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What games are out there that could be played in a single night, with no prep?

I have Spirit of the Century, but it really takes too long to make characters. So, in my opinion, it's great if you've got characters ready in advance but that wasn't the case for me.

I also have Og and Dirty Secrets either of which would have worked, especially if I'd had my regular 4-player game instead of a 2-player.

But what else is there? To qualify a game must:

  • Be recognizable as a tabletop RPG
  • Be playable in a single evening's sesson - say 5 hours
  • Require no prep from the GM
  • Require no prep from the players

By "no prep" I mean the following:

  • For GMs: All they'll need to do is have the rulebook and character sheets (or other resources) available. It may be beneficial for the GM to have read the rules prior to play, but I consider knowing a rulebook in-and-out to be prep.
  • For players: No. Prep. Period. If you walk into your GM's house all ready to play X and find out that for some reason you're going to play Y, you can't be punished for having not done your homework.
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As this is a game-recommendation question, please adhere to the FAQ, the rules for subjective questions as outlined in Good Subjective, Bad Subjective and our rules for game recommendations. All responses must cite actual experience or reference others' experiences!

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FYI, these are generally called "short-form games" if you want to google for them. –  SevenSidedDie Oct 25 '10 at 16:36
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As this is a product recommendation question, please adhere to both the FAQ and the rules for subjective questions as outlined in Good Subjective, Bad Subjective. In particular, all responses should be based on actual experience and contain references and examples whenever possible. –  mxyzplk Jul 2 '13 at 23:23
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26 Answers 26

up vote 37 down vote accepted

All of these games play excellently as one-shot games. I've run many of these at cons, sometimes as part of my "RPG speed dating" event (Indie by Storm) where I'll run 4-6 games in 4 hours. If I can give you a feel for a game in 40 minutes, then you can have a blast with it in 5 hours!

I have updated this answer with other folks' excellent answers, but added my own understanding of the rules.

I have also annotated each game's entry with a three-plus scoring mechanism in four categories:

  • RPG -- is this recognizable as an RPG? compare to D&D to get more pluses.
  • 1Shot -- can you play this to a satisfying conclusion in 4-5 hours?
  • GM -- does this game require very little GM prep?
  • Play -- does this game require very little player prep?

The more pluses, the better! + is okay, ++ is good, and +++ is great!


The Shab-al-Hiri Roach RPG+ 1Shot+++ GM+++ Play+++ (by the creator of Fiasco) is set in a sleepy northeastern college in the early 1900's. You play professors, vying for status. It'd be silly enough, but one of your colleagues unwittingly brought back an ancient Sumerian god in the form of a cockroach. The roach travels from person to person, forcing them to do terrible things that only it can understand. Chaos (and comedy) ensues. Zero prep required. The rules are short and simple. Characters take 15 minutes to make (2 minutes if you know what you're doing).

Carry RPG+ 1Shot+++ GM+ Play+++ is a Vietnam War game, but it's not a tactical fighting game. It's about the hardships soldiers face. You play members of a company of Marines. The characters are pregenerated. The players add Burdens to the stock characters to flesh them out. Takes 15 minutes. Play is serious, often brutal, always rewarding. The rules are fiddly, so the GM will have to know the rulebook.

Montsegur 1244 RPG+ 1Shot+++ GM++ Play+++ is set in a Cathar city in southwestern France in 1244. Catholic crusaders have surrounded the city in a siege. You play some of Montsegur's inhabitants, mostly Cathar religious fanatics. Are you willing to burn for your beliefs? Pregenerated characters, no dice. The game requires some material prep (like printing out and cutting out cards and stuff) but it's a one-time thing that can be done whenever. Fantastic, serious game.

Shock: RPG+ 1Shot+++ GM+++ Play+++ is a game of social science-fiction. It's more Asimov than Piper, if you follow my meaning. Thin details of setting are created in play and developed throughout play. The rules are fantastically simple but produce complex stories.

Misspent Youth RPG+++ 1Shot++ GM+++ Play+++ is set in a dark science-fiction world that you create in play. Setting creation and character creation takes up the first hour or so, if you let people gab and discuss. It's worth it for the buy-in it creates. You play disaffected teenagers who are fighting The Authority. The dice system is simple and can be explained in minutes. The GM's role is mostly narration; no game balance or any of that stuff. Extremely easy to run.

