Lighthouse System: Simple, Universal Storygame

Plugging my wares isn’t going to be an overwhelming thing in this space, but I need to do it from time to time. First of all, this is how I pay the bills. Second, it gets a little weird when I talk about writing and the lifestyle that goes with it, but never actually discuss the things that I write. I’m particularly proud of Lighthouse System, a simple, universal storygame.

If you’re not familiar with story games, they’re exactly that: games build around telling stories. They’re tabletop roleplaying game a la Dungeons & Dragons, sure, but the emphasis isn’t on tactical combat. They also don’t tend to be big, expensive coffee table books, favoring lighter and more casual rules.

What follows is an overview of how my system works. It was developed over a number of years, largely based on what sorts of mechanics we actually used and which ones we tended to ignore. All of the games that I write are built in this framework.

Core Mechanic

  • Roll a d20 and add modifiers.
  • If the result is high (11+) you succeed.
  • If the result in low (10 or less) you fail.
  • When the result is even, you narrate the outcome.
  • When the result is odd, the guide narrates the outcome.


  • When you declare your action, you bid a die.
  • The size of the die dictates the desired outcome.
  • d4 is minimal outcome, d12 is maximum.
  • Risk die are tokens, you don’t roll them.
  • Interpret degree of success or failure based on risk.
  • If you fail, you temporarily lose that die.


  • Successful actions against a target create complications.
  • These can be injuries, based on risk die bid.
  • Injuries create penalties: d4 = -1, d6 = -2, etc.
  • Complications can be obstacles or problems.
  • If you fail an action, you can take on a complication.
  • Duration is based on risk die size, but can be cleared in-story.

Fun Stuff

  • The Lighthouse System is easy for new players to learn.
  • Experienced players can explore risk and shared narration.
  • Shared narration allows for more overall participation.
  • Players can narrate the guide’s successes and failures.
  • Players can narrate their own successes and failures.


  • Character profiles are descriptive.
  • Think GIJoe cards, fictional world encyclopedias, Wikipedia.
  • Be as detailed or a minimal as you like.
  • If a profile implies they should be able to do something, they can.
  • Profiles can be updated during play to reflect what they’ve done.
  • No character death unless the player agrees to it.

Lighthouse System Facts

  • It got its name because it’s “rules lite” and our house system.
  • Yes, seriously.
  • The core book is 96 pages and only $10 USD.
  • We make other games using the Lighthouse System.
  • They contain setting material and ready-to-play characters.
  • You don’t need the core book to play our other games.
  • Those games are also 96 pages and only $10 USD.

Give It a Try

  • You can buy our stuff at DriveThruRPG.
  • It’s all in PDF, Kindle, and epub.
  • The only way to do it wrong is to not have fun.

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