How to Play The Contract

Required to Play

Several 10-sided dice, a dice-rolling app, or our Discord bot

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Access to this website or a printer

The Contract is a Tabletop Roleplaying Game

  • One person acts as Game Master (GM).
    • The GM referees the action and controls the world, mission, and NPCs (Non-Player Characters).
  • The other Players control personal characters called Contractors.
    • Contractors risk their lives in deadly missions for fantastic powers.
    • Most Players have several Contractors, but they may only play one per session.
Only the GM requires a full understanding of the game's rules. Brand new Players can easily create a Contractor and learn as they play.


  • Most sessions of The Contract are self-contained missions called Contracts.
  • The attending Contractors are invited, briefed, and complete the Contract in a single sitting.
  • Only the GM knows the full details of that session’s Contract, including the objective and the obstacles the Contractors might encounter.
  • At the end of the Contract, the GM declares which of the attending Contractors achieved the stated objective. Those Contractors are rewarded with a Gift.
    • Gifts include supernatural powers, artifacts, and the ability to craft extraordinary items.
  • The GM earns rewards for their own Contractors as well.

Play with Anyone

  • It doesn't matter who shows up to each session.
  • A different person may act as GM each time you play.
  • A different set of Contractors can attend each Contract.
  • Many Players have no in-person group and play entirely online.


What price would you pay to achieve your wildest dreams?

What risks would you take to change the world?

For a select few, these questions aren’t hypothetical. They’re an offer.

We wager everything in the Contracts: our morals, our humanity, our very lives.

But the Harbingers are true to their word. Our pay transcends cash and coin.

Let me tell you about the day I accepted the offer that changed my life.

The day I signed The Contract.

The Talent

At the start of the session, the GM runs an introductory scene for each Contractor.

This story starts with me cuffed to a chair in a police interrogation room.

I was all alone. No doubt the detective was hoping I’d psyche myself into confessing. I adjusted my chair, twisted my body, and flipped off the camera.

The door opened, and a strange man stepped inside. Between the combover, the sunset aviators, and the retro, orange button-down shirt, he looked more like a sleazy Hollywood producer from the 70s than a cop.

This guy’s outfit seemed tackier every time I saw him.

He slumped into the chair across from mine and flashed a grin that sent a shiver down my spine.

“My, my, Lucy Kate. What sort of trouble have you gotten yourself into this time?”

“You,” I said. “You’re that freak that kept trying to talk to me at the bar.”

“And you wouldn’t hear me out.”

“Damn straight. I got the fuck out of there.”

“Yes, and I was your Uber driver. And even after that incredible coincidence, you still wouldn’t listen.”

“And then at the riot. . .”

“That one I understand. You looked busy.”

“Now you’re here.”

“Now I’m here. And you are a captive audience.”

“So you’re a cop. Of course. That explains the stalker vibes. Tell me, why do you pigs find chicks like me so irresistible? You jealous?”

The interrogation room’s door swung open again, and in walked the detective carrying a fresh cup of coffee. He spotted the man sitting across from me, jumped, and drew his gun.

“How the fu— freeze!”

The man in orange smiled. “Wonderful idea.”

He snapped, and the detective froze.

When I say “froze,” I don’t just mean he held still. He didn’t breathe; he didn’t tremble. His mug stopped mid-air, leaving a ribbon of black coffee just hanging there. It was like someone hit reality’s pause button.

“That’s better,” sighed the man in orange.

I took an unsteady breath just to make sure I still could. “Wha— what the fuck are you?”

“Not a cop. Hopefully that’s clear enough at this point.” He pointed a finger-gun at the room’s camera, made like he was pulling the trigger, and the camera’s circuits popped and sizzled. “I am a harbinger.”

  • At the start of the session, a mysterious and powerful NPC known as a Harbinger contacts each Contractor.
  • The Harbinger gathers the Contractors together and briefs them on their objective.
  • Experienced Contractors have quick introductions, but brand-new Contractors usually require some convincing. . .

“A harbinger,” I repeated, too freaked to say much else.

“They call me ‘The Talent.’ That’s what I’m good at: finding those rare few with true talent, true ambition. And you, Lucy Kate, are one of those people.”

“Me? I’m just some freak who got arrested at a riot.”

“A riot that you started. Don’t sell yourself short.” He sat up and looked into my eyes. “Why'd you do it?”

The Offer of a Lifetime

"I guess I go a little crazy on full moons."

"The real reason."

I swallowed. “Because I’m pissed. Because there’s people starving in the streets below empty, luxury condos. Because when a cop murders someone, they get a paid vacation. I start riots because I would rather die than live in a world like this.”

“Yes! That’s the fire I’m looking for. You fight a system you hate, despite the fact you’re doomed to fail. It’s inspiring.”

“Doomed to fail?”

The Talent shrugged. “You know the story by now. People riot. People die. Nothing ever changes. At the end of the day, no normal human— not even one like you— has the power to really change anything. That’s why I’m here.”

  • Most Contractors start as normal humans without powers.
  • Only the most skilled and driven individuals are invited to be Contractors.

“You’re here to rub it in my face, wizard?”