Lady Blackbird RPG+++ 1Shot+++ GM+++ Play+++ is Firefly meets Steampunk. The game is extremely easy to learn. The characters are pregenerated. Lady Blackbird was designed to fill this near-zero-prep niche, in fact.

Fiasco RPG+ 1Shot+++ GM+++ Play+++ lets you play ambitious people with strong motivations and poor impulse control. Essentially, it's the Coen Brothers movie game. Zero prep is necessary and one read-through of the rules will be enough for you to facilitate a game (everyone plays; there is no GM!).

Zombie Cinema RPG+ 1Shot+++ GM+++ Play+++ is light-hearted zombie horror. It's less complex than most family board games and way more fun. It's more toward the "storytelling game" continuum of the role-playing game spectrum, but I think most role-players would see it as an RPG. Everyone plays; no GM.

In a Wicked Age RPG+++ 1Shot+ GM++ Play+++ is hard-hitting swords & sorcery in the vein of the old novels. You pick an Oracle (a set of setting and character tables) and roll -- presto! setting! Within ten minutes, everyone has a character and is playing. The rules are fiddly, so the GM will have to know the rulebook.

Minimalist games RPG+++ 1Shot++ GM+++ Play+++ like 1PG and TWERPS can get you playing quickly. These either have no setting or provide simple supplement books to focus play on a setting. Their simplicity is both a boon and a curse. On the one hand, there are hardly any rules to learn and the GM can just run whatever he or she wants. On the other hand, that puts all the burden on the GM to make the game fun. You're a step or two away from cops & robbers here, but if that's your thing, awesome. I personally think the games I mention above provide just enough structure to focus play and provide much-needed support to the players.

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A few suggestions, all of wich are free:

Lady Blackbird, sort of a cross between steampunk and Firefly, a game and scenario in one with pregenerated characters (and the possibility of making your own)

Archipelago II - a rules-light game inspired by the Earthsea chronicles.

Risus - bills itself as the "anything rpg".

These three are all easy to learn and easy to play, and can be played for one session, or more if you want to. Lady Blackbird offers the most structure in term of pre-determined content (characters, locations etc.) while Risus offers the least (ie. none - you have to build stuff yourself, but that is exceedingly easy). All three are excellent and well worth checking out.

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Sounds like Risus might not fit the request here, since building the adventure is probably considered "GM Prep". –  Iszi Oct 26 '10 at 0:01
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+1 for mentioning Risus (and beating me to it). @Iszi the prep is along the lines of "Uh, you're on a space ship". That's all it takes to get the game going. –  Pureferret Dec 16 '11 at 9:35
    
+1 for RISUS from me too. It's extremely versatile, literally 6 A4 pages of rules, and it takes the GM about 2 seconds to stat a creature/NPC. –  Dakeyras Jan 17 at 23:56
    
-1 for RISUS. It's so light, that, while the prep is simple, it provides no mechanical direction and requires the GM to do most of the lifting of directing what kind of play. Rules-light is not always "quick to get into playing" and often is worse for generic rules light. –  aramis Feb 2 at 10:48
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These are all games I've run or played as instant, one-evening games, and had fun with.

We greatly enjoyed Fiasco, which is designed for playing in a single evening from beginning to end. The book is somewhat set up to teach the rules as you read, although we found that having one or two players who had already read the rules made things much smoother. Character creation is quick and part of the game, not preparation for it, so you can start cold and finish in good time. I set up an evening of Fiasco for an experienced roleplayer, two never-roleplayed-before friends, and myself, and it was great fun.

We played Zombie Cinema the same way. The rules for this are short enough that everyone can read them before you start, and character creation is as fast as drawing three cards and telling everyone what your character looks like. It manages to make character death an entertaining part of the game, which incidentally also promotes that player to GM-like status so they can keep playing. And it has zombies.

There is also the strange little game dubbed Roll For Shoes that we had a lot of fun with one evening. Character creation is dead simple (one minute, tops), and you can literally do any kind of game with it. It requires no preparation and is very free-wheeling. The rules are also simple enough (8 sentences) that you can keep them in your head while GMing. It's a great backup game that requires nothing more than the rules in your head, a handful of d6, paper, and pencils.

(It doesn't suit your answer anymore since your clarifying edit, but it's still worth mentioning since the comments won't make sense without it:

Apocalypse World is a hefty 300-page game, but once the GM knows the rules, it requires (actually, it demands) zero prep for both players and GM. Although it's designed to be an ongoing game, it's just as much fun played as an instant game. I'm going to be running this as a one-shot for three players in November. The only downside to playing this as an instant game is that character sheets are necessary (they're the instant-start "rulebooks" for the players), so a little bit of physical prep is required.)

