1. Hero Creation

Welcome to the latest incarnation of True20 Adventure Roleplaying, a set of rules intended to give you the tools you need to create fun and exciting heroes and tell stories of their adventures in genres from fantasy and science fiction to horror and modern action-adventure. As a product of the Open Game License, the basics of True20 are fundamentally familiar to many, if not most, roleplaying gamers, but its approach is to simplify and consolidate. We hope you enjoy True20, as it is the result of years of design, development, game-play, and publishing. Indeed, it has been a long, and often winding, path.

Welcome to worlds of adventure! True20 Adventure Roleplaying is everything you need to create fun and fantastic storytelling adventures. It is a game of heroes, villains, action and excitement, where you choose the course the story takes!

This Introduction provides you with an overview of what True20 is and how it works. The later chapters show you how to create heroes and your own exciting adventures and then offer you several worlds in which to create them. Whether you are new to the world of adventure roleplaying games or this is your first, welcome! You have opened the door to whole new worlds of your imagination.

What is Roleplaying?

A roleplaying game like True20 uses imagination and a set of simple rules to allow a group of people to work together to create and tell stories through the medium of fictional characters. Let’s look at these major factors of the game: Imagination.

A roleplaying game takes place entirely in the imagination of the players and in their descriptions of the story. It’s like an extended session of “let’s pretend” that we played as kids. There is no board and no playing pieces to move about, although some players may choose to use maps, miniature figures, or other visual aids to help tell the story more clearly. Everything in the story—from the main characters to the plot to the events—exists in the players’ imaginations, with guidance from the Narrator.


A roleplaying game has rules to serve both as a common vocabulary for describing things in the story and as guidelines for determining the outcome of different events in the story as it progresses. If the game is like a childhood session of “let’s pretend,” then the rules are there to help provide more of a framework and to avoid some of the inevitable disputes over what “really” happened when two or more players disagree.


Roleplaying games are cooperative experiences: the players are not pitted against each other and the goal of the game isn’t for one player to “win,” it’s for everyone to tell and share in a fun story. Even though the Narrator often portrays the villains of the story and puts obstacles in the heroes’ path, it’s not even about the players vs. the Narrator, but how the whole group works together to create an exciting adventure. How exciting would an adventure be without villains or obstacles to overcome?


Telling a fun and exciting story is the point of a roleplaying adventure game. The Narrator comes up with a plot and supporting characters, the players come up with characters and play out their interaction with the plot, spinning off new events and outcomes, and the story develops with help and guidance from the rules and the Narrator. When the story is done, you have a complete tale to look back on, but the fun is making and experiencing the story as it happens.


The players create fictional characters as their vehicles for interacting with and experiencing the adventure. Part of the fun of roleplaying games is you can pretend to be someone else for a little while: a larger-than-life hero, a rough-and-tumble outsider, a tortured anti-hero, or whatever else you can imagine that fits the sort of story your group wants to tell.

An Example of Roleplaying

Let’s take a look at a roleplaying adventure game session in progress. Andy is the Narrator, guiding the players through a story about a band of brave heroes exploring an ancient—and supposedly haunted—ruin in a fantasy world. The players are Kelly, Liz, Mike, and Sean.

Andy (Narrator): The antechamber is dark, lit only by thin shafts of moonlight slanting in through the broken windows and the light of your lantern. Broken glass and crumbled stone crunch loosely underfoot, and the dark doorways off this chamber loom pitch black, two off to either side of you.
Kelly: Let’s go through the first doorway to our right and see what’s there.
Sean: Maybe we should split up and look around.
Mike: No, it’s better if we all stay together, just in case.
Andy: So, are you going through the first doorway? (The players nod agreement.)
Andy: Who’s going first?
Mike (playing the armored warrior Valin): I will.
Andy: Valin steps through the doorway and there’s a sudden flurry of movement, a flapping of leathery wings! A dark cloud swirls out around you…
Liz: What is it?
Andy: …then the swarm of bats rush past into the antechamber.
Sean: Bats!
Mike: Whew! Okay, I go in and see what’s in there.
Andy: Mike, what’s Valin’s Notice bonus?
Mike (checking his character’s sheet): It’s a +5. (Andy makes a die roll to determine what Mike’s character can notice immediately upon entering the room. He doesn’t tell Mike the result, since Valin would have no way of knowing that he failed to notice something.)
Liz: I’m going to keep an eye out for anything behind us.
Andy: Okay, Liz, Elspeth glances back into the room as Valin moves through the door. Mike, the room beyond looks like it might have been a library or something similar once. There are tall shelves lining most of the walls, or at least there were before they rotted and collapsed. Any books, scrolls, or other reading materials have long since decayed, but the heavy flagstone fireplace remains largely intact. Just then, a strange moaning comes from the cold, dark hearth.
Sean: The wind?
Kelly: A ghost?

Which is it? Our brave heroes will have to investigate and see! If it is a ghost, how will they deal with it and rid the house of its curse? What if it’s not a ghost at all, but someone who wants others to think the ruin is haunted? Or, for that matter, what if it’s just the wind, but there is actually a supernatural force at work? It’s entirely up to you, with your imagination as the only limit.

The Basics

True20 provides a framework for your imagination. It has rules to describe your character’s traits, help you decide what happens in your stories and resolve conflicts between the heroes and the challenges they face. With it, any adventure you can imagine is possible.

To play, you need a copy of the True20 rules; a twenty-sided die, available at game and hobby stores; and a pencil and some paper. You might want copies of the True20 character record sheet found in the Appendix as well.

The Core System

True20 uses a core or central game system to resolve actions. Whenever your character attempts any action with a chance of failure, do the following:

  1. Roll a twenty-sided die (abbreviated d20).
  2. Add any relevant modifiers (for things like abilities, skills, and circumstances).
  3. Compare the total to a number called the action’s Difficulty (set by the Narrator based on the circumstances).

If the result equals or exceeds the Difficulty, the action succeeds. If the result is lower than the Difficulty, the action fails. This simple system is used for nearly everything in True20, with variations based on the modifiers added to a roll, the Difficulty, and the effects of success and failure.

The Narrator

One of the players in a True20 game takes the role of Narrator. The Narrator is responsible for running the game and is a combination of writer, director, and referee. The Narrator creates adventures for the heroes, portrays the villains and supporting characters, describes the world, and decides the outcome of the heroes’ actions based on the guidelines given in the rules.

It’s a big job, but also a rewarding one, since the Narrator gets to create the setting and the various characters in it, as well as inventing fun and exciting plots. If you’re going to be a Narrator, you should read through this whole book carefully. You should have a firm grasp of the setting and rules, since you’re expected to interpret them for the players.


The other players in a True20 game create heroes—the main characters of their own adventure series, like an ongoing series of short stories or novels. As a player, you create your hero following the guidelines in this book, with the assistance and guidance of your Narrator, building the sort of hero you want to play. There are several components to creating a hero, outlined here and described in detail in the following chapters.


All heroes have certain basic abilities that define what they are capable of doing. These abilities are Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma. They each have a numeric ability score, averaging 0 for a normally capable human. Higher ability scores are bonuses (+1 to +5 or more), while lower ability scores are penalties (as low as –5). As part of creating your hero, you decide how strong, smart, and tough your hero is by choosing the appropriate ability scores. See Chapter One: Hero Creation for more information.


Heroes fall into one of three roles that define the part they play in the story. Adepts are intellectual and knowledgeable heroes focused on supernatural powers. Experts are heroes specializing in various skills. Warriors are heroes specializing in fighting and combat. Your hero’s role determines things like fighting ability, saving throw bonuses, and available feats.


Skills represent training in a particular sort of task or knowledge, everything from acrobatic maneuvers to negotiation, riding a horse, and ancient lore. Someone trained in climbing is able to climb faster and with more confidence than someone who isn’t, for example. Skills are measured in ranks, reflecting how much training a character has in the skill. Skill ranks act as a bonus when a hero attempts an action related to a skill. You choose the skills your hero knows from a list of available skills. See Chapter Two: Skills for more information.


Feats are special abilities, representing talents or special training. They allow your hero to do things others can’t or give your hero some other advantage. You select your hero’s feats based on what you want your hero to be able to do. Heroes acquire new feats as they improve. See Chapter Three: Feats for more information.

If You’re a Gamer…

Then odds are you’ve seen a lot of the stuff in this Introduction before, in one form or another, possibly many times.

If True20 is not your first roleplaying game, and you’re already familiar with the whys and wherefores of the hobby, you might wants to skip ahead to The Basics to see how the game is played. On the other hand, you might find it useful to read over the whole Introduction just to get a feel for some of the ideas behind True20 and how it works.

For those experienced with other RPGs, True20 is a “rules-lighter” game system aimed at creating fun stories. No doubt this will be a basis for some sort of critique, but the “purpose” of the game is neither to be “rules-light” nor to focus on “storytelling” as such, but to have fun with a group of friends. Wouldn’t be much of a game otherwise, would it?

…Or If You’ve Played Before

If you’re familiar with earlier versions of the True20 system, found in Blue Rose and the first electronic edition of True20 published by Green Ronin, you’ll still want to read this Introduction and the following chapters carefully, since there have been a number of minor corrections, updates, and changes in the rules to make them consistent, compatible, and playable overall.

Experienced True20 players are going to want to start re-reading The Basics, then go on to the hero creation chapters, followed by Chapter Six: Playing the Game to get a good feel for how things work.

Game Play

A session of True20 resembles one or more chapters from a novel. The Narrator and the players get together and tell a story by playing the game. The length of the game session can vary, from an hour or two to four hours or more. Some adventures are completed in a single session, while others take many sessions. You can choose when to stop playing, and you can start up again anytime later.

