The 5-minute version
Ok, I know a full-fledged book for an SRD may look intimidating, so let's get straight to the point. If you don't have the time or the energy to read through the whole thing, here's a quick start.
How to create a Push-powered game
- Create your Pitch, a short paragraph telling about the world, its conflicts and protagonists
- List the Themes of your game and add a safety tool
- Create a bunch of Traits players will pick from to make their Characters
- Come up with a Quest that includes:
- A Mission, the inciting incident that requires immediate action
- A Matrix, a table of 36 prompts with moments that could come up during the adventure
- An Agenda, a list of 6 goals that express behaviors you want to reward the players for
- Fit it all in two pages and you're done!
How to run a Push-powered game
- Read the Pitch, the Mission, the Agenda, and go over the Themes and safety tools
- Create your Character by picking one Trait from each category
- Roll on the Matrix to determine how the adventure starts
- Establish a challenge that needs to be overcome here
- Frame the scene, adding elements and details
- Perform your actions, and roll some dice if you want to
- Check the Oracle anytime you have a question
- When you feel the scene is over, roll the next prompt on the Matrix
- When you feel the mission is complete, get your Rewards
- Start a new adventure or a new game!
That's the gist of it. The entirety of this book is dedicated to explaining all the bolded terms above, offering advice and guidance on how you can use this system to make and play your own games. Enjoy!
What is Push
Push is a lightweight, story-driven RPG system designed for cooperative, action-packed adventures. This is a genre-agnostic engine that you can use to create your own games about extraordinary characters embarking on perilous quests through fantastic worlds.
A single core mechanic powers the whole system, pushing the story forward through emergent complications and inviting players to assume higher risks and use their imagination.
The complete absence of stats brings story weaving to center stage and invites beginners and veteran players alike to try a freer, lighter role-playing experience.
The conciseness of the rules allows you, the designer, to fit an entire game on a single sheet of paper if you want to. A two-page template for your new game is provided with this SRD.
What you need to play
Push-powered games will need:
- 1 to 5 players (the text assumes a group, but you can play it solo with no changes to the rules)
- Some six-sided dice (one is fine, but two per player is ideal)
- A copy of the character sheet for each player
- A copy of the Quest Sheet
- Cooperative gameplay: Push has no Game Master. All players share the responsibility to bring the story to life, take turns under the spotlight, add flavor to the world and its inhabitants, ask and answer questions and keep the game space a fun and safe environment. Gameplay is based on consent. Whenever an agreement can't be reached or a burning question has no obvious answer, the Oracle is there to save the day.
- Stat-free: There are no stats in the game. Characters, foes, weapons, items, money. Nothing has a number nor a mechanic attached to it. Dice rolls are influenced by luck and risk-taking only, and the dice influence the fiction only. No resources to keep track of.
- Emergent narrative: Push-powered games do not offer a preloaded lore of the world. Instead, the quest-centered design provides players with evocative prompts that can be acted upon. Setting emerges through people, places, items, and events. Through the interaction between characters and situations, players build a world of their own with the framework provided.
- Imagination first: Push does not use grids, rulers or prescriptive definitions of abilities and challenges. Players are encouraged to come up with creative uses of their character's traits and to use their imagination to freely determine how far, how fast, how difficult things are in any given circumstance.
- Dice bring drama: Rolling the dice is always an option, never an obligation. When you do so, the system is heavily steered towards partial successes. But even a failure is never a dead end. "Nothing" never happens. Circumstances change after every roll.
- Competent protagonists: characters are the protagonists of the adventure. As such, they're unique and capable of influencing the course of their story. And they don't die unless their player decides so.
What is this document?
This is a System Reference Document—or SRD. It provides the rules and instructions for you to make your own games using the Push system. Together with a step-by-step guide, you'll find commentary on game design choices, behind the curtains information on how the mechanics work, and ideas on how you can customize the system to make it your own.
This book is a little lengthier than one would expect for such a simple game, but that's because I included a full example of a game created using this system, with detailed explanations on each step. My goal was to make it accessible for anyone interested in using it, regardless of their previous game design experience.