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The Core Rulebook page 151 (Activation) implies that the bolt power can miss:

A character activates a power by picking a target within Range and making an arcane skill roll. A roll less than 4 means the power doesn't activate.

A roll of 4 or higher means the power activates and consumes all the Power Points allocated to it, even if it misses the target (such as with bolt), or the defender resists.

So, you make an arcane skill roll, but the power (bolt specifically) can still miss even after the roll scores a hit. How can that be?

Let's see the bolt power description:

Bolt sends damaging bursts of energy, streaks of holy light, or shards of matter toward one’s foes.
There are no Range penalties, but the arcane skill roll is affected by Cover, Illumination, and all other usual penalties.
The damage of the bolt is 2d6, or 3d6 with a raise.

The power description does not say something like "roll Shooting to make a ranged attack", so you aren't supposed to make another roll. Instead, the arcane skill roll seems to be the very roll the caster makes for the ranged attack. So, if the arcane skill roll was successful, how can this attack miss?

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Attack Penalties

The arcane skill roll is both the activation roll (TN 4) and the attack roll. Penalties that affect the casting, and can prevent the power from activating, are Wounds, Fatigue, and other penalties that apply to any power.

Penalties to arcane ranged attacks (Cover, Illumination, Arcane Resistance, arcane protection, etc.) still apply to determine if you hit the target, and if the trappings allow casting against adjacent targets you still have to hit the Parry of adjacent targets.

As the bolt power notes (emphasis added):

There are no Range penalties, but the arcane skill roll is affected by Cover, Illumination, and all other usual penalties.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ So one skill roll, but it’s modified separately as a casting roll and as an attack roll? That’s kinda weird. Is that explicitly described anywhere? Because that’s a very non-Savage alteration to the core mechanic. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Nov 7 at 1:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie It's a single roll that does two tasks. One task is to activate the magic, the other task is to affect the target. That's how all powers work in Savage Worlds. That's been true for every edition of the rules. \$\endgroup\$ – ValhallaGH Nov 7 at 2:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, that part isn’t strange. The part about using the dice results twice with different modifiers is unusual though. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Nov 7 at 3:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ If the roll isn't modified twice, how can it both hit and miss? @AlienAtSystem "A roll of 4 or above that is a failure means the power activated (using its points) but doesn't affect its targets" — how can a ranged attack roll be a failure when it hits 4? \$\endgroup\$ – enkryptor Nov 7 at 10:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AlienAtSystem this example is definitely "using the dice results twice with different modifiers", as SevenSidedDie said. It also assumes 1-3 result is better than 4-5 (since you don't waste power points), which is super weird. I can't believe this is actually how the rules are intended to work. \$\endgroup\$ – enkryptor Nov 7 at 11:54

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