Just like a story, a True20 adventure consists of a series of scenes. Some scenes are fairly straightforward, with the heroes interacting with each other and the supporting cast. In these cases the Narrator generally just asks the players to describe what their heroes are doing and in turn describes how the other characters react and what they say and do.

When the action starts happening, such as when the heroes are staving off a disaster or fighting villains, time becomes more crucial and is broken down into rounds, each six seconds long, and the players generally have to make die rolls to see how well their heroes do.

Die Rolls

There are a number of different die rolls in True20, although they all follow the core system of a d20 roll plus modifiers versus a Difficulty. The three main die rolls in True20 are checks, attack rolls, and saving throws.


To make a check, roll a d20 and add your modifier for the appropriate trait (ability, skill, and so forth). You always want to roll high. Rolling 20 before adding modifiers (called a natural 20) is not an automatic success, and rolling 1 before adding modifiers (a natural 1) is not an automatic failure, unlike attack rolls, which differ from checks (see Attack Rolls later in this Introduction and Chapter Six for more information).

Check = d20 + modifier versus Difficulty


A check’s Difficulty is a number set by the Narrator that you must equal or exceed with your check result to succeed. So, for a task with a Difficulty of 15, you must have a check result of 15 or better to succeed. In some cases, the consequences of a check vary based on how much higher or lower the result is than the Difficulty.

Opposed Checks

Some checks are opposed checks. They are made against the result of someone else’s check. Whoever gets the higher result wins. An example is trying to bluff someone. You make a Bluff check, while the Narrator makes a Sense Motive check for your target. If you beat the target’s Sense Motive check result, you succeed.

For ties on opposed checks, the character with the higher modifier wins. If the modifiers are the same, re-roll.

Opposed Check Examples
Task Skill Opposing Skill
Sneak up on someone Stealth Notice
Con someone Bluff Sense Motive
Hide from someone Stealth Notice
Win a horse race Ride Ride
Pretend to be someone else Disguise Notice
Steal a key chain Sleight of Hand Notice

Trying Again

In general, you can try a check again if you fail, and keep trying indefinitely. Some tasks, however, have consequences for failure. For example, failing a Climb check might mean you fall, which might make it difficult to try again. Some tasks can’t be attempted again once a check has failed. For most tasks, once you’ve succeeded, additional successes are meaningless. (Once you’ve discovered a room’s only secret door using the Search skill, for instance, there’s no further benefit from additional Search checks.)

Sample Difficulties
Difficulty Example (Skill Used)
Very easy (0) Notice something large in plain sight (Notice)
Easy (5) Climb a knotted rope with a wall to brace against (Climb)
Average (10) Hear an approaching guard (Notice)
Tough (15) Rig a wagon wheel to fall off (Disable Device)
Challenging (20) Swim in stormy water (Swim)
Formidable (25) Pick an average quality lock (Disable Device)
Heroic (30) Leap across a 25-foot chasm (Jump)
Superheroic (35) Convince the guards that even though they’ve never seen you before, they should let you into the fortress (Bluff)
Nearly impossible (40) Track an expert hunter through the woods on a moonless night after days of rainfall (Survival)

Circumstance Modifiers

Some circumstances make a check easier or harder, resulting in a bonus or penalty to the modifier for the check or a change to the check’s Difficulty.

The Narrator can alter the odds of success in four ways:

  • Grant a +2 bonus to represent circumstances improving performance.
  • Grant a –2 penalty to represent circumstances hampering performance.
  • Reduce the Difficulty by 2 to represent circumstances making the task easier.
  • Increase the Difficulty by 2 to represent circumstances making the task harder.

Bonuses to your check modifier and reduction to the check’s Difficulty have the same result: they create a better chance of success. But they represent different circumstances, and sometimes that difference is important.

Time and Checks

Performing a particular task may take a round, several rounds, or even no real time at all. Most checks are move actions, standard actions, or full-round actions. Some checks are instant and represent reactions to an event, or are included as part of another action. Other checks represent part of movement. The distance the character jumps when making a Jump check, for example, is part of the character’s move action. Some checks take more than a round to use, and the rules specify how long these tasks require. See The Combat Round later in this chapter for more information.


Some tasks require tools. If tools are needed, the specific items are mentioned in the description of the task or skill. If you don’t have the appropriate tools, you can still attempt the task but at a –4 penalty on your check.

A character may be able to put together impromptu tools to make the check. If the Narrator allows this, reduce the penalty to –2 (instead of –4). It usually takes some time (several minutes to an hour or more) to collect or create a set of impromptu tools, and it may require an additional check as well.

When to Roll Dice

True20 provides systems to handle most situations likely to come up during a game, but these systems are just guidelines. Ultimately, it’s up to the Narrator to decide exactly what happens in any given situation. The Narrator also decides when various checks and other die rolls are necessary to resolve a situation.

Generally speaking, it’s possible to handle a lot of challenges and routine issues in the game using the guidelines given in this section, particularly the rules for taking 1, 5, 10 and 20, and comparison checks. For example, if you know a hero can simply take 10 and succeed at a task under routine circumstances, there’s no reason to bother rolling dice; just assume the hero succeeds and move on. This helps to maintain the narrative flow of the game and makes the times when you do start rolling dice more dramatic, since all the focus is on the action.

Checks without Rolls

A check represents performing a task under a certain amount of pressure, with uncertain results. When the situation is less demanding, you can perform with more reliable results. Applying these rules can speed up checks under routine circumstances, cutting down the number of die rolls players need to make during play.

Taking 1

If your total bonus on a check is equal to or greater than the Difficulty, you will succeed regardless of what you roll on the die. In this case, the Narrator might not require you to roll at all and just assume you succeed, since it’s a trivial effort for someone of your capability. If the check has varying levels of success, you’re assumed to achieve the minimum possible (as if you’d rolled a 1). You can choose to make a roll to achieve a greater level of success, or the Narrator may assume a greater level of success, depending on the circumstances.

Taking 5

Rather than rolling a check, you can choose to take 5. Calculate your result as if you had rolled a 5 on the die. Taking 5 is sufficient to automatically succeed on an easy (Difficulty 5) task, assuming a base modifier of +0. For more difficult tasks, you need a greater bonus (from higher abilities or skill ranks) to take 5 and succeed. Otherwise, you need to use one of the following options, or roll the die and take your chances.

Taking 10

When you are not in a rush and not threatened or distracted, you can choose to take 10. Instead of rolling for the check, calculate your result as if you had rolled a 10. For average (Difficulty 10) tasks, taking 10 allows you to succeed automatically, assuming a base modifier of +0. Unlike taking 1 or 5, you cannot take 10 if distracted or under pressure (such as in a combat or action situation). The Narrator decides when this is the case.

Taking 20

When you have plenty of time, and when the task carries no penalty for failure, you can take 20. Instead of rolling the check, calculate your result as if you had rolled a 20. Taking 20 means you keep trying until you get it right. Taking 20 takes about twenty times as long as making a single check, or about 2 minutes for a task requiring a round or less. If there are potential consequences for failing the check, such as setting off an alarm or slipping and falling, you cannot take 20 on it.

Comparison Checks

In cases where a “check” is actually a simple test of one character’s capabilities against another, with no luck involved, the one with the higher modifier or score wins. Just as you wouldn’t make a “height check” to see who’s taller, you don’t need to make a Strength check to see who’s stronger. The ability scores tell you that. When two characters arm wrestle, for example, the stronger character wins. In the case of identical bonuses or scores, just roll the die, with the highest roll winning.


Challenges reflect a capable character’s ability to perform some tasks with superior panache and efficiency. They allow heroes to achieve greater results by making already difficult checks harder.

To take a challenge, increase a check’s Difficulty by 5 or suffer a –5 penalty to the check result. In return, you gain an extra benefit in addition to the normal effects of a successful check. If you fail due to the penalty or increased Difficulty, however, you suffer the normal results of failure. Note that, if failing by more than a certain margin imposes a particular outcome, you suffer that outcome as normal if you fail to meet your newly increased Difficulty. For example, a character who misses a Disable Device check by 10 or more accidentally sets off the device. If the standard Difficulty is 20 and your challenge increases it to 25, then you accidentally set off the device with a skill check result of 15 or less, instead of the usual 10 or less.

You can accept more than one challenge to a check. In some cases, you can take a challenge more than once to gain its benefits multiple times. These are noted in the challenge descriptions.

Generally, challenges allow you to gain added benefits when you face a relatively low Difficulty and have a high modifier. You can also use challenges to attempt heroic actions, even when faced with a high Difficulty. In these cases, spending a Conviction point can help ensure success with all the added benefits of the successful challenge.

Standard Challenges

The challenges in this section apply to any ability or skill check. The Narrator has final say as to whether a challenge applies to a specific situation. Each challenge imposes either a +5 modifier to a check’s Difficulty or a –5 penalty to the check result.

Fast Task

You reduce the time needed to complete the check. If the check is normally a full-round action, it becomes a standard action. A standard action becomes a move action, while a move action becomes a free action. For checks requiring time in rounds, minutes, or longer, reduce the time needed by 25 percent per challenge. You cannot make a check as a free action via challenges if it normally requires a standard action or longer.

Calculated Risk

You can take a calculated risk on one check to make a follow-up check easier. For example, you could use Disable Device to overcome an initial safeguard to make disarming the whole trap easier. If you succeed at this challenge, you gain a bonus on the second check equal to the total penalty you accepted on the first. The two checks must be related and the first, penalized, check must carry some consequence for failure (that is, it cannot be a check where you can take 20).

Simultaneous Tasks

You can accept a challenge in order to perform two checks simultaneously. To attempt simultaneous checks, make the challenge check, followed by a second check using the same or a different trait. Your secondary check suffers a –10 penalty or a +10 increase in Difficulty. The combined task requires the same time as the longest normal task, so if both tasks require a standard action, you accomplish the simultaneous use in a single standard action rather than two.

