Calling for Tests

This is a question the boys and I were puzzling over last week, as we waited for our orders at Lu-Lu’s Noodles to arrive:

When can a GM “call for a test”? Everyone (including the GM), gets 3 voluntary tests each maneuver. But, in the let it ride rules, for example, the GM cannot “call for a test of the same ability every time they get an itch”. When, exactly, can the GM call for tests? In conventional rpg’s, this is obvious… the GM’s making the story, and uses tests whenever he thinks it’s appropriate as part of his toolkit. In BE, it’s not so obvious because rolls are such a limited commodity.

So the question and the example:

Question: what latitude does the GM have (in the traditional rpg sense), to impose tests on the players… and on his own characters?

Example: We haven’t managed to get the local wildlife into the game at all. They just haven’t had a good way of coming into play. I used a color scene to have one of my guys drop color “alien attractors” over one of the players’ archeological dig sites to set up an attack by the aliens later on, but that seemed like a lot of work for what I wanted to be a random attack by a pack of wandering aliens. It would add color to the game and make achieving the player’s goal more interesting.


If the players are describing something tha the GM feels demands a test, then he can demand a player spend one of his rolls on it.

If the GM wants random alien attacks, he’s free to spend one of his building rolls (or even use his conflict).


If the GM wants random alien attacks, he’s free to spend one of his building rolls (or even use his conflict).

How would that be framed? It’s not one of my characters doing something.

Frame it exactly as you would traditionally. Scene framing isn’t about character power, it’s about player screen time. You’re not stealing screen time when you mark off a builder to say, “You’re down investigating the site when you here grunting and snuffling noise. Suddenly, out of the sun, behind one of the columns, you see a Moellecite leaping at you. Mini close combat! My objective is to capture one of you and impregnate you with Moellercite larva!”

Or something.

First of all, there is not now, nor will there ever be, an alien called a Moellercite.

Second, that’s actually an eye-opener to me. The idea that I can have an alien attack one of the players as one of my builders. Can the players do that to me?

Hell no! They’re in control of their characters, that’s it. You’re in control of creating adversity, vurmoellers or otherwise.


Well, they could do it, or something like it, but it would take them at least two rolls, one of them being a Circles test. PCs can give a building roll to an NPC they Circled. I’m sure you already knew that, but just sayin’ is all.


I actually played out the “wandering monster” scene recently (and yes, I did say “wandering monster!” at the table :wink: ):

Scene. Building, Kofer Pyatt.

Days have passed. The Pali has been accepted as Archcotare of Boldaq. First among his duties is to spend 101 days among the people, listening to their plight. He travels by foot across the broken plains of Boldaq.

Kofer Pyatt is next to him, his newly-appointed herald.

[Scene framed and initiated by me, the DM]

“The Lar ta Largi is beset on all sides by pain. But as my herald, you shall walk it with me.”

“I shall do as the Pali - did you see that?”

“My son, your eyes are brighter than mine. What do you see?”

“A marsh rat, hiding on the salt pans. It is ready to strike-”

A ten-foot long rat, back covered in thick white fungus to hide among the salts and mud, leaps from its hiding spot.


“Pali! Get back!” Kofer Pyatt beats at it with his beggar’s stick. It slams him aside, and he collapses in the mud.

The Pali’s Bright Mark flares - but too late, as the rat clamps down on his shoulder, sending him into unconciousness.

[Versus test: Marsh rat intending to drag the Pali back to his cave; the Pali wanted to control it, I think. The marsh rat rolling Close Combat 4 + a linked die from the Infiltration test + Hunting and Terrain-wise Forks vs. the Pali rolling Psych + Close Combat Help from Kofer Pyatt. Marsh rat succeeds.]

They are dragged across the mud plains to a hidden cave. Reinforced by steel, a relic of the war with the Worm.

The marsh rat stares at them - unsettling intelligence in its eyes - and a door slides open. A hideous alien steps out.

"You who are blessed, be still. For you are to be brought into the whole, to serve the destiny that awaits the galaxy.

“You are to be Vaylen.”

[The result of success.]

It seems to me like the answer’s already in the rules: the GM calls for a roll whenever he doesn’t want to Say Yes.

Because rolls are a limited commodity for both the GM and the players, in our games we also reversed this and allowed the players to decide what they couldn’t Say Yes to.


Nice example, Dave! Paul, calling for a test is no big deal. It’s the idea of having the environment push back at the players that’s puzzled me: I have three rolls per character. Where does the “attack of the giant bat” or the “freak snow-storm” fit into that mechanically?

I think I get it now. I can use my building rolls to do things that are essentially unrelated to my GMFoN’s in order to introduce conflict (you could argue that the unrelated events are in my characters’ interest, so it makes sense to use their budget of rolls).

I’m guessing it’s the same deal with a conflict… A player is out in the desert, where we’ve established there are nomadic bandits. I whip up a band of desert nomads, charging out of the sunset, guns blazing, as one of my characters’ Firefights. Or is there some sort of requirement that my character first establish a relationship with the “Nomads Faction”, or circle up “Larry of Arabica, King of the Nomads” and bribe him to make the attack? (That’s how I’ve been playing so far, incidentally… GM FoN’s have to circle up NPC’s and order them to do stuff… it’s why the idea of my Merchant “circling” up sky-wolf-creatures in order to have them ambush the players had us stymied).


The intent is that you establish a link. In the comics, nothing “random” happened. Everything that transpires in those (brilliant) stories happens for a reason – one side pushing against another.