4th Earth: Rules as Written

Version: 0.1.0

4th Earth RAW is designed for collaborative storytelling, home brewing, and hacking. From the mundane, theatre of the absurd, to the fanciful and super-heroic, whether you’re solo-adventuring or in a group, 4th Earth RAW gives you a set of mechanics to keep the mystery and challenge alive.

Players personify one or more Characters who interact with the Setting and other Characters.

These are the guidelines and guardrails for 4th Earth RAW a framework for creating TTRPGs. The Vanilla Implementation illustrates one method for applying the rules as written to create a TTRPG.

4th Earth RAW presumes little previous experience with TTRPGs; defined terms are title-cased and their definitions are available in the glossary for each implementation. It should be presumed if there is not an explicit rule for or against something, Players MAY do whatever they like.

4th Earth RAW uses the key words described in RFC 2119, the all-caps are not screaming at you:

Equipment: We RECOMMEND Players use standard polyhedral dice, however, any means by which choosing one or more random numbers between 1 and 12 will do; the dice would be:

4th Earth RAW is created with the following values in mind:

Difficulty Rating

Section titled Difficulty Rating

Character Actions consist of the following, minimal, list of activities:

  1. Character intent; the Player describes what the Character will attempt to do.
  2. The intent MUST be assigned an Initial Difficulty Rating between 0 and Infinite.
  3. The Initial Difficulty Rating MAY be adjusted up or down.
  4. The Player MAY create a Dice Pool based on the Adjusted Difficulty Rating and rolls to determine success or failure.

Actions are resolved by answering: Was the Action successful? and How were the Setting and other Characters affected by the Action?

Difficulty Rating Table

Section titled Difficulty Rating Table
LevelSidesHuman-friendlyOpposing value
12Safe bet7
48Long shot4
510Leap of faith3
7No dice!Impossible, if not reduced1

Note: Multiplying the Difficulty Rating by 2 results in the number of sides for the dice in the Dice Pool.

Dice pools

Section titled Dice pools

Dice Pools are a collection of dice.

Proficiency Ranks

Section titled Proficiency Ranks

Proficiency Ranks represent the level of proficiency a Character has performing certain Action Types, using a Tool, or combination. Proficiency Points are sub-aspects of a Proficiency Rank.

Life Batteries

Section titled Life Batteries


Section titled Characters


  1. Teenage, male, human, cleric with a health Battery with a maximum value of 10. Grew up in a monastery where he learned healing spells.
  2. Adult, female, goddess, warrior with health, physical, mental, and aura Batteries with a maximum value of 8 each. Grew up in a military family and has been training since she was old enough to walk.
  3. Elderly dog with a health Battery with a maximum value of 6.

Note: The Characters in these examples, MUST NOT be played in the same Setting, unless the Players agree to modify the Characters to have the same Life Batteries and maximum values.

Vanilla Character Sheet


Section titled Setting

4th Earth RAW is a game engine and does not require a specific Setting. Further, you MAY use 4th Earth RAW in the Setting of other games.


  1. Jungle, 1955, Vietnam, hospital camp, filled with ordinary people, using technology appropriate to the time; mainly for healing (a serial war story).
  2. Greek mythos, The Underworld during the 12th labor of Hercules involving deities and demigods (a one-shot mythology hero quest).
  3. Early 21st century, Pluto, single-cell organisms (an evolution serial).

Note: The second and third example includes a baseline description of the Characters that can be played during the serialized adventure.

Time and Space

Section titled Time and Space

Social Contract

Section titled Social Contract

Much like character for the individual and culture for the group, a Social Contract will exist. The question is: How transparent, intentional, and formal is it?

Another way to look at it, the Social Contract outlines the guidelines and guardrails for meatspace.

The Social Contract:

Vanilla Social Contract


Section titled Glossary
Adjusted Difficulty Rating
The Initial Difficulty Rating after all adjustments have been taken into account.
One or more activities attempted or performed within the Setting.
MAY NOT be restricted to Characters within the Setting.
Action Type
Represents an Action or collection of Actions that can be improved over time.
Base Die
The first die in a Dice Pool, regardless of Proficiency Ranks.
Battery Point
A sub-aspect of a Life Battery.
A noun personified in the Setting of the game.
Character Time
The amount of time that passes for Characters within the Setting.
Dice Pool
A collection of dice, or random numbers within a range.
Used for resolving Actions.
Difficulty Rating
The main Action mechanic for Characters to interact with the Setting and other Characters.
Fast Action
An Action performed by a Character, with one or more related Difficulty Rating(s), which MAY be performed multiple times per Turn.
Initial Difficulty Rating
The Difficulty Rating initially assigned to an Action prior to any adjustments.
Life Battery (or Battery)
Represents the life force of a Character.
A Player who has additional responsibilities, which MAY include setting Difficulty Ratings, adding flavor to the story, and other duties often taken by a Game or Dungeon Master.
A sentient being who is participating in the playing of the game.
MAY personify one or more Characters within the Setting of the game.
Player Time
The amount of time that passes for Players playing the game.
Proficiency Point
A sub-aspect of a Proficiency Rank earned in order to achieve a Rank.
Proficiency Rank (or Rank)
A representation of how proficient a Character is at performing certain Action Types or using a Tool.
Ends after Character Actions have been resolved for all active Characters.
Ends when Players stop playing the game for a given period of time; breaks during a Session do not constitute a break in the Session.
The attributes and surroundings, in aggregate, that Characters inhabit.
Slow Action
An Action performed by a Character, with related Difficulty Rating, which MAY be performed up to once per Turn.
Social Contract
An agreement or understanding between Players (including the Narrator, if applicable) about how they will behave towards each other.
An item within the Setting that can be used by a Character.
Ends after all Fast and Slow Actions have been performed by a Character.