The No Dice Core System

For a copy of the character sheet in PDF form scroll to the bottom of the page and click the "files" button in the right hand menu.

Key Stats


The basic number of serious physical shocks your character can take before passing out into unconsciousness.

Health is lost when your character is either injured (by falling masonry, for example) or is wounded during combat. Health may also be lost through exhaustion, or via poisoning.

It is possible, in the latter case, that a character has to make a "Health Check". To complete one of these the player draws a card and halves the value (rounding up) if they come in under or equal to the current Health level then no Health is lost, otherwise Health reduces by one, simulating increasing weakness.

Health can be replenished over time time, by the application of healing items and by the care of healing techniques. Items can only ever heal a character up to half their current maximum Health. The application of field medicine can restore 75% (rounded up; or all but one if current Max is below four) of Health. A couple of day's rest will usually heal all Health.

All of this, of course, depends on context. A serious injury that maims or seriously wounds may either a) never heal setting a new, lower maximum Health for your character. Or b) require a course of professional medical therapy to be alleviated without which the maximum is not attainable.

When such an injury is received you will be told at the time. The Host may not retroactively decide that a wound was more serious than it appeared at the time.

The Base Health (i.e. the Health a species member starts with) is mentioned in each species specification. The Max cap on health is twice the base. Until a cap raise is bought (see Experience) Health can never exceed the base. The base health for a human is 4.


The number of times a character can compromise their own sense of who they are before they lose the plot and pass temporarily into the control of the Host.

A situation in role play will arise where the Traits of your character would be brought into question (i.e. where your character might have a strong compulsion to act in a particular manner that is possibly not the most appropriate, diplomatic or even in your character's bestinterests long term).

At this time the Host will offer you a choice:

1) Role play in accordance with your traits. For this you will gain 1 Self but you could screw up whatever cunning plan you're currently involved in executing.

2) Make a check against Self.

If you make a Self check you will be required to draw a card half of whose value (rounded up) is equal to or under your current Self score. If you pass you lose an identity point but may act entirely as you wish. If you fail then you lose an identity point and some part of your reaction will be involuntary as decided by the gravity of your failure i.e. how much you went over by. The Host will let you know what you have done, whether that be bare your teeth at a known rival or fart in front of the queen.

The Max Self for each species is twice its base. Initially a character's Self cannot go above base unless a cap raise is bought (see Experience). The base Self for a human is 4.

Important Note: "Self" is like Health in that Self checks should not come up unless the situation in which the character finds themselves is truly sanity bending. For example, you are playing a character who is a normal person and who finds themselves holding a gun on the person who killed their spouse. As an objective player it is easy to say that you would blow them away without really blinking, especially if the murderer is taunting them about their supposed cowardice and how they won't do it etc. The fact is, most human beings are socially conditioned to not pull the trigger.

It could be that you, as the player, decide to just give in to that social imperative and attempt to tie the bad guy up. In which case, if your self has been eroded elsewhere, you then gain some back. On the other hand you could choose to push the character, make the test, override the conditioning, blow him away.

This is a stylised game way of modelling character drama. Whatever the character does will be "wrong" from some other perspective. The character will both have to live with the consequences of acting out vengeance, and with the consequences of *not* acting it out. Self should not be used in circumstances other than these, if your Host is making you check on things like which sauce you're going to slap on your burger then you might want to point them in the direction of this section.

Role Play Stats

The Four Suits

At the heart of the Core System is the use of the four playing card suits. Each suit describes a kind of situation that your character may find themselves in during the adventure.

Every draw in the Core System takes into account not only the individual but also the circumstances in which the indvidual is acting. When the character is in their element they will receive a slight edge to their actions, but in poor circumstances they will have to rely entirely on their own skills and luck.

Spades (Rational)

Rational draws are used when the test involves some kind of academic knowledge which has no need of instinct. A rational draw either takes place where some learned area of knowledge (e.g. medicine, archaeology, history) is called upon, or where someone is trying to make sense of a large amount of raw data (e.g. heiroglyphs on the wall of a tomb, or a large pile of paperwork). It is essential that no emotional pressure is brought to bear for the draw to fall into the spades category.

