CORE RPG RULES
Iconoclast -- RPG -- Contested Rolls
If you're in the midst of combat or some other competition (be it versus an NPC or an icon), you're going to be involved in a CONTESTED ROLL, the situation itself known as a contest. Contested rolls work just like uncontested rolls, with the notable exception of the fact that they involve the rolls of both "actor" and "reactor." The actor is the person initiating the contested action, and the reactor is the person contesting the roll.
However, the individual rolls are never directly compared to one another. To use another analogy, consider a baseball game. The pitcher (the actor) starts all the action off by winding up and throwing the ball towards the batter. Once he releases the ball, it's no longer up to him to influence it at all--it has become the responsibility of the batter (the reactor), who must now react to this piece of leather that's flying at him at about 90 miles per hour.
This flies in the face of most role-playing systems (including, we're not too proud to say, some earlier versions of this system). Typically, the two individuals involved in any contest (such as combat) are comparing numbers with one another right from jump street. The guy attacking needs to know the defender's armor value, then he determines his chance to hit, then he rolls, then he adds modifiers to the die roll, and before you know it you're back in math class.
We hate math.
In the FORGE system, for any contest the actor determines everything he needs to determine first, and then "throws the ball" to the reactor. Then the reactor deals with any consequences as are appropriate based on the single final number that the actor "threw at him."
In some cases, this number will be whatever the actor's die roll was (for example, when two hackers are battling it out over a computer system, or when two skilled debaters are wrangling it out over some diplomatic issue). In other contests (as is the case with combat), the number that's thrown to the reactor will be a modified version of the die roll; in the case of combat, this number represents incoming damage. In all cases, you will only ever roll once for any action, whether it's in combat or not. That one number will be used to calculate all other numbers.
It's then up to the reactor to react to the incoming data however he wants to react. In all cases, he faces a somewhat difficult challenge, in that he must not only roll within his own target, but he must have a better success than that of the actor.
To put it more simply:
1. If the actor's roll falls within the limits of his target, he
succeeds. If it exceeds (goes over) the target, he fails.
2. If he succeeds, he throws that number (or a modified version of it,
for combat situations) over to the reactor.
3. The reactor rolls. If the reactor's roll falls outside the limits of
her target, she fails, and the actor wins.
4. If the reactor's roll falls within the limits of her target, she
compares her roll to the number that the actor threw her way. If it's
lower, then she failed, and the actor wins the contest. If it's higher
(but within her target), then she wins the contest.
There are situations which add a bit more complexity, but for the most part every contest situation happens just like that, at which point the person who reacted typically becomes the actor for the next stage, and vice-versa.
In the event of a tie, the reactor always wins (if it's within combat, and you're dealing with damage, the definition of "win" can mean a lot of different things--see that section for more information.)