Core Rules

The referee presents the world and the players interact with it. When something is in doubt, the player characters (PCs) must make saves.

Saving Throws

When attempting something that has a chance of failure, make a saving throw by rolling 1d20 under or equal to the PC’s relevant save ability.

A 1 is always a success. A 20 is always a failure.

Whenever there are two or more characters (whether PCs or NPCs) that may make a save, the one who is taking the most risk makes the save.

Saves are only made when there is a risk. Certain actions may automatically succeed or fail based on the fiction.

Impact (Advantages and Disadvantages)

Based on fictional positioning and approaches to a risky situation, PCs may have advantages and disadvantages applied to their saves. Rather than modifying the dice, determine the impact based on the fiction of the situation.

When risking something under advantageous circumstances, the consequence is subdued and the success is enhanced.

When risking something under disadvantageous circumstances, the consequence is worse than usual and the success is mixed.

Time

  • Rounds: The amount of time it takes to attack and move around in combat. ~6 rounds in a minute
  • Turns: The amount of time it takes to move through a few rooms or explore one in great detail. ~6 turns in an hour
  • Watches: The amount of time it takes to explore acres or travel leagues. ~6 watches in a day
  • Cycle: The amount of time it takes to do a project or two and get some rest and relaxation. ~6 cycles in a season

Range and Distance

  • Close: If you are within arm’s reach, you are close. If you are targeted by or if you attempt a melee attack, you are in melee.
  • Nearby: If you are paces away, you are nearby. You can call over to individuals in areas that are nearby. You can get there in a round and still do something.
  • Far: If you are a bowshot away, you are far. You can see the whites of someone’s eyes. You can get there in a round but you can’t do much else.
  • Out of range: Any farther, you are out of range. Maybe you can make out the shape of someone. You can’t get there in a round.

Attributes

Saving Throws

Saves can be reduced as low as 0 and increased as high as 18. Saves represent how a character performs actions under pressure and do not define the character’s physical or mental qualities.

  • Strength (STR): Power, endurance, physicality, might
  • Dexterity (DEX): Intuition, reflex, finesse, flow state
  • Control (CTRL): Concentration, mental resilience, expertise, presence

PCs and NPCs can suffer damage to their saving throw abilities. This damage is usually temporary and may be healed over time.

At zero STR, a PC is dead.

At zero DEX, a PC is paralyzed.

At zero CTRL, a PC is delirious.

Guard

Guard (GD) represents near misses, stunning blows, stamina depletion, scratches and bruises, and so on, while a PC is on guard and in combat. It is damage avoidance before damage deducts from STR.

GD is only used during combat since it represents a PC on guard against attacks. Direct damage bypasses GD.

A PC carrying a full burden is reduced to 0 GD.

Burden

Inventory is slot-based. Each PC has 12 slots to start with. Slots weigh between 2 and 10 pounds. Items without an encumbrance tag take up 1 slot.

Encumbrance Tags

  • Petty: Item takes up 0 slots. Carrying a massive amount of petty items may take up a full slot, per referee’s judgment.
  • Bulky: Item takes up 2 slots.
  • Bundle: 3 items to a slot. For example, “rations 3/3”.
  • Stack: 10 items to a slot. For example, “quiver of arrows 10/10”.

Unless they are magical, worn things like clothing, footwear, jewelry, and backpacks do not take up slots (though armor does) and may be considered petty. If a PC carries an additional set of clothing, that may take up a slot, however. Petty items may also be small things that could conceivably fit in someone’s pockets.

Currency

500 coins take up 1 slot in games with coins. For games with credits or notes, consider currency as petty (does not take up slots).

Gear Packs

In lieu of a specific item, a PC may carry a gear pack. Potential packs include:

  • burglary
  • climbing
  • disguise
  • scribing
  • alchemist
  • brewer
  • miner
  • mechanic
  • chemist

Most professions can have an associated gear pack. Gear packs take up 5 slots. When a PC wants to use an item from the pack, they declare what the item is and therefore has always been. The item replaces one of the gear pack’s burden slots.

A gear pack slot can also replace a bundle of items. For example, a smithing pack slot can be replaced by nails 10/10. Or a PC wants to have a crowbar. They replace their one burglary gear pack slot with one crowbar. Gear pack slots cannot solely be weapons. (That is, a crowbar could be used as a weapon but that is not its stated function).

One slot of a gear pack always costs 10 currency (or the maximum price for a common item). Gear packs are 50 currency.

Supply

Supply is a nebulous stack representing a quantity of consumable resources. It can only be used to replace consumable resources that you already have in a bundle or stack. For ease of use, 1/10 of a supply fills up a portion of a bundle or a stack 1-to-1. Supply always costs 10 of a currency, the maximum price of a common item. 1/10 of a supply costs 1 currency.

For example, if you have torches 2/3 and 1 supply, you can use 1/10 of the supply to add a torch. Afterwards you now have torches 3/3 and supply 9/10. You may then use another 1/10 supply to fill up arrows 9/10. You would then have supply 8/10 and arrows 10/10.

It cannot stand in for things you do not already have. For example, if you have no torches, you may not replenish torches by adding 1/10 supply.

Other Burdens

Burden slots can also be occupied by Wounds, Fatigue, Charge, Spellburn, radiation poisoning, or other permanent and semi-permanent things, depending on the setting.