Clubs (Practical)

Practical draws take place when your character is performing a skilled action without recourse to academic knowledge and while the character is not under any kind of emotional duress.

Hearts (Emotional)

An emotional draw will be called for whenever a situation presents significant emotional pressure of any variety. This could be a pure fear reaction to a sudden explosion followed by the release of a hail of gunfire. It could, alternatively, be a response to emotional goading from an enemy, or, if your character receives an emotional edge, the dam breaking upon successful visualisation that is intended to heighten emotional state.

In the case of the latter two the test in question will be applied to the emotional trait that makes the character able to keep control or gee themselves up. The trait (and any skills) are added as a modifier to a card draw, the higher the score the more effectively you control your emotions in the required manner and slip into a state where you no longer receive the emotional modifier/begin to receive the emotional modifier.

Diamonds (Instinctive)

Instinctive draws will be made when there is activity happening, or detail present that may be noticed or intuited but the character is not actively looking for. As such it governs perception checks but also wanders into areas of noticing things in the environment and not quite knowing why or just taking in random information from a location in line with a character's traits. Just because the Host asks for a diamonds check does not mean there's any urgent danger which is about to make itself known. It could just be an opportunity to release some information which will help to make sense of the wider situation further down the line.

Instinctive checks are also used in place of emotional checks when the initial shock of a dangerous situation has worn off but the danger that caused the intial shock remains active and targetted upon the player character. A character, for example, trying to run from cover to cover through a minefield while being fired at by a grenade launcher would have to rely on their instincts to pull them through. Being in proximity to a battlezone but not in actual danger would default back to practical checks after any initial emotional shock had worn off.


An umbrella term for things against which you make tests to resolve in game conflicts. They come in two main categories Personal and Physical.


Personal traits are those aspects of your character which they would tend to rely upon to gain an advantage in social and political situations. Personal traits revolve around a character's work ethic, trustworthiness, life-philosophy etc. A test against a personal trait is either a test which delivers a concrete advantage or guards against some kind of penalty (usually described by a Self check - see above).


Physical traits are those aspects of your character that govern their ability to carry out tricky physical tasks. It could be that they are naturally built to have an advantage in certain areas, or the character could have specific training in certain operations.

Physical traits cover everything from running fast, to moving stealthily, to fighting ability, to being able to perform complicated physical actions (e.g. play an instrument, conduct a heart bypass). When it comes to physical checks of any sort they will be made with reference to the character's physical traits.

The results of a physical check could refer to straight pass/fail things such as "jump a high wall" or just the time it takes to complete them "climb a craggy rock face", for example.

Example: Digby the Dwarf wants to get access to the Secret Library hidden in the twisting alleys of the old town. Faced with an inexperienced guard at the entrance even Digby reckons he can bluff his way past but instead of just making up any old rubbish he relies on his trait in Friendly. He informs the Host that he will ask the guard whether there is any work going, get into a discussion about employment in the city and eventually offer the young man some of his incredibly potent Dwarf whiskey that will put any human under 21 years of age into a deep slumber within ten minutes of the shot being swallowed.

Eric the Elf, tutting at Digby's crudeness, and the slow nature of his plan says that he will use his Wise trait to put on the air of a librarian and using the names of some obscure magical texts and an overarching air of superiority bluff his way past in moments.

Digby concedes that this might be the quicker route but it is not something he could really do. Not being an uppity elvish nitwit.

So Eric tries it on. He fails, the guard's been told in no uncertain terms not to let anyone in without a library seal.

Having no other options, and not wishing to be violent, Digby tries his ruse. It takes about half an hour but with his natural camaraderie and general demeanour of being a down-to-earth guy the guard succumbs. Now to find the Octnastycon and find out what the evil sorcerer is up to…


Think of skills as like uber traits. The benefit of them is that when you use one you are far more likely to succeed in what you are doing than when you rely upon your traits alone. The downside is that skills are very specific so do not get used as much as traits.

