Christmas RPG – A Simple System

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This Christmas I was really keen to run a one-shot RPG session from my brothers. I didn’t want to spend a lot of time pouring over character sheets and stats because as new players I wanted them to be able to start playing straight away. So, with that in mind I constructed a very simple ruleset to get us going.
Here… Is that ruleset.


Character creation forgoes stats and classes and instead focusses on creating memorable and unique individuals.

Players will first choose a noun that represents their character’s training and equipment. This replaces the typical ‘class’ from most rpgs and will often be similar, with options such as warrior or thief being available. But there is infinite breadth here and there is nothing stopping a player from making a farmhand, blacksmith, or scribe.

Players will then choose an adjective (Strong, cunning, sneaky, gifted) that describes the way that their character approaches obstacles. During the game player’s who can justify why an action fits their adjective will receive a bonus to their roll, making that action more likely to succeed.

Finally players will decide on a unique ability or quality for their character. This is the thing that sets them apart from the regular folk and destines them for a life of greatness. A player should discuss this ability with their GM but for the most part they have free reign to invent something.

At the end of this process players will have a short sentence that describes their character. This is all that is needed to be able to start playing.


  • A strong knight who can heal wounds with his touch.
  • An agile farmhand who can speak to animals.
  • A beautiful wizard whose spirit can leave her body.
  • A smooth­talking merchant with a photographic memory.

The System:

In order to determine success or failure of any task the GM sets a target number, out of 10, and the player attempting the action must roll a ten-sided die (D10). A result that is higher or equals the given number is a success while a lower roll is a failure. A result of 1 is a botch which usually means something bad for the player. If a player can describe or justify why their character’s adjective would apply in this situation (A strong character lifting something, a cunning character lying to the authorities) then they receive a +2 bonus to their roll.

Player’s can further swing the odds by positioning themselves into an advantageous spot. If it can be reasoned that a player has advantage in a situation then they roll two D10 and take the higher result.

Example: A thuggish character lies in wait to spring an ambush. When he does, he has advantage and rolls two dice to hit. A sneaky character would also have advantage in this situation, but his sneaky adjective would stack giving him two D10 that both benefit from his +2.

The flipside of this situation is to imagine the same two characters trying to move a rock using a lever and fulcrum. The lever and fulcrum offers advantage, while the thug gets his +2 bonus on top.

Yes I know these ideas aren’t entirely original:

This simple system is a combination of a few systems that I really like. Character creation is drawn from Numenera and I love how easy it is to remember everything about your character from a short sentence. I don’t recall if Numenera does this, but I even ignored gear, tying that into the chosen noun. If you could justify why a warrior would bring an extra knife hidden in his boot then, great! It was there all along.

The advantage/disadvantage die mechanic is taken from DnD Next and I think it is a brilliant way to boil down a bunch of modifiers into something simple.

The choice of D10 comes from Numenera and Orpheus and I just agree wholeheartedly that it is very easy to think about tasks in terms of their difficulty out of ten.

So, feel free to play a game using these rules and add in your own tweaks because this is really not my property. 😛

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