All characters are considered to be "average" humans with all the basic skills for getting through modern life (so they can drive a car, have basic knowledge on gun use, minor technical or medical skills) but no particular expertise in any area. Use of these basic skills are considered automatic and in most situations do not require a die roll to make use of the skill; the player must merely state his intent to perform the action and - barring any unexpected events or conditions - will succeed automatically. The GM will have the ultimate say on which skills are considered "automatic" and may rule that certain skills are prohibited or allowed depending on the setting. If the character attempts a basic skill under abnormal situations (for instance, attempting to drive a car up a ramp to jump over an obstacle), the GM may decide a skill roll is required. A Skill Check is successful if the character rolls a 4-6 on a d6. The GM may apply certain bonuses or penalties if the action is unusual or complex (see Difficulty and Complexity Modifiers, below)
A Skill Check can be required for almost any activity. It can be a simple check of a character's strength (say, if attempting to hold shut a door against the undead), or to notice some clue or item (perhaps while searching a cluttered room for a useful equipment). If a player has invested his Player's Option point into a skill, that skill may provide a certain bonus to the die roll; for instance, when holding shut the door, a character with the Strong skill would get a +1 to his Skill Check, so any roll of 3 or above (as opposed to the normal 4 or higher) would succeed.
(Remember, Player's Options can be declared at any time - even after the die has rolled! - although any completed actions will not be changed. That is, a player can roll a "3" on a Skill Check to determine if he is holding a door shut, then declare he is "buying" Strong to turn that failure into a success. However, this purchase does not change the outcome of any Skill Checks made prior to that purchase.)
Depending on the complexity of the action, the GM may rule that certain actions require additional die rolls. This will depend on the action itself and the skill set of the characters involved. As an example, consider the character attempting to jump a ramp in a car; this is an unusual situation and the GM may decide that not only does it require a Skill Check to succeed, but the character will suffer a -1 penalty to the roll. However, if the character has the Pilot (automobile) skill, the GM may decide the jump is well within the character's abilities and void the penalty or even the die roll entirely. As a general rule, the GM should never forbid an action entirely, instead relying on Difficulty and Complexity modifiers to alter the likelihood of success (see below)
If a player character fails a Skill Check, he may not make a second attempt unless the conditions of that check dramatically change. Any future attempts automatically fail. So, for instance, if a player fails to bust down a door he will never be able to break down that door no matter how many more tries he makes; it's not even necessary to roll a die. However, should that door get battered by a horde of zombies, the GM may rule that the situation has changed enough to allow a second attempt.
Skill checks are not only for player characters; GM's should use them to determine the success of monsters as well. Being dead, most zombies have limited intelligence and co-ordination and thus many actions are beyond their capabilities entirely (monsters and non-player characters are exempt from the "never forbid an action" advisement given above). For most Skill Checks requiring agility, perception, or cunning, zombies will succeed only on a 6 on d6. For Skill Checks involving strength or endurance, they will succeed on a 5-6 on d6 (some zombies are better than others; see the Monsters list for more details). Human foes the players may face, such as other survivors, follow the same rules as the player characters.
As a general rule, the higher the die roll, the worse the failure. If a player rolls a "4" on a d6, he will generally have failed in his attempt but the penalties should be minor. On the other hand, rolling a 6 will usually be followed by some sort of consequences. For instance, if the player is attempting to pick a lock and rolls a "4", he doesn't manage to open the door. On the other hand, if he rolls a 6, his lock-pick breaks and the lock is jammed. The consequences are left up to the GM's imagination.
Learned Skills / Player's Option
The GM may rule that some actions are just not possible without the player knowing a certain skill. For instance, the GM may insist that it is impossible to reprogram a computer controlling the doors to a government bunker without the Hacker Skill. In these instances, the player must invest their Players Option into learning the necessary skill (or, barring that, hope they meet another character with the requisite talent). As a general rule, the GM should only forbid the players from certain actions very sparingly, and instead rely on increasing the Difficulty or Complexity of the Skill Check instead.
Difficulty and Complexity Modifiers
Not all Skill Checks are created equal. An attempt to bust through a stuck door versus a door that is nailed shut will have different chances of success. The Skill Check is made the same way - a roll of a d6 - but the GM may apply certain modifiers to alter the chance of success.
In Zombiepocalypse, all modifiers are either based on the Complexity or Difficulty of the task. Complexity is how, well, complex the action is; how many steps it may require or how long it takes to complexity. Difficulty is how hard the action is. An action may be complex but not difficult (a real life example might be a jigsaw puzzle), difficult but not complex (lifting 200lbs over one's head) or both complex and difficult (putting together a jigsaw puzzle in pitch darkness).
Difficulty is represented by penalties or bonuses to the die roll. These can vary from a -3 penalty to a +3 bonus that is applied the rolls. These difficulty penalties or bonuses are in addition to any modifiers from skills or injuries so the total modifier may be more or less than +/-3. Easy actions would receive a bonus (+1 to +3), harder actions would receive the penalty (-1 to -3). Difficult actions tend to be more physical, such as moving heavy objects or catching something thrown at them. Difficulty modifiers are more frequently used than Complexity modifiers, and are often applied not only to Skill Checks, but also to Combat rolls as well.
