Lightweight Quickstart Rules for Seriously Fun Games
Lightweight Quickstart Rules for Seriously Fun Games
Wicked Grin is a lightweight set of rules for starting a game quickly. It does this via rapid character creation based on traits. And there is only one kind of dice roll: roll trait, count hits.
Each section that follows this one includes just enough rules to get started. Additional rules can be found in Appendix A.
In order to play you will need some human beings and a bunch of six-sided dice.
You can download these rules as a PDF:
Give your character a name and some pronouns, and then give them some traits.
A trait is a short description that you make up that says who your character is. It can be anything. Specific is better than general. e.g. Sarcastic Sellsword (3) is better than Fighter (3).
You have 10 dice to distribute between your traits however you want. You can have many traits, as long as all of them together add up to 10. And, during character creation, no trait can be greater than 4.
Cherri Zarbo: Druidic Priestess From The Trailer Park (4), Snakeperson Trying To Pass As Human (3), Tired Mother Trying Her Best (2), Mixologist (1)
Phoebe Love: Aging Rock-n-Roll Icon (4), Hippie Vegan Activist (3), Master Detective (3)
Agatha Featherquill: Fey-touched Magician (4), Spooky Goth Chick (3), Kickboxer (2), Former Child Actor (1)
Margie Peppermill: Martial Arts Master (4), Wealthy Heiress (4), Haunted Orphan (2)
If an action is not risky, or if it presents no challenge, it just happens. Do not roll for it.
Otherwise, doing stuff requires rolling dice. There are three kinds of rolls: Challenges, Contests, and Conflicts.
If that sounds like a lot, don’t fret! For all three, you just roll a trait, count the number of hits, and then see what happens based on the situation.
Challenges are for if you’re trying to do something and nobody is actively opposing you.
You would roll a challenge for environmental or abstract things like jumping a chasm, picking a lock, sneaking, or searching for clues.
If an action is risky, or if the outcome is uncertain, or if it would be fun to roll dice, roll a number of dice equal to your trait. (Choose a trait that is appropriate for the action!)
Each 4, 5, and 6 counts as a hit.
|0||Failure, and things get worse|
|2||Full Success. You did it!|
|3+||Critical Success! You get something extra.|
If you don’t have an appropriate trait, roll 1 die. Only sixes count as a hit.
When two characters oppose each other, and the conflict can be resolved by a single roll, that’s a contest.
Think of a contest as a single-action conflict for which there’s nothing to be gained by a detailed, round-by-round blowout. It can help speed the story along by zooming out a little bit and resolving a situation with a single contested roll.
Of the examples above, picking a lock could also be a contest instead of a challenge if you give the lock a trait of Sturdy Lock (2).
Remember, anything can be a trait. And anything can have a trait.
During a contest, both sides roll a trait and count the number of hits, just like with a challenge.
Then the lesser number of hits is subtracted from the greater number of hits to determine the winner’s degree of success.
Phoebe Love is performing before an Angry Crowd (3). She is going to roll Aging Rock-n-Roll Icon (4) to try to win them over with song.
Angry Crowd rolls
6 3 6for two hits.
4 1 6 6for three hits.
Phoebe wins by a margin of
3 - 2, or 1 hit. Success at cost. She wins over the crowd, but strains her voice and can only speak in a whisper now.
When two characters oppose each other, and the conflict is best represented by multiple rounds of action, that is a conflict.
Conflicts are like zooming in on a contest for suspense and dramatic effect. They represent the round-by-round combat you may be familiar with from other games.
Conflicts are rolled exactly like contests, except that hits are dealt directly to the loser’s trait.
In Phoebe’s example above, Angry Crowd (3) becomes an Angry Crowd (2) after she wins the first round, and then the conflict continues to the next round.
Whenever a trait is reduced to zero, that side loses.
The winner decides what happens to the loser.
You recover lost dice in a way that is appropriate to the trait, and how the dice were lost.