Many Role Playing systems use menu-based lists of skills for players to construct a character from. In No Dice skills are agreed between player and Host and could be called anything. The reason for this is that you may be able to describe in a sentence what you want a skill to mean but there isn't one single word for how the skill operates.

Obviously if your skill is "pickpocket" that's an obvious one word description. However if you want a word to describe an ability to leverage your agility to move without noise then "move silently" will be more neutral than "sneak". On the extreme end your character may have an ability to make mechanical devices work with the least amount of available spare parts and with some bodging that is not replicable by other mechanics in which case the skill could be called : "It works, I don't know why."

It is entirely likely that during character creation you don't cover all the bases in terms of skills that your character should have. The ones you identify will be the ones that you feel are particularly noteable, hence they have scores.

As you play the game you will find yourself in situations where you may feel that your character should have a skill that your character sheet does not mention. Check with the Host, if they agree, add the skill and set it to zero. It is now eligible to be improved upon in future.

Liquidating Skills

After a long period of play you may find that you have skills that you never use. In agreement with the Host these skills can be "liquidated" and their points shuffled about.

When you do this you can use the liquidated points on the following basis:

  • Skill Raise 0 -> 1 = 1 point
  • Skill Raise 1 -> 2 = 2 points
  • Skill Raise 2 -> 3 = 3 points
  • Trait Raise of 1 = 3 points
  • Cap Raise of 1 = 3 points

In theory to raise a zero skill with liquidated points a player should first pay to raise it to one = 1 point, then to two = 2 more points, and then pay again to raise to 3 = another 3 points, total = 6 points. Generally speaking, this kind of sudden jump in skill should have a narrative explanation and is entirely up to the discretion of your Host. Single skill/trait/cap raises with liquidated points do not need to be discussed beyond the agreement to liquidate skills.


The experience track goes from left to right across the character sheet above the Traits/Skills table. This is the area that marks out your experience. You use experience to upgrade your character's traits, skills and even raise the cap on how much Health and Self the character has.

There are two guaranteed ways to get an experience point. Firstly, you automatically get experience when you draw a queen, this represents your character performing so well that they receive some sort of epiphany that sets them ahead. You also get experience of a less pleasant kind when you draw a Jack. That is known as the "let's not do that again" kind of experience point. Experience may also be handed out by the Host at their discretion for massive successes or neat bits of role play.

Every time you receive an experience point mark off one of the pips inside a block. When you have completed a block you can trade that for an increase in the effectiveness of your traits and skills. When you have traded in rub out the marks in the pips you have used.

Increasing Skills

To increase your skills the trade in rates are as follows.

  • Take a zero skill to 1 = 1 Exp block.
  • 1 -> 2 = 2 Exp Blocks
  • 2 -> 3 = 3 Exp Blocks

Increasing Traits

To increase a Trait towards its maximum of three requires a trade in of 5 EXP blocks for each level.

Increasing Max Health

To buy an increase in the Max Health available towards the cap, a "cap raise", trade in 5 EXP blocks for each new max level. If your Health is at max already increase it along with the raise, if not then just use the new max as the max when you are healed fully.

Increasing Max Self

To buy an increase in the Max Self available towards the cap, a "cap raise", trade in 5 EXP blocks for each new max level. If your Self is at max when the raise kicks in then increase your current level along with it. If not then the new max just becomes the self available to you as you make choices in-game.

Creating A Character

Before you begin your Host should have told you a little about what kind of game you are going to be taking part in. From this you should have some sort of character concept in mind. In many cases the Host will have detailed that for the game they have written to work they will probably need characters with skills in certain areas.

This is supposed to be a creative process and we all know the creative brain doesn't like working in a linear fashion, so some notes are included about other ways you might allow your character more organically. You might not even have fully finished your character when you start to play the game.

Regardless of how you choose to create the character, however, you will need to have some sort of idea, vague is also some sort, about the character you want to create before you sit down to creating them. Once you have an idea the process of creation involves fleshing them out until they are done. When finished the character should be fully described in the terms used on the No Dice character sheet as follows:

Filling in the Sheet

The Bare Minimum

1. Think about the suits. Which of the four suit situations does your character react best in?

  • Rational, academic or research situations (Spades)
  • Practical, performing a task that has been learned (Clubs)
  • Emotional, acting under emotional pressure (Hearts)
  • Instinctive, being aware of the environment at a level well beyond the rational (Diamonds)

Put a 2 in the circle next to that suit.

