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Turn Time

In the Atomic RPG System Turn Time is used when Skill Checks are being made and countered. This doesn't mean that roleplaying a character is ignored, it is just a bit more structured then Battle Time. This is not combat, but instead non-combat encounters where the success or failure of the PC or the party must be resolved through using Skills and opposing die rolls.

Turn Time is an important transition time between Real Time role playing and story development and Battle Time fighting enemies. Turn Time is very important as it manages the transition between the two. Often it may even determine if you will be moving into one game time mode or the other.

Turn Time can be one of the more foreign concepts to new gamers. However, it is important to understand what it is and why it is in the Atomic RPG System. 

Turn Time is the transition between story telling and battle. Or can be though of as the middle ground between the two different states of playing. 

It is very important as in Turn Time some rules are modified. Players cannot necessarily talk as much as they want or plot and scheme. Now is the time for action. Specifically using their skills to accomplish some goal. 

Turn Time is also specifically designed so that all players are involved. Even if not “skill focuses” all characters in the game must participate in a Turn Time Skill Challenge. This keeps everyone involved in the game which is more immersive and fun for everyone!

Game Master Job in Turn Time

The Game Master’s job during Turn Time is to first determine when Turn Time should be used. This is easily done because Turn Time should be used whenever the players need to take turns acting using their Skill to accomplish a goal. Then the Game Master establishes an order depending on the actions taken or Reaction rolls. Once that is done the Game Master then moves the game through Turn time by calling out each person in turn from highest Reaction to lowest.

Sometimes a Game Master will not even have non player characters to control during Turn Time. When this is the case the Game Master’s job will be to set the difficulty of the challenges the party faces.

Most Turn Time Encounters consist of 3-5 Rounds of Skill Checks. Each round 1 goal is chosen. The GM sets the difficulty of the round and what Skills can be used. The GM then tracks what the players roll. At the end of the Turn Time Encounter the GM counts up all success and failed rolls. If there are more successes, the party gets a bonus for the next encounter. If there are more failures, the party gets a penalty to the next encounter.

Examples of Turn Time Encounters

Here are some examples of Turn Time in the Atomic RPG System where order is needed in the game but no combat rolls are being made. 

Rules of Turn Time

Turn Time is a bit more structured than Real Time. This is to keep order and fairness in the Atomic game. This way each player and the Game Master will get equal opportunities to take actions.

In Turn Time Reactions will be established. Reaction is generally based off the character who acts first, not a die roll. So if one player starts the conversation, they are also first in the Reaction order. Should two players want to go at the same time have them roll Reaction checks against each other. The player with the higher roll will go first. If players are not set on an order then the Game Master can call for a Reaction roll from everyone and then place them in order from highest to lowest.

Turn Time can have the time scale of Real Time or that of Battle Time and anywhere in between. It’s impossible to say for sure as your Game Master will determine the pace when the game enters Turn Time.

If the player group is in negotiations with a non-player character then game time might move as fast as the actual time that passes. If the players are evading pirates that following them many hours might pass. If the players are making checks to climb a cliff then only a minute or two may pass.

Only non-damaging Powers can be used during Turn Time without changing to Battle Time. Powers that only modify skills, help, or heal allies can be used and still remain in Turn Time. The Game Master should allow players to use Powers that lower opponents Skills. But there is a chance that the action will provoke the opponents to attack. Any use of a Power does that does Damage instantly changes the game mode to Battle Time.

Setting the Difficulty of Checks


Minor Challenge
+5 Difficulty


Moderate Challenge
+15 Difficulty


Superior Challenge
+25 Difficulty

Skill Difficulty Numbers are Automatically Calculated in all Online Tools

Example: Medium Turn Time Challenge Round Skill Difficulty for a Level 9 Character is 9 + 3 + 15 = 27.

Use the Skill Check page to set specific Skill difficulties. Or use the below table to set general Skill difficulties. The formula used is Level + Character Tier + Challenge.

However, feel free to click below to see the Skill Difficulty Chart.

Level Minor (5) Major (15) Superior (25)
1 7 17 27
2 8 18 28
3 9 19 29
4 10 20 30
5 12 22 32
6 13 23 33
7 14 24 34
8 15 25 35
9 17 27 37
10 18 28 38
11 19 29 39
12 20 30 40
13 22 32 42
14 23 33 43
15 24 34 44
16 25 35 45
17 27 37 47
18 28 38 48
19 29 39 49
20 30 40 50

Player Character’s Turn

In every turn during Turn Time, each player character and non-player character will be able to have the following actions on their turn; take an Action, Assist Another, Move, and Speak.

What a player character can do in Turn Time is restricted. Events happen quickly but everyone wants to get their turn in, so it is important to keep strict order in Atomic Turn Time to keep the game flowing.

Take an Action

Such As:
Use a Skill
Attack Someone
Heal Someone
Use a Power
Each player will be able to use 1 Action per turn, so make it count!

Some things the player can do are not considered an Action and may be able to do more then once, such as talking.


