Wushu the Black Belt Edition has this phrase in the Playing the Game chapter (emphasis mine):

Scoring Hits

Compare the result of each die roll to your character’s most relevant Trait, discarding any dice that roll over that number. (If you don’t have a relevant Trait, the default is 2.) The remaining dice are your hits.

If there's no opposition, you only need one hit to secure victory.

The next paragraph is all about Treats, Mooks and Nemeses. It seems the rules silently ignore this "no opposition" case. So what's happend if there's no opposition, but no hits were scored?

Should coup de grace be narrated against the heroes? Or, quite the opposite, they can try again and repeat the roll without any risks? Or something in-between?


1 Answer 1


Painful, Agonizing Failure

The result is not only a failure, but an significant one. The Director called for a roll: this means that something in the world is about to change. On a failure, the situation has certainly changed, and the players must deal with that change.

A roll is either a success, or it's not. If not, it's a failure. The onus is on the Director to make failure matter, viz. painful and agonizing.

What are the Consequences of Mundane Failure?

This is a problem that's found in most TTRPGs (why can't D&D adventurers just re-pick the lock? and so on), but since Wushu is so heavily narrative, there is more reason for the Director to introduce a meaningful consequence of failure, to keep the game moving: the players can't just try the same thing again, because the situation has changed.

This doesn't mean you should punish them for failure, necessarily. You may even reward them by "failing forward":

Director: You try to sneak over the guard but fall onto him instead; he's knocked out, but you lose a point of Chi goring your hand on his spear. Also, you can hear the other guard on duty clanking down the hall to investigate. Get ready for a fight!

"Nothing happens" is an acceptable outcome in some situations, as well - it's just boring. When you want the players to feel bored (e.g., to make them change tack), it's a fine tool to use.

What are the Consequences of Crucial Failure?

I find it easier to reason via example, so let's think of a situation with a roll that is both crucial to the story, and unopposed. I think that the below exchange typifies how an unopposed roll could easily change the dynamic of a story-critical situation.

Director: Your party approaches the Council of Elder Warmasters hoping to make your plea. The Sage Blade King stands before you, ready to accept the ceremonial first blow in the Scholar's Duel of Greeting. He is not resisting, but the force of your slap, and the witticism with which it is delivered, will irreversibly color the impression you make on the Council.

Player: Uh... [5 details later] Then I finish off with, "Eat this, nerd!" [rolls 0/5] Oh no.

Director: The Sage King hasn't moved a muscle, and yet somehow your punch has gone wide. A fold in his cloak perhaps deceived you. Your faces are now much nearer to each other, and your eyes meet. In his gaze, you detect the unmistakable glint of pity. The Council is not impressed.


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