What is Root?
In Root, you play vagabonds, outcasts from the normal society of the woodlands who have come to live in the spaces between, whether that’s in the forests themselves or on the fringes of society. You are competent and skilled—you have to be to survive as vagabonds—and you aren’t tied down to any particular place or faction.
You might be a badger arbiter, serving many sides in resolving conflicts and defending their interests. Or you might be a cat scoundrel, sliding on your mask before you sneak out into the darkness to cause mischief and mayhem. Or you might be a wolf ranger, at home in the wilds and the untamed places of the woodland.
Root is based on the Powered by the Apocalypse system used by tabletop RPGs like Apocalypse World, Dungeon World, and many of Magpie Games’ own games like Masks: A New Generation, Urban Shadows, and Zombie World. It uses the core framework of that system and provides a strong, simple way to tell your own stories of adventure in the woodland. You’ll create a character using one of several vagabond archetypes, and then you’ll take action, rolling two six-sided dice to resolve the outcomes of desperate situations.
Each denizen has five stats: Charm, Finesse, Cunning, Luck, and Might.
Each one is ranked between -2 and +3. You’ll add your stat to some rolls when you trigger certain moves. For example, when you clash sword-to-sword with a foe, you’ll roll 2d6 + Might.
On most moves, if you get a 10 or higher (10+), things will go your way! If you get a 7-9, you’ll get what you were after, but usually with some cost or complication. If you get a 6 or lower, that’s called a miss, and the GM gets to tell you what happens next—and you can bet your tail it won’t be good.
Traversing the Woodland
The Woodland is a big place with many different clearings. The paths between the clearings are safer than the woods themselves, but they’re certainly far from safe. And even though the vagabonds are brave enough to travel the width and breadth of the Woodland, it’s not any safer for them than for anyone else. It might even be more dangerous.
Your adventures across the Woodland will take you from clearing to clearing, using the paths or slipping through the forests in ways that only the vagabonds can. Every clearing has its own problems, after all, and that means every clearing is a bed of lucrative opportunities for enterprising vagabonds like yourselves.
To handle all that travel, Root: The Roleplaying Game features a set of moves designed to allow the vagabonds to move between clearings with ease at a player level, but with interesting complications and concerns at a character level.
Will the vagabonds sacrifice their exhaustion to travel more safely along the paths? Will they spend more supplies and degrade their equipment to travel quickly through the forests? Or will they chance being waylaid by the many dangers of the Woodland—anything from bandits to squads of soldiers to… BEARS?!
Weapons & Armor
Vagabonds are all very skilled and capable individuals—after all, they have to be in order to survive! To represent their capabilities, every vagabond has access to all the basic moves, their own special playbook moves, and weapon moves.
Weapon moves are the skills that the vagabonds use in combat to wield their weapons with unmatched prowess. Each vagabond will have access to a portion of the overall weapon moves, and as long as they have the right weaponry to then use those moves, they can perform incredible feats, from smashing through heavy armor with a single blow, to bouncing arrows off walls to reach an unreachable target, to taking out unsuspecting foes instantly.
Exhaustion, Decay, and Injury
In Root: The Tabletop Roleplaying Game, each vagabond has three tracks representing their wellbeing. Their exhaustion track represents how tired they are, how much energy they have left to give. Their decay track represents how much of their supplies they’ve used up. And their injury track represents how many major blows they’ve taken.
Using the three different tracks lets the Root RPG land consequences in different ways. This pushes the vagabonds to take different actions to deal with those consequences.
A band of vagabonds with all their decay boxes marked will need to seek more supplies or the aid of a blacksmith.; and soon! A band with all their exhaustion boxes marked needs to find a safe place to hunker down and rest. Filling in these boxes leads to more stories as the vagabonds move from clearing to clearing to resupply and recover.
A Living World
In Root: The Tabletop Roleplaying Game, that idea of a living backdrop for the adventures of the vagabond is crucial. Clearings will not sit, static and unchanging, while the vagabonds go on adventures. They will be taken or lost in the wars between the factions. Sometimes those factions might actually improve the clearings. Other times those factions will destroy buildings, take advantage of the populace, and take hold of any valuable resources.
Amid this war between the factions for control of the Woodland, the vagabonds will adventure and tip the balance. They will have reputations with different factions, allowing them to borrow resources; or even lead forces from friendly factions, and leading to constant conflict with opposing factions. Their decisions will change the Woodland!
[ Read: Adapting Older D&D to Modern Rules ]