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 SM. 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 SM. 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 feats 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 SM. Applicable benefits or penalties are always added after all dice have been rolled for the particular activity to determine the final score and, thus, the outcome of the activity.
These are rolls that are primarily used to perform an attack. Whenever you are attempting to perform an action for, with, to, or against another creature, mech, location, or item, you would also roll to engage. This uses a D20. You would add whatever applicable ability or skill to this roll, such as Strength if using a melee weapon as a creature, Reactor if using your ranged weapon as a mech, or Sleight of Hand if attempting to steal something without getting caught.
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.
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 (stats) chart. A machine’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 Engine 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 Engine score by 5 and add to the base speed. When in space, your mech uses its reactor and moves at a much faster speed. To determine your mech's speed while in space, add your Engine and Reactor scores together and multiply by 100,000. Please note, you can never have a negative speed.
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 SM. Creatures move in feet and machines generally move in hexes. Machines that are the same size as a creature, such as an android, will move in feet.
The conversion between hexes and feet: 1 hex=15 feet.
There are times when you may encounter obstacles in your path or uneven terrain 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, travels 10 hexes/feet to exit difficult terrain, 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, 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 History check and your profession also grants you an advantage on a History check, then you have advantage from two different sources, or “double the advantage”. 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.
These are rolls that are made to see if you can successfully apply one or more of your abilities 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. Learn more about them here.
These are rolls that are made to see if you can successfully apply one or more of your 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. 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. Learn more about them here.
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. A creature can not have negative HP, such as -10. When a machine reaches 0 HP it can no longer function. 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 base 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 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 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 weapon, feat, 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, feat, 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 engagement, roll for damage once, and that score will apply to all targets.
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, not psychic or internal attacks such as poison. 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 the 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 a weaponsmith can repair the armor. The armor description will detail how many points are restored and under which conditions.
Challenge Rating (CR)
Challenge rating determines how difficult it is to overcome a challenge or obstacle. 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. Your character and mech have challenge ratings that others must overcome. The SM can also employ a CR to an activity to see if you can succeed in it. 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.
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 no activities. The creature doesn't have to be sleep. A long rest is when a creature spends at least 6 hours of sleeping. They are unable to perform any other task during this time. 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. 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.
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 1 minute. 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 shutdown.