When a protagonist fails an action (because he got fewer successes than the GM did), at the very least his goals get turned on their ear, while the opposition’s goals get advanced. But failure has some additional teeth to it that we can explain to you now that we’ve covered the dice basics.
In game terms, failure means the GM may inflict a consequence on the protagonist if she sees fit (leniency is an option, and should be exercised on occasion, but is by no means mandated).
A consequence takes one of two forms:
- Increase the protagonist’s fixation score by 1.
- Check off a box of twilight.
These consequences can cause the protagonist to be discovered (if fixation is increased beyond six) or go insane (if no twilight boxes are checkable). They also occur in addition to whatever effects arise from fixation, curse, or stress dominating. But the GM has one restriction on what she can do: she can’t cause the same effect to occur on the same action.
This means that if a protagonist fails and fixation dominates, the GM can’t inflict a consequence that increases fixation by one, because fixation’s dominance has already caused that effect. Similarly, if a protagonist fails and curse dominates, the GM can’t check off a second twilight box as her chosen consequence. She can, however, cause fixation to increase by one on a curse-dominant failure, or check off a twilight box on an fixation-dominant failure.