This is the latest version of the Kill It With Fire RPG rules. You are encouraged to add whatever you can in terms of house rules; it’s got potential.

The rules are free for private use, but don't re-publish them elsewhere without my permission, especially for filthy lucre, okay?

Kill It With Fire!

The RPG with an old school feel and six-sided dice all over the place.

Kill It With Fire!

The Basics

Traits

Checks

Combat checks: attack pools, defense pools, and the bloodpool

Three 1s and three 6s: Auto fails and Auto successes

Non-combat checks

Contested checks:

More on Combat

The flow of battle

Surprise

Battle round turn order (initiative)

The Character Sheet

Hit Dice

Defenses and other things dictated by your traits

Health

Dying

Armor

Booty, Loot, and Other Rewards

Treasure

Magic items

Rituals

Experience

Rewards from all the little people

Cursed items

Skill-sets

Kung-fu

Other optional rules we'll put out there to wet your whistle:


The Philosophy:

A simple to get into, modular RPG that involves a minimum of exploitable features, a maximum of player freedom, lots of chance tempered by quick, easy, and predictable math. Six-sided dice are the dice of choice for this game to match the above goals, but other, more exotic dice are possible for experienced and die-curious groups.

Kill It With Fire! is an adventure game to be played primarily in the imagination of the participants. Each player will have different goals, such as to get treasure or kill a legendary monster. After they have achieved their goals (or died trying), they may retire their in-game avatar if they so choose and start a new one, or make new goals. Games can rarely be completed in one game session, so it is important for a referee player to keep a record of events that should be summarized at the start of each new session. The referee is also the person responsible for deciding the specifics of the shared game world, plot hooks, the actions of non-player characters, and ruling on situations that the rules don't cover. He or she should not be a jerk.

The Basics

You are represented by an avatar: a character that inhabits a shared game world and is much like a character in a novel, movie, or comic. These characters are only as realistic as you feel like making them, but they have some limitations that are generated at the character's creation. The referee also gets a say in limitations, so you need confer with them.

Whenever the character has a challenge with important chances of failure, the controlling player is going to roll some dice. The dice in question are assumed to be six-sided, but this is a modular game that encourages variations on the rules. Speaking of which, there are optional rules all over the place for you to check off if your referee has confirmed their use in your group. Always consult with the referee, for they regulate the tone of the game.

Traits

Traits are numbers that you have roll above (for attacks) and equal to or below for other actions. They are tied to your physical and mental description. The assumed traits for each character in the unmodified rules are the following:

□ Optional rule: Your group can replace the above traits with those of other classic games you may be familiar with.

Note: Your group may use additional traits regularly, such as luck, wealth, psionics, ki, honor, social status, or comeliness. Or the referee may see the need for such a trait and have you roll it on the fly, thereafter having it be a referenceable part of your character. There are blank spots on the character sheet for these.

When you get a new character sheet, you need to determine the trait numbers your character has. The way to generate each trait is to roll one die apiece for them. If you roll a six, keep a note of it and set that die's value to five (we'll cover what that notation of rolling a six will be used for in the Checks section). Characters can never have a six in a trait, for there is a limitation in the game world's physics. However, situations in game may temporarily allow a trait to increase to six or beyond, as will be detailed in the Checks section. If a trait would somehow permanently be changed to a 6, instead set it to five and make a note of it, as above.

In any case, the basic character sheet will have an illustration of a die with five pips (dots) for each trait. You may fill in one pip on that illustration for each point of trait that you rolled.

Checks

There are two kinds of checks in the game. A check is when you roll dice to see if you achieve a success at something with a chance of failure. Be it a combat check (attack or defence) or a skill check, if you rolled a six on a trait during character generation, you get to roll an extra die whenever you use the trait.

Combat checks: attack pools, defense pools, and the bloodpool

To attack something, you will need to use a trait of yours against the appropriate trait of your target. When your turn starts in a combat, choose a trait and put dice equal to the pips on it in front of you. This is an “attack pool.”

