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Second Guess System SRD

The Second Guess system was born from the idea of reducing Wretched & Alone games down to fit on a single page.

Designed by William Lentz, and licensed under Creative Commons 4.0, the goal was to fit 52 prompts on an A4 or letter sheet of paper.

Realizing that it would be extremely difficult to achieve, the idea of using a D20 die came into play.

One of the benefits of using a pack of cards is that you have 52 values that can be randomized by shuffling. Once the shuffle is done, the cards can be dealt with the guarantee that a card will never appear more than once.

When you use a D20, everything changes. Numbers can repeat well before all of the numbers have appeared.

Instead of getting you to roll again, William came up with the brilliant idea of using the same prompt but introducing a new twist. In this game, everyone lies all the time. What if each time you rerolled a prompt you had to admit to something you had lied about previously in the prompt?

Of course, you may not have lied. maybe more information comes to light, or the story changes slightly.

Finally, he introduced the idea of a goal tracker which would increase or decrease based on the roll of a D6. (more on that shortly)

Primary Mechanic

  • D20 dice used on table of 20 prompts
  • Revisiting (rerolling) prompts requires you to change the story
  • Prompts can increase or decrease a goal
  • D6 is tested against the goal score to see if you won or lost

How does it work

Second Guess games require a D20 and a D6 dice, and something to write note or keep a journal (voice, video or written)

The rules consist of 20 prompts. The prompts are written in such a way that the player may not be 100% of the result.

For example, “An important witness turns up dead. What leads does the crime scene offer?”

The first time you visit this prompt, you may notice discarded clothing and a bloody knife.

However, if you roll the same prompt a second time, you may also notice that the knife has a handprint on it, or there are footprints in the blood.

I think you get the idea!

The details of each prompt becomes more fleshed out each time you visit them.

Another example would be if you were talking to the witness of a crime, they may tell you some information. But when you revisit the prompt and talk to them later, their story may have changed in some way.

Playing the Game

The game is broken into turns.

At the start of each turn, you roll a D20 and look at the matching prompt to record a journal entry.

If you roll the same prompt again, reflect on your previous answer and add something new, or change something from the first time you answered.

Many of the prompts will get you to add or deduct points from your goal tracker.

Rolling the D6 and comparing it to the goal score often determines if the game has been won or lost (However, there are other common mechanisms used by some game authors)

My Thoughts

A well written SRD that is easy to implement.

The hardest part will be coming up with the questions that allow things to change as the game progresses. But at least you don’t have to come up with 52 different ideas.

The idea of introducing a twist or a lie when you revisit a prompt is brilliant. The D6 and related goal tracker ensures the game doesn’t go on for too long.

The Second Guess system would work extremely well with mystery or crime themes.

I’m a big fan of Wretched and Alone games, so I can’t wait to see what games are designed using this SRD.



Second Guess System by William Lentz is licensed under CC BY 4.0.

Where to get it

Second Guess was designed by William Lentz

Web for the SRD:

Web for a recent Jam: