Happy Friday!  In followup to my other Blog Article about getting  Inexperienced Players to play Tabletop Roleplaying Games, I decided to document my own ruleset that I have been using with some newbie players to have some lighthearted adventures.  The original idea for this was presented by Sourcefed Nerd in their D&D liveplays(now known as Sorcererfed).

 If you would like to have these rules in a nice, easy to print document, you can find it below.  This PDF also includes a form fillable and printable character sheet!




The Simplistic Universal D20 Roleplaying Game

What is this?  This is SUD-20 a “rules light” D20 Roleplaying Game that uses a lot of the traditional d20 statistics and basic rules (as seen in Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition®), but in a more simplistic way to just play any type of Role Playing Game setting without worrying heavily about rules and still getting to roll that sweet 20 Sided Die that many know and love.

What is the point of this? This game system is intended for introducing completely new players to a Tabletop Roleplaying Game, or for veteran players that just want to play a game without worrying about delving through long books and crunchy rules.  This game system is NOT good for those that want to do the above, or plan out really long, expansive character campaigns.  But it’s not to say that you couldn’t play a long campaign with these rules.  Also, the intent of this is to first introduce new players to the concept of tabletop roleplaying, then potentially moving them into a more standard ruleset, such as D&D®.

So what does this mean for the Game Master?  The Game Master gets to use a lot more of their discretion completely and can add in extra rules to customize their game whenever.

What does it mean for the Players? Players are encouraged to come up with their characters in an archetype manor and defining their particular skills and actions in a narrative sense that makes the most sense.

  • Example: Everyone knows that a thief is going to be able to pick a lock, so given this skill; they would be able to roll a single d20 to try to accomplish this.  It is up to the Game Master to determine what the number of the check is to accomplish this just like any roleplaying game. *Character Proficiencies or Deficiencies can affect the outcomes of this which will be covered further on.  

Do I have to use this for a D&D® or other High Fantasy style setting?  Nope!  This type ruleset can be used for High Fantasy, Low Fantasy, Victorian Steampunk, Cyberpunk, Modern, Space Opera, Sci-Fi, Horror, or basically anything a Game Master can come up with.  Adding in new rules to make the game make sense to your setting is completely up to the Game Master.  *In my examples though, I will use the High Fantasy setting to describe things with.

Basic Rules

Just like D&D® or other RPG’s, a Twenty Sided Die (or d20) will be used for all rolls for things such as Skill Checks, Attacks, or Saving Throws.  Unlike standard RPG’s, no other dice are necessary for resolution of skill checks, attacks, and saves (unless the GM wants them to be).  This means that things like Hit Points, Weapon Damage, Effects, etc. will be handled by what makes sense narratively to what is happening in game rather than by worrying about the Math.  Critical Success (Rolling a 20) and Critical Failures (Rolling a 1) can also be narratively described with ease and providing the same type of excitement or dread to a player.

Character Creation

A Game Master might simply want to construct a few questions that they would like their players to answer to determine what type of character would be appropriate to the setting and what type of skills, proficiencies, deficiencies, weapons, magic, items, etc. that a character would have.

Example Questions:

What race/species is your character?

What type of character would you like to be: Fighter, Mage, Ranger, Rogue, etc.?

What type of weapons do you use?

What do you think your character excels in?  What do they lack?

Character Race/Archetype/Abilities – Characters can be created using imagination and fall into a certain type of race and or archetype based on what type of game setting you are playing and what the Game Master determines as appropriate. From these descriptions or archetypes, certain traits and abilities can be inferred rather than needing a detailed list of what a character Can and Cannot do.

Character Archetype Example:  A player wants to be an Elven Wizard.  With a few more questions by the Game Master to the player, we can infer what type of magical powers that they might be using.  Then in game, if the player describes what type of magic they want to use, then it’s as simple as one Character Trait roll to see if it is successful (See Character Traits).  So if our wizard decided that they were going to use Fire Magic, they could describe their magic use in terms of what type of fire elements it might cause, such as fireball or a wall of flame.  Then they would roll to see how successful it was.

Proficiency/Deficiency – The Game Master should also have discretion on what a player’s character would have Proficiencies and Deficiencies in.   A player’s character should be Proficient and/or Deficient in at least 1 of the following Character Traits/Skills below but are not limited to this depending on what the Game Master feels.

  • 🌑 Proficiency = A character that is proficient in a trait will roll a d20 twice and take the higher roll (Advantage)
  • 🌓 Deficiency = A character that is deficient in a trait will roll a d20 twice and take the lower roll (Disadvantage)
  • 🌕 Normal = A character that has neither proficiency or deficiency will only roll a d20 once

Character Traits – Skill Checks, Combat Actions, Magic, Saving Throws – Anytime a character needs to make one of the following checks, they will use the corresponding trait.  *If they have Proficiency or Deficiency in the trait they are using for the check, they will use the rules for rolling above.

