Us-vs-Them web app

Table of contents


Simul computer-aided tabletop role-playing game

Using real dice and a tabletop computer-aid (eg tablet browser) all players throw dice together after saying "Ready, steady, roll!"


Build on contributions by saying “Yes, and...”

Characteristics record levels for strength, dexterity and intelligence (where 10 represents human average).

Players state their intentions.

Reasonable plans normally progress without dice rolls.

Contentious actions may demand dice rolls modelling the chances of players progressing ​​or suffering setbacks, eg Us-vs-Them:-

Game play

Players create characters and a storyteller (or Game Master or GM) creates a game world around them with scenes, locations, antagonists and supporting characters.

Players describe their characters' intentions. The storyteller narrates events and reactions.

When investigating mysteries, storytellers should allow players to progress lines of enquiry without rolling dice. Characters looking in the right place and asking the right questions should always find a clue.

Contested actions may require dice rolls to determine progress. If you feel inspired then feel free to suggest new dice mechanics. Alternatively use d100, or our computerised Us-vs-Them system.


Us-vs-Them fosters party cooperation by asking players to roll dice in the centre of the table at the same time, thus providing a collaborative focus for the simultaneous resolution of actions.

Players resolve actions concurrently. This avoids taking turns in initiative order. Players simply state their intentions and roll dice simultaneously.

Reasonable plans proposed by players normally progress automatically. As a rule of thumb only use Us-vs-Them dice mechanic for contested actions or when characters attempt tasks harder than one in ten people might easily accomplish.

Only players roll dice, but the storyteller may choose to narrate results.

Players roll one dice each.

Order of play

Select number of participating players on the Us-vs-Them app screen.

Players state intentions.

The storyteller declares which characteristics or attributes are relevant to this specific situation.

Calculate an "Us" value by totalling contributions from all friendlies.

Sum all opposition from adversaries as a "Them" value.

Enter these numbers onto the Us-vs-Them app screen to determine target number and dice to roll.

All participating players simultaneously roll one dice each after saying, “Ready, steady, roll!”

All players progress if any player meets or beats target roll.

Otherwise players suffer setbacks, give ground, take losses or progress with consequences.

Setbacks, losses and changing odds may prompt further rolls.

Us and Them values

For difficult actions the storyteller normally declares a characteristic (or a choice of characteristics) appropriate to the current activity, such as a contest of strength, dexterity or intelligence.

One way to calculate Us and Them values involves summing each side's characteristic levels.

For example, add up all strength levels on either side of a brawl, or total each side's dexterity levels in a shoot out, or sum each faction's intelligence levels in a battle of wits.

Indeed you may enter any comparable measure such as number of troops in opposing armies or ships in each fleet, etc.

In addition to competition between individuals or groups, Us-vs-Them can model any contention where numerical values express relative prowess, such as:

Enter these comparable Us and Them values as non-zero positive numbers.

Optionally enter additional advantages unique to either side.

Difficulty levels

Contested actions normally involve totalling comparable competency levels for both Us and Them.

For passive opposition, when only the prevailing environment obstructs player progress, storytellers may enter a difficulty level as a Them value.

An easy way to gauge difficulty level involves estimating the number of people required to normally attempt a task and multiplying by ten.

A task 1 person might attempt gives a Them value of 10 (ie 1×10 = 10).

A task 2 people normally attempt, such as climbing a dangerous mountain, gives a Them value of 20 (ie 2×10 = 20).

A task usually pursued by teams of ten people, such as securing sensitive data from hackers, gives a Them value of 100 (ie 10×10 = 100).

All Them values generate some chance of setback which minimises the need for precision. So, if in doubt, give Them a value of 10.


With Us-vs-Them, if one side holds a unique advantage then enter 1 as their advantage value.

Any number of multiple advantages can increase this score. However subsequent advantages yield diminishing returns.

Opposing advantages cancel out. So only consider differing quantities of advantages. For example two advantages on both sides equals no advantage to either side. Only enter uniquely superior advantages.

Fewer advantages are better. Ideally avoid using advantages. If necessary, try awarding only one advantage.

Potential advantages

See below for examples of potential party advantages.







Mass action

From bronze age armies to clashing space fleets, Us-vs-Them handles any comparable opponents.

For example if your space fleet with 5 capital ships faces an enemy with 7 capital ships then Us=5 and Them=7.

Similarly if your 100 soldiers face 80 enemies then Us=100 and Them=80. But if your soldiers fight with twice the skill of normal troops you may apply an automatic force-multiplier of two and enter Us=200 and Them=80.


Perceiving hidden threats normally utilises dexterity.

Surprise often yields an advantage.

A clever ambush might even give two or more advantages.

At the storyteller's discretion, an unwitting party taken by surprise may suffer immediate setbacks, and a sly ambush could inflict arbitrary casualties by employing convincing camouflage, mechanised weaponry and surprise.

Interpreting dice

Allocating each player different coloured dice means a storyteller can interpret the numbers rolled and narrate individual contributions to an overall result.

With Us-vs-Them, the whole party progresses if any player meets or beats the target roll.

Otherwise characters suffer setbacks, give ground, take losses or progress with consequences where the party might still progress but with negative or unforeseen consequences.

Party progress

In Us-vs-Them, if any player meets or beats the target number then the whole party typically enacts their will or achieves their stated intentions.

