When a player wishes his character to exercise a skill or ability during play, he notifies the GM of the skill he wishes to use AND the intended goal. The last part is very important, for it allows no misunderstanding of what is to be accomplished and by what means. This also allows the GM to clarify his definition of each of the skills as they are used, as necessary, so he can disqualify for the benefit of ALL the players any uses or applications he judges to be inappropriate.
- IF there is a misunderstanding on the player’s part as to just what a certain skill enables a character to do, this is when and how that misunderstanding can be caught and remedied. Throughout the course of running his game, the GM is likely to resolve a great many questions and make rulings on the success or failure of a great many actions.
When a player makes the statement indicating his character is initiating an action, it certainly does not guarantee that the character succeeds with it simply by dint of the player’s stated desire, unless of course the GM wishes to allow it. This he certainly can do in the interests of keeping the story moving along, especially in the case of certain domestic or otherwise common tasks, especially those with particularly low DV’s (yielding c.80% chance of success or higher, GM’s discretion). All actions or tasks for which success is not assured are governed by a skill or trade or trade ability, especially when there is some measured or measurable obstacle or living creature or being working to foil his attempt or intended action. In these cases, some means or method must be available for determining whether or not he succeeds.
One of the main conventions of the game is the use of dice for task resolution, to determine whether the actions attempted by the characters succeed or fail on completion.
Veteran gamers are well aware of the dice and how they are read.
Throughout the text of the book, the letter “d” is used along with a number – either 5, 10, 20, or 100. This is a popular notation in roleplaying games in general and refers to the dice mentioned which are needed to play the game. The number immediately following the “d” tells the player and/or GM which die or dice to roll and how they are to be read, a “d10” being 1 ten-sided die. The term “d5” calls for the roll of a 10-sided or die also, BUT the result is then divided by two, and the result rounded up as necessary.
For example, a roll of 1 or 2 on a d10 to be read as a d5 should be read as a result of 1; a result of 3 or 4 should be read as 2; 5 or 6 read as 3, etc.
A 20-sided die can be used to achieve a result from 1 to 10 in the same manner, OR to achieve a result from 1 to 5 (1 to 4 = 1; 5 to 8 = 2; etc.).
The term “d100” calls for the roll of both the ten and the twenty-sided dice together, or two ten-sided dice, or two twenty-sided dice, as the player prefers. Each die yields a number from 0 to 9 and together, reading one as the “one’s” and the other as the “ten’s”, generate a number from one (01) to one hundred (00). The player should always use dice of contrasting colors when rolling d100, always reading the same colors for the “one’s” and “ten’s” places to avoid confusion and potential disagreements. If the player does change the order in which he is reading the colors, he should be sure to make an announcement of that fact to the GM before he rolls the dice and make sure that he is heard and understood. While d100 can also be simply read from left to right, top to bottom, or first and second as they fall, the player should always ask the GM what his preference is as he is the final authority on standards for enforcing integrity in dice-rolling for task resolution in his game.
Reading the dice may take a little getting used to for the novice player. The player should always roll his dice on a flat surface and read the number that comes full face-up on the top of each die. Some people use heavy glass or leather cups such as are commonly used in other dicing games. Glass provides a very “live” surface and gets alot of play out of the dice with a very fair and random result, easily read while the dice are still in the glass. The leather dicing cup works just as well to allow the player to shake the dice up well before dumping them out on the table. Both of these are very good, very fair methods. Finally, even though the player may read the results off his dice quickly, he should always leave them as they fell, in the glass or on the table, so any who are curious or wish to see the roll for themselves can do so. This does NOT indicate a lack of trust. When others look on to witness a roll, especially when a roll is a critical one, it isn’t so much a sign of mistrust as it is a way of participating in the proceedings Snatching up the dice immediately after they have stopped rolling, before anyone can have a look for themselves, or rolling the dice out of sight, is the quickest way to make the other players suspicious, however.
