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The True World RPG is a free and open universal tabletop role-playing game that can be used for any genre or setting. Read the rules online at (



Skill Sets
Skill Sets are a freeform collection of related knowledge, skills and abilities, that are acquired through training, for the purpose of performing a specific function or job.
Signature Skills
Signature Skills highlight 3 to 5 skills within a Skill Set that have the highest narrative signif­icance to a charac­ter's backstory.
Specia­liz­ations represent a focus on specific areas of expertise within a skill set.
A charac­ter's abilities are repres­ented by their skill sets, their signature skills, and specia­liz­ations.

Ability Rating

Ability ratings are determined by a character's Skill Sets and Specializations. Skill Sets are rated from d4 to d6, and Specializations, which represent a focus on a specific area of expertise, are rated from d8 to d12.

Boosts (Benefits)

Narrative benefits grant permission to break the rules. Narrative benefits can include things like extending the range of an action, targeting multiple advers­aries, or extending the duration of the effect from an action.
Mechanical benefits can only be one of two options, Shifting the Odds towards success, or increasing the Level of Effect for a successful action roll by 1.
Boosts can describe multiple benefits. Benefits allow a character to enhance their abilities and break the rules normally imposed during a standard turn.

Boosts (Condi­tion)

Conditions are specific enviro­nments, situat­ions, or events that trigger a boost.
Boosts with a condition can specify multiple potential benefits as long as they are all relevant to the stated condition. Only a single benefit can be chosen and applied to an action during a single turn, but the benefit does not impose any cost.

Boosts (Cost)

The benefit adds an additional turn in prepar­ation. A runup represents spreading the physical, mental or emotional cost of invoking the boost across multiple turns. The character is deemed to be concen­trating during the runup period. If the character suffers harm during the runup, the runup is terminated and any remaining benefits related to the boost are canceled.
A cooldown period is required before the boost can be invoked again. A cooldown can be a number of rounds in the turn order, or more commonly for the remaining duration of the current conflict or scene.
The benefit adds 2 points of stress.
The benefit costs 1 unit of a scarce resource. The resource to be consumed by the boost must be approved by the director when creating the boost.
The benefit costs 1 grit point.
The benefit shifts the odds of the challenge to make it more difficult.
The benefit adds 1 point of stress, and a mild condition to the character.
Costs represent the physical, mental and emotional burden that comes from pushing yourself to boost your perfor­mance. The specific cost for each benefit provided by the boost is chosen by the player when invoking the boost related to an action. Multiple benefits from a single boost can be stacked during an action, with a specific cost being chosen by the player for each benefit selected.


Standard Turn

Move to a nearby location (appro­priate to the time dilation of the scene).
Object Intera­ction
A simple object intera­ction such as opening a door or drawing a weapon.
Social Interacton
Make a short verbal utterance or physical gesture.
Perform a single action against a challenge.
Invoke a single boost.
The Standard Turn represents the combination of activities that a player character is allowed to perform during a normal turn.

Rounds and Turns

The director narrates the current situation for the players highli­ghting important elements to aid player decisions.
Each player asks the director questions related to the situation, and discusses strategy with the other players. The phase ends with each player describing the intended action of their character, and what they hope to accomp­lish.
The director calls on each player to complete their standard turn. The player describes their charac­ter's activity and performs any action rolls requested by the director. The director completes the players turn by narrating any conseq­uences. The phase ends when each player in the turn order has completed their turn.
The end of the round is used by the director to apply additional changes to the situation. Changes can be triggered by the completion of counters, random or planned world events, or the additional of new challenges based on events triggered from conseq­uences during the round.

Quick Actions

A Quick Action Roll is used when an action only needs a simple comparison of a charac­ter's raw ability against the difficulty of a challenge. The roll is not subject to character boosts or fictional positi­oning, and the outcome is a simple success or fail with the level of effect being ignored.
Quick actions are commonly performed when provided assistance through Teamwork to another character, but can be useful in other situations as well.


Challenge Types

Things standing in the way of a character's progress such as a locked door, difficult terrain or a challenging puzzle.
Things that are competing with, or working against a character including non-player characters, supernatural forces, or intelligent machines.

Adversary Types

Common non-player characters serve as extras within a scene. These are typically servants, merchants, guards, gang members and other types of non-heroic individuals. Common non-player characters have a single skill set but omit backstory hooks and any health elements. Commoners are typically taken out of a scene when suffering any adverse condition.
Complex adversaries share all the features of full characters. Complex adversaries have health indicators and will typically require multiple adverse conditions before they concede or are taken out.

Difficulty Rating

Very Challe­nging
Very Hard
Extremely Hard
The difficulty of a challenge is rated using a polyhedral die and determined by the director relative to the charac­ter's ability.


Action Steps

The player states their intentions to perform an action and what they hope to achieve.
A charac­ter's ability refers to their level of expertise in performing their intended action. Ability is determined by the player by selecting the most relevant skill set or specia­liz­ation for the action being performed.
The director determines the Difficulty Rating of the challenge relative to the charac­ter's ability. If the action is challe­nging, with a risk of failure, an action roll is required, otherwise the action is successful and the director narrates the successful outcome.
If the action is difficult, the director considers the charac­ter's Position to determine if the character has Advantage or Disadv­antage on the roll. The director advises the player of the diffic­ulty, the charac­ter's position, and potential risks and conseq­uences.
If another player character can provide assist­ance, Teamwork can be used to support the action.
Action Roll
The player makes an action roll to determine the Outcome and Effect.
The director, based on the result of the action roll, advises the player of the conseq­uences. On a success, the character receives a Bane. On a failure, the character suffers a Boon.

Holding an Action

Holding an action refers to a player choosing to delay performing their action until a later point in the initiative order, related to a specific change in the situation. On their normal turn, the player will advise the director they want to ready an action, stating their intentions as normal, but delaying the action and waiting until a specific triggering event occurs. If the triggering event occurs before the beginning of the player's next turn, the initiative order is interr­upted, and the player's action is performed at that time.


Roll two ability dice and takes the highest.
Roll two ability dice and takes the lowest.
Fictional positioning refers to the specific circumstances, context, and narrative elements surrounding a character's actions. A character's position indicates if, depending on their situation, they have a relative advantage or disadvantage to performing the action.


The assistance was helpful and the character receiving the assistance can Shift the Odds in their favor.
The assistance was not helpful, and the action roll proceeds without any added benefit.
During a charac­ter's action, but before they perform an Action Roll, another character can forfeit their turn in the turn order to try to assist by performing a Quick Action Roll.


Action roll result is greater than or equal to 0 (ties go to the player).
The result of an action roll is less than 0.
Outcome divides the result of an action roll into success or failure.

Level of Effect

The Level of Effect is a relative measure of a success or failure. Divide the absolute result of an action roll by 4 to determine the effect. For a non-co­nflict situat­ions, the effect is used to determine the narrative conseq­uences of an action. For a conflict situation, the effect can be used to determine the amount of harm.



Marginal Success
The character gets only some of what they want.
Complete Success
The character gets everything they wanted.
Criticial Success
The character gets everything they wanted, and something extra.
Boons are positive conseq­­uences that result from a successful action. The level of effect determines the amount of impact.


Marginal Failure
The character failed, but just barely. They may get some or none of what they wanted, but something about their situation got a little worse.
Complete Failure
The character achieved nothing they intended, and their situation is worse.
Critical Failure
The character gets nothing they wanted, and life is going to get very difficult.
Banes are negative conseq­­uences that result from a failed action.

Health and Recovery

Health Indicators

Stress represents the physical, mental, and emotional reaction to negative conseq­­ue­nces, and is measured with Stress Points. New characters begin play with 0 stress. When a character suffers Conseq­­uences from Actions, it can increase stress. During periods of Rest and Recovery, players can reduce their stress. When a charac­­ter’s stress reaches the maximum, they are taken out of the scene until they can recover.
Grit represents a charac­­ter's mental, physical, and emotional resilience measured with Grit Points. Grit points can be earned during game play, and spent to improve actions and mitigate negative conseq­uences.
Conditions are the collection of physical, mental and emotional harm a character is currently suffering. Conditions can impose disadv­antage when characters attempt to perform actions.

Earning Grit

Complete Effect
On a complete success or failure resulting from an action roll, the character earns 1 grit point.
Critical Effect
On a critical success or failure resulting from an action roll, the character earns 2 points of grit.
When a character assists another character when performing an action, if the action is succes­sful, the assisting character earns 1 grit point.
Backstory Consequences
When a player identifies any charac­ter's backstory hook (not just their own) that introduces a conseq­uence that makes a charac­ter's life more difficult, they earn 1 grit point.
Narrative Inspiration
When a player demons­trates outsta­nding role-play and contri­butes a partic­ularly memorable moment to the narrative, the director can award narrative inspir­ation granting 1 grit point to the character.

Spending Grit

Reroll an Action
When facing a crucial action roll, spend 1 grit point to reroll the dice. The player must use the new result.
Soak Harm
Grit can be used to withstand harm and reduce the impact of a negative consequence. Spend 1 grit point to recover 1 stress point and reduce the severity of a condition by 1 point. If the condition is mild, it can be removed. This can be performed during the same turn that harm is added to a character.
Fuel a Boost
Grit can be used to cover the cost of a benefit associated with invoking a boost during an action. Spend 1 grit point to cover the cost of any single benefit.

Rest and Recovery

Momentary rests take a full turn. During a momentary rest, a character to recover 1 stress point and, if approp­riate, clear a mild condition.
Extended rests last from a few hours to a few days, but requires a safe enviro­nment free from conflict, where characters are only sleeping or performing light duties. During an extended rest, characters can reduce their stress by 2 points for each hour of rest taken. They can also apply treatment to conditions depending on available resources. Treated conditions can be reduced by 1 point (and only 1 point) during each extended rest period reflecting that more serious conditions take time to heal.
Downtime is an extended rest that lasts from a few days to weeks, months or even years. Downtime normally occurs after a group completes a milestone and has an opport­unity to withdraw from the field to a safe enviro­nment with readily accessible resources. All stress is recovered, and all conditions can be removed. Downtime also allows characters to pursue personal objectives and side projects and seek advanced treatment options for lingering trauma.


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