Advanced Search >

Lighthouse System
Quick Preview
Full‑size Preview

Lighthouse System

Suggested Price $4.99

A system that’s easy to learn and simple to use.

The subtlety and nuance lies in how you choose to interpret the die rolls and use them to tell your story. Here’s a quick overview of how the system works. 

There When You Need It

Most of the time, you can use the context of the story and established abilities of the characters to decide what happens without having to roll any dice. Do what makes sense, seems logical, and makes for an interesting story. There are only two times when you need to roll dice:

The outcome is uncertain. The action that a character wants to undertake could succeed or fail, so you roll dice to find out which. Or, there are risks inherent in undertaking the action, so you roll to see if the character succeeds and overcomes those risks, or fails and has to deal with the complications.

You need to determine the degree of success or failure. You know that the character will probably succeed, but how well they manage to do so will matter. Or, even though you know the character will probably fail, the degree to which they fail holds some significance. The rewards and complications can impact the story going forward, so die rolls are required to help better define the outcomes.

Bid on Risks and Rewards

When you decide what action you’d like your character to take, you bid a die type (d4, d6, d8, d10, or d12). This represents both the risk you’re willing to take and the reward you’d like to achieve. The bigger the die, the greater the degree of success or failure. The more the character stands to gain if you succeed, the greater the injury or other complications the character will suffer if you fail.

Roll a d20 and Add Modifiers

The player declares what they’d like the character to do, and then rolls a 20-sided die. Add any bonuses the character is able to use, as well as any situational modifiers that the guide might impose, to the rolled result. There are no target numbers to compare the total to; all you need to keep track of is whether the total of the roll and modifiers is high or low, even or odd.

High or Low, Success or Failure

If the total of your roll plus modifiers is high (11 or more) your character succeeds. If your total is low (10 or less) you character fails. That’s it. No charts, no tables, and no screen are required to figure out whether your character succeeded or failed. You can focus on the story, not the dice.

Even or Odd, Narrating the Outcome

If your total of roll plus modifiers is an even number, you get to describe what happens. If your total is an odd number, the guide describes what happens. You can make your successes sound far more impressive, and your failures less painful. The guide can make your victories look like luck, and your failures look embarrassing.

Add this bundle and enhance the storytelling opportunities in any RPG adventure!

For Writers and RoleplayersThis bundle contains 3 of our best selling titles for writers and roleplayers!

Building Characters helps you reate useful back stories, goals, and motivations to enhance your roleplaying!

Setting Design helps you to leverage the potential of both homebrewed or published settings!

Story Structure allows you to craft coherent adventures and campaigns with minimal prep time!

 Customers Who Bought this Title also Purchased
Reviews (2)
Discussions (10)
Customer avatar
Joe G January 21, 2018 2:30 pm UTC
Hey, really dig the ruleset but had some questions.

How would you model a vehicle in these rules? Like if the PCs were traveling in a vehicle and you needed the vehicle to take damage. Would you give it its own complication slots and things or would it just be narrative?
Customer avatar
Petterson C September 29, 2017 1:14 pm UTC

May I know if the Release 3 was reviewed prior to release? The typesetting seems broken. I think it has something to do with the conversion to pdf format. Can the author please take a look at it and perhaps fix it?

The typesetting misalignment happen mostly in the Table of Content.

Thank you.
Customer avatar
Berin K September 29, 2017 2:25 pm UTC
I'm looking at my copy of the R3 PDF right now and it looks fine. I'll download it again and look it over, and push a clean copy in the next couple of hours. Thanks for letting me know.
Customer avatar
Berin K September 29, 2017 2:27 pm UTC
I see what you mean. I'll push a clean copy shortly. Something got corrupted.
Customer avatar
Berin K September 29, 2017 3:01 pm UTC
Customer avatar
Petterson C September 29, 2017 10:35 pm UTC
Thanks a lot Berin K.
Customer avatar
Alex G August 18, 2017 8:49 pm UTC
I wanted to let you know that there's a group on Facebook that I've set up for fans of anything to do with Dancing Lights Press, but the main focus is on Lighthouse. Copy and paste the address. I'd hate to imagine you typing out the string of numbers by hand.
Customer avatar
Allan V May 19, 2017 7:11 pm UTC
Revelation in cold iron, will it be published to day?
Customer avatar
Berin K May 19, 2017 7:27 pm UTC
No official release date has been announced. It's still in development. Soon, though.
Customer avatar
Alex G August 12, 2017 5:47 pm UTC
It just came out in PDF.
Customer avatar
Chris P April 04, 2017 3:19 am UTC
Additional question on skill rolls. Do you add all applicable bonuses? IE: Your Fantasy Fighter character, in a hand-to-hand unarmed combat in the death pits would net him a +8 to his roll (5 for myrmidon, 3 for open fist style) correct?

I know this is a narrative game, so there's less need for balance, but do you suggest very little overlap between big/medium/small things? Your fantasy thief, as an example, don't have any overlap, which I assume is intentional.

Do you have any suggestion on which dice to give supporting cast? I see folks w/ 1 x Medium and 3 dice (d6, d8, d10) and others with 1 x Medium, and only 1d4.
Customer avatar
Berin K April 04, 2017 5:16 am UTC
Bonuses don't stack and there should be no overlap, which is why the description for myrmydon is for armed combat, and open fist is unarmed combat. Swinging a sword, the character gets +5, unarmed they get +3.

Supporting cast should get dice based on whatever makes sense. An extra that's there for one purpose in one scene probably gets one die, the size of which depends on the sort of action they're there to perform. A more versatile recurring character probably gets more dice with higher values, depending on the role they fill in the story.
Customer avatar
Chris P April 04, 2017 4:03 pm UTC
Thanks Berin. I'm really digging the system. I hope it will replace Freeform Universal as my light RPG of choice.

Any thoughts on if combat bonuses could/should be a penalty for the aggressor? In other words, Jedi Knight (+5) attacks a Storm Trooper Squad (+1), he would roll d20+4 to reflect the defense (if narratively appropriate) of the target?

It could be less dramatic if the 1st strike of a Jedi Knight (+5) on a Sith Lord (+5) allows him to roll d20+5 (and vice-versa.)

While I have you, I saw a few typos (p15: Myrmadon instead of Myrmidon, p32: image instead of imagine, p40: you bid d10 but rolled a d12 for success, p42: dull day instead of full day, p42: bored instead of board)

I also typed up a reference sheet with the outcomes, degrees of success, complications, creation rules on it. With your permission I can link you, or just send it over. I don't want to post here for fear of posting material you don't want posted.
Customer avatar
Berin K April 04, 2017 4:46 pm UTC
Thanks, Chris, I'm glad you dig it and hope you check out the games that will be built on it in the future.

You can absolutely house rule doing math for bonuses. but I didn't do it that way to keep things simple and to maintain the focus on thenarrative rather than the tactical. A character gets the full bonus for the same reason one sword doesn't do a d6 and another a d8, they all do whatever is bid -- it's about the character and how you describe what happens. The hero will get the full bonus and wail on the villain *in spite of* the villain's defenses to show off how badass they are -- when they succeed and get to narrate it that way. The villain gets the full benefit of wailing back on the hero *in spite of* the hero's logical defenses, to show how awesome and scary the villain is -- when they succeed and get to narrate.

There will be an errata-corrected PDF pushed in a week or so.
Customer avatar
Chris P April 04, 2017 2:59 am UTC
In competitions, the aggressor and defender both roll (adding bonuses) and the higher margin of victory wins.

In combat, it seems the aggressor swings (trying to get above a 10, but also even for narrative control), the defender doesn't get to do anything to defend. Is this correct?
Customer avatar
Berin K April 04, 2017 5:10 am UTC
In combat the defense is narrative -- if the attacker rolls low/odd the defender can describe how the dodged, deflected, counterattacked, or whatever they want to do. If the attacker rolls high/odd, even though they were hit the defender can describe the action in ways that are more flattering to them and less flattering to the attacker. In any case, it's one character's turn that's being described.

In a competition, both characters are taking their turn simultaneously, which is why it's a roll-off.

Customer avatar
Daniel M March 29, 2017 2:36 pm UTC
Does your game use a rules-lite classless system? I've played Fate and I find that those type of games are what I like the best.
Customer avatar
Berin K March 29, 2017 2:45 pm UTC
Yup. Click on "Full-size Preview" beneath the cover image and you can see the full character creation system and several sample characters.
Customer avatar
John R March 27, 2017 5:57 am UTC
Is this any relation to the lighthouse rules rpg from the yahoo group, and loosely related to the twerps rpg?
Customer avatar
Berin K March 27, 2017 6:07 am UTC
Not at all. I'm not familiar with those.
Customer avatar
John R March 27, 2017 7:00 am UTC
That's gotta be awkward, two different games using the same exact name.
Customer avatar
John R March 27, 2017 7:14 am UTC
Info on TWERPS:

Lighthouse rules (the yahoo group, going back to September 2014) --
Customer avatar
Berin K March 27, 2017 7:16 am UTC
Due diligence was done. There's no commercially available system with that name and no trademark claim on the name "Lighthouse Roleplaying System". We went through about 15 working titles until we found one that was clear. If you have information that the name is trademarked or that there is another published roleplaying product using that name, please let me know.
Customer avatar
Berin K March 27, 2017 7:25 am UTC
I don't see anything on the Twerps page about the name, and the rules are significantly different.

I see a restricted Yahoo group with 21 members spelling it either as two words, "Light House Rules" or camel-cased "LightHouse Rules". I don't think there will be any confusion with the now best-selling Lighthouse Roleplaying System, and I'm confident we haven't violated anyone's intellectual property.

To answer your original question, I don't see anything to feel awkward about.
Customer avatar
John R March 27, 2017 10:32 pm UTC
I don't have a stake in it either way. I think it's awkward just because it is what it is. That doesn't mean it's a legal problem. Two independent game creators came up with the same name, and I'm quite sure they came up with it independently. But there will likely be _some_ confusion about it (there already is at least one person who was confused about whether or not they're the same thing). And that's at least a small worry for both creators. Whether it's enough of a worry to do something about it, if anything can be done, is a completely separate question.
Customer avatar
March 26, 2017 5:07 pm UTC
Will this system be in addition to Read, Write, Roll or a replacement of that system? Where does this fit in your overall scheme of things?
Customer avatar
Berin K March 26, 2017 5:21 pm UTC
ReadWriteRoll was more of a manifesto on what I think roleplaying can be, and is a lot denser and covers more ground. Lighthouse shares the core d20 mechanic of RWR, but streamlines the dice bid system and has a different character creation system. ReadWriteRoll is a philosophical standalone, Lighthouse is the more playable system will be in future titles.
Customer avatar
Matthew L March 26, 2017 2:39 pm UTC
Hello Berin,

Is there any likelihood that any of your books from Dancing Lights will see it into print?
Customer avatar
Berin K March 26, 2017 2:52 pm UTC
I'm working on it. No ETA but it's moving up the list of priorities pretty quickly.
Browse Categories
 Follow Your Favorites!
NotificationsSign in to get custom notifications of new products!
 Recent History

Product Information
Electrum seller
Rule System(s)
Publisher Stock #
File Size:
0.7 MB
Original electronic
Scanned image
These products were created by scanning an original printed edition. Most older books are in scanned image format because original digital layout files never existed or were no longer available from the publisher.

For PDF download editions, each page has been run through Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software to attempt to decipher the printed text. The result of this OCR process is placed invisibly behind the picture of each scanned page, to allow for text searching. However, any text in a given book set on a graphical background or in handwritten fonts would most likely not be picked up by the OCR software, and is therefore not searchable. Also, a few larger books may be resampled to fit into the system, and may not have this searchable text background.

For printed books, we have performed high-resolution scans of an original hardcopy of the book. We essentially digitally re-master the book. Unfortunately, the resulting quality of these books is not as high. It's the problem of making a copy of a copy. The text is fine for reading, but illustration work starts to run dark, pixellating and/or losing shades of grey. Moiré patterns may develop in photos. We mark clearly which print titles come from scanned image books so that you can make an informed purchase decision about the quality of what you will receive.
Original electronic format
These ebooks were created from the original electronic layout files, and therefore are fully text searchable. Also, their file size tends to be smaller than scanned image books. Most newer books are in the original electronic format. Both download and print editions of such books should be high quality.
File Last Updated:
September 29, 2017
This title was added to our catalog on March 25, 2017.