The use of the dice in roleplay reflects and affects the movements of Fate in the characters’ lives. Roleplaying games work on an honor system where the dice are concerned. Fudging or outright cheating on the results can only hurt the game, if not for the player doing it then for the other players in the game. No one succeeds at everything they do ALL of the time, and everyone playing the game is well aware of that fact. Even if no one says anything about it, they always take note. They may simply be too polite to say anything about it, but someone, at s0me point, is likely not to be so nice, and situations like that aren’t fun for anyone. And isn’t having fun what the entire point of playing the game is in the first place?
Since the simple desire to exercise a character’s skills or abilities certainly doesn’t guarantee that he succeeds, we use percentage (%) chances of success and d100 to determine the outcome of actions.
The GM handles the task resolution process.
These percentage chances of success are found by the GM using the Task Resolution Table (c.f.), using the Aptitude Value (AV) of the character attempting to accomplish the task at hand and some form of Difficulty Value (DV), which may be found by a couple different means, depending on the situation, task or ability used.
SL’s and TR’s and the scores involved in their uses (GM’s discretion) are most commonly used to find the AV and DV for task resolution, or attribute scores alone, and the conditions and circumstances of the setting surrounding the action or task to be resolved may have a heavy impact on them, also. Follow the links provided ad follow the directions in order to determine these numbers.
Shaking Out the Cobwebs: Fighting the Sandman
While Surprise can have direct and dire effects on ALL a character’s abilities, one wrinkle in that equation that can make things even more difficult for the target being Surprised is their being asleep, as well.
As far as being Surprised while sleeping goes, the sleeper gets the normal Perceive/AWA check, BUT this only allows the sleeper to awaken. IF he does not waken, the one descending upon him by Surprise may do what they may, it being assumed that the sleeper awakens as soon as he is struck. If he is touched more gently or otherwise manipulated instead, he is granted another Perception/AWA check opportunity to awaken. Stealth skills are invaluable in this process for the aggressors against those sleeping, but the number of them cuts the DV for those checks.
Once roused from slumber, the sleeper must shake the cobwebs out and rub the remnants of the Sandman’s work from his eyes.
This takes the form of a penalty to the AV for ANY and ALL actions taken equal to the number of points of END they have yet to recover PLUS the number of hours they have been sleeping. This penalty declines at a rate of one (1) point at the end of every CS following their waking, until it reaches zero, when the character is no longer impaired but is fully awake. The judicious use of the appropriate magick or healing herbs can cut this down or eliminate it entirely.
This penalty is ADDED to any penalty the characters may suffer from being Surprised when those states are compounded due to circumstances (ass applicable).
“Progressive” Bases for AV’s, DV’s and Modifiers
The term “Progressive” is used in a number of instances throughout the text in reference to the basis or modifier for either an AV OR a DV. These are based on the number of points of difference in some thing on which it is based, per point of that difference, so that it is only 1 for the first point, but 3 for the second (1 + 2), 6 for the third (1 + 2 + 3), 10 for the fourth (1 + 2 + 3 + 4), 15 for the fifth (1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5), and so on, and so forth. Using the term “Progressive” to describe it identifies it by type for the reader’s benefit so this explanation need not be repeated over and again.
This is NOT to be confused with the “Progressive Hex” in the context of magick. While progressive in nature, in this context it indicates a magick with very special attributes and effects that grow progressively greater over time.
Applying the AV & DV:
Finding the Percentage
& Resolving the Action
What to do with the AV & DV once they have been found? How is the final percentage chance of success for the character determined?
1) Cross-index the AV and DV on the Task Resolution Table to find the percentage chance of success.
2) Roll the dice (d100). The one rolling chooses which color is read as “10’s” and which is read as “1’s” (unless they are stamped with that designation already) and rolls them on the table, or in the glass, or shakes them up in the cup and dumps them out.
- IF the number appearing on the upper-most faces of the d100 are equal to or less than the % chance determined, the character is successful in the task attempted.
- IF the number appearing is greater than the percentage % determined, the character fails in his task.
