Crib sheet on basic mechanics?

There are happy, handy crib sheets on the wiki for Firefight, Duel of Wits, and Infection. I failed to print these out for my players – and for me! – last time and paid for it.

But we also had trouble remembering details like you can’t FoRK your skills to help Circles or Resources, and Help is worth 1D if the helper has an exponent 4 or less but 2D if the helper has 5 or more, and that while FoRK’ing is described as helping yourself you can use two different skills as long as one is a “-wise” and you get 1D for each regardless of the exponent and… and… well, “my head is hurty” as my nearly-three-year-old would say.

Has someone summarized all this somewhere? Preferably in one succint sheet, rather than printing out the (inconsistently helpful) one-page summaries at the end of each chapter?

I copied-and-pasted the In Briefs from the PDF into a Word document and did some juggling for space. Came out at eight pages.

A one-sheet is a pretty good idea though. When I get my PC back I might take a shot at it, if no one else already has.

I’ve been thinking about doing something like this myself for my own group. The basics are very simple of course, but damned if my group (all of whom own the book, bless their souls) can’t keep the exceptions straight. I’m thinking a breakdown, by roll type, might be in order. I’m thinking:

  • Basic skill rolls (basic skill + any Wise + any non-Wise + help)
  • Maneuver rolls (basic skill + any Wise + any non-Wise that’s in that Maneuver’s skill list + help)
  • Resources (basic Resources + a very short list of non-Wise skills + a very short list of linked tests + help (only from Resources; everyone gets taxed on failure))
  • Circles (basic Circles + Affiliations + Reputations + help from another character’s basic Circles + a very short list of linked tests)
  • Duel of Wits (basic skill per action + the list of skills that one can always FoRK in and/or the non-Wises that are associated with each action + any Wise + help)
  • Firefight (basic skill per action (command only if you have a group) + any Wise + any non-Wise that’s associated with each action + limited help from one 2iC or any number of named characters (which is my current best interpretation of how that’s supposed to work))
  • Die of Fate (d6 +1D to +3D, depending on your MoS)

…what am I forgetting?


Hi Paul,

That’s pretty darn good. Here’s some cleaner language and clarifications (I hope):

Resources and Circles cannot use FoRKs or Help from skills or wises. They may only accept Help from other attributes, and may accept linked dice from appropriate skill tests.

  • Actions: Test one of the listed skills. Help and skill FoRKs may only come from listed action skills. Appropriate wises may FoRK and Help.

  • Firefight Actions Help Limitation: Help is limited to one 2iC NPC or specialist, or any number of named characters.

Thanks, all. I’m thinking of giving my players something like this:


Roll a number of dice equal to your score in a revelant ability plus appropriate bonuses.
Each die that comes up 1, 2, or 3 is a failure (aka “worm” or “traitor”); each die that comes up 4, 5, or 6 is a success.
If you get at least as many successes as the “Obstacle” of the test, you succeed: What you wanted to happen, happens. Getting more successes than required often allows extra effects.

Good roleplaying, clever tactics, or special circumstances can justify ONE bonus die.

Other characters may HELP you with your roll. You can get helping dice from any or all of the other players, and from ONE non-player character. (Your thousand nameless minions cannot each give you a die – just your BEST minion).
Each character helping you gives you either one or two dice: one die if the helper’s relevant ability score is 1-4, two dice if their score is 5 or more.
METAGAME: If you Help another player with any roll at any time during the course of a Maneuver (i.e. session-long or half-session-long sequence of scenes), you may also give them Helping dice on the final roll at the end of the Maneuver.

You may also LINK your roll to a later roll – either by yourself or by somebody else. Explain how your current action lays the foundation for the later, linked action.
If your roll succeeds, the linked roll will get a bonus die. If your roll fails, the linked roll has its Obstacle raised by one (ouch).
METAGAME: If you successfully Link one of your rolls to a later roll by another player – i.e. if you give them a bonus die, NOT if you increase their Obstacle! – you may also give them Helping dice on the final roll at the end of the maneuver.

You may also spend Artha to get bonus dice before you roll, get a bonus die for each “6” you rolled, or to reroll failures: See the Artha In Brief sheet for details.
Only you can spend Artha on your own roll: Other players can give you Helping dice or dice from Linked rolls, but they can’t spend Artha when it’s your turn to roll!