“No! I’m here to offer you a job, remember? But it’s more than a job, really. It’s a shot at greatness, an opportunity to truly make a difference. All you have to do is complete some tasks, and I’ll awaken the incredible powers you have locked inside.”

  • Each time a Contractor claims victory on a Contract, they receive a Gift Credit that unlocks their supernatural potential.
    • Victorious or not, Contractors always receive Experience which can be spent to advance their skills.
  • Each Gift Credit grants a new Gift or improves an existing Gift.
  • Different Contractors receive their Gifts in different ways. The Harbinger may introduce them to mentors, send them unique items, infuse their essence with magic, subject them to genetic augmentation, or do anything that fits the Contractor's concept.
  • Each Player creates custom Gifts for their Contractors using the Gift Builder.
  • No two Contractors share the same tricks.

“So that’s the offer? Do some jobs and you’ll give me superpowers? What’s the catch?”

“No catch!” he laughed. “I don’t rely on trickery. The jobs can be quite dangerous, of course, but you’re used to that, aren’t you?”

“I am.”

“That’s what I’m saying! So,” he said, extending his hand, “shake on it?”

Signing the Contract
  • Contractors go on Contracts willingly.
    • The same goes for Players. You are never obligated to play a session.
  • When individuals agree to become Contractors, they are Imbued.
    • Imbuing accelerates their learning, makes them more resilient to mental trauma, and gives them an uncanny ability to escape certain death. . . sometimes.
  • Contractors, especially more advanced ones, spend the Downtime between Contracts pursuing their ambitions, forming alliances, trading items and favors, and dealing with the enemies they’ve made on their rise to power.

I slipped my handcuffs and took The Talent's hand.

“Fuck it. I’m in.”

What happened next. . . Look, I’m not a poet, but I’ll try to explain it.

It was like I was a drop of rain, and I landed in the ocean. The lines separating me from everything else disappeared. I saw it all: past, present, and future. Every choice, every accident, was like a door leading to a different universe, and I had already gone through all of them a thousand times. You understand what I’m saying?

Shit, I give up. I told you I wasn’t any good with words.

I woke up in a nearby alleyway. I was me again. The Talent was gone, and the only sign he’d ever been there was a new tattoo on the palm of my right hand:

Room 231 of the Starlight Motel 7:00 PM

Take Bradley on flight UA 1294 and ensure he survives

My first Contract.


Character Sheets
  • Your Contractor's Character Sheet tracks their stats, status, Gifts, equipment, and more.
  • The Contract offers online and printed Character Sheets.
  • At game time, Players access their online sheets on their devices or print them out in advance.
  • If you ever need to reference a rule, you can tap on any element of your online Character Sheet to learn more.
An Online Character Sheet


The Starlight Motel struck me as the sort of place you ended up after a night of bad decisions. Not even that twilight sky— no sun or moon in sight, casting everything in shades of violet— could turn this parking lot motel into somewhere that felt safe.

I climbed the steps to the second floor and knocked on the door labeled 231. No answer. The windows were black.

“You’re looking for Bradley,” came a voice from behind. It belonged to a pale teenager wearing a pleather duster and watches on both wrists.

“Are you here on Contract?” they asked.

“You could say that.”

“Then we are working together. I am Five.”

“You look a little older than that.”

“That is my name. I am seventeen years old. I think.”

Art by Mopipoe

“Uh huh. Look, kid, I don’t really need a sidekick.”

Five stared at me. “You must be new. We will need all the help we can get.”

“You’ve done this before?”

Five nodded.

“So you have powers.”

Another nod.

“Okay. I’ll work with you," I said. "My name's Lucy. Don't get in my way.”

“Same to you.”

Contractor Status and Teams
  • A Contractor's Status is determined by how many times they've claimed victory on a Contract.
  • Newbies have fewer than four victories.
  • Novice Contractors have 4-9 victories, Seasoned have 10-16, Professionals have 17-24, and Veteran Contractors have claimed victory 25 times or more.
  • Certain Gifts are only available to Seasoned or Veteran Contractors.
  • Only Veteran Contractors may attend solo Contracts.
  • All Contractors invited to a given Contract must be of the same Status or within 5 victories of all others.


The click-clacking of cowboy boots echoed up the stairwell. The man attached had one arm, a revolver on each hip, and a mustache that would put Yosemite Sam to shame. His sheriff’s star winked at me.

“Great," I muttered. "Another cop.”

Five nodded. “Bo.”

As the man approached, his face cracked into a smile. “Five! Here to pick up a new timepiece?”

“No. We are on Contract.”

“We’ve gotta work on your sense of humor, Five.” He turned to me and held out his hand. “Looks like we've got ourselves a team. The name’s Bo Perkins. Pleasure to meet you.”

“Fuck off, pig.”

Bo’s smile disappeared. “I don’t like that attitude. Not one bit.”

Five stiffened. “She is new.”

“Ah. Well, little miss sunshine, as long as we’re bein’ candid with each other, I don’t think I like you either. You look like a good-fer-nothin' punk. Now I’m sure I could uncover enough dirt to put you away for a long time, but, unless you signed a very different contract than I did, I think we ought to put aside our differences and work together.”

