Core Concepts

The Narrative

The narrative is all important. This is the fiction generated between the Player Characters (PCs) and the Game Master (GM). The PCs describe what their characters are doing, saying, sometimes even thinking. The GM describes how the world reacts to the PCs. If there’s some question about the outcome of events, the players roll dice to determine the outcome using one of their moves (see below). The GM then can respond with one of his moves based on the outcome of the die roll. Moves are both prescriptive and descriptive. If the narrative fiction would disallow a move, that move isn’t allowed. If a move creates certain narrative outcomes, those outcomes happen. Go with the flow.


Game mechanics are expressed as “Moves.” Most moves require you to “roll +(Stat)” wherein you roll 2d6 and add the appropriate stat. A 10+ is a total success, a 7-9 is a partial success, granting the GM some power to complicate matters, and a 6- is a failure, granting the GM even more power to make the narrative go in ways not altogether to your liking. The GM never rolls dice, but rather reacts entirely to your die rolls as appropriate to the fiction.

Roll Modifiers

  • +/-(n)forward = apply “n” to your next die roll.
  • +/-(n)ongoing = apply “n” to all die rolls until the situation granting the bonus goes away.
  • +raised = roll three dice instead of two. Take the two highest results..
  • +hindered = roll three dice instead of two. Take the two lowest results..

Exceptional Success

If the roll on a move is 12+, it counts as an exceptional success. The GM and the player are encouraged to come up with some manner in which the character succeeds even more stylishly or effectively than normal.

Modifier Cancellation

If your roll is modified by both a +raised tag, and a +hindered tag, they cancel each other out and you roll normally.


A number of moves generate a “currency” called hold. If you roll that move and generate one or more points of hold, you can spend those points at an appropriate point later in the narrative to achieve an effect as determined by the move. The GM also collects hold over PCs whenever a PC fails a roll. This hold can be used to activate GM Moves.


You have a condition track called the ‘harm clock’ for tracking your physical damage. It starts at 0:00 and has stages at 3:00, 6:00, 9:00, 10:00, 11:00, and 12:00. When you take harm, the player advances their PC’s harm clock a number of stages equal to the harm they take. Harm taken up to 6:00 will heal over time. Damage taken to 9:00 or greater will worsen over time. Damage can also be healed with medical attention or with certain moves.

If the PC’s harm clock reaches 12:00, they roll the defy death move. If the PC fails, their life is untenable.

When life becomes untenable, the player can resolve this state by taking a -1 debility to a stat or passing on to the next world. Each stat can only suffer a debility once in the campaign.


When you engage in a full-on battle (not just some random violence) the narrative becomes more formal. Each “round” of battle represents a discrete narrative segment. In each round, every player can describe a single narrative action that their character takes. This action can involve the use of one or more moves. There are special Battle Moves that become available only in Battle. Also, a number of other moves specify that they are rolled when you go into battle. These moves are rolled at the beginning of the Battle.

The GM has two special moves that he can use to simulate the escalating tension and danger of a battle. The moves are inflict incidental fire and inflict concentrated fire. The GM may use these moves at the end of any round of battle, against any PC, as appropriate according to the narrative. In general, the GM should inflict incidental fire in the first couple of rounds, and inflict concentrated fire in later rounds, but if a PC does something particularly brave or foolhardy, the GM is encouraged to unleash whatever incoming harm the PC deserves.

When the GM inflicts incidental fire, the PC rolls the damage move and is +boosted on the roll.

When the GM inflicts concentrated fire, the PC rolls the damage move without modifier, as normal.

Note: If the GM has also spent hold, or if the PC took damage from some other source that round, it is entirely possible that a PC may have to roll a damage move more than once in a round.

Core Concepts

Die-Sun scaryblackdeath