Roll one of your Skills to do something physical or social. (The technology or other character you’re working with must be established as existing by Resources, Circles, or prior play, however).

Other players may Help you with one relevant SKILL of their own (see above). They may not Help you with their Circles or Resources scores.

You may “FoRK” your other Skills into your roll for bonus dice if they qualify as “Fields of Related Knowledge”:

  • You may get ONE bonus die if you have a relevant “-wise” Skill (e.g. “Forged-Lord wise” gives a FoRK die for rolls dealing with a Forged Lord).
  • You may get ONE bonus die if you have a relevant Skill that’s not a “-wise” (e.g. Conspicuous can give a Fork die to Command if you want your troops to notice you).

If you have a telepathic Connection to a psychologist character, you get one bonus die for any social Skill roll of your own (your own latent psychic talents have awakened enough to give you an edge).
The psychologist CANNOT withold this bonus die from you if they don’t approve of what you’re doing: You get it automatically – and you only give it up when YOU decide to kick them out of your mind.

Major Conflicts – Firefight, Duel of Wits, and Psychic Duel – involve many Skill rolls and have their own special rules.

The final roll to affect the strategic big picture at the end of a Maneuver (the “Infection” roll) is ALWAYS a Skill roll, never a Resources or Circles roll.


Roll Circles to bring a character into the scene – either a minor character made up on the spot, or a preexisting character you want to contact.
If you spent points in character creation to have a Relationship with another character – be they friend, subordinate, or enemy – you don’t need to make a Circles roll: You can automatically bring them into a scene, unless there are exceptional circumstances (in prison, in a coma, on the wrong planet).

Roll a number of dice equal to your basic Circles score. Give your bonus dice for any relevant Reputations and Affiliations you have.
Circles rolls are easier during Building Scenes, and harder in the middle of a major Conflict scene.

Other characters may Help with their own Circles score: If their base Circles is 1, 2, 3, or 4, they can give you one die; if their base Circles is 5 or above (very rare!), they can give you two dice.
Other characters may NOT Help with their own Reputations or Affiliations, or with their Skills, or with their Resources – only with their base Circles score.
You may NOT get “FoRK” dice from your Skills.
But ANY prior Linked roll may give you a bonus die. It doesn’t matter whether the prior roll was by you or by another player. It doesn’t matter whether the prior roll was using Circles, Resources, or an appropriate Skill.
Since Help is so limited and FoRKs are forbidden, prior Linked rolls are very valuable for Circles rolls!

If you are using Circles to contact someone who has a Reputation, add their Reputation score to your bonus dice: Well-known people are easier to find!

A successful Circles roll against an Obstacle of one will turn up a minor character who is completely average for your social circles: They’re roughly the same social status as you, their attitude towards you is neutral, they don’t know anything special about what’s going on, and any ability score they might use is assumed to be 3.
Increasing your Obstacle BEFORE the roll allows you to look for someone more highly skilled, better informed, more friendly (or more hostile if you’re hunting enemies), or more distant from you in social standing (either higher OR lower).

If you FAIL your Circles roll, you and the GM must decide whether
(1) you just didn’t find anybody, OR
(2) you found somebody all right, but they HATE you (which gives them bonuses against your convincing them to help you).

If you like a minor character you summoned up with a Circles roll, give them a name. You get one bonus die for trying to contact them with Circles again.
If you successfully roll Circles for a specific minor character often enough, they can become a Relationship character, at which point you can contact them automatically at will. (Subtract the total dice you rolled on your Circles test from 10: That’s the number of times you have to contact this character with Circles before they become a Relationship).

You may also roll Circles to FIND OUT information about another character, rather than to bring that character into a scene.
If someone else has been rolling Circles to dig up information on you, you can use your Circles to notice what they’re doing. The higher their Obstacle was, the lower yours is: Your Obstacle is 10 minus theirs.
If you don’t want your own snooping around to be noticed, you can voluntarily make your own roll harder or roll the Inconspicuous skill to do things quietly. (Which penalizes the Circles roll of anyone trying to figure out what you’re doing).


Roll Resources to introduce equipment into the game: weapons, armor, vehicles, castles, fancy clothes, whatever. Equipment gives you bonus dice on rolls you make using it.

