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The World of Shah

Dice, Step Up, Step Down, and Spreads
Shaquest uses uses dice with four sides (d4). six sides (d6), eight sides (d8), ten sides (d10), and twelve sides (d12). When you use multiples of any die type, the number of dice you use is put before the “d”; for example, if you use three six sided dice for something, it is abbreviated as 3d6. Dice with more sides are always preferable in Shahquest, with d4s usually representing a weakness or flaw for the character rolling it.
The difference between dice is referred to as a Step. For example, there is one Step between a d6 and a d8, and two Steps between a d4 and a d8. A Step Up moves the die up to the next type, and a Step Down moves it to the next lowest die. A Spread allows you to roll one additional die of the same type. Additional Spreads add an additional die each (thus a double Spread adds two dice). Steps are always performed before Spreads.

Dice Pools
Whenever your character attempts to do something for which the outcome is uncertain or opposed by another character (player or non-player), you make a statement about what your character is attempting to do and gather dice from your Features which you believe would help your character to achieve his goal. A Dice Pool can contain dice from one of each type of Feature.
Roll all the dice you’ve gathered into your Dice Pool and set aside any 1s you have rolled. From the remaining dice, select two dice and add their results together. The resulting sum is your Effort total. Select one die from the remaining dice and record the number of sides that die has. This is your Effect total.
Example of Dice Pool:
Shawn’s character Demetri is attempting to jump onto a chandelier and swing over to the other side of a guard in order to provide a distraction so his buddy Mike can take the guard out and they can escape with some stolen goods. Demetri has the following Features Shawn thinks would be useful in this attempt: Coordination d10, Partner d6, I’ve got your back d8, Physical Skill d8. The Gamesmaster tells Shawn to use a d6 for the chandelier as a Setting die and Shawn decides to use his Athletics Specialization of the Physical Skill to Spread the Physical Skill (making it 2d8. He could have used his Specialization to Step Up the die to a d10 instead.) So Shawn rolls one d10, three d8s, and one d6.
The d8 results in a 7, the d8s result in a 2, 1, and 3. The d6 results in a 4. Shawn puts aside the d8 which resulted in a 1 and has the following:
7(d10), 3(d8), 2(d8), and a 4(d6)
Shawn selects the 7 and the 4 for an Effort total of 11. He decides the d8 with the 2 will be his Effect die, so his Effect total is d8. If Shawn’s Effort total is high enough, he succeeds on his action and has a d8 Effect, which is better than a “normal” success.
The dice that come up ones are called Opportunity dice. They may not be added in to either the Effort or Effect totals. The Gamesmaster may award the player rolling Plot Points to add the Opportunity dice into the Tension Pool at a cost of one Plot Point per Opportunity die. In the example above, the GM could award Shawn a Plot Point to add the d8 into the Tension Pool. When the GM rolls an Opportunity die, a player may spend a Plot Point to immediately reroll that die as part of his current action or reaction, or to gain a Stepped Up Push die (d8) or to Step Up any one die in his Pool for his next action or reaction.

Plot Points
Plot Points are gameplay currency, allowing player characters to achieve extraordinary successes and help you shape the game’s story. Plot Points are earned by taking risks and investing in your character’s story. You spend them to enhance your character’s actions and activate Opportunity dice rolled by the GM.

Before you roll the dice, you may spend a Plot Point to…
Create a Push die for your Dice Pool
Add an extra Feature from a Feature type into your Dice Pool
Activate a Special Effect

Push die
Do you feel lucky? A simple boost of effort, a Push die adds a d6 to your Dice Pool, representing a bit of luck, a moment of inspiration, or a bit of extra perspiration. Since a d6 Effect total is just a “normal” success, this is usually a pretty inefficient use of a Plot Point.

Extra Feature
Sometimes you can combine your talents in unusual ways. Normally, a character can only choose one Feature from each of the different types of Features to add to his Dice Pool. However, you can spend a Plot Point to break this rule, for example, say Demetri was going to attack the guard as he swung from the chandelier, and Shawn decided to use a Plot Point to add his Combat Skill in addition to his Physical Skill into his dice pool. This option is good for characters with multiple larger dice within the same Feature type.

Special Effect
Some Power Sets have Special Effects which require Plot Points to activate. See Power Sets and Special Effects for more details.

