The CORE20 Playtest: Taking d20 Fantasy to a New Level (With No Levels)

The CORE20 RPG is a d20-based fantasy roleplaying game ruleset built on a foundation of freeform character building with no classes and no levels. 

The CORE20 Playtest: Taking d20 Fantasy to a New Level (With No Levels)
The CORE20 playtest features all the player- and GM-facing rules of the game, plus GM guidelines and a 180-strong playtest package from the Creature Compendium.
This is a community submitted press release.

CORE20 is a game that reshapes the tired pass/fail reckoning of checks, attacks, and other die rolls in d20 games into a more story-fueled approach to resolving tests and challenges. It’s a game that thrives on steady-state long-form campaigning rather than accelerated sprints through various heroic tiers. It’s a game that moves away from the fantasy-superhero trope that modern fantasy games often push toward. It’s a game that lets players and GMs build story through every part of play, from the character-creation process onward.

And in addition to all that, the playtest version of the CORE20 rules are free to play, feature complete — and available right now.

About the Game

CORE20 is a d20 system, built around the same game engines underlying 3rd edition and 5th edition D&D. If you’ve played any d20 game from D&D 3rd edition onward, you’re already familiar with all the key concepts of CORE20 play. But if you’re equally familiar with how the standard d20 mechanics can leave you frustrated for too many rounds in a row by missing a clutch attack roll or saving throw by 1, CORE20 can show you a better way. 

If you’ve spent more time than you like choosing subclass and multiclass options in an attempt to build a character just the way you want them, only to have that character still feel like someone else’s creation, CORE20 offers a brand-new approach that can turn out traditional archetypal builds or truly unique characters with equal ease.

If class features, weapons, magic, and other options all feel a bit too similar in D&D 5e, CORE20 brings forward and updates many of the approaches of D&D 3.5e to give more choices to players who want those choices. But at the same time, the game’s foundations of freeform character building create a kind of modularity to the rules that make it easy to focus on straightforward options for players who prefer that kind of simplicity.

CORE20 is a game that makes character building the foundation of the story told by players and GMs around the table, working with the idea that even before the GM asks the in-game question, “What do you want to do?”, every player gets to ask the question:

“Who do I want to be?”

And then they get to answer that question in ways that no other d20 fantasy game can.

The Person in Charge

The CORE20 roleplaying game is the brainchild of veteran D&D editor and designer Scott Fitzgerald Gray. Since 2004, Scott’s been working as a full-time freelance RPG editor and designer, primarily on the Dungeons & Dragons game — including working as an editor on the Monster Manual, the Dungeon Master’s Guide, and the Player’s Handbook for fifth edition D&D. 

Scott’s written and edited upwards of two hundred books, adventures, and articles for Wizards of the Coast, including writing Dead in Thay in the Tales from the Yawning Portal adventure anthology, and being managing editor and co-creative director for the Acquisitions Incorporated book. He’s written or edited for MCDM, Ghostfire Gaming, Schwalb Entertainment, Sly Flourish, Gamehole Publishing, Green Ronin, Frog God Games, and others, as well as for DragonDungeonDragon+, and Arcadia magazines. He also creates and publishes adventures and gaming supplements under his own Insane Angel Studios imprint.

CORE20 first came to life in Scott’s home game in 2010, as a loose collection of hacks and house rules for playing D&D 3.5e with no classes and no levels. It’s expanded inexorably since then through six revisions of what we’ll call closed-alpha playtesting, during which time the game has grown to include new rules for task resolution, skills, hit points, downtime, spellcasting, combat, magic items, and much more. 

The CORE20 playtest is available for download right now, and consists of everything you need to play the game. It’s not a partial set of rules, or a subset of eventual player options. It’s a rules-complete game in its entirety, absolutely free. 

Welcome to a new approach to d20 gaming.

For more information on the CORE20 RPG, reach out to Scott at, check out the design and development blog at, or join the CORE20 Discord through the playtest page.