Pick-up-and-play RPG rulesSketch a character
Pick a name, briefly describe your role (such as stout adventurer, dextrous archer, cunning thief), and four relevant skills and abilities (these can be left blank until needed). Note any important gear. New characters have three markers for Strikes.
Skills and Abilities:
Strikes ▢ ▢ ▢
When characters enter any action with a significant element of risk or uncertainty, such as fighting or exploring dangerous terrain, the guide decides what they need to roll to succeed, based on the situation, actions, and any skills, abilities or gear characters might use. Skills and abilities carry the advantage of making success exceptional or failure less severe.
Climbing a wall in full armour to stab a goblin sentry unheard might be exceptional 6+ for a knight, but perhaps chancy 4+ for an unarmoured adventurer armed with a dagger. A sneaky thief could probably 3+ slip into place without being heard or seen.
Every roll is risky, so a 1 always misses in some fashion, and a 6 always gains something, even if just a chance to roll again for extraordinarily difficult tasks. The guide may allow characters to respond to poor rolls if they react quickly enough. Perhaps the consequences shift if the roll is close.
1 Fail (for skilled or able), or Fumble (no skill or ability)
2+ Likely: skilled or able, and with an advantage
3+ Probable: with skill, ability, or an advantage
4+ Chancy: evenly matched
6+ Exceptional (for skilled or able), or Lucky (no skill or ability)
In combat, the guide selects the order of actions, based on combat readiness and position.
Each round, the guide sets combat rolls based on the relative strengths of the combatants. Each character can attack and guard with an appropriate skill or ability, unless taken by surprise or hindered:
- The attack roll is to hit, overcoming defences such as speed, armour or strength.
- The guard roll is to defend against being hit, by dodging, parrying, or deflecting hits with shield and armour.
The guide does not roll for foes. They are hit, and hit or miss in turn, depending on how well the player characters fight.
Strikes represent a character’s ability to turn aside or endure harm. When a character is hurt or wounded, in combat or other dangerous situations, they must record their condition (hurt, shaken, wounded and so on) and mark off one or more strikes, as the guide directs. Good armour may turn a hurt into a light condition, but this still costs a strike. Each condition may affect future rolls, but when a character has no more strikes, their fate is determined by the guide on their next failed roll. Then, the character may be fatally wounded, stunned, captured, or left for dead.
At need, a character may mark off a strike to gain a reroll on a crucial task.
Playstyles (for game guides)
Gritty: Fighting is often chancy or hard, and characters mark off strikes for every failure to guard. Second chances are limited. Only rest and healing restores lost strikes.
Adventure: Skilled adventurers are more likely to hit, and may gain second chances or small advantages with close rolls. Players can mark off a strike to correct a bad roll. Success, along with rest, restores a limited number of strikes.
Heroic: Skilled and capable characters are most likely to prevail, except against terrible odds. Heroes regain strikes for success with each turn of the battle, and can freely react to unexpected turns or unlucky rolls. Foes, however, have many Strikes and special abilities of their own.