In addition to these standard challenges, various skills have specific challenges associated with them. These are given in the skill’s description in Chapter Two.


Sometimes characters work together and help each other out. In this case, one character (usually the one with the highest bonus) is considered the leader of the effort and makes the check normally, while each helper makes the same check against Difficulty 10 (and can’t take 10 on this check). Success grants the leader a +2 bonus for favorable conditions. For every 10 full points the helper’s check exceeds the Difficulty, increase the bonus by +1, so a result of 20–29 grants a +3 bonus, 30–39 a +4, and so forth. In many cases, outside help isn’t beneficial, or only a limited number of helpers can aid someone at once. The Narrator limits aid as appropriate for the task and conditions.

Types of Checks

There are three main types of checks: skill checks, ability checks, and power checks.

Skill Checks

A skill check determines what you can accomplish with a particular skill (sometimes whether you’re trained in that skill or not). It is a roll of d20 + your rank in the skill and the skill’s key ability score against a Difficulty. Skill checks sometimes have gradations of success and failure based on how much your total roll is above or below the Difficulty. For example, if you fail a Climb check, you don’t make any progress. If you fail by 5 or more, you fall.

Ability Checks

An ability check is like a skill check, but measures raw ability, like strength, endurance, or intellect. It is a roll of d20 + your ability modifier against a Difficulty. Ability checks tend to be all or nothing (you can either accomplish the task or you can’t), although there are sometimes gradations of success or failure. Attempting a skill check without training (in other words, without ranks in the skill) is an ability check.

Example Ability Check
Task Ability
Forcing open a jammed or locked door Strength
Tying a rope Dexterity
Resisting injury, holding your breath Constitution
Navigating a maze Intelligence
Recognize a stranger you’ve seen before Wisdom
Getting yourself noticed in a crowd Charisma

Power Checks

A power check measures a character’s capability with a supernatural power. It is a roll of d20 + your power rank (adept level +3) plus the power’s key ability score against a Difficulty. See Chapter Four: Powers for details on power checks.

Attack Rolls

An attack roll determines whether or not you hit an opponent in combat. It is a d20 roll + your attack bonus. The Difficulty is your target’s Defense, which measures their ability to avoid attacks. If you equal or exceed your target’s Defense, your attack hits. Otherwise, you miss.

A roll of 20 on the die (called a natural 20) means the attack hits automatically and may be a critical hit. A roll of 1 on the die (a natural 1) means the attack automatically misses.

Saving Throws

Saving throws allow your hero to avoid different forms of danger, including injury, traps, poisons, tricks, and even supernatural powers. A saving throw is a d20 roll + the appropriate ability score (Constitution for Toughness and Fortitude saves, Dexterity for Reflex saves, and Wisdom for Will saves) and the appropriate save bonus, along with any bonuses from feats, special abilities, and the like.

Saving throw Difficulty is based on the potency of the hazard, such as the power of an attack or the strength of a disease or poison. Like skill checks, there are sometimes gradations to a saving throw’s results. For example, a Toughness save may result in no damage at all if you beat the Difficulty, but could result in a glancing blow, a stunning blow, or an immediate knockout if you fail, depending on how much the roll misses the Difficulty.

The Combat Round

When things really start happening in a True20 game, time is broken down into six-second segments called rounds, or combat rounds, since they’re most often used in fights. A round isn’t very much time, just long enough for a hero to do something. The types of actions your hero can perform during a round are standard actions, move actions, full- round actions, free actions, and reactions. During a round you can do one of the following:

  • Take a standard action and a move action.
  • Take a move action and then another move action (in place of your standard action).
  • Take a full-round action.

You can perform as many free actions and reactions in a round as you wish, although the Narrator may choose to limit them to a reasonable number to keep the game moving.

Standard Actions

A standard action generally involves acting upon something, whether it’s an actual attack or using some skill to affect something. You’re limited to one standard action in a round.

Move Actions

A move action usually involves moving. You can move your speed in a single move action or twice your speed in a round by taking two move actions. You can take a move action before or after a standard action, so you can attack then move or move then attack. You cannot normally split your move action before and after your standard action. Move actions also include things like drawing weapons, standing up from being knocked down, and picking up objects.

Full-Round Actions

A full-round action occupies all your attention for a round, meaning you can’t do anything else that round. Full-round actions include charging an opponent at full speed or moving as quickly as you can. Certain maneuvers require a full-round action to perform, as do some skills.

Free Actions

A free action is something so comparatively minor it doesn’t take any significant time at all, so you can perform as many free actions in a round as the Narrator considers reasonable. Free actions include things like talking (heroes and villains always seem to find time to say a lot in the middle of a fight), dropping something, and so forth.


A reaction is something you do in response to something else. A reaction doesn’t take any time, like a free action. The difference is you might take a reaction when it’s not even your turn to act, in response to something else happening during the round.


Characters may suffer damage during combat. Damage in True20 uses aseries of damage conditions, running from minor to serious and life threatening. The damage conditions (in increasing order of severity) are: bruised, hurt, dazed, wounded, staggered, disabled, unconscious, and dying.

Damage is determined by a Toughness saving throw: a roll of the die plus the hero’s Toughness bonus against a Difficulty of 15, modified by the source of the damage: with more damaging attacks more difficult to save against. The result of the saving throw and whether the damage is non-lethal or lethal determines the damage condition: a successful save means no damage, a failure is a bruised (non-lethal) or hurt (lethal) result, failure by 5 or more a dazed or wounded result, failure by 10 or more a staggered or disabled result, and failure by 15 or more an unconscious or dying result. The first result is from non-lethal damage, the second from lethal damage.


Heroes in True20 have a trait called Conviction, representing their inner determination. Players can spend Conviction to improve heroes’ abilities in various ways. You can spend Conviction to re-roll a bad die roll, bounce back from being hurt, and various other things. See Conviction in Chapter One for more information. Conviction helps give heroes an edge, but don’t get overconfident, because many villains also have Conviction!

Important Terms

Ability score: The numerical rating of an ability, applied as a bonus or penalty.

Ability: One of the six basic character traits—Strength (Str), Dexterity (Dex), Constitution (Con), Intelligence (Int), Wisdom (Wis), and Charisma (Cha).

Action: A character activity. There are standard actions, move actions, full-round actions, free actions, and reactions.

Adventure: A story for players to experience.

Aid: A check made to assist another character, with the result providing a bonus (see page 9).

Attack bonus: A modifier used to measure a character’s combat skill.

Attack roll: A roll to determine whether an attack hits. To make an attack roll, roll d20 and add the appropriate modifiers for the attack type. An attack hits if the result is equal to or greater than the target’s Defense.

Attack: Any of numerous actions intended to harm, disable, or neutralize an opponent.

Bonus: A positive modifier to a die roll.

Challenge: A challenge is either an increase in Difficulty or a penalty on a check. If successful, it provides some pre-determined benefit, such as completing a task faster or more efficiently.

Character: A fictional individual in the game. The players control heroes, while the Narrator controls Narrator characters.

Check: A method of deciding the result of a character’s action (other than attacking or making a saving throw). Checks are based on a relevant ability, skill, or other trait. To make a check, roll d20 and add any relevant modifiers. If the check result equals or exceeds the Difficulty of a task or the result of an opponent’s check, it succeeds.

Conviction: A quality of heroic and villainous characters, used to enhance their abilities and actions in various ways.

Critical hit (crit): An attack inflicting extra damage. To score a critical hit, an attacker must first score a threat (usually a natural 20 on an attack roll, depending on the attack being used), and then make another attack roll equal or greater than the target’s normal Defense.

D20: A twenty-sided die, used to resolve all actions in True20.

Damage bonus: A modifier used to determine the damage of an attack.

Damage: Harm caused to a character by injury, illness, or some other source.

Defense: The Difficulty to hit a target in combat. Defense equals 10 + any relevant modifiers.

Difficulty: The number a player must meet or beat for a check, attack roll, or saving throw to succeed.

Dodge bonus: Bonus applied to Defense to determine how difficult a character is to hit. Characters lose their dodge bonus when they are flat-footed, stunned, or otherwise incapable of reacting to an attack.

Dying: Near death and unconscious. A dying character can take no actions.

Flat-footed: A character who has not yet acted during a combat is flat- footed, not yet reacting to the situation. A flat-footed character loses his dodge and parry bonuses to Defense.

Free action: A minor activity, requiring very little time and effort.

Full-round action: An action requiring all your effort in a round. Some skills, feats, and powers require a full-round action (or longer) to use.

Hero: A character controlled by a player, one of the protagonists of an adventure or series.

Initiative: A roll to determine the order in which characters act in action scenes. Initiative is a roll of d20 + initiative bonus, which is based on Dexterity.

Lethal damage: Damage that can potentially disable or kill a target.

Melee attack: A physical attack in close combat.

Melee weapon: A handheld weapon designed for close combat.

Modifier: Any bonus or penalty applied to a die roll.

Move action: An action intended to move a distance or to manipulate or move an object. You can take up to two move actions per round.

Narrator character: Also supporting character. A character controlled by the Narrator (as opposed to a hero controlled by a player).

Narrator: The player who portrays characters not controlled by the other players, makes up the story and setting for the game, and serves as the referee.

Natural: A natural result on a roll or check is the actual number appearing on the die, not the modified result obtained by adding bonuses or subtracting penalties.

Non-lethal damage: Damage that can potentially stun or knock out a target, but does no permanent harm.

Penalty: A negative modifier to a die roll.

Percent chance: To roll a percent chance on 1d20, count each number on the die as 5 percent. An event with a 20 percent chance (such as the miss chance for concealment) happens on a roll of 17 or higher, a 50 percent chance on 11 or higher, and a 75 percent chance on 6 or higher.

Power: A supernatural ability or trait. Powers are discussed in detail in Chapter Four.