After you roll the dice, you may spend a Plot Point to…
Add an extra die from your Dice Pool to your Effort total
Keep and extra die for your Effect total
Activate an Opportunity Die rolled by the Gamesmaster
Activate a Special Effect
Use an Effect die from a reaction roll
Change the type of Stress you’ve taken to another type of Stress

Add to Effort total
For each Plot Point you spend, you can add an extra die from you Dice Pool to your Effort total after you have rolled. In the example above, Shawn could have added the 3 he rolled on his d8 for a 14 Effort total. You have to declare this usage before announcing your Effort total and determining the results. You have to have dice in your Pool to add, and these cannot be Opportunity dice, nor can you use them for your Effect total once used for the Effort total.

Extra Effect die
You can spend a Plot Point to keep an extra Effect die and apply it to a different Effect, or to apply the same Effect to multiple targets (they each get to roll reactions vs. your Effort to avoid the Effect.). For example, Demitri could have spent a Plot Point to keep 2 of the d8s, using one to damage (Stress) the guard and the other to give his partner an Asset for use on his turn (his flourishing attack distracted the guard), or to affect two different guards.

Activate Opportunity die
When the Gamesmaster rolls an Opportunity die, the Player currently acting or reacting against the Gamesmaster’s roll can choose to spend a Plot Point to add that die to his Dice Pool, rolling it immediately. Alternatively, he may spend a Plot Point to add a Stepped Up Push or Step Up any one die in his Pool to his next action or reaction.

Use a Effect die from a reaction
Usually, reactions just allow your character to resist what the NPC is trying to do. However, if you successfully resist the NPC’s action, you can spend a Plot Point to use one of your remaining dice from your reaction Dice Pool as an Effect die, causing the NPC Stress or creating an Asset or Complication.

Change Stress Type
During conflicts, characters take Stress (see below) when opposing characters succeed in their aggressive actions. This Stress could be Physical, Mental, or Emotional Stress. By spending a Plot Point, you can change the type of Stress your character receives. This could prevent your character from Stressing Out, but does not prevent Stress.

During Downtime, you may spend a Plot Point to…
Step Down any two Stress dice, or one Stress die by two Steps OR
Step Down a Trauma die.

See the Effects section for more on Stress and Trauma, and Downtime for more on the recovery process.

You earn Plot Points when…
You use a Quirk “In the Negative”
Activate a Limit
Have an Opportunity die added to the Tension Pool by the Gamesmaster

Use a Quirk “In the negative”
Normally, Quirks add a d8 to your Dice Pool. However, you can earn a Plot Point by using your Quirk at a d4 instead, by indicating a negative aspect of your Quirk affecting your action. As an example, Demitri could have been more concerned about Mike’s escape than his own safety and used his “I’ve got your back” Quirk as a d4 instead of a d8, earning a Plot Point.

Activate a Limit
Some Power Sets have Limits which can be activated, earning a Plot Point when the Limit is activated.

Add an Opportunity die to the Tension Pool
The Gamesmaster may give you a Plot Point to activate an Opportunity die you roll, adding to the Tension Pool for use in future NPC actions and reactions, general mayhem, or Complications.

Tension Pool
The Tension Pool is a tool for the Gamesmaster to add to the challenge of adventuring and to set up additional challenges during conflicts. Dice in the Tension Pool are called Tension dice. The Tension Pool usually starts at 3d6, but especially challenging adventures might Step Up and/or Spread the starting Tension dice.

Building the Tension
The Tension Pool grows as the game progresses, adding dice each time the GM activates an Opportunity die. When the GM activates an Opportunity die, he adds a d6 to the Tension Pool or Steps Up a Tension die. If more than one Opportunity die is rolled, the GM determines how many Plot Points he wants to hand out to the Player and then either adds a d6 or Steps Up a Tension die for each Opportunity die activated.

Using the Tension Pool
The GM uses the Tension Pool in many of the same ways that Players use Plot Points. Before rolling an NPC action or reaction, the GM may remove a Tension die from the Tension Pool to add it to the NPC’s Dice Pool. After using a Tension die in this fashion, the GM may return it to the Tension Pool by giving the acting/reaction Player a Plot Point, unless the die rolled an Opportunity and the Player activated that Opportunity.
Tension Dice may also be used to add an extra die to the Effort total or Effect total, or use an Effect die from an NPC’s reaction roll, by matching the die type from the Tension Pool with the affected die from the Dice Pool. For example, if the GM wanted to add in the result from a d8 onto the Effort, he would need to remove a d8 from the Tension Pool.

