November 18, 2023

An FKR Resurgence Post

TLDR: Go check out the links to the great games others have made below that are so simple anyone can play them, and if you don’t believe me give it a try. I am playing with a group of 11-14 year old’s and they are doing just fine with a system as simple as those listed below, if they can I’m sure you can too!

So many RPGs

I’ve been going through a bit of a resurgence into FKR playstyle. Forget the tomes of rules, adopt a simple catch all rule that can be easily manipulated for almost any situation, and enjoy the world of your game with your players.

So many games are being made today and I’m no stranger to the FOMO that causes the need to buy up all the new systems that are released, I have a bookshelf full of games that my partner would love for me to clear out or at least prove to her that I need them.

Settings and adventures I can easily explain away as things that I will someday use to run for my students, my home group, or if my social anxiety ever lets me maybe even for complete strangers at my Local Con.

But what is the real driving factor behind buying so many game systems. There are some people who purchase a game and play it exclusively for years. Why do I keep getting new games? Am I hoping to find the perfect resolution mechanic? Is it a fear that the one game I fail to buy will see me missing the perfect character stat array?

Settings in the Rules

Epic of Dreams, Old School Essentials, Neo Geek Revival, Numenera, Mörk Borg, Mazes, Mydwandr, Whitehack, The Blackhack, Diceless Dungeons, Burning Wheel, Trophy, Best Left Buried, The One Ring (and many other Year Zero games from Free League), Sword and Wizardry, Through Sunken Lands, Warlock, Songbirds, Dungeon Crawl Classics, Maze Rats, Mausritter, Lost Eons, Fallen, 17th Century Minimalist, Into the Odd, Bastards., Troika!, and Brindlewood Bay. That is without even going to my shelves… Look the point is I have a lot of stuff. There are games for days here. Many of these games also have settings involved.

My Trophy Loom book drips with setting informing tables. Mausritter has a different thing that has you playing as mice in the animal world. Troika! is there for all of your planer traveling needs. Numenera is the setting I love most among any world I have played in or run. The One Ring allows me to transport to the world of Middle Earth. Brindlewood Bay gives us a quiet cozy New England seaside town where Eldritch horrors lurk just off the shore. Settings abound in these books, plus many different resolution mechanics litter these pages.

Building my rules tool box

Best Left Buried was one of the first books I bought that eschewed the usual 6 stats for a character. I was intrigued by the thought of only having 3 stats, but more importantly from BLB I found the advice to make monsters different, give them some sort of tag or description that informs the players instead of just telling them that they are faceing a cave troll, for instance.

Black Hack has given me the usage die. OSE carries tons of tables and gives me rules for my players building a kingdom. Whitehack has lovely magic rules that I have spoken about before Magic in Whitehack. Mydwandr gives me a single resolution roll in the game (eloquently, I might add). Trophy has d6 dice pool resolution where you can add dice to increase the risk to the characters, not to mention the devil’s bargain rule, so good.

I could continue with the games and their contribution to my Mental Referee Tool Box. Each game has given me something to use, a tool for a situation.

Dungeon World gave us the 16 HP dragon, which has a whole world of other things involved with it that I love about the current state of RPGs.

But what will I use for MY tool box?

I am drawn back to the ancient way. FKR is a set of principals that are loosely defined through the phrase Play worlds”. It is as simple as that, but when gaming one may feel the need to introduce rules for helping the players interact with the world. Lets look at some of the most basic staples of the genre. The following games are all PWYW on and should be perused fully for the best understanding of each system, but never fear you will not find any 200 pagers listed here! All of these games are meant to be rules light and get out of the way at your table. Thank you to all the creators who have forged the way for me. 1

The ref will let you know risks that your character is taking on as well as the fictional impact. Both sides roll 2d6 and the higher roller gets to say what happens within the context of the stated risk and impact. On ties or very close rolls (per referee discretion) both sides negotiate what happens.

(Justin Hamilton, Primeval 2d6 Version 8-12-2020)

This is a rule set, anything added on is only needed if there is something about the world that needs to be expressed through an additional mechanic.

When a character suffers great anguish, is affected by a terrible evil, or commits a misdeed, their Corruption is increased by 1. When a character rolls and the dice show equal to their Corruption, they are made miserable. If the dice show lower than their Corruption, they suffer a bout of madness and deteriorate. Corruption is not easily removed and should not be taken lightly.

(Sam Doebler, Middle-Earth Adventures v0.3)

From Middle-Earth Adventures Itch Page

There need not be more than a simple set of guidelines for play. The rules can be as simple as this. 2

There are some who prefer a target number to roll against on anything that is being tested against the world. I see no issue with this at all and in fact here is one of my favorite versions of it.

By default, a result of 8 or higher indicates success, but the world is rarely rendered in absolutes, and the referee can and should use discretion to decide how much success or failure to ascribe to the situation when the result is close. The situation should change whenever dice are cast.

(Zac Bir, Journeyman Pocket Edition)

From Journeyman Itch Page

Combining this with an advantage mechanic can be very useful too.

Character creation is another staple in the world of RPGs, with some games making it nearly impossible to create a character in a quick amount of time. Often multiple hours can be spent creating characters in mainstream RPGs. This is not necessary! even the OSR often wants to create characters in minutes so you can jump into the game more qwuickly. The difference between OSR and FKR is largely that the characters in OSR are often expendable in the game being played and quick character creation lets you jump back into play without much time missed. FKR more often than not wants to have you create a character with some depth that can be focused on existing in the world. Deep understanding of characters can be gained through a simple trait system that will help flesh out the character and who they are in the world, without necessarily needing to quantify things in a way that would impose unneeded stress of learning new mechanics.


1. Write down a Name, be evocative and be creative. Names can imply Traits.

2. Write down a few words or phrases, called Traits ,about your character, the referee will approve or suggest changes. Traits should be specific and not overly general.

3. Write down any Gear you might be carrying. Gear should be specific items that may help with the quest.

4. Your character has 4 Hit Points. The referee may award more if your Traits suggest it.

(Matt Jackson, Arnesonian Gaming)

Many games have a slightly different take on this very simple character creation. Some even forgo Hit Points and just worry about wounds and conditions that are inflicted upon the characters.

This post has already gone on longer than I wanted it to.

For a more in depth discussion of FKR (in the most FKR format possible) check out the FKR lounge where you can listen to a group of people talking about the different aspects of FKR in a open forum recording format, someday you may even hear the Halfling Master himself on a recording.

Derek Bizier, the Halfling Minimal Rules Necessary” Master

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