Couldn’t be easier.
For simple challenges against inanimate obstacles, the player of the character providing the AV in the situation is always the one who gets to roll, regardless of whether that means the player for a PC or the GM for a NPC.
In most instances a player must roll in order to resolve an action he has initiated for his character, but in some instances the GM must roll for NPC’s and/or making checks for occurrences in the gameworld around the characters or against the efforts of the characters.
When the character fails, neither the player nor the GM should assume total defeat and just roll over and die.
All is not lost. The character should always be allowed to make another try.
Every character should always be allowed three attempts at any task against a static object, on the basis of the old saying “the third try is the charm”.
- This does NOT apply in any task or skill attempted against efforts of a living creature or being to prevent it.
Even though many obstacles against which the PC’s may ply their skills and abilities are inanimate and sit still and wait the character’s pleasure while he tries over and again upon failing, there must be a practical limit.
On the second attempt, the DV rises by 3.
On the third attempt the DV rises by 6.
- IF the GM wishes to be more lenient even than the above “rule of three” taken from the folk (magick) traditions, that limit might be amended according to the characters’ SL with the given skill or ability, providing a little more lee-way one step at a time as the PC progresses in knowledge and experience. In this way, the character might be allowed one (1) attempts at success per 10 SL’s, beyond the first three attempts already allowed.
The DV modifier for further attempts remains Progressive in nature, rising by 10 for the fourth attempt; 15 for the fifth; 21 for the sixth, etc.
Active & Passive Skills
Some skills or abilities are active in nature, indeed most are active, and the balance are passive in nature. Skills that are active in nature require the player to actively pursue their use, to make a statement in play that he is initiating such an action in the context of the game – swinging a weapon to hit a foe, picking a lock, tying a knot or untying one, casting a magick, searching the premises for things hidden (especially traps), stopping to concentrate to see what he can hear or look about and see anything of note, and the like. Just because a character has an attribute score, even if it is above average, it does not mean he is constantly actively exercising it and testing its limits to see what he can see, or hear, or feel, etc. Some skills are active when initiated and then the results remain to provide a DV afterwards, such as when actively donning a Masquer disguise or applying Cosmetics, which requires an AV check to implement, and then afterwards the effects stand as an AV against the AWA or Perception skills of those who come close enough to warrant it on d100.
Although a Parry or Block, or even a Dodge defense in battle is an active movement, the onus “to hit” is placed on the shoulders of the one attacking, leaving the Defense as the DV against which the attacker rolls to succeed. The active, aggressive side of an action is always the one that must roll for success.
In the use of many skills there is a clear cut goal and failing results are easily identified. If picking a lock fails, the lock remains closed tight; failure for a weapon strike means you miss; failure to complete a crafting project results in a visibly botched product, and so on.
The use of some skills can involve rather subtle situations that can end up being fairly critical, actually requiring the character to check and see if he recognizes that he has failed or made a mistake before he may try to remedy it by trying again.
Failure of any of the skills of the Healer trades (cleaning and dressing wounds, setting bones, surgery, etc.), the Trapper skill (building traps, only), Mathematician, protocol in the use of the Foreign Culture and Social Graces skills, recalling names, Lore checks in general, and the like (GM’s discretion) ALL require the character to make a successful Sentry (Perception)/AWA check vs. the amount by which the original roll was missed in order to recognize that he has failed, misspoken or otherwise made a mistake before any remedy can be assayed.
- IF any character is watching over the other character’s shoulder, looking-on as another character fails at a skill being exercised that he also has, he should also be allowed to make a Sentry/AWA check to recognize the other character’s mistake so he can warn him of it, so that it does not go unnoticed.
- IF the character cannot seem to fix the problem after having the mistake pointed out to him, then the other character can step right in and try his hand, knowing already what must be done.
These situations provide good opportunities for those characters that have the same skills to share the limelight. This is especially true of skills such as those of the healer trades, which require certain specific conditions that are best avoided by prudent characters in order to be brought into play (battles, wounding), and so represent a limited commodity for characters to practice their skills.