Tension Pool as General Danger
Any time the PCs are attempting a dramatic action with consequences but no direct opposition, the GM rolls the entire Tension Pool. He may also add in a Setting die dependant on the situation. For example, if a character is attempting to leap a huge pit, the GM may roll the Tension dice, adding in a d10 Setting die for the pit’s width. The GM rolls the Tension Pool plus the Setting die (which should be different colored or otherwise separated from the Tension Pool so as not to be mixed in after this action) and takes two for an Effort total and one for an Effect total. If the PC’s Effort total is less than the Tension Effort total, the PC takes Stress or a Complication based on the nature of the action failed.

Assets, Complications, Stress and Trauma
When a character (PC or NPC) succeeds at an action, he creates and Effect die. This die is assigned to an Asset, Complication, or Stress.
An Asset is a temporary advantage a characters grants to himself or to an ally for the remainder of a conflict or challenge. If an Asset is created by an Effect die resulting from an opposed action or reaction, the Asset die may be used by the designated creature as part of his Dice Pool for the remainder of the conflict. If it is created by a supporting action in an unopposed challenge, it adds to the ally’s Dice Pool to overcome that particular challenge.

A Complication is a temporary disadvantage given to a character as a result of a failed action or reaction. It helps anyone trying to further oppose the character for the remainder of the conflict or challenge. Anyone can use a Complication die when opposing the character and it is added as a die to Tension Pool rolls in addition to any Setting die. A Complication represents something that hinders a character’s abilities without actually damaging them.

Stress and Trauma
Stress represents the negative consequences of conflicts and dangerous challenges. During a fight, argument, or other type of conflict, characters attempt to cause their opponents to submit. There are three types of Stress that can be inflicted on a character: Emotional, Mental, and Physical. Stress is a Feature type that may be added to the Dice Pool of anyone opposing the character when the Stress is a factor of their action or reaction. You only add one type of Stress to any Dice Pool (unless you spend a Plot Point or Tension Die to add more than one Feature from the same type, see above.)
Physical Stress represents bruising, small lacerations, pulled muscles, illness, toxicity, and /or fatigue occurring during combat.
Mental Stress represents uncertainty, confusion, distractedness, mental fatigue, or damage from psychic assaults.
Emotional Stress represents fear, anger, doubt, sadness, anxiety, or other negative emotional states.
Unlike other Assets and Complications, Stress continues past the current challenge or conflict. Additionally, Stress dice Step Up when further Stress of the same kind is inflicted on a character. If a the new Stress die is a higher die type, replace the current die with the new die. If it is the same or lower, Step Up the Stress die. For example, Demitri took a nasty cut earlier in the fight, and received a d8 Physical Stress. Another hit with a d12 Effect die would mean he now has a d12 Physical Stress. A hit with an Effect die of d10 or less would result in his having a d10 Physical Stress. Remember that you can spend a Plot Point to convert a Stress Effect you just received to another type of Stress. If Demitri took a d4 Physical Stress Effect it might behoove him to change it to Mental or Emotional Stress instead of letting his Physical Stress jump up to d10.
An ally can help you to recover Stress during a conflict (usually by making a Dice Pool roll including Critters(Treat) opposed by the Tension Pool and your Stress die.) A successful action to reduce Stress Steps Down the Stress die if the Effect die is less than or equal to the Stress die, or Steps Down the die twice if it is greater than or equal to the Stress die. For example, if Demitri has d10 Physical Stress and Rebecca attempts to help him recover with a successful check and a d6 Effect die, his Stress would Step Down to d8. If she manages to get a d10 or better Effect die, his Stress would Step Down to d6. This action can help reduce the Stress of a character who is Stressed Out, returning him to action albeit at a highly Stressed level. If Stress is Stepped Down below d4, it is removed and the character is completely recovered from the Stress.

Using Your Own Stress
If you choose, you can use your own Stress die as part of a Dice Pool. This represents adrenaline from wounds, stubbornness, angry outbursts, etc. There are three downsides to this methodology: a) your opponent still gets to use your Stress die as well as you, b) you have to spend a Plot Point, and c) you Step Up the Stress die afterwards.