Range increment: Each full range increment of distance between an attacker using a ranged weapon and a target gives the attacker a cumulative –2 penalty to the ranged attack roll. Thrown weapons have a maximum range of five range increments. Other ranged attacks have a maximum range of ten range increments.

Ranged attack: Any attack made at a distance.

Ranged weapon: A projectile or thrown weapon designed for attacking at a distance.

Rank: A measure of a character’s level of ability with a skill or other trait.

Round: A six-second unit of game time used to manage actions, usually in combat.

Saving throw (save): A roll made to avoid or reduce harm. The four types of saving throws are Toughness, Fortitude, Reflex, and Will.

Scene: A variable length of time in which one major event or “chapter” of an adventure takes place. The Narrator determine the length of each scene.

Series: A string of linked adventures.

Stack: Combine for a cumulative effect. In most cases, modifiers to a given check or roll stack. If the modifiers of a particular roll do not stack, only the best bonus or worst penalty applies. Sometimes there is a limit to how high a stacked bonus or penalty can be.

Standard action: An action intended to do something within about 3 seconds. You can perform a single standard action per round.

Target (also subject): The intended recipient of an attack, action, or effect.

Threat range: The natural die roll results constituting a critical hit threat when rolled for an attack. For most attacks, the threat range is a roll of 20.

Threat: A possible critical hit.

Trained: Having knowledge of, and therefore ranks in, a skill.

Trait: Any of a character’s game-defined qualities. Ability scores, skills, and feats are all traits.

Unarmed attack: A melee attack made without a weapon.

Untrained: Having no ranks in a skill. Some skills cannot be used untrained.


True20 uses the Open Game License (OGL), allowing it to incorporate basic game systems and terms familiar to players of many popular roleplaying games. The OGL also allows True20 Narrators to adapt material from other popular games to their own True20 games, as detailed in the Appendix of this book. Using the guidelines given there, you can greatly expand the range of roleplaying game material you can use in conjunction with True20.

Green Ronin Publishing works in partnership with other game publishers to provide support and settings for True20 Adventure Roleplaying. The True20 logo indicates a product licensed and approved by us for use with the game, so you know it’s compatible with the rules in this book and other True20 products.

While True20 has many similarities to other games produced under the Open Game License, it is not necessarily 100% compatible with them. It is designed as a complete self-contained game system, with elements familiar to players of other roleplaying games. For more information on the Open Game License, consult the copy of the license in the back of this book, or visit www.opengamingfoundation.org.

Green Ronin provides support for True20, and all of our products, at our website, www.greenronin.com, where you can find complete product lists, errata and corrections, our online store, all the latest news, and discussion forums where you can ask questions and meet and talk with other True20 players around the world. You can also find links to other True20 resources online, including our publishing partners and their True20 worlds of adventure for you to explore.

This page tells you everything you need to know to create your own True20 heroes, ready to embark on exciting adventures.

It covers basic abilities, backgrounds, roles, and the various details for describing your hero. It also looks at the trait of Conviction and the benefits it grants in the game.


Everyone has certain basic abilities: how strong, fast, smart, and clever they are. These ability scores influence almost everything your character does. Stronger characters can lift greater weights, more dexterous characters have better balance, tougher characters can soak up more damage, and so forth.

Characters have six abilities: Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma. Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution are called physical abilities, whereas Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma are mental abilities. Each above-average ability score provides a bonus on certain die rolls; below average abilities apply a penalty to some die rolls.

Choosing Ability Scores

Ability scores have a numerical value, expressed as a penalty or bonus, from –5 (abysmal or disabled) to +5 or more (legendary, practically superhuman), with an average of +0. When ability scores are noted in this book, the score follows the ability’s name, for example: Strength +2, Dexterity –1, and so forth.

You have 6 points to divide among your hero’s abilities, which all start at 0, neither a bonus nor a penalty. This means you can have +1 in all six abilities; +3 in one ability, 0 in two others, and +1 in the remaining three; or any combination adding up to 6. The only limitation is you cannot put more than 5 points in a single ability score. (Scores can only go higher than +5 as a result of level advancement and a few other factors.)

Ability Scores = 6 points divided between six abilities.

If you choose to have a negative value in an ability, you gain bonus points to assign to your other ability scores. For example, if you give your hero Strength –1, you have 1 more point to assign to another ability (such as Intelligence). If your hero has Strength –2, you have 2 bonus points, and so on. Heroes cannot have abilities lower than –5, and abilities lower than –2 aren’t recommended unless the hero is seriously deficient in that ability. Even with bonus points, you cannot put more than 5 points in a single ability score.

Your ability score is added to or subtracted from die rolls when you do something related to that ability. For example, your Strength score affects the amount of melee damage you do, your Intelligence score affects your Knowledge skills, and so forth. Sometimes your score is used to calculate another value, such as when you use your Dexterity score to help determine how good you are at avoiding harm using your reflexes (your Reflex saving throw).

Ability Score Maximums

Although abilities cannot be increased above +5 through the expenditure of ability points, background modifiers do allow an ability to exceed +5. You can use your level-based ability score increases to bring a base ability score (that is, the ability score without modifiers for background) above +5. If variable ability progressions are permitted, a ceiling of +5 (modified by background) should be imposed to help ensure the bonuses are spread out a bit more rather than focused entirely on one ability.

The Abilities

Given here are descriptions of the six abilities and how they affect your character.

Strength (Str)

Strength measures sheer muscle power and the ability to apply it. Your Strength score applies to the following:

  • Damage dealt by melee and thrown weapon attacks.
  • Defense when parrying, blocking attacks in melee combat.
  • Climb, Jump, and Swim checks.
  • Your carrying capacity, how much you can lift and carry.
  • Strength checks for breaking through doors, smashing things, and other deeds of strength when a specific skill doesn’t apply.

Dexterity (Dex)

Dexterity is a measure of coordination, agility, and manual dexterity. Your Dexterity score applies to the following:

  • Attack rolls.
  • Defense when dodging, evading attacks in combat.
  • Reflex saving throws, for avoiding danger with coordination and quick reflexes.
  • Initiative checks.
  • Acrobatics, Escape Artist, Ride, Sleight of Hand, and Stealth checks.
  • Dexterity checks for tasks requiring agility and coordination when a specific skill doesn’t apply.

Constitution (Con)

Constitution is a measure of endurance, health, and overall physical toughness. Constitution is important because it affects your hero’s ability to resist damage. Your Constitution score applies to the following:

  • Toughness saving throws, for resisting damage.
  • Fortitude saving throws, for resisting disease, poison, fatigue, and other effects involving your hero’s health.
  • Constitution checks for recovering from damage.

Varying Ability Points

The starting amount of 6 points for abilities is intended to create fairly competent heroes who can be, at the least, above average at everything, or average at most things and really capable in one or two areas. However, that amount isn’t set in stone and you can vary it if you like. In more low-key games, the Narrator may want to give the players fewer ability points, say 4, while in especially over-the- top epic games, you might want to give the players a couple more ability points, perhaps as many as 8–10, ensuring their heroes are capable. Most True20 games should offer at least 3 points for abilities, otherwise the heroes aren’t going to be all that heroic when compared to the average person.

Intelligence (Int)

Intelligence is a measure of reasoning, memory, and quick thinking. Your Intelligence score applies to the following:

  • Your number of known skills at 1st level.
  • The number of skill ranks you gain from successive levels.
  • Craft, Disable Device, Knowledge, and Search checks.
  • Intelligence checks to solve problems using sheer brainpower when a specific skill doesn’t apply.

Wisdom (Wis)

While Intelligence measures reasoning, Wisdom is a measure of awareness, common sense, intuition, and strength of will. Your Wisdom score applies to the following:

  • Will saving throws, for resisting attempts to influence you, whether by mundane or supernatural means.
  • Concentration, Medicine, Notice, Sense Motive, and Survival checks.
  • Wisdom checks to resolve matters of intuition when a specific skill doesn’t apply.

Charisma (Cha)

Charisma is a measure of persuasiveness, force of personality, leadership ability, and attractiveness (not necessarily physical). Your Charisma score applies to the following:

  • Bluff, Diplomacy, Disguise, Gather Information, Handle Animal, Intimidate, and Perform checks.
  • Charisma checks to use force of personality when a specific skill doesn’t apply.

Wealth at 1st level.

Altering Ability Scores

Over the course of play, your hero’s ability scores may change for the following reasons:

  • Some effects—including disease and poison—temporarily lower ability scores.
  • Characters improve their ability scores permanently as they increase in level.

Whenever an ability score changes, all traits associated with the ability change as well. For example, if you increase your Dexterity, your attack bonus, Dexterity-based skills and Reflex saving throw modifier also increase. Likewise, if your Dexterity bonus decreases, your attack bonus, Dexterity-based skills and Reflex saving throws suffer.

Debilitated Abilities

There is no limit to how high an ability score can be raised, but there is a limit on how low it can drop. If one of your hero’s ability scores drops below –5 for any reason, the score is debilitated. Your hero suffers serious effects, depending on the ability. Debilitated Strength or Dexterity means the hero is helpless and unable to move. Debilitated Constitution means the hero is dying (and suffers a –5 on checks to avoid death). Debilitated Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma means the hero is unconscious and incapable of waking until the score is restored to at least –5.

Nonexistent Abilities

Some things in True20 actually lack a basic ability (having no score in it at all, which is not the same as having a debilitated ability). The effect of lacking a particular ability is as follows:


Any creature capable of physically manipulating other objects has a Strength score. A creature with no Strength is incapable of exerting any physical force, either because it has no physical form (like an incorporeal ghost) or simply can’t move (like a tree). The creature automatically fails Strength-based checks.


Any creature capable of movement has a Dexterity score. A creature with no Dexterity cannot move (like most plants) or take physical actions and automatically fails Dexterity-based checks.