A character is able to move their Speed once during Turn Time.
The Game Master may allow further movement depending on the situation. It may even be permissible to move freely during Turn Time. It all depends on the specifics of the Situation.

All movement within Turn Time is considered travel. It may be moving from one side of the store to the other or it may be that you travel for a whole day during one turn in Turn Time. It will all depend on the situation and what you are doing during Turn Time.

The Game Master should dictate the scale of the encounter when it begins.


The character can talk semi freely in Turn Time
A player character has the chance to talk during their turn though it is somewhat limited. This should be limited to around 200 words or two minutes of talking time.

Player Cooperation - Aid Another

Multiple characters can work together to figure something out. This is called Aiding Another.

To successfully Aid Another character the character helping must make the same check the as the one rolling the Skill Check. If they succeed then the player rolling the Skill Check can add their Character Tier to their roll.

However, if the character helping fails in the check, the player will get a penalty to the roll of their Character Tier. Only one player may Aid another at a time. 

Don’t Forget to Roleplay Characters

Even though Turn Time is designed to let characters take turns using Skills to overcome challenges that doesn’t mean that roleplaying a character should be left out.

In fact roleplay during Turn Time can really help your party make decisions. It helps each player know what the other characters are thinking. It can make a huge difference in the outcome of Turn Time as well as make it a lot more fun!

Players should remember to remain in character. Act, speak, and otherwise be their characters while they are taking actions and using their Skills. This will only enhance and strengthen your Atomic RPG System group.

Success in Turn Time

Success in Turn Time can mean a great many things. The Game Master should reward the group if they succeed on the majority of their rolls. The easiest way to keep track of this is just by using tally marks for when successful Skill Checks are made.

Success should result in the player group getting what they were after. Whether the party was negotiating a trade deal or trying to outrun their enemies, the outcome should end up in the player characters favor.

If the party more successful rolls for the Turn Time Encounter they win the goal of the Turn Time Encounter but also should get a GM Bonus to the next Encounter. The GM should give out one relevant bonus to the next Encounter such as:

Defeat in Turn Time

Defeat in Turn Time can mean a great many things but the Game Master should punish the group if they fail on the majority of their rolls. The easiest way to keep track of this is just by using tally marks for when a player fails a Skill Checks.

Defeat should mean and result in the player group not getting what they were after. Whether the party was negotiating a trade deal or trying to outrun their enemies, the outcome should not favor the player characters. Defeat does not, and often will not mean, a total failure in succeeding. Perhaps they get the trade deal, but at a worse value. Maybe they do outrun their enemies, but will duffer a –Character Tier to their Defenses next encounter because of the failure. This might mean:

There can be a very wide variety of Turn Time Encounters results. It all depends on the situation the party is in and what they are trying to accomplish. It is up to the Game Master to judge what would be most fair considering the character’s performance.

That is an overview of what Turn Time is and how it should be played. For a step by step example read the summary of Atomic game play.

It might be tempting to go from Real Time to Battle Time. However, Atomic RPG System games that end up doing this frequently miss out on a fun opportunity to explore both players and characters ability to handle a wide variety of situations.  It adds a depth to a game that is important to have in a well rounded game. Good Game Masters will try to get at least one Turn Time event into every Atomic RPG System game.

How to Create a Turn Time Encounter

Turn Time Encounters are a vital piece of any Atomic RPG System Game.

They bridge situations, drive the story forward, and most importantly make the group work as a team to accomplished a shared goal. 

Here is how to create a Turn Time Encounter for any situation.

Already Know the Steps? Skip right to the Generator

Steps to create a Turn Time Encounter

When creating a Turn Time Encounter think of the situations the party is coming from and where you want them to end up. These are important transitional situations that not only build the story and suspense. But also give the group a chance to get a bonus for the next Encounter.

What, Where, Why, Who, When

What's the story with the Encounter?
Where are they?
Where do you want them to be?
Do you need to set the stage for another Encounter?

These things will help you get an idea of what it should be all about. 

How long do you want this Encounter to Last?

Just about any scenario you think up can be handled quickly or take a lot of time.

How important is this Encounter to the overall story? The more important, the longer it should take.

Turn Time Encounters can be just a break in Battle Time Encounters to give buffs or they can be major drivers of the story.

What Skills will be Involved

Which Skills is the party really going to need to focus on? Or, is it possible to turn this Turn Time Encounter into something that uses most skills?

How difficult is each part of the Turn Time Challenge?

It's very important to use as many skills as possible, this helps to include more players.

Time to Build the Turn Time Encounter

The Atomic RPG Encounter Generator does a lot of the work for you. But to understand just how it works and how you want to add things to it we will go through creating the Turn Time manually. 

The 5 W's

What are the characters going to do in this Turn Time Encounter and why?

How long will this Encounter be?

This is a important part of the campaign, part of it’s central A storyline. They are dealing with the main villain as they try to smuggle important things out of the city. 

Skills the Party use and how difficult the Checks

As a long Encounter we can go through all the Skills. We really want the PC’s to get into this one so we want to detail out and describe in as much detail as we can the basic requirements listed below.

