Hazard System v0.3

The Hazard System is a gameplay engine for traditional roleplaying games designed to facilitate fictional consequences of player decision-making while minimizing bookkeeping.

Find a full HTML version of v0.3 in this post below the divider.

There is also a PDF version (see Downloads).

Significant changes between v0.2 and v0.3:

  • Hazard die results now follow higher = better principle
  • Generalized hazard die:
    1 setback, 2 fatigue, 3 expiration, 4 locality, 5 percept, 6 advantage
  • Introduces free moves, full moves, and conditions terminology
  • Formatted PDF as two letter-sized pages for ease printing two-sided on one sheet
  • Included brief chronological further reading section for context
  • Included simple default subtables for several kinds of outcomes, such as haven shortages and disasters

The text below the divider is released under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

Attribution: Necropraxis Productions Hazard System v0.3 (2017)

Hazard System (v0.3)

The six-sided hazard die deploys threats, manages resources such as light, and keeps time. It is the engine that drives gameplay forward, ensuring that choices have consequences while minimizing bookkeeping. To take a turn, have a player roll the hazard die and have the referee interpret the results relative to the current turn type. During a turn, each player may take one full action. The general form of the hazard die is:

1 2 3 4 5 6
Setback Fatigue Expiration Locality Percept Advantage

Hazard Die Interpretations

Haven Turn Interpretation

d6 Result Interpretation
1 Setback Encounter (use regional table) or disaster (see below)
2 Fatigue Shortage (1 medicine, 2-3 drought, 4-5 famine, 6 trust)
3 Expiration Clear one or more haven conditions
4 Locality Advance season (or other local change)
5 Percept Foreshadow looming disaster
6 Advantage Full recovery

Wilderness Turn Interpretation

d6 Result Interpretation
1 Setback Encounter (use regional table) or road/bridge out
2 Fatigue Rest and consume rations (1/person) or suffer minor harm (1 HP)
3 Expiration Expire transient wilderness condition
4 Locality Shift weather (or other local change)
5 Percept Spoor or clue regarding next encounter
6 Advantage Free wilderness turn

Dungeon Turn Interpretation

d6 Result Interpretation
1 Setback Encounter (use zone table)
2 Fatigue Rest and consume rations (1/party) or suffer minor harm (1 HP)
3 Expiration Expire transient dungeon conditions (light, spell, etc)
4 Locality Shift dungeon state (or other local change)
5 Percept Spoor or clue regarding next encounter
6 Advantage Free dungeon turn

Combat Turn Interpretation

d6 Result Interpretation
1 Setback Opponents act first or additional encounter (use zone table)
2 Fatigue Suffer minor harm (1 HP) if engaged in melee
3 Expiration Expire transient combat conditions (light, burning, etc)
4 Locality Shift battlefield (or other local change)
5 Percept Spoor or clue regarding next encounter
6 Advantage Free combat turn
  • Some disasters (1d6):
    1 invasion, 2 insurrection, 3 fire, 4 earthquake, 5 flood, 6 falling star
  • Some dungeon localities (1d6):
    1 obstruction, 2-3 seal/open door, 4-5 divert water, 6 expose secret
  • Use common sense: ignore results that do not make fictional sense, but only the first time
  • Keep time abstract: quantifying the details precisely is rarely worth the hassle

Moves and Conditions

Moves represent actions relevant to the current fictional context, such as exploring a trackless stretch of swamp. Conditions represent persistence of a transient state, such as adventurer exhaustion. Conditions can apply to areas, parties, or individuals. Strictness tracking conditions is a matter of style. Tokens can help. The lists of moves and conditions below below are suggestive rather than complete. Improvise others as appropriate, according to referee ruling.

Haven turns represent several days or weeks of rest and recovery.

  • Free haven moves: advance/level up, prepare spells, recover, recruit, resupply
  • Full haven moves: craft gear, scribe scroll, conduct research
  • Haven conditions: curse, famine, pestilence, shortage, siege, winter

Wilderness turns represent travel and making camp, approximately one day and night. Making a wilderness move requires consuming a ration or taking the exhausted condition in addition to rolling the hazard die. If already exhausted, at the start of a wilderness turn suffer minor harm (1 HP). Determine randomly whether setbacks occur during day or night.

  • Free wilderness moves: access known landmark in current area, survey adjacent areas
  • Full wilderness moves: travel to adjacent area, search, explore, hunt, track
  • Wilderness conditions: exhausted, lost

Lost: Travel is no longer an option. Use search to locate a landmark, removing the lost condition on success.

Dungeon turns represent exploration at architectural scale, approximately tens of minutes or a few hours, assuming careful advance into hostile places.

