Rainworld is a dystopian cyberpunk tabletop RPG designed for traditional asymmetrical play, with one player describing the world inhabited by the characters and the events unfolding in it, and each other player creating and playing as one of those characters.

The rules document is available as a PDF from llemoi.itch.io, alongside a number of pieces of supplementary content; the collected rules material from the core and optional content is also available here.

All Rainworld content is, except where otherwise specified, under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license, attributed to Luke Le Moignan & Kade Archer Peregrine.

To play Rainworld, you'll need a group of people, paper, pencils, and various dice (most prominently, 10-sided dice — preferably two per player). The number of players is flexible, but 4–5 tends to be the sweet spot.

The “What is an RPG?" section is obligatory in Role-Playing Game books. It’s almost never done well. Fortunately, Rainworld is not Dungeons & Dragons in the 1970s; we don’t have to answer the question ex nihilo. D&D itself, and other RPGs like Vampire: the Masquerade have had their cultural impact. RPG culture and rule systems have permeated video games. And thanks to the internet, if you want to witness real people playing RPGs to get an idea what it’s like, you can go on Youtube or download a podcast and do that really easily.

RPGs are sometimes compared to improv theatre, and there is something to that. But while playing a character can be fun, not everybody has the acting skills or, frankly, wants to method act being Throgdarr the all evening. So RPGs also have rules, like a board game: people take turns, choose options. Roll dice to see how their turn goes. If you don’t want to get into character, or only for especially dramatic moments, or whatever, the rules are there as a framework to keep everything going anyway. And if everything keeps going, you can all get to the good bits — whichever ones you personally happen to think those are!

Rainworld, specifically, works like this: One player plays as Control. The other players define characters within Rainworld’s fictional universe, and play as those characters.

Control plays as literally everything else: the whole world. The other fictional people whom the players’ characters will encounter. Monsters. Places. The weather. (It sounds overwhelming, but fortunately, the characters don’t tend to see very much of the world at any one time.) To the extent that RPGs have coherent stories, Control is the director.

Another thing RPGs get compared to is video games. It’s an obvious comparison — a computer program creates a world, you can play a character in it. But Control is not a computer program. Control is a human being — a flexible, creative force with ideas and a sense of humour. Would you all have more fun if, instead of a shootout with the end-of-level boss, you bribed it with ice cream to just go home? A video game can’t let you do that. Control can! (Can, but might not — the asshole end-of-level boss might really want to shoot you.)

Players’ characters don’t have a set list of things they can do, or invisible walls hemming them into the parts of the world there was a level design budget for; if you want to try something, try it!