When you roll an attack, you will roll one or more dice from the attack pool, with the understanding that you are using the trait you chose to somehow channel your attack. For instance, if you have 3 prowess, and choose prowess when you start your turn, you use three dice. You can add in special dice, situational dice, or bloodpool dice (all three detailed below) on top of this number. When you have all your dice ready, roll them and note each result. If any are over the target’s trait’s score, you have scored a hit with that particular die.

Everyone can attempt melee or ranged hits, but some abilities allow attacks too. Melee attacks are compared against the Prowess trait, and Ranged attacks against the Coordination trait. Things like psionic attacks would probably be against the Wits trait, and things like poisons against the Body. But all weapon and abilities will tell you what trait to use against which.

If someone successfully attacks a target, they roll a d6 (or more for special attacks) and that damage is collectively applied to the target’s largest hit die (the die with the most pips showing) in their hit die pool (order hit dice from smallest to biggest from left to right). Damage that exceeds that die during this particular attack is ignored (exceptions abound though).

Hit dice pools are literally dice (hereafter HD), and they are rolled at the beginning of combat by each player. If any HD are reduced to 0, they are forfeited to the attacking side’s bloodpool. Usually, only one HD is lost to an attack and extra damage is ignored.

A player may opt to split their attack pool into more than one “mini” attack pool in order to hit more than one target within th logical range of their weapon. As long as any of these mini attack pools roll a single die or more that is higher than the target’s trait, they can hit. Sometimes all the attacks hit, sometimes only one or two hit, and sometimes none do. Players have to weigh the benefits and risks.

Alternatively, you can set aside one or more dice from your chosen trait for a defense pool (you should put the dice on the trait on the character sheet.  Defense pools expire when your turn comes around again (when you begin a new turn), but until then, you can roll these dice whenever that specific trait is attacked. If any one of your dice matches or exceed the attacker’s successful attack dice they are canceled on a one for one basis. It only takes one successful die for an attack to succeed though, and the enemy may opt to attack a trait you didn’t set aside defence dice for, if they can find a way.

Any person can hold onto up to two dice that were once in an opponent’s HD pool, until they use them or combat ends, in their own bloodpool. They can add one or both to an attack action. If someone would receive more of these won dice than the two they can currently have, or they don’t want a certain number of won dice, they must put them into the team bloodpool in the middle of the table (typically, the teams are the players’ characters vs all the DM’s monsters).

Any of their allies can use a team blood pool die to add to their attack or defense pools. In any case, the maximum number of bloodpool dice that can be added to an attack or defense action is 2. Remember, the referee gets their own bloodpool, which all the monsters may share!

Besides the bloodpool, the rules simulate situational advantages by adding more dice to the mix.

Example: Lothar the barbarian is attacking a ghost with his magical sword. The sword’s magic happens to grant an extra die to attacks that target undead. His attack's description says he uses his prowess trait, and he has the ghost cornered, adding a circumstantial bonus that the referee says is worth one more die to the attack roll (not all refs would be so kind!). So his usual three attack dice and his two bonus dice are rolled as one attack pool, and their result is checked  against the ghost’s Prowess score.

Three 1s and three 6s: Auto fails and Auto successes

If you roll three 1s, you automatically fail at the attack! But three 6s is an auto hit (no defence roll-- save one that rolled its own triple 6s-- is allowed) and spillover damage can affect more than one HD. When defending, three 1s grant not only full damage from your attacker, but also grant spillover damage.

When defending, three 6s cancel a pending attack (save if the attack also has triple 6s) and initiate a counter-attack from the defender! Roll the defence dice one more time and apply them as damage to the unwitting attacker’s HD.

If you somehow roll three 1s and three 6s in one pool,  or have a situation where the attacker rolls three 6s and defender also roll 6s, take all such dice out of the attack and defense pools and look for any remaining successful dice.

Non-combat checks

Non-combat checks are a bit simpler.

To see if you succeed at anything besides an attack or a contested action, you will need to roll one die[1]. The result of your roll has to be equal to or under the amount of pips you have in a given trait that is appropriate for the situation at hand. In most situations a six will therefore be a failed roll. Of course, if you temporarily have six pips for some reason when you make a check you don't even need to roll, as you can't fail.

