Against the Monstrous Horde is our free fantasy-themed dice game that is played using polyhedral dice (4-sided dice, 8-sided dice, 10-sided dice, etc.).
Great for any group of 2 to 6 players, it requires nothing more than some dice to play, so it can be enjoyed at home, in restaurants, pubs, or coffee houses, or anywhere where there's space to roll a few dice!
Greenhill Village is under attack! An army of cruel creatures set on causing chaos and destruction has swept out of the nearby mountains and is raiding and burning the village and the surrounding countryside. In the Greenhill tavern, the call to arms reaches several groups of seasoned adventurers who quickly set aside their ale to go forth and perform heroic deeds and protect the town.
In Against the Monstrous Horde, an army of Goblins, Rat-men, Skeletons, Zombies, and other hideous creatures is attacking a village, and each player controls a party of adventurers who are fighting the army and defending the village. The adventurers are all in a friendly competition with each other to see which party can defeat or drive away the most enemies before the battle ends.
- Object of the Game
- Number of Players
- Playing Time
- How to Play Against the Monstrous Horde
Object of the Game
The object of the game is to use a variety of polyhedral dice to defeat enemies and score points. Gameplay ends once one player scores 100 or more points, and the winner is the player who achieves the highest score.
- One 7-piece set of polyhedral dice for each player, which includes:
- One 4-sided dice (d4)
- One 6-sided dice (d6)
- One 8-sided dice (d8)
- One 10-sided dice (d10. Most 10-sided dice use the numbers 0 through 9. Count the 0 as a 10, not as a zero.)
- One 10-sided percentile dice (d%. Displays numerals in tens: 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, etc. Most 10-sided percentile dice use the numbers 00 through 90. Count the 00 as a 100, not as zero.)
- One 12-sided dice (d12)
- One 20-sided dice (d20)
- A “First Player” marker. This can be anything: An extra die, a miniature figure, a dice bag, a playing card, or even a crumpled up piece of paper.
- Four 20-sided dice
- Three 4-sided dice
- Four 6-sided dice
- Five 10-sided dice
Having one or more dice trays or dice towers for the players is helpful but not necessary.
The last four items listed above (the four 20-sided dice, the three 4-sided dice, the four 6-sided dice, and the five 10-sided dice) are part of a common pool of dice used by all players. To better keep track of these dice, use dice that are different colors or styles than that of any of the individual players’ dice if possible.
Each player’s 10-sided percentile die (d%) will be used to keep track of their score. Alternatively you may want to use some type of tokens to track player scores instead, such as poker chips, miniature figures, coins, wooden cubes, etc. (You’ll need at least 10 per player.) Or you can simply keep track of scoring using pencil and paper or an app.
Number of Players
2 to 6
10 to 20 minutes
How to Play Against the Monstrous Horde
If players are using their percentile 10-sided dice (d%) for scoring, each player should place their die in a convenient location where it won’t get accidentally bumped or altered. If you are using some other kind of physical tokens for scorekeeping instead, place them to the side of the table.
Put the three extra 4-sided dice, the four 6-sided dice, and the five extra 10-sided dice to the side of the table. These dice are known as the common pool.
The four extra 20-sided dice are called enemies or enemy dice, and each d20 represents an individual creature in the hordes. Take the four enemy d20s and roll them, then place them in a line in the center of the table, ordered from the smallest number that was rolled to the largest number that was rolled. (If you roll any ties, include them all.) For each die that rolls a 20, take a 10-sided die and a 6-sided die from the common pool, roll them, and then set them next to that d20. (See the Epic Monsters rules below for more information.)
Important rule: Any time a 1 is rolled on an enemy die, reroll it until you roll a number other than 1.
Each player begins the game with six dice, known as character dice, and each individual die is called a character. These characters represent heroic individuals:
- A Wizard (4-sided dice)
- A Rogue (6-sided dice)
- A Cleric (8-sided dice)
- A Druid (10-sided dice)
- A Paladin (12-sided dice)
- A Barbarian (20-sided dice)
Have each player place their six character dice in front of them in a cluster. These dice are known as an adventuring party.
Each player should then roll their own d20 (the Barbarian). The player who rolls highest places the First Player marker in front of themselves and will take the first turn. If two or more players tie for highest, have them reroll again until there is a clear winner. It is important to keep track of who the First Player is because all players should take an equal number of turns during the game.
You are now ready to begin the game!
The game is played in a series of rounds beginning with the First Player and proceeding clockwise around the table.
