Story Rules

Story Rules

Legacy’s a game that regularly shifts in scale. 

From a desperate scavenger grappling with a many-spined thing in a ruined building to an army hundreds strong laying siege to an electricity-shrouded fortress.

From brief words shared between a mother and her child to the new traditions laid down over generations.

Your family’s story is found in small moments and in grand epics. In this chapter, you’ll find moves to help you navigate these shifts in the narrative and give your story the full range promised by Legacy.

Adding Adversity

Your world will be full of potential threats and drama, but sometimes you need help putting them all into motion. Use this move when your group wants to add trouble to your game – maybe at the start of a session, or just when you feel a need for new plot threads.

In Want

When the perils looming over your family threaten to come to pass, roll +Needs.

On a 10+ pick one of your Needs. On a 13+, the GM picks another. For each Need selected, the other players pick a crisis it creates for your family:

  • A family member’s in trouble. Someone’s ransoming them, or they’re stranded in the wasteland, or they’re at death’s door.
  • A family asks for aid you can’t easily give. Refuse and lose 3-Treaty on them, or get involved despite your limited resources.
  • Something snuck under your radar. The player picks an option from Uncover Secrets as the first sign of danger, adding it to the map.
  • Your resources run dry. You can’t get new supplies from one gear category this session.

Either the other player or the group then fleshes out the details.

Quick Characters

Your Character is the lead family member in the current age, but others can still have a brief time in the spotlight. When you want to play out a character’s actions in detail but it doesn’t make sense for everyone else’s main characters to be involved, you can instead use Quick Characters.

These are supporting characters: they’re there to assist the party, flesh out the family and give all players a voice in the fiction. You should keep track of the Quick Characters in your family – if they survive a mission, keep their playbook on hand on index cards, scrap paper or in your file archive so people can just grab them when they re-enter the story.

They still use the Character basic moves and stats, but their playbooks are much simpler:

Quick Character Playbook


Split +1, 0, 0, -1 between your stats, and add your family bonus to 1.


Take gear according to your Family’s assets. Describe a particular accessory that’s notable or significant to you.


Masculine, feminine, ambiguous, concealed

Face: Trusting, scowling, angular, worried 

Eyes: Rebellious, squinting, calculating, wise

Body: Muscular, bony, heavyset, graceful 

Name: Ada, Isis, Brigit, Leo, Lux, Cato, Lin, Elijah, Anders, Buffalo, Nemo, Silver.

Sibling, child, cousin, aunt, rival, protege or peer of the family’s main character.


Inherit a move from your Family, and pick one:


When you train a group for a few days, hold 3. When they do what you trained them for, spend hold 1-for-1 to add +1 to their roll result or take any consequences they suffer onto yourself.

When you die, gain 3 more hold. Spend it to give anyone’s roll advantage. Each beneficiary says how your memory inspires them.


Say a narrow field you’re an expert in: scavenging, diplomacy, hunting, etc. When you use your skills, reveal a secret about the situation and get fleeting advantage acting on it.

When you die, reveal a shortcut, secret or stratagem that’s an alternate path to the party’s goal. Add it to the map as if you had triggered Uncover Secrets.


When you break your family’s code, roll +Steel. On a hit they have higher priorities than punishing you. On a 10+ get fleeting advantage when you socialise with their rivals or enemies.

When you die, your Family finally respects your outlook. Say a way they change in your honour.


You have strange abilities. Pick a stat: you can take 1 harm to roll it with advantage. Describe how side effects twist the area or your body.

When you die, terrible energies plague the area. Those that brave the maelstrom can find a Device on your body.


  • Drained
  • Winded
  • Hurt (-1 to a stat)
  • Mangled (-1 to every stat)
  • Dead

Changing Scale

These moves are here to help you transition between the Family level (miles, weeks and hundreds of people) to the Character level (eyesight, minutes, a handful of people).

You Zoom In to start a story with this group of people, with set stakes. You Zoom Out when you’re done with them, and fill in what the other characters did during that time. You can temporarily duck out to the family level to get their assistance without needing to Zoom Out and Zoom In again, so long as the group’s focus remains on this plot thread.