Skills

PCs will have certain skills that do not have specific mechanical benefits, but are useful in the narrative. Backgrounds may imply skillsets and explicit skills may also be laid out.

Skill Tests

To perform a task, a PC must have skill, time, and tools. There may be situations where environmental factors or opportunity substitute for tools or skills.

If they have one or none, the attempt cannot be made. It automatically fails.

If they have two, they make a relevant save to succeed at the task. On a failure, the tool is damaged or additional time is lost if the PC is in a hurry and a new complication may be introduced.

If they have all three, they automatically succeed.

The impact of success or failure may also have nuance based on the skill level of the PC.

Always err on the side of fiction first and consider what the consequences of failure are and if they are even interesting enough to require rolling.

Yield

Whenever a task has a yield (harvesting, hunting, brewing, curing meat), use a dice chain to determine the amount.

The more skill, time, and tools the PC has to perform the task, the higher their yield.

Having none, the attempt is not possible.

Having one, the yield is always 1.

Having two, the yield is d4.

Having all three, the yield is d6.

Environmental circumstances and getting help can increment the yield die by 1 step up to a maximum of d12.

Knowledge Checks

Rather than using skill tests, rely on the fiction to determine whether a PC knows something.

If it is common knowledge, they just know it, unless there is a good reason they would not.

If it is specialized knowledge but related to their background or skills, they may know it.

If it is esoteric knowledge whether related to their background or skills or not, they must seek out an expert or do heavy research to learn more. Research may be considered a skill test.

Perception Checks

There are no perception checks. Consider whether in the fiction something can be perceived and must be interacted with.

  • What is easily perceived? The PCs see it unless there is a good reason they do not.
  • What is partially obscured or difficult to perceive? The PCs have vague impressions of it.
  • What is hidden? The PCs may only gain information if they interact with or investigate the person, place, or thing.

Social Checks

To gauge an NPC’s disposition to any party member, first establish a motivation for the NPC, something that should be determined by the fiction or established ahead of time. This may include protecting a secret, getting rich, or furthering their faction’s goal.

Roll 2d6 or depend on the fictional positioning to determine their disposition toward the party member in conversation.

2d6 Disposition
2 Hostile
3-5 Wary, suspicious, unfriendly
6-8 Curious, uncertain, uninterested
9-11 Friendly, kind, polite
12 Helpful

Positive interactions in role play, such as bribes, arguments, appeasements, or flattery (which need not be fully acted out) can increase or decrease the NPC’s disposition by a level. A CTRL save may be necessary to determine whether an approach has worked.

If an approach does not work, it can be assumed that it will not work on the NPC in order to avoid retreading the same approach.

Damage, Conditions, and Effects

Most conditions will be specific to a monster and the monster’s description should indicate what is to happen. Sometimes it is obvious, such as deafening, muting, or blinding.

For stunning and paralyzing effects, alternative rules follow:

  • Agony: A PC may choose to suffer 1d6 dmg in order to act normally that round, or remain stunned/paralyzed.
  • Enervation: A PC may choose to permanently reduce their maximum GD by 1 in order to act normally that round, or remain stunned/paralyzed.

Environmental Damage

Damage from an environmental effect is measured in d6 and bypasses GD, hitting a relevant ability.

Examples include:

  • Non-magical fire, 1d6 STR damage
  • On fire, 1d6 STR damage per round
  • Lava, instant death
  • Acid, 1d6 STR damage
  • Drowning, 1d6 STR damage
  • Freezing water, 0 GD, 1d6 STR damage
  • Non-magical lightning, 3d6 STR damage
  • Falling, 1d6 STR or DEX damage per story
  • Rocks falling, 3d6 STR or DEX damage
  • Poison, damage amount depends on the poison

Panic

A PC must make a CTRL save against panicking when

  • surrounded by enemies
  • in complete darkness, unable to see
  • facing one of their greatest fear
  • suffering damage to CTRL

When panicking, a PC has 0 GD and all of their attacks are impaired.

Deprivation

A PC Deprived of a crucial need (such as food, water, or rest) is unable to recover Guard or damage to ability scores. PCs may also take the Deprived tag for enemy abilities or environmental impacts.

Fatigue

Anyone Deprived for more than a day adds Fatigue to their burden, one for each day. Each Fatigue occupies one slot and lasts until they are able to recuperate (such as a full night’s rest in a safe spot).

Fatigue can also be taken to perform maneuvers or use special abilities or items.

Critical Damage

When damage takes a target beyond 0, they suffer damage to STR. They must then make a STR save (using their new reduced STR) against suffering Critical Damage.

When a target suffers Critical Damage, they are out of the action, grasping for life. If given aid and rest, they will stabilize. If left untreated, they die within the hour.

Some enemies may have special abilities triggered by failing a Critical Damage STR save. These effects can be instantly fatal.

Wounds

Some enemies may also inflict Wounds to a PC’s burden, which are not removed like Fatigue and require healing of some kind. Some Wounds may be major, inflicting a -1 to a relevant save. Some major Wounds may be permanent.

Scars

When a PC suffers damage that takes them to 0 GD exactly (after Armor), the PC takes a scar. Compare the amount of damage taken against the numbered item in the scar list below.