Each player takes a turn by rolling some of their character dice and trying to defeat as many enemies as they can. More specifically, on a player’s turn they will perform these steps in the following order:
- Create a melee team by choosing characters (dice) to roll
- Roll the characters in the melee team
- Optionally reroll some or all of the characters in the melee team
- Use the characters to attack, heal, and/or perform special abilities
Begin your turn by selecting up to 4 unwounded characters from your adventuring party to roll. (The difference between wounded and unwounded characters is explained below.) These selected characters are known as a melee team. You may choose to roll fewer than 4 characters if you wish (or if you’re forced to because you have fewer than 4 unwounded characters left in your adventuring party).
Roll the melee team characters, being careful not to bump or disturb the enemy dice in the center of the table.
After you see what you’ve rolled, you then have the option to roll some, all, or none of the character dice in your melee team a second time. If you reroll any of the dice a second time, you must keep the results of the second roll. (The Paladin’s special ability provides an exception to this rule. See Special Abilities below.) You may not use any of your characters' special abilities until after the reroll step.
After you are finished rolling the character dice in your melee team, you can potentially use each die in three different ways: To attack, to heal, and/or to perform special abilities.
Any of the enemies that show a number between 2 and 17 are "average" creatures such as nasty Goblins, magically-animated Skeletons, scuttling Kobolds, and rotting Zombies, and they are worth 10 points each. However if an enemy shows an 18 or 19, it represents an Ogre and is worth extra points when defeated (as described later in the rules). A 20 is a fearsome epic monster! Epic monsters are worth extra points and also have some kind of special ability. See the Epic Monsters section below for more information.
You may attack an enemy by assigning one or more characters from your melee team (plus any common pool dice you are allowed to use this turn) to an enemy. If the numbers on the characters (plus any common pool dice) that are assigned to an enemy add up to the number on the enemy exactly, then that enemy is defeated!
You may attack as many enemies as you like on your turn, but each character die may only be assigned to a single enemy during each turn (although, as explained later, some of the characters’ special abilities allow them to damage enemies they aren’t assigned to.)
When an enemy is defeated, remove it from the center of the table and set it aside. It will be rolled again at the end of your turn. Adjust your score to reflect your melee team’s success at defeating an enemy. (See Scoring below.)
Example: The enemy dice in the center of the table show a 6, 10, 11, and 15. On her turn, Polly rolls her d4, d6, d10, and d12 and gets a 2, 4, 3, and 9. She assigns the 2 and the 4 to the “6” enemy. Because 2+4=6, the enemy is defeated! She could assign the 3 and 9 to one or more of the other enemies, but since none of them are a 3 or a 9 or a 12 (3+9=12), she could not match any of the other enemy numbers exactly. She decides to reroll the two dice and they come up with a 1 and a 5. Uh oh! The die showing the 1 is now wounded! (See the Wounds section below for more information on wounded characters.)
Some of your characters may become wounded during battle. (See Wounds below.) In order to heal those characters and help them return to the battle, some of your unwounded characters must provide them with healing potions or some good old-fashioned first aid.
You may heal a wounded character by assigning one or more characters from your melee team (but not any common pool dice) to that character. If the numbers on the unwounded characters add up to match the number of sides of that wounded character’s die type, then that wounded character is fully healed and placed back in the player’s adventuring party.
You can heal as many characters as you like on your turn, but each unwounded character may only be assigned to a single wounded character once during your turn.
Except for the Cleric’s special ability, characters who get assigned to heal may not be used to attack that turn, and vice versa.
Example: Polly’s Druid (her 10-sided dice) was wounded in a previous turn. Polly starts a new turn by choosing and rolling a melee team which consists of her Wizard (d4), Rogue (d6), Cleric (d8), and Barbarian (d20). Her Wizard rolls a 2, her Rogue a 5, her Cleric a 3, and her Barbarian a 15. She assigns her Wizard, her Rogue, and her Cleric (2, 5, and 3) to the task of healing the Druid. Because the total of the numbers rolled on the three assigned characters (2 + 5 + 3) equals the number of sides on the Druid’s die type (10 sides), then they successfully heal the Druid and return it to Polly’s adventuring party.
After rolling and possibly rerolling all characters in a melee team and using all special abilities, if one or more characters has rolled a 1, that character becomes wounded! That character may still be used to attack during the turn (they may not be used to heal), but as soon as the turn is over, the wounded character die should be set aside separately from the adventuring party. It may not be used in any way until it has been healed.
It is possible (though unlikely) that all of a player’s dice will become wounded. If this occurs, the player is out of the game.
If any character die rolls its highest number, that character gets to do their special ability on that turn. A character die that has rolled its highest number is called a crit (which is short for “critical hit”).
