Art Magic - Evoke versus test successes


I’m still running a pretty long campaign as for our group standards (25 sessions in) and keep loving the game, have received the Anthology book and can’t wait to test some rules on our games.

Now, with the issue:

We’re playing with an Art Magic user on our group and he is speciallized on the Evoke school, that states (Codex p. 283):

Using the Evoke effect, the sorcerer can force a versus test between his Sorcery skill and a target’s physical stat, martial or physical skill or the Health attribute… To cast the spell, make a versus test between Sorcery and the target. Be sure to add the obstacle modifiers for breadth and duration.

As I searched in the forums, @luke stated that, on a Versus test, if neither of the opponents meets their obstacle, both fail:

I have some doubts about this intrepretation and this Evoke example:

  • The wizard tries to cast the Evoke spell and get 5 successes. He has an +4 Ob for Breadth and Duration.
  • The werewolf (:smiley:) tries to resist and get 4 successes

Now, they both have to meet their obstacle:

  • The wizard has to sum up the werewolf successes: 4 + 4 Ob = 8 Ob in total so… he fails
  • The werewolf has the Doble Ob penalty of Skill vs Stat so: (5 successes of the Wizard x 2) = 10 Ob in total so… he fails

What’s happening in the scene? The wizards fails to cast (and get taxed as the spell is a failure), and the werewolf fails to resist the spell (that never get thrown by the wizard)?

In the case that both meet the required successes, the defender (werewolf) wins and the spell has also failed? (with tax or another complications involved)

Kind regards

The Wizard generates 5 successes. His Ob penalties eat up 4 of them, so he has 1 success net. 1 x 2 = 2.

2 is the Werewolf’s obstacle. The Werewolf generates 4 successes. 4 > 2, so the Werewolf wins.

(4 halved is 2. 2 + 4 = 6, which is the Wizard’s casting Ob.)

What happens in the fiction is that the the arrogant Wizard tries to lay a powerful binding on the man-beast to restrain it indefinitely (adventure duration would be +3 in addition to single target breadth for +4?), but his expertise is not up to the task, and the Werewolf breaks free it’s mystic chains, and flees to hunt another night (presumably).



I think what he said was that it’s a tie. If we play a Charge! and Flank a in a Range and Cover in rocky ground (+1 Ob), and one of us gets 1 success and the other gets 0; we both have 0 net successes, and the tie breaks in the Flanker’s favor.


Does the maths of the versus test work that way? I though you have to sum up first all the successes of both opponents and then add the additional Ob for each side, as I interpreted in this @luke response:

I think you’re right about the “tie”, I was thinking too on a tie, but wrote it as both if sides fail (taking into account the example when both opponents rolled 0 successes), although the outcome it’s the same.

In the case of Evoke, where the wizard is the aggresor, I guess this tie means the defender wins the versus test so… the wizard fails the cast of the spell and has to suffer the Tax consequences? And, in a hypothetical case of none of the characters being the defender, the tie (as in the written Versus rules of BWG) means the spell also fails or it succeeded but the target resisted?

Thank you

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I’m pretty sure this means net successes. My interpretation is that your final Ob in a Vs Test is your opponent’s successes minus their Ob penalty, plus your Ob penalty. (I usually set a floor on this to 1 for advancement, but I think that’s a drift; I think RAW, the floor is 0, which you don’t get to log. I’m not sure, though.)

In our example, we change the variable to +4 Ob. The Wizard increases the number of successes he needs to win by 4.

Here’s some of Thor’s commentary from that thread you linked in your first post:

Thor is wise.

I recommend checking out the rest of that post for his commentary on Skilled Vs Unskilled.


You’re welcome, man! I’m always game for talkin’ Burning Wheel!


Thanks for your response.

I also read the Thor’s commentary but focused more on other posts as it implied the nuances between Block and Strike scripted actions and success negation so wasn’t clear for me how it worked.

The thing is, on my example (wizard vs. werewolf), how do you compute the advancement difficulty for the wizard, only 2 Ob (Routine as the Wizard has Sorcery G6) because there are only 2 successes left for the werewolf after doing the math (4 successes - (2 x 1 wizard success) = 2 net successes).

It’s pretty strange don’t you think? The Wizard started with a +4 Ob penalty, the werewolf rolled 4 successes, he failed the spell (and suffer the consequences) and only count as a 2 Ob Routine for him (not useful for any advance given his exponent).

Thank you, sorry for the insistence but it’s not totally clear for me, although your arguments are pretty interesting

Edit: Ok, maybe a bit of misunderstanding for my part as I’m spanish, I see that you also take into account the +4 Ob of the wizard, for a total of 6 Ob for advancement :smiley: Anyway, it’s a bit clumsy math, the “enemy successes + Ob to pass the Versus” seemed clearer for me, but it’s true that generates a lot more of “none side meets the obstacle” situations…

By all means, insist away! It’s a good conversation.

You can ignore the Block vs Strike nuance in the text I posted. We can pretend the Ob penalty there comes from being injured and tired or something. Only the numbers matter for us; the logic is sound.

At the end of the day, a Vs Test is about getting more successes than your opponent. I think the rules become clearer when you look at them from that mindset. What’s keeping me from getting more successes than my opponent? The added complexity of adding durability to my magic – or the qualitative disparity of having to contend their refined skill with my brutish stat. Deal with those first, then see what’s left. What’s left of their opposition is what you need to defeat with what’s left of yours. The whole obstacle is your hardship plus whatever is left of them after contending with their own hardship.

Also, in this way, you get to win by inflicting penalties on your opponent, rather than you both simply losing.

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Edit: I’ve been discussing this issue with one my players for nearly 2 hours :smiley: and found a solution based on all your insight

Thank you so much, was a pretty interesting conversation

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