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I quite enjoy the 1PG game line from Deep7. Very recognizable as a tabletop RPG. Takes a handful of minutes to make a character (double-digit seconds if you know the system already). The individual games come with pre-made adventure seeds that have enough detail to be worthwhile without being railroading modules.

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(Editing in Adam's excellent rating system.)

The one-page GHOST/ECHO RPG+++ 1Shot+++ GM+++ Play+++ from the same designer of Lady Blackbird is great fun -- I played it with my parents and it worked well. It's based on the Otherkind Dice system by Vincent Baker which is a precursor of Apocalypse World which one of your other respondants mentioned, but it provides just enough color and system for you to sit down and go -- and your game is likely to be quite different than the way I played it. I keep meaning to get this out and play more, with other groups.

Universalis RPG++ 1Shot+++ GM+ Play+++ is great fun. Depending on how sticky you want to be about your first criterion, you might rule it out, but most people do assert it as a role-playing game. It's GMless and the first thing you do is create the type of game -- setting, genre, special rules, etc. It seems to be played most often as a one-shot but occasionally as a campaign. I've played it maybe twenty times as a one-shot and twice as very short (2-3 session) campaign games. I have never once had Universalis fail to deliver!

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Ghost/Echo fits the edited requirements for "no prep", but Universalis doesn't. It's not a big book, but the rules aren't set up to run cold. –  SevenSidedDie Oct 25 '10 at 21:15
    
Oh yeah, that's true. It's not hard to learn the rules, but you'd surely want one player to know them before sitting down. –  clweeks Oct 26 '10 at 14:39
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Being a role-playing game on the topic of the High-Flying adventures of Beatrice Henrietta Bristol-Smythe, DBE, daring Aviatrix and accomplished Exploratrix, and her Gentleman Companion, who for a Modest Fee, accompanies Beatrice Henrietta Bristol-Smythe, DBE, when the Occasion warrants her an Escort.

That's the actual game title. It's fun enough. It's just a couple of pages long. What more could you possibly ask for?

Also, there's Stalin's Story and Chamber (by Simple Phrase Press, now apparently missing), although they're not for everyone, the former being too experimental and the latter being too horrific for most people.

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There's argument on whether it's strictly tabletop, but Aye, Dark Overlord is a really fast, really fun role-playing experience.

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A particularly good one, tho' out of print, not legally in PDF, and getting hard to find, is the old Judge Dredd by Games Workshop.

Character generation, presuming you have the character sheets, it's just roll 1d10 (S 1-3=2, 4-8=3, 9-0=4), 7 sets of 2d10+20 (I, CS, DS, TS, MS, SS, PS). If 40 on a particular stat, pick one special ability. Add a name. Boom, done.

In the Judge Dredd Companion, there's the "59D Table" which is an instant investigation starter... You just start a routine house to house search and go from there. It gives you random perps, no problem.

Heck, just pick up the newspaper, find the police blotter, and pick any two at random, and turn your judges loose on them...

Don't try this with either of the Mongoose versions, tho'... both take FAR more effort for characters which are so damned disposable (despite being tougher than most of the perps).

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I've had quite a lot of fun with Ninja Burger as a beer and pretzels RPG. In a more serious no-prep vein, Baker's Poison'd is grim, gritty, and fast. Baker's In a Wicked Age also satisfies the no-prep criterion, if you want a fantasy game.

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I think Engine Heart is my favorite short-form RPG; it's a game in which all the PCs are domestic robots in a world where there are no longer any humans. (Think the first part of WALL-E.)

It's not strictly no-prep, as the PCs have to generate characters, but honestly the character generation process is half the fun. (In the game we played, I was a tennis-serving robot from a country club, desperately trying to find anybody who knew how to play tennis.) It's not a game in which there's any preparation that needs to take place before everybody meets, certainly.

It's definitely not intended for more than an evening's worth at a time - there's no advancement mechanics, and the rules are very bare-bones.

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Check out the Fast Character Creation rules on page 28 of Spirit of the Century. They will literally get you going in about 2 minutes.

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Great Ork Gods is a very fun game about Orcs and the Gods who hate them. There's no GM. Players play the role of Orcs trying to accomplish various Orc-like scenarios (Destroy the Village, etc). They also play the role of Gods who adjudicate the difficulty of the actions of the other players. It's cooperative, in that all the Orcs are against their enemies, and competitive, in that there are victory points for accomplishing various scenario goals.

Loads of fun!

I'm a little bit biased, but I think Basic D&D fits your requirements very well. Character generation is 10-15 minutes, tops and the Moldvay edition (possibly Mentzer too) has a random dungeon stocking table in the back. All you need is a map and some dice. And everyone knows D&D as a genre, so there isn't much explaining to do.

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That sounds very interesting. I have so far stayed away from the old-school D&D revival - I've feared that it (D&D) would have been (in the words of Jo Walton visited by the suck fairy. And I guess I was leery of having all my memories tainted. The recent D&D-something release in a red box was aimed straight at my nostalgic heart, despite the fact that I never had the red box. Only, (due to parental confusion) the blue-box Expert Set. When I saw that it was 4e inside I skipped it, as I already have the 3 core books unused on a shelf. –  gomad Oct 27 '10 at 21:56
    
Basic D&D is not immune to the suck fairy. But if you want to see how my gaming group makes it work for us, check out redvan.wikidot.com. If you take a fresh look at the rules, and don't forget all the things you've learned about roleplaying since you last played it, Basic can be great. –  cr0m Oct 29 '10 at 7:20
    
Beware! Great Ork Gods is the One shot game. Once you play it once, there's no point in doing that again. The one time we played it we had a GM and I think it's necessary but he does not set difficulties or roll, he just controls what the playes stumble upon. –  Zachiel Aug 31 '12 at 21:45
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Paranoia. Hilarity will ensue - great for a one off. A word of caution, must not be taken seriously. Ever.

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I don't think someone could run Paranoia without reading the rulebook, which is a requirement of the question. –  mxyzplk Jan 17 at 13:03
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Geiger Counter RPG+++ 1Shot++ Play+ is a mechanically-simple game that tries to replicate the kind of movie where most of the principle cast is gradually killed off by some kind of monster or threat, until some lucky few finally escape it . . . or not. For the most part, this means it's about emulating horror/monster movies along the lines of Alien or Friday the Thirteenth, but it can definitely do other things (war movies, disaster movies, etc.). GM roles are shared between all players, with everyone taking turns acting as "director". There's a pseudo-competitive angle, in that each player has their own potential survivor character who they're "trying" to keep alive . . . but really, everyone's pretty happy to see their character die (after all, you still get to take turns as director, or jump in to play NPCs while someone else is directing).

It's not completely prep-free, as you do have to come up with the concept, style, and cast for your movie, but that's always a fun collaborative process, so I think it's fair to call that part of play. In my experience, ideas flow fast and awesome, and then everybody gets to cast real actors for their characters (which makes this game great for online play, where everybody can Google up photos and share them).

Geiger Counter is still in beta, but a finalized version is apparently in the works.

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Coming up with the concept and such is definitely part of the at-the-table fun stuff of play, not the before-the-table "work" stuff of prep. –  SevenSidedDie Nov 1 '10 at 15:56
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Adam Dray's list is excellent, almost most (all) require the GM to have read the game in advance. None should require knowing the rules "in and out". I will note that many of them require the GM to be a bit pushy if you're going to squeeze in a whole game in 5 hours if your players tend to mosey through their games. For example, Shock is technically GM-less, but someone acting as a facilitator to encourage people to take bold actions and aggressively frame scenes can help.

To Dray's list, I will add:

Awesome Adventures - Action and adventure with a story focus. Spirit of the Century, aggressively streamlined and made generic. To do as a spur-of-the-moment one shot, the GM will either need to have a solid session idea up front, or be good at improvising.

Penny for My Thoughts - A group of amnesiac's try to help each other remember in an experimental treatment involving a bit of mind-reading. Designed to be learned by reading as you play! Errs a bit toward a storytelling game than an RPG, as player agency is more limited.

The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen - Implausible adventures in the 1800s. Helps to have seen the Terry Gilliam movie. The rules are simple enough that I taught them from memory after a single read through. Works well as a party game for gamers. Down side: Very much a competitive story telling game, but nominally an RPG as you are telling a story about "you" as a character and other people inject complications you must narrate out of.

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Here is my short list of games that make a good one-shot:

I have played all these successfully.