Some skill-sets give you extra dice for certain kinds of checks. In such cases, each die is another chance to roll at or below your trait, rolled at the same time as the first die (let’s call this one a Check Pool; the author is fond of die pools). The dice are just separate chances for success and one successful roll is all you need, but the referee may elect to describe awesome results for multiple successes. The referee could also narrate checks that were made by a wide margin as awesome or bare successes if they so choose, but they cannot rob a player of success if that is what they rolled.

Example: Arcane glyphs on a wall need a Wits check to be deciphered. A character that belongs to an arcane skill-set has an ability that allows an extra die in these situations. Seriah the Dark is such a wizard , so her player rolls two dice on her check. She gets a 4 and a 1 against her trait score of 3, so the 4 is ignored, but the 1 succeeded. She reads the hell out of those glyphs.

You can, in theory, make as many attempts at a check as you have the resources to do so, but the referee will warn you if you are running out of time, energy, chances, etc. The referee will have to decide the logistics of any checks in the game and what the results, be they be successful or not, will actually mean.

Example: A player is trying to figure out what an ancient artifact does. He fails his check. The referee rules that he can try the check again after a week of research at a good library.

One last thing on the above: Some checks may be ruled to be outside of the scope of some characters. For instance, the arcane runes from the previous example will most likely require you to have a background that would allow you to even make an attempt at deciphering them. A referee may rule that a barbarian character doesn't have the education for it, or a misplaced time-traveler may not even know what runes are no matter what his Wits trait is.

Contested checks:

Here come the scare-quotes to let you know that though I use the combat terminology, this is not combat. If someone is trying to stop you, treat the situation like psuedo-combat. First, roll to “hit” and then roll “damage”. The opposer get’s a defence roll using the appropriate trait. If any “damage” gets through, you win the action. Each player can “attack” in any given round, on their initiative, or they can hold back some dice for “defense”. You can bring in hit dice for contests that involve extended periods of exertion, like trying to win a race over a long distance, or trying to escape the slavers you just cuckolded.

Example: Arm wrestling. Prowess versus Prowess as Groggart the Boastful takes on Olgugug the Half-Org. Groggart wins initiative and tries to go strong, pitting all  four of his Prowess dice against Groggart’s Powess score (3). He rolls 1,1,2,5, netting one success. Olgugug tries to oppose this “hit” with two of his three dice. He gets 1,5 and neutralizes the “attack.” Then he uses his remaining die to roll his own “attack” and gets a 2. This round is a stalemate, and they prepare their mighty thews for another round of white-knuckled excitement!

If Olgugug had rolled a 4 or better, he would have “damaged” Groggart and won the contest right then and there. 

More on Combat

Each role and race in the game will let you learn one (sometimes more) special attacks and/or abilities.

Each ability describes what it does, has some keywords that may interact with other elements of the game, and its effects. An ability that is also an attack will list the trait you used to make the attack check (often Prowess), and the kind of defense(s) you need to beat to hit a target.

By default, attacks do one die of damage if successful, but if they don’t, this will be detailed in the description. All damage also shares the keywords of the ability that generated it.

Some weapons may work differently, but this will be explained in their descriptive text.

To use an ability, you should describe your intention, make a roll, and then narrate how well your ability worked (or how poorly it failed) based on your roll. The referee will do the same for non-player characters.

A referee can describe how targets react to the results of your attacks, but you get to describe the gory details of a well placed blow as long as your description doesn't detail things beyond the scope of the ability, such as pushing when a ability doesn't mention pushing, or disemboweling a guy that still has hit points. The referee will tell you what result you need for your attack ability to hit, and if it finishes the target off. The player decides how the monster dies, or if it is simply knocked out, disarmed, brought to its knees, etc. Deciding the later kind of options can make for interesting story ideas and allow you to demand answers or fealty, etc., from bested foes.

Example: Gnort the Putrid’s player wants to attack a goblin. On his turn he announces: I point my wand at the goblin and prepare to ram hellfire down his throat. He rolls 2 successful dice, one of which is not canceled by the defense roll of the goblin. “Verily, flames do lick his tonsils like a very talented and fearsome lover! For…” (he looks at the unblocked die) “4 damage!” The referee confirms that the goblin’s hit dice are exhausted and gives them to the player’s bloodpool. The player adds, “He lets out a fearsome shriek as his brains boil out of his ears!” Another player laments that they no longer have anyone left to interrogate, but the deed is done.


