8th) What is a good RPG to play for sessions of 2hrs or less?
If we’re talking individual sessions then I think some of the more indie one shot systems work really well for this. They quite often have an emphasis on short scenes framed around a single purpose and the ability to just run things on the fly, with or without a GM. I suspect a lot of people will mention Fiasco which is a fun game but I just wanted to touch on a few others.
The criminally unknown Hell 4 Leather by Joe Prince tells some amazing stories of revenge and retribution over a short time period. It’s moody, atmospheric and the scene designs are really tight. I’ve played it repeatedly, always had a blast and am convinced that it would work really well as a set up story for another game. Play the revenge story then switch to something else to chronicle the fallout / investigation (the supernatural aspect would pair really well with some urban fantasy).
Remember Tomorrow by Gregor Hutton. A small cyberpunk game that leans heavily on the Gibson stories, with a particular focus on characters getting out / completing their story. To do so they must be Ready, Willing and Able but each of those comes at a price. With how scenes are framed and resolved it is easy to build up a large cast of characters that are retained from session to session yet each of them may never come into contact with all the others before they are retired. A great lightweight narrative system that is true to the genre.
Dread by Epidiah Ravachol and Nathaniel Barmore. One of the most well known indie titles but also one that I’ve unfortunately only had a chance to read. Dread is the Jenga tower horror RPG. Want to do something challenging? Make a pull from the tower but knock it over and you’re marked for death. Maybe not immediately but there’s no escaping it. Everybody I know that has played it loved the suspense the tower adds to the game and that it emphasises characters playing to the tropes of the genre. Definitely one I need to try ASAP.
This month’s RPG Blog Alliance Carnival topic is Summer is Coming, hosted over at Dice Monkey. Here in the UK I can say, with some certainty, that Summer is most definitely here (we’ve just had our hottest day so far this year). Having gotten into RPGs while at university, and still being friends with a number of university students summer is also a period I associate with less gaming as campaigns always tended to wrap up just prior to the exam period. So with that in mind I thought I’d present a few suggestions for games that can be run in a fairly adhoc manner, without the need for a regular group meeting each week for a continuing story.
- Quickstart rules – Ever had that system you always wanted to try but never got around to? Summer is the perfect time, aided by the fact that many systems these days release a set of quickstart rules that come with a prewritten adventure and sample characters. Best of all is that they’re usually free. So go ahead, give something new a try, if you like it then hey presto, option for a new campaign and if you don’t then it hasn’t cost you anything to give it a try.
- Hell 4 Leather by Prince of Darkness Games. A game of supernatural revenger, which sees a murdered ganger (one player) given 24 hours to seek revenge on their former friends (everybody else). The game requires no prep, is focused tightly on the group narrative and can be run in around 2 hours. It’s one of my favourite pickup games and I’ve played in sessions where the setting has ranged from the relatively mundane wild west or 30’s mobsters through to D&D fantasy or dystopian cyberpunk. Highly recommended.
- Fiasco by Bully Pulpuit Games. Fiasco is probably the most well known indie games, helped by its appearance on Wil Wheaton’s Tabletop. The game is all about setting up a group of relationships and making plans, then seeing how they all go horribly wrong with the introduction of the tilt. The game itself is setting agnostic, which is instead chosen through the use of playsets that contains all the relationships, needs, locations and items. There are, literally, hundreds of playsets available covering pretty much every possible setting you could want.
- Lady Blackbird by One.Seven Design. Lady Blackbird is a steampunk / pulp adventure game and system that follows the attempt of the noble Lady to escape from her arranged marriage and rendezvous with her secret love, the pirate king Uriah Flint. Think steampunk crossed with equal parts Flash Gordon and Firefly. The game (which is free to download) contains a complete system and set of PCs plus the outlines of an adventure chronicles Lady Blackbird’s journey. While the adventure, as provided, requires either a quick thinking GM or some extra preparation there is a surprising depth to what is provided, making it easy to flesh out as required. As such the game can be run as a one shot or just as easily expanded into a short campaign.
- Remember Tomorrow by Box Ninja. A near future cyberpunk game that focuses not on the gadgets and implants a character may possess but the more basic fundamentals that underlie the classic works of Gibson et al. Namely what do they want and are they Ready, Willing and Able to obtain it. Like Fiasco and Hell 4 Leather the game is narrative based and runs without a GM, with players cycling between PCs and the NPCs of the various factions. One of the most unique features is that while a single session may complete a PCs story everybody else (PCs, NPCs, factions) form an ever evolving pool that can be drawn upon next time the game is played. Thus while two characters may never actually meet in the narrative their actions may have significant impacts on one another through the world with which they interact.
So there you have it, a few options for your summer gaming. If anybody has any additional recommendations then I’d be eager to hear them as it looks like my summer is once again going to be dominated by one offs and irregular games.