- 1 Basics
- 2 Setup
- 3 End of Session
- 4 Basic Moves
- 5 GM Moves
- 6 Animal Powers
- 7 Character HP and Armor
- 8 Enemies
- 9 What To Expect In A Game
- 10 FAQ
The basic ruleset for Disposable Heroes adapts the core rules from Dungeon World, a game designed by Sage LaTorra and Adam Koebel. This site does not reproduce those rules, but you can go to the Dungeon World SRD if something comes up that you can't resolve with Disposable Heroes' ruleset
Whenever a rule says to roll+ something, it means take two six sided dice, roll them, and add whatever stat or number the rule says to add, then take that result and use it however the rule tells you to. For example, if a move says to roll+STR, you take the STR value of your current character, add it to the result of two six sided dice, then take that final number and compare it with whatever the rule says.
In Disposable Heroes, intention matters over interpretation. If there is a conflict or confusion over rules, or if a player does something outside of the scope of the system, usually the quickest way to deal with that is to ask the player what they intended to do or what they'd like to happen next and decide if a group if that happens. Disposable Heroes is fast paced and frenetic over everything, so don't let your table get bogged down in rules lawyering.
Before beginning play, hold 0+The current number of players. Spend hold on the following Package Options. All Packages begin as 3HP, Medium Size, Mundane.
- Make the package 1 bigger or 1 smaller – Pocket sized, Handheld, Medium, Large, Unwieldy, Absurd.
- Add one specialty tag to the package. You may spend extra hold for additional tags – Highly Breakable (-1 Package Health), Volatile, Dangerous, Bulletproof, Weaponizable, Sentient, Flight, Hardy (+1 Package Health)
- Add one specialty condition to the job – Rush Job, Slow Shipping, Second Delivery Attempt, Illegal Cargo, Multiple Packages, Secret Delivery.
The Package Health can be reduced below zero during play, this is important for scoring at the end of a session.
End of Session
When you deliver the package, roll+Current Package Health. On a 10+, your team gets 5 stars, great job, you get to keep working here. You get paid. On a 7-9, 3 or 4 stars. One more delivery like that and you’re off the app. You still get paid. On a 6 or below, that’s a 1 star rating. You’re fired, and the person you’re delivering to is furious, get ready for a boss fight.
Like all Powered By The Apocalypse games, Disposable Heroes runs on Moves. There are three kinds of Moves, GM, Character, and Basic. The short version is that Moves are kinda like micro-rules that tell you what to do in specific contexts when they "trigger". Moves "trigger" when a player says they do something that kinda-sorta matches the text on the Move. If a player says "I dropkick this capitalist dracula clone through the glass window", and the Goblin is in a position to resist that dropkick, that probably triggers Scrap. When that happens, just read the text on the relevant move and follow it through.
One very important thing to keep in mind - Moves always trigger when the text for them matches the narrative being woven at the table, and they never trigger unless the narrative matches the text for them. Scrap doesn't trigger if you squash a bug, unless that bug can fight back, nor does it trigger if you try to stab a Powerful Being unless you happen to have something on hand to even the odds. In these cases, just follow the narrative to its natural conclusion, and if one isn't obvious, it's always a safe bet to trigger a GM Move.
Differences between Types of Moves
- Character Moves represent special trainings, skills, or abilities that are unique to a specific character, and can usually only be triggered by that character's actions. These are printed on the character cards.
- Basic Moves represent a sort of general collection of stuff that happens often enough in the world that they need rules to determine their outcome. Every player besides the GM can trigger these moves.
- GM Moves represent the world, the enemies, and the barriers between the players and their goal. They're kind of like dramatic tools that the GM can trigger whenever the players roll a 6 or below to make things interesting. They can also trigger at other points, that's just the most common one.
When you tussle with someone in close range, roll+STR. On a 10+, Deal damage, gain a better position or make an opening for your allies. On a 7-9 you steal deal damage, but you also take damage, lose your favorable position, lose something valuable or damage the Package. On a 6 or below, take damage.
When you engage in long-range combat, roll+DEX. On a 10+, deal damage, create an opening or do something cool. On a 7-9 still deal damage, but lose your position, your weapon jams or fails, your shot ricochets badly. On a 6 or below, take damage.