The flow of battle

Combat takes place in everyone's imagination, but if your group is really into tactics, you can use visual representations and measurements and complicated rules and other things. The basic rules only cover imaginary environs. If you want to get next to someone to engage them in melee combat, and the referee agrees you are close enough, you can do so. See more about movement below in following sections.

Surprise

When one creature attacks another, combat is initiated. Everyone gets a chance to react, but if the initial attack was unexpected, roll for surprise first by having the attacked party roll a Wits check, adding an extra die if the attacker drew a weapon in front of the target as part of their action (i.e. a quick-draw). If the target succeeds on their Wits check, they noticed the attack in time to muster a modicum of defense. If they fail, the attacker gets to add an extra die to their attack pool.

Battle Order and Initiative Dice

At the beginning of a combat round, the Ref will announce the enemies’ apparent intentions. “The vampire attempts to mesmerise Sarasa” and so on. The players then announce their intentions. Everyone does something more or less simultaneously, but deal with melee attacks first, ranged second, and supernatural things like spells third. Is it important that a PC tries to hit something before getting hit by that same something? If so, have the player roll a d6 under their own Coordination score.

A die may be forfeited from your group’s bloodpool to take a bonus action, provided you then roll it and its at/under your coordination score. You are still restricted to doing non-attacks twice each.

Outside of your turn on a round you can try something verbal like talk, warn, threaten, taunt, or cajole.

The Character Sheet

Some of the things below will be on PC player's sheets and need a little explanation. KIWF is a bit different than most adventure games, so pay heed to how things are handled.

Hit Dice

You start the game with hit dice (HD) equal to your Body trait’s pips plus one (so at least 2 HD). Hit points (HP), which are rolled afresh each combat by rolling out a number of dice equal to your current remaining HD, are an indication of your ability to see a combat through, and they are a pretty abstract concept. They are the pips showing after you roll your HD each combat, so don’t lose track of them and keep the dice on your “Hit Die” line on the character sheet). HD, on the other hand, indicate how much energy you have left in a more general sense, and your ability to resist certain effects. They will be revisited in the Health section.

□ Optional rule: Instead of rolling hit dice for each combat, set all of your current ones to their highest value.

Defenses and other things dictated by your traits

Usually the following traits are used in the following ways in Defense Pools:

Other things on your character sheet


Health

You start the game with a set amount of hit dice, and get more as you purchase them with experience. You should note how many HD are usually available to you on your character sheet, as well as how many you currently have remaining due to the vicissitudes of the game sessions.

Each time combat is initiated, you should roll your current HD. Their total is how many HP you have available for the current encounter. If you have enough dice to play in the following manner feel free to do so, otherwise you’ll have to write each die’s points down somewhere, like the character sheet. If you have to leave a session mid-battle, note your current HP left on each die.

Aforementioned following manner:

Keep each rolled HD in front of you. When you lose HP, adjust the highest numbered die in front of you to represent that loss. If you would lose more HP than are left on a die from a single attack, ignore the extra damage. Some attacks have followup damage or effects that will remove additional HP and/or dice, but these are an exception to the rule. If an HD’s value dips below one, move it to the Bloodpool of your opposition. If you run out of HD, you face death.

At the end of combat, note the amount of remaining HD you have left. The numbers on their faces are unimportant, as they will get rerolled at the beginning of each new combat (for a combat to be considered new, it must not be within five minutes of a previous one, so keep your HD around if you can since remembering these details can be hard).

At the end of each combat, you also get one HD back from among those you lost, so include that in your notations. You don’t get other HD back until you have rested for 8 hours. You usually can’t have more HD than the combination of your Body trait, your starting bonus HD, and any you’ve spent experience to gain, though temporarily you may due to certain supernatural effects. Remove extra dice beyond your normal numbers at the end of each encounter, scene, or combat, unless some effect is keeping you from doing so.

