Sunday, October 3, 2021

Die Trying


This game is about adventurers doing their best in terrible situations. They might not have weapons or combat experience. They might already be cursed or mutated, even before they became an adventurer. They might be from Somewhere Else, trying desperately to get back. They definitely have no money. But all that will change soon, because they are delving dungeons with their newfound companions! And they are all going to get rich, or




Die Trying is built on the Baseline GLOG Rules, using Perilous Death and Dismemberment, and definitely not the "Cashed Up" option.

If you need to roll a stat, roll 1d20 equal or under the stat to succeed.

Gestate a Murderhobo

  1. Roll an Ancestry. Pick any die size from 1d1 to 1d100. Large dice will probably make for stranger characters
  2. Roll 3d6 in order for STR, DEX, CON, INT, WIS, CHA. If your Ancestry has a stat listed, reroll it and take the higher
  3. Roll three times on the Events table (3d20d20). These are the things you did before you became an adventurer
  4. Collect three random items, three supplies, three torches. If you want, you can trade the supplies or torches for an extra random item
  5. Done!

"But the character I rolled doesn't have a weapon / a spell / good stats / something else I need! What do I do?"
You do your best!

X Advancement

Die Trying doesn't have levels or classes of any kind. Instead, you can improve specific parts of your character sheet bit by bit.

Mark an X next to a stat when you
  • Roll a critical success
  • Miss a roll by one
  • Roll a critical failure and double down: The DM will say the result of your failure. If you suggest something worse and more interesting, you get an X

When you have three Xs next to a stat, erase them and add +1, to a max of 18.

If you spending downtime training a specific stat, and fail a roll, gain an X. Training in better locations and with better trainers can allow you to pick more stats or roll more times. Your fellow adventurers can also be your teachers!

Free-form Advancement

You can also get Xs that can go anywhere on your character sheet. There are several ways to get these "free Xs". This one is the most important:
  • Come up with a unique, interesting, simple and/or effective solution to a difficult problem, especially if it avoids rolling

Here are the other methods:
  • Show up to a session
  • Create a character portrait / play report / map etc. (I award an X if the portrait is to the best of the players ability)
  • Obey magical compulsions (charm spells, mind control) with vigour and creativity
  • Swear a binding oath (if you break it, lose this option)
  • Blow a bunch of treasure on a massive celebration
  • Hold a proper funeral for a dead ally (perhaps the more lavish it is, the more of their Xs you collect back)

Once you have three Xs next to a trait, ability, item, or other part of your character, it improves. Adding three Xs to an ability doesn't usually result in a boring numerical improvement. Instead, it should improve the versatility, invert the application, change the context, or grant a large bonus at a cost.

It might seem like the best source of Xs is to roll your stats a lot. This is incorrect. There is a 15% chance of getting an X from rolling dice. There is a 100% chance of getting an X from coming up with an effective plan that avoids rolling any dice.

Remember, you can add Xs to anywhere on the sheet. Adding Xs to a weakness doesn't just make it go away. Instead, it might allow you to inflict that weakness on enemies, allow you to manage it in different ways, or provide an unexpected benefit under certain circumstances. For more explanation, see the X Advancement Guide.

Further Advancement

Since characters don't have classes or levels, it can be difficult for them to acquire new abilities solely through the X advancement system. This is by design. Instead, characters change and evolve through diegetic advancement, actions taken in the world rather than in the rules. Magic items, training, striving against terrible odds, and general exploration of weirdness should be rewarded with character development of all kinds.

Optional Rules

Extra Sources of Xs

Some, none or all of following might grant an X, depending on the type of game you are playing:
  • Slay a dragon
  • Clear a dungeon
  • End a session as MVP (as voted by other players)
  • End having experienced the most dramatic moment (ditto)
  • End a session with the fewest number of Xs
  • Save the life of an ally
  • Per major achievement on a dead/retired character
  • Whenever the DM feels like it
  • When you form a major alliance with another political entity


"Get off the road!" - Anato Finnstark

The Bishop - Filipe Pagliuso

The Troll - Filipe Pagliuso

Booking - A. Shipwright

Barbarian - Denis Zhbankov

The Blind Man - Ksanda CreepyCrafts

Random Stuff - Lu Fio

Tiger Knight - Denis Zhbankov

Goblin Hunter - Denis Zhbankov

Warlock - Jakub Rebelka

Defeat - Denis Zhbankov

Army of Wool - Kyoung Hwan Kim

Warrior - Kyoung Hwan Kim

Dwarf Warlock - Gustavo Pelissari

Oath - Zhihui Su


Die Trying was the second game I ever made. Think of this as a remaster of the original. Die Trying is all about scrappy scoundrels and cut-rate wizards doing their best to get rich, or, of course, die trying. The X advancement system results in characters growing steadily more bizarre and diverse as they delve into underground death traps and curse-blasted towers. It uses a basic lifepath system to generate characters that are very often incomplete, missing the equipment or abilities they need to function properly. This is by design. Players will ask themselves "how am I supposed to adventure without ...?" and more often than not, answer it themselves with style and verve. As discussed in this review of the original Die Trying, this game "is a game of want... it gives you characters that have abilities, but not power, and an immediate need to fill that gap in order to survive".