Dead Simple – Seventh Edition update

With the assistance of a few stout fellows we now have a proofed and improved draft of the seventh edition. I have replaced the file in the downloads section with this new version.

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Dead Simple Fantasy – 7th Edition

Ladies, gentlemen and you at the back,

I am pleased to release the first full draft of seventh edition. This has been a labour of love/hate/frustration over the last year or two (do not ask about sixth edition, it is not pretty).

You will find this slim, fourteen page, booklet at the top of the rules downloads page.

Although this has been play-tested with my local victims I look forwards to all your questions and nit-picks ūüôā A good place to communicate with me is on the Dead Simple RPG Facebook page:¬†

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The Waltzing Dead

I am afflicted with creativity. When I get an idea I just have to jot it down and play with it for a bit. Many such ideas are awful or I just lose interest in them. Here is one that came to me earlier this week. What do you think?

An RPG that looks at life from the zombies’ perspective.


The characters are all people who recently died during a zombie apocalypse.
Characters are created by making five choices from the list of traits.
Despite what the living think zombies have minds, personalities, and ambitions.
They advance and heal by killing living people and consuming their favourite bits.

The basic zombie has limited mobility, strength, eyesight, hearing and sense of smell.
Choosing traits will improve one or more of these.

Trait  Effects
Big nose  You get a two dice bonus to perception checks involving smell.
Blackeyes  You can see up to thirty yards/metres in the dark.
Bonehead  You get an extra hit for your head.
Crispy  You have already survived being immolated once, so are now immune to fire attacks.
Doorman  You remember how to open door handles and bolts.
Dreadful  Because of your terrifying appearance living enemies are at a one dice penalty to fight you.
Flexi-Z ¬†You can dislocate your joints to get through gaps as small as 12″/30cms across.
Gripping hands  You get a two dice bonus to grappling attacks.
Linguist  You can remember and use a single sentence of human speech of up to eight words.
Lurching walk  You get a two dice bonus against shooting attacks.
Miasmatic  You are surrounded by a fog of gas and flies so living enemies are at a one dice penalty to shoot you.
Mimic  You get a two dice bonus when trying to get close to the living without being identified as a zombie.
NBK  You remember how to use simple hand weapons such as clubs, batons, knives and axes.
Possum  You can collapse and very convincingly play dead.
Projectile vomit  You gain a short-ranged, four dice acid shooting attack.
Radioactive  Living enemies take a hit each turn they are fighting you. A side effect is that you glow in the dark.
Regeneration  Once a day you can regenerate one body location for free without feeding.
SBD  You get a two dice bonus to stealth checks.
Smasher  You get a two dice bonus when attacking doors, gates, fences etc.
Speedy  You get a three square bonus to movement.
Tainted bite  You infect anyone you bite with the Z-virus
Talons  You get a two dice bonus to fighting attacks.
Tanned hide  You get a two dice bonus against fighting attacks.
Tough  You ignore the first hit in any encounter.
Two good ears  You get a two dice bonus to perception checks involving hearing.
Two good eyes  You get a two dice bonus to perception checks involving sight.
Wall-crawler  You get a two dice bonus to climbing.
Wet-rot  You get a two dice bonus to swimming.

To gain a new trait a zombie must feast upon the brains of three living victims.

Hit location chart

d10  Location  Hits
1  Right Leg  2
2  Left Leg  2
3-4  Abdomen  2
5-7  Chest  3
8  Right Arm  1
9  Left Arm  1
10  Head  2 (+1 if you are a Bonehead)

Once a location has taken its listed number of hits it becomes useless.
If the Abdomen becomes useless the zombie can no longer walk. But it can still crawl.
If the Chest becomes useless the zombie can no longer use its arms. But it can still bite.
If the head becomes useless the zombie is dead, for now.

Feasting on a living victim fully restores one body location
A living victim will feed up to three zombies.

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Dead Simple Design Notes

Being an occasional series in which I discuss some of my reasons or lack of them…

A few players have asked me why in the Dead Simple range of RPG rules I do not use hit points or some sort of level-based increasing number of wounds.

My main reason is that I believe that such mechanics wreck roleplaying. For example, knowing they have plenty of hit points or wounds left, encourages players to have their characters engage in long, drawn out battles and ignore all the ways you could roleplay the result instead. Diplomacy, carefully planned ambushes, engaging the support of allies and even avoiding a fight altogether, all fall by the wayside when a character can take twenty, solid sword hits and keep on fighting.


The Monk says there may be an ambush ahead!

A roleplaying game should not be reduced to being just another a skirmish wargame. A mistake TSR made with D&D 4th edition.

