Sam W

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A game of political negotiations, deals, and subterfuge.

What is this?

This is an ultra-light game of politics. This is not an adventure game, nor a resource trading game. It is an RPG that involves a lot of talk, and not a lot of rolls.

Players take the roles of leaders of rival factions in a setting of your choosing. The traditional game session is replaced with a negotiation session between these leaders. The GM resolves actions in between sessions, then players meet again.

This is a fairly free-form game that should be hacked and tweaked for your table and situation. Feel free to slot this in as a minigame for domain play in a traditional DnD game, perhaps invisibly to the players.

Setup and Setting

Balance has no canonical setting. You must create one of your own. To do so, gather all your players and do the following:

  1. Give a one-sentence summary of the setting. It could be “Feudal lords in the far future” or “Bandit gangs in ancient Mesopotamia.” Something that gives a clear picture of what is expected in the world.
  2. Create a Palette. Write a lists of includeses and excludeses: Typical things you would know of or see in the world, and things that don’t exist at all. For a sci-fi game, you could exclude magic and dragons, while you would include artificial intelligence and interstellar travel.
  3. Create 5 Resources for each player. A resource has a quality, which cannot be negative, and starts at 3. Resources can be anything that sits firmly within the setting. Be creative with the typical elements of the setting and combine them in conniving ways to make a resource. Resources may be secret, but must be cleared with GM.
  4. Create 2 or more goals for each Leader. These can be secret as well. These can be rewritten and added to as you like.
  5. Create History between Leaders. Every leader has at least two past conflict with other leaders. Create them and detail them as you like.

Playing the Game

From here on out, the game is entirely conversation and a few rolls.

When resources are traded, exchanged, or put against another’s resources, the GM makes quality rolls. The GM rolls as many d6’s as the quality of the involved resources. The result depends on the type of interaction: symbiotic, neutral, or combative.

A symbiotic interaction is when both parties would benefit from the interaction. On a symbiotic roll, for each 4-6 rolled on each side on the quality roll, the resource owner adds 1 to the resource quality. Trade deals and treaties fall into this category.

A combative interaction is when there is competition between two leaders. The GM rolls both quality rolls, then count the number of 4-6’s. Whoever has fewer decreases their quality by the difference between the amount. War, assassinations, and rival political campaigns fall into this category.

Trading resources is freely allowed with no rules.

If a resource is reduced to 0 quality or below, it is gone.

Game world interaction also falls into these roll categories. Harvesting natural resources, for example, is a symbiotic interaction with the game world. Fighting NPC leaders is a combative roll.

If players choose to use a secret resource in an interaction, it must be revealed to the other party. They may remain secret otherwise.

All resource management and quality rolls must be cleared with the GM and the other party will be notified. To use a resource in a quality roll, it must make in-universe sense for the fiction of the interaction. The GM makes the final call on whether a resource is viable in a roll.

There are no other rules or restrictions on your gameplay, as your GM allows.

Play Advice & Design Notes

There is no guidelines for communication in this game. You may run this as you like. An open, public table can be useful for some occasions, but allowing leaders the ability to secretly communicate with other leaders allows for a lot of scheming.

Resources can be literally anything. The most useful resources are the most versatile, like a science research team or a transportation fleet.

Focus on the story and fiction. Every roll must be accompanied by an in-universe discussion, and it should go far beyond the roll itself.

This game has no mechanical slant of collaborative or competitive. You could play it either way.

Having no resources doesn’t mean you’re out of the game. It just means you have no power. A generous benefactor could loan you resources.

The GM should run one or more NPC factions, and manage world resources. Consider adding a hidden quality to GM resources to make them non-renewable.

There is no system for alliances. These should develop organically during play.

This game could be played GMless. In this case, do more setting work so that everyone has a feel for the setting.

The GM can do a lot to make the world feel dynamic. Send out a current events notice every so often of public information, or new developments.

You should run this game with a consistent time scaling. For example, every real-time week is a year in-game. With this, you can populate natural resources in a real-time compatible sense.



Refugee bands in a wasteland future scramble for survivial.
Leaders of the corporate world finally begin colonizing other planets.
Feudal lords in the Dark Ages negotiate for land.
Religious leaders meet in peace to discuss philosophies.
Superintelligent AI exists, and is friendly to humans.
Mythic gods war at the cost of humans.
A steampunk nation thrives on new technology.
Leaders of scientific labs meet at a conference.
Governments and their secret agencies wage a digital war.
Servants of the supreme God-Emperor vie for power.


A military training ground on a secret planet.
An impenetrable fortress high in the mountains.
A supremely powerful wizard soldier.
An uninhabited jungle planet.
A train network across the Wild West.
A team of AI researchers.
A warehouse of supercomputers mining cryptocurrency.
The favor of an evil god.
A secret twin.
A magical artifact.


Rescue my kidnapped aide.
Overthrow the emperor.
Monopolize the military contracting industry
Develop a superintelligent AI.
Create fusion reactor.
Conquer the galaxy.
Simply survive.
Develop a deterministic model of the future.
Become the next department manager.
Reclaim my rightful throne.