The decision to trigger these moves is taken at the group level: if any player wants to shift the focus, they can suggest it to the group and see if everyone’s on board, though normally it’ll be the GM guiding their use.

Zoom In

When you focus on critical scenes where a handful of people might change the course of history over hours or days, say where you are on the map.

  1. The main characters present say what they’re there to do.
  2. The GM describes details of the environment, or asks the players questions about it.
  3. Other players may create or pick up quick characters to fill out the party.
  4. Characters select gear according to their family’s assets and the established fiction.
  5. Begin play!

The main use of this is to zoom in to the immediate aftermath after a Family move’s resolved. Use the move’s results to inform the starting situation your characters find themselves in. The family move’s effects – good and bad – will still happen, but this allows you to keep the momentum going on a success or try to mitigate the catastrophe on a failure.

Zoom Out

When you move to the Family scale after spending more than a few scenes at the character level, each player whose main character wasn’t involved in those scenes picks one:

  • They found a new place in their family: change their Role.
  • They went scavenging in the wasteland: add 1 Tech to their Family’s stock.
  • They scouted for information: describe a lead that might give you a new Surplus or remove a Need, and get 1 Data.
  • They helped out another Family or Faction: gain 1 Treaty on them.
  • They discovered a new danger: describe it, and say which other Family or Faction it’s threatening.

Briefly describe what the Character got up to and then move to the Family level, describing what actions your families are taking.

If you’re moving to the Family level after spending time with multiple groups of Characters, only the players who never had an on-screen Character should pick options.

Moving the Clock Forward

From its beginnings in the ruins of the Fall to the glittering wonders of the rebuilt future, your Family’s story is one that spans Ages. As you move from generation to generation, you’ll see Families take radically different forms, great changes sweep the homeland, and whole new nations emerge.

When you feel you’ve dealt with the threats and opportunities of the current Age, call for the Age to turn. If nobody objects, go ahead and trigger the move. If anyone objects, they get an opportunity to resolve their unfinished business, and then time moves on. In general, Legacy assumes a given age will last between two and five sessions – the idea is to provide snapshots of your family’s history.

The group can call for different amounts of time to pass depending on how much change they want to see. A few years is enough to shake things up a little while still allowing you to revisit familiar characters and places, while a century or more gives space to really reinvent the world.

The Age Turns

When years and generations pass by, roll +Mood. On a 10+ choose two fortunes and gain 2 Tech. On a 7-9 choose one trial and one fortune and gain 1 Tech. On a miss choose two trials. Then work through the Updating the Map section.

For Fortunes and Trials, see the next section. Note: if an option would take a Family stat above +3, instead gain an appropriate Surplus.

Updating the Map

Each player:

  • Gives the broad story of their Family through the Age.
  • Changes their Doctrine, Lifestyle, Assets and Tradition options as desired.
  • Names a new custom they develop to remember this Age.
  • Adds one new threat, opportunity or faction to the map.
  • Adds/adjusts map elements to fit the Fortunes and Trials chosen.
  • Decides whether to keep their old Character playbook, move their original character to a new playbook, or build a new one from scratch. Then they trigger a role move of their choice.

Consider how technology has improved, and how the fortunes of factions and settlements may have grown and declined. Alter the border between wasteland and homeland to show how dangerous areas have been made safe, or how the danger has corrupted previously safe territory.