Get Out The Way
When you skillfully avoid incoming danger, roll+DEX. On a 10+, you move like a cat, describe how the danger passes you by, and the favorable position you take. Maybe snap a selfie for the app. On a 7-9, you hesitate, flinch or fumble – you take damage, lose control of the package or make a fool of yourself on the app. On a 6 or below, take damage.
Get In The Way
When you take a blow intended for someone else, roll+CON On a 10+, your body holds out. The incoming danger is nullified – weapons shatter, boulders break apart. On a 7-9, take damage but grant the other person one armor. On a 6 or below, take damage.
When you’ve had enough of this shit, roll. Don’t add anything. On a 10+, you go out in a blaze of glory. Solve a problem, give someone on your team +1 forward, +1 armor or make something stop hurting your pals. Discard your character. On a 7-9, you think you go out in a blaze of glory. Solve a problem temporarily. It’ll get worse after you’re gone. Discard your character. On a 6 or below, you make everything worse as you leave. Discard your character.
I’ve Seen This…
When you’re pretty sure you know something about this, roll+INT. On a 10+, tell everyone what you know about this creature, place or situation. Tell people something useful, or ask the GM for something useful. On a 7-9, you still tell everyone something interesting, but it takes a while to remember it, placing you in danger, or it’s practically unhelpful. On a 6 or below, you tell everyone something incorrect and probably deadly.
Hit The Books
When you study a situation or do research, come up with at least two things you’re hoping to learn and roll+WIS. On a 10+, the GM will give you clear and overt answers to the two things you wanted to learn. Gain +1 forward when you act on the information. On a 7-9, you still get the answers, but tell the table a critical mistake you’ve made in at least one answer that will put you all in danger. On a 6 or below, you mess up bad. Your investigation goes so badly you get hurt, take damage.
Talk It Out
When you meet aggressors who share some common ground with you, roll+CHA. On a 10+, the fighting stops, you learn something about them, or buy your allies some time. You don’t quite have their trust, yet. On a 7-9, you learn what they want, but you’ll need leverage to get through without violence. On a 6 or below, you insult them, overestimate your familiarity or otherwise put your foot in it. Take damage.
GM Moves trigger whenever the players look to the GM to ask what happens next, or whenever they roll a 5 or below. Whenever that happens, either follow the fiction of the scene to its natural conclusion, or do one of the following:
Kill a Character
Take a character, make it dead. Simple enough. This move isn't a big deal in Disposable Heroes, and might even be welcomed, as it lets the player try out a new class/character. Do this often.
Damage the Package
This one really hurts, so use it sparingly.
Give the Team a Hard Choice
Offer the players something they want, and something they need. A good way to use this is to give them an easy option that is 50% of what they want, or 100% of what they need but at some kind of great cost to themselves.
Show an Unexpected Complication
Players are running rampant around a universe where the rules are fungible and the gods of this place are spiteful and quick to react. Make something wild happen.
Remind them Rent is Due
They're in this for the money, right? The Heroes, despite their powers, are generally on the bottom rung of a massive societal hierarchy. Remind them of their place.
Give them a Bad Review
Think of this less literally, though sometimes it can just be a literal bad review. A bad review just means something terrible, but relatively inconsequential happens. When you get a bad review, your boss is gonna be awful with you all day and you can't really control it. Do that.
Present an Expensive Opportunity
Think of something the team would love, then make it cost them everything.
Disrupt the Status Quo
Innovate, synergize, cross-promote. Take whatever is currently happening, and flip it on its head. This move is good for natural disasters like earthquakes or firenados, a sudden influx of hypno-demons from the underdark, or a ship full of Shadow People invading the city.
Wrap Them in Red Tape
The world is a capitalist nightmare, and bureaucratic red tape blocks every single door. Busy work, filing requirements, forms, fees, special words spoken into listening-bricks, or just the right ass getting kissed.
Blow Something Up
Spring a Trap
Traps are everywhere. Spring one.
Every Hero in Disposable Heroes has some kind of animal associated with them. We've decided to leave it up to you, the player, how that works. Maybe they're literally animals, maybe they're anthropomorphic, maybe they have a magical mask they ordered from Bonr that grants them these powers. Whatever you decide, its important to remember that the character can act as though they are their animal without rolling, unless that action itself invokes one of the moves above. The Detective Bat doesn't have to do anything special to Echolocate, for instance, unless they trigger a move with their use of Echolocation.
