|Feats, Checks and Dice Pools Explained
| One of the many, many things in this world for which I'm grateful is White Wolf's exclusive reliance on the mighty ten-sided die for determining random outcomes for a seemingly infinite number of possible actions in their game systems, from the long-standing Vampire: The Masquerade, Vampire's sibling World of Darkness titles (from Werewolf: The Apocalypse to Demon: The Fallen, and everything in between), to such less-appreciated White Wolf treats as Aberrant, Trinity and the unfortunately stillborn Street Fighter, which was an excellent and very solid "Kung Fu Theatre" type of game once one looked past its video game trappings...perfect for running a one-master-karateka-versus-a-dozen-ninja-assassins type of battle, which may be why White Wolf adapted its rules into the World of Darkness games (read Combat: The Big Book of Beating Ass). But I digress.
The prevalent d10 system is easier to use in terms of calculating probabilities and percentages, the "decimal system" of the RPG world. It also spares me the trouble of identifying the type of die I use in any given roll which ends up posted to one of my players in the course of one of my Play-By-EMail games. Confused? I'll explain.
I don't do diceless gaming. Life is full of randomness and chaos; Why shouldn't our games be, chess aside? So whenever a player takes an action which invokes a roll of the dice, that's exactly what I do: My computer desk has a right-hand drawer which contains--among other knickknacks--my ten purple Mage: The Ascension dice, complete with the dice bag and the symbol for Prime which graces said dice bag. And when a player character or non-player character takes an action which invokes a dice roll, I slide open the drawer, pick up an appropriate number of Mage dice, roll them, post the results of the roll and alter the outcome of the post accordingly. Here is an example of what such a post might look like:
Samuel put his shoulder to the boulder and gave a mighty heave. At first, the boulder resisted, even as the menacing Mongols crept further up the stairs. But after a brief eternity, something finally gave. The boulder thundered down the stairs, crushing the Mongols, scattering the survivors and giving Samuel a chance to escape.
 Samuel -- Strength + Athletics 7: 2 2 5 8 9 = 2
Here's the breakdown:
 = The footnote connecting the dice check to the location in the story at which it was used. This isn't actually a part of the dice pool, merely a device for clearly yet discreetly joining the dice check to the story in progress.
Samuel = The name of character taking the action. NPC's with unknown names receive external descriptions instead, a la Mutant X, Trenchcoat Man or Security Guard.
Strength + Athletics = The Attribute and Ability used in this check. Sometimes, other determining stats will be invoked, such as Attribute + Background, Attribute + Sphere (for mages), Attribute + Realm (for changelings), Attribute alone, Willpower, Arete, Humanity, Rage, Gnosis, et cetera.
7 = The difficulty of the check, or what any die roll in the dice pool must match or beat in order to count as a success. Usually there will be no visible modifiers to this number; The most common exceptions are variables which affect not only the difficulty but some other facet of gameplay as well. The most common example of that is whenever mages use True Magick or Prime Science, and whether the involved spell or procedure is Coincidental, Vulgar without Witnesses or Vulgar with Witnesses; The visibility and Vulgarity of the magick determine not only the spell's difficulty but also the amount of Paradox which the mage will gain from casting that spell. As you can guess, Paradox is not a good thing....
2 2 5 8 9 = The number of dice rolled and their results, listed from lowest to highest. In this case, Samuel's Strength and Athletics pool was 5 dice. Two dice came up as 2's, the other three came up as 5, 8 and 9.
2 = The number of successes from the roll. Note that--as per World of Darkness rules--any 1 rolled not only fails but cancels a success as well. So if the first roll had instead been a 1, only one success would have come from that roll...still a successful roll, but Samuel might be struggling with that boulder a little bit longer....
Now that we've explored the basics, let's peruse a series of other notes you might see in your dice pools.
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