Monday 7 June 2021

A Primordial System (and its Fighter)

Continuing on from this and the monsters I made here, I've given a bit more thought to this extremely stripped-back, qualitative system, drawing on a lot of FKR inspiration.

A key thing I want to emphasis here is that this text is not the game. These barest rules and guidance are just a tool to allow the game to happen. It isn't a game until you've got the actual moving pieces to bang against each other, typically some interesting characters in an exciting situation. 

So really, this is the easy part. Let's look at it.



Player Characters are defined by words, not numbers. Typically this consists of one or more of the following contained in a playbook, with blank spaces left for expansion:

  • Tags: Words or short phrases that help you to remember key qualities of your character. These may come and go as the game progresses, especially through injuries and other temporary conditions. 
  • Facts: Truths about the world that your character knows, and may be in a unique position to exploit. These can be techniques, contacts, maps, or really anything that can be written/drawn.
  • Gear: Important pieces of equipment, though your character can be assumed to carry other common items based on their Tags.


If your action is Unchallenged, then there is no need to roll unless you are pushing for an extra benefit. 

When there is opposition or risk to your action, weigh up whether you have an Edge. Generally this means you have the upper hand through careful preparations, innate capabilities, or specialist tools. If the obstacles or opposition facing you outweighs these, then you do not have an Edge. 

Roll 2d12. Keep the High die if you have an Edge, and Low if you don’t. Consult the chart for an answer to the question “Do I get my desired outcome?”.

Whatever the outcome, things move forward.

Who has the Edge?

This is left down to the GM’s adjudication after discussion with the players. If it is unclear then consider the following rules of thumb:

  • Fear the Unknown - If the players are heading into an unknown situation or taking on an opponent they do not understand, it is difficult for them to have an Edge. 
  • Reward a Plan - If the players are carrying out a carefully prepared plan based on good information, favour them. 
  • Favour the Active - If all else appears even, give the edge to whichever side is currently taking action.


When you suffer harm you can Ask the Stars for the fallout or go with the narratively appropriate result. This is marked as a tag and affects your future actions. 

Typically when something goes wrong, the GM does one of the following:

  1. Threaten - Create a new problem

  2. Escalate - Amplify an existing problem

  3. Impact - Have a problem deliver on its threat

These do not need to be performed in order, but problems must be established as a Threat before they Escalate or Impact. 

Threaten - Create a new problem

At this stage the problem is really a threat. It’s something that will cause permanent fallout if left untended. 

The Troll pins your Ranger up against a wall.

Escalate - Amplify an existing problem

The stakes of a problem are raised, now posing a higher threat or making itself more difficult to address, but still not fully realised as a permanent consequence. 

The Troll squeezes the air out of the Ranger, they start to black out.

Impact - Have a problem deliver on its threat

An existing problem transforms into a permanent consequence. 

The Troll throws the seemingly lifeless Ranger down to the ground.


When you succeed with an action you typically get the outcome that you were aiming for, but the actual level of impact should be considered.

Typically when the players succeed at an action intended to solve a problem, the GM does one of the following:

  1. Advance - Move in a favourable direction. 

  2. Disrupt - Lessen the threat of a problem.

  3. Resolve - Put the problem to rest. 

These do not need to be performed in order, but major problems may require an Advance or Disrupt action before they can be Resolved. 

Advance - Move in a Favourable Direction

Turn the situation in the players’ favour in a long or short-term way. 

The Troll is preoccupied with rummaging through the Ranger’s backpack, letting the Fighter move behind it undetected. 

Disrupt - Lessen the threat of the problem.

The stakes of a problem are lowered, now posing a weaker threat or making itself easier to address, but still not fully resolved. 

The fighter stabs the troll through the back, leaving a gushing wound. It  staggers back, lowering its guard.

Resolve - Put the problem to rest. 

The threat is removed, usually on a permanent basis. Characters may have one more chance to lessen the harm caused, but it cannot be nullified. The fighter plunges a lit torch into the Troll’s wound, causing it to scream and shrivel into a broken heap.

Playbook - Fighter

Calling - Choose 1:

  • Money - Start with a heavy purse of coins.

  • Duty - You always have one more breath of fight within you.

  • Bloodlust - You are unaffected by the horrors of battle,

Physique - Choose 1:

  • Strong - You can perform acts of prodigious strength. 

