Game Rules Lite
You will need a certain amount of six-sided dice to play this game. If you only have one or two at hand you will have to make some re-rolls but you can still play. It is helpful to use dice of three different colours, here is a suggestion for a colour scheme:
You roll the dice when you perform a dramatic action that might determine if your character lives or dies.
Basic RuleA roll of a six on any die is considered to be a success or a good result.
If you don’t have dice of different colour or just don’t like the idea, skip the options of rolling 1 on specific dice and just use a total hand of dice to roll at least one six.
Conflicts or challenges are the salt in any roleplaying game. This includes physical challenges like rolling a heavy rock aside or physical conflict like a sword fight. But it is also about mental or social feats like solving a riddle or trying to cheer someone up. Mental conflicts could occur if two characters compete in speed reading or finding the results to a complex formula. Social conflict happens if the other person resist, like trying to persuade or bribe someone.
Most of the time players will use a combination of their characters’ attributes, skills and gear in a challenge. Attributes have a value range of 1-5, skills have a range of 0-5. Gear comes in values 1-3 (4-5 is possible but extremely rare).
Skills are tied to a specific attribute that a character usually relies on when using that skill. It is possible to use a different attribute with a skill, if the GM allows it and it makes sense in the specific situation.
Roll as many Base Dice as your attribute rating indicates, together with as many Skill Dice as your skill level suggests and as many Gear Dice as the equipment used allows.
Rolling at least one six on any of these dice means that your dice test was successful.
Rolling no sixes at all means that you didn’t achieve what you were trying to do. If you tried to throw a strike in a bowling match zero sixes means you didn’t get a strike but probably some pins. The more 1s you have in a roll with no 6s the worse the outcome.
You can determine a botched roll like this: If your roll shows no sixes (6) and at least a one (1) something bad happened (there is potential for harm to the character, bystanders or his gear). The more ones you roll without any sixes, the more serious the result.
As a hero you can learn much before your end on the battlefield or in some remote dungeon comes. Such learning is measured in Experience Points (XP). You get your XP at the end of every session. Hold a debriefing and let the entire group talk about that session’s event. For each of the following questions that you can answer with a “yes”, you get one XP:
- Did you participate in the session? (You get one XP just for being there.)
- Did you participate in finalizing a Quest (like freeing the kidnapped virgin from the clutches of the orc clan)?
- Did you explore at least one new sector or area (this can be a dungeon or a district)?
- Did you sacrifice or risk something for another player character?
- Did you sacrifice or risk something for the NPC you want to keep safe?
- Did you sacrifice or risk something to mess with the NPC you hate
- Did you sacrifice or risk something to reach your personal goal?
The GM has the final say on how many XP each PC should get, but let all players around the table take part in the discussion. Mark your XP total on your character sheet.
RAISE A SKILL OR GET A TALENT
Once you have collected five XP you can improve your PC – either raise a skill of your choice by one level, or learn one new talent. You can raise any basic skill you like (even if you had no level in it to begin with), but not specialist skills from another role. You can choose a talent specific to your role, or any of the general talents, but not a talent from another role.
NEW RELATIONSHIPS AND DREAMS
After every session, after XP have been awarded, you may revisit your choice of important PC and NPC relationships, as well as your big dream.
A different way to improve your character is to find artifacts in the ruins and wilderness. Many artifacts give you a Gear Bonus that can give you the edge over those cowards who never dared to leave their hometown.
Your four attributes determines what basic strengths and weaknesses you are born with. They are measured on a scale from 1 to 5 for PCs and other regular mutants. A higher score is better. Your attributes are used when you perform important actions. The attribute scores are decreased when you suffer different types of trauma. If an attribute reaches zero you are broken. Read more about this in chapter 6. There you can also find out how you recover lost attribute scores – by consuming a different resource for each.
Starting Scores: When you create your PC, you should distribute a total of 14 points across the four attribute scores. Each attribute must have a starting value from 2 to 4 – except one. The attribute listed as your “key attribute” by your role description may have a starting score of 5.
STRENGTH Raw physical power and endurance. Strength is decreased by damage, and recovered by grub.
AGILITY Your overall body control and motor skills. Agility is decreased by fatigue, and recovered by water.
WITS Intelligence, alertness and sharpness of mind. Wits is decreased by confusion, and recovered by sleep.
EMPATHY Your charisma and ability to read and affect others. Empathy is decreased by doubt and recovered by sympathy.
