs. 10… Success means you handedly pull yourself up onto the precipice… Failure means you slide down the slope farther, possibly scraping your hands and knees…
  • You want to decypher an ancient text that you’ve been trained to read… you would roll your Intellect vs. 10… Success means you translate the tome and find the knowledge you were seeking… Failure means you have trouble reading the ancient dialect, and must spend a while studying harder before you might learn something new…
  • You want to search the messy room for a hidden clue left by the killer… you would roll your Perception vs. 10… Success means you are able to quickly locate the clue without spending too much time… Failure means you don’t find any important clues, and must spend more time searching or search somewhere else…
  • You want to will your way through a particularly traumatic experience… you would roll your Resolve vs. 10… Success means your spirit remains steadfast and you make it through the terrifying ordeal… Failure means the fear chips away slightly at your courage and determination, and you temporarily break down…
  • You want to hit the streets for the latest gossip and rumors… you would roll Street Smarts vs. 10… Success  means you’re able to pick up a few interesting tidbits of information that may help your endevour… Failure means you waste some time trawling the riff raff and don’t manage to find any juicey details…
  • You want to find food and shelter in a harsh environment… you would roll Survival vs. 10… Success means you locate a good source of sustenance and a place to rest your weary head… Failure means your training and knowledge turns up nothing to eat and no place to rest comfortable for the night…
  • You want to pick the lock on the a door to infiltrate an enemy compound… you would roll Thievery vs. 10… Success means you pop the tumbler wide open and gain entrance without breaking a sweat… Failure mean you break a lock pick in the door and must spend some time fishing it out before trying again…
  • You want to jog a few miles up a steep mountain ridge without taking time to rest… you would roll Vitality vs. 10… Success means you suck it up and push yourself hard enough to make the grueling run… Failure means you are not able to endure the pain must take a moment to rest or risk passing out…

When testing your character’s capabilities against another character, creature, sentient being, or autonomous entity, you’ll roll your Ability dice against a Target Number determined by the appropriate Resistance for the defender based on the Ability in question. If you roll equal to or above the target’s Resistance, your action is successful and the target suffers the consequences. If you roll less than the target’s Resistance, the action is a failure and you are not able to affect your target as you intended. Here are some more examples so you can get the drift:

  • You want to knock your opponent unconscious with a baseball bat… you would roll Close Combat vs. Defense… Success means your attack connects and you roll damage to see how well you whacked your enemy… Failure means you whiff, the enemy avoiding the attack and preparing to counter…
  • You want to slyly convince the police officer that you didn’t have anything to do with the theft of the royal jewels… you would roll Deception vs. Resolve… Success means you’re able to bluff the gullible officer into believing your story and letting you go… Failure means the cop sees through your cherade and hauls you downtown for questioning…
  • You want to prove to the council through spirited dictation that your nation must go to war… you would roll Influence vs. Resolve… Success means the council is moved by your words and immediately takes action to declare war… Failure means the council scoffs at your request and denies your reasoning…
  • You want to shoot your rifle at a fowl that has just taken flight from the brush nearby… you wold roll your Marksmanship vs. Reaction… Success means you nail the poor bird but bring home a bounty from the hunt… Failure means your shot flies wide, letting your target, and dinner, get away…
  • You want to slink past the guard standing watch at the gate to the city… you would roll Stealth vs. Awareness… Success means you sneakily make your way past the guard, without him ever knowing you were there… Failure means you make a bit too much noise and startle the guard, who now comes to investigate the disturbance…

In any of the above examples, Crits and Botches apply. If your character got a Crit or two, the “Success” description might go even more your way. If you botched any of those actions, the “Failure” results would be much worse.

Don’t forget about Dice Popping! If you ever roll the maximum result on a die, it is said to Pop, meaning you keep that result and reroll the die, adding it to the total. You can continue to Pop dice as long as they keep showing their maximum result. This can allow you to get quite a few Crits! Remember, you can never Botch a roll if any of your dice Pop.

Lastly, if any action a character takes is influenced by situational conditions, or if you’re attempting something particularly difficult or easy, the Narrator can assign Modifiers to your roll to represent that. For example, clambering up loose rockface is an Athletics roll vs. the Target Number of 10, but if it’s raining, the tasks a considerably more difficult, so the Narrator might assign a -2 Penalty for a drizzle, or a -4 Penalty for a downpour. How about if there’s a rope slung down the hillside? Having an aid like that would make your effort a bit easier, so the Narrator might assign a +2 Bonus to your Athletics roll.

Main Characters and Supporting Cast

There are two different types of characters in APEX: Main Characters and Supporting Cast. Player-created Heroes are definitely Main Characters, as are important “named” villains and allies. Supporting Cast are everyone else, the nameless thugs, merchants, passerbys, and any other less-than-important NPC’s that your characters may encounter. The difference lies in how much power and detail the characters have. Main Characteres are important to the story and receive individual attention. The nameless wolves that attack your party as you trudge through the snowy mountain pass are not Main Characters, but the sorceror controlling the wolves, Vayros the Wolf Shaman, is major enemy with specific personality and a more detailed persona. Thus, Vayros is considered a Main Character while the wolves are Supporting Cast.

So how will this translate into game rules? Simple! Main Characters are fully fleshed out entities with a complete set of Abilities, Statistics, Resources, and fluff. Main Characters can take multiple wounds, multiple actions, and tend to be recurring characters that aren’t necessarily vanquished or forgotten about easily. Support Cast are barebones entities, with only important Abilities, Statistics, and Resources listed. Often, they’ll be described as a group rather than as individuals. Supporting Cast can only receive one wound before falling, they can only take one action per turn, and have a tendancy to be cannon fodder or only briefly mentioned in the story.

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