Versus Tests and "Build Stuff" Skills

Hi, everyone,

There’s one thing that’s had me slightly confused since I read it in the text:

Dro decides to have his Kerrn Offisah build up some fortifications around his island estate. There’s no conflict right now. So we say, “yes” and move on.

Later, during a building scene, Mayuran decides he needs to blow those walls and barricades before he sends in his assault team. Now we have a conflict: Dro rolls his Fortification skill versus Mayuran’s Explosives skill in this scene. If Dro wins, the fortifications stand. If Mayuran wins, he reduces them to rubble before his team sweeps in.

Okay, so by going to the dice (as is his right), Dro’s circumvented the “colour trumps colour” rule. That’s cool. But if the Fortifications are no longer colour, they must be hard tech - so if Dro gets more successes than Mayuran, he’s not just beaten Mayuran’s intent, but he’s also got those fortifications for any future Firefight involving his Kerrn’s manse (which means that Dro effectively set Mayuran’s stakes for failure as, “I get to burn my Fortifications without using one of my three Building tests”).

So after comparing successes with Mayuran, can Dro then use his total number of successes to establish his defences per the Fortifications skill description?

I’d say no. If Dro wanted permanent fortifications with a certain Obstacle to entry, that would have been a building scene where he gets together the people and starts the construction. The Demolitions roll would have been against the tech, and depending on how the tech faired it might need repair or Dro could stand on the wall, laughing.

In this case, the explosives and fortifications remain color, they explain the rolls. If I remember correctly, later in the example the issue is shifted, the rolls change, and the walls come down no matter what.

Yeah, answer’s no. The color scene bought the versus test, not a full on builder.


Thanks for replying, guys.

Tim: Yes, in the later example the intent changes to whether Mayuran can get away with it without Dro finding out who planted the charges, but the example I quoted - before the intent changes - is still given as a valid example of a test in and of itself. Also, Dro kinda did get together the people and start the construction; the example says “Dro decides to have his Kerrn Offisah build up some fortifications around his island estate”. He’s just introducing it as colour prior to a build scene, per the tech rules.

Luke: … Hmm. I’m afraid I’m confused again. The example text reads, “Later, during a building scene, Mayuran decides he needs to blow those walls…” It seems clear that it was a full-on builder that brought the test.

Based on that, Mayuran’s test to blow the fortifications will count against his three total Building tests, which seems odd when, taking the example on its own (the suggestion that Mayuran could link his Demolitions roll to his officer’s roll comes two pages later in the text), I can’t see a clear benefit. If I may:

  • “If Dro wins, the fortifications stand.” My problem here is, even if the fortifications stand, they’re still just colour and won’t help Dro come Mayuran’s assault (unless he can slip a Building scene in before Mayuran launches the Firefight).
  • “If Mayuran wins, he reduces them to rubble before his team sweeps in.” Again, the fortifications are colour, so standing or not, they still won’t hamper Mayuran’s side come the Firefight.

I might be overthinking this, but as building tests are a limited currency, it seems odd to test for something that’s going to be a moot point mechanically.

The only thing that comes to mind is that “If Mayuran wins, he reduces them to rubble before his team sweeps in.” implies “… and Dro can’t launch a Building scene to repair/establish them before the Firefight starts.” It makes sense; why blow the fortifications up if you’re gonna leave your enemy standing around for a couple of hours before you attack? No, you set the charges off and send your anvil in through the drifts of smoke and ash, fusors blazing!

Is there anything to that?

Thank you, yes, I was having the same problem with that example (particularly in light of how examples of other intents are set here on the boards).

Looking forward to following this thread,



Do you understand the concept that a player can make a vs test to resist another player’s action and that the resistance doesn’t count toward his building scenes? It’s an alternate way of setting the difficulty of a roll. You use it when one player is pushing against another or another active system (like security).

Otherwise, just consider it a bad example. And let me expand on my previous, poorly considered response: You’re right, if Mayuran really wanted, he could trump the color with color of his own. However, look carefully. Those fortifications aren’t color! Dro asked for a builder test, but the GM adjudicated that it wasn’t worth a test. Say yes and move on. Maybe the idea of an assault on the island seemed farfetched at the time. Maybe there was more important stuff to be done in the builder. It happens.

But later, things change. Dro’s established his island fastness, but never got to roll the dice. Mayuran wants to raid it. Mayuran is, in fact, offended by the fortifications. Hell, they’re illegal! So he wants to destroy them before he goes in. Perhaps it’s even a warning shot. Does Dro’s builder get melted into color butter? No, not in this case. He gets to make a versus test to resist Mayuran’s depredations.

Hope that helps.

Whoa…I totally don’t get what just got described.

If Dro never burned his fortifications, they’re just color. Why does he get the benefit of a defense if he hasn’t spent the same time (1 builder) building up his defenses the same way Maruyan has to spend to blow them up?

I could see Dro coloring in a fortress and Maruyan coloring in their destruction.