Giving In to Stress
One option characters have during conflicts is to Give In to Stress rather than continue the conflict. At any time a character has Stress from a current conflict, he may choose to surrender the conflict in order to avoid Stressing Out or gaining Trauma. This could mean physically surrendering to an enemy, ceding an argument, or giving in to an emotional display.
A character who Gives In to Stress has their actions dictated by the Player or Gamesmaster controlling the opposing Character(s). For example, Demitri is torturing an NPC to gain information about the target of his next heist. He has inflicted both Physical and Emotional Stress on the NPC. The NPC could hold out until Demitri inflicts serious damage on his body or causes him to have fear issues, or he could Give In to Stress and tell Demitri everything he knows.

Stressing Out and Trauma
Once any type of Stress Steps Up from d12, the character Stresses Out and can’t take any actions until he recovers during Down Time or with the aid of another character. A character who is Stressed Out gains a d4 Trauma die of the same type as the Stress. Further Stress Effects of the same Stress type Step Up the Trauma die in the same fashion as Stress is Stepped Up. A Character whose Trauma Steps Up from d12 is killed, mindwiped, or comatose.
Physical Trauma represents true injuries, extreme illnesses, broken bones, and extreme physical frailty.
Mental Trauma represents brain damage, impaired reasoning, memory loss, personality problems, or other serious psychological issues.
Emotional Trauma represents crippling phobias, uncontrollable rage, crisis of faith, deep depression, extreme nervous tension, or other control issues.
Trauma cannot be recovered during conflict, except by certain Special Effects. Without these aids, at least a day of Down Time is required for each attempt to recover from Trauma. The following chart indicates how long it takes to attempt to recover from Trauma naturally, based on the character’s current Trauma die:

Trauma Length of Downtime
Die required to attempt recovery
D4 1 Day
D6 3 Days
D8 1 Week
D10 1 Month
D12 6 Months

To recover from Trauma, a creature must attempt a recovery action, adding appropriate Features into his Dice Pool, opposed by the Tension Dice and any Trauma and Stress dice. Alternatively, if he is being treated by another Character, they can roll a Dice Pool including the Critters (Treat) Skill. A successful recovery action with an Effect equal to or less than the Trauma die Steps Down the Trauma die. A successful recovery action with an Effect greater than the Trauma die Steps Down the Trauma die twice. Unless Power Sets are involved, the recovery check takes the time listed above.
Rather than roll a recovery check, a Character may spend a Plot Point to Step Down his Trauma die after the time listed.

Feature Types

There are nine different types of Features which Characters can draw from to form their Dice Pools. These types are Affiliations, Attributes, Com[;ications, Power Sets, Quirks, Resources, Skills, Stress, and Trauma. Under normal circumstances, a Character may only apply the die from one Feature from each type, unless a Plot Point is used. A brief description of each type follows. Assets, Complications, Stress, and Trauma are temporary Features and are covered in the Effects section, above.

Affiliations represent the type of teamwork the character is using at the time he attempts an action or reaction.

Attributes are the core descriptors of the Character’s mental, physical, and social make-up. They represent key areas of strength or weakness within the character.

Power Sets represent unique racial abilities, special training not represented by skills (such as magical or psionic training), or enchantments which allow the character to perform extraordinary feats.

Quirks are unique personality traits which help define the character beyond the basic aspects of Attributes. Quirks should be able to be used either positively or negatively, as discussed in the Plot Point section, above.

Resources are items which can aid a character in overcoming challenges, whether they be gear, wealth, a base of operations, a vehicle, or other items of value or use.

Skills are things the character has learned. Any intelligent character is capable of learning Skills given time and proper training.

Each type of Feature has its own section following.


There are three Affiliations each character is ranked in: Solo, for when he is facing a challenge alone, Partner, for when he and another character work together to aid each other, and Gang, for when three or more characters work together. Each character assigns a d4 to one Affiliation, a d6 to another, and a d8 to the third.

For example, Mike is used to working on his own, and has a Solo Affiliation of d8. He can work ok with a partner, so his Partner Affiliation is d6, but in larger groups, he loses the room he is used to working with and only has a d4 Gang Affiliation. During most encounters involving more than one opponent, his party lets Mike handle his chosen enemy mano-a-mano while they deal with the others, as that’s how he’s most effective.

Some creatures are especially large or tough, and represent this advantage with multiple Solo Affiliation dice. For instance, Giants Spread their Solo dice, so a Giant Character could have a Solo Afiliation of 2d4, 2d6, or 2d8. Shaluum, truly titanic creatures, have a Solo Affiliation of 3d12!

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