Dwell (formerly Delve) is a medieval fantasy role-playing system that uses six-sided dice of various colors to represent different aspects of your character, resolve conflict, and tell a story. Dwell’s simple, visual design concept allows players of all experience level to create any type of character they want in minutes instead of hours, and allows Game Masters to focus on the narrative instead of rule nuance.
Dwell was something I thought about in my free time, or when I couldn’t sleep, and I slowly began to compile it into spreadsheets that made sense to someone that wasn’t me. It was a game that I thought could appeal to people who have never tried an RPG before, but also to veterans who didn’t want to deal with clunky mechanics and just play. As I tried out more game systems I found elements I really enjoyed, but none had the simplicity and flexibility I was looking for. I began with some key concepts, and what came out of it is a Role-Playing System that is about 50 pages, with everything needed to get adventuring.
Below are the 6 key concepts I focused on while making Dwell, in addition to a PDF preview of Dwell’s quick and simple character creation process.
1. Make it visual (Visuals are cool!)
Each character is represented by their pool of dice, color-coded to represent different aspects. As damage is dealt, dice get set aside. Instead of the abstract idea of losing “Hit Points”, characters literally lose aspects of their character as they strain themselves. Losing dice tells a story, creates a sense of danger as a character becomes weaker, and keeps the story moving forward and changing as each roll of the dice can bring about dire consequences.
2. Make it simple (Lots of rules suck!)
Dwell uses only 6 sided dice and a flexible set of rules to resolve conflict. Players either roll against a difficulty set by the Game Master or against an opponent to determine success, and the results are decided quickly without endless rolling or math.
Turns are quick and fast paced, with players choosing a single action to perform out of six different options. These options are a handy reference to someone who isn’t quite sure what they want to do, but the idea is for each player on their turn to simply declare “I want to do this!”
3. Make character creation quick and flexible (Be precisely what you envision!)
Like the sides of the dice, and the types of actions, character creation is broken down into six steps as well. It begins as simply as coming up with a name and picking out what kind of dice you want. In keeping with the visual concept, you build your character by assembling their dice pool. Picking a race gives you a few basic perks and quirks, but avoids the idea that if you want make this type of character, this is the best race.
Players are not overwhelmed with pages of feats, abilities, or giant lists of equipment. They don’t pick a class that will define their level progression for the life of their character. They simply think about what small handful of things they want to be good at to start and then jump into the action.
4. Make storytelling easy (Game Masters probably have a real job!)
This simplistic design creates a system that is not only easy for the players, but also the game master. Not only is creating obstacles and creatures easy for the Game Master, but so is creating and figuring out how valuable items and equipment are. Dwell lends itself well to a free-form adventure, where the Game Master can spend more of their time thinking about the story, and less time researching rules and tediously building elaborate dungeons 5 square feet at a time.
5. Keep the setting vague (Everyone has their own world!)
Dwell is designed from the ground up to be a role playing system with no specific setting. Its first iteration, Dwell Basic is set in a generic medieval fantasy world. For some groups, that might be enough, but the system allows for the world and skills to be tweaked to satisfy diverse settings, either in future expansions or with some effort on the groups part.
6. Encourage the narrative (Players are story-tellers too!)
Above all else, Dwell is designed to be a system that keeps the focus on story-telling. The 5 previous concepts all lend to this endeavor. Because each dice represents aspects of a character, the dice roll not only determines if they are successful, but how successful they are, and why they succeeded. This gives the power of narrative to the players as well as the Game Master. Along with a focus away from rule nuance, a session of Dwell can be spent progressing the story and keeping everyone engaged, in short and long game play session.
All together, Dwell Basic is a 50ish page book that is all you need to be able to start playing, and the basics to allow you to create an ongoing world and adventure.