I could see Dro burning his fortress and Maruyan having to roll to blow them up.

I cannot see Dro coloring in his fortress and forcing Maruyan to spend a builder to knock 'em over.


Dro didn’t “color” up his fortress in that example. I know it’s a bad example, but you’ve got read it carefully. “There’s no conflict right now. So we say, “yes” and move on.”

“Roll the dice or Say, ‘Yes’” is not the same as Dro asking for a color scene. In order to trigger the “Say Yes” rule, Dro would have had to have asked for a Builder. He would have had to have asked to roll dice. And the GM would have had to have said, “That’s cool, but there’s more important stuff. I’m saying “Yes.” What else do you want to do?”

But later, when Mayuran wants to attack, Dro’s been cheated of a roll by the agreeable GM. So he’s given the benefit of a versus test.

Overall, though, this is simply a case of a bad example. Don’t dwell on the details of this particular example. The rule stands. Here’s a much simpler example: If a player has a security system in his game, and someone wants to sneak in to his pad, then he gets to roll Security vs Infiltration and does not have to pay for the roll.


Then why does the assassin casually knock away the gun the character didn’t burn (p. 379)?

(I swear to all that’s holy that I’m not trying to be snarky here. There’s a sincerely confusing – to me! – conflict in the rules.)

EDIT! Do you mean to say that anything described in a Building scene is considered burned, whether it was rolled for or not?


Gun was established in an explicit color scene. Wasn’t part of a builder or a “Say yes” condition.


(The edit came in as you were typing, oops!)

So you’re saying that anything you choose to describe in a Building scene is considered “burned” for the purposes of resisting trump color? Is there an upper limit to that?


Not what I’m saying. I’m saying that in the event that the GM “Says yes” about a test request for a player, it should be considered as binding and established as a successful roll.


Does “saying yes” count toward the 3 things you can do in a Builder?


Uh, technically they should. 'Cause they are established facts, same as a roll. But I’ll admit to giving the player a pass and allowing three rolls in addition to the “Yeses.” Usually the Yeses are so cool and fun, I want more from the player, not less.

None of this stuff is explicit in the rules. So all of my posts in this thread can be considered errata. Very rare conditions when this happens.


I’m thinking burned-but-not-rolled stuff is going to have to work into the game economy somehow, at least in my personal game. It’s already a perilously fuzzy line in our game where color scenes kind of become building scenes on their own. In fact, the guideline I’ve been giving my players is, keep making up color all you want 'til I ask you to roll the dice, and then you know you’re in a building scene. Clearly that’s a philosophically and economically different approach to what you’re presenting here.


Hi again, folks. I had a reply written to Luke, and then about eight other posts happened while my attention was elsewhere! :smiley:

Luke, some of what you’d written kinda ran contrary to how I thought BE operated, and it looks as though Paul had a similar (if not the same) idea of the game. I think I grasp what you’re getting at better after your discourse with Paul, but I don’t think replying in a hurry is going to help me, though.

Do you guys mind if I brew on it for a few hours?



(Paul scripts his next three actions…




…and puts them on hold for a while. :smiley: )


Yeah, but I think that pretty much sums up what’s written in the book. You’re doing fine!



Okay, guys. Thanks for your patience. Luke, I apologise, but although you asked that we ignore that example, I’m afraid I need to harp on about it for just a little longer.

Right then. To answer your question:

Yep, no worries. Totally down with the “defender” in a versus test not having to “pay” a build test to defend. That’s cool. I can see how it works in a Security vs. Security Rigging test, nice and smooth.

“Saying Yes” in a build scene: Ah. Okay, light bulb went on, with it now. The GM figured the fortifications wouldn’t be important enough to warrant fully burning, so to keep things moving he said “yes” to Dro’s building scene request (and didn’t charge Dro a test for them). Dro now has the fortifications as hard tech, but because he didn’t roll, they don’t have Cover or Position values.

This is what I was trying to get it in the first place, albeit in an arse-about-face fashion. In the usual versus test I fully grasp that the “defender” doesn’t use a build scene to set the difficulty for the player who initiated the test. The example test isn’t quite usual, though, because Dro’s rolling Fortifications, a skill which allows a player to bring hard tech, complete with game stats, into play. If Dro wins he’s not just beaten Mayuran; the way I read the text, he also has the option to finally give those fortifications Cover and/or Position values (and considering Mayuran’s already said he’s gonna come a-callin’, Dro would be a loony not to take the opportunity).

(Dro, if you’re reading this, no, I don’t think you’re a loony. Not that I’ve ever met you. But, you know. Not a loony. Are you?)

Now, the Fortifications skill says that a building scene is required. As the GM said “yes” and granted a freebie test during Dro’s build scene, I’d say that requirement is already met. But Dro stills need to find out how many successes he can spend on Cover and Position. I assume Dro uses the total number of successes he rolled against Mayuran; is that correct?

Sure, that sounds like a fair call. But not total number of successes, he’d use margin of success.