  • Your Family suffers persecution and violence, but it pushes them to adapt and grow. Gain a new Family move but gain Need: Justice.
  • Your Family was subsumed or enslaved by another Family, and have only recently managed to break away. Take a move from their playbook, but they get 2-Treaty on you.
  • Starvation and poverty forced your Family to try raiding and thieving, and it pissed people off. Gain 3 Surpluses, your choice, but give 2-Treaty to two other Families.
  • Something monstrous from out of the wasteland took a particular dislike to your Family and has been hounding them ever since. Say some secret you’ve learned about it, gain 2 Tech from scavenged parts of it, but take disadvantage on Family moves against it.
  • A plague ravaged your Family, and no other Families could help. Afterwards, they promise aid in the future. Gain 3-Treaty split between any Families you wish but take Need: Medicine.
  • Your Family saved the Homeland from some great threat, whether invading armies or natural disaster, but at great cost to themselves. Gain +1 Reach and Surplus: Morale, but take Need: Recruits.
  • Your Family fell apart into feuding factions. The eventual victors are stronger, more unified, but lacking refinement. Gain +1 Grasp and Surplus: Leadership, but gain Need: Prestige.
  • Disaster scattered your Family. You abandoned your holdings, but you know how to stay hidden better than ever. Gain +1 Sleight and Surplus: Scouts, but take Need: Land.


  • Your Family goes through a golden age, questioning old philosophies and forging new paths. Gain a new Family move but gain Need: Leadership.
  • Through marriage and trade, you learn a strength of another Family. Take a move from their playbook, but they get 2-Treaty on you.
  • Your Family spends its time brokering deals and making friends. If you erase 2 of your Surpluses by spending them on gifts and trades, you can gain 3-Treaty divided between other Families however you wish.
  • Your Family found a hidden vault still intact from the World Before. Say what its true treasure was and gain 2 Tech from initial scavenging. However, decades of delving have left you isolated; gain Need: Trade.
  • Your Family finds a windfall, whether through scavenging or by absorbing a smaller family. Gain 3 Surpluses of your choice, but it’s left you bloated; gain Need: Morale.
  • Your Family builds a place of safety and commerce, creating a new haven in this land. Gain +1 Reach and Surplus: Prestige, but take Need: Crops.
  • You go to war, whether for justice or spoils. Gain +1 Grasp and Surplus: Weaponry, but someone out there has a grudge. Take disadvantage on all Reach moves against them until they’ve been dealt with for good.
  • A series of messy public disagreements caused many Family members to leave, but it was all according to plan. From their new homes, your exiles send you regular reports on their host’s activities. Gain +1 Sleight and Surplus: Spies, but take Need: Recruits.


Sometimes your family will act on a scale even grander than the standard family moves. Making a permanent impact on the world takes a lot of time and effort, but can be well worth it. To do so, you’ll be using Wonders.

Each Wonder is a particular project. To construct it, you’ll need to look at its five requirements: surpluses that must be invested in the project for it to succeed.

Whenever your family has a surplus that matches a requirement, you can immediately invest it. Erase the surplus, mark off that requirement, and describe what your Family does with that surplus to work towards the project’s completion.

Your Family may build a Wonder slowly over many Ages, or assemble it in a frenzy of activity over a few months, but they always take enough time to put together that others have a chance to respond.

The invested surpluses remain in the world, and are vulnerable to the actions of other players and the GM’s moves. If the fiction would suggest the project has been set back a step, the GM may tell you to erase your mark next to one or more requirements, meaning that you’ll have to invest that resource again. All the invested resources are erased if the project is stopped or killed.

As soon as the project is completed, every other Family must roll in the project’s specific Trials & Fortunes table. For all intents and purposes, this is a Turn of Age, with a new Age starting once it’s been resolved.

To determine the roll modifier, answer these:

  • Does your family have one or more points of Treaty on the Owner of the Project? If so, take +1; if not, take -1.
  • Does your family have one or more surpluses matching the Wonder’s Requirements? If so, take +1; if not, take -1.
  • Will you erase any Surpluses matching the Wonder’s Requirements? If so, take an extra +1 for each Surplus erased. This cannot take your modifier past +3.

On a miss take two Trials, on a 10+ take two Fortunes, and on a 7-9 take a Trial and a Fortune. You choose one of the Fortunes or Trials – the owner picks the second.

The owner of the Wonder doesn’t roll anything; they just reap the benefits and shape the narrative outcome of that wonder’s completion. For major Factions, the owner picks a Trial or Fortune of their choice.

Each project leaves behind a monument that creates a continual benefit. These can provide an attractive target for other Families: in the event that another Family takes control of the Project’s remnant – via force of arms, social manoeuvring, or deception – it won’t provide a bonus to anyone for the remainder of the Age. At the start of the next Age, it will resume providing its benefits to its new owner.