  • Contractors must work together to achieve the Contract's objective, but they may have opposing ambitions.
    • Lucy wants to destroy capitalism.
    • Bo wants to create a police state utopia.
  • In many Playgroups, realpolitik and Player-vs-Player (PvP) conflicts occur during and outside of Contracts.


“Fine," I said. "All we gotta do is give some dude a ride on an airplane.”

Bo scoffed. “Yeah, I’m sure it’ll be an absolute cakewalk. Now listen, I’ve been a detective for twenty years. I know Five’s got their own set of tricks. What are you good at?”

"Well. . ."

Lucy's Attributes
Tap on any Attribute for more details
3 Brawn
4 Dexterity
2 Perception
2 Charisma
2 Intellect
Attributes describe your intrinsic strengths and weaknesses
  • Attributes are rated between 1-5.
    1. Poor
    2. Average
    3. Good
    4. Superb
    5. World-class
  • Your Attributes' values determine many of your other stats, such as movement speed, Mind (mental fortitude), and Body (physical fortitude).
Lucy's Abilities
Tap on any Ability for more details

2 Alertness

1 Animals

3 Athletics

4 Brawl

1 Crafts

1 Culture

0 Drive

0 Firearms

1 Influence

1 Investigation

1 Medicine

1 Melee

0 Occult

1 Performance

0 Science

4 Smuggling

0 Stealth

1 Survival

0 Technology

5 Thievery

Abilities define your learned skills and knowledge
  • Abilities are rated 0—5.
  • Even a single rank in an Ability indicates training or experience in that field. 
  • Abilities are only used in dice rolls. They do not grant stats.
  • You may invent your own Secondary Abilities.
    • They must be more specific than the Primary Abilities.
    • In return, you receive a bonus (-2 Difficulty to all non-Combat rolls) when you use them.
    • Lucy's Smuggling Ability is a Secondary Ability; it is unique to her.
    • Secondary Abilities can not grant any supernatural effects.

Rolling Dice

I chewed on Bo's question. “What am I good at? Causing trouble.”

“Big surprise. Well, the plane leaves in two hours. Let’s give ‘er a knock and get this show on the road.”

Five shook their head. “Already knocked. No answer. And the door is locked.”

“Well shit,” sighed Bo. “Suppose I could go talk to the manager—”

I set down my backpack and pulled out my crowbar.

“What in the hell do you think you’re doing, miss?”

“Causing trouble.”

I slid the crowbar between the door and its frame and gave a tug. The crackling of wood echoed down the hall, and the door fell off its hinges.

“So much for subtlety,” Bo grumbled, pushing past me into the room. “Bradley? You here, Bradley? Bra— AGH!” 

A massive creature crashed into the cop, pinning him to the ground. A maw of slavering, razor-sharp fangs opened above him, ready to go for the kill. I raised my crowbar to brain the thing, but Five caught my wrist and flipped on the lights. 

“It appears that Bradley is a dog.” 

“WOOF! WOOF!” stated Bradley before licking Bo’s face with a steak-sized tongue. 

Bo struggled under Bradley's weight, fending off his kisses. “A dog? Thing’s a gat-dammed bear!” 

“Caucasian mountain dog,” said Five, guiding the beast off of Bo. “It smells like he has been eating roadkill.”

I tried not to laugh. "Looks like you've got your hands full, Five. Come on, Bo. Let's search the apartment."

  • Most of the time, controlling your Contractor is as simple as telling the GM what you'd like to do.
  • When you attempt an action that is dangerous or might not succeed, the GM may call for a roll to determine the outcome.
  • The GM declares an Attribute, an Ability, and the Difficulty.
    • If the Difficulty is not specified, it is 6 by default.

Player: "I want to investigate the apartment"

GM:"Roll + , Difficulty -"

  • Add up your ratings in the relevant Attribute and Ability and roll that many 10-sided dice.
  • The number each die lands on contributes to the Outcome.
    • +2 for each 10 (some dice use 0)
    • +1 for each 6 (Difficulty) or higher
    • -1 for each 1

+ = Roll - Dice

Outcome: -

  • The Outcome determines the result of your Action
    • 6+ Exceptional success
    • 4–5 Complete success
    • 1–3 Partial success, or a success with a complication
    • 0 Failure
    • -1 Botch, something goes horribly wrong.

“You feel a pulse under all that fur, Five?”

Five pushed their hand into Bradley's fur.


Advanced Dice Rolling

There was a moment of silence. Bradley’s tongue slid over his razor fangs in a breathless mimicry of panting.  

I shook my head. “Wild. I mean, I’ve seen the videos of werewolves and ghosts and shit on CryptoLeak, but none of the vampire ones are confirmed.” 

“Look at this,” said Five, pointing their phone’s camera at Bradley. “He doesn’t appear on film. Even so, I am sure if we live-streamed in public—” 

Bo held up his hand. “Absolutely not. Goin’ viral is the last thing we need. We’ve got a flight to catch, and as far as the US Government is concerned, this thing’s a WMD. Lucy, grab the leash; you’re our handler.” 

“Me? Five seems better with dogs.” 

“Yeah, but Five couldn’t talk their way into a timeshare presentation. No offense, Five.” 

Five shrugged. “They are often scams.”

“But sneaking contraband should be second nature to a punk like you,” he said, offering me the leash. “Unless you’re yellow.” 