Some attacks and checks (usually monster attacks but occasionally player abilities) will have automatic effects on any characters with a certain amount of HD.

Example: Gnarlock the Lich has a combat ability that says: “This targets all nearby creatures. Each one hit that has less than three HD dies, and others take 3 damage per HD Gnarlock has.” He currently has three HD, so he’s going to do 9 damage to each target with enough HD left to avoid simply dying. They presumably each lose only one HD though, as the nine damage only is applied to one HD per target.

Dying

You are in serious danger dying when you run out of HD. NPCs just die, but at 0 HD/HP you are still in the action until hit again, at which point you can say a final, clever line and expire.

If you are lucky, somebody or something may have an ability that puts you back in the action. After combat has stopped for the next five minutes or more, you may make a Body check to see if you survived. If you pass, you get one hit die back and come to your senses and deal with any lingering effects dictated by battle abilities, such as being poisoned. If you fail at these, you may die anyways! Life is short for many an adventurer, but there is always some new character to play, so roll a new one!

Don’t rip up your character sheet if you die. Not only is that really immature, but it removes opportunities to bring your character back from the clutches of death if the other players have some brilliant ideas. Also, the party may want to loot your corpse ;-)

□ Optional rule: When hit while dying, roll on the Dying hits table, and you may still be in the action!

Armor

Easy rules:

Unarmored status nets you 2 bonus dice per round to your defense pool.

Each kind of armor comes with a number of soak dice that absorb damage that is not from listed kinds of weapons. Soak dice are rolled whenever damage is coming, and their results cancel that much damage.

Complicated rules: Armor also plays a role in protecting your hit points, naturally. But the heavier the armor, the slower you get, so there is a tradeoff. Armor is expressed in terms of Armor Dice (AD) numbers (an Armor Pool) and pip values for the dice in the pool. You may have armament on different parts of your body, but all your armor adds up to give you a unified encumbrance and die total. Abilities and effects that mention pips will apply only to the most logical piece(s) of armor (referee's call).

How armor hampers you:

How armor helps you: at the beginning of each combat you get an amount of armor dice equal to a number written somewhere in your armor’s description. This is the armor pool Set each die to the pip value, which is also in the armor’s description. If  you would take damage from an attack, first remove an armor die from play and apply its number as a penalty to said damage. If any damage is left over, it is then applied to your HD as usual. Your armor pool is reset whenever you have five minutes to adjust and repair it.

Example: Grog wears a suit of old Iron Plate. It has a pip rating of 3 and a pool of five dice. When combat begins, he rolls his hit dice as usual, and also puts out five armor dice, setting their face-up sides to 3. Let’s say he then takes a blast of eldritch energy from a draconic mage. The damage roll is four. Grog’s player removes an armor die from the table and applies the single remaining point of damage to one of Grog’s hit dice. He has lost 1 hit point.

But say the eldritch blast also has a special effect in this case though: it gives a followup amount of fire damage equal to the character’s armor dice (to simulate the sensation of superheated armor). The way the ability is worded, the referee points out that whether or not armor dice have been removed from combat has no bearing on how much extra damage this ability does and five damage are then applied directly to Grog’s HP.

In another situation, Grog has to slog through a cloud of agitated bats. The bats have an ability, like many swarms and hazards, that does automatic damage to directly to hit dice, minus armor pips. So in this case, Grog loses no armor dice and takes some reduced damage. Grog just hopes that he can get out of this mess before armor and bones are all that is left of him.

Booty, Loot, and Other Rewards

Adventuring is done with a goal in mind, and often treasure is what characters seek. Monetary treasure and valuable mundane items should be described by the referee and given a gold value to keep play from getting bogged down in talk of coin exchange rates and appraisals.

□ Optional rule: Treasure will count towards encumbrance and sometimes be hard to move, so the player had best employ some trustworthy lackies to carry things.

Treasure

Treasure and rare or magical items are usually found near a challenging encounter such as a monster or a trap. The referee tables have guidelines for treasure. Treasure is generally found in amounts proportional to danger; fortune smiles on the bold!

