A massive shaft of emptiness pointing straight down one hundred meters in diameter and ringed on the interior wall by a helical stairway that climbs into the black reaches above and recesses below. Every one-third rotation around the Well, massive double doors open outward into currently or formerly inhabited tunnels. People live in Bastion, the Last City, through one set of those doors. When the city empties the stone and soil of resources, and when generations of entombed dead fill the halls, the people migrate downward and carve a new home out of the rock. They've done it dozens of times over hundreds of years. Above them, some evil force animates the honored dead, turning them into murderous monsters and abominations until they threaten to overwhelm the city.
That's where gravediggers come in. Where YOU come in. Something sets you apart from everyone else. Bravery? Desperation? Your obsession with searching for what's really up there, in the past we think we've buried? Whatever it is, every couple weeks, you gather your gear and your friends and head up the Well. You're looking for unlooted crypts and unbroken tombs, places with enough danger to escape alive and enough loot to make it pay.
The Well is an original tabletop roleplaying game about exploring the abandoned crypts of your people's ancestors, putting down the undead abominations that have risen from their remains, and escaping with as much loot and as few scars as possible. It's a classic dungeon delver with modern RPG sensibilities, an original, light-weight game designed for speed and narrative integration. The system gives players options without complication and lets them fear for their characters without taking away control over their characters' fates. It is an RPG with simple dice rules, a handful of tactical consideration, and a lot of player contribution.
The Well takes place in an underground city, generations and generations after anyone remembers there even being an “above ground.” They mine needed resources out of the earth around them, entomb their dead, and when they’ve run out of materials or space, they move downward. They go down along the Well, a massive shaft of empty space running straight up and down, farther than anyone knows in both directions. Down leads to new tunnels, new resources, and more distance from the tombs they’ve left behind.
Only a few brave or crazy souls go back up, because some malicious force animates their dead ancestors. These people, called gravediggers, go up to put down the unquiet dead and reclaim lost treasures, usually left behind as grave goods.
Simple shambling dead and clever revenants are the most common abominations of the Well, but the magic that animates them creates whatever twisted reflections of life it can manage: bats made from skulls with wings of hands, snakes assembled from unused spines using animal skulls from teeth, spiders of all sizes built out of bones, and the tangles of shapeless flesh and bone that resemble nothing at all.
The Well features an original system that uses simple dice rolls and gives players lots of control over their levels of risk and the consequences that befall their characters. Character generation can take as little as five minutes, letting you get to the gaming faster.
Roll a single die, “play a gambit” to add bonus dice based on just how risky you want to be, and add them up. You can do well and suffer complications at the same time, and no roll is wasted: even a poor roll gives you some progress toward your goal.
Writer: Peter Schaefer
Cover: Chris Walton
Interior Art: Kurt Komoda
Layout: Dana Cameron
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