I snatched the leash from his hand. “I took this job for a chance to change the world. I’ll do whatever it takes.”

I will. . .

GM: "Roll Dexterity + Ledgerdemain, Difficulty -."

+ = Roll - Dice


The Mission

Bradley and I boarded first with the elderly and uniformed military personnel. I gave him the window seat, took the aisle for myself, and saved the middle seat for Five.

Bo slumped into the aisle seat across from mine. “Well color me impressed, Lucy. We made it on board without getting arrested. Now we just have to survive the flight. And the other passengers.”

“What about ‘em?”

“You didn’t notice?” he whispered. "Looks like we’re heading to Hawaii with a band of monster hunters.” 

“You’re fucking kidding.”  

“Keep your cool. Chances are they’re nothing but charlatans and scam artists. ‘Course I can’t say the same for the pair of air marshals in row 35.”  


Five squeezed past me to their seat and started petting Bradley. “The dog looks different. Longer fangs. Pointed ears. Red eyes.” 

“He’s getting hungry,” I said. “When he snapped at that dog, he looked like a full-on demon.”

The flight attendants finished their presentation. The plane lurched into motion. 

"Maybe he will eat my roast beef sandwich,” Five said, rummaging through their bag. Bradley sniffed the sandwich once, snorted, and started licking at the arteries in Five’s wrists. 

The plane shot down the runway with a mighty rumble, and we were away. It was about now I started to panic. 

“Fuck this. We’re not dog trainers. We aren’t priests. Why the fuck did he choose us for this job?”

Bo scoffed. “This ain't Ocean’s 11, sweety.”

“The fuck does that mean?”

“He means they did not pick us for our specific talents. These jobs are more like,” Five paused, “like an escape room. Except all the puzzles are impossible. If you want to win, you have to cheat.”

Problem Solving
  • Contractors may not be suited for the Contracts they attend.
  • Most Contracts demand outside-the-box solutions to critical situations. 
  • Violence is a risky tactic, not the assumed solution.
    • Trying to fight your way through every Contract will earn you a one-way trip to the graveyard.
  • The missions that GMs run as Contracts are called Scenarios.
  • New GMs are given 5 Scenarios to help them start running The Contract.
  • After you play in a user-created Contract, its Scenario write-up is revealed to you, allowing you to run it for others.
  • Unlocked Scenarios include notes from GMs who previously ran it as well as Journal entries written by the Contractors who attended.
  • Playing in an online Contract is a great way to unlock content for your own Playgroup.

Taking Inventory

“He wants blood,” I said, pulling Five’s wrists away from Bradley. “Human blood.” 

“Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink,” muttered Bo. “Unless, of course, we do something drastic.”

I leaned close to Bo. “What are you saying? We feed him a person?” 

“Seems like things are heading that way, one way or another,” he said, nodding towards the demonic dog currently trying to lick its way through the skin on Five’s neck. 

“I’m gunna be fucking sick. There has to be another way.”  

“I’m listenin’ for bright ideas, sugarplum, but I ain’t hearin’ any.”

I wracked my brain. “We’re so stupid. We could have gotten donor blood on our way to the airport, or at least some syringes. Instead we’ve got jack shit.” 

“I have syringes,” said Five.

“Excuse me?”

“I am type-1 diabetic.”

  • You specify your equipment on the "Stock" tab of your Character Sheet.
  • You can list any equipment you would reasonably be able to acquire.
  • You can carry up to Brawn x 15 pounds without it affecting your movement.
    • Most Playgroups only calculate how much equipment weighs if it seems like a Contractor is carrying too much.
  • Your equipment list can be as detailed or vague as you like. However,
    • if it isn't listed on your sheet, you don't have it.
Weapons and Armor
  • Weapons and Armor are separated into broad categories with specific stats.
  • With the appropriate Gifts, any sort of weapon, even silly ones, can be viable.
Knife or dagger
(Dex or Brawn) + (Brawl or Melee)
Full-sized edged (sword, axe)
Brawn + Melee
Edgeless thrusting (rapier, spear)
Dexterity + Melee
Greatsword, giant axe
Brawn + Melee
Dexterity + Firearms
Dexterity + Firearms
Click Here for a complete list of weapon stats
Armor Rating
Penalty to Physical Actions
Street clothes
Rugged clothes
Armored clothing
Flack jacket and helmet
Plate Armor
Click Here for a complete list of armor stats
Each Character Sheet features an expandable Weapons reference below the Equipment section.

Getting Hurt

“Five, I could kiss you.” 

“Please do not.” 

“Give me one of those syringes. Bo, hand me that water bottle. I’m going to the bathroom.”

You ever try to draw blood from yourself? It isn’t easy, especially with turbulence.

