The Storm Has a Name
test of wills
Sample specializations: None
Test of wills, often shortened to just test, is used to unbalance an
opponent by pitting their confidence against the tester’s confidence
and resolve. A successful test causes the opponent to doubt that his
own determination or that his control of a situation is equal to that
of the testing character.
Two drivers playing a game of “chicken”, for example, are
engaged in a test, to see who has less confidence in his driving
skills and swerves away from the collision first. In westerns, a
gunfight always begins with the two gunslingers staring each other
down, trying to take each other’s measure. This is an example of
test being used in a combat situation, each gunslinger showing his
resolve to see things through and confidence in his own ability to
draw and shoot first.
Test is not the same as intimidation though sometimes the line
between the two is blurry. Intimidation is more often based on an
overt physical threat, such as pointing a weapon at someone, or a
display of violent emotion. Test is subtler, the character implying or
creating an impression of being the one who is calling the shots.
Test is the defensive skill used against test, though in some
situations the willpower may be used to defend against test. Willpower
cannot be used to perform a test though, characters without the
test skill must use their Mind attribute. The exact results of a test
attempt are determined by using the Interaction Results Table
found in Chapter Four. When a character attempts to test someone,
the player should specify to the gamemaster the effect she wants
it to have on her character’s opponent before rolling the die. This
is known as the player’s call and lets the gamemaster better judge
the results of the trick.
The gamemaster, in relation to circumstance and believability
as well as the player’s roleplaying ability, should modify test skill
totals. If the character appears calm, cool and unruffled before and
during the test attempt, she should get a bonus to her skill total. If
the character is nervous, panicky and obviously not in control of a
situation then a penalty should be applied.
Example: Terrill is having a beer in an Ayslish tavern when an
unruly minotaur comes up to his table, looking to cause trouble. Alan
tells Becky that Terrill will test the minotaur, with a player’s call of
the minotaur backing down, apologizing for disturbing Terrill and
then leaving the tavern. He describes Terrill as pausing after taking
a drink of his beer, looking up at the minotaur and casually saying
“you really don’t want to get on my bad side”, and then making
some kind of magical incantation or gesture so the minotaur knows
he’s facing a trained magician.
Becky decides that since almost everyone in Aysle knows a little
magic the minotaur won’t be too impressed by an incantation but
the overall description of Terrill’s attempt is worth a +2 bonus. Alan
doesn’t roll well enough to get the player’s call so Terrill doesn’t
get rid of the minotaur, but he’s been thrown off-balance by Terrill’s
behavior and isn’t quite sure what to do next.