In Brighter Worlds, time is tracked at different levels of granularity depending on the situation.
Most of the time, in free play, time is not tracked at all.
In combat, or other intense situations where seconds matter time, is tracked in 10 second Combat Rounds. See the Combat Rules for more details.
While exploring dungeons or other dangerous environments time is tracked in 10 minute Exploration Turns. Any time the rules of Brighter Worlds reference a 10 minute block of time, that’s the same as saying 1 Turn (e.g. Rituals take a Turn to perform). “10 minutes” is used in the text rather than a Turn to reduce the up front vocabulary needed while reading. See Dungeon Crawling for more details.
When traveling long distances time is tracked in 6 hour Watches. When the rules reference a 6 hour block of time, that’s the same as saying 1 Watch. See Hex Crawling for more details.
Brighter Worlds does not have a perception, investigation, or other similar rolls. When players enter a new location, describe everything they could reasonably see or learn. When they examine something in more detail, give them the information they’d find.
Always err on the side of giving more information than you think is necessary. Something that’s obvious to you as a GM may be totally unclear or hidden to the players. The fun of the game is seeing what decisions the players make, so give them the information they need to make those decisions interesting.
For GMs coming from games with those types of rolls, try the following. When a player says they look at or examine something in a way where you’d normally call for a roll, instead simply tell them what they’d have learned had they succeeded at that roll. If there’s some risk involved, tell them what they can figure out from where they are and explain how moving closer, interacting more, or further examination might be risky. Ask what they want to do, and use the guidance for When To Roll as usual.
Damage out of combat causes Critical Damage directly. That is, failing a Save to avoid a swinging axe trap instantly drops STR by one step.
Environmental damage like lava, fire, acid pits, etc. likely deals Critical Damage each Round it’s present. Characters should usually have an opportunity or Save prior to avoid it entirely.
For minor injuries out of combat, deprive the character or impair one Attribute until it’s treated.
This is all to avoid double dipping: don’t roll a Save to avoid harm, then roll a damage die, then have them roll another Save to avoid Critical damage. Once a Save to avoid harm fails, inflict the harm immediately as Critical Damage.
When you’re unsure how a new character or creature might feel about the party, roll 2d6:
2-3: Extremely positive
11-12: Extremely negative
The party’s approach, the NPC’s proclivities, and other circumstances may modify this roll. In those cases either roll twice and take the higher/lower result, or shift the roll one step in the relevant direction.
Making a habit of using Reaction Rolls is a good way to avoid having every encounter default to combat.
If your players wish to play as something other than humans, it’s usually fine to do so without changing anything else. As Brighter Worlds does not start from a place of balance or resource tracking, minor abilities like darkvision, water breathing, or similar do not require any “compensation” for balance.
If they want more significant species abilities, consider creating a custom Advanced Ability to reflect that and have the player either take it as their first unlock, or potentially go into “XP Debt” to start the game with it already unlocked.
Although not for every group, letting players contribute to building the world the game takes place in can be a great way to increase investment and inject ideas you’d never have arrived at yourself.
Player generated rumors is a simple way to incorporate this idea, while both not being overwhelming and maintaining the sense of discovering an already extant world.
The first time a new location, creature, or significant NPC is mentioned in game ask each player to share a rumor their character has “heard”. Note down each rumor, and secretly determine which are true, which are derived from something true, and which are complete confabulations. This can work especially well when prompting players for rumors based on their Calling. A Witch might have heard of some ancient magics, a Cleric might know about a local deity, or an Artificer might be aware of some material unique to the area.
The degree to which the GM and players share narrative control of the world should be tuned based on the individual table and can even vary during play.
The default NPC is 3 Grit, a d6 weapon, d6 STR, d6 DEX, and d6 WIL. This will work for almost everything, especially in a pinch.
Otherwise, start at 1 Grit, and d4 in each Attribute.
Attributes: d4 is weak, d6 is average, d8 is noteworthy, d10 is strong and d12 is legendary. Adjust attributes only for significant exceptions to the average.
High STR is for strong and durable enemies, low is for fragile and frail.
High DEX is for fast and nimble enemies, low is for slow and clumsy.
High WIL is for clever and brave enemies, low is for dull and cowardly.
Increase Grit for each time DEX and WIL are stepped above d4. Subtract 2 Grit if the creature is meek or untrained in combat, add 2 Grit if they’re alert or skilled in combat.
High STR should be used sparingly as each step up is a significant increase in durability. Overuse of high STR, Grit, and Armor can cause combat to drag.
Use flavor and style to make NPCs stand out, not everything needs unique attributes or abilities.
Making monster abilities that trigger on Direct Damage is a good way to emphasize the threat or strangeness of aggressive NPCs.
In general making exact conversions is unnecessary, and following the above guidance will be sufficient. However stat blocks from Into the Odd, Cairn, and other similar games can be easily converted.
- 1-9 are a d4
- 10-13 a d6
- 14-15 a d8
- 16-17 a d10
- and 18+ a d12.
Damage and armor can be used as is, Grit is set as usual (equal to total steps of DEX and WIL), but can also be set equal to HP for convenience.
Most spells can be used as is, but be aware that casting spells is functionally free. Spells that heal attributes, generate resources, have long lasting effects, or specific requirements for casting should become Rituals.
If a player wishes to do something with magic that’s not strictly within the text of a spell or ritual, it might be possible with additional requirements, costs, or risks.
Spells, by design, are limited in scope and harder to modify than a ritual, especially on the fly. Simple modifications might require a casting time of 10 or more minutes as opposed to the usual instantaneous casting, but anything complex or significant should instead be considered the player attempting to research and develop an entirely new spell or ritual.
Rituals are more open ended and flexible than spells, making it easier for players to modify them to their own ends. If players wish to simply amplify a ritual, that is make them last longer, effect a larger area, or have a stronger effect, it is often enough to either significantly increase the time required to perform the ritual or to increase the quantity or quality of any required components. On the other hand, changing the effect of a ritual should require new or different components, or add a new restriction or step to the performance of a ritual.
If the ritual modification carries risk, add a WIL Save to avoid a bad outcome.