Talk Find Make: Punch-Proof Problems for Peace-Loving Adventurers

This is a simple system for "pacifist adventure" role-playing and storytelling games. Here the heroes find non-violent solutions for a big dilemma. The heroes might follow a code of peace, the antagonists could be physically invulnerable, or the heroes are just outnumbered. No amount of punching will help. It's up to you and the other heroes to Talk, Find, and Make a solution.

Doctor Who, Nancy Drew, Dora the Explorer, Columbo, Daniel Jackson (Stargate), Lyra Silvertongue (Golden Compass), MacGyver, The Question (DC Comics), Veronica Mars, Agent Scully, Penny (Inspector Gadget), Dorothy Gale (Oz), Hermione Granger.

Stuff You Need
One six-sided die for the whole group.
One player (the GM) will take on the role of the antagonists and secondary characters.
The other players each need a hero to play.
The whole group needs problem scenario for the heroes to solve.
The whole group needs twenty stones (or chips, or other small objects).
Place nine of those stones in the center of the table.
Split those stones into three groups of three stones, labeled with index cards.
The index cards should read "TALK," "FIND," and "MAKE."
Set aside the other eleven stones.

Create a Problem
The whole group can collaborate to create a problem or the GM can have one prepared. A problem takes the form of three sentences. The first sentence introduces the heroes and what they do. The second sentence introduces an antagonist or problem that can't be fought with violence. The third sentence poses a dilemma the heroes must face as they pursue a solution to the problem. Here are some examples.

You are mice who live in the walls of a small house. A real estate developer wants to demolish the house and make room for a parking lot. How will you save the house without drawing attention to yourself?

You are a team of peacekeepers now on the run because of a crime you didn't commit. You must find proof of your innocence and uphold your duty to protect the innocent wherever they are oppressed. How can they maintain your duty while keeping a low profile?

You are bloggers trying to reveal the truth about the Freedom Squad, an international cabal of costumed superhumans. The Freedom Squad is wildly popular around the world, so it'll take some work to prove their nefarious intentions. How can a group of mere mortal bloggers take on a team of modern-day deities?

You are interdimensional travelers lost in space and time. A mysterious machine sends you to new times and places in crisis, but forbids you from using any violence to solve problems. How can you resolve the crisis so the machine will take you home?

Make Your Hero
Heroes solve problems in three ways: Talk, Find, and Make. Talk is when you interact with others. Find is when you reveal new details about the problem. Make is when you fix or create new stuff to solve the problem. Some heroes are better at one of these abilities than others.

Answer one of the questions below to describe how your hero performs this ability well, thanks to unique skills or assets. Answer another one of the questions below to describe how your hero performs this poorly, thanks to some character flaw or hindering trait.

How do you talk?
How do you find?
How do you make?

For the ability you do well, write a "+1" next to it. For the ability you do poorly, write a "-1" next to it. Players should try to get as much diversity amongst their abilities as possible. These answers describe some key details about your hero and how he or she is different from the rest of the group.

For example: Face is a famous author with lots of fans, but hopeless with computers (Talk +1, Make -1). Bulk is a stoic figure who intimidates suspects for information, but whose gruff approach scares people (Find +1, Talk -1). Click is a shy nerd, but a skilled computer hacker (Talk -1, Make +1).

How to Play
Each round, each player chooses to either Talk, Find or Make.

Talkers take turns first, starting with the oldest player and continuing clockwise around the table. If Talking, players describe their heroes interacting with each other or secondary characters.

Finders take their turns next, again starting with the oldest player and continuing clockwise around the table. If Finding, players describe their heroes searching for new information.

Makers take their turns next, starting with the oldest player and continuing clockwise around the table. If Making, players describe their heroes creating new objects or devices.

Players may simply take their turn to engage in free-form description and then let the next player take their turn. However, at some point a player will describe their hero actually trying to solve the problem at-hand. The GM or the player in question may determine if this is the case. Either way, see the following steps for what happens next in your turn.

Solving the Problem
After describing what your hero is doing to solve the problem, roll one six-sided die. If you're rolling for an ability that has a "+1" or "-1" next to it, adjust your dice result accordingly. So, if you rolled a 4 for Talking and you have a +1 bonus to that ability, you can consider that result a 5 instead. Results cannot go below 1 or above 6.

If the result is 1 or 2, something you did made the situation worse (or you're simply that you're running out of time). Add that many stones to the group corresponding with your action. So if you rolled a Talking action, add stones to the TALK group.

If the result is 3 or 4, you changed the nature of the problem slightly. Move that many stones from the group corresponding with your action to another group of your choice. So, if you rolled a Finding action, you move that many stones from the FIND group to either the TALK or MAKE group.

If the result is 5 or 6, whatever you did is starting to help. Remove that many stones from the group corresponding to your action. So if you rolled a Making action, remove that many stones from the MAKE group.

Whenever there are not enough stones to move or remove, just move or remove as many as you can.

Whatever the outcome, you may now describe how the problem is worsened, changed or improved thanks to your action. Once done, your turn is over and the next player takes their turn.

When there are no more stones on the table, you solved the problem! If you plan to play again with the same character, you may update your "+1" ability to describe how you now do that thing differently.

When there are twenty stones on the table, the problem overwhelmed your heroes! If you plan to play again with the same character, you may update your "-1" ability to describe how you now do that thing differently.

Advanced Play
Add names of specific antagonists and problems to the cards. Is there a mechanical problem that can only be solved by Making? Is there a hostile diplomat who can only be swayed by Talking? Is there a missing person who can only be tracked by Finding? When a card is emptied, that little problem is solved! Try playing with multiple cards to add more targets for your heroes.
Daniel Solis
Art Director by Day. Game Designer by Night.