You choose your own Obstacle when making a Resources roll: the higher the Obstacle, the harder the roll, but the more bonus dice the equipment if worth if you succeed. (Choose from lists of standard equipment, or design your own using the “Technology Burner” chapter of the rulebook).
Resources rolls are easier during Building Scenes, and harder in the middle of a major Conflict scene.

Other players may Help you with their own Resources: If their base Resources is 1, 2, 3, or 4, they can give you one die; if their base Resources is 5 or above, they can give you two dice.
Other characters may NOT Help with their own Skills or Circles – only with their base Resources score.
You may NOT get “FoRK” dice from your Skills.
But ANY prior Linked roll may give you a bonus die. It doesn’t matter whether the prior roll was by you or by another player. It doesn’t matter whether the prior roll was using Circles, Resources, or an appropriate Skill (e.g. Accounting or any kind of “-wise” relevant to what you’re trying to acquire).
Since Help is so limited and FoRKs are forbidden, prior Linked rolls are very valuable for Resources rolls!

Other players may also loan you cash by making a Resources roll: Their Obstacle is DOUBLE the number of dice they add to your Resources for one roll.
Other players may even set up a fund on your behalf by making a Resources roll: Their Obstacle is DOUBLE the number of dice in the fund, PLUS ONE, but the fund dice are added to your Resources for an unlimited number of rolls. (Trust fund fun!)

If you’re rolling Resources to obtain your world’s Primary Export (heavy industrial machinery, for Frostvar), you get one bonus die.
If you’re rolling Resources to obtain something Quarantined or Regulated on your world, your Obstacle is increased by one, two, or even three – unless you have a personal connection to the bureaucracy that administers the quarantine and regulations.
You may also TRY to bypass Quarantine and Regulations by going on the Black Market (see pg. 365 for details).

If you FAIL your Resources roll, your Resources are TAXED: You lose one, two, or more Resources dice depending on how hard the roll was (see pg. 361). Regaining these lost dice requires a financial windfall (e.g. loot) or months of honest work – good luck!
If other players Helped you with their own Resources, they are Taxed the same as you! (Players who set up Linked rolls, loans, or funds on your behalf doesn’t risk Tax).
On a failed Resources roll, you and the GM must decide:
(1) you just didn’t get the equipment you wanted, OR
(2) you got it after all, but you are Taxed worse, and it may not quite work right (the worse your failure, the more defects the GM can add to the equipment).


An ability score – be it a Skill, your Circles, or your Resources – increases based on how often you roll it and how hard the rolls are: the more rolls and the higher the Obstacle you roll against, the faster you advance.

To determine how hard a roll is, compare the Obstacle to the TOTAL number of dice you’re rolling – counting not just your ability score, but also the bonus dice: FoRK dice from other abilities, Linked dice from earlier rolls, Helping dice from other players, Connection die, etc. The easier you make things for yourself with bonus dice, the less you’re challenging yourself, and the less likely you are to learn from the roll!
BUT: Do NOT count bonus dice you get from spending Artha. Artha bonuses are special: It represents your character pushing themselves to the utmost, and that doesn’t make it harder to learn!

If the number of dice you’re rolling is LESS than the roll’s Obstacle, you earn a Challenging test. (And, by the way, you can’t possibly succeed without spending Artha).
If the number of dice you’re rolling is EQUAL TO the roll’s Obstacle, you earn a Difficult test. If your score is 4 or higher, rolling a number of dice ONE HIGHER than the Obstacle also counts as Difficult. If your score is 7 or higher, rolling a number of dice TWO HIGHER than the Obstacle also counts as Difficult.
Any other roll counts as Routine.

If your score is 1, 2, 3, or 4, Routine rolls count towards advancement: If your score is 5 or higher, only Difficult and Challenging rolls count.
The exact number of rolls of each type required to advance is on the “Tests Required” table.
Skills and Circles earn a roll towards their quota for advancement WHETHER YOU SUCEED OR FAIL on the roll: You still pushed yourself and learned something.
Resources only earns a roll towards advancement if you SUCCEED: You can’t try to buy a palace with pocket change and expect your financial situation to improve!
In extended conflicts (Duel of Wits, Psychic Duel, or Firefight), you roll certain Skills over and over, but you only get to count ONE roll towards advancement for each skill. (Usually it’s in your interest to count the hardest roll, but sometimes all you need to advance is one Routine test).

