I made this for a friend who wanted “a super simple RPG without a bunch of fiddly stuff to worry about where we can…

I made this for a friend who wanted “a super simple RPG without a bunch of fiddly stuff to worry about where we can…

I made this for a friend who wanted “a super simple RPG without a bunch of fiddly stuff to worry about where we can just tell a cool story”. I showed him Dungeon World and Fate, but he wanted something even more simple than both.

I understand that this is overly simplified for many of your tastes, and the way in which things are worded can be improved. It’s based heavily on Dungeon World and Fate, plus a bit of The Indie Hack (“details”) and comes in at two pages – ideally printed back-to-back so as to take up only one sheet of paper (which he has done, and laminated).

He has played it twice with different groups and has enjoyed the simplicity while still finding it gave he and his players plenty of narrative control.

What are your thoughts please? Any and all constructive criticism is welcome!


44 thoughts on “I made this for a friend who wanted “a super simple RPG without a bunch of fiddly stuff to worry about where we can…”

  1. Aaron Griffin, I couldn’t think of a good way to resolve conflict with out a dice roll, and really liked the 2d6 result tree. Do you have any ideas for how to take the dice out?

  2. Yes, “Details” from indie Hack. I loved the 3 results of PBtA coupled with “Who gets to take narrative control” from the Indie Hack. Player does, Both do, or GM does (basically)

  3. Nice work, Brian. I was thinking if you had some numbered tarot cards (or something thematic) and could print your guide on something the same size (or that at least folds in half to the same size -laminated or otherwise coated), you’d have a handy all-in-one rpg on the go kit.

    Again, nice work.

  4. Slade Stolar The GM will broadly define what he/she thinks is MAJOR or MINOR to keep everyone on the same page, and full success and full failure are defined as MAJOR while a cost (consequence) of delay OR success (with a 7-9) is MINOR.

    I feel (and I could be wrong) that allowing players only to narrate MAJOR details makes their characters feel more awesome. But with 2d6 the results will come up 7-9 more often, so while they’re being awesome, the GM still gets to throw a monkey wrench into the situation. This mimics the PBtA “success at a cost” while limiting the GM to a MINOR action. It’s not a perfect blending of two systems by any means!

    And yes, I’d be honored if you shared it!

  5. Brian Holland That makes a lot of sense. The drawback doesn’t change the essence of the result, but colours or qualifies it somewhat.

    It seems like an interesting synthesis, for sure.

  6. Brian Holland Toss two coins: two heads (25%) = success;

    two tails (25%)= failure;

    one of each (50%)= success with cost.

    Umm… bonuses for relevant equipment/aspects let you toss more coins and keep the best two. (Similar to 5e “advantage”).

  7. Gotcha William Nichols! Everyone thinks a little differently about what defines PBtA. I’ve always defined it as “A conversation between GM and Players with a static resolution result tree (and by that I mean not something that changes per monster or trap or whatever as in D&D)”, so that’s how I responded. While it borrows heavily from it, I’d have to say no, it’s not PBtA lol.

    Joseph Holland, it’s an interesting idea to package it all as a single deck of cards (a la “Not my Fault”)! It’s something I may look into later!

  8. Well, I started to follow the flow, however I found “problems” right from the start.

    Narrate your action, including intent > Is the roll necessary? > No (because the action/move can’t be a success, for example) > Then I should have “GM narrates the failure”.

  9. Sophia Brandt, everything in the game will be about fictional positioning. Details are discrete pieces of fiction, not “bennies” or the like to be cashed in for mechanical benefit.

    An example is how Dave (the friend for whom I made this) and his players used details in the first game they played:

    Setup: The party was in a graveyard fighting a couple zombies.

    “Ranger” character rolled 7-9 to shoot a zombie in the head.


    Ranger: I pull back the arrow back to my cheek and inhale. I take a second to aim before I loose it. It flies true and goes straight through the zombies left eye and it falls down in a heap.

    GM: Your first shot missed completely, the second stuck into it’s arm. A third and fourth sunk into it’s fleshy stomach, but the foul smelling creature continued to advance. Finally, you take the time to aim with your fifth arrow and pierce it through the eye. Before the shaft even hit it’s mark you reached for another arrow and realized you only have a few left.

    Ranger MAJOR detail: Killed a zombie

    GM MINOR detail: Running low on arrows

    In the MINOR column of a sheet of paper Dave used to keep notes he noted “Grimdale: Low on arrows”.

