A game lasts five (5) rounds. A round ends after each player has drawn a Scene card and either avoided or acted on the outlined situation. If at least one player’s character is still alive at the end of the fifth round, the game ends as a success of sorts, with the character(s) having arrived at their destination.
Order of Play
For the first round, choose a player at random to draw the first Scene card. For the duration of the game, continue taking turns by going around the table clockwise.
Drawing a Scene Card
On your turn, draw a Scene card from one of the terrain decks on the table. Choose the terrain type that fits best into the narrative of the game so far. Your choices are Wilderness, Mountainous, Coastal, Urban, and Any Terrain. The Any Terrain type card text could apply to any location in your game. If you run out of a particular terrain type, you must choose a new type; Scene cards cannot be re-used.
Once you’ve drawn a Scene card, silently read it over. Unless it is tagged as “unavoidable,” you have two choices: act or avoid. If you act, only describe the boxed callout text at the top of the card; don’t reveal the hardship rating or any of the mechanical effects below: Accept, Refuse, Succeed, and Fail. The information regarding those effects is for you alone to know. Some Succeed or Refuse results might seem obvious from the description of the situation, but don’t reveal specific outcomes until after the roll has been made to resolve the Scene. The other players have to take their chances and make decisions without that meta information.
If you decide to avoid the Scene entirely, everyone (including you) suffers the Refuse or All Refuse penalty. The round then continues with the player to your left drawing a Scene card. A player who avoids their Scene doesn’t pass that card on, and they don’t draw another Scene card.
Unavoidable Scene Cards
Some Scene cards are marked “unavoidable,” and you do not have a choice between acting or avoiding; you must play the Scene out and fulfill whatever the card requires of you and the group.
Special Case: Unavoidable Scenes with No Hope or Humanity
If you pull an unavoidable Scene card requiring a dice roll but have no Humanity or Hope dice available to commit, everyone at the table automatically suffers the Failure penalty written on the card.
Scenes With Hardship Ratings
If you decide to act upon a Scene card that has a hardship rating, decide and declare how many of your Humanity dice you’re committing. Slide those dice forward so that other players can clearly see how many dice you’re willing to bring to bear. No matter what happens next, you are committed and cannot take back your Humanity dice. Others may now throw their lot in with you, or you may have to try to convince them to support you. Those who support you place their committed Humanity dice next to yours. They can each provide you with up to as many dice as you have committed but not more. For example, if you commit two Humanity to try to resolve the Scene, each other player can only commit one or two dice.
You cannot refuse support from other players and thus force the Refuse penalties upon their characters. If a player wants to support you, they support you.
The Last Hope Rule
If you want to act or support but have no Humanity left, you may invoke the Last Hope rule to draw a single die from the Hope dice pool in lieu of Humanity. When it comes to support, if there’s a shortage of Hope dice, the player whose character has the least condition penalties gets the first option to take a Hope die.
After support has been given (or not), and only after the other players have had a chance invoke the Last Hope rule, you now have the option to take as many dice as you want from the Hope dice pool to increase your chances of success. Hope dice used are gone and no longer available to other players for their own Scenes.
Resolving the Scene
Once all the players have declared their intentions and the dice are collected, calculate the final hardship for the Scene and roll the dice. Dice that come up 4, 5 or 6 are counted as successes. If the number of successful dice meets or exceeds the hardship, you’ve succeeded. Narrate the Succeed outcome on the Scene card and apply any specific benefits.
Anyone who refused to support you suffers the Refuse penalty on the Scene card. These players do not benefit or suffer from Success or Fail results.
If your Scene ends in failure, only those players who committed Humanity dice to the Scene suffer the Fail consequences on the Scene card. You can describe how the brilliant plan went awry.
Dice committed are lost, regardless of success or failure.
Scenes Without Hardship Ratings
Some Scene cards do not have a hardship rating. Most of those bear the “No Humanity Roll” tag, which means that no Humanity dice need to be committed during that Scene. Often, these Scenes pose a question to the group, such as “Will you search for me and attempt a rescue?” or “Should we share food with him?” During such Scenes, each player must decide how to respond. The player who drew the Scene card answers last. Once everyone has made their choice, dish out the rewards and consequences. Some results are individual and some may be triggered by group dynamics such as All Refuse.
The Next Scene
Once the roll and consequences for your Scene have been resolved, the player to your left draws a Scene card and takes the spotlight.
The End of the Round
A round is over once all players have drawn a Scene card and either avoided or acted to resolve the Scene. Since the end of a round is effectively the start of a new one, add an extra die to the Hope dice pool. Play continues clockwise.
Characters can die in two different ways: They can suffer too much from a particular condition (Hunger or Harm) or they can run out of Humanity. If your character is Starving and suffers Hunger (or if your character is Hungry and suffers 2 Hunger), you die. If your character is Crippled and suffers Harm (or if your character is Hurt and suffers 2 Harm), you die. A condition-related death occurs immediately.
If you have no Humanity remaining and then lose Humanity, your character will be removed from the game at the beginning of the next player’s turn. You have nothing left to give; you have lost all vestiges of humanity and cease to be able to function anymore. You have no empathy, compassion, or mercy left and will not survive. At this point, your character is out of the game, and you can narrate how your character’s complete loss of humanity has devastated them.
If a character dies and the player possesses personal Asset cards, that player chooses who inherits them.
Grace of Innocence Rule
If your character dies in round one or two of the game, you may create a new character to join the others. Start this character with only three (3) Humanity dice, draw a Personality card, draw only two (2) Trait cards, and do not draw a Relationship card. Decide as a group how this new character ends up joining the motley band. You may only start a new character like this once per game and only if your original character is removed from the game during the first two rounds.
Gift from the Grave
When your character dies, including during the first two rounds, you may randomly draw a Trait card from the deck and give it to a surviving player of your choice. This is your way of contributing even after you’re gone – maybe even sticking it to those jerks who put you into the dirt.
The End of the Game
If at least one character survives to the end of round five, the survivor(s) reach their destination. Take turns narrating what happy events befall your characters after the journey has come to its merciful end. Pay tribute to those you lost along the way, and try to build a better world.
The game ends if all of the characters have been removed from play due to loss of Humanity or by having been pushed beyond Starving and/or Crippled. Chalk one up for the end of the world!