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I don't actually hate reading. I just realized that not having to read a long rulebook is a thing and am keenly interested in answers to this question so I can share them with other people, who actually do dislike reading. To that end I also want short answers, because I'd like to be able to refer people here and have them actually read an answer if I link it. You'd be surprised how often this specific game rec seems to come up...

Above all, I want the required reading for the game to be minimal. Preferably the rules would fit on a single page at a readable size, but they must certainly be short enough that a person with a somewhat-below-average reading speed would not have to spend more than a half-hour reading in order to finish the required reading. Keep in mind this is the DM we are talking about, not just the players.

I'd prefer a medieval fantasy setting, but that's not nearly as big a deal as less reading.

The game needs to include blowing stuff up. This can be via fireballs or catapults or gunpowder or nukes or whatever, but the theoretical possibility of an explosion of some sort happening in game and the game not suddenly ceasing to function when it does is required.

The game should be able to handle the players wanting to effect violence on things in general, with the possible exception of eachother (though it would be better if limited inter-party roughhousing was possible)

The game-play should ideally itself ramp up quickly, but the potential DMs I would refer here will generally take care of that themselves.

The rules need to be easily remembered, so that the rulebook/rulesheet doesn't need to be consulted in playand preferably wouldn't need to be consulted frequently between sessions.

The rulebook should ideally be well-laid out, clear, and humorous, in order to mitigate the issue of having to read it in the first place.

The system would ideally be appropriate for long-form play, but must at least be capable of supporting a handful of sessions (i.e. it must not exclusively support one-shots)

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    \$\begingroup\$ Please do not answer in comments. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 4, 2015 at 6:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm afraid this includes basically every minimal RPG known to man. Risus, the Window, Microlite d20, Microlite Everything Else... There's a lot of these. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Jun 4, 2015 at 11:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk Risus is 4 pages, but more humorous in rulebook stuff than the current answer, so I admit that might be a contender. The Window is many pages longer with no striking advantages. Microlite everything aren't nearly short enough to be considered-- remember that our goal is a single page and anything longer than that needs to justify itself as failing to meet that criteria. Minimus can be printed on a single page (front and back), but none of your suggestions (other than Risus) seem justifiable. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 4, 2015 at 16:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ Whatever, there's still a zillion and I'm not sure how to tell which fit your criteria more than others. There are Microlite single-pagers, and CRAM, and and... imgur.com/a/xRdx5 What can we help you with that is more nuanced than googling "one page rpgs"? \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Jun 4, 2015 at 21:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ Along those lines, here's a [closed] duplicate: What systems exist with rules that fit on a single page (or so)? \$\endgroup\$ Jun 4, 2015 at 22:10

2 Answers 2

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For low-reading, I've had great success with Minimus (full version here) by Ken Burnside.

To quote the first tenth of the game:

All the rules for making characters are on this page; all the rules for playing the game are on the next page. The game master, with input from the players, sets the theme of the game (star spanning traders, Vikings, the fall of Rome...nearly anything can be a theme). The game master uses the goals and relationships of characters to structure sequences of events called plots. Minimus rewards describing actions, both successes and failures, and incorporating details into your description. Minimus uses a deck of playing cards for task sequencing, and 20 sided dice (called d20s).

It absolutely supports heroic fantasy (I used it for fantasy venice) with mechano-steampunk mages. It provides for structured combat:

Combat uses opposed skills. Attackers roll, adding weapon skill, defenders roll, adding Block or Dodge versus melee and ranged attacks, respectively. Two handed weapon and rifle users roll defenses twice, taking the lower roll. A spent bennie cancels this. Wounds are set by the margin of success and weapon and armor level difference.

As well as provision for special ablities (like magic) mechanics:

Some special abilities (Fire Magic!, for example) logically give inherent weapons or defenses. Using them this way costs a bennie per level of weapon or armor used.

It also has advancement and a goal-relationship system to provide the basis of long-form play.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Looks quite excellent! I shall recommend this to my first <strike>test subject</strike> friend and see how it goes. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 4, 2015 at 6:53
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Due to the inherent complexity of most RPG's, particularly Fantasy based RPG's, this is a pretty tall order. You might want to consider something like Roll For Shoes and base it in a fantasy setting.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Another link that organizes RFS rules and offers some possible house rules: zackwebb.com/rfs \$\endgroup\$ Jun 4, 2015 at 15:20

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