For instance, 8 is the highest number on a d8, 10 is the highest number on a d10, and so forth. So if a Cleric die (d8) rolls its highest number (8) on a turn, it has rolled a crit and gets to do its special ability.
If a player has the option of using more than one special ability in a turn, they may perform the abilities in any order.
A character can use their special ability on their turn and also attack. They may not use their special ability and also heal. The exception to this is the Cleric, who may either attack or heal on their turn while also performing their special ability.
The table below summarizes each character’s special ability. The Wizard and the Cleric have two special abilities each, but only one of the two abilities may be performed each turn (player’s choice).
Fire Bolts - The Wizard raises a hand and quickly fires one or more bolts of fire from their fingertips.
Sleep - The Wizard casts a sleep spell that causes one enemy creature to fall into a deep slumber. Another enemy then steps forward to take its place.
Backstab - The Rogue uses stealth to move behind the enemies, throwing daggers or stabbing them in the back for extra damage.
Heal - The Cleric magically heals wounds, bringing party members back into the fray.
Holy Guidance - The Cleric beseeches their god to provide assistance in the battle.
Bear Form - The Druid morphs their form and becomes an enormous, deadly bear.
Inspiration - The noble Paladin inspires other party members to fight with renewed vigor.
Battle Rage - The Barbarian flies into a rage and fights with unstoppable fury.
The following are detailed descriptions of each special ability:
Wizard (d4) - Fire Bolts
Take a d4 from the common pool and roll it. If this d4 rolls a 4, roll another d4 from the common pool. If this d4 also rolls a 4, roll one more d4 from the common pool. The Wizard can roll no more than 3 additional d4s this way. Each d4 rolled may then be used in an attack on one enemy, and multiple d4s can be split across multiple enemies and work in combination with other character dice.
Any of the d4s from the common pool that roll a 1 do not count as wounds on the Wizard. Once the player’s turn is over, the extra d4s are returned to the common pool.
Example: Pip rolls a 4 on his Wizard dice, so he chooses to have his Wizard shoot fire bolts at the enemies! He takes one of the d4s from the common pool and rolls it. It rolls a 4 so he takes another d4 from the common pool, rolls it, and gets a 2. He then chooses to take his Wizard die and the fire bolt die that rolled a 4 and assign them to one enemy. He then takes the fire bolt die that rolled a 2 and assigns it to a different enemy.
Wizard (d4) - Sleep
Choose any one enemy die that is not an epic monster (any enemy die that is showing any result other than 20) and reroll it. The result of the new roll must be used, and the die is placed into the enemy lineup as normal.
Rogue (d6) - Backstab
You may double the rolled value of any character die in the melee team that is being used for an attack (not healing). This could be the Rogue die or it could be any other unwounded character die in the melee team. The doubling may only be applied to character dice and may not be applied to any dice from the common pool.
If a character die has rolled a crit, applying Backstab does not disqualify the character from using their special ability. Similarly, modifying an attack so that a character then attains a crit does not then give that character the use of their special ability.
Cleric (d8) - Heal
Immediately return any one wounded die back to your adventuring party. It is now unwounded. The Cleric may also choose to attack this turn or provide assistance in healing another character as normal.
Cleric (d8) - Holy Guidance
Add +1 or -1 to any melee team member’s attack or healing effort. The +1 or -1 does not have to be applied to the Cleric’s attack or healing but it may only be applied to character dice. It may not be applied to any dice from the common pool.
If a character die has rolled a crit, applying Holy Guidance does not disqualify the character from using their special ability. Additionally, modifying an attack so that a character attains a crit does not then give that character the use of their special ability.
For example, if a player rolls a 5 on their Rogue die, applying +1 from Holy Guidance does not give the Rogue the option to use Backstab. But if the player rolled a 6 on their Rogue die, they could still use the Backstab ability and also apply a +1 or -1 to the Rogue die’s result.
If Holy Guidance and Backstab are used on the same turn, they can be applied in any order. For example, if a character die rolls a 7, this could be modified to 6 or 8 via Holy Guidance, which could then be doubled to 12 or 16 through the use of Backstab. Alternatively, Backstab could be applied first for a result of 14, followed by Holy Guidance which would provide a result of 13 or 15.
Druid (d10) - Bear Form
Take two d10s from the common pool and roll them. The result of either or both of these dice may optionally be added to the Druid’s attack roll this turn, or they may be used in place of the Druid’s character die. Regardless of the number of dice used, they all must be applied to a single enemy.
Remember that special abilities such as Backstab and Holy Guidance may only be used on character dice, not common pool dice.
