A Thousand Faces of Adventure: Player's Guide

playtest version 0.93 2020-03-11

find latest version at https://1kfa.com

email sjb@ezide.com


Like board games? Played Dungeons & Dragons Once? Want to try improv? Welcome to A Thousand Faces of Adventure!

Welcome to Roleplaying

A Thousand Faces of Adventure is a framework for telling a story. The authors of the story are you and your friends, sitting around a table.

This story is improvisational, interactive, and collaborative.

The rewards for playing are laughter and excitement while you play, and warm conversations for years afterwards that start with "Remember that time we were playing A Thousand Faces of Adventure and..."

How to make a great story

Imagine the audience for this story is the inner children of all the players. What evokes the feelings we had when we were children playing pretend? Can you remember being 11 years old and watching a spectacular Steven Spielberg movie? Or maybe a cheap-but-awesome Sam Raimi movie?

You are going to collaborate with all the other players to make this story, so when you add your parts, think of what will give your friends around the table a thrill, put them in suspense, ratchet up their feelings of tension, or make their jaws drop with awe.

Sometimes inner children get a big kick out of blood and guts. Your inner child might giggle at the brothel scenes in HBO's Game of Thrones. If you don't know what topics your friends consider "off-limits", it is a good idea to ask and tell before you start playing.

The story that emerges is not a precisely crafted thing. That's ok. It doesn't have to be high art or even a cartoon on Adult Swim. It gets shaped by each player, and when your turn comes, you adapt, do your best improvisational "Yes, and" , and see where it goes from there. It might sound like chaos, but with some faith in your friends, you will delight at how the plot solidifies, and how real the characters become.

Specifically, What to do

To play the game, one person will take on the role of the Game Master, or "GM". The other people will be called simply "Players".

The GM

The GM's job is to know all the rules, and say stuff. Occasionally they will write notes and scribble some quick numerical facts.

The GM's domain is the world.

The Players

Player, your domain is your character.

The player's job

The player's job

Most of your time will be spent saying stuff. You are part of a conversation. Ask questions, use your imagination, chime in when someone inspires you. Think about your character like a hero of a movie, and try playing as the writer of the movie, or the director, or immerse yourself like a method actor standing in the character's boots and seeing with their eyes.

A Thousand Faces of Adventure invites you to:

As the conversation unfolds, the rules will chime in as well. When that happens you will be called do things beyond just "saying stuff":

This guide will teach you how to do those things.

Your Character: A Scrappy Adventurer

This is a game about building up a character, who starts as a scrappy adventurer and grows to become someone whose impact on their world is epic.

TODO: illustration of character sheet

During character creation, you will get to determine all aspects of your character's history, social and economic circumstances, and personality. These are fictional aspects of the character. You will not get to determine all the mechanical aspects of the character though.

Mechanically, characters start out just a little bit more powerful than a common villager. Your character will have 10 Stamina points versus a townsperson's 2-5, and will start with three special moves, but that's all that separates them from Michel the stable-hand and Constance the librarian.

TODO: fluff with one-sentence example characters

You can invent any backstory you like, but you may need to answer questions about how the backstory fits the character's game limitations. Nothing stops you from creating a hulking, 7 foot tall barbarian, with a rich history of warring and slaughtering enemies, but at the very beginning of the game, with a couple unlucky flips, that barbarian may suffer a sound drubbing at the hands of a farmer and his overprotective goat.

This doesn't mean you shouldn't create the barbarian character. You should. That sounds awesome! But if you do, be prepared to find some narrative justification (drunkard? battle-worn? magically cursed?) that the character begins at a "scrappy adventurer" level.

As your character adventures in the world, they will gain experience and equipment making them worthy of the title "hero". See Character advancement for more details.

The Deckahedron

The main activity in the game is "saying stuff", mostly stuff about your character. Often, you'll say something that triggers a move, and that move will be resolved using your Deckahedron.

Every player except the GM gets a Deckahedron. Inspect your Deckahedron. You should have 20 cards. There are 4 symbols, or "suits", on the fronts and backs of the cards:

Name suit odds color rank
Anvil anvil suit indicates the weakest odds red rank 1
Blade blade suit indicates below average odds blue rank 2
Crown crown suit indicates above average odds yellow rank 3
Dragon dragon suit indicates the best odds green rank 4

Shuffle your Deckahedron and place it face-down in front of you.

Whenever your character attempts something risky, where the outcome is not certain, the GM will call for you to take your Deckahedron and "flip".

In conversation with GM and the rest of the table, you'll decide what move your character is triggering and which of your character's attributes -- Str, Dex, or Int -- will be used to resolve the flip. There is a move card or a page in your base moves booklet for every move, so have that move card or page in your booklet ready.

GM Note: The attributes used to resolve a move
are listed at the top of each move card. A card may
give the option of several attributes, so you may
need to ask the player for more detail about their
action before calling for a flip.

Your Deckahedron and Character Sheet

Your Deckahedron and Character Sheet

Take the top card of your Deckahedron and flip it face up. Next, find the suit (Anvil, Blades, Crown, or Dragon) of the chosen attribute on your character sheet.

Flipping a card

Flipping a card

On the face side of the Deckahedron card, find that suit symbol. The result of the move is the X symbol or single check symbols next to that suit. When you flip, keep in mind that the GM may need to read the result. Being consistent with how you orient the card will help simplify the GM's bookkeeping and keep up the pace of the game.

