Online Tabletop Roleplaying Game

About Fabletop


Fabletop was launched on December 21, 2011 and is currently still in Beta.

It is developed by Joe Lesko, an independent game designer/web developer in Silicon Valley, USA.


Inspiration for the Fabletop system came from many story-centric RPGs with light-weight rules. Many are available as free PDFs.

Also, the Thursday Knights livestream, a group of gamers who run very story-centric games each week.


Special thanks to:

• Brandon, Nick, Pete, Chris, Jim, caffeine, & blacksmiths everywhere.

• All of my faithful minions Beta testers.

Common Questions

Why does Fabletop only support chat?  Will you add video?

It's true that chat doesn't always capture the human factor of being around a real game table, but there are a lot of advantages to sticking with a chat-only experience:

  • All of the interactions are recorded in the chatlogs, which can be referenced and enjoyed later
  • Valuable game time is never wasted on technical issues (microphone, camera, etc)
  • Players are often more comfortable speaking in-character without having to "act"
  • Players may be less self-conscious about their appearance or voice, especially when playing with people they have just met online
  • You have extra time to think about and craft quality responses
  • You can play quietly, without disturbing anyone else in your household
  • It is technically easier for the server to deliver a reliable experience (e.g. no lag)
  • It is low bandwidth, making it usable on virtually any internet connection

Why doesn't Fabletop support more rules systems?  (D&D, Pathfinder, etc.)

There are certainly a lot of interesting and cool game systems out there, but there are also a lot of advantages to staying with a single built-in system:

  • Everyone in the community can play at any table with little or no learning curve. There is no system fragmentation or edition wars.
  • Most tabletop RPGs have mechanics that require a lot of back-and-forth communication between the GM and players, which can be tedious in a chat-based interface. The Fabletop rules are designed to minimize the amount of coordination needed.
  • The interface can be fully integrated between the chat window, character sheets, and die roller. Other systems would require a lot of configuration to get similar results.
  • Apps that support the complexity of most tabletop RPGs often end up with a clunky interface filled with pull down boxes and text fields. This feels less like playing a game, and too much like work.

Why is Fabletop free-form?  Will you add more crunch (e.g. items, damage systems)?

There are literally hundreds of computer RPGs and MMOs that focus on leveling and grinding (aka powergaming) and deliver that kind of experience better than any tabletop RPG can.

Fabletop focuses on the unique strength of tabletop games, which is creativity and collaborative storytelling.

Having fewer rules gives to more creative freedom for players and GMs. Fabletop sessions move at a satisfying pace, without getting bogged down in minutiae.

Why does Fabletop use a d6 dice pool system?

I evaluated nearly every dice mechanic ever made, from the classic 80's era systems to modern indie RPGs. The current system is used for a few reasons:

  • The face of a d6 is a perfect square, which fits perfectly in the chat window and is big enough to include a readable glyph. In comparison, a d20 has a very small triangular face.
  • Rolls indicate both the character's skill level (# of dice rolled) and the final result in a succinct way.
  • It accounts for varying levels of success, versus a binary success/fail.
  • Counting successes is simpler than adding and subtracting numbers.
  • It is purely visual, which is less distracting to the ongoing story than math formulas.
  • Special symbols (stars, moons, skulls) are more fun than numbers. =)

How are the dice rolls generated?

All of the rolls are generated on the server to prevent cheating. It uses the standard POSIX pseudorandom number generator.

The results are unpredictable and statistically correct, which is as good as (and arguably more fair than) a real-life die roll.

I had a bunch of bad rolls.  Are the dice buggy?

The nature of randomness is that it is sometimes very streaky. From the outside it might look like there is something wrong, but remember that it is human nature to read significance into random events.

It has also been found in experiments that we feel the pain of loss more heavily than good fortune. This is probably why we tend to focus more on the times when we had bad luck, rather than being thankful for our good luck.

How do I figure out the odds of success?

Here are the probability curves (1-in-3 chance of a Star):

Note that the more dice that are rolled, the more predictable the results will be. This could lead to less interesting games if everyone has very high stats.

Regardless, don't let the math get in the way of telling a good story.