  10. Andrea Parducci, I hadn’t considered “No a roll isn’t necessary because it’s an impossible task”.

    Something that might help is in YES box instead of “Tell consequences for failure and ask…” it reads “Tell requirements for success and ask…” (which is straight out of DW).

    My intention there is to discourage players from trying to “do the impossible”. My original “tell consequences” would have gone something like “That’s an impossibly long jump. If you fail you will die”. But with “tell requirements” it might become “You’re not going to be able to make that jump without serious aid, do you still want to attempt it?” NO = “The Goblins inch closer to you along the ledge…” (a MINOR detail for delay) “…Bilbo, what do you do?” YES = “Ok, I’m going to give you a -2 (or higher is it’s REALLY impossible) penalty.”

    What are you thoughts there?

    All of that said, I MAY just need to add a “No roll because not possible” node.


  11. Addramyr Palinor, the “Is failure exciting” point goes along with what Andrea Parducci was saying. What about changing the “necessary” node to “Is failure possible?”. That still captures the “you can do it without a problem” and also captures “It may be completely impossible” before getting to “Tell requirements” (I’ll be changing the “Tell consequences” node to “tell requirements”).

    How does that feel?

    I may be redoing the flow chart for several reasons. My idea with going straight to another player after the “cost for delay” node was “ok, she’s decided not to do her thing, what are you doing?”

    You get a little bit of narration that doesn’t substantially change the situation (cost of delay = MINOR detail). I’m not sure it needs to go back to the beginning, but I’ll try it a few times that way and see what happens.

    Thanks for your input!!

  12. Robert Doe the only problem with RPS is there are only two results: Win or Lose (but still a cool idea LOL).

    Addramyr Palinor I had not considered that, but yeah it’s super easy to use for a “pickup game” with no prep and no rules to lookup / remember. In that case an alternate conflict resolution system would be needed I think. I still love the 2d6 though LOL.

  13. Brian Holland about your: “My intention there is to discourage players from trying to “do the impossible”.” My initial thoughts were more about a situation like: – Player:”My hero goes to the closed door. He takes his lockpicking tools, and he tries to open it”. – GM doesn’t ask for a roll, and reply:”You try, but you understand pretty soon that the lock is something over your skills, probably magically enhanced”. (so, you can explain your action, and “try” in the narration, but no rolls and no success, ’cause you have no chances about that). Side note: even with failure you can gain infos, and probably another player/hero could try a more successful way.

  14. Yeah I see your point Andrea Parducci. You can try (narratively) but it’s still not possible.

    What I THINK I want to do is add another node under “Is Failure Possible?” that reads “Is Success Possible?” YES = Roll, NO = (GM) Narrate failure. That’s pretty much what we do anyway (knowingly or not) when we have a player roll the dice (or not).


  15. Andrea Parducci after mulling it over I went ahead and added the “Is success possible?” node and have NO pointing to a “GM: Narrate failure” node, which then leads to the “GM: Ask another character” node.

    I like that this is a MAJOR detail because it forces the GM to have a good reason why your intended action isn’t possible (as opposed to GM fiat). I also reworded the character narration to say “Narrate your intended action”.

    Thanks for your input!!!

  16. That computer part of my brain, you know the one that is totally OCD. It can’t exit the loop when failure is inevitable. It just keeps asking another player for input…if no one wants to continue, they are stuck in that scene. Maybe add a route to the first node?


  17. Down to the second page. Under “Playing the game”, the first point for the GM doesn’t read well. Sorry I can’t copy/paste the line here, but maybe “is” should be “it’s”?

  18. Hmmm, I think I have it correct: “Everything…is about fictional positioning”. Your edit would make it “Everything…it is about fictional positioning”.

    Side note: I’m going to rename that section “Principles of playing the game”, and the wording on that entire page is up for editing. So if you think anything else needs to be tweaked or reworded please don’t hesitate to point it out!!

  19. I’ve made a few small changes to v1.3. I renamed “Skills” to “Features” at Dave’s request to encompass more than just “skills”, and some other small changes.

    Here is a link to an actual play with Dave’s friends Matt and Caroline that he sent me this morning. They spent a lot of time on “setup” and didn’t get to play, but they’ll start that tonight.

    docs.google.com – Dave’s Game

  20. Dave just asked an interesting question: “Does it matter that details are MAJOR or MINOR? Can they just be DETAILS?” Details, of course, being defined simply as “pieces of fiction”, or maybe even changed to “pieces of fiction that drive the narrative”.

    I’m not entirely sure the distinction is necessary (for this game at least).

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