If Phoebe takes damage to her Aging Rock-n-Roll Icon trait when the crowd boos her, she might just need a pep talk to regain her confidence.
When in doubt, take rest and nourishment to recover lost dice.
Award yourself 1 experience point (xp) every time you make a significant accomplishment.
You can spend 6 xp to add one die to an existing trait, or to create a new trait.
You cannot advance a trait beyond 6 dice.
You are assumed to have any equipment related to or needed by your trait.
If you lose or damage equipment needed for trait, that trait may temporarily lose a die, or might operate at half dice, or may even be reduced to zero, all depending on how critical the equipment is that trait.
For example, a Grizzled Fighter (3) may still be able to fight bare-handed if they lose their trusty battleaxe. But a Balloon Cowboy (3) will certainly be much less effective if they lose their hot air balloon.
If you want some extra rules and a little opt-in crunch, then this section is for you!
Blank Slate: Having trouble coming up with traits? Reserve a couple character creation dice and spend them on traits during play in the spur of the moment.
Lucky Shots: During character creation, you can spend 1 die to gain 3 Lucky Shots. Spend a Lucky Shot to add 1 die to any roll. Regain all spent Lucky Shots at the beginning of each session.
Questing Dice: Give your character a personal quest! Spend 1 die to gain 5 Questing Dice. In a situation where your character is making progress toward their goal, spend a Questing Die to gain +1 to the roll. Regain all spent Questing Dice at the beginning of each session. Example quests: find out who killed my parents, spread the good news about the Corn God, etc.
Sidekicks: You can spend dice on sidekicks/pets/etc the same way you spend them on traits. Why bother? Well, you get a sidekick you can team up with and send on errands!
Specialties: You can choose a specialty for a trait, a sufficiently niche subset of that trait. Gain +2 dice to your roll when your specialty applies. Example: The Amazing Mentaro: Wizard (4) (Mind Control); Hunky Garrett: Former High School Athlete (2) (40 Yard Dash), etc.
Pumping: Outclassed? Stuck in a death spiral? You can pump a second trait for extra dice, which are added to your roll, but also immediately subtracted from the second trait. The second trait can be reduced to zero in this way without you being defeated. Describe how the pumped trait helps you in this situation!
Example: Agatha Featherquill—Fey-touched Magician (4), Kickboxer (2)—is battling a Cranky Eldritch Baby (6). She decides to employ a little Magic-Fu by using Fey-touched Magician (4) and also pumping Kickboxer (2). She adds 2 Kickboxer to Fey-touched Magician, and rolls 6 dice. She is on equal footing with the eldritch baby! Kickboxer immediately decreases to 0, and cannot be used again during the conflict.
Teaming Up: If you have an appropriate trait, you can give another player +1 to their roll if you agree to share the risk.
|2||Hostile / Angry|
|3 - 5||Wary / Cautious|
|6 - 8||Undecided / Curious|
|9 - 11||Friendly / Talkative|
|12||Helpful / Generous|
Hostile creatures will go out of their way to hinder you. Wary ones are unhelpful unless given adequate motivation. Friendly ones will help you as long as it doesn’t inconvenience them. Helpful ones will go out of their way to help you even if inconvenient.
To create a rumor, roll temperament for a character or characters, and think to yourself, “It doesn’t make sense for character to act temperment, unless…”
Basic monsters are their own trait. e.g. Goblin (2), Dragon (10), etc.
Complex monsters have multiple traits, like your players do. e.g., Bog Dragon: Swamp Breath (4), Battering Wings (3), Swishy Tail (2), Insulting (1)
After defeating a significant foe, add up their starting trait values (before you dropped them to zero) and multiply by 10. Reward this much coin.
For each 6 you roll, award a unique or magical item.
This game is based on Risus, with inspiration from Powered by the Apocalypse, Maze Rats, Knave, and others.
“Risus” is latin for laughter. This is a more “serious” presentation of rules than the “anything/comedy RPG”, hence Wicked Grin.