zilch / agony









Every character and creature is represented in terms of four Suits. In most cases, each Suit will have a value between 2 and 14 (Ace). Face cards are unusual, and an average human would have a 6 in each Suit.

To allow for finer modelling, player characters (PCs) have 2 cards for each Suit: a primary and secondary Suit. In play, a secondary Suit can be represented by a second Suit card above/behind the first. If both values are the same, no second card is needed. Most game effects--such as Chips, drain, spells, etc--target the primary Suit, though any such effects also affect the paired secondary Suit by an equal amount.

Clubs ()

Clubs represent strength, athleticism, combat training, and physical prowess. It is the basis of all physical attacks in combat, whether ranged or melee. Clubs is the suit of a Fighter.

Tests: Physical activities, such as climbing, jumping, swimming, breaking things, intimidating others, and surviving in the wild.

Chips: As a Fighter, you may spend one or more Club chips to add an equal number of pips to the Offensive side of your domino for a single Club-based attack or save.

Spades ()

Spades represent dexterity, subtlety, street-smarts, speed, reflexes, and awareness. It is the basis of your defense in combat. Spades is the Suit of a Rogue.

Tests: Subterfuge activities, such as finding or disabling traps, sneaking, bluffing, feinting, lying, and noticing dangerous things in your environment.

Chips: As a Rogue, you may spend one or more Spade chips to add an equal amount to your Defensive pips while resolving a single Spade-based defense or save.

Diamonds ()

Diamonds represent intelligence, logic, learning, knowledge, conscious mind, willpower, and magical potential. Diamonds is the Suit of a Spellcaster.

Tests: Applications of knowledge, such as identifying strange scripts, monsters, or dungeon features; recalling tidbits of history, geography, or culture; etc.

Chips: As a Spellcaster, you must spend your Diamond chips to cast spells. A Spellcaster usually specializes as a Wizard, Healer, Necromancer, Druid, etc. depending on their spell selection options. See Magic for more.

Hearts ()

Hearts represent health, vitality, verve, charisma, guts, tenacity, and general chutzpah. It determines how many hit points you have, and thus how much damage you can take. Hearts is not associated with any class.

Tests: Communication when you are dealing honestly and openly (that is, when not trying to hide your true nature); endurance, concentration, and perseverance, especially in the face of physical discomfort or distraction.

Chips: Your Heart chips are your hit points (HP). Lose one HP for each point of damage you take. See Injury for more.

Character Generation

Option: For high-powered characters, use a 6 to J range, discarding characters of 30 points or less.

Divide a deck of cards into 4 piles according to Suit. Remove all cards except those in the 5 to 10 range from each pile. Shuffle each pile and place it face-down. Each player draws 1 card from each pile to generate a character. If your 4 cards total 25 or less, you may choose to discard your hand and draw again.

All players should agree to use one of the following methods to generate their characters.

Point Buy (default): Start with a 4 in each of the eight Suit cards and 30 points to spend. Each +Suit costs 1 point up to 10 and then 2 points through each face card. You may not buy past King. (To change the power-level of the PCs, increase the starting value from 4 to 5 or 6.)

Cautious Roll: Roll 8d6. Assign each 1d6+4 to each primary and secondary Suit. If you are open to playing any class, assign dice to Suits in the order rolled. (For a high-powered adventure, raise the +4 modifier to +6 or roll 8d8.)

Reckless Roll: Roll 16d6. Assign two dice to each Suit.


Choose a race during character creation and receive the corresponding card value modifications and special abilities:

You may not exceed a King and must have a 2 or better in each Suit to start play.


Choose your class. This allows you to place Chips on the related Suit card and then spend them for special effects. (Therefore, you will only ever have chips on your class Suit card(s) and on Hearts.) You may not place more class chips on a card than that card's value. This normal chip maximum may be reduced by other factors (such as multiclassing or drain).

Only primary Suit cards have a Chip capacity.

You can recover spent chips by Rallying, Resting, or Sleeping. (See Recovery for more.)


You may choose more than one class if you wish. If you multiclass like this, each of your class Suit cards are treated as having a value of only [1 / (the number of your classes), rounded down] when determining class effects such as chip capacity. For example, a fighter/wizard might have 10 and 7. This character would only have a max of 5 chips and 3 chips.

A character may have only a single Spellcaster class. That is, you may not multiclass between two different Spellcaster types.


