D10 Special

Due to technical limitations, this page is titled "D10 Special". However, the correct term is "d10 SPECIAL".

d10 SPECIAL is a SPECIAL Arbitration Engine specifically designed to be lightweight to accompany narrative style Role Playing Games, such as chain stories and "simulations."


Shawn Boles, creator of the d10 SPECIAL system, participates in Star Trek themed "Simulations," a group story building activity where every member picks a Star Trek character and describes that character's action to build a campaign.

However, an interesting issue comes up when people get attached to their characters: they hate to see their character fail at anything. In the best case, characters degenerate to the point where they are clumsy at normal tasks to "make up" for their perfection at difficult tasks… and in the worst case, characters become superhuman with the ability to never fail at anything.

And nobody wants to volunteer for their character to make the mistake, lest their character seem less able than the he-men around him.

In the specific case of the Star Trek simulation a character named "Ensign Null," after the German word for "Zero" was created to be the "ship's klutz", who could be counted on to screw things up when required. This however was even more detrimental to character development, as a scapegoat (and a NPC one at that!) allowed everyone to build their characters in perfection, never having to sully them with an error.

d10 SPECIAL was designed to give players narrative control of their characters at all time, while allowing for uncontrollable quantum noise (die rolls) to actually dictate the outcome of tasks. Characters grow by increasing their attribute scores to allow for more flawless activity while having to build their characters around the certain knowledge that some tasks might fail!


The d10 SPECIAL system is quite simple. After d10 SPECIAL Character Creation, all non-mundane tasks are "Checked" by throwing 1d10 and comparing it to a character's ability score.

Extra luckiness is controlled by throwing 1d20 and comparing that throw to a character's Luck score and modifying the outcome of the 1d10 throw accordingly.

Beginning characters will fail more often than they succeed in most tasks, as they are still learning the ropes. However, ability scores can be increased by earning Experience Points (XP), thereby improving their ability scores and chances for success.

The gamemaster decides when a roll is actually required; in many cases, it's understood that characters Take 10 on many tasks. For example, generally climbing a ladder requires a Strength check; however, in most cases, a character can take their time and do it right… not being under time pressure means that the character would keep trying until they succeed, thereby Taking 10. A character should never Take 10 while under time pressure, however, unless they can convince the Gamemaster that, even under the extenuating circumstances, the character has enough time to get it right.

The gamemaster should make it clear when characters are no longer Taking 10.

The gamemaster may also give a bonus or a penalty toward a die roll before it is rolled based on circumstances. A character throwing a Charisma check when performing for a friendly audience should get a bonus. A character throwing an Intelligence check while under pressure should get a penalty.

What kind of check should I do?

Check the SPECIAL system Skills listing and find a skill similar to the task being attempted, and do that kind of check. In many cases, the type of check will be a gamemaster call. Keep these guidelines in mind when deciding what kind of check to throw:

  • Strength - Used for arbitrating physical actions
  • Perception - Used for deciding what characters can see and notice
  • Endurance - Used to determine the character's vitality and ability to operate while under a load
  • Charisma - Used during dialogs with NPCs
  • Intelligence - Used for calculating a character's success when operating equipment or speaking intelligently
  • Agility - Used for dodge saves and other high-speed maneuvers
  • Luck - A special modifier for die rolls and a check against serendipitous events.

More Information

See, I told you d10 SPECIAL was simple! It's contained in 4 pages!

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