Earlier this month, Prismatic Wasteland put out a blog post challenging people to come up with a new mechanic, give it a name, and post it by the end of the month. I have not done this. Instead, I’m taking this opportunity to post a resolution system I had kicked around for a few days back in 2018, because even though I’ve never ended up using it for anything, I think it’s kinda neat, and if I don’t publish it now then I probably never will. I call it Hand of Exhaustion.

At a high level, this mechanic was an early attempt at solving two goals:

  1. Make a card-based resolution system that actually benefits from using cards, rather than just being a glorified d13. Having a hand is a good way to get a good benefit from using cards.
  2. Combine metacurrency with damage. This is something I also did in Ikaros, but in a completely different way. Having a hand is a good way to track damage.

By using a hand to both keep of cards you can swap in and keep track of damage, we can solve both problems with a single mechanic!


Characters have a few groups of stats:

  • Facts
    • One belief
    • One vice
    • One trait
  • Skills
    • One profession
    • Two interests
  • Equipment
    • One piece of signature equipment


When a character needs to see if they succeed at a test, they flip one card from their deck (each person at the table has their own). If they have at least one skill that would make them better at their chosen task, they may flip an additional card. If their equipment could conceivably help, they may flip an additional card for that as well. Pairs (or triples!) is a critical success. Otherwise, take the highest card and compare it to a target number between 6 and 13 set by the Guide:

  • If the value of the highest card in the flip is equal to or higher than the target number, or if a critical success was flipped, the player has succeeded at their goal. The cards they flipped go into the discard pile.
  • If the value of the highest card is less than the target number and no pair was flipped, the Guide assigns the player either a condition or a twist. On a twist, the player doesn’t get what they wanted, and the situation has to change in a way that’s exciting. On a condition, the card with the highest value among the cards that the player flipped is placed in their hand. As players fail tests, they accumulate low ranking cards in their hands.
  • Aces count as 1, Jacks as 11, Queens as 12, and Kings as 13.


Players also have a hand of cards, starting at three cards at the beginning of the session. Players may freely talk about the contents of their hands.

  • If the character is attempting something that one of their facts would make easier, the player may play a card from their hand to add to the cards they’re flipping. They must choose which card to play from their hand before flipping cards from the deck.
  • If two or more of their facts would make their task easier, they may still only play a single card, but they may choose to add it after seeing the result of the flip.
  • Cards added to the flip by using facts count towards pairs.
  • When the player’s hand runs out, they immediately draw three more cards from the deck.
  • When the deck runs out, the discard is shuffled back into it.
  • There are two ways to remove cards from a player’s hand without spending them:
    • If a player chooses a course of action that puts their character in trouble while also being in line with one of their facts, they may discard a single card.
    • If the character rests for an hour, they may discard a single card. If they rest overnight, they may discard any number of cards.


If a player ever has four cards of the same color in their hand, they are feeling unwell, and can no longer play cards of that color in a flip until they have rested for an hour. If they ever have five cards of the same color in their hand, their character is overwhelmed and cannot take action until they have rested overnight.

  • Black: physical exhaustion
  • Red: mental exhaustion


I’ve never used this system for any games, and I’m not really sure if I ever will. Does it work? Maybe. Is it fun? Possibly. If you do decide to give it a try, please let me know how it works out for you by messaging my Mastodon profile at dice.camp.