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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Other P&P RPGs #8: Awesomesauce: The Roleplaying Game

I have come to love the PocketMod format, and I have a whole stack of PocketMod games that I've downloaded, printed, and played or will play, and they are all just waiting to make appearances here at TROLL HAMMER. I guess you could say I think PocketMods are Awesomesauce.

Speaking of Awesomesauce, this leads to me explaining the source of my sudden infatuation with this silly word:

Awesomesauce: the Roleplaying Game, by Mark Meredith of Dice Monkey.

Mark originally created the rules on Twitter in just a few minutes. What he accomplished with Awesomesauce is minimalist Roleplaying at its minimum. So much so, that if I attempted to explain the game, I would have told you the rules in total. So, with his kind permission to reprint them here, I will let Mr. Meredith tell you the rules himself:

Awesomesauce: The Roleplaying Game


Name your character. They begin the game with 1 Awesomesauce. Play the game.


When faced with any challenge, your character will roll a number of d6's equal to their Awesomesauce value. They roll a competing roll against the monster or object they are in conflict with.

Example: Dave the Barbarian has 1 Awesomesauce. The Orc he’s facing also has 1. They roll their dice against one another. Whoever rolls higher wins.

If you lose, you lose one point of Awesomesauce until you rest. If you are reduced to 0 Awesomesauce, and are in combat, you are unconscious. If you aren’t in combat, you cannot attempt that roll again until you’ve rested.

Example: Bill the Rogue wants to pick a lock. He has 2 Awesomesauce. The lock has 3. Bill rolls, as does the GM. Bill has a 7, while the GM rolled a 12. Bill’s Awesomesauce is reduced by 1. He can attempt to roll again, but it’s going to be even harder this time.

If you describe doing something awesome, your Awesomesauce will go up by 1, permanently. That’s how you grow in power.

Awesomesauce describes everything you do. A mage uses Awesomesauce to cast spells. A barbarian uses Awesomesauce to hit people with swords.


That is the basic rules set in its entirety. Nothing ground-breaking or innovative, but elegantly simple, just grab some dice and play, dang it! Awesomesauce is very suitable for fast-play tabletop skirmish battles (see below), it has excellent beer and pretzels potential (even sloshed you can remember these rules), and has a built-in, essential need for tweaking and house ruling. It works for a one-offer, particularly solo skirmish battles, which I am very fond of. The question arose in my mind: can it withstand continued play and character advancement with so few rules?

Almost immediately after the initial rules, a supplement was created: The Awesomesauce Fantasy Bestiary, also by Mark, and also reprinted here (with permission) for your perusal:

Awesomesauce: The Fantasy Bestiary

The following monsters are listed by their Awesomesauce level.

1 Awesomesauce
Kobold, Goblin, War Dog, Eagle, Green Slime

2 Awesomesauce
Orc, Giant Bat, Skeleton, Wolf, Zombie, Bullywug, Darkmantle

3 Awesomesauce
Gelatinous Cube, Gnoll, Pegasus, Tiger, Ghoul, Lizard Man, Cloaker

4 Awesomesauce
Ogre, Hippogriff, Warg, Wight, Grey Ooze, Draconian, Roper

5 Awesomesauce
Hill Giant, Gryphon, Displacer Beast, Wraith, Ochre Jelly, Mimic, Yuan-ti, Grell

6 Awesomesauce
Stone Giant, Peryton, Ceberus, Spectre, Doppleganger, Naga

7 Awesomesauce
Fire Giant, Chimera, Mummy

8 Awesomesauce
Cloud Giant, Sphinx, Vampire

9 Awesomesauce
Storm Giant, Roc, Lich, Illithid

10 Awesomesauce


Aside from reminding me of early D&D, this short list went a long way to causing my questioning further the 'If you describe doing something awesome, your Awesomesauce will go up by 1, permanently. That’s how you grow in power' rule. I thought 'If a dragon is only 10 Awesomesauce, it must be a long ride for a character to get to 10 Awesomesauce'. And thus was born my first Awesomesauce house rule, which adds to the 'grow in power' rule:

House Rule #1: If you describe doing something awesome, your Awesomesauce will go up by 1, permanently. That’s how you grow in power. Characters are limited to earning 1 additional Awesomesauce per adventure. They do not necessarily receive one every adventure, only on adventures in which they do something that is awesome.

Thus, even if someone does something truly Awesomesauce every adventure or even multiple times per adventure, it will take at least 10 such adventures to reach the power of a dragon. Still pretty quick, in my estimation, but this is a minimalist RPG, after all, and there has to be some gratification from advancement.

