Saturday, September 10, 2022

Deathtrap Lite goes live

I have posted my first iteration of Deathtrap Lite up on and DrivethruRPG for sale!

This represents nearly two years of play testing and tinkering with the system. I designed it to be plug and play. Sometimes I use parts sometimes I use the whole system. And I have thankfully had Stephen Smith use it to fill in the gaps in his own 7-UP system.

So, here's how it works:

The Engine 

Deathtrap Lite is cobble together from some of my favorite elements of the osr games I have reviewed over the last few years.

Everything is handled by a simple, straightforward mechanic. Whenever you need to make a determination for a character action where the outcome is uncertain and as a big impact on the narrative you roll a task check.

Tasks are an open list of skills. There is no one definitive long list of tasks your character might perform. Their descriptions are open-ended, and so, if there is a task in which your character has experience on the character sheet, you can advocate to make that the one you use.

You roll a die based on how experienced you are with that particular task, and add in a few modifiers, such as bonuses for high ability scores and penalties for low ones, bonuses for excellent quality gear or penalties for not having the right gear, etc. The goal is to roll a number over 6.. Thus the name Over Six Engine.

If you have no clue what you're doing, you roll a d8 and hope for the best.

Opposed rolls start with a -1 and then have a penalty based on an appropriate opponent stat. (Often plain old Hit Dice or an Armor stat for monsters.)

Every time you get a success on a task you don't know, or the highest die on the die if you already have training in the task you get a point towards pushing it to the next level 

This also means that your character can develop and invent new skills by trying often enough. If your campaign involves a lot of writing down snowy slopes on shields, characters can develop a tobogganing or snowboarding task.

Secondary skills are broadly applicable tasks that have permanently stuck at 1d10, as a represent a huge collection of knowledge and expertise, but belong to a life the character has left behind.

Everything is built on this. Classes are effectively lists of tasks you start pre-trained in, with one unique task with special rules no other class has.

This engine is entirely player-facing. The GM doesn't roll for most situations, creating a more open table with clear consequences.

All of which I have made in such a way that you can use the monsters, spells, and mechanics from any other OSR game or module and find that they work with only minor tweaks.

TLC for Neglected Pillars

Of course, I wasn't interested in just stopping  that building a alternative skill list for Dungeons & Dragons. I also took an interesting developing the pillars that off and it neglected name in OSR games. 

I spent a great deal of energy developing improved mechanics and designs into traps and a campaign setting there mechanical death traps make sense.

Likewise, I put a fair amount of energy into developing a set of wilderness survival mechanics based on my system that make traveling across unexplored territory field difficult, dangerous, and challenging. 


Combat is designed to be nasty, brutish, and short. Every battle includes a risk of suffering gruesome wounds or cracking under the pressure. My injury tables are designed to be gritty and visceral.

Damage from traps and natural hazards in death trap light scale using my unique catastrophic damage system, no amount of hit points are going to protect you from a cave-in or a spiked pit trap. It doesn't matter how high level you are, you never feel invulnerable


Deathtrap Lite also includes some of the most refined versions of my signature magic systems that you may have read in Strange Ways. It has three variations on spellcasting depending on how powerful you want magic to feel, including a free form system where mages can invent spells on the fly, but at the risk of their magic going wild and corrupting their physical form.

Toolbox Approach

All In all, I wanted to build it as much as a portable toolbox for the OSR as I did a complete role-playing game. My systems for traps, wilderness survival, alchemy, drug addiction, wounds, and madness are easily portable from one system to another.

If the game in its entirety isn't your thing, I wanted to make sure there was still a mountain of hackable goodies on there 

My Own Flourishes

I've borrowed from the best for many of my ideas. You'll find elements from The Dozen Dooms, GLOG, Delve 2e, Index Card RPG, Tiny Dungeon 2e, Lamentations of the Flame Princess, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, Knave, Maze Rats, Electric Bastionland, Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG, and Low Fantasy Gaming.

But I've also added a few of my own ideas that I have never seen anywhere else... like having magically conjured food cause those who eat it to suffer from magical corruption, or having healing potions be addictive. I have put a lot of thought into how to make Mondas a frightening world in which to be an adventurer.

And I have stuffed the book to the gills with Easter eggs for OSR fanatics like myself.

The Setting

While it begs a lot more exploration, I have created the skeleton of a campaign world called Mondas, in which humans have driven off or slaughtered almost all other humanoid life, save a few rat- and crow-people on the fringes of their society. They have abandoned their gods, and built a massive global empire of Man that, for awhile, enjoyed a golden age.

But now cults of the fallen gods and vengeful faeries have turned the lands outside the city walls into a hostile all-devouring wilderness. Cults of the Old Gods breed new monstrosities in the deepest woods, and gremlins turn the slums of every city into a nightmarish ruin.

And without gods and faeries to protect the boundaries between worlds, something far-worse has come through... an alien threat called the Tzwa. The Tzwa invade in the night, turning once-safe homes and businesses into trap-filled nightmares guarded by killer automata. Inside these terrifying occupied places, the Tzwa experiment on the humans as they please. Sometimes they turn people into living goo, or modify them. Sometimes they just sit back and watch them die to their traps.

Humanity can do nothing except call on ruin-delvers and adventurers they call Trapspringers to save them.

Check it out on




  1. Replies
    1. Thanks so much! It's a little rough around the edges, but I am very proud of it.

  2. Normal tasks require 6 naturals to advance, but resilience/resistance (please pick one and stick with it) tasks require 8?

    1. Resilience is the name of one of the specific resistance tasks. That is an artifact from an earlier iteration of the rules. Thank you. I will edit and repost immediately.

    2. And I've added you to the Thank You section. Update will hit DTRPG this afternoon.

    3. Resistance Tasks are still labeled Resilience Tasks on the character class pages near the beginning in v0.61. Your description of Zones is much clearer than most. I like the use of Lieres as an example character. I like the explicit procedures, along with explanatory side bars. THANK YOU for making shield bonuses based on training, and for including martial proficiency in defense!

  3. Happy/Glad suggestion: Instead of the "Learn!" advancement mnemonic for Trained, how about "Novice"? It fits into the Expert/Master theme better, too.

    Oh, and I love that you put Grues into the game.

    1. I have changed to NOVICE for skill learning in 0.62. And fixed the character class Resilience tables. Thank you again!