The Ladder

The Ladder is a table of difficulty numbers and descriptions of those difficulty levels. Each different game of SGS might have a different Ladder, because they're generated from several other factors in the setup of the game. Read more about actually generating a ladder for a new game here.

A ladder serves two purposes:

  1. It gives the GM an idea of what appropriate difficulty numbers are for tasks based on how hard they feel the task should be.
  2. It gives the GM something to compare Quality and Time-based skill check outcomes against.

Ladder Structure & Columns

The Ladder table is a compressed version of 3 separate tables that cover Success-based outcomes, Quality-based outcomes, and Time-based outcomes. If separated, there would be three tables with two columns each:

  • Success-based: DN & Difficulty
  • Quality-based: Margin & Quality
  • Time-based: Margin & Time

Instead of having 3 separate tables, we compress them down into 5 columns on the same table. This saves us some space and reduces the number of tables we'd need to show. It's important to remember though that the DN and Difficulty columns don't directly relate to the Margin, Quality, and Time columns.

An Example Ladder

DN Difficulty Margin Quality Time
0 Trivial -15 Terrible 10x
5 Easy -10 Awful 4x
10 Moderate -5 Bad 2x
15 Tough 0 Tie 1x
20 Challenging +5 Good 1/2
25 Extreme +10 Great 1/4
30 Impossible +15 Amazing 1/10

Using the Ladder

When using a ladder for Success-based rolls, pick a Difficulty from the second column and find the appropriate DN in the first column.

When using a ladder for Quality-based rolls, pick a DN as above, then have the target make their roll. Subtract the DN from the roll. This is the Margin. Find the number in column 3 the margin is closest to. Find the matching quality in column 4 and use that for your narration.

For Time-based rolls, pick a DN as above, then have the target make their roll. Subtract the DN from the roll. This is the Margin. Find the matching time multipler in column 5 and adjust your narration to describe the action as taking that much more or less time than usual.

Use Moderate as your default DN. Memorize the number for that, and the Good and Bad margins, and you'll be able to roughly guestimate DNs, Quality & Time outcomes on the fly without looking at the ladder all the time.


To help illustrate this process, here are some examples.

Success Outcome

Flaris is attempting to sneak past a security system. The GM decides that the security system is pretty darn good, and sets the DN at 20, or challenging. Flaris rolls 1d20+5+2 and gets a 17 for a total of 24, slipping past unnoticed.

Quality Outcome

Drannoc is searching for evidence of the murderers who killed his whole cadre in The War. The old castle is abandoned, but the killers may have covered their tracks. The GM decides that the DN is Tough, or 15, and has Drannoc roll his Investigate. He gets a total of 17, scoring only a Tie. The GM decides that this is enough to let him know that someone was here, but it might not have been his target.

Time Outcome

Lambdafortis is trying to work her greatspell before the godslayers break through the world barrier. The GM sets the task at Extreme, or DN 25, and says it'll take about an hour. The GM has her roll Arcana with her Worldstaff item, getting a total of 37. She's made it just over 2 steps from the DN, getting her 1/4 the time, or about 15 minutes.