DSDN is similar to other popular tabletop games in the way the players interact with each other and the various elements of the game. Nearly all the results of an action are determined by the roll of the dice and the Architect. Below are important concepts to understand for proper game play.

Creatures vs Machines

All characters within DSDN are either creatures or machines. Creatures are all biological characters, regardless of species, race, gender, or archetype. They can be living or undead, insects or giants. They are either controlled by a player or the Architect. Anything that is a combination of biological and mechanical is also considered a creature. Machines are all nonbiological, playable and non-playable characters. Most common machines in DSDN are mechs, ships, and weapons. Mechs, for the purposes of DSDN, are large robotic vehicles capable of humanoid-like interactions and piloted by a creature from within or by remote.

Benefits vs Penalties

Every creature and machine in the game has attributes that provide for benefits and penalties for specific activities. Additional benefits and penalties are added as creatures and machines gain items and abilities throughout the game. For every action taken or check made in the game, whether a die needs to be rolled or not, you must always apply applicable benefits and penalties, either before or after the action or roll, as instructed by the benefit/penalty description or the Architect, to determine the final score and, thus, the outcome of the activity.

Engagement Rolls

These are rolls that are used to perform an action. Whenever you are attempting to perform an action, like an attack, for, with, to, or against another creature, machine, location, or item, you would roll to engage. This uses a D20. You would add whatever applicable ability or skill to this roll, such as Sleight of Hand if attempting to steal something without getting caught, or Performance if attempting to entertain guests. In DSDN, everything your character does is considered an engagement, with the exception of movement.


Going in Initiative order, each player or the Architect can take one action, one secondary action, and one movement on their turn. Certain activities, such as combat, is broken down into a cycle of turns and rounds. Barring any adversarial or unexpected force or circumstance, each player gets one turn per round based on their position in the order of Initiative. A turn is when a player can decide to move, take an action, or both. A player can skip a turn, but that would forfeit their turn in the round. A round represents all turns taken in the Initiative order. If there are 10 characters, for example, there are 10 turns in a single round. For the keeping of time within the game, each round is 10 seconds, regardless of how many characters/turns. This would mean that there are 6 rounds in a minute and 360 rounds in an hour. This doesn’t equate to time in the real world. In reality, a round can last 10 minutes or 2 hours, but knowing the timing within the game is important during gameplay.


All references to time in this manual refers to game-based timing, not real time.

Evasion Rolls

These are rolls that are used to avoid something, typically danger, such as an attack or maybe a vehicle that's lost control and barreling toward you. This uses a D20. Add your Evasion score to all evasion rolls to get the final score. In DSDN, a tie always goes to the defender. If an attack against you has a score of 16, your evasion roll has to meet (16) or beat (17+) the challenge in order to keep from getting hit.

Movement Speed

A creature’s base movement speed (also referred to as just movement or speed) is determined by the race or species and will be detailed in the creature’s statistics chart (stats). A mech's base movement speed is determined by its size. Gargantuan mechs have a base speed of 35 hexes, all others have a base speed of 25 hexes. See movement under the chapter on combat to learn more about speed while in initiative or combat.

The mech's Engines score will increase or decrease the mech's speed. To determine your mech's speed, or how many hexes it can move in a single turn, multiply the Engines score by 5 and add to the base speed. To determine your mech's speed while in space, multiply your Engines and Reactor scores together and then multiply by 10,000.  For example, an Engine score of 1 and a Reactor score of 0 multiplied together equals 0, multiplied by 10,000 equals 0. This makes sense as movement through space would require a reactor and engines. Without either, or a 0 score in either area, and there would be no movement. You can never move at negative speed, therefore, you would be unable to move with a score of 0 or a negative. To determine your speed per second, divide your space speed by 10.

Movement speed can always be increased, decreased, or otherwise affected by a variety of factors, including the type of terrain the creature or machine is traversing, the method by which the creature or machine is moving, or temporary benefits or penalties due to some other circumstance. Such circumstances will be detailed in this manual or provided by the Architect. Creatures move in feet and machines generally move in hexes. Machines that are the same size as a creature, such as an android or an aerial drone, would move in feet.

The conversion between hexes and feet: 1 hex = 15 feet.

Difficult Terrain

There are times when you may encounter obstacles in your path or uneven fields while traveling or in combat. When the ground is hilly or with boulders strewn about, or when you have to move through mud or quicksand, the terrain can become difficult to traverse. In this instance, movement is reduced to half. A movement speed of 40 hexes/feet through difficult terrain is now 20 hexes/feet. If the combatant can move 40 hexes/feet, but travels 10 hexes/feet to exit difficult terrain, then it leaves 20 hexes/feet available to move upon exiting the difficult terrain. Mechs can not share the same space, nor pass through the same space as another mech, friend or foe, however creatures can. Creatures can only share the same space with an ally, and only if one of the creatures is two sizes smaller than the other. Creatures can also pass through ally space without difficulty, regardless of size, but it becomes difficult terrain when creatures pass through an enemy space.