Once all the attempts at success a character is allowed with a particular skill and/or to identify and remedy the situation (as applicable) have been used, all possible ideas and alternate approaches and solutions for the task within the scope of his knowledge and experience are exhausted, tried and failed.
He is done with it, or it with him.
The character cannot try his skill or ability against the obstacle in question again until he has gained another SL.
In those situations where one force strives directly against another where each force is acknowledged as hearty enough to put up enough measurable resistance that the outcome is NOT necessarily a foregone conclusion, not one that should hinge on the success or failure of a single die roll, the roll to resolve is said to be “contested”, so the roll is referred to as a “Contested Roll”.
A Contested Roll is used to reflect the back-and-forth one often sees in a contest of STR vs. STR such as takes place in arm-wrestling, or (the sum of) STR and STA needed for a tug of war, and other similar challenges (GM’s discretion).
All Contested Rolls are accomplished by a series of d100 checks.
The number of dice rolls needed to determine the outcome of a Contested Roll is determined by the results of the rolls as they are made.
For this purpose, the GM determines the original percentage chance of success, using the AV and DV as described above, normally.
- IF the roll is successful, the GM looks to the next column over to the left on the same line, to that marked with the next lower DV, to find the new, higher percentage chance of success and the player rolls again.
- IF the roll is failed, the GM looks to the next line above in the same column, to that marked by the next lower AV, to find the new, lower percentage chance of success and the player rolls again.
This continues, the percentage moving by line or column back and forth, rising and falling according to the results of each roll in turn, until either successful rolls raise the percentage chance to 99% (or knock the active character off the edge of the AV side of the table) or failed rolls reduce the percentage chance to 1% (or knock the active character off the DV side of the table).
Success indicates victory.
Failure indicates defeat.
- Where the situation involves a PC, the player should always be allowed to make the rolls.
- Each roll in this instance is presumed to cover roughly 2-3 seconds (Pulses) of game time.
- To break free of a Binding hold in Grappling/Wrestling can be accomplished in the same manner, pitting STR and AGL vs. STR and AGL (with a bonus to the larger of the two combatants by modified STA equal to the difference between them, as applicable), OR the GM might accelerate the resolution by allowing a single combat maneuver each CS or Action, win or lose, in the same manner as a normal pass of arms. Doing this eliminates some of the drama of the contest, however.
Where END rules are in play, the character engaged in the Contest must pay 2 END each CS. Defenses are assumed and encompassed in the course of these rolls.
Magick provides a very similar kind of challenge. There are a number of magicks under which the victim of a will-binding magick or physically binding magick is allowed to test his strength of will or of body against the magick with a Contested HRT Roll or a Contested STR Roll, respectively, over time. Some charms leave the victim waging his P-RES against some magickal physical infirmity, which may also require the use of HRT to fight. Even though a magick binds the target’s body so he cannot move, or suppresses a character’s will forcing him to do the caster’s bidding, the victim may pit his every breath and fiber of muscle (STR) or iota of his will (HRT) to fighting the dweomer either continuously as he fights it physically or every time it comes into play forcing him to act against his will, and perhaps triumph in due time, thus cutting the DUR of the dweomer short on achieving victory as surely as if the magick had been dispelled. Another example is the process of “Attunement”, by which a practitioner brings the vibration of an object that carries mana or is imbued with actual charms, into harmony with his spirit by force of will so as to claim ownership in a way that he is allowed access to its power until similarly claimed by another.
Each roll in the process of resolving the contest of the power [(POT) + (MGA att. mod.)] of a magick vs. strength (STR) or will (HRT) assumes the passage of a single CS, during which time the character must be single-mindedly devoted to his fight.
The intervals at which HRT checks are made vs. a will-binding magick MAY be substantially longer, defined in the description of the specific magick against which the contest is engaged. Those checks are usually only called for when the effects of the dweomer come directly into play in those instances when it exerts its power directly to dictate the character’s action(s). It can take a great deal of time for the Contest to be resolved in some cases. Indeed, the DUR may expire before the victim finishes the Contest. The final say in the length of time per roll lies in the GM’s hands.
