Effort Dice Steps



Hi All!

I’ve seen some posts about how to use the d8 for ‘Guns’ in an alternative way and just want to post another, less rigid idea.

Instead of thinking ‘what else can this d8 be’, I just keep the Effort dice categories from the ME book - but ‘step’ the Effort die up or down depending on situation. For example, it is in my world totally fine a dagger does D6 damage as does a battle axe - but if the PC does use it against a foe in full plate armour, the Effort die is stepped down to a D4 (the dagger just becomes a narrative element to be able to injure the foe at all, doing Basic Effort).
Similar to step up the die value: the PC is attacking out of the shadows, surprising the foe during combat, so it is stepped up to a D8. Another example: the Knight uses the chaos of ballte to flank the enemy and hit him in a less protected/defended area: step up the d6 die of the long sword to a D8.

OK, ‘what about Magic now, how does it step up’? Easy: I increase the amount of Magic Effort to d12. Example: the Mage uses a Firebolt against a water elemental, so the d10 Magic Effort die is stepped up to a D12. Similar to stepping down: The Mage uses a Firebolt against a Fire Elemental. Not the smartest thing to do, so the Magic Effort is stepped down to a d8.

The system above is less rigid and keeps the the main rules as they are, while awarding player commitment and engagement during combat. It also allows to exploit weak points and think tactical in an otherwise rules light combat system.

What do you guys think ?


Best rules tweak I have seen in forever. Love it.


Hey Pansophy,

Great post! I do the same thing with weapon types versus defenses. A spear does minimal damage against a skeleton, but a warhammer does bonus damage! You should expound on this system with tags.

EX: “Skullduggery: when using a dagger in hand to hand combat, you may roll a higher die step for damage or use exploding damage” and so on.



I use this to great effect… I named it EFFORT ADVANTAGE & DISADVANTAGE.

Game On!


cool idea to connect it to ability tags - so far I just did it on the fly, but writing it into abilities is a good idea. Although, I keep my games fast and fluid by not having too many written rules - this leaves more player agency and room for imagination. I do not like players playing the rules but instead engaging with the story on the spot.

I should remove character sheets from them and just let them track their Hit Points … and hand them a version of their character where numbers are exchanged with just words, e.g. ‘Strength: low’, ‘Dex good’, ‘Con: high’, etc. LOL but that is asking a bit much of them … but might be great for a Horror game … :thinking:


I love this idea! Pretty simple, pretty tactical for those who like it. A few thoughts if I may;

I like this example because someone who is still really really good at magic can still basically negate this disadvantage if they roll well. So it’s not a pure punishment. In @Anthony_C 's skeleton example, a spear might do less damage; unless they are so tough that they can break bones with the point!

The idea also gave me this thought; what if all effort starts at d4, and every point you place in the category raises the die one step? I.E. Your Magic is d4 and if you put three points in it rises to d10. Might be an interesting alternative to character building. You could of course gain more points over time to increase any die a step. Max would still be d12.

And maybe your characters could take “Effort Damage” where your die drops until you get healed? Broken arm? Hard to swing your sword! Weapons drop one. Hit in the head? You can’t remember the words to your spells. Alternatively you just drank that strange bubbling potion and grow an extra finger on each hand; Basic increases by one step for 24 hours!

Gives me some ideas to muse on… Gotta keep it simple though.


I would keep the starting Effort as written, but strongly award players getting involved and also try not to overdo it. But where a bonus or penalty is obvious I’ll definitely implement the dice step rule.