  • Strength = Athletics checks, Melee Combat, Strength Saving Throws
  • Dexterity =Turn Order in Battle (Initiative), Acrobatics, Sleight of Hand, Stealth, Hiding, Ranged Combat, Dexterity Saving Throws
  • Constitution =Constitution Saving Throws
  • Intelligence = Arcana, History, Investigation, Nature, Religion, Intelligence Saving Throws
  • Wisdom = Animal Handling, Insight, Medicine, Perception, Survival, Magic Spell Attacks, Casting non attack Magic Spells,  Wisdom Saving Throws
  • Charisma = Deception, Intimidation, Performance, Persuasion, Charm, Charisma Saving Throws

Weapons– a character chooses to use either Melee or Dexterity weapons.  If they have both on them, they can pick and choose which to use and roll for the corresponding character trait.  *Bonuses or Modifiers can be added at the Game Master’s choice

  • Swords, Daggers, Axes, Katana, Lightsabers, etc. = Melee Combat, and would use the Strength Trait when rolling attack checks
  • Crossbows, Long Bows, Short Bows, Pistols, Rifles, etc. = Ranged Combat and would use the Dexterity Trait when rolling attack checks

Armor Class or AC– Essentially, how hard it is for a foe to successfully attack a character.  A character’s armor class should be based on if they have proficiency or deficiency in their Dexterity.  *Bonuses or Modifiers can be added at the Game Master’s choice

  • 🌑 Proficiency = 14 AC
  • 🌓 Deficiency = 10 AC
  • 🌕 Neither= 12 AC

Hit Points or HP (Optional) – Hit Points are completely optional for players to have and can be up to the Game Master to use.  Because there are no damage dice being rolled, you could set these Hit Points to a low number before a character is rendered unconscious/dying.

  • Example of using Hit Points:  The player’s Character has 3 HP.  So if this character is hit by a foe 3 different times during combat, they would fall unconscious/mortally-wounded/dead

If Hit Points are not used, characters either falling unconscious or suffering ill effects from being hit or failing a saving throw that would cause harm should be solely up to the narrative and/or situation that the Game Master describes them to be in.

  • Example of not using Hit Points: A character is locked in battle with a foe.  The player character is hit.  The Game Master has complete discretion on what damage is done or other effects might happen in this situation.  The foe could grapple them, slash their leg open, chop a hand off, trip them, etc.
  • Alternatively, the Game Master can secretly keep track of these types of successes by foes being successful at attacking player characters and can determine when a character is knocked unconscious/etc.

Character Example

Sean “From of the land of Connery” Human Barbarian *Barbarians are good at fighting but might be lacking in intelligence.  So from this, the Game Master could grant the player’s character Proficiency in the Strength Trait and Deficiency in the Intelligence Trait.

  • Strength = Proficient 🌑
  • Dexterity =Normal 🌕
  • Constitution = Normal 🌕
  • Intelligence = Deficient 🌓
  • Wisdom = Normal 🌕
  • Charisma =Normal 🌕
  • Armor Class = Dex so this is Normal = 12
  • Hit Points (optional) = 3
  • Weapons = Great Sword (melee and proficient)
  • Items = 10 Gold, 2 Torches, 4 Rations, etc.

Playing the Game

Play should go as in any standard Tabletop Roleplaying Game.  The Game Master sets the scene and interacts with players as appropriately in social encounters.  Players take turns explaining to the Game Master what they are doing or trying to do in situations.  If the Game Master determines the need to check if a player’s action is successful or a failure, he/she then asks the player to roll for the appropriate Character Trait for the action.  The Game Master then calculates an appropriate Difficulty Class or DC for player to roll in order to be a success.

Difficult Class: Calculating a DC should be ONE number within the general range of difficulty below:

  • Simple: 2 to 5 – A task that even a child could do.
  • Easy: 6 to 10 – A task that requires some skill to perform but not much.
  • Moderate: 11 to 15 – A task that requires a great deal of skill to accomplish.
  • Hard: 16-19 – A task that is very hard to accomplish even with skill.
  • Near Impossible: 20 – A task that is almost impossible.

Example: Sean the Barbarian above wants to try and intimidate a foe using his words and stature as a barbarian.  The Game Master determines that the weak barkeep could be easily intimidated with a roll of 8 or above.  Sean has Normal proficiency in Charisma (which is where the Intimidate Skill falls under) so he would roll the d20 once and take the value.  Sean rolls a 10 which is higher that the DC of 8, thus he succeeds.  The Game Master then narrates that the barkeep is shaking in his boots and that Sean successfully has intimidated him into giving him the ale he ordered for a discounted price.

These same rules should be followed in order for player characters to roll to succeed on Attacks, Casting Spells, Skills, Combat Turn Order, and Saving Throws.  

Combat: During Combat, a character should be able to make ONE Move Action and TWO other Actions.  Actions can be moving again, attacking, interacting with objects, switching weapons, distracting opponents, hiding, casting a spell, etc.

How to Download It

Now enjoy taking your players on an adventure with the Printable Character Sheet in the SUD-20 FREE Rules PDF !  

Also available en Español!

Any Questions or if you want to share your success stories using this game, click the Contact Me page above and reach out to me by any and all means. Happy Gaming!

If you would like to see an Adventure Recap of using this system with my friends, check out this Blog Article. The Simplistic Universal D20 Adventure Recap 

Legal Stuff

 Open Game License 



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