N.B. This is the damage taken, not the damage rolled. For example, you have 2 Armor and 5 Guard. The enemy rolls a 7 on their damage die. Your Armor absorbs 2 damage. The remaining 5 is applied to the Guard, leaving you with 0 Guard and inflicting a scar. Since you suffered 5 damage, you refer to item 5 from the scar list.

  1. Distressed. A lucky escape. Immediately lose d6 CTRL.
  2. Rattled. Describe how you refocus. Immediately roll 1d6. If the result is higher than your max GD, take the new result.
  3. Disfigured. Now you look tough. A random body part is scarred: Roll 1d6: 1: Eye, 2: Cheek, 3: Neck, 4: Torso, 5: Nose, 6: Jaw. Immediately roll 1d6. If the result is higher than your max GD, take the new result.
  4. Walloped. You lay winded. You are Deprived until you rest for a few hours. Afterward, add 1d6 to your GD.
  5. Torn. Roll 1d6: 1: Nose, 2: Ear, 3: Finger, 4: Thumb, 5: Eye, 6: Chunk of scalp. After getting treated, add 1d6 to your GD.
  6. Broken bone. Roll 1d6: 1-2: Leg, 3-4: Arm, 5: Rib, 6: Skull. After recovery, roll 2d6. If the result is higher than your max GD, take the new result.
  7. Reoriented. The injury knocks something loose in your psyche. Roll 3d6. If the result is higher than your max CTRL, take the new result.
  8. Incapacitated. The damage renders you physically immobile. After recovery, roll 3d6. If the result is higher than your max DEX, take the new result.
  9. Infected. Festering wound. You fall ill from an infection, requiring rest and treatment. After recovery, roll 3d6. If the result is higher than your max STR, take the new result.
  10. In shock. Your organs aren’t having it. You are Deprived. You die without treatment within an hour. Upon recovery, roll 2d6. Take the new result as your max GD.
  11. Severed. A limb is lost or made useless. Roll 1d6: 1-2: Leg, 3-4: Non-dominant arm, 5-6: Dominant arm. After getting a prosthetic or training long enough to get by, add 1d6 to your GD.
  12. Doomed. You should’ve died from that one. The next time you fail a Critical Damage save, you die horribly. If you pass, roll 3d6. If the total is higher than your max GD, take the new result.

Omens

Whenever a PC suffers Critical Damage and recovers, take 1 Omen, representing visions of your demise. Depending on the game, Omens may have different effects on your PC.

Healing

Resting for a turn restores lost Guard but risks exposing the party to danger. Any PCs suffering Critical Damage may be tended to. Applying first aid will stabilize them and allow them to recover lost Guard (but not any damage to ability scores).

A good night’s rest will remove any Fatigue from your burden. A full day’s rest will recover 1 point for any reduced ability score, up to its max. Ability restoration is faster when facilitated by someone with medical expertise or by supernatural means.

Recovering Wounds that occupy your burden requires medical expertise or supernatural help. Some Wounds can never heal.

Death

When a PC dies, have a funeral for them later. As soon as possible, have the player roll up a new character and introduce them immediately. If you have trouble coming up with a way of doing this, refer to d100 introductions for newly minted PCs.

Combat Rounds

Time spent in combat is measured in rounds. Each round represents the amount of time it takes to move a few paces and swing a sword, shoot a bow, cast a spell, hide behind a barrel, leap over a chasm, or perform similar actions. A minute contains about 6 rounds.

  1. On the first round: Determine initiative and surprise
  2. Declare actions
  3. Resolve actions

Initiative and Surprise

At the start of combat, each PC who is not surprised must individually make a DEX save for a chance to act before the opponents. Otherwise they will act after the opponents. Then combat resumes with the opponents acting, then the PCs.

  1. Any PCs who pass their initiative (DEX) save
  2. The enemy
  3. Any PCs who failed their initiative (DEX) save
  4. The enemy
  5. All PCs
  6. The enemy…

Surprise is determined by the fiction. Remember that not all encounters may result in combat. Unless their disposition is clear, an NPC’s disposition may be determined by the Social Checks table.

Actions

On their turn a PC may move to a nearby location and take up to one action. This may be casting a spell, attacking, making a second movement, or some other combat maneuver.

Minor actions like switching weapons, dismounting, or calling out do not count as an action.

Players declare what actions they will take before rolling any dice. If they attempt something risky, the referee will call for a save from the appropriate party.

Then player actions are resolved. All actions, attacks, and movements are resolved roughly at the same time. This is followed by the enemies attacking.

Attacking

To attack, the attacker rolls their weapon die for the damage and the defender subtracts their Armor bonus, if any. The rest of the damage hits the defender’s GD first. Any excess damage is dealt to the defender’s STR. They must then make a save versus Critical Damage.

Armor can never be higher than 3.

Some attacks may directly affect STR, DEX, or CTRL. When this happens, there may be a save required to avoid some effect.

Multiple Attackers

If multiple attackers target the same defender, all attackers roll their dice and only the single highest result is applied to the defender.

As an alternate rule, each attacker also adds +1 to the damage, to a maximum of +5.

Attack Modifiers

When an attacker fights from a position of weakness (with bound hands or through cover), their attack is impaired. Impaired attacks inflict 1d4 damage.

