Skip to main content

Can't wait for the Discworld RPG? Become an Auditor of Reality in this free fan-made game

A One in a Million Chance at Adventure is a rules-lite narrative delight.

Image credit: Josh Kirby/Corgi

Designs for the upcoming Discworld RPG by Modiphius are now in motion and frankly it's a great time to be alive. With the Kickstarter still yet to launch, I can't help but feel restless, like I'm just spending my days hanging around. While that's something tortoises are practically world champions at, we impatient tabletop RPG players want epic high fantasy set in an well-established, magical world where death is personified as a cat-loving existentialist, and we want it now.

On your quest for existing Discworld RPGs you may well have come across the GURPS-based Discworld game that Pratchett himself had a hand in making back in the nineties. Sure, it's an option. Alternatively, you could save yourself $30 and have a go at this completely free TRPG tribute to Discworld instead.

A One in a Million Chance at Adventure by Jocher Symbolic Systems brings the silliness and contradictory humour of the late Sir Terry Pratchett to life, without the mechanical complexities that might put some folk off of other games. It's inspired by the GURPS Discworld RPG, as well as modern, beginner-friendly systems like Mörk Borg. It's a pretty tongue-in-cheek rulebook, and comes with plenty of footnotes*.

Catering to a rich narrative experience, it does away with much of the mechanical prep and number-crunching some tabletop RPGs insist on. If rules-lite, story-heavy games are your thing, then this system is sure to captivate.

Upcoming RPGs releasing in 2024 - could that include the Discworld RPG?Watch on YouTube

You can play the game with as few as two players, as long as someone doesn't mind slipping into the role of the Auditor. Named after Pratchett's Auditors of Reality, they keep the narrative flowing and have final say when it comes to the difficulty ratings of each roll, just like a DM. To decide outcomes, the game employs a roll-under mechanic, so as long as one of the 10-sided dice you're rolling for everything is below the DC - usually determined by the skill you're using, or a combination of two appropriate skills - it's deemed a success.

If rules-lite, story-heavy games are your thing, this system is sure to captivate.

Generally speaking, rolls are only necessary where an action has a time limit or some form of pressure associated with it, such as the need to be sneaky. Otherwise, the Auditor is encouraged to resolve things through regular storytelling.

The system also employs a fail-forward mechanic, meaning failed rolls will always incur some kind of consequences - the Auditor should still give players a path forward, but with added complications. For example, while a failed lockpicking attempt might still get you through a gate, it might alert the guards to your presence or trigger a trap.

One in a Million Chance at Adventure is named after a line in Terry Pratchett's Mort: "Scientists have calculated that the chances of something so patently absurd [as the Discworld] actually existing are millions to one. But magicians have calculated that million-to-one chances crop up nine times out of ten." | Image credit: Jocher Symbolic Systems

Since One in a Million Chance at Adventure dropped in 2020 there have been a few revisions. The game is currently on its second edition, with a third edition in the works. There are a few supplements listed on the game's Itch page, too, all of which are all completely free.

Aside from a curated Spotify playlist, there's an optional magic system that helps flesh out how you use Narrativium - Discworld's own story-based magic and the most common element on the Disc. There's also a noir-mystery introductory adventure, and a PDF that offers some "Crunchier Auditing" tips. The latter has some great roll tables, as well as advice for deciding roll difficulty through tables that detail how a character's reason for fighting, or what's at stake in a conversation, should impact an interaction. The character build guide goes through a few professions that Ankh-Morporkians might find themselves pursuing. Witches, Brutes, Bureaucrats and "The city's finest" Watch Officers all feature, and it comes along with inventory suggestions, potential weaknesses and general advice for playing and designing each kind of character.

There's even a zine with fan-contributed soft hacks, and roll tables such as "What technology is going haywire?" and "What's in the air right now?"

Modiphius' Discworld RPG, due to launch a Kickstarter later this year, will be the first official tabletop RPG based on the setting in over 25 years. | Image credit: Paul Kidby

The base game gives you the option to play as a human, a slightly more fantastical dwarf or Troll, or even a gnome/goblin**. You can really push the boat out with a vampire, zombie or werewolf character, though zombies will need to take care not to let their bodies decompose and while vampires are "technically immortal", says the sourcebook, "some are hypersensitive to sunlight, some are allergic to garlic and some cannot deal with exposure to crosses".

As far as tabletop games go, One in a Million Chance at Adventure has set a high bar for Discworld fans.

Jocher Symbolic Systems really has nailed the kind of narrative-focused RPG I think Sir Terry would approve of. The publisher’s Discord server is still very much active with rule clarification and campaign chats.

As far as tabletop games go, One in a Million Chance at Adventure has set a high bar for Discworld fans - one we can only hope Modiphius takes inspiration from for the next official Discworld RPG. Whether you consider yourself one of Granny Aching’s little lambs, a Kevin, Pratchetteer, Disc-head, Roundworlder or just a wee Prat, this could be the RPG to tide you over until Modiphius hits us with the goods.

* Pratchett was a stickler for a footnote. As am I now, apparently.

** On the Disc, there's little distinction between gnomes and goblins, only that gnomes are goblins who live underground, while a goblin is just a "gnome coming up for air".

Read this next