Magic items

An adventurer can tell most properties of a magic item by holding it for a few minutes. If you lose hold of your magic items but gain them back, the powers will be available to you again. To keep track of item properties, it is recommended that the referee prepares cards that detail them to hand to players.

Rituals

Most rituals are unique and found in a manner much like treasure, and so it is recommended that the referee prepares cards that detail them to hand to players.

Rituals are things that can be performed by anyone with the knowledge of how they work and any requisite traits, materials, abilities etc. that are required of them. Rituals are found in the same manner as treasure, though you could conceivably pay someone to teach you one.

Rituals may come on tablets, scrolls, encoded into architecture, via tutelage, as visions, etc. Some rituals are of a psionic or sci-fi flavor and are recorded in things such as crystals, obsidian orbs, alien brains, or other strange things.

Some rituals require their caster to be of a certain morality, race, or other such thing.

Many rituals require specific items and even creatures in order to be performed, and such items should be listed in their descriptions.

Example: Flint the mercenary finds an old tablet in a dungeon. A sage (who makes a successful Wits check) points out that it has some hint of sorcery about it that could be unlocked with blood (esoteric information the referee has provided for the successful check). Flint daubs the tablet with chicken blood and the sage, with a new, successful Wits check, interprets the meaning of the now-glowing characters thereon into a series of rites and exercises that could performed by anyone to get the ritual described on the tablet to work. The referee then gives the player a ritual card with a name for the ritual and the specifics of how to do it.

Experience

When you finish a quest or journey and are out of harm’s way, be that clearing out a dungeon or what have you, the referee should allow your group 1d6’s worth of in-game weeks to improve your abilities as a reward for merely surviving, provided you made it back to a safe area to live and train.

It is not guaranteed that you learn anything of worth, however, and so sometimes nothing happens, but you can store up Experience Dice (xpdice) to shore up your chances. Experience dice are d6s that are awarded by the referee after each session for the following kinds of situations:

Example: Phinious the Sage is a PC of the arcane persuasion. During today’s session, his party stopped the machinations of Huruk the Mad Duke (minor quest), discovered a new dungeon complex (minor quest), and provided the ingredients to power a ritual that saved the free city of Cravenholm (major quest). After the excitement, during a lull between adventures, Phinious sacrificed 3000 gold creating some automatons to act as sentries to the temple of Tsathogunata, demon-god of wizards. He has 5HD, so that gives him 6xp dice for the sacrifice, plus 1 for the minor quest and 2 for the major quest. His player may now roll some or all of them to gain new abilities now, or they can be saved for another session.

Experience Dice can only be rolled during the aforementioned PCs’ world downtime, and any dice that don’t roll the needed result are lost.

Ways to spend those xpdice, and how many it will cost:

Rewards from all the little people

NPCs that ask the player characters for help often have some kind of reward to give out of gratitude. Check the NPC Rewards table if you are a referee that needs some ideas.

Cursed items

Occasionally you will get a cursed item. Such items will cause trouble for you, but you may not know why it is happening, though you will sense other properties of the item or even false ones. A successful Wits check by a person of an appropriate skill-set will help reveal what is to be done to stop the curse. Items not destroyed by the actions that undo their curses may become useful, or at the very least valuable.

Skill-sets

Kung-fu

People with this skill-set are versatile, and can fight even with fists against tough foes.

Abilities:

Fists of iron: you have access to trained fists weapon.

Unarmored defence: If you aren’t wearing armor and are wearing unrestrictive clothing, you can keep the highest rolled die from your attack pool each round. This die absorbs combat damage that would be dealt to you by physical sources, such as an arrow or a sword.

Techniques and Powers

Parley: If you are defending against a melee weapon with one of your own, if any dice of yours beat the attacker’s dice, you may roll one damage die.


Other optional rules we'll put out there to wet your whistle:

□ Different hit die sizes, as detailed in the addendum.

□ Different damage die sizes, as detailed in the addendum.

UNFINISHED DOC IS UNFINISHED


[1] You also get an extra die for non-combat checks if you rolled a six that you had to discard during character generation. This is why you made a note during character generation. Between this, skill-sets, and item traits, and other bonuses, you may get to roll several dice on certain checks.