When an attacker fights from a position of strength (with a daring maneuver or attacking a defenseless foe), their attack is enhanced. Enhanced attacks inflict 1d12 damage.

Unarmed attacks always do 1d4 damage.

Dual Weapons

If attacking with two weapons at the same time, roll both damage dice and keep the single highest result.

Blast

Attacks with the blast quality affect all targets in the noted area, rolling separately for each affected PC. Blast refers to anything from explosions to huge cleaving onslaughts. If unsure how many targets can be affected, roll the related damage die for a result.

Maneuvers

Rather than making an attack, describe a maneuver and have the opponent make a relevant save. The attacker must also make a Stamina save (using an appropriate saving throw) or suffer a Fatigue, regardless of whether the maneuver succeeded.

Maneuvers may include

  • tripping
  • disarming
  • grappling
  • knocking someone off a mount
  • climbing a massive monster

Some targets are immune to certain maneuver effects.

Gambits

Gambits are minor maneuvers. Examples of Gambits include

  • Bolster the attack by +1 damage
  • Move after the attack, even if you already moved or are unable to move
  • Repel an enemy away from you
  • Stop an enemy from moving next turn
  • Impair a weapon on their next turn
  • Trigger a Weapon Feat
  • Other effect of similar impact

On a result of 4 or higher on an attack die, the attacker may discard the result in order to perform a Gambit. The target must make an appropriate saving throw when the target would be forced into an action or directly affected.

On a result of 8 or higher on an attack die, the attacker may discard the result in order to perform the Gambit and have it automatically succeed.

Weapon Feats

Weapons have special tags that allow for extra effects to be triggered. A Weapon Feat is triggered under 2 circumstances:

  • As a Gambit, with a saving throw made by the target if applicable
  • As part of an attack. The attacker must make a saving throw (usually DEX or STR) to avoid suffering a Fatigue. Either way, the effect succeeds on the target.

Only one Weapon Feat can be triggered per weapon.

Retreat

Escaping a doomed situation requires a successful DEX save and a safe destination in order to get away.

Morale

Morale is a mechanical trigger used to simulate a NPCs’ desire to survive.

Enemies must pass a CTRL save to avoid fleeing when they take their first casualty and again when they lose half their number. Some groups may use their leader’s CTRL in place of their own. Lone foes must save when they’re reduced to 0 GD.

Some NPCs never perform morale checks.

Detachments

Large groups of similar combatants fighting together are treated as a single detachment. Use the same stat line as the individual version but add detatchment and follow the below additions:

When a detachment suffers Critical Damage, it is routed or significantly weakened. When it reaches 0 STR, it is destroyed.

Attacks against detachments by individuals are impaired (excluding blast damage).

Attacks against individuals by detachments are enhanced and deal blast damage.

Some monsters (like dragons) are treated as detachments and are indicated as such.

Duels

Fighting in a potentially non-lethal setting (such as a one-on-one duel to first blood, a battle of wits, or a court case) using these dueling rules:

  1. Establish the stakes. What does victory and defeat mean in this situation?
  2. Determine the hit points. In physical duels, this is GD. In a non-physical duel, this can be equal to the combatants’ CTRL (but should not actually inflict CTRL damage).
  3. Choose (secretly) whether to
    1. attack: batter, accuse, intimidate
    2. defend: parry, cite, reason
    3. flourish: charm, taunt, feint
  4. Resolve round. Simultaneously reveal
    • Defend beats attack
    • Attack beats flourish
    • Flourish beats defend

The winner of the round inflicts 1d8 damage to the established hit points. The loser still inflicts 1d4.

If both combatants pick the same tactic, they both inflict 1d6 damage.

Exploration Turns

Time spent exploring a dungeon (or other similar adventure site) is measured in turns. Each turn represents the amount of time it takes to carefully go through a few rooms, thoroughly pick over a single room, or perform similarly long actions. An hour contains about 6 turns.

  1. Declare actions
  2. Resolve actions
  3. Roll Exploration Hazard Die to determine what happens

Actions

The party decides what action to take, like moving, searching, listening, entering a room. Moving quickly through a dungeon is risky but can be more or less safely done if there is a clear path back to the surface.

Light

Torches and flashlights illuminate nearby objects and close details.

Candles and glowsticks illuminate close objects and details.

Lanterns function as candles and can be modified to illuminate a straight line rather than a radius. They cannot be blown out.

Darkvision is not perfect: Monochrome outlines of moving shapes in darkness. Dim light is moonlight. Anything for which fine eyesight is required will be difficult even with darkvision.

The Darkness Consumes You

When the party runs out of light sources deep within the dungeon, far from any known exits, the exploration is over. The referee asks each player what their character would give up in exchange for escaping the dungeon. If they cannot give an answer, if the referee needs inspiration for offers, or if the referee prefers to use the random table rather than giving the players the opportunity to escape freely, refer to the table below.

1d10 Fate
1-4 You are dead.
5 You are transformed into a monster. You are added to the encounter table for this dungeon and may be re-encountered.
6 You are lost. You are added to the encounter table for this dungeon and may be re-encountered.
7 You are captured by a monster or faction. If captured by a faction, you may be held ransom.
8 You escape but are traumatized by your experience, never speaking of it again, and quitting adventuring life. You surrender your character sheet and become an NPC
9 You escape but have lost all of your gear.
10 You escape but suffer a scar. Roll 1d12 and compare to the Scars list.

