Fireside is a minimalist RPG for telling stories through conversation, laughter and dice rolls. It's meant for single session games, known as "one-shots", that can be played anywhere with zero prep. The only requirements are a handful of six-sided dice (d6) and your imagination.
These rules assume you have a basic understanding of role-playing games and how to run them. Learn more.
Characters are made up of 4 components: A role, their talents, a flaw and something they never leave home without. These can be anything but should fit with the style of game you've all agreed to play.
A character's role describes the type of person they are, implying background, social status and talents. While your role has no mechanical benefit, it does help you imagine and roleplay your character better. Use an adjective and noun when creating your role.
A character's talents describe what they're naturally good at, specialize in or a superpower they have. They also add bonus dice to their rolls. Give your character 3 talents. These should be specfic; "Good at combat" is too general.
- Smashing stuff with his bare hands
- Surviving in the wilds
- Bullying others into getting his way
No character is perfect and a flaw helps make them more dynamic. It also helps the GM add interesting complications to the story. Your flaw should be something that isn't in effect all the time. A missing limb is potentially a bad flaw, for example.
Uncomfortable in highly populated areas
Finally, describe something they never leave home without. This might be a weapon, a favorite tool or pet. Whatever it is, it should be important to them.
Two hand-axes he crafted from a rare ore found in his homelands
To finish, give your character an interesting name and take turns introducing them to the group.
When a character's action has no obvious outcome the GM will ask for a roll. Roll 1d6, adding +1d6 for each of the following bonuses:
Each bonus is only applied once per roll and the GM has final say on which bonuses are relevant.
After rolling, look for the single highest dice to determine the outcome.
When a character wants to aid or interfere with another, they must first say how and take +1 stress. In doing so, they may add +1d6 or -1d6 to the others roll, their choice. If this would result in rolling 0 dice, roll 2d6 and take the lowest instead.
A character's stress starts at 0 and will increase as they interact with the world. This typically happens when their action is risky and they roll a partial success or failure. Most of the time they'll take +1 stress but the GM may issue more if the risk is especially high.
Don't think of stress as "health". Its the result of more than just "damage" such as pushing yourself, near misses, frustrations and fear.
When a character reaches 5 stress, things take a turn for the worse. They might lose a limb, be captured, cause harm to their companions or even die. The outcome of an overstressed event will depend on the level of risk at that moment. After, if the character could still play, reset their stress to 0.
Characters remove 1d6 stress when using an item such as a potion, a relevant talent or resting somewhere safe for a while.
When a character takes an action the GM will give it a level of risk: low, average and high. The level of risk helps determine the outcome in narration. Failing a low risk action will have minor but still noticable consequences. Failing a high risk action always results in stress and the situation getting worse.
If an action is very low risk or wouldn't have an interesting outcome on partail success or failure, then don't ask for a roll. Just let the character succeed and move the story forward.
Some tasks may be too complex or risky to take outright. In these situations, break the action down into multiple steps.
Example of scaling difficulty
GM: "The dragon bursts through the reinforced door like its a toothpick. Its body almost filling the room. What do you do?"
Player: "I run at it and stab it with my two daggers!"
GM: "This dragon is huge! You're going to have to see if you can even get close before attempting that. Roll to avoid its flames as you charge at it!"
Player: "Oh man! Well I have the talent 'Quick on their feet' so I'll add +1d6 and push myself, taking +1 stress for another +1d6. I rolled 2, 4, 5!"
GM: "A partial success! The dragon struggles to track you as you zig zag towards it. At the last minute it lets out a burst of flame, increasing your stress by +1. Although slightly burned, you've made it to its underbelly. Roll to get your dagger passed those thick scales!
Interacting with monsters and dangers (such as traps) is always a risky action. Weak monsters might only cause stress on failures where as strong monsters will cause stress on both partial successes and failures. An epic monster causes multiple stress on a failure.
Monsters take stress similar to characters. When a character succeeds on an attack or if the monster falls into a trap, their stress goes up. The amount of stress they can take will depend on how weak or strong they are. Remember that stress isn't always "health"; a monster might run away, make a terrible mistake or even side with the characters when they reach their max stress.
When a fight breaks out the GM will describe the situation and give the characters a chance to react. Monsters dont have a turn, they react based on character rolls or when there's a break in the action. If a character succeeds on an attack, they deal damage and the monster doesn't get a chance to react. On a partial success, the character still deals damage but the monster reacts either dealing damage (causing stress) or doing something else. On a failure, the character takes damage (causing stress) and is in a worse position with the monster having more control over the scene.
Most of the time, a character will cause a monsters stress to go up by +1. Using more powerful weapons, setting deadly traps or taking the chance with unstable magic can increase this at the GMs discretion.
Fill the characters lives with challenges and dangers. Thats what adventure is all about!
Fireside has been a lot of fun to dream up, playtest and tweak. I've taken inspiration from many games but there are a select few that stand out for me. They are Dungeon World, Risus, Lasers & Feelings, Blades in the Dark, Honey Heist and MinimalD6. Please check them out, they are fantastic systems.