Open Adventure

Old School Adventure Game

Buy Open Adventure Rulebook

Dare You Face the Adventure's Challenge?

Rulebook Cover

Open Adventure is a full-featured tabletop adventure game that offers out-of-box support for medieval fantasy and science-fiction expeditions. In Open Adventure, you play as a heroic or villainous figure free to explore the perilous world created by the all-mighty Game Master. Along your adventure you'll battle ferocious enemies, solve complex puzzles, navigate labyrinthine mazes–and much more!

If your character is smart enough and strong enough, they'll discover treasure and wealth beyond imagination! However, the journey will not be an easy one and is not for the faint of heart. Death will come easy to those who do not think. Beware; for your character has less than a 20% chance of survival...

Thus warned, shall ye enter? If so–grab some dice, your friends or family and discover where your open adventure of the imagination will take you tonight!

What Sets "Open Adventure" Apart

Simple: Open Adventure was born from a need for a simple, easy-to-learn game that could be taught in 10-20 minutes to someone who has never before played adventure or role-playing games.

Made for All Ages: Modern day RPGs can span upwards of 600 pages in rules. We wanted to bring back the "For Ages 10 and Up" moniker by keeping the rules lite (no more than 161 pages of rules per book), and simple English for all to enjoy.

One Mechanic: Instead of using a hundred different mechanics to represent a hundred different situations, we use one common mechanic to handle skill tests, saves, combat and so much more! For players, once they learn the simple "1d6 - 1d6" mechanic, they're ready to go!

Common Materials: No more will you have to buy funny-looking dice at a specialty shop. A couple of six-sided dice scavenged from a board game sitting in your closet will do just fine. No dice? No problem! You can use playing cards or even a rock-paper-scissors style alternative for the entirety of Open Adventure.

Limitless: Open Adventure doesn't lock players into a finite set of character types (known as classes). Instead, archetypes offer a broad set of characters that can be mixed and matched with in-game roles to form thousands of combinations! Races & species are limitless, since anyone can play as anything (including a creation of their own design). The dice system used throughout Open Adventure can be scaled infinitely to fit anything from the mightiest of planet-smashers to the meekest of mice.

Free & Libre: Who doesn't like free stuff? Not only is Open Adventure free to print and play, it's open source–meaning you're free to make your own changes to suit your play style. It's truly a game by the community, for the community.

Two Games in One: Do you prefer chocolate or vanilla? Why not both? In Open Adventure, two game genres are supported out-of-box: medieval fantasy such as you'd find in the tales of Lord of the Rings or Beowulf and science-fiction similar to Star Wars or Star Trek. Whichever one is your preference, you're sure to have fun casting spells or sailing the stars. If you're really feeling adventurous, why not mix and match the two? But that's not all! With a little modification, Open Adventure can be made to play just about any other genre of adventure game (post-apocalyptic, horror, western, etc.)!

Endless Play: There is no end to the fun! You can play for years or even decades. With OA, after your character has reached max level, they can begin amassing treasure and wealth. With it, build kingdoms, hire armies, set up far-reaching trade networks or even construct behemoth weapons of war. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination!

Comprehensive lists: Choose from over 85 weapons, 30 armors, a multitude of expedition gear, siege weaponry, kingdom building materials, starship systems and more. Employ over 50 skills, 70 talents and 125+ magical spells and psionics. Personalize your play style by choosing between 7 different character archetypes, 40+ roles and over 15 races or species, with the option of creating your own.

Four Ways To Play!

In Open Adventure it's never been easier to get started! The game is divided into four levels of difficulty known as "BIEM" which stands for Basic, Intermediate, Expert and Master rulebooks. Never played before? No problem! Start with the basic rulebook. Are you an experienced player looking for higher level of play? Try out the master rulebook! Or try adding some or all of the rules from the intermediate and expert set.

In addition, there is a Game Master's rulebook which holds all the secrets and mysteries known only to the mighty Game Master! If you want all the rules in one single volume, you can pick up the Complete rulebook!

Basic Rulebook

Basic Rulebook

Download Rulebook

Buy Open Adventure Basic Rulebook

Inter. Rulebook

Intermediate Rulebook

In Development

Expert Rulebook

Expert Rulebook

In Development

Master Rulebook

Master Rulebook

In Development

Game Master's Rulebook

Game Master's Rulebook

Only two rulebooks are needed to play Open Adventure: the basic rulebook and the Game Master's Rulebook (GMR). The GMR holds all the secrets, mechanics and rules needed to bring the fantasy world of your imagination to life! The exact workings of how the game is played should be held as a closely guarded secret from the players (so as not to spoil the surprise).