Complexity is represented in Z6E by multiple die rolls. Simple actions require a single roll of the die; a complex action would require multiple Skill Checks to perform successfully. For example, the GM may rule that [example] would require two rolls of the die. Each roll would have an unmodified chance of succeeding if the player rolls a 4, 5, or 6 on d6, but the player would have to succeed on both rolls. If he fails on either roll, the attempt has failed and - like any other Skill Checks - cannot be attempted again unless there is a significant change in circumstances (depending on the requested action, the GM may rule that part of the action was successful if one roll was successful and the other failed). Complexity can never require more than three die rolls. Complex actions tend to be more intellectual or mechanical, such as putting together a device or operating a machine. As a general rule, Complexity modifiers are usually used only with Skill checks.
Using Complexity and Difficulty Modifiers
Some actions can be both complex and difficult. These would require multiple die rolls, one or more of which may have penalties applied to them. The more complicated the action, the more penalties and die rolls the GameMaster may require!
Like regular Skill Checks, the complexity or difficulty of a check will depend on the situation and the skills of the character in question. Flying a plane might be considered both complex and difficult for a character without the requisite skills (there are lots of little switches to throw just to start the plane, and knowing when to pull back on the stick to get into the air requires some experience), thus requiring multiple die rolls with penalties on all. On the other hand, for a player who invested his Player's Option point in the Pilot (Airplane) skill, getting into the air might just need a single die roll (or not even that). The GM has final say on determining the difficulty and complexity of an action.
Type of Action: Basic
Example: Character runs across a field
Die Roll: No die roll is required.
Type of Action: Simple
Example: Character runs across field and leaps over a pit
Die Roll: Roll a d6 to determine result. 4-6 indicates a successful leap, 1-3 a failure of some sort
Type of Action: Difficult
Example: Character tries to leap pit while crouching to avoid gunfire from other survivors
Die Roll: Roll a d6 with a -1 penalty applied to the result. A roll of 5-6 indicates success; a 4, normally a success, would fail because of the penalty, a 1-3 would fail as usual.
Type of Action: Complex
Example: Repairing a broken down engine
Die Roll: Two d6 rolls are required with a roll of 4-6 required for success. The GM may rule that success on one roll indicates partial success in the action (for instance, rolling 5 on the first roll and 2 on the second may indicate the character fixed the starter but couldn't get the fuel pump running)
Type of Action: Complex and Difficult
Example: Leaping over a pit while crouching to keep out of gunfire and carrying a wounded ally on his back
Die Roll: Two d6 rolls are required, with a -1 modifier to each. A roll of 5-6 on both is required for success. The GM may rule that success on both rolls is required; failure of either indicates that both the attempt to leap the pit has failed, although the reason may differ depending on which roll was flubbed (for instance, if the first roll was too low, it might indicate the character tripped, while if the second roll fails, it may be that he dropped his colleague)
There is purposely not hard and fast listing of specific Difficulty or Complexity modifiers in Zombiepocalypse in order to keep the game moving smoothly and quickly. GMs should determine on the fly what modifiers to apply to the rolls instead of constantly referring to tables in the rulebook. Remember, however, that there can never be more than a -3 penalty (or bonus) for the Difficulty modifier, and no more than three Complexity modifiers are ever required. However, the following table can be used as a general rule of thumb for determining what modifiers should be used
A +/-1 Modifier should be applied for any Environmental factors, such as darkness, fog, or wet.
A +/-1 Modifier should be applied based on the activity or characteristics of the target or opponent. For instance, if grappling with a large man or trying to lift a very heavy object, a -1 modifier might be applied.
A +/-1 Modifier can be applied based on the character's current status, for instance if he is tied up or blinded.
Generally, modifiers for each of the individual levels suggested above will not stack even if there are multiple similar factors. They can, however, balance each other out. Modifiers for different levels do stack,though.
Situation: A character is attempting to hide from a zombie in the dark
Modifier: A -1 modifier should be applied to the zombie's Perception roll because the environmental is working against the Monster.
Situation: A character is trying to sneak past a zombie in a dark and noisy room
Modifier: Only a -1 modifier should be applied to the Perception roll, even though there are multiple environmental factors. Individually, each factor might apply a -1 modifier, but multiple factors do not stack.
Situation: A character is trying to sneak past a zombie in a brightly-lit room while carrying his pain-stricken, moaning friend.
Modifier: A +1 bonus should be applied to the zombie's Perception roll due to the environmental effect (brightly-lit), and an additional +1 modifier because the character (or rather, his friend) is making noise, for a combined +2 bonus for the Monster.
Situation: Two characters are trying to lift a very heavy log
Modifier: A -1 penalty should be applied due to the weight of the wood (the target), and a +1 bonus because the two characters are working together; combined, they add +0 so the roll is unmodified.
Situation: The character is trying to lift a heavy log that has a pulley attached to it
Modifier: The weight of the log is a target characteristic that causes a -1 penalty. The pulley is also a target characteristic, but this adds a +1 bonus. Combined they balance each other out so there is a +0 modifier.
ZOMBIEPOCALYPSE is still in development. Although playable, the system is not complete. Not all the rules have been written and those that have been are subject to change at any time. And editing for clarity and readability is low priority. Despite being made available to the public on this website, ZOMBIEPOCALYPSE is still considered to be in beta form. You have been warned.Notice 2
The Roleplaying Game System currently known as ZOMBIEPOCALYPSE is being made available to the public for free for their enjoyment and use. However, the author maintains all rights towards its distribution and development. You are free to view or download the rules and make use of them in any game sessions for the personal use of you and your friends. You are not free to redistribute the rules in any way, nor are you allowed to make any derivative works from it.
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