I love the world of Arcadia and I like more than a few things about the card game. But there are a few important elements of Arcadia that I don’t like much. One of these is the way Test and Trials are resolved.
In Arcadia, depending on which expansion rules you follow, you roll 1 or 2 six-sided dice to determine whether you succeed or fail at a particular Test or Trial. The highest throw always wins, and the outcome is simple: you either win or you fail. Or, you can reach a stalemate, if you both end up with the same score, but that does not happen all that often. This works well enough, I suppose, and does not complicate Waylays, but I’ve always thought this was a little boring and can slow the game down if you are not very good even at simple math (like me…).
These are the rules we have instituted:
- The number of 10-sided dice you roll in a Test depends on the value of your Attribute for that Test. For example, I encounter a Savvy Waylay, and have a Savvy of 3. This means I can roll 3 dice in this Test.
- The difficulty of the Test is determined by the value of the Ability of the Waylay or Character you encounter. Your dice roll needs to be higher than the Ability you face. For example, the Savvy Waylay I encounter has a Savvy of 3. This means I have to throw a 4 or more to have a success. The more successes I roll, the higher the chance that I will defeat the Waylay. If you roll no successes, you automatically lose the encounter.
- If the Waylay you encounter is a person or a creature—if the Waylay is a conscious being—and you are engaged in a Might, Savvy, or Combat Test, your opponent has to roll for the Waylay. The same rules apply: your opponent takes the value of the relevant Ability, and if she rolls higher than the value of your Ability in this Test it is a success. If the successes of the Waylay exceed yours, you are defeated. If they are equal, it is a stalemate. If they are lower, you win. So, in the above example, your opponent would roll 3 dice, and will have a success only when a roll is greater than your Savvy.
- If the Waylay you encounter is a Resolve Waylay, or an inanimate one (like a Hurricane), the outcome of the encounter is only determined by your own roll. Your opponent will not roll any dice.
- Furthermore, any 1 you roll negates a success (this is a Changeling rule). So if I rolled a 1, a 2, and an 8 in the above example, I would fail, since the 8 is negated by the 1 and the 2 is a failure. If I roll more 1s than successes, I “botch” (in Changeling terms)—I fail catastrophically. Exactly what happens then your opponent decides. You could have to exhaust 2 Merits, instead of 1; you might have to face another Waylay, who is attracted by the commotion that ensues; you might lose a Treasure; and so on. Bring in some storytelling! Or, if you don’t like that, decide in advance what happens whenever you botch.
Trials are done in the same way: the difficulty of the Trial is the roll you need to make to succeed, and the number of dice you roll depends on the value of the relevant Attribute of your Character. For example, if you have to pass a Might Trial of 7 and you have a Might of 2, you roll 2 dice, and need at least 1 roll that is a 7 or higher to succeed. (You could make it that you need to roll higher than the Trial difficulty—in this case an 8 or more—but that makes most Trials exceedingly difficult, in my opinion! That is what we did in the beginning, but it turned out to be very difficult to succeed. The way we do it now is actually the way it works in Changeling. Since most Waylays have low values for their Abilities, we kept our old rule—higher, not equal—for those, because otherwise it would be too easy.)
There are a lot of cards that modify your rolls. These are mostly Merits and Flaws, but also some Waylays that stay with you (like Polluted Water in King Ironheart’s Madness). Decide at the beginning of your games whether certain Merits that give you +1 allow you to roll one extra dice or give you +1 to all your rolls (and the same for Flaws that give you -1). We decided that most Waylays that give you -1 when undefeated subtract 1 from your rolls, but Flaws give you 1 less die to roll. With Merits it depends on what the Merit is—whatever is deemed most realistic or appropriate is what we go with.
There are a few downsides to using this method. This works well with King Ironheart’s Madness Waylays. Not so much with The Wyld Hunt Waylays, because they are weaker: lots of 1s and 2s, which are too easy to defeat. We therefore add 2 to every attribute of The Wyld Hunt Waylays.
The biggest advantage to using 10-sided dice is that the outcome is not just a victory or a defeat, but that there are degrees of success and degrees of defeat. I have already mentioned botching your Test or Trial, but you can also decide that the outcome of a victory depends on how well you really did. If the majority of your rolls are successes (even after the Waylay’s roll) you have a resounding success, which could lead to a very different result than a meagre 1 success. What happens in both cases is up to you. In order to make it a little more challenging, we decided that you need a certain number of successes to gain a win—the majority of your dice rolls, in fact. Anything else would then be a special stalemate: you do not exhaust a Merit, and the Waylay remains in place, but when you encounter it again the Waylay will have a -1 (on rolls for Savvy and Might Tests, on dice for Combat).