Stacking Effects


Everything in Tavern Tales stacks with itself unless the game text specifically states otherwise. There are three specific cases where values do not stack:


  • “Doubled” and “Halved” effects don’t stack with themselves, but they will cancel each other out. If your attack range is doubled by two different effects, only one of those effects applies. If your attack range is both doubled and halved, your attack range is normal.

  • Multiple keywords don’t stack unless the keyword specifically says that it does (such as damage over time). A creature can’t be doubleblinded; only one such effect can exist at a time.

  • Longer durations replace shorter durations. If a creature is stunned for 1 turn and you hit it with an effect that will cause it to be stunned for 5 turns, the longer stun overwrites the shorter stun. If that five-turn stun is somehow immediately removed, the creature is no longer stunned because the 1-turn stun was erased when the 5-turn stun went into effect.


The phrase “Doesn’t stack” means that the corresponding effect doesn’t stack with itself. The effect will stack with other effects, even effects that also read, “Doesn’t stack.”


Creative License


Every person playing the game (both the players and the GM) have the privilege of controlling certain aspects of the game world. The GM gets the most control: he can control the weather, how the monsters behave, what the rogue discovers when he opens up a treasure chest, and so forth. The players get much less control, but the things that they control are still very important: their characters’ appearances, personalities, actions, and so forth.


Special circumstances give players creative license, which blurs the line between player and GM. When a player gets creative license, he temporarily gains control over an aspect of the game world that’s usually controlled by the GM.


Getting creative license is exciting and empowering. When you get creative license, think of it as your opportunity to do something truly spectacular.


Creative license is always to do one specific thing. It might be creative license to attack in a special way, discover something in the environment, change how a non-player character behaves, etc. You gain complete control over that one specific thing, but it’s your responsibility to describe it in a reasonable and logical way.


You have a trait that reads, “Gain creative license to make a creature leave the area.”


You use it on an innkeeper, so you gain creative license to make that innkeeper leave the area however you want. You might say that you draw your weapon, so the innkeeper yelps in terror and quickly runs away. You might say that you grab the innkeeper by the arm and drag him outside. You might say that a delivery for the innkeeper arrives, so he steps outside to sign for it. It’s entirely up to you!


There are limits to creative license, however. You can’t use your license to do other things that aren’t described. In the above example, you can’t say that a fight breaks out on the street, so every single person in the bar (including the innkeeper) goes outside to watch. In order to do that, the ability would have to read, “You gain creative license to make all creatures leave the area.”


You also can’t use creative license to make totally unreasonable things happen. You can’t have the innkeeper leave because he’s wants to withdraw all of his money from the bank and give it to you. You also can’t have a dragon rip off the roof of the inn, grab the innkeeper in its talons, and fly away (unless, of course, there happens to be a dragon terrorizing the village). If a player abuses his creative license, the GM can and should veto the player’s choice to force him come up with something more reasonable.


Traits are a common source of creative license. The GM is also encouraged to give players creative license when it is thematically appropriate. For example, it’s fitting to give players creative license when they kill monsters. After a hard-fought battle, it’s very rewarding for players to describe in gruesome detail how they land the finishing blow on a monster, and how the monster reacts to its final moments.


Summed up, this is the short reference guide for creative license:


  • You take over the game when you gain creative license.

  • You control things that you normally can’t control (weather, other characters, the environment, etc).

  • Your choices must be logical and thematically appropriate.

  • Creative license always gives you power to do one specific thing. You can’t go beyond those bounds.

  • The GM can veto your choice. If you ask, he must explain why your choice was overly exploitable, implausible, or why it didn’t fit into the theme of the game. You get another chance to resolve your creative license.

  • Be exciting and dramatic!


As the GM, you should step back and let players exercise their creative license however they want as long as they don’t disrupt the game. This is their chance to do something fun, so try not to veto unless absolutely necessary.


Updates and the Opt-In Rule


Tavern Tales is a living game, which means that it is constantly updated with new content. Also, some portions of the game may undergo slight modifications in order to keep things balanced. Underpowered traits might become stronger and overpowered traits might become weaker.


Having your character get “nerfed” isn’t a pleasant feeling. That’s why Tavern Tales uses the Opt-In Rule. If you build a character and portions of the game rules change, you are allowed to keep your character under the old rules or update him to the new rules. It’s entirely up to you. If your GM says that you need to update your character to the new rules, simply point to this part of the rules.

After the rules have been changed, players building new characters are encouraged to take the new rules. The Opt-In Rule only applies to players who would have their pre-existing character change because of an unasked-for rules change.


Also, Tavern Tales keeps PDFs of old versions of the rules on the downloads page. If your gaming group prefers, you can all play an outdated version of the game. Make sure that everybody in your gaming group agrees to use an earlier version of the rules.


6 Important Rules


Last but not least, these 6 rules of Tavern Tales exist to clarify any ambiguity. If there is ever a conflict or a strange interaction in the rules, these six rules apply.


  • Specific rules take precedence over general rules.

  • It’s up to the gaming group and the GM to define the specifics of vague rules. Some rules are intentionally vague to allow for creative interpretation.

  • Infinite loops stop after 1 cycle of the loop. For example, if a player deals 1 damage every time he moves, and he moves every time he deals damage, then he can only go through that cycle once before the loop immediately ends. He can go through the loop again on his next turn.

  • When in doubt, go with the most logical and the most thematically appropriate interpretation of the rules.

  • The GM gets the final say on everything.

  • Have fun. If changing the rules would make your group have more fun, do so.


Now, it’s time to get started!


  • If you’re a player: Visit the Themes page to start building your first character.

  • If you’re the GM: Get inspiration from the list of premade monsters.

Copyright Dabney Bailey 2014