Where the optional END rules are in play, the character engaged in the Contest must pay 1 END each CS, as if he were in physical combat. He may well finish the contest drenched in sweat and perhaps even Winded.
The process for Attuning the energies of an enchanted item so it may be claimed and used by another practitioner, and of attuning a magick cast by another so it may be taken control of, follows exactly the same procedure.
The most significant difference is that, Attunement, once engaged in cannot be broken until the challenge is resolved, one way or the other.
IF a character breaks contact or breaks concentration or surrenders in some way (GM’s discretion), he fails and may not try again until he has gained another TR from that under which he last attempted it.
When mana is the object of the attunement, it is treated the same as magick of the Common Sphere. Touchstones are NOT just mana, however, although they do contain it. It is the Cache holding the mana that the practitioner is seeking to Attune.
The player and GM are reminded that the relative “weight” of Noble Sphere magicks is five times that of Common Sphere magicks, and that Sovereign Sphere magicks have five times the “weight” of Noble Sphere magicks, 25 times the “weight” of Common Sphere magicks, and this applies specifically to the POT of dweomers the practitioner attempts fight by a Contested HRT Roll, or to wrest away control of such magicks, to Attune and impress them with his own vibration to claim for his own use.
In addition, the practitioner has no power or ability to even attempt to Attune any magick or item which contains magick of a Sphere beyond that which he has the power and knowledge to wield. Until he has reached sufficient rank and knowledge in TR to wield the Noble Sphere of Power, and especially the Sovereign Sphere, he has NO chance, power or ability to lay claim to any magicks of those Spheres so as to make them his own by Attunement, any more than he could cast them.
Coaching & Non-Proficiency Penalties
A character may find himself in a position to which the only answer may be to attempt to talk or coach another character (PC or NPC, regardless) through the exercise of a specific (trade) skill that the character being coached does not have – hopefully a simple use. In these cases, the AV’s allowed are lower, the DV’s higher, and the amount of time required to get through it commensurately longer.
In such a situation, the one actually performing the action by the skilled character’s direction will incur what is known as a “non-proficiency” penalty, under which the chances of success of the character being coached are significantly reduced.
Under this penalty, the att. mod(s) of the applicable score(s) of character being coached for the skill being attempted are taken as the base AV.
To this, a bonus of (1 per 4 SL’s) of the coach’s skill is allowed, to a maximum of (coach’s AWA or CHM att. mod.), whichever is less.
IF the coach is also a Magister, the bonus allowed is (1 per 4 skill SL’s) OR the Magister’s trade SL, instead, whichever is less.
With this AV, the percentage chance of success is determined normally, as described above, BUT the percentage indicated is cut in half.
IF the skill attempted or the application of it is rudimentary in nature (GM’s discretion), the GM might be a little more lenient with the percentage chance. In the case of specific and especially highly technical skills (picking locks, disarming or disabling traps, etc.) no such lenience should be shown.
If the character that has been coached succeeds and is actively pursuing the learning of the skill so used, a SP should be awarded which can be used towards the AV for the check to learn the skill and add it to the character’s portfolio when the time comes.
The only problem with resorting to this practice is the temptation to violate one’s oath in revealing trade secrets. In the medieval fantasy gameworld, the GM well stipulate that the oath to master on apprenticeship and to the guild on being granted entry are important enough for the master and the guild to spend the money to make them magickally binding, justifying the price charged to admit one to an apprenticeship, especially when registered in a town or lord’s court, and the even higher price charged on being admitted to the freedom of the craft and its guild.
The character so bound by his oath will have to overcome it before he could violate it to coach another not of the trade in the manner described, even if he stands in danger of death. This is a contested roll as described previously under task resolution. His colleagues would rather one of their number carried the secrets of the trade to the grave before he divulged them to any not of their brotherhood.