Because the Druid is in bear form, they may not be used to perform any healing this turn.
A result of 1 on either of the common pool d10s does not count as a wound on the Druid, and rolling a crit on the common pool d10s does not cause more d10s to be rolled. Once the player’s turn is over, the extra d10s are returned to the common pool.
Example: On her turn, Polly rolls a 10 on her Druid die, so she takes two d10s from the common pool and rolls them. She gets a 4 and a 7. She then has the option of doing one of the following:
- She could use the 10 from the Druid’s die for an attack and ignore the common pool d10s.
- She could add one or both numbers from the common pool dice to her Druid die. In this example, the dice would provide a result of either 14 (10+4) or 17 (10+7) or 21 (10+4+7).
- She could use only the 4 or only the 7 or a combination of the two (11) for an attack.
Paladin (d12) - Inspire
Reroll (or roll) any unwounded character die in your adventuring party except the paladin die. This includes characters who have rolled a 1 this turn and would otherwise be wounded, and also character dice other than those rolled at the beginning of the turn (which means you may “reroll” a die from your adventuring party and add it to your melee team this turn).
If the rerolled character die rolls its maximum, that character may use its special ability as normal. If it rolls a 1, that character is wounded.
Inspire may only be used on character dice, not common pool dice.
Example: Dee begins her turn by rolling four dice from her adventuring party and gets the following results:
- Wizard (d4) = 1
- Cleric (d8) = 6
- Druid (d10) = 4
- Paladin (d12) = 12
She rerolls her Wizard die and again gets a 1. Because the Paladin rolled a crit (a 12), they get to inspire the other characters in the adventuring party. Dee could choose to reroll the Cleric or Druid die, or reroll the Wizard die a third time, but she chooses to have the Paladin inspire her Barbarian. Therefore she gets to roll her Barbarian die -- the d20 -- and add it to her melee team for the remainder of the turn. However, the Wizard then becomes wounded at the end of the turn because it rolled a 1.
Barbarian (d20) - Rage
Automatically and instantly defeat any one enemy regardless of the value on the enemy die or dice. Receive victory points as normal.
Note: The Rage ability can only be used to defeat a single Hydra head. (See Epic Monsters below.)
Example: Pip rolls a 20 on his Barbarian die. He chooses to have the Barbarian instantly defeat one of the enemies. (In this case it’s an enemy die showing an 18 which is an Ogre and is worth 20 victory points!) If one of the enemies was an epic monster, Pip could choose to have the Barbarian defeat the epic monster (or Hydra head) instantly even if the monster’s total value was higher than 20.
An enemy die that shows a 20 represents an epic monster that lurks within the ranks of the enemy horde. Epic monsters are exceptionally large and tough, so whenever a 20 is rolled on an enemy die, take an extra 10-sided die from the common pool, roll it, and set it next to the 20-sided enemy die. The total of the two dice is the total that must be achieved by a melee team in order to defeat the monster. This means it will always require at least two members of a melee team to defeat an epic monster (or it will require the use of a Barbarian’s special ability).
In addition to rolling a 10-sided die with the epic monster die, also roll a 6-sided die from the common pool. The result of the d6 determines the type of epic monster and what its special ability is, as listed below. Keep the d6 near the d20 so you can remember which type of epic monster it represents. Alternatively, feel free to use miniatures instead if you have them!
1 = Troll
2 = Huge Spider
3 = Wraith
4 = Basilisk
5 = Hydra
6 = Young Dragon
Each type of epic monster also scores a number of points when defeated, as shown in the list below.
There may only be one of each type of epic monster in play at a time. If you roll the number of an epic monster that is already in play, roll it again until you get an epic monster type that is not in play.
An epic monster’s special abilities stay in effect until the very end of a player's turn unless the monster is defeated. After an epic monster is defeated, return all associated dice taken from the common pool.
One bad thing about trolls: They regenerate.
After the Troll has been defeated, roll a 6-sided die from the common pool. On the roll of 5 or 6, the Troll regenerates! No points are scored for the Troll and it re-enters play. Reroll the Troll’s d10 again to determine the new total needed to defeat it.
A horrifyingly large Spider traps characters in its sticky webs!
Each player rolls 1 less die on their turn until this epic monster is defeated. This means that a maximum of 3 character dice may be rolled on your turn instead of 4. Additional character dice may still be brought into play through the use of the Paladin’s special ability.
A dread Wraith has appeared on the battlefield, spreading fear amongst all combatants.
No rerolls of any type may be used by any of the players until the creature is slain. This restriction includes the Paladin’s special ability.
