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Cairn

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Cairn is an adventure game for one facilitator (the Warden) and at least one other player. Players act as hardened adventurers exploring a dark & mysterious Wood filled with strange folk, hidden treasure, and unspeakable monstrosities.

Based on Knave by Ben Milton and Into The Odd by Chris McDowall, Cairn is an attempt at making Into The Odd semi-compatible with popular OSR settings like Dolmenwood. Character generation is quick and random, classless, and rely on fictional advancement rather than through XP or level mechanics. The game itself is rules-light but functional, leaving most rulings up to the Warden.

Cover art by Cosmic Orrery Games.

Traditional character sheet created created by Licopeo.

Token character sheet created bordercholly.

Tokens are largely art created by Carlos Castilho. 

Some tokens created by Licopeo.

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Reviews (11)
Discussions (17)
Customer avatar
Jason W March 28, 2024 9:35 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Question. Discovered this through your KS. I pledged $1 for now and came here and downloaded this version. It talks about a campaign setting exploring a dark and mysterious wood, but I don't see anything other than rules to play the game. Is there another file, book we need to get to see the setting? It sounded interesting to me.
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Customer avatar
Alexander D March 28, 2024 10:17 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I'm not a huge fan of Cairn, but I had the same question. Go to the site and you'll find what you're looking for and more.

https://cairnrpg.com/
Customer avatar
Colin H July 05, 2023 2:59 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Is the Bestiary not available anymore?
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Customer avatar
Yochai G July 05, 2023 3:03 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
No it is available on Lulu! I don't think a URL will work so go to lulu dot com and search Cairn Bestiary.

You can also get it on Amazon (I guess Lulu sells through them).
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Customer avatar
Yochai G July 05, 2023 3:13 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
https://www.lulu.com/shop/yochai-gal/cairn-bestiary/paperback/product-prq2rg.html?page=1&pageSize=4
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Customer avatar
Colin H July 05, 2023 8:16 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Thanks!
Customer avatar
Hugh M July 02, 2023 12:30 pm UTC
Simple enough for a solo player
who's never done an rpg?
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Customer avatar
Yochai G July 02, 2023 10:06 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
There is a video on exactly this on the Geek Gamers channel on Youtube! Check it out!
Customer avatar
Mike S June 06, 2023 7:23 am UTC
PURCHASER
Have Cairn and totally love it :)

Did have a question - Are the typical fantasy races used? If so should they be a cosmetic choice or should they have some sort of game effect?
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Customer avatar
Yochai G June 06, 2023 11:22 am UTC
PUBLISHER
Hey! I'd love to link to some options but DTRPG will delete them.... So I suggest you join the discord, where we can give you an excellent, link-heavy example. There is a link on the Cairn website.
Customer avatar
Ricardo G May 31, 2023 5:28 am UTC
PURCHASER
Would it be possible for me to collaborate with you? I really like the system and decided to write a magic supplement of sorts.
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Customer avatar
Yochai G May 31, 2023 10:19 am UTC
PUBLISHER
You're welcome to hack the system any way you like. See the website for more info - also feel free to join the discord as well.
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Customer avatar
Ricardo G May 31, 2023 1:30 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Someone made a thread for me in the hacks channel, I posted there.
Customer avatar
John B May 14, 2023 5:25 pm UTC
PURCHASER
What afpud opener do you recommend for this system?
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Customer avatar
Yochai G May 14, 2023 5:40 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Affinity Publisher!
Customer avatar
Marcin W May 07, 2023 2:34 pm UTC
I just read it and it may be my new favorite RPG to be GM. Still I would like to be sure about something. Damage (after armor and HP goes ALWAYS to STR? Never to WIL or DEX)? Is that correct?
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Customer avatar
Yochai G May 07, 2023 2:39 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
There are circumstances (such as critical damage specialties that certain monsters have) where damage does get subtracted from DEX/WIL, usually but not always in addition to STR damage. That happens as a result of a failed critical damage roll however.

There are damage effects that happen outside of combat which may affect ability scores directly, for example, a poison dart trap might make you comatose and affect WIL.