Whenever you attempt some non-combat task or undertaking that has an uncertain outcome, test the appropriate Suit to see whether you succeed. (The range of activities covered by each Suit is described above.)

Suit Test: Roll 1d12, which explodes into a +d8. (That is, on a die result of 12, +1d8.) To succeed in a test, roll less than or equal to your relevant skill value (as modified by any GM-assigned conditional modifiers). The lower your roll, the better your performance. The human average Suit value is a 6, which succeeds an average task 50% of the time.

Criticals: If rolling <= (skill - 5), you score a critical success: you perform the task with particular subtlety, speed, or flair. This may get you some small advantage or improved result.

If you roll > (skill + 5), you score a critical failure, which may earn you some small setback or delay due to your bungling performance. Generally, a regular failure means no progress is made but a critical failure means an actual mishap or setback.

These different Degrees of Success (DoS) are abbreviated: CS (critical success), S (success), F (failure), CF (critical failure).

An example: A character is attempting to climb a cliff. She has a 9. Rolling 9 or less is a Success. Rolling 4 or less is a Critical Success--perhaps allowing her to climb at double her normal speed. Rolling 14 or less is a Failure--she makes no progress up the cliff. Rolling a 15 or higher is a Critical Failure--she falls.

Although other intermediate values may be used, the recommended task difficulty modifiers are -5 for a very hard test, -2 for a hard test, and +2 for an easy test. (A +5 modifier suggests that the task is so easy that a roll is probably not even required.)

Contests: In a contest of skills, each contestant rolls a Suit test. If both fail, the contest is a draw (or rather, a non-starter). If one succeeds while the other fails, the successful contestant wins. If both succeed, the contestant with the lower roll wins. If the rolls are tied, the contest is a draw, meaning the contestants continue to struggle for an advantage. In cases when a immediate victor is required, the initiator of the contest wins on a successful draw (or, if no clear initiator, the one with the higher Suit value; or just roll again.)

Saves: A Save is a special Test used to avoid an effect after you have already been exposed to it. (This is much like a contest in which the initiator has already won a success.) Most saves are simply binary: you either succeed or fail a save, without any critial effects. Saves usually happen as a free action.

To-Hit Contests: Attempting to hit an opponent, whether with melee, ranged, or aimed magical attack, dominos are used instead of dice and no roll-under is required. See Combat for more.


Option: Start with only half of your Talents and Runes. Each time you gain a level, gain another Rune and Talent up to your max Knowledge. You may choose not to purchase a Talent. For each unpurchased Talent--whether by choice or because you have not reached your max--gain one Boon token. Spend a Boon to +2 to your current action before the results are declared. You may spend only 1 Boon per action. Boon tokens reset each time you Sleep.

You may purchase one Talent for each inherent point of Knowledge (2) you have. Your number of Talents does not vary if your Diamonds are changed by drain, magic, worn items, etc. A Talent can be either a Skill or Knack.

A starting character may trade a degree of armor proficiency for a Talent. This is useful for producing a cloistered cleric, a swashbuckling fighter, or other skilled class variant. You may trade only Plate, Heavy, and Light proficiencies, in that order. Multiclassing does not grant you extra proficiencies to trade from each class.


A Skill lets you perform better on a specific type of task or test. A sample skill list is as follows:

AcrobaticsTumbling, catfalls, slipping free of bonds ().
Animal HandlingControlling a mount (); stay on a galloping mount (); calming/taming an animal (2); training an animal ().
AthleticsClimbing, jumping, swimming, running (2); stamina, athletic endurance ().
BluffDeception, distracting, misleading, taunting, impersonating, fast-talking, seduction (2 or 2 ).
BurglaryPicking locks, bypassing/disabling traps and security ( or 2); planning an heist ().
Craft/ProfessionLike Knowledge, each should be a specific job. Also includes things like Performing, Disguise, Forgery, Apraising, etc.
DiplomacyNegotation, haggling, persuasion, making a good first impression (2); formal debate ().
ExamineActive examination and searching (2); appraising an item's value (2 or 2).
First AidMay substitute for an Ongoing Damage test for either self or another under your care (2).
GossipTo gather social information, spread rumors, name drop (2); streetwise, fencing illicit goods (2).
IntimidateForce someone to do what you want in your presence, interrogate, torture ( or 2, depending on technique.)
Knowledge: Arcane Magic theory, IDing fey and mythic creatures (2).
Knowledge: Divine Religion, deities, IDing undead (2).
Knowledge: Geography Locations, nations, physical topology and natural features (2).
Knowledge: History Past nations and events, heraldry, nobility, IDing mythic creatures and famous magical items (2).
Knowledge: Nature IDing natural hazards, plants, and beasts(2).
Knowledge: Planes Other planes of existance, gates and portals, IDing primordials (2).
Knowledge: Social Culture, societal norms, IDing humanoids (2).
Language A special skill, you may take this one multiple times. Each time you know another language.
Notice To passively notice danger in your environment (2).
Read Person To get a sense of someone's current internal state, such as their trustworthiness or whether lying or under a compulsion (2); to get as sense of someone's combat training or likely strategy ().
Sleight of Hand Pick-pocket, holdout or concealment of small objects, palming/swapping small items while observed ()
Spellcraft Practical magical knowledge, such as IDing a rune, spells, magical effect, or magic item (2).
Stealth Hiding, sneaking (2); trailing someone unnoticed (2 or 2).
Survival Getting along in the wild, hunting, tracking, navigation, weather prediction, temporary shelter ().

Whenever rolling a test to which one of your Skills applies, +5 to your Suit. (In most cases, this adds 1 to your resulting degree of success.) As evidenced above, a Skill may apply to a different Suit depending on exactly what you're trying to do or the style in which you are doing it.

Option: Instead of a single +5 to one skill, each Skill Talent purchased gives you five +1s that you can assign to different skills as you desire. No skill may have more than a +5 bonus.

Other customized skills are possible. For example, Knowledge: [local area] may substitute for any other Knowledge check made in that area. Or, Knowledge: Orcs might offer a skill bonus on any skill related to orcs--such as Bluff, Survival (tracking), Knowledge: Social, etc. Or Stonecunning could offer a bonus to any Craft, Examine, or Knowledge check involving stone.

With the exception of Language, you can only take each skill once--you either have it or you don't. Also, you only get a single +5 modifier, even if you happen to have two skills relevant to that test.

In addition, the GM may claim that some degrees of success are only possible to those with training in the relevant skill. For example, it may be that anyone can potentially recognize that a foe is casting a spell, but only someone with the Spellcraft spell could ID that spell (even on a CS).

When making a Skill test, a -5 modifier is effectively the same as requiring a critical success to succeed. This can be useful in situations in which the GM feels success would only be likely with some specialized training. For example, a GM might allow a character to roll Spades to pick a pocket. Depending on whether the character's intention is success or subtlety, a successful check would mean either that the pick-pocketing succeeded but was noticed or that it failed but the target did not notice the attempt. But it would take a critical success for the pick-pocketing was both successful and undetected. Similarly, a Spades check may allow a character to find a few tracks here and there in a grassy meadow. However, it would take a success at -5 (or a critical success) to be able to correctly track the character's query from the meadow into the forest.


Knacks allow you to preform special stunts or grant you other abilities. Most are powered by your Suit chips, and so many have pre-requisites.


Rage (see Rage spell.  Free action to activate?  Or only on dmg, otherwise minor?)
Mobile/Spring Attack?
Stunning Fist





You may carry two items in your hands. For example, each hand may hold 1 weapon, shield, or wand. Some weapons--such as bows or two-handed weapons--require both hands to use.

You may wear 1 suit of armor.

You may carry on your person--in a handy way, such as on your belt, in a pocket or pouch, or slung over your shoulder--up to 5 additional items. These items can be used immediately.

All other gear must go into your pack. It takes a full action to retrieve an item from your backpack.

Unless the GM or the scenario you are playing suggests otherwise, you are assumed to have sufficient standard adventuring gear: backpack, rations, waterskin, rope, a couple torches, sufficient ammo for your ranged weapons, bandages and salve, etc.


Weapons deal the given amount of damage on a successful attack, plus 1dF. (A dF is a Fudge die with two + sides, two 0 sides, and two - sides.) 0 dmg is enough to touch or scratch the skin and administer any effects (such as taint or energy dmg), but negative dmg is not.

+dmgWeapon categoryExamples
+1Tiny unarmed; dagger, steel gauntlet; rock, shuriken, blowgun
+2Light shortsword, rapier, club; shortbow, sling
+3Heavy longsword, morningstar, warhammer, polearm; longbow
+4Great greataxe, greatsword, great crossbow.
(Great weapons always requires two hands to use.)