If the party is close to a known exit, they may choose to escape safely.

N.B. The results of lights going out may seem harsh; however, this should be highlighted so that the players know to be prepared when delving into the dungeon.

Escaping the Dungeon

Sometimes there is insufficient time to escape a dungeon to a safe location during a session. When it is necessary that a party be back in a safe place or back at a camp, as may be during an open table campaign, the party may roll to return to a safe camp.

N.B. The results of failure may seem harsh; however, this is should only be used if the players do not have time or do not wish to play out their escape from the dungeon. It should be used as motivation to bookend the session in a safe location rather than as punishment. If a session must be ended due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control, do not use this method. When in doubt, don’t be mean about it.

Each PC should choose their best saving throw and describe how they make their way to the surface using that ability.

Before the player makes the saving throw, the referee establishes a difficulty value (DV) using the table below. The PC must roll under or equal to their save but above the set DV. If the DV would be negative, it is instead zero.

Situation DV mod
You don’t know where you are +4
You are hindered in your path +4
You are in a lair -1
You are in a small complex -2
You discard an item from your inventory -1 / item

On a success, the PC escapes. On a failure, the PC must roll on the failed escapes table:

1d8 Result
1 You escape unharmed.
2 You escape but have lost 1d6 pieces of equipment. Roll d12 per piece lost to determine what was lost.
3 You are captured by a monster or faction. If captured by a faction, you may be held ransom.
4 You are lost. You are added to the encounter table for this dungeon and may be re-encountered.
5 You are transformed into a monster. You are added to the encounter table for this dungeon and may be re-encountered.
6 You are dead. Roll the check again: On a success, the party can recover your body. On a failure, your body was destroyed.
7 You may betray a comrade. You may either reroll on the failed escapes table or betray a comrade who is escaping. They must roll on the failed escape table. If betraying a comrade, roll 1d6. On a 1-4, you escape. On a 5-6, you both suffer the fate they roll.
8 You escape, but suffer a scar. Roll 1d12 and compare to the Scars list.

Exploration Hazard Die

Every turn in a dungeon after the PCs have performed their actions, roll 1d6.

d6 Result
1 Encounter. A monster or NPC appears at a far distance, moving toward the party. Roll 2d6 to determine disposition.
2 Signs. Find portents of an encounter. Roll for a random encounter, which happens the next time a 1 is rolled.
3 Shift. Something unique to the dungeon happens.
4 Condition. Rest for 1 turn or become tired (no effect). If you are already tired, take 1 Fatigue. If your burden is full, become Deprived.
5 Depletion. Light sources dim. Dim light sources go out. Magic effects end.
6 Advantage. Nothing happens.

During the first 6 turns of a dungeon delve, nothing happens on a 4-6 to maintain verisimilitude (and avoid situations like torches guttering out on the first turn).

Wilderness Watches

Time spent traversing and exploring the wilderness is measured in watches. Each watch represents the amount of time it takes to travel a few leagues, explore a few acres, cook an elaborate meal, hunt or forage for food, harvest monster parts, or perform similar activities. A day contains about 6 watches, 3 in the day and 3 at night, depending on the season and latitude.

  1. On the first watch: Roll for weather
  2. Declare actions
  3. Resolve actions
  4. Roll Wilderness Hazard Die to determine what happens

Weather

Weather should be determined at the first watch of the day. Weather is dependent on the season and climate. If a PC does anything but resting during bad weather must make a STR save or suffer a Fatigue. Travel in bad weather is made at half-speed.

The weather table below may be used, though using a hex flower or ladder table allows for more variety in results and for the results to have a memory. Weather that is listed in bold is bad weather.

2d6 Spring Summer Autumn Winter Dry Wet
2 Rain storm Thunder storm Wild winds Snow storm Dust storms Monsoon
3-5 Drizzle Very hot Heavy rains Sleet Haze Thunderstorm
6-8 Overcast Clear, hot Cool Bitter cold Clear, hot Drizzle
9-11 Bright and sunny Pleasantly sunny Patchy rain Overcast Beautifully warm Patchy rain
12 Clear and warm Beautifully warm Clear and crisp Clear and crisp Overcast Overcast

Travel

When traveling, the party should name a navigator. PCs move about 6 miles per watch, which is about double the distance to an object on the horizon.

Movement is halved through difficult terrain, in darkness, and in bad weather. Movement is doubled when riding a mount or going solely by road.

Any PC traveling longer than 3 watches is Deprived and takes a Fatigue for each additional watch travelled.

The navigator requires skill, time, and tools to navigate when not following established roads or trails. Tools can include things like maps and sunstones.

Environmental factors may take the place of tools, such as animal trails, moss, stars, or flat terrain. Environmental factors may also impede the ability of the navigator to navigate, such as white-out rain, blizzards, or quicksand.

If they have one or none and choose to proceed, go to failed navigation.

If they have two, they make a CTRL save to navigate effectively. On a failure, the PCs become lost unless they sacrifice a tool used in navigation (if possible) or waste an additional watch reorienting themselves. If they accept the failure, they may go to failed navigation

If they have all three, they automatically succeed.

