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Difficulty Ratings, not too difficult actually, are penalties imposed by the GM or other factors that make certain actions more difficult to achieve success in. Let's say Jenn has been leaping over some gaps: a five-foot gap to start with. The GM has, up to this point, decided that such a leap isn't too difficult, and so has not imposed any difficulty ratings. Let's say that she keeps running and gets to a bigger, eight-foot gap. The GM decides that this isn't impossible, but it's definitely a little tougher than five feet, so he imposes a Poor difficulty rating. If it had been ten feet, he might have imposed a Fair difficulty rating. If it was 12 feet, maybe a Good difficulty rating. For fifteen feet, he might decide this is nearly impossible without outside assistance and imposes an Excellent difficulty rating.

For the time being, we'll focus on this 8 foot gap with its Poor difficulty rating. When Jenn attempts to make this roll, she rolls as normal. However, when her success rate is discovered, the GM subtracts ranks of success from her roll based on the difficulty rating, as shown on the following table:

Difficulty Rating Rank Penalties
If Your Difficulty Rating Is... The Penalty in Ranks to your Final Roll Will Be...
Poor -1
Fair -2
Good -3
Excellent -4

And so on. Thus, in the event of an Exceptional Success of +7 being used as a Difficulty Rating, the penalty would be -7.