Every Spycraft character has access to a pool of action dice that represent the cinema hero’s knack for seemingly superhuman actions, or the lucky breaks he enjoys as his enemy’s weapons fail or miraculously miss. Action dice are one of the most powerful tools in your character’s arsenal, but just as you’re armed with your own special reserve of good fortune, so is the Game Control…
At the start of each game session, your character receives a number of action dice determined by his Career Level, as shown on Table 1.3: Level-Dependent Benefits (see page 27). Further, when the current mission’s Threat Level exceeds the team’s average Career Level, you gain 1 additional action die per 2 points of difference (see page 423 for more about Threat Levels). You may spend these dice in any of the following ways, and as your class, feat, and other abilities allow. All action dice not spent by the end of a gaming session are lost.
1. boost a dIe roll
You may add the result of 1 or more of your action dice to any die roll you make (e.g. any 1 attack check, 1 damage roll, 1 skill check, 1 saving throw, and so on). There are a few exceptions, as follows.
- You may spend only 1 action die to boost each damage result.
- You may not boost any roll made to increase an attribute score, nor may you boost any roll made to increase vitality points (these restrictions apply whether the increases are temporary or permanent).
- Some abilities may disallow the use of action dice to boost one or more rolls, as noted in each relevant ability description.
- Action dice may never be spent to boost a result for which no die roll is made (e.g. when your character “takes 10” with a skill check).
You may declare that you wish to boost a die roll at any time, even after making the roll. Also, you may spend any number of action dice to boost 1 die roll, so long as you have action dice left to spend. You may not continue to spend action dice to boost a roll, however, after the GC describes the outcome of the action associated with it (typically, if you’re unaware of your DC, the GC should ask you whether you’re happy with your result before describing what happens).
Each time you spend 1 action die to boost a roll, and you roll the highest number possible on the action die (e.g. you roll a natural 6 on a d6 action die), it “explodes.” In this case, you roll the action die again, adding the new result to the previous result.
Example: Kevin rolls a 6 on a d6 action die. He rolls it again, getting a 4. His action die’s total result is 10.
An action die keeps exploding as long as you keep rolling its maximum value.
Example: Kevin rolls a 6 on a d6 action die. He rolls it again, getting another 6. Rolling a third time, he gets a 5. His action die’s total result is 17
Here’s an example of spending action dice to boost a die roll.
Example: At Level 6, Kevin generates an attack check result of 12 against a target’s Defense of 20. He spends 1 action die and rolls 1d6, getting a 6. The die explodes, so he rolls again, this time getting a 1. This action die result brings Kevin’s attack check result to only 19, not enough to beat the target’s Defense. Kevin spends a second action die, rolling a 4. This brings his attack check result to 23, enough to hit the target.
2. boost your deFense
At the start of any combat round, as a free action, you may spend 1 action die to boost your character’s Defense by 2 for a number of rounds equal to the action die’s result. This action die may explode as described under Option 1: Increasing a Die Roll (see page 61).
Your character may not benefit from more than 1 action die spent to increase his Defense at any time.
3. actIvate a threat
When you roll a natural 20 with any skill check (i.e. the 20 is showing on the die), it usually means that you’ve scored a threat (see page 96).
When you score a threat, you may spend 1 action die to activate it as a critical success, gaining the benefits described under the ability, feat, or skill description, or as determined by the Game Control (if the GC determines that no critical success is possible, you receive your action die back).
Example: Kevin rolls a natural 20 when making an Athletics/ Jump check to leap over a table. He spends 1 action die to activate the threat as a critical success, which in this case means that he clears the maximum possible distance (see page 107).
In combat, when you score a threat with an attack check, you may spend 1 action die to activate the threat as a critical hit. This can have a variety of effects, based on the target hit and his current state of injury (see page 329). The decision to activate a critical hit during combat must be made before damage is rolled.
Example: Kevin fires on a conscious henchman, rolling a natural 20. He spends 1 action die to activate the threat and rolls damage, , determining that his attack inflicts 12 points of damage. The henchman loses 12 wounds instead of 12 vitality.
4. actIvate an opponent’s error
When your character’s opponent rolls a natural 1 with any skill check (i.e. a 1 is showing on the die), it usually means that he’s suffered an error (see page 96).
When your character’s opponent suffers an error, you may spend 1 action die to activate it as a critical failure, prompting the effects described under the ability, feat, or skill description, or as determined by the Game Control (if the GC determines that no critical failure is possible, you receive your action die back).
Example: While chasing Kevin, a henchman makes an Athletics/ Jump check to leap over a table. The GC rolls a 1. One of the other players spends 1 action die to activate the error as a critical failure, which in this case means that the henchman trips and lands on the table (likely shattering it in the process). His movement ends, he suffers 1d4+1 subdual damage, and he becomes flatfooted (see page 108).
