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Burn Bryte


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Sitting at the helm of a spaceship, an ulran pilots through a field of space junk left behind when a moon exploded. An ino distracts a guard with an absorbing conversation as her companions sneak past. Locked in a physical brawl with a pirate, a zivoy wrestles their enemy to the ground.

Each player character possesses eighteen skills used to overcome challenges. When a player character attempts a complicated or interesting task with a reasonable risk of failure, skills are the main way to determine the task’s outcome.

Quick Mechanical Reference for Skills

  • All characters have the same eighteen skills.
  • Almost every dice roll the characters make in the game is a skill roll.
  • Every skill has a die size ranging from d4 to d12.
  • When a character makes a skill roll, they roll a pool of dice determined by the complexity of the skill roll and the character’s die size of the skill. (Example: A character making a skill roll at complexity 3 with a d6 skill rolls 3d6.)
  • When a character makes a skill roll, they succeed if their rolled dice pool does not contain any matching results (also called doubles).
  • When a character is called on by the GM to make a skill roll, the character’s player decides what skill they want to use then explains to the GM how that skill could be used to resolve the conflict or overcome the obstacle. The GM then decides if the skill can be used and adjudicates the outcome of the roll with the player.

How Skills Work

When it comes time for a character to make a skill roll, the character’s player picks the skill being used. Before making the roll, the player must declare the skill they want to use and explain how the skill applies in the situation. If the skill makes sense for overcoming the challenge, the GM tells the player the skill roll’s complexity then the character makes the roll. If the skill doesn’t make sense for the given situation, the GM asks the player to choose another skill and action.

Unlike many other RPGs each skill in Burn Bryte is not designed to be used for specific purposes. Instead skills are used as ways to approach the challenges that face the player characters. They are intentionally broad so that players may choose from a variety of different skills to solve a problem the way they want to solve it. This freeform use of skills gives freedom to the players to tell complex and differing stories with each roll.

For example, a character could certainly use the Melee skill to attack someone with a laser sword. They could also use the Melee skill to intimidate someone during a negotiation by flaunting their weapon or to impress someone with fantastic feats of finesse.

A character could use the Stealth skill to hide in the shadows and avoid being seen. They could also use the Stealth skill to attack someone from an unseen position or to send a signal to one person in an audience while giving a lecture. 

The GM almost never tells a player, “You must make a Stealth roll to avoid being seen.” Instead the GM should say, “Guards are coming, what skill do you use to handle this situation?” and players can choose any skill they can justify.

Justify a Skill

To justify using a skill, the player explains how the skill their character intends to use applies to the situation. For example, a pirate moves to swing a knife at Jim’s kith’uk character, Sylo. In this situation Jim could say, “I am using Presence to stare down the pirate and convince them with my eyes that attacking me would be their last mistake ever,” justifying the use of Presence for the skill roll.

Likewise Jim could say, “I am using my Ranged skill to shoot suppressing fire at the pirate to disrupt their attack,” justifying the use of the Ranged skill for the skill roll.

Ultimately it is up to the GM if a character’s skill is justified. However, the GM should accept any justification that makes even a little bit of sense. Players coming up with creative solutions should always be rewarded. The only times a GM should not allow a justification is if a player is just being lazy and wants to use a particular skill even though they cannot think of a way it would work, or when what the player proposes has absolutely no chance of success.

Can I Always Use My Best Skills?

You could always use your best skills, but that is actually not the optimal way to play Burn Bryte. If you only ever use your best skills, you will never earn Nova points.

Nova points allow a character to take very powerful actions that are far stronger than what can be done with a standard skill roll. Nova point abilities are the best abilities a character can get, and having Nova points is often the difference between success and failure in tough conflicts.

Characters only get a Nova point after they have used one skill of each die size (d4, d6, d8, d10, and d12). The only way to get Nova points is to use a combination of strong, intermediate, and weak skills.

Mechanics of Skills

Each time you make a skill roll, you roll two or more dice. Each of your eighteen skills has a die size that could be d4, d6, d8, d10, or d12. Your choice of skill determines the size of the die used in the skill roll. The larger the skill’s die size, the better the chance of success you have with the skill. Each of your character’s skills has a die size determined during character creation that can be increased during character advancement.

When you make a skill roll to perform a task, the skill roll has a complexity, which determines how difficult the task is to overcome. The higher a roll’s complexity, the harder it is to perform. The GM determines a roll’s complexity, which can be as low as 2 (easy) or as high as 7 (ridiculous), as shown on the Skill Roll Complexity table. Outside of combat most skill rolls have a complexity of 2 (easy), 3 (moderate), or 4 (hard). The skill roll’s complexity determines the number of dice you roll.

When you make a skill roll, you roll a number of dice of the skill’s die size equal to the roll’s complexity. If you roll the same number twice or more, known as rolling doubles, the skill roll fails.

For example, Luwe the glean wants to attempt to leap across a chasm. She tells the GM she wants to use her d8 Athletics to leap across the pit, and the GM tells her that skill roll has a complexity of 3. Luwe rolls 3d8 and rolls a 5, a 3, and a 7, so she succeeds. If Luwe had rolled a 5, a 5, and a 7 or a 6, a 6, and a 6, she would fail the roll because she rolled multiples (or doubles) of the same number. (We know 6, 6, and 6 are technically a triple and not a double, but it makes writing and running games easier if we use the same terminology.)