Another supplement was then released by Mark, and, with his approval, I provide it here for you as well:


Your character still has just one stat: Awesomesauce. However: You can now do things that are AMAZEBALLS! At any point, you may choose, when you roll the dice, to expend a certain number of Awesomesauce to do something that is Amazeballs. If you do, first describe the amazing thing you do. You then choose a number of points to reduce your Awesomesauce by, and if you succeed at the roll, rather than reducing the enemy by one Awesomesauce, they are reduced by the amount you were reduced by.

Example: There’s a big, scary dragon. Dave the barbarian decides to do a roundhouse kick to the dragon’s face, something that is truly Amazeballs. He has five Awesomesauce. The dragon has been reduced to six Awesomesauce. He decides to expend four Awesomesauce. When he does his Amazeballs thing, he rolls, beats the dragon’s roll, and now has reduced the dragon to only two Awesomesauce! Now his companions can beat the dragon to a pulp. Unfortunately, he’s now reduced to only one Awesomesauce. Poor, poor Dave.

And that’s all there is to it! AMAZEBALLS!


So simple! This led me to another tweaking:

House Rule #2: Successfully accomplishing something that is Amazeballs qualifies as awesome and earns the character his additional permanent Awesomesauce point for that adventure.

So, now I've read the rules, absorbed them, and added a few house rules for advancement. I'm ready for the solo play test.

Awesomesauce Play Reports

I decided to go with a few solo tabletop miniatures skirmishes to test drive the Awesomesauce rules.

Battle #1
February 19, 1862
Two confederate soldiers, Matt Cooper and Justin Smith, have been separated from their battalion and are on the run from Union forces. They stumble upon a small, hidden cave and decide to duck in. Once inside the tiny crevice, they discover a flight of carved stone stairs heading down into the darkness...

Matt Cooper
Awesomesauce: 1
Stuff: 2 pistols, sword

Justin Smith
Awesomesauce: 1
Stuff: 2 pistols, knife

They descend the stairs and come upon a room with tiled walls, marbled floors, and a well at the far end. The walls are curved into a somewhat clover-shaped footprint. The room is lit by two small stone braziers upon two-foot-tall stone pedestals. The two men notice two small chests and about a dozen clay coffers. As the two Confederates reach the midpoint of the strange room, a band of four goblins (Awesomesauce 1 each) leap out from the shadows by the well and charge.

The surprised soldiers manage to fire off a few rounds at the charging goblins, killing two. They did not fare so well in melee, however, as when the goblins closed they made quick work of our intrepid heroes.

After Battle #1, I had an idea for an Awesomesauce supplement, so without further ado, here is my first offering for the Awesomesauce RPG:

An Awesomesauce RPG Supplement

by Paul Ingrassia

Amplescrew works just like Awesomesauce, but is not expended with use, is only available via an item to which it is permanently linked, and is only usable under a defined set of circumstances.

Example: After defeating the Orc he was facing, Dave the Barbarian found a Magic Sword (Amplescrew 1) hidden among a pile of bones. The sword will grant him 1 additional, non-expendable Awesomesauce point (one extra d6) for every melee combat roll with it.

Another Example: Fizz the Wiz found a gnarled stick in an abandoned hut. It turns out to be a powerful Magic Wand (Amplescrew 2) that grants him 2 extra Awesomesauce points (2d6) whenever he rolls to cast a spell with it!

Yet Another Example: Bill the Rogue bought a 'Skeleton Key' lock pick (Amplescrew 1) on the black market. Every time he uses this specially crafted tool while attempting to pick a lock, he gets 1 extra Awesomesauce point (1d6) for his roll.


Now I have a vehicle for magic items, special weapons/tools, and weird science devices. Now THAT is Awesomesauce!

On with the play reports...

Battle #2
For this battle I decided to go a little more straight fantasy, with experienced characters, and I wrote the Amplescrew supplement for it. Abel and Agonn, two renowned warriors down on their luck, have discovered the entrance to an ancient tomb. They decide to check it out for treasure and slowly descend the rough-hewn stone stairs.

Awesomesauce: 4
Stuff: Magic Sword (Amplescrew: 1)

Awesomesauce: 2
Stuff: Magic Sword (Amplescrew: 3)

Note: Abel and Agonn's Awesomesauce and Amplescrew were determined by random die rolls of 1d4

They discover a dark, dusty room with two stone sarcophagi. They stop to examine some stone jugs and hear whispers of movement all around them. What first appeared as stone statues are now moving, and are revealed to actually be five skeletons (Awesomesauce 2 each) closing in on them from all sides.

The mighty warriors almost get surrounded, but they manage to position themselves to fight one opponent each at a time. They easily defeated the skeletons in just a few combat rounds.

