Mage - The Ascension - 20th Anniversary Edition, main book, page 393:

Game-wise, every 1 you roll takes away one success from your roll. Think of this as “the rule of one.” If your 1s cancel out your successes, you fail; roll three successes, roll three 1s, and you’re left right where you were before.

Does this rule apply to damage and soak rolls?

I haven't found any exceptions to the rule in the book, but some of my players seem to remember there is one. While searching about it on the internet there seems to be a lot of opinions about this, but no hard quotes from handbooks.

Is it just a common house-rule, or is it actually printed in a handbook?

I'm interested in Mage The Ascension 20th Anniversary Edition rules, but it could be a rule from another game (vampire, werewolf, ...) or edition (revised, second, ...) that my players are misremembering.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Hmm, I remember sime games where 1s didn't apply to Stamina rolls. The justification was that it's basically the only roll that's 5 dice max (normally), others are usually combining two things (most commonly attribute + skill) and it's a bit unfair to make it lose successes, especially when literal lives are on the line there. However, now that you mention it, I don't think there was a rule in a book for this. I'll double check. Mage Revised does say that soak rolls don't botch which tracks - it'd be horrible if players were to suffer even more damage than normal. \$\endgroup\$
    – VLAZ
    Commented Dec 15, 2021 at 22:02

1 Answer 1


I have also played games where we ignore 1s on Damage and Soak. But rules as written, this should not be as it.

Depending on the edition that you read, the text changes a little bit, but on most of them (I say most, because I have not read all the core books), you can find the rules of doing damage and soaking damage on step 3 of combat, called Resolution. Usually they are in the Rules and/or Drama chapter. The rules for damage and soak are special in that they cannot botch. A Botch is considered a Fail (as in 0 success rolled). In, for example, Mage Revised Edition (what we call 3rd edition) you have an example of soaking damage (page 238) where they roll a 1 and it does cancel one success. Examples varies across books, so not all of them will include either the actual throw (like in Mage 20th Anniversary) or not include a 1 to check this rule (like in most of Werewolf books). But Vampire Revised Edition (also 3rd), also also includes a 1 canceling out a success on a soak throw (on page 209).

Unless there are other books that cover combat (I believe there is one called WoD: Combat, that covers a lot of situations and additional rules... alas! I do not own it), or give optional rules that I don't recall (WoD does have a lot of books after all, and I haven't read them all, so... ), my best guess is that the rule "You cannot Botch" was slowly adapted by the community to mean "1s do not cancel sucess".

There are also different specific rules on different books and editions. For example, close combat success adds to damage (from revised onward) or your specialization can never allow you to reroll 10s on Damage and Soak, but none of the ones I have read (mainly Vampire/Werewolf/Mage 2nd, 3rd and 20th editions) include the rule to ignore 1s on Damage and or Soak.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I do have the WoD Combat book and just checked it to be sure. There are no real clarification for combat rules. It consists of enhancements to make fighting more dynamic, like introducing more combat moves (e.g., choke holds and spinning kicks) and various other ways to handle combat to not just be "roll dice for damage" but perhaps to keep somebody away or close by. There is almost nothing about soaking other than a quick example of using different moves in combat (and rolling soak after the damage). \$\endgroup\$
    – VLAZ
    Commented Dec 16, 2021 at 11:55

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .