I must create a system, or be enslaved by another man's. I will not reason and compare: my business is to create.

- William Blake

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Dark Fantasy Basic - FAQ

Here is the FAQ for my Dark Fantasy Basic - Player's Guide.

This is basically a copy of the first two pages (minus a few things that would be redundant here), with some images from the book. These images are in the public domain, sometimes slightly modified by me.

What is the book about?

This is an old school, dark fantasy roleplaying game (or adventure game).
Dark Fantasy Basic pays homage to a classic roleplaying game from the early eighties, which is still, for many fans, one of the most concise, clear and well-written RPGs ever published.
This book uses the same system as the world’s most popular RPGs – six abilities, classes, levels, etc. – and it is meant to be compatible with games from that era. Or any OSR game, really. It also has some modern influences, including all of the OSR and the most recent version of this game.
Like many retroclones and neoclones, this game begun as a collection of house rules, with one difference: my main goal was to make a set of one page rules that you can combine freely. The idea is to get multiple OSR authors to write their own pages that can be assembled by the reader into a full book. Check this out: http://methodsetmadness.blogspot.com/2016/03/one-page-rules-or-taking-page-from.html.
Eventually, all my pages grew into one complete book. It is meant to be straightforward, not minimalist. You won’t find the definition of “sword” or “human” in this book, but you’ll find all you need to play (from the player’s side). Even if you don’t use the book as a whole, I hope you will find at least one different idea in each page that you can adapt to your games.
Or, even better, write a page yourself. This game is what you make of it.


Written by Eric Diaz.
 Book cover, design and layout by Rick Troula
All art except for the cover is from the public domain.


How is it different from the original games?
Besides embracing some dark fantasy tropes, this game offers a degree of character customization you don’t often find in retroclones and neoclones - although this idea is almost as old as our hobby. The system itself is not original, but each page has something that differs from the original games.

How dark is it?
Not that much darker than the original game, if you think about it. The Player’s Guide has a few hints of dark fantasy (in alignment, spells, classes, etc.), but most of the flavor will come from monsters, adventures, setting, etc.

Why is it so concise?
To save you time, entice your imagination and encourage house-ruling. It is still a complete game. Use it as written, or make it your own.

Where are the optional rules?
I eventually decided not to mark (most of) the optional rules, since all rules are optional in a way or another. These are only guidelines. Use them at your own peril.

But where is the…
This game has no different XP charts or HD for different classes, no demi-humans, no prerequisites, no prime abilities. There are also no monsters and no GM stuff in this book. It is a Player’s Guide. But if you really like, well, we might have something like that in the future.

Can my PC…
YES. You can wield a sword regardless of class, use any armor, hide in the shadows without having the skill, and so on. You can also use sorcery without studying it first, if you find a lost grimoire somewhere. Good luck with that.

But why did you…
If you want to understand why I chose a mechanic over another, I often explain this is my blog.
I didn’t include designer’s notes here, since it would take valuable space.

What do I need to play?
COMMON SENSE. Also, some dice and paper. But mostly common sense.

What do characters do in this game?
Try to get richer and tougher while fighting the terrible things that lurk in the shadows. Go through ruins and unknown lands in hope of treasures. Sometimes they get killed.

What if my PC dies?
Create another one.

Why start at level 3?
First level characters are desperate victims. Traditionally, they can die fighting house cats or falling from a tree. This game is about tragic heroes, so they start at level 3.
Also, you might use the extra HP.
However, if you prefer to start at the bottom and climb your way up, you have my approval and respect.

Why stop at level 10?
To keep it gritty, dark, and focused on low level challenges. High level characters might use a similar system, but they deal with different issues: building castles, ruling lands, facing demigods, etc. You can extrapolate higher levels from this book, or find alternate rules for expert or immortal characters elsewhere.

Why would I play a Hopeless character?
Maybe you wouldn’t. Leave that to players looking for a challenge or just a change of pace.

What about that tone?
I’ve added some dark humor and hubris to make reading this book more pleasant. Don’t take it too seriously.

Just kidding. I’m dead serious.


That is it for now!

You can find the book on DTRPG by clicking here.

If you have any other questions, let me know in the comments and I'll answer it here!


  1. FINALLY. IvI'vbeen wondering when your thoughts would would coalesce into an actual game. I'll be going through this in the near future

    1. Thank you! When you do, let me know what you think!

  2. A Magic-user casts how many spells in a day?

    1. There is no hard limit. When you cast a spell, you roll the dice. One of the possible effects is forgetting the spell for a while.

  3. Thanks for the reply! ++ ++ For the past few days, I have soloed my way through Dungeon Crawl Classics Nebin Pendlebrook's Perilous Pantry. This is a funnel adventure for about 24 characters at level 0. The game system I used to play this was Dark Fantasy Basic. The solo engine that I used is one that I have been testing out. This 42 page module contains one map and one handout. I used 13, first level characters to play through the museum. Each had four hit points and a limited amount of equipment. = = = The PCs were from an Adventurer's Guild. They had been sent to the village to take care of the problem (call it a test). They did not explore every room and kill every monster. My favorite encounter was when Digs the gravedigger (wizard) was the last to leave the Well Room. He bent down and pried up one of the small tiles from the floor. As soon as he did this, he acquired a pet dog. It came out of nowhere. The first two PC casualties were in the stalactite room. The thieves died from acid damage. Next, was the thief in the well room (chewed to death). Four characters and the dog (sniff sound) died in the Dwarven Hall. Two died in The Sanctum. Oh, and the stalactite room took out a wizard too (the PCs were running, trying to escape the dungeon). So, the survivors were two wizards and a clairvoyant. When they got back to the Quest Giver they reported that they had found Nebin, but he was a monster and had to be killed. They did not find the village constable. The survivors advised that the pantry be sealed because there was still some nasty stuff running around down there. - Your turn!