Difficulty Class

Difficulty Class (or DC, for short), represents the difficulty of a check, a saving throw or any other basic roll.

To be successful at the proposed action, your roll must be equal to or exceed the DC set by the GM based on how hard the task or challenge is.

Attack rolls and contests don’t have a DC: instead the target number is the Defense and the check result of your opponent, respectively.

DC Guidelines & Examples

The following examples are based on the assumption that a singe roll is made, and describe the likelihood of being successful on the first attempt.

Given enough time and the right conditions, even an average person can succeed at a hard task.

Trivial (DC 7): In normal circumstances, a DC of 7 or lower represents a task that is so easy that it is not worth a check. You can almost always succeed automatically on a trivial task.

Easy (DC 10): An easy task requires a minimum level of competence to accomplish. Examples include treading water in rough conditions, climbing a tree with plenty of low branches or a cliff with plenty of handholds, walking across an icy floor, breaking open a stuck wooden door, trying to communicate a simple idea to someone that doesn’t share your language, or picking a cheap lock.

Moderate (DC 13): A moderate task requires a slightly higher level of competence to accomplish.
Climbing a rough wall, identifying an uncommon creature, and trying to befriend someone who doesn’t like you are all examples of moderately difficult tasks.

Hard (DC 16): Hard tasks include any effort that is beyond the capabilities of most people without aid or exceptional ability. Such tasks include battering down a heavy wooden door that is locked, swimming in stormy waters, ascending a sheer surface with scant handholds, balancing on a very narrow ledge, or picking a typical lock.

Very Hard (DC 19): Only very talented individuals need even try their hand at very hard tasks. Examples include identifying especially rare creatures, recalling esoteric information known only to a few, physically powering out of manacles, or picking a high quality lock.

Formidable (DC 22): Only the most highly trained, experienced, and talented individuals have a chance at success at a formidable task, and even then they probably need proper equipment. Examples include bashing open a heavy iron door that is locked or barred, climbing an oiled rope, identifying unique creatures, recalling esoteric information known to no one else alive, or disarming a very dangerous trap.

Nearly Impossible (DC 25): Tasks of this difficulty are so challenging that only creatures above human limitations can succeed without assistance.

Impossible: Some tasks don’t have a DC because they are impossible to perform. Climbing a perfectly flat and smooth surface, swimming up a waterfall or hiding in plain sight are some examples. However, some circumstances or special abilities may make the impossible possible.

Changing the DC

Sometimes a task may have a clearly defined DC, but there are factors that make it easier or more difficult. Unless the circumstance affects the performance of the person attempting the task, the GM should adjust the DC accordingly.

Although the GM can change the DC by whichever amount seems suitable, the fastest approach is to do one of the following:

  • For each condition that makes the task more difficult to accomplish, raise the difficulty by one category (from Trivial to Easy, Easy to Moderate, Moderate to Hard, etc.).
  • For each condition that makes the task easier to accomplish, lower the difficulty by one category (from Formidable to Very Hard, Very Hard to Hard, Hard to Moderate, etc.).

This is the same as adding or subtracting 3 to the base DC. You should raise and lower the DC how many times necessary to represent the conditions affecting the check.

Examples: battering down a locked heavy wooden door is Hard (DC 16). If the wood is in bad condition, however, it becomes a Moderate task (DC 13). Climbing a rough wall is a Moderate (DC 13) task, but if the wall surface is wet, it becomes Hard (DC 16).

A Nearly Impossible task that is increased by one category becomes Impossible. The reverse is also true.

Modifiers Advantage and Disadvantage
Basic Rules Abilities

Difficulty Class

The Wasteland TheDungeoneer TheDungeoneer