2. Which of the suit situations does your character react worst in, when do they come to pieces?

Put a zero in the circle next to that suit.

3. Put 1 in the other two suit circles.

Note: Putting 1 in your favoured suit, -1 in the off suit and 0 in the other two is just as effective. We have tried to avoid minus numbers wherever possible.

The Next Stage

Note: In theory it is possible just to do "The Bare Minimum (see above)" and to leave it there filling in the rest of the character sheet in play. It's surprisingly difficult to think of eight traits for a character before having played the game.

I would probably recommend doing two or three (which should be easy, one physical e.g. is your character brawny, wiry, agile, one emotional e.g. are they calm, fiery etc. and one rational/practical e.g. mechanic, academic, fighter etc.) and then filling in the rest as play continues. The amounts of points you have to spend remain constant, you just use them up as you go along, instead of all at once before you have a chance to think about it.

4. Now describe your character's traits in eight words. You have two traits in each suit. This bit could be tricky but is a real opportunity to define your character in short hand.

It is important that you try to strike some sort of balance between personal and physical traits. It's probably a bad idea to have more than six at the most of one or the other.

Example personal traits are things like: Mechanics, Survival, Aggressive, Peaceable, Self-Control, Gambler, Calm, Warrior, Academics

Example physical traits are things like: Brawn, Wiry, Dextrous, Brawler, Fighter, Martial Artist, Athletic, Bulky, Strong, Agile

Any individual trait could arise from any one of the suits as long as it makes some kind of sense. While someone is not likely to be "Emotionally Academic" they could have "Academics" Under any of the other suits. Instinctive really has no limits as one could be a natural warrior, academic, or just naturally brawny or dextrous.

Emotional traits are probably the odd one out here. Most physical traits don't fit here; the only ones that might are things like "expressive" which talk about your ability to demonstrate emotion physically that might be useful in acting a certain way, dancing or some similar activity.

Each of the eight traits is distributed equally among the four suits. So there will be two practical, two rational, two emotional and two instinctive. If you draw on suit during a check on a particular trait (i.e. clubs for a practical trait check, diamonds for an instinctive trait check) you get +1 to the draw.

5. Once you have eight traits defined you have five points to spread among them wherever you think they would be best suited. The cap on traits is three. NB: At this time you may spend up to two of those points on applying a raise of 1 to the base Health or Self for your character from the start. You may also reduce either (but not both) of Health or self to a minimum of 3* and use that point on your traits**.

* So if the base for your species is 3 on either you can't reduce that any further. ** Or transfer it across to the other base stat.

Final Touches

Note: Again the order in which you do things is not prescribed here. Possibly you can think of a cool skill you think your character has but so far none of the traits seem to suggest it. So find a slot that you haven't used, think of what kind of trait could lead to a skill like that and hey-presto, new trait.

6. Now is the time to think of skills that your character may have. There is no limit on how many skills you may have and having a skill with zero in it will still give you a slight edge. The cap on skill levels is three.

All skills should emerge from a trait. Examples: a character could have a skill in "sneak" because they have a trait in "agile", or because they have one in "survival". A character may have a skill in "archaeology" because they have a trait in "academic" but not because they have a trait in "peaceable".

Write down each skill on the sheet and put the number zero after it in brackets.

Once you have as many skills as you can think of you can distribute eight points among them. Or you can buy trait or cap raises at a cost of 3 points to 1 raise.

The maximum value of any single skill is three. Don't worry too much about forgetting or not thinking of a skill, new skills are born all the time during play.

All of this is just intended to get your character into a state where they are ready to play. So don't worry too much about whether you have built the character "correctly" the character is supposed to be fluid and will probably change as you play them.

Once you have put the character in this starting state you are ready to play whatever game the Host has prepared for you.

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