Wretches & Riches – version 0.41

This is the homebrew game I’ve been putting friends and family through. It started off as a GLOG hack with gradually more and more Knave and Black Hack elements introduced, then cut out, then sewn back in again. Then Into The Odd reared its head, and apparently it’s taken on some Savage Worlds developments too. I’ve never read Savage Worlds, so others will be in a better position to compare them.

I’ve never found reading rulebooks easy. The information just doesn’t get absorbed efficiently, and I really struggle to translate what I read to what the process might look like in action at the (physical or virtual) table. I wanted to a game which might be a bit kinder to those of us less academically-inclined folks. Pictures, diagrams and examples aplenty. Minimal modifiers.

Old School Compatibility

I wanted to keep it compatible with all the D&D modules out there so it couldn’t stray too far from that framework, but it certainly pushes the boundaries. It’s various versions have been through the Tomb of the Serpent Kings, the Stygian Library, Fever Swamp and various Trilemma adventures, and its currently running through Against the Cult of the Reptile God. From a GM’s perspective, I’d say it has been simple enough to convert things, particularly monsters, on the fly.

Key points:

  • Attributes are dice, not modifiers – ranging from d4 to a max of d12. Roll 3+ to succeed a check. Don’t roll if it’s too easy or impossible. Roll with advantage or disadvantage if there needs to be an adjustment made for difficulty. Opposed rolls if another party is involved (traps and the like can be interpreted to be another party).This means there’s a tactile element to go with a character’s attribute improvement.
  • Four attributes rather than six: Might, Nimbleness, Discipline and Wits. Two physical and two mental. No charisma stat – if a player wants to roll during a conversation, the attribute is determined by the character’s approach to the conversation (Might for intimidating, Wits to be charming, etc).
  • Luck which is also a die – the player can choose to roll it with any other attribute die. Essentially players can choose to roll with Advantage, but if the Luck die rolls 1-3, it drops down a size.
  • Inventory as HP – the more you get hit, the less you can carry and the less effective you are. Characters have twice as many burden slots as their highest attribute die, and these are used for noting equipment, spells and archetypal abilities. Each point of damage taken fills up a slot with an Encumbrance – any contents must be dropped or rendered unusable. If all slots are filled with Encumbrances, the character rolls on the Death / Reprieve table.
  • Opposed combat rolls with both participants rolling a single die depending on their weapon. Highest roll inflicts the difference in damage (except in ranged combat – if the defender wins, they’ve just avoided damage). Armour reduces this damage to a minimum of 1. Shields don’t reduce damage, but reduce the size of the opponent’s die. If a character uses a weapon die higher than their Might die, then they roll at disadvantage. Allies can roll their dice together and take the sum for their side.
  • Powerful but dangerous and unreliable magic where the player chooses how many magic dice to roll (equal size to the character’s Wits die), and the number that roll 4+ is the level at which the spell is cast. Doubles reduce the Wits die and trebles cause a magical mishap which permanently takes up a burden slot (until the character performs a quest for a wizard or something like that).I like the idea that a character could decide to go out with a bang and cast at a level which, while dooming themselves, might well eliminate an army of opponents.
  • Die-based hirelings for simple book keeping – just need to record their die, inventory (equal to die size) and what they’re good at. If they need to do anything, roll their die as the appropriate attribute. If it’s an area of expertise, roll the next die size up (if they need to roll at all). Getting injured drops their die size down. Use their die for any morale rolls.

Format-wise, it prints nicely as an A5 booklet. The first half accounts for character creation, and the second half encompasses the basic rules. Open up the middle page spread and that’s the start of the rules, covering the main points of controlling a character.

Art from W M Goodes’ work in the public domain, taken from A Comic Guide to the English and A Comic Guide to the Greeks. It captures the sort of tone I like in my games, and there’s a load of good stuff. Any spare white space in further Wretches & Riches work is definitely going to get filled.

PDF of the game book is available here.
Google Sheets version of the character sheet is available here.

7 thoughts on “Wretches & Riches – version 0.41

  1. I have a number of questions. I apologies beforehand if they come as too nitpicking. Henchmen are good idea, I think. Not very clear if Encumbrance is counted from the beginning of the Burden Slots or from the end or at random – from example it looks like if from the end, starting from empty slot. If Encumbrance isn't random, can players set their inventories in such ways that some abilities will stay active until the end?In Death/Reprieve table, the number in brackets, is how many Encumbrance slots are recovered? Why in a combat example #2 A and B win over C with 5 and 4 over 8? When Death/Reprieve table comes into effect? I assume it is when a character runs out of Burden Slots (wounds) in combat but because the table is away from the Combat section, I am not fully sure.\”If a character is armed with a shield, they may reduce (one of) their opponent’s Combat Dice.\” – so the shield is only effective against rolling with advantage, luck or two weapon attacks, because usually the opponent only rolls one Combat Die (as per weapon)? In general, Combat section wording and/or layout is a bit murky to me.Is there upper limit on a number of Magic Dice the character can roll? Do people learn Words and can combine all Words known on fly and each Word takes a slot or do they learn permanent Word combinations in the shape of spell where each spell takes a slot? How it is determined how many words the character knows at the start (if they can any)?

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  2. I don't consider this nitpicking at all – they are perfectly valid points and questions.ENCUMBRANCEYeah, the player can fill out whichever slots they want with the encumbrance, so it's up to them which slots they want to keep usable. They'll have to work out if they want to keep using their ability or carry that golden statue out away. It left one player a few games ago with the choice of dropping their weapon or their armour.DEATH/REPRIEVEYes, it allows the player to remove some encumbrance slots so that they don't find themselves rolling on the table every instance of being hit. They probably will have to do so again, but this aims to enable them to make a fighting withdrawal if they so choose.COMBAT EXAMPLEHah, this is why proofreading is great! I edited out an important line at some point and forgot to put it back in – allies can add their attacks together against a single opponent. This encourages players to work together in turn order, and means a fighter can't just go, \”Pff, it's only three guards – I can take them\”. Well, the fighter might, but it's unwise!SHIELDMost PCs and NPCs will only be rolling one die in combat, so that's the die which will be reduced. I included (one of) to account for creatures which might be rolling multiple dice.My hope is to reduce everything to having one attack, as it were. If a creature statblock has three attacks – e.g. a tail damage of 2d4 and two claw attacks of 1d6 each – then they are all rolled together, a bit like the Luck die is.So in the example above, the creature would roll a d6, a d6 and 2d4, and take the highest as their combat roll. Bearing in mind that these are rolled both when the creature attacks and is attacked, it aims to stop things like ghouls with their three attacks become impossible opponents.MAGICNo upper limit on the number of magic dice – a novice caster could in theory roll something like 10d6 to cast a very powerful spell, but doubles are guaranteed, and trebles (with the resulting mishap roll) highly likely. A higher Wits die means the caster is both more likely to know how many dice to roll to cast a spell at a particular level, and able to cast higher level spells at lower risk of exhausting or miscasting themselves.Character creation as it stands allows for a character to learn two spells made up of a verb and noun each. Casters can mix and match spell words, so several single word spells allow for much more flexibility in what they can cast, but they each take up a slot, whereas multiple word spells are more limited but take up just the one slot.

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