Any living creature has a Constitution score. A creature with no Constitution has no physical body (like a ghost) or no living metabolism (like an animated statue or other construct). It is immune to effects requiring Fortitude saving throws unless they work on inanimate objects. The creature always fails Constitution-based checks. Creatures with no Constitution do not recover from damage (since they can’t make recovery checks). They must be repaired in some fashion. The same is true of objects.

Mental Abilities

Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma are a bit more difficult to quantify than the physical abilities of Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution. They also have a more dramatic effect on your character’s personality and behavior.


A character with a high Intelligence score tends to be knowledgeable, clever, and prone to using big words. A character with a high Intelligence but a low Wisdom may be smart but absent-minded or easily distracted. A character with a high Intelligence and low Charisma may be knowledgeable but something of a know-it-all or lacking in social skills. Characters with high Intelligence and low Wisdom and Charisma tend to be social misfits. A character with a low Intelligence may be slow, poorly educated, or just not very cerebral.


High Wisdom characters are aware, sensible, and confident in themselves and their abilities. High Wisdom, low Intelligence characters are simple-minded but capable of surprising insights. High Wisdom, low Charisma characters are quietly confident and tend to work behind the scenes. Low Wisdom characters are indecisive, absent-minded, impulsive, or just gullible.


Characters with high Charisma are outgoing, forceful, and often attractive. High Charisma, low Intelligence characters either manage to seem to know what they’re talking about, or they attract people who find them endearing and want to help them. Characters with high Charisma and low Wisdom aren’t very good at choosing their friends wisely. Low Charisma characters may be cold, aloof, rude, awkward, or simply plain and nondescript.


Any creature that can think, learn, or remember has an Intelligence score. A creature with no Intelligence is an automaton, operating on simple instinct or pre-programmed instructions. It is immune to all mental effects and automatically fails Intelligence-based checks. Note that animals have low Intelligence scores (usually –4), but they do have Intelligence.


Any creature aware of its environment has a Wisdom score. Anything with no Wisdom also has no Charisma. It is an inanimate object, not a creature. Objects are immune to mind-influencing effects and automatically fail Wisdom-based checks.


Any creature capable of interacting with others has a Charisma score. Creatures without Charisma cannot interact, are immune to interaction checks, and automatically fail Charisma-based checks.

Inanimate objects have no abilities other than their Toughness score. Animate but nonliving beings, like undead, have Strength and Dexterity. They might have Wisdom and Charisma, if they are aware of their environment and capable of interaction. They might have Intelligence, if they are capable of thought, but they never have Constitution, since they are not alive.


Although True20 is about telling your hero’s story, an important part of creating a hero is figuring out his or her background, and how that history affects the hero’s traits in the present.

Background is an optional trait in True20, suitable for some games and allowing you to further differentiate heroes from each other. It provides extra detail as well as a few capabilities to give your hero an edge.

Background Features

Backgrounds have a number of features that influence and modify a character’s traits. The features a background may have include: Ability Adjustments: The background adjusts some of the hero’s starting abilities from the normal baseline score of +0. Generally speaking, a background should only increase or decrease abilities by +/–1 and should decrease an ability for every increase in equal measure.

Note that these ability adjustments are to the baseline or starting ability scores. The player can spend the hero’s ability points normally to raise the scores. However, the adjustment also affects the maximum score the hero can have, since players cannot put more than 5 of the hero’s starting ability points into any one ability score.

Bonus Feat: A background either grants a bonus feat of the player’s choice or two bonus feats that are part of the background and cannot be changed. The Narrator chooses the bonus feats in the latter case when creating a background for the setting. These bonus feats must be general feats or favored feats for the background (see the following).

Bonus Skill: A background either grants a bonus starting skill of the player’s choice, two bonus starting skills that are part of the background, or one bonus feat that is part of the background. The latter two options are set by the Narrator and cannot be changed. The bonus skill(s) can be any available in True20 and the hero’s starting rank in the skill(s) is 4 (level +3), as usual. Bonus skills from a hero’s background do not provide an extra skill point per level.

Favored Feats: A background grants access to two favored feats. These are feats the hero can acquire regardless of role, even if they are not normally available to that role. Since general feats are available to any hero, they are never favored; favored feats are chosen from the adept, expert, and warrior feat lists. Optionally, a supernatural power can replace two feats for this purpose, using up both of the background’s favored feats. The character does not have to acquire the background’s favored feats; they’re just strongly associated with the background and common to it, therefore always available as an option. If a player selects a favored feat that can be taken more than once (such as Tough), then he can do so as often as he wishes to expend feat slots on it and the Narrator sees fit to allow it. Favored feats use the character’s total levels in lieu of role levels where role levels are a factor; for example if you choose Inspire as a favored feat, you use half your role levels instead of half your expert levels to determine how many subjects you can inspire. This also applies to adept levels; you use your role levels in place of your adept levels for any supernatural power chosen as a favored feat.

Sample Backgrounds

The following are some sample backgrounds for a classic fantasy setting that you can use as examples for creating your own True20 backgrounds. You can find other sample backgrounds in the genre chapters later in this book.


This is the default background for True20 heroes in a game using backgrounds. Human heroes may have cultural backgrounds in addition to their racial background to provide additional depth and options for the players. The traits of a human background are:

  • Ability Adjustments: None.
  • Bonus Feat: The hero gains one bonus feat at 1st level out of the list of feats available for the hero’s role.
  • Bonus Skill: The hero gains one bonus known skill at 1st level, in addition to those gained for the hero’s role and Intelligence score.
  • Favored Feats: Choose any two feats as the character’s favored feats. These feats are available to the hero regardless of role. Favored feats for humans often vary by region and culture, and the Narrator may wish to come up with an appropriate list of favored feats for the human cultures in the setting.


Dwarves are a race of stocky, taciturn humanoids that generally live underground and are known for their skill in stone- and metalworking. Dwarves have the following background traits:

  • Ability Adjustments: +1 Constitution, –1 Charisma
  • Bonus Feats: Great Fortitude, Night Vision, Talented (Craft and Search, only involving stonework)
  • Favored Feats: Diehard, Favored Opponent (goblins or giants)


Elves are a race of slender humanoids with delicate features and pointed ears. They live in forest and sylvan environments and are known for their love of beauty and their skill with magic. Elves have the following background traits:

  • Ability Adjustments: +1 Dexterity, –1 Constitution
  • Bonus Feats: Night Vision, Talented (Notice and Search), Weapon Training
  • Favored Feats: Choose one supernatural power (elves treat their total level as their adept level for this power).


Gnomes are small humanoids (see the Small Heroes sidebar). They prefer to live in comfortable burrows in hillsides where animals abound, and they’re well known for both their gregarious nature and as cunning tricksters and practical jokers.

  • Ability Adjustments: +1 Constitution, –1 Strength
  • Bonus Feats: Iron Will, Night Vision, Talented (Craft [chemical] and Notice)
  • Favored Feats: Choose Fascinate and Favored Opponent (goblins), or a supernatural power.


The offspring of a human and an elf parent, half-elves exist between both cultures. Some feel alienated, while others feel welcome in both worlds. Half-elves combine some of the refinement of elves with the hardiness and adaptability of humans.

  • Ability Adjustments: None
  • Bonus Feats: Night Vision, Talented (Diplomacy and Gather Information), Talented (Notice and Search)
  • Favored Feats: Choose two (based on the half-elf’s home culture).


Born of a human and an orc parent, half-orcs are most often outcast from both cultures. They have great strength and tempers to match. Half-orcs make fierce warriors and usually become soldiers, mercenaries, or raiders.

  • Ability Adjustments: +1 Strength, –1 Intelligence
  • Bonus Feats: Night Vision, Weapon Training
  • Bonus Skill: Half-orcs have one bonus known skill (this balances out the one that they lose due to their lower natural Intelligence score).
  • Favored Feats: Choose two of Cleave, Favored Opponent, Tough, or Rage.


Halflings are small humanoids, almost exactly half the height of humans (thus the name, see Small Heroes). They’re clever and insist they have to be in a world of “big people.” They’re most often found living among other races, particularly humans.

  • Ability Adjustments: +1 Dexterity, –1 Strength
  • Bonus Feats: Lucky, Talented (Climb and Jump), Talented (Notice and Stealth)
  • Favored Feats: Evasion, Attack Specialization (thrown weapon or sling)

Favored Feats and Culture

One use of favored feats in a background is to provide context for the hero’s culture or social background. Since favored feats are merely the opportunity to acquire certain traits, rather than required as part of the background, they can represent inclinations of a culture. For example, perhaps dwarven culture offers the opportunity to acquire the Favored Opponent feat for goblinoids, because dwarves often fight them. A human raised among dwarves might have this favored feat as well, representing the cultural background. Likewise, a barbarian culture might have Rage as one of its favored feats, people from a particular planet or colony might have cultural feats, and so forth. The Narrator should feel free to create “packages” or lists of suitable favored feats for different cultures within the setting.

Small Heroes

Some backgrounds—such as gnomes and halflings—involve races smaller than humans. Such small heroes get a +1 to their Combat bonus due to their size (they’re small targets, while normal-sized targets seem big to them), and a +4 bonus on Stealth checks. They suffers a –1 penalty on Toughness saves, however. A Small character’s carrying capacity is three-quarters of that of a normal (medium-sized) character and a Small character generally moves about two-thirds as fast as a medium character. See Size in Chapter Eight for more on the effects of relative size on characters.


Heroes in True20 come in different types and from many walks of life. Your hero’s role is the part he or she plays in the game. A role is like a character’s part in a story; stories have different sorts of heroes, from brave and skilled warriors to cunning diplomats to wise wielders of the supernatural arts. The role you choose for your hero affects the other choices you make, including your hero’s skills and feats. Still, roles in True20 are broad enough to allow plenty of freedom of choice in creating your hero.