In combat, when your character’s opponent suffers an error with an attack check, you may spend 1 or more action dice to activate the error as a critical miss. This can have a variety of effects, as shown on Table 5.4: Critical Miss Effects (see page 330).
Example: When rolling to see if a henchman’s rifle shot hits Kevin, the Game Control rolls a natural 1. Kevin spends 1 action die and the henchman’s weapon fails to fire (with the same mechanical effects as a dud round). Kevin could have spent 1 additional action die to cause the weapon to malfunction (with the same mechanical effect as a jam), or more dice for other effects, as desired and based on the attack’s error range.
Special Note: You may spend action dice to activate the critical failures and critical misses of opponents within your character’s line of sight only.
5. heal your character
Outside combat, you may spend any number of action dice to regain vitality or wound points. For each action die you spend, your character regains either a number of vitality points equal to the action die’s result or 2 wound points.
Example: After fighting off the henchman, in a moment of calm after the combat, Kevin spends 1 action die to heal some vitality. Being Level 3, he rolls d4 action dice. He spends 1 action die and rolls a 4, then a 3. He recovers 7 vitality points.
During combat, your character must take the Refresh action before you may spend action dice to regain vitality or wound points (see page 359). At the end of a round during which your character performs a Refresh action, you may spend only 1 action die to recover either a number of vitality points equal to the action die’s result or 2 wound points. However, if your character is the target of 1 or more attacks during the same round (even if they’re unsuccessful), you may not spend an action die to heal, and your character’s actions for the round are forfeit.
6. make a reQuest check
At any time other than the Intel Phase, you may spend 1 or more action dice to make an appeal to your Faction or Freelance network for any single item or option listed in Calibers I–IV. A Request check is only possible with a method of rapid communication n (e.g. phone, email, satellite radio, etc.). It requires 1 full minute of communication.
To make a Request check, you spend a number of action dice equal to the Caliber of the item or option desired, then you roll 1d20, adding your Request check bonus to the result (the result of the action dice spent to make the request is not added to this). A Request check has no error or threat range. Each Request check consumes 1 Reserve gear pick, whether it’s successful or not (see page 219).
If the result equals or exceeds the item or option’s Request DC — 10 × the item’s Caliber — it becomes available to you in an amount of time determined by your character’s current ocation, as shown on Table 4.3: Gear Delivery Time (see page 219). A Request check may be re-tried, but costs additional action dice and consumes an additional Reserve gear pick with each attempt.
Two or more players may pay a Request check’s action die cost, but only one of them makes the roll to determine whether the item or option is available.
Faction characters are subject to certain gear benefits and restrictions, as defined by their Faction’s organization statistics (see page 389).
Finally, Request checks may never be made for picks whose Caliber is higher than that of the current mission.
7. pray For a “haIl mary”
At a cost of 1 action die, your character may make any 1 untrained skill check without the standard error range modifier (see page 92). At a cost of 3 action dice, your character may make any 1 skill check with no result cap (see page 88).
At a cost of 4 action dice, your character may make any 1 passive or secret skill check as an active check (see page 89).
In all cases, these dice must be spent before making the roll.
Unless otherwise stated, you may not spend action dice to affect another character in any way. You may not spend action dice to boost another character’s die rolls, boost another character's Defense, activate another character’s critical successes, or heal another character. You may only spend action dice to gain these benefits for yourself.
Further, some abilities — such as the Soldier’s core ability, accurate — allow you to roll 2 action dice when you spend 1, increasing the target die roll by both action die results. Even if you somehow benefit from more than one such ability, or another combination of abilities and effects that might indicate that you should roll more than 2 action dice when you spend 1, you may never roll more than 2 action dice per 1 action die spent.
Your Game Control may award you 1 or more action dice when he feels that you’ve roleplayed your character exceptionally well, exhibited leadership or problem-solving ability, entertained the group, or otherwise improved the gaming experience. Should you feel that another player deserves an action die for something that the GC doesn’t reward, you may nominate that player and explain your reasoning, but recognize that the GC is the final arbiter of who gains action dice and why.
Any action dice the GC awards to you are added to your pool and may be spent at any time, up to the end of the current session (when they go away, with all your other action dice). Further, each time the GC awards you 1 action die, you also gain 25 XP at the end of the current serial. No matter how many action dice you’re awarded, however, you may only gain up to 25 × your current Career Level in XP during any single serial from action die awards.
Example 1: Kevin is 3rd-level and gains 2 action dice during the current serial. At the serial’s end, he gains an additional 50 XP.
Example 2: Kevin is 3rd-level and gains 4 action dice during the current serial. At the serial’s end, he gains an additional 75 XP.
Feel free to spend all the action dice you gain, as they vanish at the end of each game session. Spending action dice does not affect the amount of experience points you gain from them.