When you attempt some difficult or risky actions, the GM may require you roll the dice for one of your character’s abilities and meet or beat a target difficulty number to succeed. This is called an ability check.
Generally, the target number is 3 for fairly straightforward tasks, 6 for those of average difficulty, or 9 to accomplish a tough feat.
- Body is for physical actions and challenges to your constitution, such as hitting a foe in combat, breaking down a door, hoisting a friend up over a wall, winning a foot race, or resisting poison or electrocution.
- Mind is used for intellectual or sensory challenges, like casting a spell, searching for valuables, resisting psychic attack, noticing someone sneaking by, gaining insight to a riddle, attempting to bluff or convince, or remembering a factoid.
- Skill is mostly for performing rogue-like actions. Moving silently or hiding in the shadows requires a roll of 3 or higher. A 6+ will allow you to pick a lock, climb a wall, or pick pocket. Disarming a trap is usually pretty tricky, requiring 9+.
If another being is resisting your attempted action, then instead of merely rolling a target number you will need to win a high-roll contest to succeed. (Re-roll ties until there is a clear winner.) For example, if you’re trying to sneak up on a guard to knock him out you might roll Skill while the GM rolls the guard’s Mind to see if he notices. An arm wrestling match would be pit Body vs. Body roll, and so on.
If a situation is made especially difficult for some reason, the GM may increase the target number needed for success. Perhaps combat is being fought in a dense fog, adding 1 or 2 to the target everyone needs to hit. Or perhaps a wall your character is trying to climb is covered in ice, making it much tougher and requiring a roll of 9 or higher instead of the usual 6.
Be careful with adjustments! They can easily get out of hand, so only use them when it adds to the story. Also, avoid unnecessary rolling. If a task is very simple or would have little consequence for failure, no roll is necessary.
The GM Abides
All of the above are only guidelines. The GM has final say on what abilities apply a given situation, and the target number to succeed.