There are three roles in True20, in addition to heroes with mixed, or multiple, roles. The roles are:

  • Adept: Someone able to wield supernatural powers.
  • Expert: Someone experienced in a wide range of skills.
  • Warrior: Someone with training in many forms of combat.
  • Mixed-Role Heroes: Heroes start out with only one role at 1st level. However, as your hero advances in level, you may choose levels in other roles, creating a mixed-role hero. This mixing of roles gives a hero a wider range of abilities at the cost of slowing advancement in any one role.

For example, a 1st-level warrior attaining 2nd level might choose to take the 1st level in adept instead of a 2nd level in warrior. The hero is now a 1st-level warrior/1st-level adept, but still a 2nd-level character. The character’s combat abilities are less than those of a 2nd-level warrior, but the character now has the abilities of a 1st-level adept.

The key difference for mixed-role heroes is that each role has a core ability, obtained only when a character starts out at 1st-level in that role. A mixed-role hero taking on a new role does not gain the new role’s core ability, but does gain all of its other traits.

Guidelines for creating mixed-role heroes can be found at the end of this chapter.

Level-Dependent Benefits

Heroes improve in experience and power by advancing in level. This represents the progress of a hero’s career during a long series, from novice to seasoned expert. As heroes advance in level, they gain additional bonuses and access to more skills and feats, improving and expanding their capabilities. After 1st level, heroes also get the opportunity to begin mixing roles to further expand their options and capabilities.

Certain benefits are based on a hero’s overall level, regardless of role. The Level-Dependent Benefits table summarizes these. See each role description for the benefits specific to each.

Maximum Skill Rank

This column lists the maximum rank a hero can have in any known skill, equal to the hero’s level + 3. This is also the hero’s rank in any known supernatural powers. See Chapter Two: Skills and Chapter Four: Powers for details.

Ability Increase

Upon gaining any level divisible by six (6th, 12th, and 18th), heroes can increase an ability score by 1. You choose which ability you want to improve, and the improvement is permanent. You can increase the same ability more than once or a different one each time. You can increase an ability score above +5 in this way.


Heroes start out with 3 points of Conviction at 1st level and gain a point of Conviction every two levels thereafter (3rd, 5th, and so on). The number indicated at each level is a hero’s maximum Conviction points at that level. See Conviction later in this chapter for details.


Your hero gets a certain number of starting feats at 1st level (determined by role), plus an additional feat for each level beyond 1st. You choose feats from among those available to your hero’s role(s).

Role Descriptions

The following sections describe the three roles in detail. Each provides an overall view of the role, the role’s traits in game terms, and examples of different types of heroes who fit that particular role.

The role’s traits are organized as follows:


What ability scores are most important to the role and why? While you can certainly choose your hero’s abilities as you wish, you might want to keep these important abilities in mind, if you want your hero to be effective in the chosen role.

Core Ability

Each role has a core ability, which you only gain if you take your 1st level in that role. If you add a role later on (see Mixed-Role Heroes) you don’t gain the new role’s core ability, just the ability of your first role.

Level-Dependent Benefits
Level Maximum Skill Rank Ability Increase Conviction Feats
1st 4 3 4
2nd 5 3 1
3rd 6 4 1
4th 7 4 1
5th 8 5 1
6th 9 1st 5 1
7th 10 6 1
8th 11 6 1
9th 12 7 1
10th 13 7 1
11th 14 8 1
12th 15 2nd 8 1
13th 16 9 1
14th 17 9 1
15th 18 10 1
16th 19 10 1
17th 20 11 1
18th 21 3rd 11 1
19th 22 12 1
20th 23 12 1


This is the number of skills you choose for a hero of that role at 1st level. You apply your hero’s Intelligence modifier to this number, but it cannot be lower than 1, no matter how low a hero’s Intelligence might be. The role also gains a number of additional skill ranks (also modified by Intelligence) for each additional level.


These are the feats a hero starts with at 1st level. Each role allows you to choose some or all of these feats from lists of feats available to characters of that role.

Each role has a table indicating the role’s other game abilities, all based on level:


A role’s base combat bonus measures skill in all forms of fighting. It is used as the basis for a hero’s attack rolls, modified by Dexterity. It is also used as the basis for a hero’s Defense score, which is the Difficulty to strike that hero in combat. It is modified by the hero’s Dexterity for dodging or evading attacks, and Strength for parrying them.

Save Bonuses

Roles have three save bonuses, measuring the ability to avoid certain kinds of harm when they make saving throws. The bonuses are improvements to Fortitude, Reflex, and Will saves. Toughness saving throws do not improve by level, although some feats may improve them.


Every hero has a reputation score based on role and level. See Reputation, later in this chapter, for details.


Intellectual, scholar, mystic, sorcerer, shaman, psychic, the adept specializes in the sciences and arts of the supernatural. Adepts are known and respected for their knowledge and insight as well as their command of various supernatural powers. Whether part of secret societies, hidden from the eyes of most, or as an accepted part of the social order, publicly flaunting their extraordinary abilities, adepts are a breed apart from normal beings.

Adepts fill many roles in the worlds of True20. Their supernatural powers range from subtle visions and insight into the psyche to overt manipulations of the physical world. Depending on the manifestation of the supernatural in the setting (see Chapter Four), adepts may be widely known and respected (or feared) for their powers, or operate entirely behind the scenes.

Adepts have the following traits:


Mental abilities are usually more important to adepts than physical ones. In particular, adepts tend to require strong Wisdom scores, since using their powers depends on force of will to stave off fatigue. Intelligence is nearly as important, given the adept’s emphasis on scholarship. Adepts also choose a mental ability as the key ability of their supernatural powers. Adepts also find a healthy Constitution helpful, especially if they plan to exercise their arts in the field rather than in the comfort of a college or hermitage.

The Talent (Core Ability)

The adept can spend a Conviction point to make one use of a supernatural power they do not possess. This works much like spending a Conviction point to emulate a feat. An adept with the Talent can also spend a Conviction point to eliminate any accumulated modifiers to fatigue saving throws for using powers. See Chapter Four for more information on supernatural powers and later in this chapter for more on Conviction.


Adepts can develop and use certain supernatural powers, described in detail in Chapter Four. An adept can choose to acquire a power in place of one of the adept’s normal feats, either starting feats or those acquired by improving in level. So a starting adept can have up to four powers (at the cost of taking no starting feats), one power and three feats, two and two, or any combination adding up to the adept’s starting number of feats. Each time the adept gains a level the player has a choice of taking a new feat or a new power.


Choose 4 + Intelligence score starting skills (minimum of 1). Adepts gain 4 + Int skill ranks per additional level (minimum of 1). Important skills for adepts include Concentration, Craft, Gather Information, Knowledge (particularly supernatural), Language, and Notice.


Choose 4 starting feats from the General and Adept categories. An adept can also choose a power in place of a feat.


Experts range from diplomats and nobles to traveling storytellers and adventurous scholars or scientists, from merchants with an eye for profit to cunning thieves with an eye for an easy mark. Some experts choose to focus on the ability to handle any social situation, others emphasize physical skills allowing them to avoid unwanted entanglements, and some focus on scholarly skills, but for use “in the field” rather than solely in a laboratory or classroom.

Adventuring experts tend to combine different skills. They have to be able to endure long journeys yet be ready to negotiate with various parties when they reach the journey’s end, able to appraise and understand people, situations, and objects. Experts essentially handle everything adepts and warriors do not.

Experts have the following traits: Abilities

Agility is the name of the game for experts, both physical agility (represented by Dexterity) and social agility (represented by Charisma), with a bit of mental agility (represented by Intelligence) thrown in for good measure. Nimble experts are often trained in skills like Acrobatics and Ride, while the personable and charming ones focus on interaction skills like Bluff and Diplomacy. Wisdom is useful to experts in avoiding danger, from traps to deception, and keen Intelligence can help an expert go far (and pick up a few extra useful skills).

Expertise (Core Ability)

An expert can spend a point of Conviction to gain 4 temporary ranks in any skill, including skills in which the expert is not currently trained or that cannot be used untrained. These temporary skill ranks last for the duration of the scene and grant their normal benefits.

Saving Throws

Experts vary in their Fortitude, Reflex, and Will save bonuses. Choose one of these three to be the expert’s good save, with the other two as normal saves, consulting the appropriate column on the table. For example, your expert’s Fortitude save might be good, while her Reflex and Will saves are normal. At 1st level, her base Fortitude save bonus would be +2, while her base Reflex and Will saves would be +0.


Choose 8 + Intelligence score starting skills (minimum of 1). Experts gain 8 + Int skill ranks per additional level (minimum of 1).

Virtually all skills are important to one sort of expert or another. Experts tend to pick certain areas where they specialize, such as athletic or outdoor skills (Acrobatics, Climb, Jump, and Survival, for example), interaction skills (Bluff, Diplomacy, Perform, and Sense Motive), or scholarly skills (such as Craft, Knowledge, and Notice).


Choose 4 starting feats from the Expert or General categories.


Flashing blades, roaring guns, or even bare fists are the tools of the warrior. Some fight for the safety of their homeland and their loved ones. For others it is religious zeal, wealth, or the simple joy of battle. Warriors include trained and disciplined soldiers, heroic knights, grizzled hunters, savage mercenaries, and daring swashbucklers. Although they don’t command the mysterious powers of adepts or the breadth of knowledge of experts, warriors have courage, determination, and skill at arms, and for them, it’s enough. Warriors have the following traits: Abilities

Warriors prize physical abilities over mental ones. Strength is important in striking a powerful blow. Dexterity allows warriors to evade incoming attacks and gives them accuracy with their own. Constitution may be a warrior’s most important quality, granting them the endurance to sustain long marches and to fight on when others fall due to injury or fatigue.