Your skills are trained abilities and learning, things you have picked up along the way in the harsh postapocalyptic world. In this game there are twelve basic skills that all characters can use. In addition, every role has a unique, thirteenth skill – a specialist skill.
Skills are measured by skill level, from 0 to 5. You can use a basic skill even if you don’t have a skill level. To use a specialist skill, you need at least skill level 1.
Starting Levels: When creating your character, you get to distribute 10 points across your skills. The maximum starting level for any skill is 3, and you must have at least level 1 in your specialist skill – apart from that, you choose your skills freely. You can increase your skill levels during play
Talents are tricks, moves and minor abilities that give you a small edge. They are more specialized than skills and give you a way to fine-tune your character.
You can pick one talent when creating your character – but your choices are limited. Your role description indicates which talents you can choose from. You can learn more talents during the course of the game, at which point you will have many more talents to choose from.
Starting Gear: Your role description tells you what weapons you can choose from when starting the game, and how much food, water and ammunition you have at the outset.
Note that certain roles also gets to roll once on the Artifact table right at the start.
Characters and NPCs must consume one ration of food and one ration of water per day, or they will suffer. You should track the amount of available food and water rations on your character sheet.
You can carry a number of regular items equal to double your Strength score. Use your base Strength for this, not the temporarily decreased value you get when you are hurt. Write it down! You must list everything you are carrying on the character sheet. Write down one regular item per row. If an item is not on your sheet, you’ve forgotten it or lost it somehow. You’ve only got yourself to blame.
HEAVY & LIGHT ITEMS
Heavy or otherwise cumbersome items are harder to carry. An item designated as heavy counts as two regular items, and takes up two rows on your character sheet. Some objects may need as many as three or even more rows on your sheet. At the opposite end of the spectrum, there are items that are light – they count as half of a regular item, and you can list two of them on the same row on your sheet.
Four rations of food or water count as one regular item. That means you can list four rations on one row on your character sheet, or two rations plus one light item. Booze is normally kept in a bottle that counts as one regular item. One such bottle contains ten doses of the strong stuff.
TINY ITEMS & AMMUNITION
Things even smaller than light items are called tiny. They are so small and light that they don’t encumber you at all. The rule of thumb is: if the item can be hidden in a closed fist, it’s tiny. Tiny things must be noted on your character sheet even if they don’t encumber you.
Ammunition: Individual bullets count as tiny items. However, more than 10 bullets (or a loaded pistol magazine) count as a light item, more than 20 bullets (or a loaded rifle magazine) as a basic item and more than 40 as a heavy item. Use the same rule for arrows, even though you can’t hide one in your fist.
You can temporarily carry more than your normal limit (Strength × 2 items). The drawback is that you have to make a roll for the skill Endure when you want to walk any significant distance. The same rule applies if you drag some other heavy object, like a broken character who needs care. If you fail your skill roll you have to drop what you are carrying, or stay where you are.
You can use horses, rafts, carts, vehicles and the like to load heavy stuff onto. That way, you won’t be over-encumbered by it. It’s up to the GM’s judgment how much can be loaded onto the cart or raft.
Basically you can play whatever type of character you like. These rules allow you to create almost anything you can think of. For those players who need to start right away, we created a few sample character templates that have to be filled with life by you. You still have to assign attribute and skills points and make some choices, but these templates already give you a fixed frame for your character and her role in the game world. Every character template comes with a Specialist Skill, explained later. These skills are not available to the masses at the beginning and mostly define your character’s role.
Your skills are trained abilities and learning, things you have picked up along the way in the harsh world. In this game there are twelve basic skills that all characters can use. In addition, every role has a unique, thirteenth skill – a specialist skill.
Skills are measured by skill level, from 0 to 5. You can use a basic skill even if you don’t have a skill level. To use a specialist skill, you need at least skill level 1.
Starting Levels: When creating your character, you get to distribute 10 points across your skills. The maximum starting level for any skill is 3, and you must have at least level 1 in your specialist skill – apart from that, you choose your skills freely. You can increase your skill levels during play.
THE BASIC SKILLS
- Endure (Strength)
- Fight (Strength)
- Athletics (Strength)
- Acrobatics (Agility)
- Stealth (Agility)
- Shoot (Agility)
- Comprehed (Wits)
- Lore (Wits)
- Notice (Wits)
- Sense (Empathy)
- Manipulate (Empathy)
- Coolness (Empathy)
Roleplaying is a conversation. The GM sets the scene, you describe what you do, the GM tells you how NPCs react – then you respond, and so on – back and forth. The story grows one step at a time.
