I'm preparing to play my first Roll For Shoes game soon, with me as the GM and about 3-4 friends as my PC's.

Knowing my friends, it won't be long before they attack or provoke someone, and looking at the way the system works I imagine that attacks and defenses are listed as rolls (such as Attack 2, Stab 3, Impale 4, Impale with Broadsword 5 or Defend 2, Dodge 3, Block 3, Block with Hero Shield 4 etc).

However, if a characters defend roll comes out lower than the opposing characters attack roll, they are successfully attacked. At this stage, how is damage/hit points taken/chance of survival etc calculated?

In short, how do people handle a characters "life" in Roll For Shoes?

Please feel free to let me know of anything I have wrong about the system in my question.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "I roll to see if I happen to be immortal." \$\endgroup\$
    – Theik
    Commented May 22, 2015 at 7:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ I totally read the title to this question of "how do you roll for injury in shoes?" I was expecting to see some question about doing battle with shoes, or getting hit in the shoe or something. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 22, 2015 at 21:16

3 Answers 3


Roll for Shoes doesn't really have a "combat system" as such — unless you houserule one in, of course. Rather, combat in RfS is basically handled using the same general mechanics as everything else: the player rolls Nd6, where N is the level of the skill they're using, and tries to beat the GM's roll.

The thing to keep in mind is that RfS is a rules-light and narrative-heavy system. That is, you don't roll to deal X hit points of damage to enemy Y — you roll to do something (charge at an enemy waving your sword, toss a rock past their head to distract them, shout insults at them to make them angry, etc.), and use the roll to see how well the attempt succeeds, and thus to influence how the GM will narrate the subsequent events. This might involve things like, say, penalties on later rolls due to injury or fear or distraction, or simply some of the combatants deciding that discretion is the better part of valor, and running away.

All this should happen at a fairly high level. While you can certainly have lengthy combat scenes in RfS (say, a massive bar fight, an assault on an enemy stronghold, a fencing match or a long chase after fleeing enemies), it's quite possible for a simple one-on-one combat to only take one or two actions. It all depends on how much detail you and your players want to get into.


Since a single example may sometimes be more useful than pages of description, here's an example combat scene loosely inspired by a game I ran some time ago:

GM: OK, so Timmy runs through the woods in the direction of Sally's voice. Stumbling out of the bushes, he sees the clearing and the tree Sally has climbed into. The werecat-thingy is crouched under the tree, snarling at Sally as she continues to belt it with pinecones, but turns to face Timmy as it sees and hears him.

Timmy's player: I wanna save Sally, so I guess I'll attack.

GM: OK, the werecat is facing you with its fangs bared, hissing. Those claws look sharp, too. How are you going to attack it?

Timmy: Can I roll to see if I have a weapon? Maybe a knife, or just a stick?

GM: Sure. Roll 1d6. (Timmy rolls 1; GM rolls 5.) Um... OK, you don't have a knife. I'm pretty sure the camp instructors wouldn't let you play with knives unsupervised, anyway. You do find some used chewing gum in your pocket, but you're not sure how that would help you.

Timmy: Aw, that sucks. Oh well, I've still got my Brute Strength (2), so I guess I'll just try to punch the cat thingy on the nose.

GM: OK, you charge straight at the werecat and try to punch it with all of your 9-year-old muscles. The werecat is pretty agile, though, so I'm gonna roll 2d6 too. (Timmy rolls 6+1; GM rolls 3+5.) Well, your punch is good, but the werecat is faster than you and just barely twists out of the way. You can feel the whiskers brush your hand, though.

Timmy: Aww, that was close. Wait, didn't I have XP from before? (GM: Yes.) Can I use one XP to upgrade my fighting skills?

GM: Sure, how's "Fists of Fury (3)" sound? (Timmy scribbles on their character sheet.) Anyway, you did manage to kind of scare the werecat with your charge. It's retreated a couple of feet up the tree trunk, and is clinging to it with its claws and still hissing at you.

Sally: I throw more pinecones at it!

