When drawing Adventure cards at a Location, you will usually have a choice to make: to research the forbidden tome or leave it alone, to pursue a mysterious figure or leave them be. Sometimes, these are just clear tradeoffs – you know what will happen if you make the choice. But most of the time, in order to succeed at a difficult task (or one that is opposed by hostile forces) you will have to succeed in a Skill Challenge.
There are three skills in Heretic Operative: Arcane, Social, and Physical. They are each useful in different domains – a researcher will find Arcane skill of the utmost importance, but it is of little use to a diplomat attempting to secure passage for a group of refugees. Having a good mix of skills on hand is important, and it is usually a good idea to supplement the strengths of your starting Operative with recruits that are skilled in other areas.
Each challenge is rated by a difficulty factor, and each Location has a rating that shows what the likely difficulty of challenges there will be. These range from Easy (0) to Hard (6), though a few story challenges break the rules and go even higher. If your Operative’s skill exactly matches the difficulty of the challenge, you have a 50 / 50 chance at success – rolling an 11 or better on 3 dice. As your skill falls below what is needed, your chance drops as well, needing better rolls to succeed.
Fortunately, you aren’t always stuck with whatever luck gives you. By spending a Fate point, you can re-roll one of your challenge dice, and you can do this as many times as you want (until you run out of Fate). Fate is a great way of making sure things go your way, but if you spend it all when the difficulty of a Challenge has you badly outmatched, you will quickly run out.
Will you be able to survive the deadly traps in the Ancient Tomb or the rampaging war parties of the Burning Woods? On the next mechanics blog we will take a deeper look at some of these Locations and what else you will need to consider when exploring the Northern Reach.