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Ill be a broken record and recommend Don't Rest Your Head. There is a one sheet cheat sheet for rules and colored dice for rolling exhaustion (a skill you can do supernaturally well, which is not supernatural), discipline (doing tasks and keeping cool) and madness (that one crazy, supernatural talent). GMs only get one kind of die - pain dice. Questions you answer on the character sheets actually suggest plotlines for the session.

I ran a session of this at PaizoCon 2010, with only one other player who had read the rulebook and no other players ever touching it.

DRYH isn't a very campaignable game, but its got a good, Dark City / Horror feel to it.

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It's a long shot, because the game's out of print -- but if you can land a copy of West End Games' 1986 marvel of Ready-To-Play RPG goodness, Ghostbusters: A Frightfully Cheerful RolePlaying Game, you can't go wrong. It is meant to be opened up and played in a matter of minutes.

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Dragon age is a great rules simple system for a dark gritty fantasy adventure IMO. There is prewritten adventures included in the box set. If you go as far as to get the GM Screen (which really helps cut down on the prep time for the gm, it's got all the rules on it) it's got another adventure written for it included. Lastly there are pre gen characters that can be downloaded here: pgc

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Nobody has mentioned Over The Edge, probably because the game is almost 20 years old. As far as I know, it is still in print from Atlas. I have used the OTE rules on several occasions for one-shot adventures in exactly the way you describe: I prepared a one-page-both-sides handout that tells players the setup and all they need about the rules to create a character and get started. It works wonderfully, but it's not meant to be a heavily simulationist experience.

I have also seen HeroQuest used in exactly this way as well. Characters can be created "on the fly", and with a simple sheet handout players can learn all they need to know of the rules in order to get started.

For the "no-prep on the GM's part", it would certainly be doable, as long as the group could arrive at a premise somehow (either the GM provides one, or the group agrees on one) to get the story kickstarted. Both systems let you create characters with declarative attributes (i.e. "my character has a 'knows London like the back of her hand' ability at 3 dice"), and these kinds of games work well to help create a starting situation and motivations out of a simple starting premise.

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For zero-prep on the player side, Paranoia is your best bet - part of the rules is that players aren't allowed to admit to knowing the rules!

On the judge/DM side, it's not bad either - there's a random adventure generator in one of the supplements, and anytime you need or want to wing it, you can (since you're explicitly allowed to kill character/players who admit to knowing too much about the rules - see above!)

Also well suited to one shots since most of the party isn't expected to survive the night.

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Oh, I noticed Paranoia had already been suggested: rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/3849/… Since your post is more elaborate, you could edit the other post before deleting yours. –  Lohoris Feb 19 '11 at 17:37
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I bought The Zantabulous Zorcerer of Zo off the shelf and ran a game with it 30 minutes later. Would have been 15 if I'd read it through more recently (I'd flipped through it in the store about a year earlier).

I didn't handle the character generation "properly" but I did handle it quickly.

One of the things that really helped is the nature of the game setting. Since it's a fairy tale I can throw some loops in as a GM that the players wouldn't otherwise tolerate, so in terms of thinking about things on the fly, I just had to think of something interesting, and not think about how logical it was.

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There's always Warrior, Rogue, & Mage coupled with a randomly-generated dungeon. I've used this to great effect in my own group on several occasions. The rules are simple to pick up, easy to modify as needed, and come complete with gear lists, spell lists, talents, races, a basic setting, and GMing advice stuffed into a 30-page PDF. It's a bit more involved to get started with than, say, 3:16 or Roll for Shoes, but not by much. It also scales surprisingly well too; I recently finished running a full-scale campaign using WR&M that started off as a simple random dungeon crawl.

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A lot of the games listed above are pretty great. You might also want to try these as well:

Murderous Ghosts is a light-weight game that doesn't require preparation, as it's sort of in a choose your own adventure format, and can be just about as short as you want it to be (there's a narratively sound escape hatch of everybody dies). It's a 2 person game, though I've played it with 3 before.

Dread requires what I'd consider essentially no prep--the GM needs to pick 5 or so char-gen questions to give the players, but that's it. And there are example questions around worth borrowing if you don't feel like writing them. I've definitely decided to run a session and played it in the same evening. The rules mechanic is basically a jenga tower, so that obviously gives the game (and your characters) a very short half-life.

Horror games like this tend to work well for 1-offs, because you only see the characters in a very narrow, specific situation that's still engaging and the characters' arcs are pretty computable.

On a totally different note, BADASS might be another candidate, though I haven't gotten to try it out yet. It's very much what it sounds like--robot-ninjas punching each other in space, that kind of thing.