Advantage vs Disadvantage

There will be times when you will be granted an advantage or a disadvantage when carrying out an activity. In both situations, you will roll 2D20 (or 1D20 twice). If granted an advantage, you will take the highest score of the two. If you have a disadvantage, you will take the lowest score of the two. You will then take that score and add it to whatever other scores applicable at the time to determine the final score and final outcome. If you have both advantages and disadvantages from multiple sources for the activity, no matter how many of either, you will only be able to roll 1D20. When one activity calls for both disadvantages and advantages, of any number, they cancel each other out. If you have a “double” advantage or disadvantage, you will still only be able to roll 2D20. An example of double advantage would be your racial trait gives you an advantage on a Biology check and your profession also grants you an advantage on a Biology check. This is not recognized. When you are given an advantage or a disadvantage for an activity and are also able to reroll a D20, you must first roll 2D20 and then only choose one of them to reroll.


There are the rare occasions you will have to roll with a detriment. A detriment is when you must roll 4D20 and use the lowest number.

Ability/Skills Checks

These are rolls that are made to see if you can successfully apply one or more of your abilities or skills in the game to get a specific result. These are also used to “check” to see if you were able to resist an action against you. Add your ability score to the roll of a D20 to determine the outcome. Unlike abilities, skills also use proficiencies. When you are ready to perform a skill check, use a D20, add your skill score, and if you have proficiency or expertise, add that as well.


Since ability scores determine the skill score under that ability, instructions referencing an ability check is also referencing the skills under that ability. Learn more about them here.


The universe is filled with different species and and an infinite number of languages. New languages are being discovered all of the time. For over three hundred years the major races have made use of the Translator and Universal Interpreter of Languages (TUIL, pronounced "tool" in English), a device that helps interpret speech and translate texts. Sometimes it is referred to simply as an interpreter or translator. Although the TUIL is rather ubiquitous throughout the known galaxies, your character may also learn languages on their own. This may prove useful when your TUIL is unavailable or malfunctioning. Some species may even hold you in high regard when they see that you took the time to learn their language.

Health/Hull Points (HP)

Each creature and machine has a certain number of health (creature) or hull (machine) points. These points determine how long a creature or machine can survive under certain conditions, such as being attacked or poisoned. Base HP is determined by a creature's Constitution score and a machine's Hull score. When a creature’s HP reaches 0, it can no longer be healed, it must be revived. Any medical facility can heal or revive a creature. Physicians, in particular, have the specialty needed to heal or revive fallen comrades. Current medical technology can not revive a creature, under any circumstances, if they have been deceased for more than 2 hours. A creature can not have negative HP (ex: -10). When a machine reaches 0 HP it can no longer move or engage. It is considered offline and must be repaired to at least 1 HP in order to function. If a machine receives damage that reduces its HP by twice its HP, then it is considered destroyed, and it is unable to be repaired and unable to be used further in the game. This means that if the machine’s maximum HP (without temporary HP) is 100, it can sustain damage up until -99. At -100, the machine will be destroyed. To determine a character’s HP you must refer to the section on race to determine which HP die to roll. Each race has a specific die to determine HP. You roll the number of dice equal to your character level and get a score. Then multiply your Constitution score and your character level, and add to your dice score. For example, if you choose Isyan as your race, your HP is based on the D12. If your character level is 5 and your Constitution score is 3, you would roll 5D12 (38) and add 15 (character level x Constitution score) to get 53 HP. Each time you gain a character level, you are to roll 1 additional HP die and add it to your total HP dice score or base HP.

Armor Points (AP)

Armor points are determined by the type of armor or protection you are wearing. Armor points grant each user additional protection against physical attacks, but not psychic, internal attacks such as poison, or other non-physical damage, such as radiation or asphyxiation. If you are no longer wearing the armor, you no longer gain the benefits. When struck by a sword, for example, the damage dealt will reduce your armor points accordingly. Once all of the armor points are expended, the remaining damage points go against your HP. If you have 10 armor points and 50 HP, and you were dealt damage of 15 points, you would use the remaining 10 armor points to absorb 10 of the 15 points of damage, while the remaining 5 points will reduce your HP to 45. Once all armor points are used, the armor can no longer protect you unless it is repaired. Only an armorer or welder, or someone with their skills, can repair the armor. The armor description and/or the specialty of the armorer/welder will detail how many points can be restored and under which conditions.