See the monster section and conversions for examples of this.
Customer avatar
Thomas B May 07, 2023 1:04 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Is the Cairn book an actual physical book mailed to me?
I'm think of ordering both the book and pdf file.
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Customer avatar
Yochai G May 07, 2023 1:35 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Yes, if you order from DTRPG you get the PDF and the print on demand booklet. You can also get both things from the Cairn website as well Lulu (though you'll need to grab the free pdf yourself).
Customer avatar
noah S February 14, 2023 3:15 am UTC
PURCHASER
with the booklet should i print it double sided or single sided
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Customer avatar
Yochai G February 14, 2023 11:48 am UTC
PUBLISHER
Double sided, short side.
Customer avatar
Luka H January 18, 2023 7:36 am UTC
PURCHASER
I can’t believe that this game is free. It’s the best things from Knave mixed with what I like from Into the Odd. Just perfect. I can see this as a hardcover book and I would definitely buy it. What I like the most are the premade classes and the monster generator/converter from OSR. Just briliant.
Customer avatar
James O December 06, 2022 12:42 am UTC
PURCHASER
Hi Yochai so with the suggestion in the description would any rpg story be a fit for Cairn. Im still new to this all and have read through Cairn and really enjoy the mechanics of it all.
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Customer avatar
Yochai G December 06, 2022 12:52 am UTC
PUBLISHER
Absolutely, most old school adventures and settings should work! Please join us on the Discord, we'd be happy to answer any additional questions you might have! The link is in the cairnrpg.com website.
Customer avatar
Alexander D May 12, 2022 5:24 am UTC
PURCHASER
Of all the minimalist OSRish systems I've seen so far, this is a nice blend of simplicity, freedom, and logic. The only problem is that the description leads the reader to think that there's a dark, mysterious, woodland setting to explore; there isn't. Cairn does provide the tools to create such a setting, but it could easily be for any setting.
Customer avatar
Daniel F February 04, 2022 3:55 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I really wish authors would export their pdfs as text to review the flow. This is all too common but cairn is exceptionally scrambled. This makes text to voice is almost impossible to follow.
Not Accessible.
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Customer avatar
Yochai G February 04, 2022 4:46 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
The text is fully available on the SRD here:
https://cairnrpg.com/cairn-srd/

I've also recorded myself reading it aloud; I'm still formatting it but I'd be happy to share the files (chapter form) with you. From what I can tell, it seems OK? But I did write it, so take it with a grain of salt.
Customer avatar
James M April 22, 2021 4:28 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Fantastic game and great art!
One question. The Ranger optional gear package on page 10 has a Bloodhound companion with no STR score. Is the intent that if the Bloodhound has its HP reduced below 0 it automatically takes critical damage and dies as there is no STR score to subtract from or should the Warden just provide an appropriate STR score for the Bloodhound?
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Customer avatar
Yochai G April 22, 2021 4:51 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Hello!

When a creature or NPC does not have its score listed, it typically means that they have the default score (e.g. 10).

Cairn inherited this from Into The Odd. I should have that more explicit! See here for more:

https://cairnrpg.com/cairn-srd/#creating-monsters
Customer avatar
Umberto P April 09, 2021 9:30 am UTC
PURCHASER
Hi, I am really impressed by the game. It is my fav Into The Odd iteration so far!
I only have a question. On page 4 the text says:
"Give the players weapon trainers and personal quests to facilitate improvement and specialization."
What should weapon trainers do mechanically? And what about specialization?
There are rules (or written rulings for these anywhere)?
Thank you and keep up with the good work!
Reply
Customer avatar
Yochai G April 09, 2021 12:30 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Thanks for the kind words.

Your question is a good one, and perhaps falls into the final question in the FAQ (https://cairnrpg.com/resources/frequently-asked-questions/#how-do-pcs-advance-without-things-like-levels-or-xp): "How do PCs advance without things like levels or XP?"
I might actually add to it because of this. Thank you again.

Basically, characters can get better through a myriad of ways. If PCs were to spend time with a weapons trainer, I'd work it out in a few different ways. The results can be mechanical or happen through the fiction, or both.

Exmaples:
- Two days of study under a former royal archer has taught you how to fire arrows more effectively. Attacks with a longbow are enhanced.
- After two weeks' of daily practice with the Blade of Gwoed, you feel confident enough to use it the deadly weapon in combat. Critical Damage: target loses a limb or is disembowled (your choice).
- Three days' worth of study under the tutelage...See more
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Customer avatar
Umberto P April 09, 2021 3:34 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Thank you for the examples! May I suggest you to insert them in the core book, maybe in a specific, even if small chapter? It would make the game feel much more complete.
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Customer avatar
Yochai G April 09, 2021 3:44 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
The core book is probably not going to change unfortunately as it already very hard to fit more text and keep the page count. Perhaps in a second edition?
But I did add them here:
https://cairnrpg.com/resources/frequently-asked-questions/#how-do-pcs-advance-without-things-like-levels-or-xp
Customer avatar
Jayme A February 11, 2021 8:07 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I'm happy to hear this is getting a POD release! And the updates don't bother me one bit. Downloads take two seconds, but typos are forever.
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Product Information
Platinum seller
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Pages
24
File Size:
76.2 MB
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File Last Updated:
September 19, 2022
This title was added to our catalog on October 06, 2020.
Publisher
Yochai Gal
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