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+1 For Dread! It is a really fun game, esp if you like both roleplaying and Jenga. I've noticed that how the game goes depends a lot on how those in the group play jenga. If people play competitively, the jenga tower is going to fall often and characters are going to die quickly. If people play cooperatively, it is possible to get through the game without the tower ever falling and no one dying (only had that happen once though). –  Deidre Iannelli Dec 16 '11 at 16:30
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I'd recommend Durance.

It's billed as a "fast-paced, low-prep, highly collaborative game in the tradition of Fiasco. It is designed to play fast and be easy to learn with a detailed, engaging science fiction setting."

That doesn't even begin to cover it. To go over your points - you make up the game during the game, along with the setting. You definitely role-play, but it's situational, really designed towards ending the game. There are definite end of game goals/objectives that are reached, and they can be reached brutally fast. But where it really shines is the concept.

Durance takes place on a prison penal colony. And in that environment, a sort of Lord of the Flies vibe takes place, and the players are deep into it. There are two ladders of power- one on the side of the Convicts, and one on the side of the Authorities. Each player gets one notable on each side, but they have to be at a different rung on the ladder. Each of these notables is defined by a Name, and an Oath (and a Number if you're a convict). That's it. Everything else is narrative as far as characters. The interesting thing is that normally you don't choose your character when you're choosing an Oath- another player chooses it based on how you've described the character in a round-robin type fashion.

These Oaths drive the game- each scene is a narrative opportunity where the character is put in a position that tests the Oath. This brings us to the other good thing about this- though the Host (GM) drives the game at the beginning, he also plays. As you play different scenes, the position of Guide- the player that frames the scene, but his characters are not in the scene. This framing takes the form of a question that challenges and Oath- if the Oath is an allegiance, put the two characters of the allegiance in a position where to betray the other character would be in the character's best interest. Then the scene is played out- for the most part narratively.

Though there is a dice mechanic, it is very lightweight, so as not to drag things out. When crafting the session (background and world), there is a triangle of drives- on one side, you have servility, on another savagery. The last drive is one that is chosen during the session creation by a round robin of elimination of drives from a list, with the last drive being the one chosen. 1d6 is rolled for each of the the drives, and then compared to the next in clockwise order. If the die for a drive is higher than the next die, that drive is an option to use to resolve the scene. Using that drive you narrate the result of the conflict. If dice tie, then a twist is added to the resolution. If all three dice tie, then an epic event ends the scene. It's that simple.

As Oaths are broken, notables change places on the ladder, drives change, and the notable that broke their Oath is no longer a notable- fading into the background. All of this leads towards the end of the game, which is triggered when a combined number of notables break their oaths, die, and/or are out of the game by other means is greater than the number of players in the game. At that point, you wrap up the game by going around the table and narrating the final wrap up based on the big event that is triggered at end game.

It's a blast to play- it has many advantages of a board game (lack of setup, round robin type play, finite play time), but with the narrative nature of an rpg built in. I'd highly recommend it.

For an example of play, check out the Walking Eye's podcast- session 1 and session 2. Though they take two sessions, it could have easily been wrapped up in one, and I have done so several times.

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A case for Dungeon World

All you need to do is print the character sheets (1 page double sided or 2 pages if you're a spellcaster) and follow the character creation instructions there. It's dead simple.

The GM parts require minimum reading (read Playing the Game and the First session chapter) and maybe watch this actual play to give you an idea.

I play one shots all the time and Dungeon World is great because it works better with minimum prep. If you have too much preparation, it will backfire. The best thing is to ask questions about the players' choice (ok so you're a Paladin, tell me about your order). Almost every one shots I played (mainly to show them an alternative to Pathfinder) turned out to become an on-going game.

It is the most popular and known child to Apocalypse World but in my opinion Dungeon World is easier to wrap your head around because it uses HP and stats people know from many mainstream RPGs.

So point by point:

  • RPG: 100% pure AAA grade RPG.
  • Time: I played my first shots in less time than that. Character creation takes 20-30min and you're good to go.
  • Player prep: 0 prep required. You walk in, quickly glance at the classes and go for it.
  • GM prep: 0 prep required. Print the character sheets and read the 2 chapters I mentioned (they are short and simple)
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I couldn't agree more. I love Dungeon World and Apocalypse World both - but had played neither when I asked this question. –  gomad Jan 17 at 14:34
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