GM: Sure, roll 1d6. (Sally rolls 6; GM rolls 2.) Nice. The werecat-creature's backside is just too tempting a target to ignore, as it's hanging upside down on the trunk. Your well aimed pinecone hits it right under the tail, startling it and making it let go of the trunk and land on the ground beside Timmy. Oh, and you just got a new skill, too! May I suggest "Accurate Aim (2)"?

Sally: Cool! (Scribbles on character sheet.)

Timmy: I'm just gonna try another punch with my Fists of Fury (3)!

GM: OK, you know how this works, roll for it. Actually, I'll just roll 1d6 for the werecat because Sally distracted it. (Timmy rolls 2+5+3; GM rolls 3.) Well, that one sure worked. As soon as the werecat hits the ground, you smash your fist right into its pink nose. There's a kind of a crunching sound, and you'll later notice some blood on your fingers. The first thing you notice, though, is the earshattering wail the werecat lets out as it turns and runs away into the woods, nose slowly dripping blood. Gradually, the sound fades off into the distance. Looks like it's gone, for now at least.

Timmy: Awesome! And kinda eww. But still awesome!

Ps. I started writing this answer while the title of the question still said "combat" rather than "injury". With the new title, I might've done better to pick the earlier scene, where Sally fought and got scratched by the werecat. I don't think the scratches ever ended up having any mechanical effect in the game, but they did convince the player to run away and use her character's Climb a Tree skill to retreat instead of continuing combat.


The comments on the original post have some interesting and useful commentary and ideas. Damage is one the issues addressed by the creator.

For damage, we had this cartoony thing where you get busted up and humiliated in one scene, and then we don't really talk about the damage afterwards - unless you want to! Being badly beaten has effects in the fiction, however - you can slip in a pool of your own blood or some such. More serious stuff - losing limbs, getting poisoned, and so on, does need some sort of resolution, but you do it like you do anything else in the game - roll for skills! Of course, since you only gain skills dependent on what "actually happened" during your application of a prior skill, you could actually turn harmful stuff into skills - getting decapitated and then choosing "Headless 2", for instance.

DWeird, Creator of Roll for Shoes

I don't run Roll for Shoes quite as crazy as it's creator did, so I don't really find that answer to my personal taste. I've bolded what was my big takeaway from the comment though, the narrative implications of injury. I describe a plausible consequence and the player reacts to it. It's more fast and loose than I usually prefer, but it achieves the right feel for us, for this particular game.

I'd recommend reading through more of the comments, they have additional ideas on how to handle damage, as well as other possible variations and play experiences. And if nothing seems right to you, the system is so light and flexible you could easily import the "life" component from another system.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Ben Wray is the creator of the system, Daumantas was just the guy who started that thread about it. \$\endgroup\$
    – clweeks
    Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 13:13

I've been experimenting with a shonen (Dragon Ball Z, Naruto, One Piece, etc.) version of roll for shoes, and I've been going with a stun system based on how much someone loses a 'defense' roll.

  • 1-6: Down for one exchange
  • 7-12: Down for two exchanges
  • 13+: Ko'ed until end of fight, dead if appropriate/player wants it.

This version assumes that time works as 'players all do something', then 'badguys do something', with each player and each bad guy getting a chance to take an action. Attacks using skills can be defended with defensive skills (ie. I have a forcefield, Dodge!, etc.), or a less than defensive skill with an appropriate description (ie. I use my Blast 2 skill to counter his blast with one of my own).

Stunning someone again pushes them a category down, so a series of hits equal to three rounds or more equals a KO.

Granted, this is to simulate the shonen feel of fights that have a level of dogged determination, combatants beaten all to hell by the end of it.

For a deadlier or more structured game, I might use straight up health levels on a similar scale.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This answer uses "exchanges" as a unit of time, and exchanges are not natively part of Roll for Shoes. I think your answer would be a lot easier for people to understand and use if you edit it to explain how exchanges work in your system. (And welcome to the Stack! You might want to take the tour.) \$\endgroup\$
    – BESW
    Commented Jul 27, 2015 at 0:12

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