Battle #3
I decided to send Agonn from the previous battle into the same room against four skeletons that are identical to the skeletons of the previous battle.

When Agonn reached the center of the room and the skeletons attacked he was quickly engaged by two. I decided to roll the skeleton's Awesomesauce together for battle since they were attacking together. Agonn won the roll, so each skeleton lost an Awesomesauce point.

The next round found Agonn surrounded. Again, I combined the Awesomesauce of all four skeletons (1 each for the wounded ones, 2 each for the 'fresh' ones). Our mighty hero once again rolled higher, and two skeletons were defeated and the other two knocked down to 1 Awesomesauce left apiece.

Agonn made quick work of the remaining two in the final combat round.

More House Rules

Battle #s 2 and 3 led me to incorporating a few more new tweaks:

House Rule #3: Multiple allies may add their Awesomesauce scores together for melee combat rolls, but if they lose, each of them loses an Awesomesauce point. If they win, the loser(s) lose one Awesomesauce apiece for each of the allies who attacked.

House Rule #4: Tie rolls for challenges or combat indicate a stalemate and nobody loses an Awesomesauce point. The roll may be attempted again.

House Rule #5: During ranged combat, if the shooter misses, he does NOT lose an Awesomesauce point. I could not justify the next shot being harder, or a character falling unconscious, just because he missed a ranged attack.

I went on to play two more battles, much lengthier. The first was a steampunk fantasy sort of setting, humans armed with black powder weapons vs. goblins with integrated steam-enhanced weaponry (sort of steam-borgs) led by a mighty orc warlord. The humans won. The second, inspired by The Walking Dead, was a strange alternate history sort of setup, zombie apocalypse in 1864. The American Civil War ended when the zombie apocalypse began. Our intrepid hero, a highly experienced Confederate Veteran (Awesomesauce: 5) is holed up in his remote forest cabin trying to survive the apocalypse. Little does he know, a zombie horde is approaching. This was the most fun scenario, and the longest, and it gave me a few opportunities to try Amazeballs feats. It was tough, but in the end, our hero survived, and he killed a total of 15 zombies before the area around his cabin was cleared.

So there you have it, a spartan set of rules that are easy to remember and use. Will this be the next RPG rage? Probably not, but it sure has value, for those times when you just want to grab some dice and play, rules be damned! I just might have to try a sustained solo campaign, just to see how it fits and what other house rules I can dream up.

Be sure to swing by Mark Meredith’s most excellent site, Dice Monkey, to check out the original rules postings, as well as to find out where to get a free PocketMod version of the rules.

Article Copyright© 2012, Paul Ingrassia

Awesomesauce: The Roleplaying Game, Awesomesauce: The Fantasy Bestiary, and Amazeballs! are Copyright© 2011-2012, Mark Meredith

Amplescrew, An Awesomesauce RPG Supplement is Copyright© 2012, Paul Ingrassia

Other P&P RPGs covers current RPGs, generally small, independent releases, all-in-one rules sets, and/or freely available pdf copies. Do you have a rules set you would like to see discussed here? Submit a pdf copy to


  1. What a fun system! Or should I instead write, what an Amplescrew system! -Taran Dracon the ORC

  2. I like Awesomesauce's simple play mechanics. The idea of Amazeballs! should be in every game. Great stuff!

  3. This really needs a PRINT command for this page, which would get rid of the extraneous sidebars. I may make that a little project of mine in the following weeks. (After youngest daughter's wedding.)

  4. Would it work to use the "Bean!" method of dice counting here, where you only count positives and negatives (evens/odds, whatever), or is that too constraining at the "1 Awesomesauce" scale?

    1. I think it would be constraining, but of course, you're free to handle your games any way you see fit. Let me know if you give it a try and what you think.

    2. I will give it a test run this weekend, I hope. One of my gamer buddies is visiting. I tend to think that since the "opposing" dice would also be counting only "hits" or "misses", that things would even out. But, it could also just be more boring at the "1 Awesomesauce" scale, to be simply waiting to "out-binary" the other side. And boring is not very Awesomesauce :) We shall see!

    3. I would imagine the binary thing would extend combat/challenge sequences. I guess it boils down to, at least in part, how fast you want your game to move.

      Planning to have Awesomesauce Troll Hammer Edition up for FREE download at RPGNow by this weekend!

  5. Oooo, Troll Hammer Edition! Nice! And here I just printed out the pocket mod for the Dicemonkey version. It was my first pocket mod. Somehow I doubt it will be my last....

    1. ASTHE will come in both PocketMod and full-size versions.

  6. Perfect! Total Awesomesauce, in fact :)