Temporary Health/Hull Points

There will be opportunities in which your character or machine will receive temporary HP. Temporary HP act like armor points in the sense that it protects your character or machine from direct damage. Unlike armor points which only absorb physical damage, temporary HP absorb all forms of damage. If your character has 20 temporary HP, and receives 15 points of radiation damage, deduct 15 points from the 20 and that leaves you with 5 temporary HP. Your character will not have received any damage. Depending on the source, temporary HP may only last for a specific amount of time. So even if you have 5 temporary HP left, if the temporary HP time expires, you will lose the remaining temporary HP. You can not repair or heal temporary HP. Temporary HP can not be stacked. Temporary HP is either renewed or replaced, meaning you can be granted more once you get to 0, or given a new amount of temporary HP all together. If you have armor points and your physical damage is greater than the amount of points you have left, the damage will bring your armor points to 0 and the remaining points will deduct from your temporary HP. If the damage is not physical, the damage will bypass the armor and deduct from your temporary HP. When your temporary HP reaches 0, any remaining damage points will be carried over and directly damage your character or machine accordingly. If you lose HP and you get temporary HP, any damage you take after will first take away from the temporary HP.

Calculating Damage

Each weapon, specialty, or program specifies the damage it deals. The dice you roll after a successful engagement is called the damage dice. You would roll the die in accordance with the instruction of the weapon, specialty, or program you used to engage and add the applicable bonuses and penalties to determine the final damage dealt. It is possible to deal 0 damage, but never negative damage. If there are multiple targets affected by the single engagement, roll for damage once, and that score will apply to all targets.

If you take damage of any kind, it is going to affect your HP total. However, if you have armor points, you must first deduct physical damage from here. If you have 20AP and you take physical damage of 10, it will reduce your AP to 10, or 10AP. Continue to deduct until you are down to 0. Radiation and poison damage, for example, are not considered physical damage and does not decrease your armor points. If you have 10AP and you take physical damage of 15, your AP would be reduced to 0, but then you would begin to take damage of 5 from your HP, unless you have temporary HP. If you have 10 temporary HP, take the 5 points and subtract from them. No damage has directly affected your official HP yet, only the armor points and temporary HP, so your total damage should be 0. If you were to try to heal yourself, it would have no effect as you have suffered no damage yet. With 5 temp HP remaining, if you take any type of damage, it will first subtract from this number. If you receive 10 points of radiation damage, for example, you will lose the remaining 5 temporary points and apply the remaining 5 points of damage to your HP. This means out of the maximum HP you can have, you've only lost 5 HP.

To learn more about damage in DSDN, click here.

Challenge Rating (CR)

Challenge rating determines how difficult it is to overcome a challenge or obstacle, other than an attack. A challenge rating is calculated in a variety of ways, but is clearly explained in the rules of the challenge or obstacle. It can be crossing a river, holding on to a wild animal, or overcoming an attack. The Architect can also employ a CR to an activity to see if you can succeed in it. The more difficult the challenge, the higher the challenge rating. Unless otherwise stated, to overcome a challenge, roll a D20 and add whatever benefits or penalties to the roll. Such rolls usually call for an ability or skill score to be added to determine the total score and to determine if you failed or succeeded the challenge. Your character (creature or machine) will have challenge ratings that others must overcome. When your abilities or skills are challenged, you must roll a D20 and add your character's ability or skill score to see if you defend against the challenge. You must meet or beat the challenge in order to be successful. Tie always goes to the defense.

Short Rest vs Long Rest

Throughout the game, your character will need a period to restore themselves in some way. This could be time to sleep, eat, tend to their wounds, refresh their minds and spirits, or prepare themselves for further adventure. For a creature, this period comes as a short rest or a long rest. A short rest is when a creature spends at least 1 hour of doing little to no activities. The creature doesn't have to be sleep, but the only permissible activities are eating, drinking, talking, and reading. A long rest is when a creature spends at least 6 hours sleeping. They are unable to perform any other task during this time. After a long rest, all specialty points, accuracy points, and health points are regained. Certain races, professions, and specialties will allow restored benefits after a short rest. No rest will cure you of poisoning, deafness, blindness, or most other afflictions unless the affliction description, your race, profession, or specialty specifically allows it. If their short or long rest is interrupted for more than 15 minutes, they must start their rest again in order to gain the benefits. If the creature’s long rest is interrupted, it can only gain short rest benefits if it at least rested for 1 hour. A creature can't benefit from more than one long rest in a 24-hour period, and a creature must have at least 1 health point at the start of the rest to gain its benefits.

Reboot vs Shutdown

Just as creatures are able to take a short or long rest, machines will need a similar period to restore themselves. For a machine, this period is called a reboot or a shutdown. A reboot is when the machine restarts its systems, or turns off and turns immediately back on. This may clear up a glitch in the computer core, or even reset some programs, but have no effect on the reactor or engines. A reboot cycle takes about 30 seconds. A shutdown, however, is when the machine is turned completely off, including shutting down its reactor. Just as in a reboot, this may clear up a glitch in the computer core, or reset programs, but can also correct issues with a reactor or engines. A machine takes 1 full hour to complete a shut down cycle. If the machine doesn’t take the full hour, the machine will gain the benefits as if it did a reboot. Unlike creatures, machines do not regain their hull points after a reboot or a shutdown.