Round 1:
Case Building

Easy Check

Perception or Nature
Goal: The PC's must move around and case the building to find the holes in the security. They can us Perception to use their senses to locate things or a Nature to instead focus on the storm, rain, nighttime and other natural factors to cloak their approach.

Successful Checks: The PC finds places where the camera's miss.
Failed Check: No real path is found. They will just have to follow others lead.

Round 2:
Sneak Past Cameras

Easy Check

Athletics or Subterfuge
Goal: To sneak past the cameras to get into the building. Sneak with Subterfuge or Athletics.

Successful Checks: The PC get up to the building.
Failed Check: Motion may alert guards. Maybe it is recorded so they know who snuck in.

Round 3:
Break In

Moderate Check

Subterfuge or Athletics
Goal: The PC's need to get inside the building. They can either use Athletics to break in. Breaking the door or window or something. Or they can use Subterfuge to pick a lock or hack a keypad.

Successful Checks: The PC enter the building.
Failed Check: Make noise to alert guards. Maybe leave clues at the keypad as to their passing.

Round 4:
Sneak Through Building

East Check

Athletics or Subterfuge
Goal: Much like Round 2 the PCs need to sneak around the building. However, this time they are trying not to set off an alarm or alert the guards. Sneak with Subterfuge or Athletics.

Successful Checks: The PC is not detected.
Failed Check: The PC is detected. They are caught on camera or otherwise put the guards on alert.

Round 5:
Navigate Building

Moderate Check

Scholar or Religion
Goal: Navigating an unknown skyscraper in the dark during a storm is not easy. Use Scholar to determine the best route through learning about places like this. Or Religion to trust in luck and faith to lead.

Successful Checks: The PCs get to the out of the way corporate private offices.
Failed Check: Time is lost as the PC seems to get lost.

Round 6:
Get Into Office

Hard Check

Subterfuge or Crafting
Goal: The PC's need to get inside the office. It is a secured fortified office. A Scholar Check can grant them knowledge of design and security. Or a Subterfuge figure out how to get past the high tech security.

Successful Checks: The PC enter the bosses office.
Failed Check: Make noise that might alert guards. Maybe leave clues of their breaking in.

Round 7:
Hack Computer

Hard Check Check

Subterfuge or Religion
Goal: Need to access the computer to get information on the items. Subterfuge can be used to hack security. Religion can also be used to identify religious symbols in the office to figure out the password.

Successful Checks: The PCs get into the computer and recover information.
Failed Check: The PC leaves traces behind of who and what they were after.


Keep in mind that individually rolled successful or fail checks does not automatically fail or disrupt the Encounter. They are just moments in the overall Encounter which should help to roleplay out each small piece. The GM can also take notes to use later, like if the PC accidently leaves a clue behind.

Conclusion of the Turn Time Encounter


Succeeding in this case can mean several things.

First and foremost the PC's recover information on the items. They know where they are now.
If this was a huge success, meaning over 3/4ths of the checks where successful then maybe the PC's learn about new items they did not know about or other NPC's they should investigate.

With the Success the GM should also grant them bonuses. Knowing the next Encounter will be Battle Time. Let the PC's choose between these two:


Defeat in this case will mean several things

First and foremost the PC's recover information on the items. They know where they are now. No matter the outcome, they need this information to continue the campaign.
However, their failures along the way have alerted the guards and they are about to rush into the room. This not only forces them into a Battle Time Encounter to fight the bosses guards. It also means that the boss is alerted to their presence and is hurrying to escape with the items. The PCs may not be able to catch up and will have to track down the items again.

With the failure in story terms detailed above. The PCs are also penalized in the upcoming Battle Time Encounter as detailed below.

This is just one simple example of the nearly limitless possibilities that comes with Turn Time. Use it as a bridge, structured story teller, and a place that your players can shine. A strong and well though out and played Turn Time Encounter will likely add all kinds of interesting depth to the game. 

Running a Turn Time Encounter

In many Encounters the players will dictate the order in which they want to go. Their Reactions won’t really matter. However, there may be cases where the party is “surprised” and has to rely on Reactions. Maybe some local law enforcement spots them and they have to loose them through the city streets. 

Once you have the order, step through the players and have them roleplay and make the appropriate Skill Checks on their turn. In the majority of Skill Challenges it is unlikely that the GM has NPCs that are rolling or taking turns. The difficulties often represent the NPCs and how easy or hard it is to be successful in a task against them. This leaves the GM open to roleplay them when appropriate and not have to wait for their turn. 

As the players roll Skill Checks the GM should keep track of successes and failures. It’s easiest to just keep tallies of each or keep a score. With a success, they get a +1. With a failure a -1. 

Here are a couple rules to keep in mind as you are running a Turn Time Encounter

Whether the party is successful or not doesn’t mean that the Turn Time Encounter is wasted. It is always an important step in the game and one the GM should acknowledge and use. 

Had enough reading about Turn Time Encounters? Click the button below to start building your own now! Or search the database to see what has already been created.

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