Question about assessing factors for effect

Looking at p24, I’ve got a question about assessing factors for effect.

If quality is Tier i vs Tier iv, would you just reduce effect by one level because you are lower quality, rather than care how much lower quality?

What about scale? If scale was Tier i vs Tier iv, would you reduce effect by one level or by three levels?

I know that I could just choose on the basis of the implied level of deadliness agreed with the players in a game, just the same as I can choose whether resist cancels harm or reduces it. I am curious about the intent though, and how people have used this rule in practice!


This is a common question, which has been often asked on this forum or elswhere.

See here for exemple:

Thanks - I couldn’t find it on a cursory scan, and normally if I start asking a question it pops up others already asked, but that didn’t happen this time.

I appreciate you helping out with that link.


In addition to what is mentioned in that really informative thread, I’ll add this:

The Default

By Default, anything a Scoundrel does is Risky/ Standard. It is from the Default that we begin to adjust Position and the Effect.

Talk It Out

I think it is an insanely good habit to talk about the Position and Effect. The game is a Conversation, after all, and P&E are tools to facilitate that Conversation- namely- setting expectations before rolling dice.

While it is perfectly fine to say “Risky/ Standard” and leave it at that, talking it out and discussing why you perceive this as Risky and what kinds of bad things you foresee happening and how much you anticipate a PC will get out of the Action, etc. are all great ways to arrive at an appropriate P&E.

The Effect Factors are a good way to help guide that “talking it out” process, but personally- I don’t start with the Effect Factors. I start with:

Gut Instinct

I pay very little attention to the actual Effect Factors when first assigning P&E. I think about what the PC is doing and what they want/ their intent.

Then I think:

  • Whose terms are we on? (Position)
  • What kinds of bad things could happen (Potential Fictional Consequences- severity of which is adjusted by Position)
  • What is standing in their way, if anything, to achieving the Default of “You do the thing about as well as expected” AKA Standard Effect (Assessing Effect Level)

By thinking through that (often out loud during that Conversation), I’ll probably end up at a Position and Effect that is perfectly fine.

If I’m struggling, then I pull out the Effect Factors

  • Does Gear matter here? If yes, Tier takes the Cake
  • Does Scale matter here? If yes, Currently Deployed Scale Advantage takes the Cake
  • Does Potency matter here? If yes, superior versus inferior takes the Cake

I honesty don’t lower Effect for Gear all that often. It is very rare that the Crew will encounter someone who is decked out in top Tier protective armor or whose top tier weaponry is more effective against defending against the PC’s weaponry. Otherwise if it’s a Tier 0 gun against someone who (for whatever reason) ain’t decked out in Tier IV Gear- it’ll be Standard Effect. Bullets go through flesh… Tier =/= People’s endurance/ toughness.

Obviously Tier can give you an indication of possible deployable Scale- but not every group of Spirit Wardens tout about in Tier IV Scale Gangs

Potency tends to be the deciding factor more often than not. Training, Ambushes, Etc. are all typical ways in which Effect can be altered.


I rarely, if ever, create a “sliding scale” using the Effect Factors. I don’t sit around going up and down and use Tier Differences or anything like that.

Unless it is a situation where your approach won’t earn you Jack Piddly- I don’t assign 0 Effect.

If it’s Tier 0 vs Tier IV and the Quality of Gear is a major determinant, it’s just Limited Effect unless the approach is so doomed to fail that would warrant going down one more level to Zero Effect.

When In Doubt

In addition to “guy instinct,” there is also “single greatest determining factor.” This is why I don’t think:

  • Okay- it’s Standard by Default
  • Gear matters and they have a Tier 0 Gun and they’re facing off against a Tier II Plated Armor
  • I move down 2 Stages to Zero
  • Oh, it’s a Fine Weapon, move back up to Limited
  • Oh, they have the Quality Weapon Upgrade, move back up to Standard
  • Oh, but this Armor is Potent against Standard Lead Bullets- that’s back to Limited
  • Oh, the opposing force is using Scale- so we’re back to 0
  • Ah, they’re pushing themselves…

Instead, I just stick with “Does Gear matter? Yeah- it seems to be the ‘make it or break it moment… Sure- it’s tough armor, but they ain’t decked in head to toe. There is more of them, but that ain’t gonna stop a bullet. Looks like the PC has some sweet upgrades to even the odds. They stay at Standard…”


In addition to “Largest Contributing Factor,” there is also a good old fashioned: “What does reduced effect look like???!!!”

If I can’t think of how this situation ends up as “You do the thing, but not as well as expected” then I won’t waste my brain power on that- I just leave it at Standard.

This is the same kind of “Litmus Test” as “Is an Action Roll called for?” If there ain’t tangible Consequences- it ain’t an Action Roll.

Hope that all makes sense and hope that helps.