So the system I have designed approaches this from another direction. Characters can buy better protection, invest fate/destiny points in improving defensive skills or even rely on the use of Fate/Destiny points for re-rolls, instead of a progressive hit point/wound system. However, when you are wounded, it has consequences.

Knowing that even the toughest hombre can be killed makes players think about alternatives to just fighting everything they meet.

The incapacitated rule also adds to the opportunities for roleplaying. When was the last time your characters in any other game surrendered to prevent a wily foe from slitting the throat of an incapacitated comrade? It happens all the time in books and films, but rarely on combat-orientated RPGs.

Some people have countered my approach by saying that RPGs should be heroic. Well, what is more heroic than facing actual mortal danger, rather than wading into the fray knowing you are pretty much invulnerable?

On a practical note it certainly reduces book-keeping. When I play with my friends we just put red beads behind a figure that is wounded, until they are incapacitated when we lie the figure down. This also helps to remind players and the GM what negative modifiers to apply to the figures actions.

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North of the Wall

Well, later today we begin the long trek from Mid-Wales to Falkirk in Scotland. Google tells me it will take six hours, but they have not met the official Ministry driver – Lorna, my wife.

There we shall be attending:
Carronade 2016
7th May 2016, 10am Р4pm
Graeme High School, Falkirk FK1 1SY

There shall be 30 + Clubs Presenting Demonstration & Public Participation Games, 40+ Traders, a Flea Market and a Bring & Buy.
Adults are £2.50 and Concessions £1.50
More details at:

I am so looking forwards to seeing all you Scots, Picts, Highlanders, Lowlanders and even any English who can get their passports stamped by Nicola Sturgeon ūüėČ

I shall be presenting and running Blood Eagle participation games all day, as well as flogging copies of that and Daisho if any of you are interested.

A report and pictures shall be forthcoming, you have my word on that.

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Inscrutable 4th Edition

Well, my samurai, the time has come and the completely revised fourth edition is upon us.


Expanded to a more legible and complete four pages it contains a new profession ‚Äď the Gakusho, new rules for action and combat based upon those in WYSIWYG, reincarnation and a complete overhaul of pretty much everything else.

What has not changed is the single mechanic for determining the results of actions, so he game flows pretty much as before.

You can find this in the Rules Downloads section.

Let me know what you think here and, on the Dead Simple Facebook page:

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The Ubiquitous Inn

There are few places more important to an adventuring party than a secure place to lay their heads, kick back and recuperate between adventures and, store their loot. For most this is the Inn.


Inns and taverns are a staple of fantasy gaming and fiction, but few GMs spend the time to develop them into anything more than a stop-over between games. This is a crying shame really because , if well written and run, an Inn can be the centre for so much more.

A good Inn provides:

  • Accommodation
  • Food and drink
  • Security
  • A place for patrons to find and engage the adventurers
  • A place for merchants to examine and buy the party‚Äôs loot
  • An excellent source of rumours and information
  • A place to meet and get to know the locals
  • A secure storage facility
  • Stabling and horse care

I have found that if you put a little time and effort into your Inn it can enhance the whole game.


Things I always do when setting up an inn;

  1. Decide why it is there. Is it a city inn in a good district or a more shady one; a dockside watering hole full of sailors and merchants; a wayside inn by a major trading route that has lots of travellers passing through; a simple village inn mostly serving the locals; or a fortified frontier inn with hardy trappers, prospectors and scouts using it as a base for their forays into the wilderness beyond?
  2. Decide what is the name, race and former profession of the Innkeeper. Many inns were bought by retiring adventurers or soldiers to provide employment and an income for themselves and their families. These can be very useful people to know.
  3. Consider if it’s small with a bar and a common dormitory? Is it a wealthy inn with stables, various rooms, private dining rooms and capacious cellars? Does it have a walled yard and strong doors and gates?
  4. Decide what are the regular clientele like. Are they good natured locals, suspicious villagers, merchants and nobles, sailors and soldiers etc.?
  5. Work out what is the food like. Simple local fare, high-priced meals for cultured palates, hearty meats and veggies, exotic foreign food like elven curries? It is expensive or dirt cheap? Think of what the clientele regularly want.
  6. Consider if the inn protected by just its staff, by hired bouncers, professional guards or loyal regulars?
  7. Decide what the adventurers can get there other than accommodation and food. Is it a good place to meet patrons? Are there sources of good information there? Do people trade goods and services through the inn? Are merchants who are willing to buy looted treasures there?

I think that you can see where I am going with this. Adventurers who find an inn that suits their needs and, who treat the innkeeper and the locals well, can soon find they have a secure base of operations.

The GM gets a channel through which they can put work, information, opportunities to trade and ways to advance their plots and themes.