Sooner or later things will come to a head, a point of no return, a conflict that cannot be settled by just talking it through. Then it’s time to bring out the dice and use one of your skills.
There are twelve basic skills in this game. Any mutant can use these. Furthermore, every role has one unique thirteenth skill. Every skill is connected to one of the four attributes – Strength, Agility, Wits and Empathy. Skills are measured in skill levels, from 0 to 5.
When you use a skill, first describe what your character does or says. Then, grab a number of Skill Dice (green) equal to your skill level, and a number of Base Dice (yellow) equal to the current value of the attribute connected to the skill. If you are using the right tool, you also get a number of Gear Dice (black). Then just roll all the dice together.
For your action to succeed, you must roll at least one (6) – if not, your action fails. If you roll more than one , you can perform stunts.
Rolling on Base Dice has no effect on the first roll – only count them when you push your roll.
Rolling without skill level
You can always roll for a skill, even if your skill level is zero – just roll Base Dice for the attribute, plus any Gear Dice. The exception to this rule are the roles’ specialist skills – to use these, you need at least skill level 1.
Kay spots some Ghouls in a ruined house. She wants to sneak closer. Kay has Agility 5 and a Stealth skill level of 2, which means she gets to roll five Base Dice and two Skill Dice.
The art of failure
If you roll no , something goes wrong. You’re now at the GM’s mercy. The only thing she can’t say is “nothing happens”. Failure should always have consequences. For each skill listed below, there are guidelines for what failure can mean, but the final decision is up to the GM. It could be that you suffer trauma, lose something valuable, need to make a detour, or face a new threat of some kind. Sounds harsh? You have a final lifeline if you really want to avoid failing – you can push your roll.
Conflicts: In conflicts, a failed roll doesn’t need to have very severe consequences in itself. It’s usually enough of a consequence that your attack misses the enemy – making it his turn to act and get back at you. The GM can impose additional consequences of a failed roll even in conflicts though – such as your missed gunshot hitting someone other than who you were aiming for.
Rolls without skill
If an action you want to perform in the game does not fit any skill, you and the GM should consider if this really is a situation worth a dice roll. The GM can just make a quick judgement call and move on. If you still feel dice should be rolled, the GM decides what attribute is most useful in the situation, and you roll only Base Dice.
PUSHING YOUR ROLL
If you are desperate to succeed, you can push your roll. That means you grab all dice that didn’t come up with a or , and roll them again. You get a new shot at rolling . You can never push dice that show or they stay as they were on the table. Usually, you would only push a roll if you failed it – although you can push a roll even if you did get in your first roll, to get more of them to perform stunts. Pushing a roll is not without risk – read more about that below. How a pushed roll plays out in story terms depends on what skill you are using. It can take the form of a great physical exertion, total mental focus or emotional strain.
Gear Dice: If you push a roll, you must also push any Gear Dice.
Only Once: You can only push your roll once. If you don’t succeed on your second try you are done for, all you can do is take the hit and suffer the consequences. There is one exception to this rule: fully automatic fire.
DESCRIBE YOUR ACTION
Roleplaying is all about the story. Just stating what skill you use and to what end is not enough. First, set out what you want to achieve, so that everyone around the table knows what’s at stake. Then, roll the dice. If you succeed, interpret the result and explain what happens. Describe what your character does in some detail; what he says or even what he thinks. If you push your roll, describe what you do. Do it right away, don’t wait for a prompt from the GM – but if your roll fails, then it’s her job to describe the consequences.
ONE SHOT ONLY
As a general rule, you only get one shot at particular action. When the dice have been rolled – and pushed, if you so choose – you can’t roll again to achieve the exact same thing. You’ll have to try something else or wait until the circumstances have changed in some major way. Or let another PC try. In conflicts, the GM should be more forgiving. You can attack the same enemy over and over if he won’t go down – it’s enough if you describe what you do differently this time.
NPCs AND SKILLS
NPCs use skills just like PCs do. The GM rolls dice for them, they can push their rolls and suffer trauma just like PCs. But the GM should only roll for actions that directly affect a PC – for example, when the NPC is Fighting or Caring for a PC. In other cases, the GM should generally just decide the outcome of the action, without rolling dice
To improve your chance of success, you can use gear. A piece of gear can be a baseball bat to hit someone with, a rope to climb with or a pair of sunglasses to impress someone with. A useful object will give you a Gear Bonus – a number of Gear Dice to roll (the black ones). You can see your Gear Bonus on the weapons tables and on the general gear list at the end of the rules.