Determination (Core Ability)

A warrior can spend a point of Conviction to immediately erase all bruised and hurt damage conditions (and their associated penalties).


Choose 4 + Intelligence score starting skills (minimum of 1). Warriors gain 4 + Int skill ranks per additional level (minimum of 1).

Important skills for warriors tend to be physical, such as Climb, Jump, and Swim. They often acquire some type of vehicular skill (from Ride to Drive or Pilot, depending on the transportation available). and Utility skills like Concentration, Notice, and Sense Motive are common.


All warriors have Firearms Training or Weapon Training as a starting feat. Choose 3 other starting feats from the General or Warrior categories.

Role Archetypes

The three roles in True20 are meant to capture certain heroic archetypes commonly found in mythology and fiction. Consider these archetypal characters when creating your own heroes and choosing appropriate roles for them.


Examples of archetypal adepts include Merlin the Magician, the sorceresses Medea and Morgan LeFay, prophetic priests and miracle- workers, science-fiction psychics, and other wielders of supernatural power.


Examples of archetypal experts include the inventor Daedalus, the Greek heroes Jason and Theseus, the cunning Robin Hood, Japanese ninja, fantasy thieves, and similar characters.


Examples of archetypal warriors include Hercules, King Arthur and his knights, the Three Musketeers, Japanese samurai, and virtually all soldiers and professional fighters.

Role Level Advancement Tables

The Adept
Level Fort Save Ref Save Will Save Combat Reputation
1st +0 +0 +0 +2 +1
2nd +1 +0 +0 +3 +1
3rd +1 +1 +1 +3 +1
4th +2 +1 +1 +4 +2
5th +2 +1 +1 +4 +2
6th +3 +2 +2 +5 +2
7th +3 +2 +2 +5 +2
8th +4 +2 +2 +6 +3
9th +4 +3 +3 +6 +3
10th +5 +3 +3 +7 +3
11th +5 +3 +3 +7 +3
12th +6 +4 +4 +8 +4
13th +6 +4 +4 +8 +4
14th +7 +4 +4 +9 +4
15th +7 +5 +5 +9 +4
16th +8 +5 +5 +10 +5
17th +8 +5 +5 +10 +5
18th +9 +6 +6 +11 +5
19th +9 +6 +6 +11 +5
20th +10 +6 +6 +12 +6

Level Advancement

The Narrator will tell you when your hero advances in level. When this happens, do the following:

  • Decide whether to add a level to your hero’s existing role (or one of your hero’s existing roles, for mixed-role heroes) or to add a level in a new role. See the next section, Mixed-Role Heroes, for details on this.
  • Look at the Level-Dependent Benefits table and the level table for your hero’s role(s). Note any increases to combat bonus, saving throws, skill ranks, and reputation.
  • Pick a new feat for your hero from among the feats available for the new role level. Adepts may choose a new supernatural power in place of a new feat.
  • If your hero’s new total level is divisible by six (6th, 12th, or 18th), increase one of your hero’s ability scores by 1.

Mixed-Role Heroes

Heroes may acquire other roles as they progress in level, becoming mixed-role heroes. The traits from a hero’s different roles combine or mix, so a mixed-role hero has versatility at the expense of focus.

As a general rule, the traits of a mixed-role hero are the sum of the traits of each of the hero’s roles, as follows: Level

Total level is a character’s total number of levels in all roles. For example, a hero who is a 2nd-level warrior and 1st-level adept has a total level of 3rd. Total level is used to determine a hero’s benefits on the Level- Dependent Benefits table.

The Warrior
Level Combat Fort Save Ref Save Will Save Reputation
1st +1 +2 +0 +0 +0
2nd +2 +3 +0 +0 +0
3rd +3 +3 +1 +1 +1
4th +4 +4 +1 +1 +1
5th +5 +4 +1 +1 +1
6th +6 +5 +2 +2 +1
7th +7 +5 +2 +2 +2
8th +8 +6 +2 +2 +2
9th +9 +6 +3 +3 +2
10th +10 +7 +3 +3 +2
11th +11 +7 +3 +3 +3
12th +12 +8 +4 +4 +3
13th +13 +8 +4 +4 +3
14th +14 +9 +4 +4 +3
15th +15 +9 +5 +5 +4
16th +16 +10 +5 +5 +4
17th +17 +10 +5 +5 +4
18th +18 +11 +6 +6 +4
19th +19 +11 +6 +6 +5
20th +20 +12 +6 +6 +5

Role level is a hero’s level in a particular role. For a hero whose levels are all in the same role, total level and role level is the same thing. Role level is used to determine the hero’s benefits from each particular role. For example, certain powers are dependent solely on adept level; levels in other roles don’t count.

The Expert
Level Combat Good Save Normal Save Reputation
1st +0 +2 +0 +1
2nd +1 +3 +0 +1
3rd +2 +3 +1 +1
4th +3 +4 +1 +2
5th +3 +4 +1 +2
6th +4 +5 +2 +2
7th +5 +5 +2 +2
8th +6 +6 +2 +3
9th +6 +6 +3 +3
10th +7 +7 +3 +3
11th +8 +7 +3 +3
12th +9 +8 +4 +4
13th +9 +8 +4 +4
14th +10 +9 +4 +4
15th +11 +9 +5 +4
16th +12 +10 +5 +5
17th +12 +10 +5 +5
18th +13 +11 +6 +5
19th +14 +11 +6 +5
20th +15 +12 +6 +6

Core Ability

Your hero’s core ability is that of the hero’s first role. So a hero who starts out as an expert, then later adds levels as a warrior, has the expert core ability, but not the warrior core ability. Characters cannot have more than one core ability.


Add the combat bonuses for each role together to get the hero’s total combat bonus.

Saving Throws

The mixed-role hero’s save bonuses equal the save bonuses for the hero’s first role, plus the save bonuses for each additional role, subtracting 2 from the additional roles’ good save(s). For example a 1st-level adept (Will save +2) who adds a level of warrior, does not gain any save bonuses (since the 1st level of warrior has no save bonuses greater than the +2 good Fortitude save). If the character adds another level of warrior upon becoming 3rd level, he gets a +1 Fortitude bonus (the warrior’s +3 bonus for 2nd-level, minus 2). Ordinaries who gain heroic levels do not apply a penalty to their first heroic role, as they have no save bonuses to begin with..


The hero’s reputation bonus equals the reputation bonus for the hero’s first role, plus the reputation bonuses for each additional role.


The hero gains the normal additional skill ranks for that role’s level. So a warrior who adds a level of expert gains 8 skill ranks for that level. Conversely, an expert who adds a level of warrior gets only 4 skill ranks for that level (like a normal warrior does).


A mixed-role hero gains one feat per level like everyone else. The role acquired at each level determines the feat list you choose from. For example, if you add a level of adept to your hero, you choose the hero’s feat for that level from the adept’s list of available feats (General and Adept). Characters gaining a level of adept may choose a supernatural power in place of that level’s feat, as usual.


This section helps you round out your hero. Here you pick your hero’s name, age, and other details. You’ll choose a virtue and a vice for your hero’s nature. This section also explains how heroes can go that extra mile when they need to pull out all the stops in order to succeed, using extra effort and the strength of their Conviction.


A lot of details go into making your hero more than just a collection of numbers; things like name, gender, age, appearance, and so forth help to define who he or she is. Take a moment, if you haven’t already, to consider the following things about your True20 character.


What is your character’s name? You can give your hero any name you like, based on a real-world name, one from fiction, or a name entirely of your own creation. Appropriate names depend on the kind of character and the type of story you’re telling, so consult with your group and your Narrator.


Is your hero male or female? There’s no requirement to play a character of the same gender as you. In fact, you may find it interesting to play a hero of a different gender, to experience a little of what life is like from another perspective.


How old is your character? Heroes tend to range from their teens to middle age, but some heroes are older, depending on a hero’s background, possibly much older.

Consider the effects of age on the hero. A teenager on her first adventure away from home isn’t likely to have the same views as a mature adult. A hero’s age may influence the choice of certain traits. Older characters are likely to have lower physical ability scores, for example, while younger characters may have fewer Craft and Knowledge skills (having had less time to train in them).


What does your hero look like? Consider things like the character’s race, sex, and other factors in appearance. Is the character short or tall? What about hair and eye color? Does the hero have any distinguishing marks or unique features?


How would you describe your hero’s personality? While heroes tend to share a desire to use their powers for good and uphold the law, they show a diverse range of attitudes. One hero may be dedicated to the ideals of truth, justice, and equality, while another is willing to break the rules in order to ensure things get done. Some heroes are forthright and cheerful while others are grim and unrelenting.

Consider your hero’s attitudes and personality traits, particularly in light of the hero’s nature.


All intelligent creatures make moral choices, to live according to their better nature or to give in to immoral impulses. Many walk a difficult line between the two. Each character in True20 has a particular nature, which is made up of a virtue and a vice.

During character creation, select a virtue and a vice to decide your character’s nature. A list of examples is given below, but you can make up your own virtues and vices with the Narrator’s permission. The key is to give your hero one good quality (virtue) and one bad quality (vice).


Courageous, Free-Spirited, Bold, Generous, Gregarious, Hopeful, Daring, Thoughtful, Compassionate, Industrious, Honest, Fair, Kind, Determined.


Cowardly, Hidebound, Fearful, Miserly, Cynical, Impulsive, Selfish, Lazy, Capricious, Petty, Arrogant, Stubborn, Manipulative, Insensitive.

Charisma vs. Appearance

Although Charisma can be a measure of attractiveness, it isn’t necessarily a reflection of a character’s physical appearance. Charisma is much more about personality, affability, and similar traits, rather than looks. A high Charisma hero might be physically attractive, however they could also be fairly plain looking, but with a forceful and magnetic personality. Likewise, a low or average Charisma character might be good-looking, even striking, but with a bland or unpleasant personality. You’re free to make up the details as best suits your character in the game, with the Narrator’s help and guidance.