  • Free dungeon moves: look under a rug, open unstuck door, pull lever
  • Full dungeon moves: climb, force a door, move to adjacent area, pick a lock, search
  • Dungeon conditions: candlelight, torchlight, overburdened

Combat turns represent tactical actions occuring over seconds or minutes.

  • Free combat moves: shout command, drop held item,
  • Full combat moves: shoot, spell, strike, throw, withdraw
  • Combat conditions: burning, defended, grappled, prone

Notes and Further Reading

  • Consider using a simple slot-based encumbrance system, such as one item per point of strength.
  • Locality results work best if you design areas with countdowns or aspects that can shift between states.
  • I replace traditional initiative with the combat hazard die.
2012-09-16 http://www.necropraxis.com/2012/09/16/abstracting-missiles/
2013-04-10 http://www.necropraxis.com/2013/04/10/solipsistic-hexes/
2014-02-03 http://www.necropraxis.com/2014/02/03/overloading-the-encounter-die/
2014-05-22 http://www.necropraxis.com/2014/05/22/proceduralism/
2014-12-23 http://www.necropraxis.com/2014/12/23/hazard-system-v0-2/
2015-02-09 http://dungeonofsigns.blogspot.com/2015/02/luceat-lux-vestra-making-light.html
2016-07-22 http://www.necropraxis.com/2016/07/22/tactical-hazard-die/
2016-09-19 http://www.necropraxis.com/2016/09/19/let-it-ride-or-push-your-luck/
2017-06-11 http://www.paperspencils.com/2017/06/11/the-haven-turn/

Released under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license. Typeset using Pandoc and LaTeX.

Attribution: Necropraxis Productions Hazard System v0.3 (2017)

16 thoughts on “Hazard System v0.3

    1. Brendan Post author


      By “use maps” do you mean in prep or behind the screen as a referee? If so, yeah. Can you clarify what you mean by having players’ maps?

  1. Scott Anderson

    Brendan, I mean you have the dungeon map and you describe the shape of rooms and hallways. Like that. Do you do it? It strikes me that you don’t really need a map to play with your system.

    1. Brendan Post author


      Yeah, usually. Some notes about areas and area interconnectivity would probably be sufficient (and I do this on occasion), but I find all the extra info contained in the shapes and so forth of a traditional map to be an efficient way of communicating info. This is probably truer for smaller, compared to larger, dungeons, as a big map can help provide an overall sense of a space, which is less necessary for something like a 5-6 room crypt.

  2. Gus L

    As always a lovely distillation and mechanical construction – I would love to see this applied in an adventure or even random encounter table[s] for a location or two to see how this works. Especially the Haven turns.

  3. uripadeez

    You mention “zone tables” – I take it to mean wandering monster charts or creatures of that particular “zone” you might encounter?

  4. Andrew Codispoti

    @Brendan Thank you so much for this system. I very much look forward to using it.

    One question: do you roll the hazard die at the beginning or end of a turn?


    1. Roll hazard die. Interpret results.
    2. Players declare actions. Resolve actions.


    1. Players declare actions. Resolve actions.
    2. Roll hazard die. Interpret results.

    Or perhaps:

    1. Players declare actions.
    2. Roll hazard die. Interpret results.
    3. Resolve actions.


    1. Brendan Post author


      I always roll the hazard die first and interpret the results then have players resolve actions. Player action declarations usually kick off the turn though, since the action intention generally makes clear that formally taking a turn is required.

      Sometimes the resolution of the hazard die result comes after the player actions depending on the nature of the interpretation.

      So for a common example: a dungeon turn that players use to search a room. In this case, the player declaration came first, and since searching takes time, it requires taking a turn. So then someone rolls the hazard die. Say it comes up 1 (complication) which the referee interprets as an encounter. Depending on the nature of the encounter it could preempt the searching, or be a result of the search (giant centipedes in a drawer?), or perhaps be a wandering party of monsters just as the characters are completing the search. No matter what, I would be sure to clarify the result of the search actions before potentially moving onto a subsequent turn, since the payoff of spending that dungeon turn (and braving the hazard) is the search result. So the actual order there of fictional actions is somewhat fluid, but I think there is a benefit to always rolling the hazard die first to make the turn mechanism and passage of time salient to players.

      Does that help?

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    1. Brendan Post author


      Unintentional. I updated the link in the downloads tab but forgot to update it here.

      Thanks for letting me know! Will fix shortly.

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  7. Philippe

    Hi Brendan.

    My intention is to use your hazard system to keep tracking things easy but as I come from a traditional play background, I find it hard to grasp all the consequences of your system. So I dare ask a question.

    For combat, a roll of 1 means players lose initiative : does that mean players always have initiative on rolls o 2 to 6 ? That would seem overly “generous”. Or maybe I oversaw something ?

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