Interpreting Actions


The highest card out of the draw is the result. If the value of this card meets or exceeds the target difficulty, then the action was 100% successful. Depending on the action, missing the target difficult by 1 or 2 may still be partially successful.

Failed Actions and Perk Cards

Usually, a failed action is interpreted as a “miss” or just ineffective. In the case of a botch, the failed action can be much more severe (see Botch: Drawing Aces further on to learn more). Regardless how the failed action pans out, you receive a Perk Card from the top of your Perk Deck.

Place the Perk Card face up in front of you. You can play that with any future hand.

Partial Success

Some actions, like pushing a button or remembering a person’s name, are considered pass or fail. That is to say, the action succeeds only by drawing the target difficulty or else it fails. But other actions are more nuanced – hacking through a security system, grappling a foe for confinement, or firing a weapon to stop a monster. For these actions, the target difficulty still marks the complete success of such actions but there is a chance for partial success. Consider these scenarios:

  • Even though the security system isn’t hacked, you mitigated some scripts and made it easier for the next attempt.
  • You were able to grapple the foe but he is not yet confined like expected; you are both standing and he is resisting.
  • The projectile hit the monster, causing physical trauma, but it is still very much alive and charging.

As the Narrator, you can choose to offer partial success after a resulting draw. The action might be 50% – 75% successful if the draw was only one number away from the target difficulty. Or it might be 50%-25% successful if the draw was 2 numbers within the target difficulty. The results of a partial success can vary depending on the circumstance.

It may be helpful to think of partial success in terms of a spread – from the smallest result to complete success and incremented results in between. For example, trying to slice a watermelon in half will have a larger spread of effects when done with a cleaver than when done with a chef’s knife.

Botch: Drawing Aces

In StoryHammer, Aces are unlucky. Individually, they hold no value (and thus cannot be increased by Perk Cards). Drawing a whole hand of Aces results in special kind of hand, called a botch. When you botch, your action results in an epic fail, typically hindering your goal in some way. This could be somewhat minimal (e.g. losing your footing) or very harsh (e.g. accidentally striking an ally). The results of the botch are up to the Narrator.

Conflicting Results

When conflict involves multiple protagonists and antagonists, often their actions will interfere with each other, complicating interpretation. Actions should be resolved by order of speed – interpreting each action in the quick speed stage before moving on to the regular, and so on. Actions within the same stage happen simultaneously.


Two characters are acting in the same speed stage – Ven is trying to dodge attacks from slower aggressors while Rolany is trying to strike Ven. Rolany successfully struck Ven while Ven successfully performed a dive. Since both were successful, Ven was struck by Rolany and (provided Ven survives the attack), has increased the difficulty by 1 for all other attackers in subsequent speed stages (see Move Actions  in Chapter 6 to learn more).