  • Swift - You always get to attack before your opponent. 

  • Scarred - You have a number of war stories to inspire or terrify. 

Weapons - Choose 3 that you are carrying: 

Shortsword: Built for quick, precise thrusts at close range. 

Longsword: A versatile weapon with no real weaknesses. 

Greatsword: Heavy and slow, but able to cause massive damage. 

Battleaxe: Can be wielded clumsily in one hand, or confidently in two. Best against slower, armoured enemies. 

Mace: Good balance of speed and armour-breaking impact. 

Flail: A heavy, clumsy weapon that is difficult to block with a shield or parry with a weapon. 

Warhammer: An impact weapon designed to break through even heavily armoured enemies. 

Spear: The king of weapons if you can keep your enemy at a safe distance or set against their charge. 

Halberd: Unwieldy, but ideal for keeping armoured enemies at bay and tackling larger foes. 

Shortbow: A quick and combat missile weapon.

Crossbow: Heavy but accurate, with an armour-piercing punch.

Armour - Start with a Shield and either Leather, Chain, or Splint Armour:

Shield: Good all-round protection, shattering under especially heavy blows. 

Leather: Light protection but high manoeuvrability.

Chain: Good protection against bladed attacks. 

Scale: Medium protection and good manoeuvrability, but still heavy over long distance. 

Splint: Heavy protection, but clumsy and heavy. 

Plate: The ultimate protection, and surprisingly good mobility, but loud, expensive and requires fitting. 


These are but a few manoeuvres that can be learned. Add those you learn to this list.

Bull Rush: If you can catch an opponent off-balance, or overpower them, you can push them backward or down onto their back. 

Cleave: When you kill with a decisive blow you can follow-through to immediately attack another nearby enemy. 

Deathblow: If you can wear down an opponent beforehand you can deliver a brutal killing blow.

Duel: You are in your element when you isolate an armed enemy and give them your full attention.  

Grapple: When you have at least one free hand you can grab an enemy, making yourself difficult to dislodge and potentially taking them to the ground. 

Second Wind: Once per fight you can take a moment to recompose yourself, returning to the fight with renewed vigour. 

Sword Spell: If you ever discover means of using spells you can channel their power into your weapons.


When fighting as a group of 3 or more, formations may grant an edge in certain situations.

Column: Allows swift and agile movement. 

Echelon: A recessed line that can drive the enemy toward the recessed side.

Lance: If you hit hard enough on the charge you break through the enemy formation, splitting them in two. 

Line: Allows you to fire as one in a volley, which can leave the targets shaken. 

Pincer: When you outnumber your enemies you can round their flanks, with devastating effect. 

Square: 1-in-5 of your formation can hold the centre of the square, protected from outside attack. 

Wall: If half or more of your formation have large shields then you gain an edge against charging opponents.


  1. Looks great what you have going so far!

  2. "Greatsword: Heavy and slow, but able to cause massage damage. " That doesn't sound very threatening, does it?

    Anyway, I love the direction you're going! Your content is my favorite!

  3. Is the idea that each playbook will have its own feel and sort-of-mini-game?

    The Ranger was all about following rules for knowledge, this Fighter is more gear oriented.

    At first I was disappointed in the change, but it's grown one me a lot.

    Not sure about manouvers though, does that mean non-fighters can't try these manouvers?

    1. In a future post I'll talk about stuff like other characters performing manoeuvres from the Fighter's book, as that's something I've always struggled with in other systems.

      In short, most of the stuff in these playbooks won't be locked away from other characters, but serve as more of a prompt or focus for that specific character. So anybody can try to grapple an opponent, but the Fighter has it in front of them as a constant reminder, and is more likely to be able to justify having an edge on the roll.

      Definitely needs some proper guidance to make all of that clear, though.

    2. I like the idea that the fighter player can call out at the table, on another player's turn, "I think you should grapple here, which helps because X..." and then that character might get an edge.

      The player and the character act simultaneously as the experts on the topic.

    3. I've been thinking about fighter manoeuvres as well recently. I figure unless the new ability breaks the general rules somehow, it shouldn't be listed. Cleave and Sword-spell align this way, but a wild bull rush should be possible by anyone (even if it might not be such a good idea if you aren't a thoroughly armed and armoured fighter!)