Thoughts on Role-Playing Games

Note: This entry was originally just about this one cool game idea, but then I went nuts in the comments section of my own \'blog, listing a bunch of much, much cooler games that I read about today.

From the Lumpley games \'blog:

On 2006-10-03, Neel wrote:

So, I ran this game almost a decade ago, called Aquinan Angels. The player characters were angels and demons straight out of the Summa Theologica -- they were given comprehensive knowledge of the entire history of the universe at the moment of their creation, and then had a single choice whether to accept it and serve god as angels, or reject it and be demons. Nothing could ever change their minds because there was nothing new they could learn.

To run this game, we had a session where we figured out the plot ahead of time. Who were the characters, hom many scenes were in the story, what happened in each one, and so on. Then, we played out the scenes, playing the characters as people who knew the scenario and how it turned out and what they would do just as well as we did.

It created theme with supernova intensity, though you can\'t add dice or any other form of chance to it at all.


Ok, and finally (?) theres Don\'t Rest Your Head a horror game that makes Call of Cthulhu look like D&D 4th. I really want to run this game, but I don\'t know if I have the chops. It\'s set in a weird dream world, where the players are insomniacs trying to stay awake and fleeing from demonic Nightmares.

The central mechanic is that every time you roll for something you can use a number of white six-sided dice (Discipline) and try to get enough successes (dice that roll over a 3) to pull it off--maybe climbing that slippery wall would take four successes, and you have six white dice to roll.

However, you can add in black dice (Exhaustion) if you have a skill that you\'re really good at that might help. You can also add in red dice (Madness) if you have a magic power that could help. So, on average rolling four successes on six dice won\'t work. But if your skill is \"Athleticism\", and your madness power is \"Probability Manipulation\", then you can throw in, say, three black dice and three red dice as well. And with twelve dice, you can totally make it up the wall--you are putting extra effort into being Athletic, and you\'re affecting probability as well!

However, the game also looks at the total of each die type. If the red dice add up to a larger sum than anything else, then you eventually lose a white die, but have to roll an extra red die every time. If you lose all the white dice, you become a Nightmare yourself!

On the other hand, if the black dice have the greatest total sum, then you add a permanent black die to every roll--do this six times, and you fall asleep. And this is bad, very, very bad. (It\'s basically game over, new character sheet, you\'ve been et by a grue, although of course the GM could make it more interesting...)

There are some more rules as well, but that\'s the central mechanic that grabbed me. Apparently (and people who\'ve played it say it works) there is a real descent into madness and exhaustion spiral, as each black die makes it easier to get more black dice, and the same with red, until you don\'t have enough white dice to possibly outroll them... and then you think, well, I\'m more tired than mad, so I might as well add some more of these red dice...

There is also, I should add, a mechanic for loosing black and red dice and gaining white dice, so it isn\'t an inevitable death. Just a likely one.

I think I might buy this when I have the cash. I\'m just not sure I can do the setting justice, although I really love that sort of creepy Dreamworld style of horror.

These games sound fantastic.
OMG, apparently there is also a very simple, rules light(ish) game called Mechtonic. It is Battletech, but with no tables or charts, and played with Legos. SQUEEE!!!
At the other end of the spectrum... there's this: Kazekami Kyoko Kills Kublai Khan. A GM-less, diceless game for two players, it begins with Kyoko (a kazekami wind spirit, and also a ninja) assassinating Kublai Kahn (a mighty ruler). She then taunts him by revealing how she managed to seduce and bed all of his favorite concubines. That's the whole RPG!?!?!?!?

Ok, this is just turning into a big list of games I want to play, so I\'ll include these two:

GMless, diceless. Everyone is dealt a random character, and they are all vacationing on a remote island (from which they cannot leave until the ferry returns, naturally, in two weeks or so).

At the start of each turn, an Event card is dealt, describing some mysterious thing that happened during the day. Then all of the characters discuss the events of the day. The first card turned over is always about the grisly death of an NPC guest, the Sports Fisher.

Play continues until all of the even cards have been explained. There are essentially no other mechanics (see the PDF for more details).


Oh, I forgot, there\'s also The Shab-al-Hiri Roach:

The Shab-al-Hiri Roach is a dark comedy of manners, lampooning academia and asking players to answer a difficult question - are you willing to swallow a soul-eating telepathic insect bent on destroying human civilization?


Even if it will get you tenure?