Failed Navigation

On a failed navigation check, the referee should roll 1d10 in secret.

d10 Direction
1-4 veered into left hex
5-6 arrived in intended hex
7-10 veered into right hex

Wilderness Activities

The PC requires skill, time, and tools to perform wilderness actions such as hunting, trapping, foraging, fishing, and so on. PCs should specify what they are hunting or foraging for, whether generally or specifically.

If they have one or none, the action fails.

If they have two, they make an appropriate save to succeed. On a failure, the PC must sacrifice a tool used in the action (if possible) or waste an additional watch on their activity. They may also accept failure and yield nothing.

If they have all three, they automatically succeed.

Refer to Yield for how to determine the activity’s yield. Environmental conditions such as weather, access to water, and availability of plants and animals may impact the yield up or down.

Example Foraged Components

A list of sample components are below. The PC should indicate what specifically they are foraging for before doing so.

Result Herb, Fungus (1d4/5) Appearance and properties
1 Salt Salt. Cures meat
2 Warynettle Spiky seed. Sleep inducing
3 Heartsbane (fungus) Red powdery fungus. Blood coagulant, toxic
4 Sightleaf Leafy green herb. Heightens sight
5 Sarnis hip Pink and orange arcing petals, flower. Anti-inflammatory
6 Lionspaw Leafy green herb. Anti-inflammatory
7 Feverfew White petal flower. Reduces fever
8 Honeyfoil Broad green leafy herb, orange pistils. Expectorant
9 Devilsgrace (fungus) Purple mushroom cap, secreting black liquid. Sleep-inducing, toxic
10 Starcomb Brown conical seed. Heightens all senses
11 Quick weed Black and green leafy plant. Heartening, heightens senses
12 Flint moss Dry stringy moss. Flammable

Harvesting Monster Parts

In coordination with the referee, given appropriate skill, time, and tools, PCs may harvest monster parts, like venom, horns, teeth, digestive acids, and so on.

If they have one or none, the action fails.

If they have two, they make a appropriate save to succeed. On a failure, the PC must sacrifice a tool used in the action (if possible) or waste an additional watch on their activity. They may also accept failure and destroy the parts, and potentially, suffer harm from the poor handling of the monster, or be forever changed, depending on the monster.

If they have all three, they automatically succeed.

Refer to Yield for how to determine the yield.

For ideas on monster harvesting, refer to d100 monster parts for magical reagents and d100 uses for a dead dragon

Exploring and Scouting

One or more PCs explore an area, scout ahead, or search for hidden features.

A location or feature is discovered. The area is not considered traveled through and requires a travel action to depart.

Camping

During camping, PCs, hirelings, mounts, and other companions must eat 1 ration.

Camping may require an alert member keeping watch. Refer to Recovering for the benefits of resting. Sleep (for most) requires two watches to fully benefit from.

During camping, PCs may also perform other activities besides resting, singing songs, such as curing game for rations, cooking, darning socks, crafting medicinals, or performing rituals.

Wilderness Hazard Die

At the end of every watch, roll 1d6.

d6 Result
1 Encounter. A monster or NPC appears at a far distance (in locations with obstructed lines of sight) or out of range (in flat terrain). Roll 2d6 to determine disposition and d10+d12 to determine activities, desires, and conditions.
2 Signs. Find portents of an encounter. Roll for a random encounter, which happens the next time a 1 is rolled.
3 Shift. Weather shifts, disaster strikes, or other strange environmental effects occur.
4 Condition. Rest for 1 watch or take 1 Fatigue. If your burden is full, you become Deprived. Ignore while Camping.
5 Depletion. The party is faced with a threat to their resources. The party must make a difficult choice to lose a resource, spend another watch, or take 1 Fatigue (if burden is full, become Deprived), depending on the scenario. Ignore while Camping.
6 Advantage. Nothing happens, or, if traveling, the party finds useful resources or a keyed location.

Activities, Desires, and Complications

Add complexity to the encounter by giving the NPC something to do when they appear. A table like the one below may be used.

d12 Activity / Desire d10 Complication
1 Hunting / Looking for Prey 1 Hungry
2 Patrolling / Scouting 2 Sick / Young
3 Scavenging / Looting 3 Lost
4 Hiding 4 Arrested / Trapped
5 Resting / Sleeping 5 Disgruntled
6 Working / Task 6 Broken Gear / Injured
7 Meeting / Planning / Scheming 7 Fleeing
8 Ritual / Ceremony 8 Insane
9 Art / Performance 9 Dead
10 Setting Trap 10 Roll NPC
11 Celebrating    
12 Eating    

It may also be useful to develop a set of miens for different types of NPCs and monsters.

Disasters

Sudden disasters should be unique to an area. Instead of shifting the weather, a sudden natural disaster may impede the journey. For example, mudslide, landslide, flooding, earthquake, or tornadoes. Rely on the fiction or on a pre-determined natural disaster table for these events.

Threats to Resources

When not spending an extra watch or taking on Fatigue, party members may expend resources or tools to avoid threats, or make skill tests to avoid them.