A Basilisk lumbers forth, turning its paralyzing gaze on the characters and freezing them in their tracks!
On every player’s turn, after all character dice have been rolled (and possibly rerolled) but before any special abilities are used, the active player must roll a d10 from the common pool to represent the Basilisk's paralyzation ability. Any character dice results on the player’s melee team that match the number on the d10 may not be used to attack or heal or use special abilities this turn. Place them back in your adventuring party. You may not bring them back into play or replace them with any additional character dice from your adventuring party except through the use of the Paladin’s special ability.
If the Basilisk rolls a 1 on its paralyzation d10, and if any characters on the melee team also show a 1 for their final roll, those characters have been turned to stone! They are removed from play for the rest of the game and may not be used in any way.
A massive and horrifying Hydra rampages across the battlefield! The other enemies fall back temporarily, letting the beast do the fighting for them.
The Hydra is a highly dangerous epic monster, and all the characters must focus on fighting it. Except for the Cleric’s special ability, no healing of any type is allowed until this epic monster is defeated. In addition, no other epic monsters, Ogres, or other enemy creatures may be attacked by any player until the Hydra is dead.
The Hydra always has at least 3 heads. When the Hydra first appears, roll a d4 to see how many heads it has in addition to the initial 3 heads. Then roll a d10 from the common pool for each head minus 1 (since the d20 counts as a head) to determine the number needed to defeat each head. Reroll any 1’s. All of the heads represented by d10s must be defeated before defeating the d20 head.
Unlike other epic monsters, do not roll a d10 to add to the d20 that represents the Hydra's final head. Therefore, the final head will always require a 20 to defeat it.
Each head of the Hydra is worth 10 points when defeated.
Example: A Hydra appears on the battlefield at the end of Polly's turn. She rolls a d4 to determine the number of heads it has. She rolls a 3, so the Hydra has a total of 6 heads (3+3). The d20 represents one head, so Polly rolls five additional d10s from the common pool for the other heads.
After the Hydra is defeated, return the extra d10s to the common pool.
Note: The Hydra’s heads may not be rerolled by the use of the Wizard’s sleep spell. The Barbarian’s special ability may be used to defeat a single head, but the normal rule applies that the d10 heads must be defeated before the final d20 head can be attacked.
A young red Dragon snaps and bites angrily, then opens its mouth to breathe a torrent of fire!
At the end of each player’s turn, if the young Dragon has not been defeated then it uses its Fire Breath attack. The active player should roll all of their unwounded dice once, even the ones that did not attack or heal this turn. Any dice that roll a 1 are wounded.
End your turn by rolling any enemy dice that were defeated during the round. Carefully place the enemies back in the middle of the table in numerical order from smallest to largest.
The first player to reach a score of 100 or more points triggers the end of the game. Continue taking turns until it is once again the First Player’s turn, then play one final round.
For example, if the First Player triggered the end of the game, then all of the other players also take a turn until it is the First Player's turn again at which point everyone takes a final turn. Or if the player to the left of the First Player triggered the end of the game, the final round would begin when play reached the First Player. All players will have then taken an equal number of turns during the game.
Players' final scores may exceed 100 points. If using percentile d10s to track scoring, use d10s from the common pool as additional scoring dice.
After the final round, compare player scores. The player who achieves the highest score is the winner. The remaining creatures in the horde scatter and flee, and Greenhill Village is saved!
As a reminder, points are scored for the following:
- Standard enemy = 10 points
- Ogre = 20 points
- Troll = 20 points
- Huge Spider = 30 points
- Wraith = 30 points
- Basilisk = 30 points
- Hydra = 10 points per head
- Young Dragon = 30 points
If at any point during the game all players but one have been eliminated, the remaining player is declared the winner.
In case of a tie, players can choose to share a joint victory, or they can have a Final Showdown round to determine a single winner.
In a Final Showdown round, roll the four enemy d20s, rerolling any 1s or 20s. (Epic monsters do not appear during Final Showdown rounds.) Place the enemy dice in the center of the table. Choose one of the tied players to begin the round. The tied players then each take one turn rolling their dice as normal and trying to defeat the enemies. Reroll enemy dice at the end of player turns as normal. If one player has defeated more enemies than the other players at the end of a single round, that player is the winner. Otherwise track wounds as normal between rounds and continue playing Final Showdown rounds until a clear winner is established.
The first player to reach 200 points or more triggers the end of the game. Alternatively, players can choose to play to any score that is divisible by 10.
Do not roll a d6 to determine epic monster type. All epic monsters are automatically Trolls. This is a good mode to use when first learning the game.