Brighter Worlds

Brighter Worlds is a whimsical fantasy tabletop RPG with modular crunch.

Writing & Layout by David Lombardo (AwkwardTurtle Games)

A fully illustrated PDF, featuring Evlyn Moreau’s artwork, is available free on

It is unfinished, currently at Beta Version 0.3, but approaching feature completeness.

Brighter World’s text is licensed under CC-BY-SA 4.0

Rules based on Into the Odd by Chris McDowall (, Cairn by Yochai Gal (, and Macchiato Monsters by Eric Nieudan (@surcapitaine).

Some text used directly from Cairn under CC-BY-SA 4.0.

Recent changes

  • Additions
    • Unfinished Business is a small “dungeon” adventure intended to be an introduction to the playstyle and tone of Brighter Worlds.
    • 3rd Party License and Logo
    • GM Toolbox Section - moved the Friends! rules there. But will probably be removing the Wilderness Survival rules, so this chapter might get nixed.
  • To Do
    • Example of Play running through Unfinished Business
    • Price list to reflect the addition of Coins
    • Pre-Gens, current ones are being scrapped and replaced. Partly done.
  • Changes
    • Critical Damage is now Wounds, Critical Damage Saves are now Direct Damage Saves
      • I didn’t like that despite all three sharing a word, Damage nad Diect Damage were numbers, while Critical Damage was an event. Hopefully Wound is more immediately understandable, but I have been known to fiddle with this sort of terminology
    • Grit is now derived from DEX and WIL. Grit starts at 1 and goes up by one each time Max DEX or WIL is stepped up. This is intended to serve multiple purposes.
      • This should help “balance” the importance of the Attributes, as previously STR was far and away the most important in terms of suitability. I’m not hugely fussed with overall balance, but I didn’t want there to be an obvious correct choice.
      • It makes conversions somewhat easier since you can just set the Attributes and already have Grit generated.
      • Removing the ability to spend XP directly on Grit makes the “when you spend XP” ability triggers in some Callings work more smoothly.
      • Starting Grit is now 2-4 which is where I want it, and the “default stats” generic NPC cleanly works out to 3 Grit with d6 in all Attributes.
    • Callings that used Grit as a resource (Runewright and Crystal Wizard especially) have been changed to no longer do so. This is to avoid potential optimization issues at character creation.
    • All the various extraneous extra bits I’ve added to character creation in various versions have been removed (1 XP, one advanced ability, etc).
      • It was all just too much extra fussing in my playtests. It didn’t add much and dramatically increased how much reading was needed and how much time was spent making decisions before we could start playing.
      • The Starting Equipment tables have been truncated to 8 entries as a result of this, since there’s no way to foll d10’s on them anymore.
    • All Callings have been reformatted. Previously there was some inconsistency as to what information showed up in “Core Ability” vs the section that expanded on rules.
      • Now every Callings starts with “You Are A…” which includes a summary and any required character creation instructions.
      • This is followed by a Core Ability section that has all rules related to their core ability.
      • A number of Callings have been tweaked and cleaned up during this process, but I won’t list all the changes.
    • Significant Calling Updates
      • There are a number of minor changes scattered around that I’m not going to fully list out.
      • Sneaky Bastard was changed to make the different clone types feel more unique and interesting, and most importantly the Shadow Clone was changed to have more limitations.
        • I’d received feedback that it was the ultimate scout, but didn’t fully appreciate to what extent until I had it at my own table. I’m not even bothered by how its potentially too powerful, it’s just very annoying for the GM to need to rapid fire explain the layout of every room in a dungeon + enemies + mucks up wandering monster rolls and such. This is the same reason that the Bone Sense ritual was removed.
        • The new version hopefully retains the fun and interesting things you can do the ability, but limits the “out of scope” information pressure it puts on the GM.
      • Soulbearer now has the Psychopomp ability as part of its core ability.
        • Honestly that’s the most fun part of that calling, and I think people looking to play a druid style transforming character would feel limited when told they could only do one animal form.
        • The new Advanced Ability created to replace it allows the Soulbearer to manifest a carried soul physically outside of themselves.
      • Runewright now has Keyrunes on their body which are used to activate their Runes.
        • This is primarily to avoid remove the use of Max Grit which happened previously. This was already annoying at the table, and I was looking for a way to replace this, so it was all copacetic.
        • Clarified how carving and activing runes works.
        • Replaced one Advanced Ability to give more flexibility with creating triggers and remote activation.
      • Cleric of Small Gods now just enhances or impairs the Domain Die, rather than freely stepping up and down.
        • I found it a bit annoying at the table to go through the process each time a player wanted to use their ability. This way it leans on the already used mechanic of roll modifiers and makes it easier for the GM to make a quick ruling.
    • The Wilderness Survival rules are likely to be removed soon.
      • I simply could not find a way to make this work that felt sufficiencly “Brighter Worlds-y”.
      • Tracking logistics mechanically just doens’t mesh with what is going on otherwise, plus there are a number of ways in the game to totally bypass the need for it at all so it feels superfluous.
      • I’ll try to add a GM Guidance section later for how to handle survival, non mechanically, when it’s important.
    • Removed the bit about adding up Direct Damage when suffering simultaneous attacks.
      • I already removed the gang up rule from Electric Bastionland and Cairn, and this simply swung too far in the opposite direction.
      • Instead there’s now a reminder that the Direct Damage Save could be impaired if suffering attacks from multiple attackers, which more or less solves the problem I was trying to fix in the first place.
        • This isn’t actually a rule change, just a reminder (to myself, if no one else) that it’s an option.
    • Update to “initiative” rules.
      • Players now always go fist
      • If they might not go first make a DEX Save to avoid skipping the first round.
    • Adjustments to “Second Sight” Advanced Abilities
      • When three players in the same playtest all picked similar, but subtly different “second sight” abilities I realized I should probably differentiate them more.
        • Crystal Wizard’s Crystal Sight is now Crystal Vibes
        • Soulbearer’s Soulsight has a more specific limitation.
        • Demonic Sorcerer’s Demonic Sight is now Demonic Senses
    • Out of Combat Damage rules
      • Added to both Combat (hah) and GM Guidance sections.
      • Bypasses Grit and simply inflicts Wounds immediately.
    • Eulogy is now called Epitaph
      • It’s marginally more accurate (we’re writing it down) and also just more fun to say IMHO. No actual functional changes.