  • Body represents your physical fortitude.
  • Its value is calculated based on your Brawn Attribute. 
  • All regular humans have between 5 and 8 Body.
  • When your physical fortitude is tested, the GM may ask you to roll your rating in Body in place of the standard Attribute + Ability.
  • Injuries are tracked individually on your Character Sheet.
  • An Injury’s Severity determines how deadly it is, how difficult it is to treat, how long it takes to heal, and what kind of lasting Battle Scar it may leave behind.
  • Typically, there is an in-game month between Contracts. Each Injury you've sustained heals 2 Severity levels in this time.
Severe Injuries
  • Injuries Severity 4 and greater require medical treatment and may leave permanent Battle Scars.
  • These severe Injuries will worsen one level per half hour until Stabilized.
  • There are two ways to Stabilize an Injury:
    • Proper Stabilization requires advanced medical supplies and knowledge or Gifts.
    • Contractors can instead attempt a Makeshift Stabilization, but it's harder to pull off and risky. Your Stabilized patient may end up worse off and will be left with a permanent Battle Scar.


I emerged from the bathroom with new blood stains on my jeans carrying a 12 oz water bottle full of what I hoped looked like wine. The line of people waiting in the aisle gave odd looks as I squeezed by. 

“One Bloody Mary for our buddy,” I said, handing the plastic bottle to Five. “Why’s Bradley under that blanket?” 

Bradley lifted his head to greet me, and I nearly had a heart attack. A pair of glowing red eyes peered over an upturned, bat-like nose. Strands of saliva swung from the tips of needle-sharp fangs that no longer fit behind his lips. 

“He’s getting worse,” said Five.

"Jesus," I said, and Bradley growled. "Good thinking keeping him out of sight of those wannabe Van-Helsings."

Five uncapped the bottle for Bradley, who proceeded to swallow the meal, bottle and all, with a single chomp. Five was lucky to keep their hand. 

As the dog set to work lapping up any excess splatter, his demonic features receded. Soon, he was back to the big, clumsy teddy bear we’d met in the motel. We breathed a sigh of relief.

“Gotta hand it to you, kid,” whispered Bo. “That was some good thinking.” 

“Thanks,” I said, reaching out to pet our still giant, but otherwise normal, dog. 

Bradley gave my leg a sniff, recognized the scent of a good meal, bared his fangs, and lunged.

Combat Basics
  • Combat in The Contract is quick, unpredictable, and deadly.
  • Successful combat relies more on setting up the right fight than being the best fighter.
    • The best way to win a fight is with an ambush or a numbers advantage.
Going Turn-based
  • When the action comes to a head and many characters want to do something at once, the game enters a turn-based mode called Combat. 
  • At the start of Combat, each character rolls Initiative (Dexterity + Perception) to determine their place in the turn order.
  • Each Round of turns represents three seconds of in-game action.
What can I do?
You get one Movement and one Action on your turn each Round.

  • You may move up to 5 + (5 x Dexterity) feet immediately before OR After your Action.
  • Attack with your weapon or hands.
    • If an attack's Contested Outcome is positive, it inflicts a new Injury with Severity = Outcome + Weapon damage - Armor.
  • Evade by rolling to Defend or Dodge. Your Outcome is "spent" to reduce the Outcome of any incoming attacks until your next Action.
  • Activate a Gift or use an Ability as normal.
  • Hold your Action by declaring an Action and a triggering event. If the event occurs before your turn on the next Round, you perform the Action.
If you have not yet spent your Action this Round, you may use it as a Reaction.

  • Dodge by rolling Dexterity + Athletics. Your Outcome is subtracted from the attacker's.
  • Defend with your weapon by rolling its attack roll. Your Outcome is subtracted from the attacker's. Availability depends on weapon match-up (tap).
  • Clash with the attacker using the same roll you would use to Defend. The higher Outcome (not contested) is treated as the result of a successful, undefended attack roll against the loser.
Each Character Sheet features an expandable Combat reference.
Art by PoisedIvy

Getting Hurt More

In an instant, Bradley the monster returned. His fangs sank into my calf like a dozen steak knives. I remember making a noise, not a scream, something more primal. I twisted and kicked. My heel connected with Bradley’s eye, but he didn’t let go. 

Wound Level
  • Injuries deplete your Body, which can lead to increased Stress, Battle Scars, and even death.
  • The amount your Body is depleted is equal to the Severity of your worst Injury + the number of other Injuries you have.
  • Let’s say Bradley’s bite counts as a Severity 4 Injury.
  • Combined with Lucy's existing Severity 2 Injury from drawing blood, her Body is now depleted by 5.
    • 4 (Highest Severity) + 1 (number of other Injuries) = 5.
  • Try it out using the widget below.
  • Injuries aren't easily shrugged off. Pain and loss of functionality impacts your effectiveness.
  • As your Body is depleted, you gain Stress.
  • Stress subtracts dice from every roll you make, to a minimum of 2 dice.
Try it Out!


Excessive Blood Donation

Add an Injury

Body 7



Bo Perkins snapped his body like he was throwing a punch with his missing arm. A blue shimmer slammed Bradley against the wall beneath the window. Undeterred, Bradley bared his jaws and prepared to lunge again.

Five leaped onto the beast's back, and they both vanished. A lone watch clattered to the ground, the only sign they’d ever been there. 

“What the hell!?” cried a passenger in the row behind us. He was standing up, gawking at us with a look of utter shock.

Bo scrambled over, threw the airline blanket over my injured leg, and tied a tourniquet around my thigh. His single hand worked in tandem with an invisible one. 

