This game uses six-sided dice. Resolving actions is straightforward: the player of the acting character rolls a number of dice equal to the rank of the skill being used. If the action is being opposed by an NPC, or if the acting character is simply acting on the environment, the GM will roll a number of dice appropriate to the degree of difficulty for the attempted action. If the action is being opposed by another PC, he rolls a number of dice equal to the rank of the most appropriate skill to oppose the action. If the acting character’s roll beats the opposing roll, he wins. Otherwise, the attempted action fails. That’s it!
Degrees of Success
Roll for Shoes is a very light system, but at the same time the die rolls inform the narrative to a very strong extent. Players and GMs are encouraged to use the amount by which an attempted action succeeds or fails guide how the narrative plays out. Succeeding by 1 is a skin-of-the-teeth success. Succeeding by double the opposing roll should be incredibly successful, and where reasonable should create opportunities in the narrative on which other players can capitalize. Conversely, failing by 1 is not quite making it, and failing by a wide margin should put the acting character in a tight spot. However, a character should only lose more than 1 Loot or take more than 1 point of Battle Damage in extreme circumstances, regardless of degrees of success or failure.
Strictly speaking, a tied result is a failure because the acting character has failed to beat the opposing roll. However, ties happen relatively infrequently, especially at higher dice pools, so they merit special treatment. The acting character fails a tied roll and earns 1 XP, but enjoys some small benefit. At the GM’s discretion, the tie might:
- Grant a +1 to the sum of his next action attempt within that scene. Note that this is not an extra die to roll, simply add 1 to the result of the next action the character attempts. At the GM’s discretion, the bonus may be increased up to approximately half the number of dice the acting character rolled on the tied action.
- Offer a qualified success. The character doesn’t get what he wants, but is offered something lesser, or makes an incremental step toward the intended goal.
- Offer success at a cost. This should be relatively rare, but if the player is willing to sacrifice one of his character’s precious items of Loot in order to achieve success and can propose how that would work in the narrative, the GM is strongly encouraged to allow it.
So Who Goes When?
Roll for Shoes doesn’t worry too much about initiative. However, since rolling dice drives the story forward and is the primary means of advancement for the characters’ skills, the GM should take care to give everybody a chance to do something before any player goes again.
Similarly, when the GM presents a threat directly acting on the player characters, he should avoid forcing the same player to defend against it every turn. When a character is acting defensively to oppose a threat, his player is still rolling dice, and can earn XP or automatic advances like normal.
When to Roll
Basically, players are encouraged to roll something every time they narrate their characters attempting an action. If a character is doing something mundane, or if the players are simply interacting through roleplay, that’s fine. They don’t need to roll dice just to speak with one another, or to walk down the street. However, dice should hit the table if one character is trying to persuade the other to do something he doesn’t want to do, or if the character is on the look-out for danger while walking down a poorly-lit street at night. It all depends on the context. The players will use their good judgment, and the GM will encourage the players to roll when appropriate.