Terrain type Threat
Any Bridge or road out
Forest Snakebite
Hills Steep ridge
Wetlands Boggy water
Any Flooded road
Forest Brambles
Plains, mountains Tar pits
Forest, mountains Dense fog
Mountains, hills Steep slope
Plains, valleys Sinkhole
Any Parasites, ticks, fire ants, leeches
Any Loose snowbanks
Any Deep mud, clay or soil
Mountains, hills Hairpin turns
Mountains, hills Loose rocks
Mountains, hills Jagged terrain
Forest Fallen logs
Plains Razor sharp tall grass
River Rapids

Downtime Cycles

Time spent doing downtime activities is measured in cycles. Each cycle represents the amount of time it takes to convalesce, do research, brew potions, train an animal, train in combat, make connections, or perform other long-term activities. A season contains 6 cycles.

  1. Resolve upkeep
  2. Declare major actions and tracked activities
  3. Declare minor actions
  4. Resolve all actions and tracked activities
  5. Roll Downtime Hazard Die
  6. Resolve faction activities

Upkeep

At the beginning of the downtime cycle, all PCs should spend money on upkeep.

Lifestyle Coins per Cycle Tags During Downtime Cycle
Meager 5 Dirty, malnourished, threadbare clothing
Comfortable 25 Clean, fed, respectable clothing
Luxurious 125 Pampered, fed, fashionable clothing

Upkeep includes room and board, but also things like keeping your armor and weaponry clean, mending your socks, feeding your mounts and pets, feeding yourself, maintaining your vehicles, etc. Lifestyle tags may impact certain interactions in the fiction of the downtime cycle.

Major Actions

Each PC may perform a major action and mark progress toward a goal. The referee should create a tracker and indicate tasks to perform and/or cash to pay before progress may be marked. Some of these are defined below:

  • Training a skill
  • Taming or training an animal
  • Researching
  • Crafting
  • Alleviating a settlement condition
  • Hunting down a specific rare item
  • Convalescing

Convalescing

Refer to Healing. Any damage to STR, DEX, or CTRL is fully restored or a major Wound is removed if the entire cycle is spent convalescing. Otherwise, it is restored as written (1 point per day).

Minor Actions

Tracking down a specialty item or making a social call on a powerful figure is far more involved than shopping for ball bearings or having tea with your best friend. Multiple minor actions may be done during a downtime cycle.

Some example activities include

  • recruiting goons,
  • shopping,
  • throwing and attending funerals,
  • throwing and attending parties,
  • looking for rumors,
  • and making social calls

Refer to d100 reasons this hireling decided to join for reasons a goon might join.

Downtime Hazard Die

Every cycle spent in a settlement, roll 1d6.

d6 Event
1 Encounter. The party encounters a random NPC who comes calling on them. Referee may have a table prepared for this.
2 Signs. A settlement shift is foreshadowed or a rumor is heard.
3 Shift. A settlement shift occurs, something unique to the settlement.
4 Condition. A dramatic upheaval impacts the settlement, inflicting a settlement condition.
5 Depletion. One or more settlement conditions end.
6 Advantage. Nothing happens.

Refer to d100 haven happenstances for potential occurrences.

Settlement Upheavals

d6 Upheaval Possible Conditions
1 Killings (assassinations, serial murders, faction violence) Insecurity
2 Siege, Insurrection Insecurity, Destruction, Food shortage
3 Pestilence, Plague, Famine, Drought Disease, Food shortage, Drought, Famine
4 Tornado, Dust Storm, Cyclone, Blizzard, Earthquake, Volcanic Eruption, Flood, Tsunami, Landslide, Meteor, Sinkhole Famine, Destruction, Disease
5 Ally dies  
6 Direct setback to party  

Settlement Conditions

  • Insecurity: People around town are antsy, untrusting, and suspicious.
  • Food shortage: Food and water are hard to come by.
  • Disease: People around town are quarantined and dying.
  • Famine: Widespread food shortages.
  • Drought: Widespread water shortages.
  • Destruction: Infrastructure is damaged and requires repairs.

Conditions are ongoing until the party intervenes (which may be impossible in certain situations) or until a downtime cycle where an alleviation is rolled.

For the party, these conditions will have impact on the fiction and the prices of buying things in town. Increased prices should be measured in d10 (2d10, 3d10, etc).

Settlement Shifts

Example shifts follow:

d6 Settlement Shift
1 Factions become allies
2 Religious or cultural event
3 Rivals appear or reappear
4 New faction emerges or old faction disappears
5 Scandal
6 News of a previously unknown place or technology

Rumors

A rumor table should be based on the nearby regional locations and factions. Each rumor should be actionable.

Rumors can take on various forms:

  1. Local color: General information or history
  2. Opportunities: These can take the form of bounties and rewards that can be monetary, favors, or otherwise
  3. Challenges: Threats that could lead to rewards
  4. Mysteries: Secrets or strange phenomenon

Faction Activities

The referee will roll 1d6 for each faction in play in the settlement. On a 4-5, mark 1 progress toward the faction’s active goal. On a 6, mark 2 progress.

Add any bonuses or penalties depending on

  • relevant resources
  • rivals to that goal

Once a goal is achieved, the faction may add a resource relevant to the completion of the goal. If the goal impacts another faction, that faction should have a resource removed or changed, or a progress toward a relevant goal reduced.

Player Interference

Factions may recruit or butt heads with the party. If the party hinders or helps the faction, remove or mark 1-3 progress tallies depending on the help or hindrance. The party may even manage to destroy a faction’s resource.