“They went 12 seconds into the future,” he whispered urgently. “It’s one of Five’s Gifts. You best not be around when we catch up to them. Go!” 

I struggled to my feet. More passengers craned their necks and covered their mouths in shock. I shot Bo a frantic glance.

“I’ll deal with it. You go!”

  • Gifts unlock a Contractor's latent supernatural potential.
  • Each time a Contractor claims victory on a Contract, they receive a Gift Credit that can be spent on a new Gift or to improve an existing one.
  • Most Gifts do not grant dice bonuses or make you more effective in a fight.
    • Instead, they provide things like information, influence, rapid restoration, transformation, mobility, and equipment.
  • Gifts work. If a Gift allows you to sidestep or solve the primary challenge of a Contract, you win.


Building Custom Gifts
  • Players create custom Gifts for their Contractors using The Contract's unique Gift Builder.
  • Custom Gifts allow each Contractor to achieve their own unique concept.
  • Gift systems have specific, automatically generated text to ensure they behave the same no matter who is acting as GM.
Wanna try it out?
For example, here is the Gift Five used

Exert your Mind and spend an Action. You must actively and obviously use a clock or watch to activate this Effect.

You phase out of reality for 4 Rounds. During this time, you cannot perceive or affect the outside world or take any Actions. You cannot move. Nothing can interact with you in any way.

When you phase out, you may bring up to 1 additional target in arm's reach with you.

  • You may use your Free Movement on the Round you phase back in, but you cannot take an Action.


I used the seat backs like crutches, jostling another dozen passengers from their sleep, grimacing at each agonizing step. Hot blood pooled in my shoe.

A dozen rows back, an arm reached out and caught my wrist. It was one of the air marshals. 

“What happened up there, miss? Are you okay?” 

“I— it—” I stammered.

  • When the chips are down and the stakes have never been higher, you may Exert yourself to get a bonus on a roll.
  • Exerting allows you to ignore your dice penalty from Stress for a single roll AND increases that roll’s Outcome by 1.
    • You must declare that you are Exerting before you roll.
    • You may Exert a maximum of once per Round of Combat.
  • Many Gifts require Exertion to activate.
  • Exerting is stressful and takes a toll on your Mind.
  • Lucy will Exert while making a Charisma + Influence roll to calmly, successfully persuade the air marshal that everything is perfectly fine.


“I stepped on the dog’s tail, and he bit me. Just surprised him. All’s good now.”

The air marshal and I looked back up the aisle. There was no commotion. The man who’d seen everything was seated, maybe sleeping. 

“Okay,” he said, letting go. “You should let the flight attendants know if you need first aid.”

“Thanks. I’ll do that.”

I didn’t talk to anyone. Hell, I don't know if I drew a single breath until the bathroom door was locked behind me. My body was shaking uncontrollably. I didn’t know what to do. I just sat there, waiting. My leg didn’t hurt anymore; it had gone numb, and that was even worse.

  • Mind represents your mental and emotional fortitude.
  • Mind Damage represents mental strain which can contribute to your dice penalty from Stress.
    • Unlike Injuries, Mind Damage is accrued linearly (like a traditional health bar).
    • Click the “Exert Mind” button on your Character Sheet to incur one Mind Damage.
  • Mind Damage recovers one level per night of restful sleep.
  • When your mental fortitude is tested, the GM may ask you to roll your rating in Mind in place of the standard Attribute + Ability.


Thirty minutes later, there was a knock at the door.


“It’s Bo. Open up.”

I cracked open the door. Bo pressed his way in and closed it behind him. There was hardly enough room for one person inside, let alone two.

“How’s the leg, champ?” 

“I’ll live. What’s going on out there?”

He sighed. “Situation’s under control. For now. Bradley’s getting hungry again, startin’ to get the whole,” he gestured at his face. “We need your help.” 

“I can’t. He’s tasted me. He’ll attack on sight.” 

“I know, I know. That’s how come Five and I can’t give our own blood. Listen, the syringe idea was a good one, I’ll give ya that, but it’s time for plan B.” 


He winced. “Listen, I can do, well, what needs to be done. But to make it look like a suicide, I’ll need that blade you snuck past the TSA. Yeah, I noticed. What do you say?”

  • Limits are circumstances or choices that could be traumatic.
  • You choose three Limits during character creation.
  • Most normal humans have these standard Limits:
    • Murder: killing another person outside of immediate self-defense.
    • Anguish: being tortured or enduring extended physical or emotional stress.
    • Atrocities: witnessing a humanitarian atrocity.
  • Non-typical Contractors (e.g. psychopaths, zealots, fairies) can select other Limits or create custom ones.

Whatever it Takes

“No fuckin’ way,” I said, resisting the urge to spit in his face. 

“Don’t let your idealism blind you. Way I see it, we got two options. One: we wait, let this monster lose control, kill a few people, and get taken out by the air marshals, if we’re lucky. Two: we take one life, relax until we land in Hawaii, and get paid.” 

“You forgot option three: kill the monster.” 

Bo’s face turned red. “Kill it!? We don’t even know if we can!” he snorted. “We brought this creature on board. It’s our responsibility to see it through. Are you gunna throw this opportunity away? You gunna rip up The Contract?” 

My heart pounded in my throat. “What did Five say?” 