Example Wonder: The Great Network

Your Family managed to pool the greatest minds of your time in an engine of cultural and technological production. Communication flows freely and the salvaged lore of ages past lies at your disposal.


Science, Artisans, Progress, Engineering, Trade.

Permanent Bonus

Whoever has authority over the Network gains Surplus: Progress at the beginning of each Age.


  • Acculturation: Your Family embraced the Owner’s culture in lieu of their own. Adopt the Owner’s Lifestyle for the next Age and Transfer Leadership or Motivation. Tell us what aspect of your culture your people lost, the Owner tells us what you embraced of the Great Network’s culture.
  • Brain Drain: The brightest minds of your Family left to join The Great Network. Tell us who left and the Owner tells us what they have achieved. Transfer Knowledge and Leadership to the Owner and gain 1-Treaty on the Owner, as your former kin intercede in your favour.
  • Archaeological Plunder: Your Family donated (or downright lost) artefacts and relics from the Before to science. Give all your Tech to the Owner, but describe a haunting menace that emerged from their careless research of the past. If you have no Tech to give the menace afflicts your Family instead, as the Owner digs too deep in your domains.
  • Cultural Landslide: The discoveries of the Great Network put your most basic beliefs in check. Tell us what belief was questioned and the Owner tells us how this new notion spread across all the Homeland. Lose your Doctrine for the next Age and Transfer Motivation to the Owner.
  • Overspecialization: With cultural production centred in the Great Network, it was futile to research any innovation. Tell us what tradition your Family held on to above all others, and the Owner tells us of the consequences. Gain a new Family move, but split 4-Treaty as you see fit between the Owner and a Family or Faction of your choice. Those groups provided for what you were lacking during this Age.
  • Dangerous Knowledge: The Great Network popularised a dangerous new technology or practice with dramatic consequences for your Family. The Owner tells us what it is and you tell us why you were particularly vulnerable to it. You and whoever else the Owner decides gain Need: Safety, Justice or Medicine.
  • Cultural Isolation: Your Family feared being swallowed whole by the Great Network, and decided that xenophobia was the only possible answer. Tell us what sacrifices were made. You set your Reach to -1 for the next Age and must Hold Together as soon as the next age begins. But you give the Owner nothing.


  • School of Thought: Your Family’s wise ones created a lasting pillar of knowledge. The Owner tells us what concept from the Great Network you embraced and you tell us how you improved it. You gain the Owner’s Alliance Move for the next Age and Share Artisans or Safety.
  • Joint Venture: The brightest minds of your Family joined The Great Network project. Tell us how they made your Family proud, and the Owner tells us why most never returned home. You and the Owner both gain 2-Data.
  • The Great Finding: The Great Network found a ruin in your lands, full of artefacts and relics from Before. You and the Owner salvage 2-Tech each. Also, name 3 Surpluses that can be found there, and The Owner describes the risks that need to be braved in order to acquire them.
  • Paradigm Shift: The discoveries of the Great Network validated your most basic beliefs and aligned them with contemporary lines of thought. Tell us what aspect of your culture was embraced across the Homeland and the Owner tells us how people changed it over time. Any Family who gives you 2-Treaty gains your Doctrine for the next Age in addition to their own. The Owner gets it for free.
  • Research Breakthrough: The cultural production of the Great Network fuelled your Family’s research and innovation. Tell us what tradition they decided to elevate above all others. You gain a new Family move, either from your playbook or the Owner’s. Give 2-Treaty to the Owner out of gratitude and respect.
  • Radical Notion: The Great Network spread social awareness to all levels of your Family. Tell us what changed in your hierarchy. The Owner tells us how it affected their Family as well. Your Character and the Owner’s start the next Age with a bonus Envoy move.
  • Cultural Integration: Your Family embraced change and become an integral part of the broader culture ushered in by the Great Network. Tell us how it changed your Family’s essence. Take 1-Treaty on each other Family and Faction and give 2-Treaty to the Owners.