Each increase in a task’s complexity exponentially decreases the likelihood of success, as shown on the Skill Roll Success Probability table. This is an important concept to learn, since most other RPGs increase difficulty incrementally rather than exponentially. 

Skill Roll Complexity

Complexity  Difficulty

Skill Roll Success Probability

Die Size  

d4 skill75.0%37.5%9.4%0%0%0%
d6 skill83.3%55.6%27.8%9.3%1.5%0%
d8 skill87.5%65.6%41.0%20.5%7.7%1.9%
d10 skill90%72.0%50.4%30.2%15.1%6.0%
d12 skill91.7%76.4%57.3%38.2%22.3%11.1%

Interpreting Success and Failure

It is your job as a co-storyteller to determine the outcome of success or failure at a task with the GM. When you succeed, the answer is often obvious, you successfully complete the task you set out to perform. You might jump a chasm, hack a computer, or strike a bargain with a merchant.

Failure can be more difficult to interpret. When your character fails a skill roll, it should result in an event worse than simply not performing the task. Something should happen that costs your character in some way. They might take damage, suffer a harmful condition, or break an object. Your character could also suffer a setback in the story. For instance, failing to pick a door’s lock sets off an alarm that sends enemies running toward them, or a poor performance for an audience means the governor in the crowd refuses to meet the character backstage after the show. Whatever happens, failure on a skill roll should always have a cost. Failure of a skill roll in combat has specific consequences including the ending of your turn and giving the GM resources to further complicate the battle.

If you have an interesting idea for the consequence of your failure, you should propose it to your GM. They have final say in the result of your failure and likely have ideas of their own. If neither of you has ideas about what should happen or you prefer to leave it to chance, the GM can roll on or choose from the Failure Prompts table, located below and in the Collections window of Roll20. The prompts are purposefully open to interpretation. For instance, the prompt “something breaks” could indicate an item of value the player character has breaks, that the spaceship they’re on suffers an engine malfunction, or an NPC the characters are negotiating with reaches their breaking point and storms off. If the GM and you can’t come up with an idea based on the prompt you roll, simply roll on the table again or choose a prompt that suits the situation. This table is already programmed into your game of Burn Bryte.

The consequence of a failed skill roll does not need to be directly related to the skill roll. For instance, if a player character fails a Performance skill roll to impress a potential love interest with dance moves, it could mean the player character falls flat on their face, or it could mean that the player character has bad luck and suddenly an assassin attacks them!

Failure Prompts
d100  Failure Prompt
1Something breaks.
2Something is destroyed.
3You get hurt.
4You hurt an ally.
5Enemies arrive.
6An enemy is back in the fight.
7You stumble.
8You lose something.
9An enemy gains an advantage.
10You get stuck.
11You offend someone.
12A damning secret is revealed.
13You cause a scene.
14You cause an accident.
15Something explodes.
16Something wears out.
17A fire starts.
18Something shakes.
19Something stops.
20Your luck runs out.
21You can't try that again.
22You make a mess.
23You attract the wrong kind of attention.
24You let a friend down.
25You make an enemy stronger.
26Something scares you.
27You miss the mark.
28You get tired.
29You become impaired.
30Something pulls you away from the action.
31You get separated from allies.
32You are suddenly alone.
33Something works differently than you expected.
34You can't sense what's in front of you.
35The plan falls apart.
36Something goes haywire.
37A problem solved becomes undone.
38An old wound reopens
39A good thing turns bad.
40A bad thing gets even worse.
41You lose your stuff.
42You lose focus.
43Something gets dropped.
44You suffer a massive distraction.
45You get screwed.
46Something pops loose.
47You lose traction.
48Your mind goes blank.
49Karma comes to get you.
50Karma comes to get an ally.
51You look like a total loser.
52You lose steam.
53Something bad infects you.
54Something bad infects an ally.
55Your stuff gets stuck.
56You accomplish your goal too hard.
57You lose all hope.
58You expose yourself.
59You expose your allies.
60You must choose between hurting yourself or an ally.
61You freeze and cannot act for the next round.
62You temporarily cannot communicate with anyone.
63Your failure makes you weak.
64Your allies lose faith in you.
65Your enemies charge you in your moment of failure.
66Nothing makes sense to you anymore.
67You crack up.
68Something you thought was true is a lie.
69You are proven right about something you want to be wrong about.
70Your defenses drop.
71You knock over an ally.
72You break an ally's stuff.
73An ally becomes an enemy (even if just for a moment).
74You cause an ally to get stuck.
75An ally and you crash into each other.
76You relive a painful memory.
77This failure is personal.
78Your priorities change.
79There's a new problem you must solve.
80You open a can of worms.
81Something tears.
82Your confidence disappears.
83Something jams.
84Something beautiful turns ugly.
85You get burned.
86You burn an ally.
87Your latest success is undone.
88The latest success of an ally is undone.
89You succeed at the cost of an arm and a leg.
90You go over the edge.
91You believe a lie.
92The joke is on you.
93You must choose between saving two allies.
94You must choose between hurting two allies.
95You can't stay here.
96Your nightmare becomes reality.
97Something breaks beyond repair.
98This failure becomes a scar.
99The thing you fear most happens or appears.
100The worst happens.

Adjusting Complexity

Special abilities, Nova abilities, conditions, and equipment can increase and reduce the complexity of skill rolls. The complexity of a skill roll can never be reduced lower than 2.


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