“They’re on board.” 


Bo held out his hand. “Give me the blade, Lucy. We’ll all get home safe, and we’ll all get paid.”

I pulled the pocket knife and turned it over in my hand. The blade caught my reflection. 

“I feel sick.”

I handed it over.  

Bo relaxed. “Trust me kid, you don’t wanna think too much about it.” 

He opened the door and paused. “You made the right choice.”

I probably shouldn’t have, but I watched him walk away. He slipped into a bathroom up the aisle and kept the door open. A few minutes later, a woman walked in. Don’t know how she didn’t see him. 

She closed the door.

There was one loud bang— something hitting the door.

People looked up and then went back to looking at their books and phones.

  • When you knowingly take an action to cross a Limit (in this case Murder), you take 1 Mind Damage.
  • And any time you cross a Limit, even unwittingly, you must make a Trauma roll.
    • Roll your Mind, Difficulty 8.
  • If you fail, you take one point of Mind damage or acquire a new Trauma.
    • Traumas are long-lasting mental health issues such as phobias, delusions, and compulsions.
    • The specific Trauma you develop is based on the circumstances that led to its formation.
    • When a Trauma is triggered, you must roll Mind, Difficulty 8 to maintain Self-Control.
      • For example, someone with a phobia of the open ocean would need to succeed a Mind roll to board a ferry.
      • Failing a Self-Control roll causes you to behave in a way you otherwise wouldn't, but it does not cause an additional Trauma or Mind Damage.
  • Being Imbued makes Contractors more mentally and emotionally resilient than normal humans.
    • Traumas may be "cured" by spending 3 Experience and a Downtime in therapy.
    • Certain Gifts allow Contractors to heal Traumas without an Experience cost.

The End of the Line

I threw up.

Later, I heard the other passengers discover the body. An anguished scream, a hushed murmuring. I didn’t open the bathroom door until we touched down in Hawaii, and by the time I did, Five, Bo, and Bradley were gone. 

It’s only now, looking back on it, that I realize Bo lied to me. If I hadn’t given him that knife, he would have fed Bradley a different in-flight meal.


I can’t blame him. There’s no sense keeping a dead-weight Contractor around. Liabilities end up in the graveyard. 

  • The Contract is dangerous, and survival is not guaranteed.
  • If your Body is depleted below 0, you die.
  • Dead Contractors are interred in the Graveyard and can't be played again.
  • Imbuing grants Contractors Will to Survive.
    • Once per Contract, you may reduce an incoming Injury's Severity by up to four levels (to a minimum of Severity 4). However, you take a point of Mind Damage, and suffer a Major Battle Scar.
  • Contractors gain access to Gifts that let them cheat death once they reach Seasoned Status.
Underworld Upsides
  • When one of your Contractors dies, you are given a Charon Coin which you can use to start a new Contractor with a Gift.
  • Some Playgroups opt-in to rewarding GMs for achieving The Golden Ratio.
    • In Playgroups with The Golden Ratio, GMs receive 6 Experience when they run a Contract where at least one Contractor dies while another achieves Victory.
But I don't want to die!
  • Good. Contractors are not throwaway characters.
  • The Golden Ratio and Charon Coins only exist because most GMs are hesitant to kill Contractors who deserve it.
  • Each Player has a different appetite for danger.
    • To help you identify GMs and Playgroups that suit your tastes, the website assigns GM Titles based on each GM's deadliness and experience.
Tap on a GM's title for precise stats
Pillow Referee Just Boss Cruel Middle Management

But, in the end, some of the sheriff’s words were true. It is better not to think about it. 

And I did get paid. 

Downtimes, Setting, and Playgroups


Between Contracts
  • The time between Contracts is called Downtime.
  • Contractors can't earn Gifts or Experience by doing things on their Downtimes.
  • Most Newbie and low-Novice Contractors spend their Downtimes doing little other than healing, training (spending Experience Points), and preparing for future Contracts.
    • No roleplay or GM oversight is necessary for any of these activities.
  • More advanced Contractors take initiative during their Downtimes to seek other forms of power and change the world.
  • For more seasoned Contractors, Downtimes can become as important as the Contracts themselves.
  • When Contractors take initiative on a Downtime to gain some benefit, it's called making a Move.
    • They may seek out powerful artifacts, form a cult, make a fortune, or try to change the world.
  • Unlike with Contracts, if a Player wants to make a Move, they must determine their own goal and plan to achieve it.
  • Moves require a GM. Depending on their nature, they may be concluded with a couple of rolls or be more involved and dangerous than a Contract.
Loose Ends
  • Not all Contracts go smoothly.
  • Loose Ends represent enemies, legal troubles, and other latent threats acquired on Contracts and Moves.
  • Each time a Contractor attends a Contract, their Loose Ends grow closer to biting them.
    • If a Contractor doesn't make a Move to resolve a Loose End before it expires, they suffer serious consequences.


The narrative in this guide takes place in the default setting of The Contract: Illuminated Earth.

Illuminated Earth is a version of the modern world where the advent of smartphones and the internet confirmed the existence of the supernatural instead of disproving it.

Distributed video hosting services like CryptoLeak ensure no videos of the supernatural are censored by government or conspiracy. However, they are filled with hoaxes and misinformation.

