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Push is a lightweight, story-driven RPG system designed for cooperative, action-packed adventures.

This is a genre-agnostic engine that you can use to create your own games about extraordinary characters embarking on perilous quests through fantastic worlds.

A single core mechanic powers the whole system, pushing the story forward through emergent complications and inviting players to assume higher risks and use their imagination.

The complete absence of stats brings story weaving to center stage and invites beginners and veteran players alike to try a freer, lighter role-playing experience.

The conciseness of the rules allows you, the designer, to fit an entire game on a single sheet of paper if you want to. A two-page template for your new game is provided with the SRD.

– Description by author

Primary Mechanic

  • Roll a D6 to decide things
  • If you fail, you can reroll (PUSH your luck)
  • If you fail on the PUSH, the results are normally worse
  • There are tables to help generate the story/adventure
  • Everything fits on a single sheet of paper

Everything on a single page

Don’t be fooled by the fact the rules and lookup tables fit on a single page.

The tables are used for character creation, introducing complications, establishing a challenge, setting the scene, and performing actions.

The oracle allows the player to make decisions without referring to a GM, and the rewards section allows you to upgrade your character when goals are achieved.

The D6 dice

Whenever a character attempts something interesting, a D6 can be rolled to find out if you succeed.

  • A 5 or 6 is a strong hit. You get what you want.
  • A 4 or lower is a weak hit. You get what you want but there is a cost or complication.

If you get 4 or lower, you can “Push” your luck to try and get a better result by rolling another D6. This is added to the original roll.

  • However, if the new total is 7 or higher, you have failed and there is a complication.
  • A 5 or 6 is a strong hit. You get what you want.
  • A 4 or lower is a weak hit. You get what you want but there is still a cost or complication.

Complications are normally used to setup the next scene in your adventure.

Unlike other RPG’s, there are no stats or modifiers for the dice roll. Everything is driven by the initial D6 roll, and the ability to “Push” your luck if necessary.

Similar rules are used for the Yes/No Oracle. (Refer to the SRD for details)

Game Play

When the player starts the game, they read the initial pitch. The pitch sets the scene. It talks about the world setting, its conflicts, and protagonists.

Next, you give your character a name and the first six tables are used to determine your characters traits.

Once this has been done, the sheet is turned over to review the Quest.

The quest consists of an overall mission along with an agenda of 6 different goals. The more goals you achieve, the better the rewards are at the end of the game.

Playing Scenes

The majority of the game is spent rolling on the matrix. The matrix is a table of 36 prompts broken down into 6 individual tables.

Normally the prompts are about items, people, events, foes, environments, discoveries, places, sensations, creatures etc

Even though everything is on one sheet, the use of the matrix means that you can run through several cycles to complete your quest.

Even if you complete the primary mission, there are often enough matrix prompts left to continue adventuring many times over.

Step 1 – Painting the scene with a broad brush

The D6 dice is rolled twice. The first roll determines which of the 6 tables will be used. The second roll selects a row from the table.

It’s up to the player to interpret what the text means by using their imagination and how it fits into the context of the mission. (The SRD goes into this in more detail)

Step 2 – Determining a challenge

Sometimes the prompt will immediately bring a challenge to mind. Other times you will need to establish a challenge to overcome.

If the player cant come up with a challenge, the SRD has two tables on page 40 that can be used to select a challenge by rolling a D6 on each table.

  1 2 3 4 5 6
1 BARRIER CONTEST
2 TASK MYSTERY
3 FIGHT NEGOTIATION
4 TRAP ENDURANCE
5 CHASE THREAT
6 DEBATE PUZZLE

Step 3 – Framing the scene

Once the challenge is established, its time to add elements and details. Two to four embellishing descriptions are normally enough.

The two tables on page 41 of the SRD can be used to come up with ideas if you don’t have any of your own. (Once again, roll a D6 for each table)

  1 2 3 4 5 6
1 Smells & Sounds Materials & Texture
2 Color & Sights Impression or Opinion
3 People & Creatures Posture & Attitude
4 Weather & Nature Light & Time
5 Mood & Atmosphere Camera Angles
6 Ornaments & Details Actions and Movement

Step 4 – Perform your actions

The player thinks about how they can overcome the challenge. Utilizing character traits rolled at the start of the game will make the mission more interesting.

If the outcome is obvious, the actions are resolved until the next turn.

When the outcome is unknown, or extra information is needed, the oracles on the front of the game sheet will help make a decision.

Sometimes the oracle will result in a complication or mishap. This can be used to start the next scene. If the challenge is completed, cross the prompt off the Matrix list, and the adventure continues by returning to Step 1.

Rewards

Because the system doesn’t use stats, the rewards are given in the form of adding extra traits from the tables on the front page of the rules when the mission is complete.

Variations

The Push SRD has several tweaks that can be applied to the system.

Adding stats is one obvious choice (but in my opinion it goes against the simplicity of the system).

Another option is to add extra tables to generate new missions in the same universe.

Everyone will have their own opinion, but I feel the best tweak in the SRD is being able to roll the D6 twice and pick the highest value (instead of having to Push) when a challenge can be resolved using one of the characters primary traits or areas of expertise. This recognizes the characters abilities without introducing the idea of stats.

Things I like

I love the idea of using a single D6 for everything. The system is so simple and portable that it could be played anywhere.

Being able to “Push” a roll with its associated risks is brilliant. Its so simple, yet so powerful.

I also love the fact that everything is on a single sheet of paper.

Things I don’t like

It’s hard to find anything to criticize because I like everything about this system.

However, I would probably keep a laminated sheet with the tables from page 40 and 41 of the SRD handy to help set challenges and to help frame the scene.

I know some designers keep a short list of suggestions on the rules page, but the two tables help keep things more random.

Until I read the SRD, I didn’t know they existed, and they add so much to the game for players that are challenged when it comes to imagination.

The likely/unlikely/yes/no oracle can be a bit confusing to understand. At first I couldn’t understand why you would want to Push a “likely”, but not be able to Push an “unlikely”. It seemed back-to-front to me.

To properly understand how the oracle works, you need to do the following:

  • Phrase your question so you can get a Yes/No answer. Eg. Did I find a magical item?
  • Now you need to decide what the most likely answer would be. Eg. “It is most likely that…” the item is not magical.
  • Use the Oracle.
  • If you get a 4 or lower, the oracle gives us the LIKELY outcome. As we suspected it was likely that the item was not magical, and we were right all along.
  • Because we got a 4 or lower, we could Push our luck to see if we can get the unlikely result that it is magical. Be careful though. If you get a 7 or higher, the item is probably cursed.
  • If your original roll got a 5 or 6, the oracle confirmed the UNLIKELY outcome. Well that was a surprise! We thought it was unlikely, but the item was magical after all. Lucky you. There is no need to Push.

How to Get it

The Push SRD is developed, authored, and edited by Cezar Capacle @capacle

The SRD can be downloaded from : https://capacle.itch.io/push

Push SRD is developed, authored, and edited by Cezar Capacle (https://capacle.itch.io/), and licensed for use under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

Note: I don't post actual prompts in my reviews. This is to protect the IP of the designer. You will need to buy the game to read the actual prompts.