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Breathless SRD

The Breathless system encompasses the idea that the longer you stay in action, the harder it should be to achieve your goals.

Unless you take time to “catch your breath,” you will quickly become weak and fail your mission or goal.

Designed by Fari RPGs, the system uses a range of dice, going from 1d4 to 1d12.

The resolve a challenge, you need to get a 4 or higher. The catch is that each time you roll, the die rating you pick goes down!

While it’s statistically easy to get a 4 or higher with a D12 dice (75%), its a lot harder with a D4 (25%).

Primary Mechanic

  • D4, D6, D8, D10, and D12 dice are the primary drivers
  • Players have 6 skills
  • After each dice roll, the dice is swapped for the next size down
  • Players can take a break to “Catch their breath”
  • Catching their breath resets skills back to their original values
  • Catching a breath also introduces a new complication
  • D20 is used for loot checks

How does it work

Your character typically has six skills. The SRD talks about Bash, Dash, Sneak, Shoot, Think, and Sway.

Each skill is assigned a D4 rating. However, three skills can be upgraded by selecting from a D10, D8, and D6 rating pool. (One of each)

When facing an obstacle, you pick a skill and roll the die that matches its rating.

If you get a 1 or 2, you fail, and something wrong happens.

On a 3 or 4, you succeed – but at a cost.

On a 5+, you succeed. The higher the roll, the better the effect.

Whether you fail or succeed, the stat you selected is reduced down to the next size die. D12 > D10 > D8 > D6 > D4

Skills cannot go lower than D4.

A character can take a break at any time to catch their breath (even during combat). The cost of catching your breath is the introduction of a new complication.

Other Stats

Players also have a backpack that can carry three items and a medkit.

You start the game with a single item in your backpack with an initial rating of D10.

Each time the item is used, the die is reduced to the next lower value. When reduced to D4, the item breaks, gets lost, or fades away.

Other player stats include “Stunts” (D12) and Stress (1 to 4)

Stunts have to be reset by catching your breath every time they are used.

Stress can be reduced with medkits or laying low.

My Thoughts

The Breathless SRD is a “breath of fresh air.”

Instead of allowing a hero to face unlimited challenges or continue fighting indefinitely, the idea of reducing the values that can be rolled is ingenious. It is very similar to how Mana Points are used in most magic-based systems.

Because every action has a cost, players will think twice before taking on a challenge. And even if they do take on the challenge, they risk a complication even if they succeed.

Breathless is a brilliant system, and I can’t wait to see what comes out of the current Breathless JAM.

Even though the SRD infers that games require a GM, the author of the system is releasing a solo RPG called Nomadic as part of the JAM.



Before you start, define lines that should not be crossed. Pause or rewind the game if something uncomfortable happens during a session. Always make sure you are comfortable with the direction of the story.


This work is based on Breathless, product of Fari RPGs (, developed and authored by René-Pier Deshaies-Gélinas, and licensed for our use under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License (

Where to get it

Breathless was designed by René-Pier Deshaies-Gélinas.

Web for the SRD:

Web for a recent Jam: