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Adventures? No thank you.

The OSR is pretty metal. And metal rules. But it’s fairly far away from the source material of Tolkien and the eclectic, rustic, anachronistic little British gentry that were the center of his stories. 

This is an OSR(ish) game that’s about living in the cozy under-hill homes of the halflings.

What do you do in Under Hill, By Water?

  • This game is about capturing your aunt’s escaped ornery goat. 
  • This game is about growing the biggest turnip for the Harvest Festival.
  • This game is about gathering rare ingredients for a birthday feast. 
  • This game is about being simple and silly. 

What's the game like?

Under Hill, By Water is a stand-alone game with parts and procedures familiar to fans of old-school TTRPGs. It's explicitly a game about the quiet pastoral life of halflings so a lot of fat from dragons and/or dungeons has been trimmed off. There are tons of flavorful randomizers to make sure your halfling's life is quiet, but never boring. 

The book is split into three parts:

  • Chapter 1 covers the basics of being a tiny little gentle person. Players use this chapter to create their characters and GMs use this chapter to create the characters’ home village.
  • Chapter 2 covers the rules for ambling around the countryside, getting into nasty business, and cozying up to your fire at the end of the day. GMs and players use this chapter to understand the basic mechanics of the game. 
  • Chapter 3 details the flow of the four seasons and the random events that trouble your peaceful pastoral life. The GM uses this chapter to randomly create scenarios for the players.

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CategoryPhysical game
Rated 4.9 out of 5 stars
(38 total ratings)
AuthorRise Up Comus
GenreRole Playing
TagsCozy, halfling, OSR, Tabletop role-playing game


Buy Now$10.00 USD or more

In order to download this RPG you must purchase it at or above the minimum price of $10 USD. You will get access to the following files:

Under Hill By Water.pdf 2 MB

Development log


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Hi, I'm a little confused about the Profession skill. It's important for many rolls and for a wealth roll in winter, but I can see no way of raising that skill (except if you're a Dulkeen).

Can it be played solo?

Hi there! There are not solo rules in the book, so you would need to use other oracle systems to supplement your solo experiences.

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If anyone would like to play this online, feel free to use this character keeper I made. It has a tab for each character that auto-populates their stats, and a GM page for notes, NPCs, etc.

(Shared with Josh's blessing.) 

Love this, but little confused on how you determine skills at the beginning. Unfamiliar with the term 1 in 6 chance as opposed to choosing or rolling like the other set up steps have. Is it everything starts at 1 and is modified by the attribute rolls only(or if you're the one stock that gives 4 points)? Are there no other starting skills points?

And also I'm guessing the roll for party success is the same as a skill roll(get the target number or lower)? Doesn't say how to determine success specifically.

Hi there! Good questions.

  • The first piece of advice I’ll give it think of your skills less like “I need to roll to see if I can do this” and more “Absent a player-driven strategy, if there’s a risk, you can roll instead to see if it turns out okay.”

  • You’re right to think that everybody starts with 1 (in 6) for each skill. This is only modified by attributes for Aldwins/Vonhnkars. Dulkeen have starting skill points to add to their initial ratings.

  • And yep! For party success, you’re rolling X-in-6, where X is based on your preparation. If you roll your rating or lower, huzzah!


Thank you for clarifying! :)

Very excited to dig into this, and also curious about a print or POD version. As I am impatient and want to get it printed, is there a possibility of making a version without the background layer by default so it’s easier to send to a print shop?

Of course! You’ll notice that the text, the background layer, the art, and the explanatory text are all on different layers to facilitate printing (or personal preferences) and optimize accessibility. There are instructions on turning off the layers in the front matter (p. iii).

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I, too, would like to see a print version of this.

Dear Rise Up Comus : do you think it can be cool to add a fan-made french translation of your game ?


I would welcome any translation help that anybody could offer!


is there a print version available? 


There is not a print version currently - PDF only. People have print and bound it though (example: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1t8BnZh45a-bSgqPwo1COPpUxsHMRz8y3/view?usp=sharing).

I will point out that the PDF is optimized for tablets and screenreaders, has layers that you can turn on/off for printing, and is thoroughly hyperlinked. An easy read on your device.


I just want to take a second to point out how incredible that printed copy looks.


This game is the perfect departure from the bombastic, adventurous rpgs of the day. The creativity and heart present in this game makes it genuinely charming and fun. 


This is a legitimately beautiful game of halflings and their small-shire dramas. It is absolutely worth your time and attention. 

this looks wonderful! how complex would you say the ruleset is? my group can be a little stubborn about branching out into new systems. 


"Not complex, but random" is my best answer to that. By and large, the flow of the game is probably merely handled by GM adjudication--similar to how things are outlined in the OSR anti-canon codex the Principia Apochrypha. The bulk of the game is randomizers for both players and GMs to create characters, neighbors, villages, seasonal events, etc. The rules themselves only come up sometimes and they're usually resolved with a die roll or two.

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I really really like a lot of things about this game, but I find the presence of such relatively involved combat rules to be somewhat baffling.  Some much of rest of the book is fabulous, and drives straight at that 'small local problems' vibe, and then you have several pages of attack order and 'what happens if you get hurt too much' wedged between "What has it gots in its pockets?" and FEASTS for heaven's sake.  Feels very weird to give it even so much attention as you did. 

When I run this game, I will probably discard that entire section.


Ok? I would much rather have rules included than not. They don’t seem out of place to me. 


I am absolutely in love with this game. Are there any plans to do a print on demand version or is one already available?


I don't have any active plans at the moment. I'd have to learn more about it, honestly! I'm glad you got a kick out of the game though!


Well, if you're interested in learning please let me know. I'd be glad to help out. (I've published for years on DriveThruRPG, though Lulu would probably be much easier if you're unfamiliar with PoD publishing)


Please take up the offer and let this be print on demand for Lulu or DTRPG. I'd buy it in a heartbeat!


Things are happening!




Are things still happening? :)

Yes! In the time scale of indie RPGs, yes! I admit this is slow going, but things are still happening. I so appreciate you’re enthusiasm, it means a lot.