Jface – Dude who likes TTRPGs and does YouTube stuff


A blend of OSR style of play with closer math and mechanics to 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons. This game ratchets up the tension by making players manage resources like Light and food. The mechanics lend themselves to the idea of exploring a dungeon. This GM section is one of the best in the game for its shear number of quick reference tables you could use with any other TTRPG you have. Its an OSR style game, but the math is a bit more lenient. However, its very cool that it was not designed with any particular hard and fast rules for dice modifications. This really lends itself to players using their own RP to gain these sorts of advantages (and disadvantages).

At its core this game is about exploring into the depths of a dungeon and managing your resources under tension
GM Resource
This might be one of the best Resources for GM's to have at their table with all the charts
I put this hear because the simplistic game mechanics make you want to narrate to get Advantage or Modifications
Super Fast
Without a lot of powers, just talents that change the math slightly you are rolling and moving

Resolution Mechanic

Roll over d20 system. If you tie then its a success. There is a difficulty class which is what you are trying to roll over. Really nice DC system that keeps things simple.

Random chance mechanic. When you need to decide chance, or have a question that you don’t know the answer to you roll a d6. 1-3 is worse outcome, 4-6 is the better one.

Contested Checks are just rolling the same stat and trying to get higher. Reroll on a tie

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Character Design


Dwarf Elf Goblin Half-Orc Halfling Human

Each of them is going to give you some small feature that is flavorful. Goblins can’t be surprised, Dwarves have more +2 HP and roll hit points with advantage, etc.

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Charisma Constitution Dexterity Intelligence Strength Wisdom

You are going to roll 3d6 for each attribute. You don't get to choose which stat you are rolling for, or swap stats when you are done. If no stat is 14 or high you may roll a new set of six stats, meaning you always have at least a +2 in your main stat.

Nice distinction between Wisdom and Intelligence. Wisdom is for sensory acuity and instinct. Intelligence is for knowledge and logic.


Skills are very vague. Your classes have things you will be good at and have advantage in, but if you want to learn a new skill you need to find someone who can teach you. Then you have to succeed in a DC 18 intelligence check (not easy). If you do you now have a new skill


The Background table is a d20 roll (or you could choose). These just give more flavor. As an example if you are Herbalist then you know plants, medicine and poisons.

Alignment. I love that alignment now has the concept of effecting some of your actual leveling and options.

  • Chaotic - destructive, ambition, wickedness. Survival of the fittest
  • Lawful - fairness, order, virtue. Good of the whole.
  • Neutral - growth and decline. Nature must take its course

Class / Profession

Fighter Priest Thief Wizard

There is a simplistic beauty behind the character design. Shadowdark doesn’t want powers to get in the way of you narratively trying things out.

Classes are some very simple passive abilities that grant you flavor. Weapon proficiencies, armor proficiencies, HP, and then abilities that grant Advantage to things. Fighters have advantage when lifting things, a +1 with a weapon type, strength or Dex checks. Rogues get Advantage with sneaky stuff, and backstab. Priests and Wizards get spell casting.

Then there are Talents. These are things you get when you level. For the most part they are +’s that slightly increase your abilities to attack, attributes, armor, etc. Its all subtle changes that effect math in the game, which is meant to be tight.

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Equipment / Gear

Carry enough items equal to your Strength stat. Some items cost more gear slots than others.


Based on treasures and boons you earn while adventuring. You need to get 10x your level in Xp, which resets to 0 when you level. The quality of the things you find (poor-legendary) are going to give you varying amount of XP.

Every odd level number you will get a new talent. Talents

You need to check if you have a new title. I absolutely love that there are different titles based on your level and based on your alignment. These feel really cool, and they give the sense of progress. I think that moments of change are so important.

If you die, there is a Random PC 0th level generator also!

Learning a skill during downtime. This might be another way to get Advantage with things. You need to find someone to teach you, then roll a DC 18 Intelligence check. Success and you learn it

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Dex Based

This is done at the beginning of the session, not just in combat. You all roll d20+dex modifier and you go around the table clockwise from whoever won. The GM rolls during this as well, because on their turn during this phase they are rolling for random encounters. Depending on the danger level of the environment they might be rolling every 3 rounds or every round. An encounter occurs on a 1 of a d6.

A new initiative is rolled when combat starts. So you might want to put your lowest Dex person just counterclockwise to the GM, and your highest clockwise to them :P

Turns / Rounds

Turn is 1 players action, and round is when everyone has gone.

Action Economy

1 Action and 1 Move

Attack Mechanic

You are just using the resolution mechanic against the monsters armor class. You are rolling a d20 and adding what bonuses you might have. Melee would be strength modifier plus class talents.

Average damage is a roughly a d6 in this game.

Beginner’s Luck is a really fun concept. As a 0th level character you can wield and use all gear you want. Life at this level is tough, so this gives you some help.

Critical hit causes double damage.

Defensive Mechanic

Your Armor Class is the target number of attack rolls against you. Same with you attacking monsters.

Your armor or lack of armor is going to determine your AC.

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Modifications to Resolution

Advantage/Disadvantage Luck / Reroll

Advantage & Disadvantage system. You will roll two dice and either take the higher with advantage or the lower with disadvantage.

Luck Token. These act similar to inspiration. If you get one, you can turn it in for a reroll of a dice. You then have to use the new result.

Good advice for GMs in terms of giving out luck. You give 3-5 luck tokens for heroic feel. Only 1 luck for a more grim dark, gritty feel.


Morale - if you get enemies to half their ranks they will flee on a DC 15 Wisdom fail

Resource Management

Rest Mechanic

There is only 1 Rest mechanic. You need to rest for 8 Hours and eat rations. If you can't do this then you aren't getting any hit points or spells back.


Light is the main resource management in this game besides hit points. The Torch. When 1 hour in real life has passed then you have spent 1 hour in game. That is how long 1 torch will last. Combine 3 torches into a campfire - last 8 hours.

Health & Dying

Death Timer. If you get knocked down to 0 hit points then you need to make a 1d4+con modifier roll on your turn. This is how long until you really die. On subsequent turns you will roll a d20. If you get a 20 you can stand back up.

Your allies better stabilize you, which is an action with a DC 15 INT check.

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Magic System

In order to cast a spell you need to do so successfully. There is a DC to casting that is 10+(level of the spell). What you have to do is roll a d20+ either your intelligence modifier (wizard) or wisdom modifier (priest).

If you succeed, then it happens. If you fail then you cannot cast that spell again the rest of the day. This gets rid of the idea of spell slots. Critical Success result is going to double the effect. Critical Failure then you might have to roll on the Mishap table, or make a ritualistic penance to your dirty.

Scrolls and Wands are like Cyphers in Numenera. They act as a 1 time use. You have to roll a DC of 10+ the magic item tier. If you succeed it happens, if you fail it just loses its ability.

Character Sheet