In every game of Open Adventure, one player will act out the role of the Game Master. That player should read the GMR carefully so they are prepared when the game begins.

Under development

Complete Rulebook

Complete Rulebook

If you've played through the basic, intermediate, expert and master rulebooks (BIEM), or wish to have all the rules in a single volume, you're in luck! The Complete Rulebook has all the rules from the BIEM series as well as the Game Master's Rulebook as one tome.

With the complete rulebook, you no longer have to flip through the four player rule-sets, or try to remember where a certain rule is located. The complete rulebook is designed for fast and easy reference for your favorite tables, charts or calculations.

Under development

Character Record Sheets

Character Record Sheets

Pssst! Need extra copies of the Open Adventure Character Record Sheets? No problem, you can grab some printer-friendly copies right here ! Download sci-fi versions of the sheets, as well.

They're aligned for A4 paper dimensions (8.27"x11.69" with 0.79" margins), but should work fine with "letter" format.

Sharing is Caring

Creative Commons Share-Alike

Open Adventure is copyright 2014 Kyle Mecklem but released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike CC BY-SA license. This means you're free to download, use, modify or share the rules with others for free. If you wish to contribute to Open Adventure, we ask that you submit your ideas and art under the same license so everyone can enjoy your work.

Three Laws of Open Adventure

Sci-fi Guy Holding a Big Gun

We want to re-light the lost flame of old school gaming in a new way. Instead of recreating a wheel that's already been made, we have set out to bring modern day techniques and mechanics to the games of old. However, we recognize that merging new and old can become a slippery slope, which is why we've laid down some ground rules we solemnly swear to never break:

  1. The Golden Ratio: We shall never use a font size of less than 10pt for the majority of our text in our rule books, and the total page count of all rules will never exceed 161 pages per book. The game master's rulebook (including all NPCs, treasures, etc.) will also never exceed the page count.
  2. The Spirit of the Game: Our dream is to bring back the spirit of gaming as it was played during the 1970's-80's. We will always hold this dear to our hearts when designing new rules, unless it violates the first law.
  3. A Universal, Modern System: Instead of remaining stagnant, or holding onto inefficient mechanics that plagued many of the first-generation adventure games, we will always consider new and better ways of doing things. If there's a simpler or easier-to-understand way, we'll consider using it unless it violates the first or second law.

Pocket Quest

Pocket Quest Rules

Pocket Quest is a new one-page (printed back-to-back) rules-lite OSR fantasy/sci-fi RPG based off the Open Adventure game system. However, unlike other one-page adventure systems, Pocket Quest is full-featured allowing you to play a long-term campaign with varied and unique characters.

Pocket Quest is divided amongst seven documents:

  • Player Character Rules
  • Equipment
  • Magic & Psionics
  • Game Master Rules
  • Enemy NPCs
  • Treasures & Technology
  • Adventure Rules Expansion
  • STAG Module

Pocket Quest is an adventure game small enough to fit into your pocket, large enough to play for years! Pocket Quest, like it's parent Open Adventure game, is released under the open source Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike CC BY-SA license.

How You Can Help

Dwarf Holding an Axe and Shield

In Open Adventure, people such as yourself help design, develop and discuss the rules of the game in an effort to bring back the spirit of fantasy and science-fiction gaming from the 1970's and 1980's.

Because Open Adventure is open source, anyone is free to download, change and share the rules. Even better, Open Adventure is a living game that is always evolving to newer, better ways of play while never forgetting its roots. You can help shape OA's future by offering your ideas, home-made rules or artistic passions.

The source file, which is an editable version of the rules, is written in an Open Document Format (ODF) and can be opened and worked on for free with the LibreOffice or Open Office Suite.

Special Message from the Author

Open Adventure's Author

When I was a child, I always gravitated towards the fantastic & imaginative. I relished in the stories of middle earth, and the space opera of Star Wars™. Growing up, I wanted to explore those worlds in more detail. When I had learned about Dungeons & Dragons™ and other role-playing games (RPGs), I was excited to finally have an outlet for my creative interests.

There was one problem though. As a kid, I found RPG rulebooks far too complex to understand. Filled with hundreds of pages of technical rules, strange prose and dozens of tabular data for reference, my hopes of exploring these worlds of wonder slowly faded.