To get you going here is an example of an Inn I regularly use in my city campaign.


The Blue Pentangle ‚Äď Skala‚Äôs Inn

The bar of the Blue Pentangle has become very popular with adventurers from both within the adventuring companies and from further afield. It is considered neutral territory and its reputation as a haven is strongly protected by Skala, his guards and the Adventurer’s Guild.

The City Guard have to ask permission to enter as it is considered to be the property of a City Mage. As such Skala can turn it into a court or a sanctuary as he wishes, and he is only responsible to the Governor for what goes on there. The Governor is quietly pleased that so many adventurers are now housed in a ‘controlled environment’ instead of out causing trouble across the city.

The Inn has also attracted a select band of non-adventurers, who gather to service this special community. These include:

  1. Fnast & Fnickel. These gnomic artificers rent a first floor room every Market day and do a brisk business supplying adventurers’ martial needs. Here they can measure people up and take orders in a confidential setting.
  2. Scribes of Egglo & Sons regularly take a booth in the taproom and can write letters, contracts, and even transcribe maps and spellbooks for the less literate.
  3. Priestesses of Angel and Matra are common visitors, as are one or two priests of Aranh and Baranh. The priestesses, in particular, have been known to take over the back room for impromptu services and other needs.
  4. The gnomic bard Fnarh-Fnarh, who will happily compose a ballad to celebrate an adventurer’s deeds. He generally only charges if he doesn’t think he can turn some silver singing it across the city.
  5. R. Estherhazy (aka ‘The Fatman), in his trademark red fez, often takes a table close to the stage in the tap room. Here he deals in exotic items and Skala will direct adventurers whose loot is not of interest or beyond his purse to The Fatman. He is always accompanied by two or three very efficient-looking ‘gentlemen’.
  6. Old Meg the Truthsayer. This old treasure is always busy, listening to merchants making deals, people giving witnessed statements, even husbands declaring their fidelity to doubting wives. There are rumours that she is a retired Scholar-Soldier of Gabrial. It would explain the sheathed, two-handed sword she uses as a walking staff.

New visitors are often awed by the magical, multihued lighting of the Inn, its variable dimensions (the more people that come in, the larger the taproom seems to get), as well as the unseen servants that deliver their drinks and the famous frog-bowl on the bar. The Barmaids also attract a lot of attention. Most of them are former streetwalkers that Skala ‘rescued’ from a life of crime and depravity. They are young, sassy, only partially dressed and definitely dangerous. They only deliver drinks personally to the backroom and to very wealthy patrons.

Despite this distraction none can miss the guards, mostly retired adventurers, that expertly observe the patrons. Their red sashes and grizzled looks are enough to put off many a would-be troublemaker. Little Bill, the half-ogre former pit fighter, is especially intimidating (when he’s sober). All of Skala’s guards are also ‘Special Constables’ – support troops that the City Guard can call upon when the crap hits the fan. In the recent war it was this group that held the Eastern Breach against the 101st New Order Goblin Iron Assault Brigade (whose banner now adorns a wall of the back room).

As a result the Inn has a reputation for being fairly safe, despite the policy that says you can, and should, remain armed. People who enter unarmed may be offered a club or a dagger by one of the Guards. Skala believes the best deterrent to trouble is visible strength.

Connoisseurs of fine wines are generally disappointed, but B’stards Best Bitter is always on tap. Skala is a fan of the searingly hot Vimallan cuisine and has two elven chefs in his basement restaurant. It has a small but loyal clientele, and is favoured both by the Igors and the Half-Elven community.

Most nights there is some form of entertainment on the stage of the Taproom. Sometimes it is Fnarh-Fnarh or one of his bardic colleagues. Other nights it is adventurers relating their latest triumphs. These sessions are very popular and a good performance will see the adventurer showered in silver (a bad performance will get them showered with beer tankards – and this can be painful as they are solid pewter).

Skala has seven rules carved around the bar in about fifty languages. New patrons cannot order a drink until they’ve read them, or had the rules read to them:

  1. Everyone is allowed one mistake.
  2. Do not ask for credit.
  3. If you can stand up unaided we will serve you.
  4. The barmaids are armed – you have been warned (Rule 1 may not apply).
  5. Cast a spell, lose an eye (see Rule 1).
  6. Pick a pocket, lose a hand (see Rule1).
  7. Pick a fight, the Guards need the exercise.

Obvious spell-casters are directed to observe the ceiling. It seems to writhe to their arcane senses. They are informed that the ceiling has hundreds of Sepia Snake Sigils cast upon it. They are activated by the casting of a spell and will seek out and bring down the offender. Only Skala and Mr Hands are immune.

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