Changing Nature

Generally speaking, a person’s nature is fixed. Virtue and vice are deep- seated facets of the character’s personality; some might say the halves of the soul. So changing one’s true nature is difficult.

If the Narrator allows, you may change your hero’s virtue or vice at the cost of a point of Conviction, which cannot be regained until the hero gains a new level. You can never eliminate either nature, as everyone must have both a virtue and a vice. Changing each one takes Conviction, so changing both requires two Conviction points.

At the Narrator’s discretion, certain major events in a character’s life can lead to a change in nature (either virtue or vice or both), but these events are largely beyond the players’ control. The Narrator shouldn’t allow changes in nature to happen lightly; they’re pivotal events in an individual’s life.


Whether it’s luck, talent, or sheer determination, heroes have something setting them apart from everyone else, allowing them to perform amazing deeds under the most difficult circumstances. In True20, that something is Conviction. Spending a Conviction point can make the difference between success and failure.

Option: Conviction and Charisma

At the Narrator’s option, there may be a connection between Conviction and a character’s Charisma, representing force of personality, sense of self…a measure of a hero’s conviction, in other words. This makes Charisma a somewhat more useful ability and encourages charming devil-may- care heroes with extraordinary luck and determination. On the other hand, it somewhat limits the use of Conviction for other characters.

In this option, a character’s starting Conviction is equal to his or her Charisma score, plus 1. The character’s starting Conviction increases by 1 every two levels as normal. This means someone with average (+0) Charisma starts with 1 point of Conviction. Negative Charisma means a “debt” of Conviction the hero must “pay off” until the Charisma score plus starting Conviction for level is a positive number. So a character with below average Charisma (–1) has no Conviction until reaching 3rd level (when the character has a starting Conviction of 1).

Tying Conviction to Charisma in this way makes the ability more valuable, even for heroes who don’t emphasize social interaction or leadership qualities. Narrators may find it useful if players believe they can gain an unfair advantage by assigning a penalty to Charisma and using those ability points to make their heroes inordinately capable in other areas, with no corresponding drawbacks.

Gaining Conviction

Characters have Conviction based on their level (see Level-Based Benefits, earlier in this chapter). As heroes improve in level, their maximum Conviction increases.

Using Conviction

Unless otherwise noted, spending a Conviction point is a reaction, taking no time, and can be done at any time. You may spend only one Conviction point per round on any given benefit, but may otherwise spend as many points as you have available. You can spend Conviction for any of the following:


One Conviction point allows you to re-roll any die roll you make and take the better of the two rolls. On a result of 1 through 10 on the second roll, add 10 to the result; an 11 or higher remains as-is (so the second roll is always a result of 11-20). You must spend the Conviction point to improve a roll before the Narrator announces the result of your roll.

Activate Core Ability

Activating your role’s core ability costs one Conviction point. See the role descriptions in this chapter for details on their core abilities.


You can spend a Conviction point when performing a challenge (see The Basics in the Introduction). If you do so, you ignore up to a –5 penalty or +5 increase in Difficulty from the challenge. In essence, you perform the challenge as if it were a normal check. If the challenge imposes a greater Difficulty increase or penalty, you only ignore the first +/–5.

Heroic Feat

You can spend a Conviction point to gain the benefits of a feat your hero doesn’t already have for one round. You must be capable of acquiring the feat normally, meaning it must be a feat available to your role(s) and you must meet all the prerequisites. For feats that can be acquired multiple times, you gain the benefit of one acquisition of the feat by spending a Conviction point. When a player spends a Conviction point for a Heroic Feat, the expenditure provides use of the feat for 1 round or the stated duration of the feat (if any), whichever is greater.

Dodge Bonus

You can spend a Conviction point whenever you are denied your dodge bonus, but are still capable of action (surprised, flat-footed, and so forth). In this case, you retain your dodge bonus until your next action.


Gain an additional standard or move action, before or after your normal actions for the round (your choice). Using this extra action does not change your place in the initiative order. You can use a standard action gained from a surge to start or complete a full round action in conjunction with your normal actions for the round.

Cancel Fatigue

Any time you would suffer fatigue (including the effects of using powers and extra effort), you can spend a Conviction point and reduce the amount of fatigue by one level (so you’re only winded by a fatigued result, fatigued by an exhausted result, etc.).


If you have suffered damage, a Conviction point allows you an immediate recovery check for your worst damage condition (see Recovery in Chapter Six). The Conviction point just allows you to make the check immediately; it does not add any bonus to the check result. In some realistic game settings, the Narrator may wish to limit spending Conviction on recovery to non-lethal damage only.

While disabled, you can spend a Conviction point to take a strenuous action for one round without your condition worsening to dying.

A Conviction point also allows you to immediately shake off a stunned or fatigued condition.

Escape Death

Spending a Conviction point automatically stabilizes a dying character (you or someone you are assisting) although this doesn’t protect the character from further damage.

Regaining Conviction

Heroes regain expended Conviction points in a few ways: First, heroes regain one point of Conviction each day. The player chooses a time appropriate for the hero, such as in the morning, at midday, at sunset, or at midnight. By default, heroes regain Conviction in the morning (representing the renewed hope of a new day).

Second, heroes regain Conviction by acting in accordance with their nature. When a hero successfully does something in accordance with one of his natures that affirms his conviction, he regains a point of Conviction. The Narrator decides when an action is appropriate for the hero’s natures and awards the Conviction point if the hero is successful.

Note that heroes can follow either of their natures, virtue or vice, to regain Conviction, and the Narrator may occasionally use this to put temptation in a hero’s path. A good hero with a vice of Greed might have the opportunity to steal, for example, and regain Conviction. If the hero steals to further his goal, he gets a point of Conviction, but also has to deal with the consequences of his actions. Likewise, an otherwise amoral character who shows an unusual kindness or streak of honor may be following her virtue to regain Conviction. Which nature

Option: Reputation Qualities

Not all reputations are created equal. Some may have a reputation for honest dealings while another hard-bitten hero has a menacing reputation that leaves them quaking in their boots. Narrators wanting to differentiate between these sorts of reputations may implement the option of Reputation qualities. These are specialized feats associated with a character’s Reputation. See Chapter Three for details on feats and how they apply to True20 heroes.

Convincing (General)

You’re known as trustworthy (whether that reputation is deserved or not). On a successful Reputation check, you can add half your Reputation bonus to your Bluff skill checks, although a failed Bluff check with a particular character may result in you losing this bonus against them in the future.

Diplomatic (General)

You’re known for your open and honest dealings. On a successful Reputation check, you can add half your Reputation bonus to your Diplomacy skill checks.

Excellence (General)

You’re known for a particular skill, chosen when you acquire this feat. For every three ranks you have in the skill, you gain a +1 bonus on Reputation checks with people who may recognize your expertise.

Influential (General)

Your reputation opens doors. On a successful Reputation check, you can add half your Reputation bonus to your Gather Information skill checks.

Menacing (General)

Your reputation intimidates people. On a successful Reputation check, you can add half your Reputation bonus to your Intimidate skill checks.

Renown (General)

You’re especially well known (famous or infamous, depending on who you’re dealing with). Each time you acquire this feat, increase your Reputation bonus by +3. a character chooses to follow most often, tends to indicate what kind of person he or she is.

Third, the Narrator can award the heroes Conviction for a particularly impressive success or achievement in the adventure that renews confidence and faith. Overcoming a difficult challenge or solving a complex puzzle might give the heroes a burst of inspiration in the form of renewed Conviction. The Narrator chooses when to do this, but it should only happen once or twice in an adventure, and may not occur at all in some adventures.


Reputation is used to determine whether a Narrator character recognizes a hero. Those who recognize the hero are more likely to help the hero, provided the hero has a positive reputation. A high Reputation bonus also makes it difficult for heroes to hide their identities and go unnoticed.

Most of the time, the Narrator decides when a hero’s reputation is relevant to a scene. The Narrator makes a Reputation check for a Narrator character that might be influenced in some fashion due to the hero’s fame or infamy.

Fame and Infamy

Whether reputation has a positive or negative connotation depends on the point of view of the person who recognizes the hero.

When a character has a positive opinion of a hero’s reputation, the hero is considered famous. Fame, when recognized, provides a bonus to certain interaction skill checks.

When a character has a negative opinion of a hero’s reputation, the hero is considered infamous. Also, at the Narrator’s option, a hero might be considered infamous in certain situations due to events that have transpired in the past. Infamy, when recognized, provides a penalty to certain interaction skill checks.

Using the Reputation Bonus

Whenever the Narrator decides a character’s reputation is a factor in a scene, make a Reputation check (Difficulty 25) for the Narrator character involved. A Reputation check is d20 + the hero’s Reputation bonus + the Narrator character’s Intelligence. (Some Knowledge skill modifiers might apply instead of the Intelligence score, if the hero would be well known in the field covered by a Knowledge skill.) Modifiers to the Reputation check depend on the hero and the Narrator character in question, as shown in the table. Note that if the Narrator character has no possible way of recognizing a hero, then the Reputation check isn’t necessary (or even possible).

If the Reputation check succeeds, the Narrator character recognizes the hero. This provides a +4 bonus or a –4 penalty on checks involving interaction skills for the duration of the scene.

Situation Reputation Check Modifier
The hero is famous, known far and wide with either a positive or negative connotation +10
Narrator character is part of the hero’s professional or social circle +5
The hero has some small amount of fame or notoriety +2

The Narrator must decide that a character’s fame or infamy can come into play in a given situation to make a Reputation check necessary. A character that doesn’t know, or know of, the hero can’t be influenced by the hero’s reputation.