Despite the relative rarity of the unexplainable, the specter of magic and otherworldly phenomena looms large in the zeitgeist. As a result, modern society has twisted into a superstitious and paranoid reflection of itself.

Yet, some witch hunts do have merit. It's an open secret that billionaires and Senators employ paranormal advisors and bodyguards. Charlatans become pop culture icons, and each revelation inspires a new cult.

The world is changing. The secret societies that pull humanity's strings are scrambling to adapt.

Now's a good time to move up.

Custom Settings
  • The true story of The Contract is in the format: powerful beings approach ambitious individuals and offer them a deal to go on deadly missions in exchange for powers.
  • It’s easy to picture such a story taking place in any number of settings.
    • Some groups prefer to use established settings from TV, movies, books, anime, or other roleplaying games.
    • Magical or mundane, modern settings work best for The Contract.
  • Although Contractors' stats and Gifts are tightly balanced, elements of the setting and the Contracts themselves are not subject to any balance requirements.
    • Playgroups can introduce any supernatural elements into their settings that they want.
    • Players do not have out-of-character knowledge about the systems of the creatures and situations they are facing.
    • GMs and Scenario-writers have an idea what sorts of capabilities Contractors of a given Status may bring to the table.


Playgroups are a group of Contractors who share a setting.
  • Each Playgroup's homepage centralizes information about its setting, house rules, members, Contract records, and upcoming sessions.
  • GMs may post World Events to inform members of significant world-changing events within the setting that their Contractors may hear about and want to act on..
  • Players can be members of multiple Playgroups, but each Contractor calls a single Playgroup's setting home.
Playgroup Leaders
  • Playgroup Leaders act as head GMs for their Playgroup.
  • They define and maintain their Playgroup’s setting, approve new Contractors, and approve custom Gifts.
  • They settle disputes relating to events and Contractors in the Playgroup.
  • They control memberships, roles, and permissions for their Playgroup.
  • They may view and edit the Character Sheets of the Contractors in their Playgroup, allowing them to help brand new and less motivated Players with their recordkeeping.
Visiting Other Playgroups
  • Unless your Contractor belongs to a closed Playgroup, you may bring them on Contracts that occur in other Playgroups' settings.
  • Contractors cannot move between settings on their own.
  • However, Harbingers from other Playgroups can invite your Contractor to participate in Contracts that occur in their settings.
    • Your Contractor is transported to that Playgroup's setting for the duration of the Contract and returned to their home setting immediately afterwards.
    • While traveling between settings, only your Contractor’s Attributes, Abilities, and Gifts are guaranteed to work.
    • Equipment may not travel with you, and supernatural items and conditions that were obtained in one Playgroup's setting (outside of Gifts) may work differently or not at all in another.
  • You can play your Contractors whenever and wherever you want, with any Playgroup.

You're Ready to Play!

Step 1 - Create an Account

While The Contract does not require an account to create a Contractor, read the guide, or view one of the stock Scenarios, we strongly recommend making an account before continuing.

Accounts are free, require only an email address, and unlock 100% of the website's features.

Already have an account? Click Here to Log in
Step 2 - Create a Contractor
Whether you're planning on playing or GMing, you should Create a Contractor

I want to. . .

Step 3 - Find a Contract to play in

All that's left to do is find an upcoming Contract to play in!

Visit the Looking for Game page for a list of upcoming Contracts.

Note that while many newbie-friendly Contracts occur each week, they are usually scheduled as-needed or right before they occur.

The surest way to schedule a Contract is to Join Our Discord Server

New Players should make an effort to participate in Contracts run by more experienced or recommended GMs.

Step 3 - Create a Playgroup
Create a Playgroup to give your playgroup a home and unlock an additional Stock Scenario.
Once you've created your Playgroup, invite your friends to join and create their own Contractors.
Step 4 - Select a Scenario and read the GameMaster's Manual
The Contract comes with several Stock Scenarios to help you start running. They are trivial to unlock:

  • Smell no Evil Viewable to all for free.
  • Passing the Hours: Create a Playgroup
  • Sanctuary: Run a Contract as GM.
  • Monster Hunter: Island: Lose a Contractor on a Contract.
  • Beware the Assassin!: Play a Contractor in any Contract.
  • Bobasaurus Viewable to all for free.

Once unlocked, Scenarios will appear in your Scenario Collection
Always remember, The GameMaster's Manual is chock full of useful advice for GMs.
Step 5 (optional) - Hold a "Session Zero"

When you're GMing for a group of Players that is brand new to The Contract, it can be helpful to split your first session into two halves.

Instead of running a Contract during the first half (or "session zero"), simply help your Players create their Contractors and run their initial introductory meetings with the Harbinger.

At the second session, you can jump right into the meat of the Contract with time to spare.

This provides extra "wiggle room" time for teaching rules, answering questions, and learning the system.

Step 6 - Schedule a Contract
Now all you need to do is Schedule a Contract and invite your Players.
When you complete the Contract, you can declare each Contractor's outcome. You and your Players will receive the Experience, Gifts, and Improvements you've earned, the Scenario will be revealed to them, and the Contract will be entered into the record books.