If the party would take action to interfere with a faction’s actions, the downtime cycle should be considered over and play within the settlement should commence.

Advancement

Training, missions, environmental effects, divine boons, radiation, magic, monster effects, and other strange effects may transform your PC over time. Apart from diegetic, fiction-first advancement, saving throws also improve during gameplay.

For ideas on diegetic growth, refer to the following resources:

Increases to Ability Scores

When a PC fails a saving throw, they mark 1 next to the save used. Once 3 marks are made, erase them and increase the saving throw ability score by 1. So, when you fail 3 DEX saves, your DEX increases by 1.

Increases to Guard

When a PC marks a level or (in a game without leveling) survives an arduous adventure without suffering Critical Damage, they may re-roll their GD while resting in a safe location during a downtime cycle:

  1. If their max GD is
    • Less than 6, roll 1d6.
    • Between 6 and 8, roll 2d6.
    • 9 or greater, roll 3d6.
  2. If the result is higher than your current max GD, take the new result. If it is equal to or lower, increase by 1.

Leveling

Some games using this SRD may have some leveling component to them, particularly related to magic, talent advancements, or ancestral evolutions. Below are some interesting ways I’ve found to award experience points.

Questions

Based on Maze Rats by Ben Milton, Monster of the Week by Michael Sands, and 20 Questions by DreamingDragonslayer

At the end of each session, ask the following questions to your players. If they answer yes to 1, they each mark 1 XP. If they answer yes to 3, they each mark 2 XP. If they answer yes to 6 or more, they mark 3 XP.

  • Did we learn something new and important about the world?
  • Did we learn something new and important about one of the PCs?
  • Did we overcome a notable enemy?
  • Did we loot a significant treasure?
  • Did we perform a service for an NPC?
  • Did we explore or discover a new location?
  • Did we save a person or group from certain death or captivity?
  • Did we fulfill a PC’s oath?
  • Did we carry out a plan and succeed?

After 6 marks, erase them and take 1 level.

Eulogy

From Brighter Worlds by David Lombardo CC-BY-SA 4.0.

A PC’s eulogy is a list of their deeds and accomplishments, to be read after their demise. Whenever a PC does something noteworthy enough to be mentioned in their eulogy, write it down and mark 1 XP. After 4 marks, erase them and take 1 level.

These moments can be heroic deeds, desperate acts, cunning plans, or even silly goofs. What these are can help set the tone of the game. At the end of each session, anyone including the referee may propose eulogy entries.

Bingo

From the blog Githyanki Diaspora

Create a single bingo card for the party based on the one from the blog link above. Add additional bingo items to the outer ring. These should be generic.

When the card hits bingo (1 line of 5), the card is worth 1 level. How the level is handed out is determined by the party.

Rumor Jar

Rumors about the PCs follow them wherever they go. Whenever a PC does something noteworthy enough to be written down or spread by word of mouth, for good or ill, write it down and mark 1 XP. After 4 marks, erase them and take 1 level.

The deed is then placed in a jar. The next time an NPC is encountered, the referee may pull from that jar to see whether the NPC has heard of the PC.

XP Dice and Bubbles

From the blog Prismatic Wastelands

This method replaces the methods for increasing GD above.

Every session, an XP die is added to the XP bowl.

  • d4 per new PC you are playing alongside
  • d4 per enemy killed
  • d6 if you end somewhere safe
  • d8 for the first time you make a major discovery (a new dungeon or dungeon level if in a megadungeon, town, hidden feature, etc)
  • d10 per mission accomplished or major treasure recovered

At the end of the session, the XP die are taken out and rolled. For each XP die that rolls above a PC’s level, all such PCs mark 1 XP. PCs start at level 1.

Once 4 XP are marked, the PC increments their level by 1 and the XP marks are removed.

If any XP die roll a 1, all PCs increase their GD by +1.

Other uses for XP dice

XP dice may be used to

  • add to a PC’s saving throw ability temporarily to increase the PC’s chances of success, or
  • add a difficulty floor to an enemy’s saving throw ability temporarily to increase the enemy’s chance of failure

Retirement

At any point, a PC is allowed to retire, but this is typically done at 10th level, in games with leveling. If a player no longer wishes a PC to be used by the referee or any other player, they may roll for their fate.

Fate

Have the PC express a fear and a hope for the future. Roll 2d6 + fate: On 10+, their hope comes true; 7-9, their fate is mixed. On a 2-6, they should expect the worst.

Calculate the fate modifier (which starts at 0) by referencing the tables below. Note the heretic’s level and number of Omens. The lowest fate modifier is -2. The highest is +2:

Omens Modifies Fate
4+ -1
1-3 0
0 +1
Level Modifies Fate
1-2 -1
3-4 0
5-6 +1
7-8 0
9+ -1

Their fate should be written on the back of their character sheet. The referee cannot use this PC as an NPC against the party or be put in danger, and the PC cannot return to be played as an NPC or PC.

Outside the Rules

This SRD provides a light framework of rules for running a game. When anything may ambiguous or a procedure is unclear or just can’t be remembered at the moment, remember the principles.

For consequences, threats, and disincentives, use fiction first, but also consider imposing mechanical penalties like Panic, Deprivation, Fatigue, Wounds, and suffering Direct Damage to ability scores.