Alternately, between two characters who share knowledge of the same skill, the one with the greater SL can always coach the one with the lower SL through the application of the skill. The one with the greater SL may not be in any condition to exercise the skill himself, but he can at least share his expertise for his colleague’s benefit and that of the whole party (as applicable). This will give the one actually exercising the skill a bonus towards his AV equal to (1 per 4 SL’s of the difference in their SL’s), OR the coaching character’s CHM att. mod., whichever is less.
The simple roll to determine success or failure is NOT the only matter to be considered when a character is exercising a skill or ability or performing some other action, especially various physical actions, but including casting magicks, as well. Nearly anything the players can come up with for their characters to do will take some amount of gametime to complete.
The use of any skill or ability will always take a certain amount of time in the gameworld to complete. It takes longer to pick a lock that is does to say “I’m picking the lock” and then rolling the dice. Some actions are short and swift, meshing easily and well with the finer scale of time observed in battle, but others will require longer periods and more careful observance, especially when they are brought into the arena of combat, like the casting of Common Magick (spells) and High Magick (cantrips), and others like Foraging, circulating to pick up rumors, any of the various handicrafts represented by the Craftsman trades, the length of time to heal a wound, and so on may take hours or days or even weeks to complete. The time required to perform magickal feats is referred to as “Casting Time” or CTM, and is discussed in detail in the Grimoire, while those for the crafts are discussed in the GM’s notes for the Craftsman trades. Wherever possible, the time required to complete an action is discussed towards the end of every description of all the skills and abilities described in the pages of the RoM rules. In those situations where the GM believes some time should be required to implement an action or skill and none is provided in the applicable text he is on his own to formulate one, however. For this purpose, the GM can always use the time requirements that are provided throughout the text as his benchmarks for establishing new ones, and he should be sure to write down the particulars and the application in his own GHB for the sake of consistency of play in his game.
A character should be assumed to have immediately begun to attempt to successfully execute his stated action as soon as the declaration of intent is made. Counting the time towards fulfilling the period required to complete the action in question should begin at that point, unless the player immediately (or shortly thereafter) retracts or amends the statement in such a manner that the time requirement is affected (GM’s discretion).
While it certainly isn’t necessary, practical or even desirable to sit around and wait out the time required to complete the exercise of any skill or ability in Real Time, it must be understood that the time will already have passed in the gameworld once the dice have been rolled. The actual amount of gametime needed varies from character to character according to their talents (attribute scores) and expertise (SL). Generally speaking, the base amount of time required to exercise a skill is determined by the DV.
The toughest aspect to judge in formulating time requirements is the size of the increments of time in which that DV is to be counted. The manner in which the DV is to be interpreted for this purpose can often be found in the GM’s notes for the applicable skill description, but it will at times be completely up to the GM’s discretion, in accordance with his perception of the task and the character’s capability, especially when skill use gets mixed in with roleplay and the logistics and adventuring phase of play. The CTM’s for Low Magick (rituals) are a good example of the sort of skill that is commonly woven into the on-going roleplaying of the story. The time requirements described in the GM’s notes for the Craftsman trades provide a good example of the variety on time scales that can be involved, also. Some skills are harder to judge than others, though, and the smaller skills that can conceivably be exercised in tactical play require more exact measures in order to mesh with the flow of character actions and movement from Pulse to Pulse and CS to CS.
From the base described by the DV, the character’s AV should have a direct influence on the amount of time that particular character will require. Generally speaking, the unit of time being subtracted is always smaller in magnitude than the unit of time in which the DV has been counted to determine the base time requirement. In the case of healing wounds, for example, the base time required to heal a point of damage is counted in weeks, but from this the skills of the healer tending to him and the CND of the patient are subtracted in days. If the base amount of time is counted in days, then offices (3-hour increments) or hours should be subtracted, if counted in hours, then mileways should be subtracted, if in minutes, then CS’s should be subtracted.