P.S.: My group plays tonight (gulp!), so if people could read the proposed one-sheet over and comment on its completeness, intelligibility, and accuracy TODAY, that would be a huge help. Thanks!

Sydney - I would go with Paul’s summary. Yours has way too many words and I wouldn’t read it. It’s scary. If players want that much detail, they should go buy and read the books.

I would also shy away from substituting “score” for “exponent”, and so on. Stick with what the game calls them: consistency is easier to remember.

First off, good luck on tonight’s turn! Be loose, let the players run the show, set up a good fight.

Your crib sheet is, um, long. But very comprehensive! Is there any way to reduce this to bullet points and/or formulae?

A couple other notes:

  • I’d clarify that linked tests don’t work for the Infection (unless you’ve houseruled that). Maybe a note that linked tests are called “scoring a deal” for the Resources roll and a “bribe” for the Circles roll? I know it’s not always a bribe, but money is usually involved if it’s a link and not a FoRK.

  • Your example of giving Conspicuous to your Command guy is not legal per the Firefight! rules. IIRC the only legal non-wise FoRKs come directly from the list of skills for each action: You can FoRK in Tactics if you’re using Command on your Advance, for example. (p. 482, top of the page).

That’s all that jumps out at me right now.

[Crosspost with Iskander!] Shoot, I sure wouldn’t give my first ultra-rough-draft to my own players! I’ll do up something a bit cleaner that accomodates abzu’s clarifications and a few more of the details Syd listed. My cheat sheets always end up 1 page.


Yeah, sorry - I did mean “include Luke’s fixes and stuff” to Paul’s crib sheet. I find as a player that I prefer summaries to be very condensed. I don’t want to have the leisure time to read an essay at the table.

Just my tuppence.

(Also - have fun tonight, Sydney!)

My current cheat sheet draft. Thanks for the prompt Sydney; I’ve been intending to give this to my own group as well.

Basic Mechanics Cheat Sheet

All Skills
[li]Basic formula: skill exponent + FoRK a Wise + FoRK a non-Wise + help + Artha[/li][li]Fields of Related Knowledge must tie into narrative[/li][li]Mark your roll’s difficulty so you can advance your skill![/li][li]GM may grant a single +1D advantage, and/or multiple +1Ob disadvantages[/li][li]Default independent Ob is 3[/li][li]In a versus test, players may agree to root stat tiebreaker roll[/ul]Help[/li][ul]
[li]Help can come from any other character (player, GM, NPC)[/li][li]Help comes from a single relevant Wise or non-Wise[/li][li]+1D to the test if exponent 1-4, +2D to the test if exponent 5+[/li][li]Granting help dice counts toward advancement as if the helper had made the roll.[/ul]Linked Tests[/li][ul]
[li]Prior skill tests can grant +1D to a future roll.[/li][li]Failure of a linked test grants +1Ob to a future roll.[/ul]Infection[/li][ul]
[li]Use the basic skill formula[/li][li]Most prominent character makes roll[/li][li]Non-Wise FoRK allowed only from the Maneuver’s skill list. Regular Wise FoRK also allowed[/li][li]Players who granted help dice may help with Infection[/ul]Resources[/li][ul]
[li]Resources formula: Resources exponent + linked test + help + Artha[/li][li]Linked test only from relevant Wises[/li][li]May Bargain for –1 to Resources cost (p 368 )[/li][li]Characters who help are taxed along with the character making the roll[/li][li]Failure causes tax (p. 361). GM may grant Gift of Kindness[/li][li]Advantage dice: +1D if item is your Primary Export[/li][li]Obstacles: +1Ob if off-world or item is quarantined; various Ob increases per regulations (p 364, ignored if purchased through Black Market)[/li][li]Advance Resources only on a successful roll![/ul]Circles[/li][ul]
[li]Circles formula: Circles exponent + Reputations + Affiliations + linked tests + help + Artha[/li][li]Linked tests only from Resources, Finance, Administration, Estate Management, Bureaucracy, relevant Wises[/li][li]Help may come only from other characters’ base Circles[/li][li]Count Reputation only if using Circles in your home area. Count Affiliation only if using Circles to find someone with the same Affiliation[/li][li]Obstacle based on a table. See p 348.[/li][li]On 1 or more MoS, name character to gain +1D to find him again.[/li][li]On failure, GM may invoke Enmity Clause[/li][li]Infamous Reputation: +1Ob within that faction/group, or apply without penalty to opposed factions/groups.[/ul]Duel of Wits[/li][ul]
[li]Use the basic skill formula[/li][li]Non-Wise FoRK may come only from the chosen action’s skill list, as well as the following list: Etiquette, Falsehood, Ugly Truth, Seduction, Soothing Platitudes, Conspicuous, and Intimidation. Wise FoRKs are normal.[/li][li]Unless winner loses no disposition, loser gains a compromise [/ul]Firefight[/li][ul]
[li]Use the basic skill formula[/li][li]Non-Wise FoRK may come only from the chosen action’s skill list[/li][li]Help is limited to one 2iC or specialist, or any number of named characters. Units can also help one another in some cases.[/li][li]Unless winner loses no disposition, loser gains a compromise[/ul]Die of Fate (damage!)[/li][ul]
[li]Roll a d6[/li][li]+1 to DoF if roll exceeded Ob by 1, +2 if roll is double the shot’s Ob, +3 if roll is triple the shot’s Ob.[/li][*]Compare total to weapon’s IMS[/ul]

