Easyscrabble Combat




  1. involving hard work and struggle.

Hardscrabble is an untested, unnecessarily complex combat system that is custom built to the Pigeons of New York (PoNY) RPG Experience. During combat, players draw and use Scrabble tiles to deal damage and perform wacky Stunts in the name of All Out Pigeon Warfare™. Hardscrabble is built around simple risk-reward – performing Stunts requires some risk on the player’s part, but can reward the character by making them look like a total badass.

Multiple complexities of combat are introduced. The rationale is that not everyone at the table has played or has interest in tabletop combat. Ergo, a player that only reads the easy combat paragraph can play! If you want to invest time to learn the hard combat method, you’ll probably find a super-broken exploit or two. By all means, research away, I encourage it!

Pre-Fight Flight

Turn Order

At the very beginning of combat, we’ll decide the turn order. Players will roll a D20 and the player with the highest roll will go first. A player with the next highest roll will go second, third highest will go third, and etc.

Monsters are interleaved throughout the turn order at the DM’s discretion.

Starting and drawing Tiles

A player will start with a number of tiles equal to their level of HUSTLE. Hardscrabble Combat players that draw a blank tile will have the option to play blank tiles before combat starts.

At the end of their turn, a player will draw a number of tiles equal to their STREET SMARTS.

Your Turn

The players and opponents take turns. A turn consists of Movement and either an Easy Scrabble Attack or a Hard Scrabble Attack. A player doesn’t have to move or attack.

Each turn, your pigeon can move HUSTLE X 2 spaces on the board. You can move before and/or after your attack. Diagonal movement counts as moving two spaces, not one. ‘Breaking up’ your movement is encouraged.


Much like Scrabble, you can play combinations of letters for points! Unlike Scrabble, we don’t have all day to think up words! Pigeons can’t spell, so neither should you! Don’t think too hard!

Every turn, you get one attack. For each attack you can play an amount of tiles equal or less than your STREET SMARTS! If your street smarts are 3, you can only play 3, 2, or 1 letter words.

To perform a basic attack, play your tiles on the board. You can play your tiles horizontally or diagonally from your pigeon’s position (pige…ition?). Then count up the total letter score!


Nice attack! To calculate the damage you did, multiply your attack:

By Zero if it does not connect with an enemy. The furthest tile of your attack must be adjacent or on top of the enemy.

By Zero if it is in the Merriam Webster’s dictionary. Seriously.

Divide by two if it was played diagonally. Horizontal/vertical attacks have no multiplier.

Multiply by two if you played over a square containing a tool. Then remove the tool from play.

Multiply by your GRIT

Round down for fractions. The result is your damage! 

At the end of your turn:

Draw a number of tiles equal to your STREET SMARTS. And say a snappy one-liner if you like.

Example 1:

Our heroic pigeon (They/Its) squares off against a terrifying cat. The pigeon has three letters available: A, C, and T. Their stats are:

This pigeon isn’t very smart. They play all three of their letters diagonally to their opponent. While this technically hits because:
The furthest tile of your attack (the T) must be adjacent or on top of the enemy.
It fails to do any damage. Why?
The ‘No Words Rule’ stipulates the damage done is multiplied By Zero if it is in the Merriam Webster’s dictionary.
The math comes out to:
(1+3+1) = 4 (Letter sum)
4 * 0 (No words)
0* 1/2 (diagonal word)
0 * 3 (Grit)
= 0 Damage! Boo.

Example 2

The arrow of time bends, jitters, and shudders. Suddenly our pigeon finds themselves back at the start of their turn. Determined to learn from their past mistakes, they take a second look at their stats: 3/3/3
The pigeon realizes it can Move! Unbelievable.
Our hero bravely saunters two squares to the right! They gear up for an attack, knowing they can move out of the line of fire by (3-2 =) 1 square in whatever direction they choose after they attack.
Kapow! The pigeon plays an abbreviation, which is not found in Merriam Webster’s Dictionary! The math comes out to:
(1+1+3) = 4 (Letter Sum)
4*1 (vertical word)
4*3 (Grit)
=12 Damage! Not Bad!

Example 3

Time and space are kneaded like dough by a cosmic baker. Our Pigeon now has only one letter, Q, and the unfortunate stats:
A mysterious Tool has also appeared!
Undaunted, the pigeon moves a single square. It won’t be able to move after it takes its attack, since it’s HUSTLE is 1. Thankfully, one attack is all it needs.
The pigeon artfully places its single tile, Q, over the tool! Q is not a word! The math comes out to:
10 (Letter sum)
10/2 (Diagonal word)
5*2 (Tool square, tool is now removed)
10*1 (Grit)
=10 Damage! Excellent play for a tough situation!

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