A lock’s complexity-rating or Potence (POT) will determine how long it will take to pick in CS’s, minus the AV of the Knave picking it. Assuming a lock with a Potence of 40 and a Knave with a CRD of 18 (+5 att. mod.) and a SL of 20 (AV of 25), instead of taking 40 CS’s, or 6 minutes and 4 CS’s, this particular Knave can get through it in 15 CS’s, or 2 minutes and 3 CS’s. Traps are best handled in the same units of time.
Coercion, negotiation, seduction, and others of the Presence skills are difficult, BUT the GM can start with the target’s HRT score. This provides a sound and easy basis from which to subtract the AV of the character plying his Presence. Since this is accomplished in roleplay through conversation, minutes seems to be the most likely time frame for the time required for each d100 check for success.
For healing, the total number of points of damage supply the DV, and the wounded character’s (CND att. mod. + attending Physicker SL) subtracted, and the result read in days, but that is the amount of time to heal one point of damage in as many BP areas as are wounded. A new total is then calculated minus the damage that has healed and we go through the whole process again, each time the time required to heal grows shorter.
Where the d100 roll for success with a given skill has been failed and the PC wishes to try again, it must be remembered that the DV rises with each failure, and that the time required to exercise the skill or ability will need to be calculated again with the higher DV for each attempt whether successful or failed, for the time will have to be put into the attempt every time it is assayed until the character succeeds or gives up.
|For example, in the case of lock being picked above, barring any other relevant modifiers, the AV of 25 and the DV of 40 yield a 35% chance of success, and the initial attempt will take 2 minutes and 3 CS’s. If that original attempt is failed, the DV to try again goes up to 41, the % chance of success goes down to 34%, and 2 minutes and 4CS’s are required for another attempt.Failing the second attempt, the DV goes up to 44 and the percent chance will fall to 31% and another 3 minutes and 1 CS would be required to try again. Failing the third attempt, the DV will go up to 50 and the percent chance falls to 25%, and 4 minutes and 2 CS’s are required to try again, and so on – if the GM allows and the character in question has sufficient LoA to do so (as applicable).|
The specifics of the time a project or exercise of skill, craft or trade that takes any appreciable length of time should be marked on the combat record sheet or the game calendar (as appropriate), and the end point when it is to be finished as well, BUT this knowledge is never shared with the player. A character only ever has a rough idea of how long it takes him to complete an exercise of his craft or trade, “quick as a flick of a lamb’s tail”; “ten beats o’ yer lover’s heart”; “a mileway”, “noonish”; “the better part of the day”; “a few days”; “a fortnight”; “a few weeks”; “a couple months”; “a season”; “the better part of a year”, and so on. Unless the character can see the future and know exactly when it is occurring (unlikely at best) he cannot state the exact day and time he finishes his work, although he can promise the work is completed for certain by a given date (the worst-case scenario, the craftsman gives the maximum time that the project could take, based on the DV). The amount of time the base DV requires can always be revealed, but the GM should NOT reveal the amount by which the character’s AV or other factors increase or decrease that time.
In the above example of picking the lock, the player should have NO idea what the complexity or POT of the lock is which provides the DV, except perhaps in general by Degree of Difficulty if he takes a moment to assess it or as he gets into the act of picking it. In the same vein, the character should have NO idea how long picking the lock takes, other than a vague “moment or two … unless it gives us some trouble”. That time grows longer and gets compounded the more tries he requires, should the initial attempt fail.
If the enemy is spotted heading toward them while the party waits on the picking of a lock, it comes down to a matter of the rate of speed of the enemy vs. the character’s speed picking the lock, no doubt tracked in tactical time. The GM can describe the approach of the enemy, the half-way mark, the one-quarter mark as they close the distance and the point at which they arrive, until the time required for picking the lock barring their escape is fulfilled and the d100 check for success is called for. This can be VERY suspenseful, an excruciating delight for the players, whose characters might find themselves protecting the Locksmith (Knave) for a couple CS’s while he finishes with the lock so they can make their get-away.