coolio! I love you guys.

Given enough time, we can have your entire creation gutted, deconstructed, reverse-engineered and posted online for free! Take that, you capitalist-at-heart.



I am totally Working Class, Sullen, with Bruised Eyes and Crushing Boredom.

Hey Paul, thanks for the sheet!

One note on the All Skills bullets:

“GM may grant a single +1 advantage, and/or multiple -1D disadvantages”

I skimmed all the sections on disadvantages in BE. Don’t disadvantages raise the Ob, not the number of dice you allow?

EDIT/PS: I only noticed this because I thought it was one of the best and most elegant aspects of the mechanics: no headaches calculating pluses/minuses. Want an advantage? Add dice. Want a disadvantage? Increase the obstacle. Simple, easy to remember, and sweet!

It’s Z-Dog FTW!

Yup, absolutely. Thanks for the spot!


Thanks for the advice, all. Since for at least two of my players, this crib sheet is what they’ll read instead of the rules – they’re not fond of crunch – I think I’ll err on the side of including more detail.

I need the detail myself, too, since I found myself fumbling awkwardly with the book at key moments in our first Maneuver, which contributed to players zoning out. The book is much better organized than any other RPG book I’ve even seen, but that’s still not quite enough to make it easy to use in mid-session when I’ve never played, let alone GM’d, BW/BE before.

And if, despite everything, my group and I just can’t hack it with this system after several sessions of trying, well… [sigh]… I’ll chalk it up to experience and port the whole planet to something simple like The Shadow of Yesterday (though TSOY has its own awkward patches). The structured, collaborative situation and character generation rocked for us, and we’ll keep the results of that no matter what. I can always get my Firefight! fix online.

Play through the hard stuff! It’s worth it. Trust me. (Really).

Anyway, who’s going to post this stuff on the wiki?

I’ve been focusing on making the game work, but once I’m confident I’ve got it humming, I’ll create a wiki entry for the world, campaign, and characters, and I’ll post whatever the final version of the crib sheet turns out to be.

Inshallah, we’ll nail it in our second Maneuver, tonight. If not, I’ll give it at least another session before throwing any towels anywhere.

honestly, don’t stop at ‘another session’ if things go wrong. just like any other game, from monopoly, to risk, to chess, to video-game, this game has a learning curve. that’s part of the ‘fun’ of the game part of it. play through the phase. the whole phase, with all its rewards and frustrations. then think about starting the next one, with all the learning you’ve done. if you still think it’s ‘too much’, THEN can it, but don’t do less than a phase, or you’re selling yourself short. perservere.

tests persuasion skill with FoRKs, advantage die and 2 persona. rolls 5 persuasion successes. spends fate to open 6s. two more successes for net of 7

Gauck! gooderguy, you lost no dispo on that DoW, you get what you want! I, Z-Dog, will play through an entire phase!

Seriously, we’re going to start playing this Sunday and I’m already feeling overwhelmed by all the rules. Thanks for the sheet guys (it’s going on the wiki, right?)!