1. Hero Creation >


Welcome to 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 Resources

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.