You roll your Gear Dice together with your Base Dice and Skill Dice when you perform an action. This way, you improve your chances of rolling 6 and succeeding. Normally, you can only use one piece of gear at a time. You can’t get Gear Bonus for the same roll from more than one object.
When you use a piece of gear and you push your roll (above), the gear might get damaged. When you push a roll, you must reroll all Gear Dice that don’t show 1 or 6. For every Gear Die that shows 1 after you have pushed the roll, the Gear Bonus decreases by one. The gear has been damaged and is not as effective anymore. If the Gear Bonus reaches zero the gear no longer works at all.
Fixing Gear: Gear can be fixed by Tinkerers or other people with the skill Crafts. It takes a few hours and a roll for Crafts. If successful, the piece of gear is repaired and the Gear Bonus fully restored. If the roll fails, the Gear Bonus is permanently reduced to the current level. If the Gear Bonus is currently zero and the repair roll fails, the gear is permanently destroyed. So don’t let just any hack tinker with your gear!
Sometimes external factors help you to succeed. This gives you extra Skill Dice to roll. On other occasions, something hampers your action. In those cases, you roll fewer Skill Dice than normal. Either way, such adjustments are called modifications.
Modification +1 means you roll one extra Skill Die, +2 means you roll two extra Skill Dice, and so on. Modification −1 means you roll one Skill Die fewer than normal, −2 means two fewer, and so on.
Modification only ever affects Skill Dice – never Base Dice or Gear Dice. If several modifications apply to the same roll, add them together. Modification +2 and −1 added together gives you a modification of +1.
Negative Dice: If, after modification, you end up with exactly zero Skill Dice, you just roll your Base Dice (and any Gear Dice). If you go below zero, you must roll this negative number of Skill Dice. Any 6 on negative Skill Dice eliminate an equal number of 6s on Base or Gear Dice. If you push your roll you must reroll negative Skill Dice too (except the ones showing 6 of course).
You can get modifications in two ways: through the difficulty of the action itself, or through help from others.
Normally, the GM doesn’t assess how difficult an action is. You only roll dice in challenging situations – period. But sometimes, the GM might want to underscore that external factors help or hinder an action. Use this table for guidance:
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There are also cases when modifications are imposed by the rules, like when you aim carefully with a bow, shoot at long range or if you’re in a bad bargaining position when trying to Manipulate someone. Some talents can also give you a positive modification in certain situations.
CHANCE OF SUCCESS
When you roll lots of dice it can be hard to get a feel for your chance of success. The table below shows the probability, in percentages, of making a roll with 1 to 10 dice. The third column shows the chance of success if you push the roll.
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Tyros has locked himself into his trailer. Angus wants to push the entire trailer into the dirty creek nearby. Angus has Strength 5 and Athletics skill level 1, but the GM says the action is hard and gives Angus a −2 modification. Accordingly, he rolls five Base Dice and one negative Skill Die. He rolls one 6 on the Base Dice but also on the Skill Die! This 6 eliminates the other, and the roll fails. Angus needs to consider whether it’s worth it to push the roll.
Help From Others
Other PCs or NPCs around you can help you succeed. They have to say so up front, before you roll your dice. It also has to make sense in terms of the story – they have to be physically present and be able to support your action in a direct way. The GM has final say. For every person helping you, you get a +1 modification. No more than three people can help you make the roll, which means your maximum modification for help from others is +3.
Specialist Skills: You can not get help when using your specialist skill. When using a specialist skill, you are always on you own.
Conflicts: If you help someone in a conflict you lose your own action in the turn. You can still perform a maneuver, however.
Scriveners have the specialist skill Inspire, which is also used to help others perform actions.
NPCs can help each other in the same way as PCs. Letting NPCs act in groups rather than individually is often a useful way to handle a large number of NPCs in conflicts.
Kay and her friends are back out in the Wild. Kay wants to climb into a ruined house, where she thinks there might be artifacts. Angus helps her up, and Kay gets a +1 modification to her roll.
You and the other PCs can not help each other when you’re acting simultaneously, that is, performing the same action side by side. Examples are struggling your way through a fierce snowstorm (Endure) or sneaking up on a group of Ghouls (Stealth). In this case, you all roll separate rolls. If you want to help someone, you can’t perform the action yourself.
Stunts: If you roll several 6s and get stunts, some skills let you use them to help a friend. They then don’t need to roll the dice themselves. They can even receive this help if they have already rolled and failed.