Character HP and Armor
Characters don't have HP in Disposable Heroes. They're Disposable, after all. When they take a hit from an enemy, they die. As soon as they die, the player discards their card then draws a new one. The exception to this is if the character has Armor. Armor is something lots of characters start with, and some characters can give it to others. When you have armor, set the card down infront of you so that the value of your armor is facing up. Whenever you get hit, rotate the card to show the lose of armor. Or you can use tokens or notepaper or whatever, it's not super important. Once you have 0 armor, the next hit kills you.
There's a lot of things standing between you and your five stars, and a lot of them have teeth and claws and want to eat you. Or they have magic staffs and want to turn you into some kind of slime. Either way, you're going to be fighting a fair bit in this game.
The enemies in Disposable Heroes are simplified from the enemies in both Dungeon World and most other Powered by the Apocalypse games. Their attacks don't deal damage in the traditional sense, since player characters can only take one hit before dying, so they only really need HP and a special ability. Every enemy in the entire world has at least one special ability, bosses can have multiple. Of an enemy is a mook, foot soldier, mercenary, or random passing monster, they have 3 to 6HP. Of it's a Boss, it has 12HP. Once it hits 0HP, an enemy either dies, or quits, up to the GM.
This part of mostly for GMs but enemies don't deal damage in the same way they do in most tabletop games - they only ever deal damage when you use a GM Move or when a move says they do. The flow of combat in Disposable Heroes as such:
The GM describes a scene, action, or impending danger. The players react, triggering a move, the results of which inform what happens next. Repeat.
What To Expect In A Game
Generally speaking your average game of Disposable Heroes is going to involve the players getting a package and being told to deliver it somewhere, and finding that place very difficult to deliver packages to for some reason or another. the Places of Power in the lore are examples of the kind of locations players will be delivering to - strange and twisted thrones of power controlled by incredibly powerful beings, full of traps and enemies and trials and challenges.
You can also expect a significantly higher character turnover when compared with most games, so build your traps and combat around that. The kind of "unfair" old school encounters that could only be solved through trial and error, or the kind of beasties that could only be brought down by the blood of dozens of level 1s are fair game here, thanks to the rapid character replacement mechanics. This shouldn't read as an excuse to be a pain in the arse though, try to keep the line between Challenging and Tedious in mind, and remember the tone here is generally upbeat - it's a lot easier to laugh off your 8th character dying if everyone is already having fun.
Once the characters make it to the end, they'll have to do the package handoff. How you want to run this is up to you, but at my table we tend to do the calculation for the rating, then playout what happens next. Sometimes that means a boss fight, sometimes it means the heroes slump home dejected, sometimes it means they get new jobs even. Just keep in mind that unlike a lot of games, the characters aren't usually there for anything more noble than a paycheck, so this can make combat or boss encounters kinda weird. After all, why would the characters bother fighting all these goblins if, at the end of the day, they're both workers trying to survive in a terrible place? My advice to any GMs would be to embrace that weirdness. My favourite sessions of Disposable Heroes involved the characters leading workers revolts and strikes.
Campaigns don't tend to be a thing as much as one-shots and one-offs, but it's not unheard of, you just have to reckon with the lack of advancement mechanics and the complete inability to really connect with the characters on a one-on-one basis. One tweak I've played with is framing the characters deaths as them warping back to a base of some kind and being replaced by an ally. This campaign had the players running their Disposable Heroes team as a sort of mercenary squad, and it ruled.
What happens when the deck is empty and I need to draw a new character?
Originally the rule was when this happened, the players fail and whatever the Big Bad Evil Guy had planned came to fruition. When the game shifted to the package delivery gameplay, it became harder to find a lose state, so generally I say reshuffle the deck and move on, but you could also say they fail to deliver the package and they all get fired (or die)
What happens when I roll a 6 or below on a character move or a basic move?
Probably you die. Strictly speaking that's one of the times when a GM move will trigger, but the most common thing is gonna be you die.
What happens, in fiction, when a character dies and is replaced?
The Disposable Heroes app pulls another soul from the void, or teleports an already extant soul to the location. It's not super important honestly. The new character is there at the most convenient time for the table and knows however much the player and the rest of the table feel is needed to make the session flow properly.