A downloadable rulebook

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This is not the story of the lone hero spurred forwards by prophecy.  This is not the story of the demigod walking the earth and meting out justice.  This is the story of the people, begging, hoping, fighting, and dying together to do the impossible.

Byways is a tabletop roleplaying system designed to create short campaigns with a revolving cast of characters.  In this system, scenarios are fought across three axes of player interactions: physical, social, and magical. To begin, each player builds a new character with randomized physical, social, and magical stats and specialties.  Then, players decide on a quest to undertake. This quest is fulfilled by making a series of Explorations, in which they take turns discovering more of the world. Sometimes, the results of their findings will lead to Challenges that can be overcome using physical, social, or magical skills.  Each Challenge carries a serious risk of death; however, there are ample opportunities to introduce a new character to continue your quest.

Byways features:

  • A robust, abstract system for facilitating storytelling.  Your players do not have to worry about keeping track of individual torches, ammunition, inches and feet.  Instead, Byways allows you to tell the story of your characters without spending hours plugging numbers into tables to learn what they can and cannot do.
  • High speed, randomized character creation.  Characters in Byways die.  A lot.  In order to avoid this grinding your session to a standstill, all character creation is done through random generation, allowing even inexperienced players to have new characters finished, fleshed out, and entered into play in less than five minutes
  • Risky combat, deep negotiations.  Players are encouraged to find non-violent means to solve problems, as combat is quick, punishing, and rarely survivable.  Instead, they are likely to turn to negotiation, using a system that parallels the combat system to simulate large group arguments.
  • Flexible rules.  The rules of byways can be easily adapted and used to represent any story you want to tell.  Byways is designed by homebrewers, for homebrewers to allow for total creative control over the setting of your game.
  • Simple, accessible play.  While supplementary materials are available, the only things needed to play the game to its full potential are this (donation optional) rulebook and a handful of six-sided dice.  Enjoying byways can be entirely free!


Byways is a game for anywhere between two and eight players.

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Click download now to get access to the following files:

Byways - Rulebook.pdf 480 kB