Party progress during armed conflict normally forces enemies to suffer losses or give ground.

Alternatively the storyteller may dictate the exact nature of party progress or combatant players could pick from a list, such as forcing an enemy to:


Setbacks generally frustrate party intentions.

Also characteristic levels for strength, dexterity or intelligence may reduce if characters lose a fight or their adversaries get the jump on them.

If the party suffers a setback in combat then players must give ground or suffer casualties. If everyone agrees, then identify a suitable victim to take damage such as an inexperienced or peripheral character, or someone with low dexterity, or the bravest person who took point. Alternatively, allocate damage randomly.

Taking a hit from potentially lethal weapons, like daggers or guns, typically reduces a character's strength level by ten. Whereas a mauling in unarmed combat might reduce strength levels by five.

Where possible resolve damage in ways consistent with your story, for example a duellist scars cheeks or pierces organs, boxers knock-out and assassins slit throats.

Wounded characters tend to die without treatment.

Any characteristic at zero equals incapacitated and entirely vulnerable to capture or coup de grâce.

Armour can keep characteristics from slipping below zero, otherwise negative characteristics means death.

Optionally, superior weapons obsoleting armour, like machine guns or artillery, can create kill-zones with random chances of wounding or killing.

Re-roll tokens

Begin each session by issuing d4 re-roll tokens to each player.

Spending one re-roll token allows every player involved to instantly re-roll their dice.


Consider using d100 for random events like winning roulette or surviving artillery barrages.

Determine a target number by predicting or modelling the percentage chances of an event occurring.

Then roll percentile dice where 00 gives the highest result and 01 the lowest.

Thus an event occurs if players roll equal or under the target number.

(Note: percentile dice use 2 ten-sided dice. One numbered 00, 10, 20 ... 80, 90 for tens and one numbered 0 to 9 for units.)


Unopposed actions simply progress in a reasonable time.

Let narrative rhythm direct the period of story-time covered between dice rolls.

Tactical situations (eg escapes, rescues or skirmishes) can resolve very quickly especially if players describe broad intentions like "escape", "rescue" or "defend".

When appropriate the Storyteller may ask for further dice rolls particularly whenever characters encounter meaningful decisions, such as noticing changes in their environment, adapting tactics, retreating or advancing.

Generating characters


Strength + Dexterity + Intelligence = 40; max 30, min 8.

Distribute 40 over Strength, Dexterity and Intelligence.

Ten equates to average human. Hence a characteristic of twenty equals twice the human average.

Strength includes many physical attributes like health, hardiness and vigour.

Dexterity also covers quick reactions and perception.

Intelligence refers to all mental or intellectual attributes such as knowledge, cognition and resolve.

Specific settings or genres may also suggest additional characteristics such as preparedness or sanity.


Choose a special expertise or item agreed with your fellow players. Actions involving your specialism may allow you a free re-roll or some other benefit.


In simple terms what motives your character to adventure?

Training and equipment

Agree which activities require training and crucial equipment.

Character sheet

Record your character on a character sheet.

Include: Name, Appearance, Specials, Motivation, Background, Training and Equipment.

Plus characteristic level and current value for Strength, Dexterity and Intelligence.

Example character sheet: agent

Name: Harry

Appearance: middle-aged man with darting eyes, wearing a crumpled blue suit, long dark coat and wide-brimmed hat.

Specials: surveillance

Motivation: curiosity

Background: intelligence service

Training: planting bugs

Equipment: wiretap

Characteristic levels and current values:-

Strength 10 (currently 5)

Dexterity 10

Intelligence 20

Up to nine players

With six or more players, consider breaking your group into multiple smaller games.

Us-vs-Them functions best with under five players.

For unavoidably large groups, please see Us-vs-Them for up to nine players.

Offline play

For offline play either save our web pages locally, or copy our stand-alone alternatives for up to nine players.



If you attended last session, or completed a chapter, then add 1 to a characteristic level. Alternatively, with everyone's agreement, gain a specialism based on experience.

Optionally, to help a newcomer catch up, the character with the lowest combined total (strength plus dexterity plus intelligence levels) may receive 2 level-up increments.

Us-vs-Them divides "Us values" by "Them values" to create a ratio. Hence common attributes cancel out. For example, if both sides wield shields then the effect of shields cancels out. Therefore, Us-vs-Them scales indefinitely for antagonists and protagonists of ever increasing prowess.

Game mastery

The storyteller (or Game Master or GM) leads the plot and also holds the final word on adjudicating rules.

Storyteller advice

Wherever possible captivate players with descriptions of actions, places and people.

With a bias towards progressing a shared story, only call for dice rolls if you can think of interesting consequences.

Players frequently pursue unforeseen avenues so avoid becoming too attached to your plans. Consider leaving space to invent supporting characters based on player choices. Full details can describe supporting characters, or treat them as simple adversaries overcome by a single dice roll or interaction.

Players normally adventure without fully knowing all your preparations so you can improvise without risking disappointment. If, by chance, an ad-lib idea proves unconvincing then simply change track by quickly jumping to your next spontaneous thought.

Everyone reacting to each other's imagination helps create a shared narrative. The best stories often emerge during play so try building on player contributions by saying “Yes, and...”

Maximise inclusion and enjoyment.

Us-vs-Them web app

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