Different weapons in the same category may have different advantages or disadvantages in specific situations. For example, a club would be of no use when trying to slash a rope, a greataxe or longbow might be unusable in a cramped tunnel or from horseback, and a polearm might allow the wielder to attack an anchored foe from just out of reach of reprisals. Some weapons--such as a bow, staff, or polearm--may require two hands to use while other weapons in the same category do not.

Weapons with two ends, such as a staff, can be used as if they were two light weapons (+2 dmg each), or as a single-ended heavy weapon (+3 dmg). Either style takes two hands to use.

Although loading slings and crossbows does not take an extra action, they still take too long to load to use quickly.


Armor adds to your Damage Resistance, which reduces the amount of damage you take from weapons and other physical attacks (but not from spells, energy attacks, etc.):

+DRArmor categoryExamplesReinforced (+1 DR)Proficiency
+0Thin robes, jerkin padded armor, leather bracers, battle coatWizard
+1Light leather armor, brigandine, chain shirt studded leather, shoulder bracesRogue
+2Heavy scale, chainmail, cuirass/breastplate splints, greavesCleric
+3Plate platemail, half-plate, banded mail fullplateFighter

Each class is proficient with a given category of armor and shields, as well as all lighter categories. Wearing heavier armor than a character is proficient with means the character is Hampered (encumbered). As with weapons, armor and shields may occasionally have drawbacks depending on the situation. For example, a (Athletics (Swim)) check might be at -2 for each +DR or +defense due to mundane armor or shield.

Reinforced armor grants +1 extra DR. However, the extra weight takes up 1 body slot.


Shields are used to block incoming blows, and so they grant a bonus to your defensive pips, just like cover. However, they do not offer this protection if you are Entangled (including grappled or grappling) or Helpless.

+defenseShield categoryBash?Proficiency
+1BucklerNo Wizard
+1Small Yes Rogue
+2Large Yes Cleric
+2Tower No Fighter

A shield normally requires a hand slot. A buckler is small enough to strap to your forearm instead. This requires 1 body slot, but doing so frees up the hand for other uses, such as spellcasting.

Guarded bonus: When in a Guarded stance, you may instead add double your shield's defense to your defensive pips as you duck behind it and focus on its use. A Tower shield offers a little extra protection: +5 defense (instead of +4).

Shield bash: Shields can be used to bash for 1 dmg as if a Tiny weapon. Adding spikes makes the shield a Light (2 dmg) weapon. A buckler is too light and a tower shield is too heavy to effectively bash.

Special Gear

salve eggs - a powerful and sticky salve stored in an egg shell with wax-sealed ends.  
Smash the egg onto a wound in combat and heal up to 3 dmg.  
However, the fast healing causes stiffness: take 2 spades drain.

war pitch - a black tacky salve that itches while it heals.  
Spread one application on wounds (outside of combat) and heal 3 dmg.  
Does not overcome taint.

war pitch patch - removeable backing, slapped on a wound during combat.  
Stop bleeding and heals 1 dmg, but not taint.

cure-all syrup - a chalky tangy syrup.  
Cures 3 dmg with the following restrictions: removes up to 3 taint first, 
and then converts the rest from dmg to temporary dmg.


Encumbrance is not tracked except in exceptional cases--such as when lugging a dragon's hoard, multiple suits of armor, or your fallen comrade back to the surface. Treat encumbrance as being Hampered. If staggering around with a load you can barely lift, you may be Defenseless too.

Minimum Strength (2) requirement to use weapons: 2+ for Tiny, 3+ for Light, 5+ for Heavy, 7+ for Great. Increase these requirements by +2 for ranged weapons. (By using a winch, crossbows can be used at -2 to these requirements instead of +2, though a minor action is then required to load the crossbow each time.) Failing to meet requirements means a corresponding penalty to attacks using that weapon. For example, using a Great melee weapon with only 4 Strength would mean -3 to each attack made with it.

Minimum requirements for armor: 2+ for Thin, 5+ for Light, 7+ for Heavy, 9+ for Plate. Reinforced versions add 1 to these requirements. If using a shield, +1 to your minumum Strength requirement for a small shield and +2 for a large shield. Failing to meet requirements by 1 or 2 points means you are Slowed. Failure by 3 or more points means your are Hampered (encumbered).