Resolving a move

Resolving a move

Finally, read the instructions on your move card. It tells you and the GM how to interpret the X symbols and single checks.

For example,

You're playing a character named Kresk. You say:

Kresk sees the pit of spikes in front of him, but isn't scared. He just takes a running start and mightily leaps over the pit, landing safely on the other side.

The GM interjects:

Ok, sounds good, but let's see if Kresk's legs are strong enough. Please flip Defy Danger with your Strength.

Ready the Defy Danger page in your booklet (it's the first page). Next, on the character sheet, see that Kresk has rank 3 (Crown) Str. Flip over the top card of your Deckahedron and look for that Crown suit.

Let's say the Deckahedron card shows double check next to the Crown. The Defy Danger move reads "You do it, but there's a new complication". When you look to the GM to interpret this outcome, they begin to improvise:

You leap through the air, landing with a thud on the other side of the pit, kicking up a cloud of dust on this forgotten jungle trail. Rising to your feet, you notice that more than dust has been stirred. The sounds of movement and a threatening rattle alerts you to something approaching from inside the pit. What do you do?


After every flip, any face-up Deckahedron card is placed, face-up, in a discard pile. (Later, you will start another pile of cards called an Exhaustion pile. Keep them separate.)

At any time other than during a flip, you may take your discard pile and shuffle it back into your Deckahedron.

Whenever your Deckahedron has 5 or fewer cards, you must take your discard pile and shuffle it back into your Deckahedron.

Interpreting the result of a flip

When a player's character performs a move, the player executes a flip, and the GM leads the table interpreting the narrative result, based on the text of the move card.

flip results

flip results

Usually triple check means an unfettered success, and double check means success, but with complication.

When the result is a single single check, it sometimes means the same as a double check, but often it is slightly worse.

As you read this section it may help to lay out the move cards in front of you.

GM Note: Any time a flip results in a single single check
the GM gains a Shadow point -- even when the
move card says it has the same narrative effect
as a double check.

Note: some move cards give choices between several options. If one of the options is impossible (fictionally or mechanically), it may not be chosen. Choose one of the other options instead.

When the result is X symbol, it is the GM's turn to make a move. The GM narrates the consequences of the move the player just attempted and has license to take the narrative where they like.

See the GM Guide for explanations of Shadow points and for a list of moves the GM is allowed to make.

Exceptions on single check and X symbol flips

Sometimes a card does not say how a single check should be interpreted. In that case, the GM gets to make a move, just like X symbol.

Rarely, a card will have instructions for how to interpret a X symbol result. These instructions should be executed, but might only be part of the GM's move -- the GM gets to decide if they have more to add.

When the card is a FAST move, the GM does not get to make a move on a X symbol. Instead, the GM just gains 2 Shadow points.

Cards tagged FAST

TODO: illustration of FAST move

Some move cards have the FAST symbol. This indicates they can be used in conjunction with another move during your character's moment in the spotlight.

As the conversation moves around the table, players will have informal "turns" where they talk about what actions their character is taking. The game works best when this "spotlight" is moved around fairly so each player can contribute. The spotlight typically follows a single character's actions until they trigger, then resolve a move.

FAST moves are like "bonus" moves that augment, or quickly follow the initially triggered move.

Characters will trigger at most one FAST move during their moment in the spotlight. Otherwise the pace of the game can slow down, and other players may feel like they aren't getting a fair share.

Examples of cards tagged FAST include Good Cardio, Where It Hurts, and Unknown Benefactor.

A moment in the spotlight might see your swordsman character triggering the move Mix It Up, causing damage to a foe, and then also triggering Where It Hurts as you describe the sword delivering a stunning blow, clanging loud and hard against the foe's helmet.

Or, your professor of alchemy character might trigger Defy Danger as they jump out of the way of a toppling bookcase. After you flip an X symbol, the GM may start enumerating the attack power your character must suffer, to which you could respond by invoking Unknown Benefactor to cancel the attack's effects.

Other ways to flip: Advantage / Disadvantage

Some flips are a little more complicated. There are moves that instruct you to "take +1 advantage" or "flip with advantage". Sometimes you are given the opposite instruction "flip with disadvantage" or "your foe gets advantage".


With an advantage, flip over your top card as usual, and then flip over the next card as well. Compare the results (the number of X symbols or single checks next to the relevant suit) and resolve the flip with the card that has the best result.

If it's a tie, you may choose whichever card to be the card that resolves the flip.

After, all flipped cards go face-up in your discard pile.

Complete Flip Rule

You must flip over all the cards you were instructed to, even if the first card shows triple check.


With a disadvantage, do the same thing, but use the worst result.

Acting against a foe that has advantage is mechanically identical to your character having disadvantage.

Multiple Advantages / Disadvantages

Advantage or disadvantage can stack. Flips can accumulate up to 2 advantage or 2 disadvantage, meaning that you flip 3 cards in total and take the best or worst, respectively.

No flip may use more than 3 cards in total, so stacking advantage beyond 2 is just ignored.

It is possible a situation might arise where you are instructed to both "flip with advantage" and "flip with disadvantage". If this happens, simply add up all the advantages, and then subtract all the disadvantages to arrive at a "net advantage" or "net disadvantage". The maximum number of cards per flip is still 3, so even if the "net disadvantage" is -3, you only flip 3 cards and take the worst.

XP cards