This post will discuss the three key controlling factors of the game's dice rules. Each named for the concept of creating a fabric, or tapestry of a story or plot. They help to decide the luck factor in fate, instead of leaving the judgement entirely up to the Dreamweaver.
The first number describes the process or skill in weaving threads. The number represents knowledge, experience, innate ability and influence from other parties on a character's capability. This number is determined by a character's stat, and the skill rank associated with the task they are trying to complete, plus a possible bonus from a Dreamcatcher, or Contract. Weaving is generally static for each skill, only rarely featuring temporary modifiers. The player may determine this number on their player sheet while not in play, giving them opportunity to not need to do math on the fly.
What weaving does is determine how many D10s are thrown when attempting the task, and the skill associated controls that weaving. Skills are designed to be flexible and accommodate the creativity of players, and at the same time it is highly discouraged for players to just use a skill mechanically. The actions should be decided based on the story, and the appropriate skill chosen. However, the skill list is descriptive, covering exact mechanics for many different ways of using the skill to give guidelines to both players and Dreamweavers on how to interpret the actions for each skill.
Weaving is the most static of each of the three base mechanics, and is the one character creation and the player has the most control of. The numbers may range from as low as 1 to as high as 15, meaning quite a few dice may be thrown during skill use.
The fraying number represents the number at which consequences may become part of an action. Any dice that rolls that matches the Fraying number or is lower than it counts as a fray in a roll. Frays can be problematic to any weave, but a skilled weaver can fix them without leaving permanent damage, though the few that do stick become a permanent part of the fabric.
All actions baseline start off with a Fraying of 2, though some traits may lower Fraying, and many flaws raise it. Umbral Effects, nasty environments of the penumbra often raise fraying or react directly frays that occur within them. Fraying is significantly more reactive than Weaving, altering throughout the course of an adventure for even the same skill.
Frays themselves don't determine success or failure of a weave, rather they are nasty side effects that carry on if not properly dealt with. Any dice that is not a fray, may be used to cancel a fray, so a character has control over eliminating them. The risk of a fray being part of a completed action is much lower under normal conditions, and far higher in nightmarish places and places of high stress.
When an action completes with a fray, a frayed condition may be placed on the character, or other unintended consequences of the action may happen. This is to say, someone may still strike with a weapon, but break their bone in the process of doing so. An unintended consequence while still succeeding at the primary action, as the two concepts are independent. Sometimes it might be better to fail an action outright than suffer a more lasting condition.
Below is an example of a more complex Frayed Condition, as currently described in the book. Not all frayed conditions are progressive or increasing, but many are problematic and hard to ignore, and they are not simple to remove.
Corruption -It might be slow, or it might be fast, but something is corrupting deep into the character’s psyche, affecting their moral decisions and perhaps even their physical shape. Long term exposure is more progressively effective and becomes more difficult to remove as the character begins to desire its effect. For each long rest with this effect in place, it requires an increasing number of successes to remove the effect. Story-wise it should suppress the character’s conscience if they have one, and push them away from the party’s intent. Mechanically, it adds a Stitch to checks to complete tasks that the party is trying to succeed at. For each long rest it adds +1 to the Stitch, up to +5, after which the corruption has fully taken effect and cannot be removed, and the character no longer wishes to work with the party, and may even become an antagonist.
The stitch represents the difficulty in completing a stitch on the fabric, and determines success and failure. The number is determined by the Dreamweaver, with guidance from the rulebook for suggestions on determining it. The number ranges from 6 to 10, though it may even go higher in the form of 10x2, 10x3 and so on. What the number means is each dice that hits that number or above counts as a success. 10x2 means the first success requires 2 10s in order to count, while 10x3 requires three 10s.
Weaving increases the likelihood of rolling a number that counts. Unlike some similar systems, frays do not negate successes on their own, though successes may be spend in order to eliminate frays just like any other, so there may be times where a player voluntarily chooses to fail rather than suffer nasty consequences. This is one core element to player decision making, a simple strategy that they may decide when they roll.
In the end, the stitch number is the Dreamweaver's primary input to the outcome of a roll. Their end of the bargain in determining the fate of a character. Each completed stitch adds up to tell the story of an encounter, and guide the storytelling and descriptions of what happens. Both players and the Dreamweaver are highly encouraged to use these numbers to reinforce how they describe each challenge and the conclusion to the action.