As time passed, I began to give up hope of ever understanding the seemingly cryptic ways of D&D and other adventure games. It seemed the only way to become a player and "join the club" was to know someone who already understood the complex rules.

One day I decided it was time to learn how to play—no matter what. I was fortunate enough to have hidden away amongst my other books an old copy of the "Basic Dungeons & Dragons" starter rulebook written in the 1980's. The booklet was written in a simple easy-to-understand format because it was aimed for absolute beginners such as myself. As I read through the pages suddenly everything began to make sense. I was excited to finally begin playing and make up for lost time. I gathered together some friends, taught them the simple rules, and we began to play.

Over time, however, the rules began to show their age. The simplicity of the rule system became a limiting factor in what could be explored in the game. Many of the mechanics either didn't make sense or had since been improved upon in modern RPGs. But present-day RPGs didn't seem like a viable refuge either—some adventure games had over 500 pages of rules! Could there be a middle ground? A simple game with logical rules that doesn't suffer from it's own gargantuan size?

That's when Open Adventure was born. Conceived from the idea of maintaining the spirit of the old-school adventure games, but re-worked to fit with the advances of modern gaming. Open Adventure is all about easy-to-learn fun for the whole family, ideal for absolute beginners. Now anyone can take their first step into the limitless world of their own imaginations!

The "D6-D6" System

D6-D6 System

The d6-d6 dice system is an innovative way to roll dice! It forms the backbone of the Open Adventure game because of its simplicity and fun use. With the d6-d6 system, two six-sided dice are rolled in such a way that their rolls oppose one another. You can think of one of the dice as a positive number, and the other as a negative number.

Dice Odds

Possible outcomes range from -5 to +5, with a statistical bias towards a roll of 0.

Visual Method

The easiest way to use the system is to simply roll two six-sided dice (preferably of different colors–one dice being white and the other black). Once rolled, look at the two dice and determine which die rolled the lowest number. Keep the die with the lowest number. If the lowest roll was on the white die, add the number to whichever stat or trait is being tested. If the lowest roll was on the black die, subtract the number from whichever stat or trait is being tested. If both of the dice roll the same number; simply treat the roll as a zero (0).

D6-D6 System in Your Game

If you're a game designer that wishes to use the d6-d6 system in your own game, your game must adhere to the following rule to qualify for "official" d6-d6 compatibility:

D6-D6 Core Mechanic
Two or more six-sided dice are rolled where one set represents positive modifiers and the other set represents negative modifiers.
  1. Roll two or more six-sided dice (preferably of different colors--one dice being white and the other black).
  2. Subtract the black dice roll from the white dice roll.
  3. Use the resulting number to add to or subtract from whichever stat or trait is being tested.
  4. If the modified number meets or exceeds a target number of an amount determined by the game or game master, the test is considered successful. If the number does not meet or exceed the target number, the test is considered a failure.

...that's it! Game designers can download the d6-d6 system logo and other media files for use in publication by downloading the file. The media files are Copyright 2015 Kyle Mecklem but released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike CC BY-SA license.

Supporting Projects

Adventure Pack

The Adventure Pack is a small project that offers printable cards for all of your PC's equipment, magic, feats, talents, character scores and more! Simply download the PDF files, print them at home and cut along the dotted lines. Players and the Game Master alike can fill in the blank spaces of each card. Great for playing OA during long road trips!

Canon Converter

Have you ever wanted to play your Dungeons & Dragons™ characters in Open Adventure? Now you can! With the Canon Converter you can convert characters, monsters, magic, weapons, armor and more from one game universe to the other. The best part? The process works both ways! This allows you to make and play custom OA characters and equipment in the D&D universe!

Custom Character Creation Manual

Now you can create full-fledged custom non-player characters for your own adventure! Whether you want to design a dragon, alien, angel; the Custom Character Creation Manual has you covered! With 14 creature types, seven character sizes and the option of limitless NPC levels; you're only limited by your imagination!

Open Art Initiative

Open Adventure loves open source art! That's why all the artwork used in OA is released under an open source license. Now anyone can use free (as in gratis) and open (as in libre) art for their own projects and games! Browse our gallery of beautiful illustrations. If you like what you see, we encourage you to reach out to the artists and let them know what you think!

About This Site

This site was built with valid XHTML 5 and CSS 3 code. It's built on a LAMP stack which, like Open Adventure, is 100% open source. Open Adventure uses the Crusader, Souvenir and Times New Roman fonts though from time to time the Font Awesome typography is used for icons. All graphics are share alike and made in the GIMP image editing software on an Ubuntu system.

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