A few rules questions about skill tests

Question #1: if I recall, the rules state that when a test is failed, the result is a twist or a condition. If this always necessary? I’m thinking of something like the “Ob 3 Scout test to detect trap” in the Skogenby scenario, where no explicit failure note is given for that test. Sure, on failure I could do:

a) “You get Angry, but you find a trap” (condition)


b) “You examine some suspicious raised stones in the wall and accidentally trigger a trap.” (twist)

But would it be ok (as per game design intent) to alternatively do a traditional

c) “You search for a while but find nothing, there’s no trap here”. (where in a way the “twist” is that there actually is a trap, waiting to be triggered)

Here failing to find the trap doesn’t stall the scenario (unlike not finding a secret door might), so I’m thinking that © above would be valid from a story point of view – but am unsure about the rules intent.

Question #2: should I tell the players the Obstacle of a test before they roll, in general? Or should I just resort to vague terms like “pretty easy” or “very hard”?

  1. Yes, as written you always need a condition or a twist on a failed test. If there isn’t any trap there then they don’t roll, you just tell them they don’t find anything, and it doesn’t take a turn. If there is a trap there, how do they even have a hope of finding it if they aren’t interacting with it in some way (and therefore possibly triggering it) or wouldn’t not finding it mean they bumble into it? Yeah, there may be some edge cases where there is a trap, they do have a means of detecting it that have no chance of setting it off, and their actions after that wouldn’t set it off either, but that seems fairly rare. Also, for me I often use failing a test to say that they “took too long” and some wandering monsters have found them.

  2. I do. Not before they describe what they are doing, but before they make the roll, which they cannot back out of. How else would they decide how many Persona and Fate points to use?

Ok, sounds reasonable :slight_smile:

The condition-or-twist rule serves two main purposes. (1) It keeps the game moving forward by preventing it from stalling and getting stuck in dead ends, and (2) it keeps the game interesting by introducing all kinds of complications and taking it to unforeseen places. If you as the GM can come up with an interesting result of failure, you go with a twist; if you either cannot think of something good or you want your players to succeed to keep the game moving, you give them a condition and have them overcome the obstacle.

If you can make your © – they don’t find the trap – interesting later on, then go for it. Make it a twist, but make sure something comes of it. Something the players won’t like. Something interesting. If you can’t think of a good twist and yet don’t want to grant success with a condition, you can always pick something from the wandering monsters list. (Take a look at the Dread Crypt and the House of the Three Squires – if you want to bring all those delicious encounters and problems into play, pick twists instead of conditions. A twist doesn’t need to be closely connected to whatever test caused it.)

If a test results in “nope, nothing happens”, that is, if there is nothing at stake, don’t call for a test in the first place.

Good point. It’s quite easy to become too involved in trying to figure out a nice twist that directly results from the thing they are trying to do… but yes, you’re right, the rules don’t specify what the twist can be. I’ll try to keep that in mind :slight_smile: