I'm looking for a free-form RPG with no dice, little or no combat, no stats/skills (or very simplified), and emphasizes imagination, discussion, and improvisation, with very few simple rules. Does such a thing exist?

I'm not asking for a recommendation about the "best" game in this category, I'm asking if this category exists: yes/no.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Yes/no questions are perfectly answerable here. Answers should answer the question though, rather than make game recommendations on a non-recommendation question (though pointers to resources, such as a list of such games, are fine/great). \$\endgroup\$ Jul 30, 2015 at 15:52

2 Answers 2


Yes, games like that exist. There are many of them. You may wonder how such a game works, and how it differs from freeform improvisational collaborative storytelling.

To that end, I offer a modern, exemplary game of the type you are describing:


The game system that drives Hillfolk is called the DramaSystem, by noted designer Robin D. Laws, and it gives structure to a dramatic improvisation.

To see what such a game looks like in concrete, rather than abstract terms, check out The DramaSystem System Reference Document. The SRD is available under a couple of open licenses thanks to the success of the Kickstarter campaign. I have provided a link to the CC licensed version in the link.

The purpose of DramaSystem is to create experiences similar to good serial-drama TV, as seen in such shows as The Sopranos, The Wire, The Americans, or Sons of Anarchy. In order to accomplish this, the game defines characters less in terms of their skills and attributes and more in terms of their needs, wants, desires, and conflicts.

The game system is mostly based around the exchange of tokens based on whether a character was granted her request by another character or not. The system provides reasons to accede to requests when you might otherwise not, in order to gain the power to force requests of your own to be granted later on. In this way, the game mechanics prevent stagnation as everyone "digs in" on their positions.

Hillfolk is far from the only game in this space - but it is a complete, modern implementation of this kind of game that is freely available for your examination.


Yes, such games exist.

There are many, actually! I've personally played at least two or three systems that match your description.

Among the thousands of RPGs out there, a good handful of them use no randomisation, or use randomisation other than dice (like drawing cards from a deck or tokens from a pouch).

Many, many RPGs --diced or not-- don't use physical combat as a primary interaction mode, preferring internal conflict, social conflict, or something else entirely. Some games prioritise combat equally alongside other forms of conflict, and some ban combat entirely.

The complexity of character mechanics can vary wildly, including none at all--heck, a decent number of RPGs don't even have player characters in the traditional sense, perhaps preferring to focus on a story with many shared characters or to place the player in the character's position themselves.

Games which match your criteria in other ways tend to also place focus on the qualities of imagination, discussion, and improvisation that you've listed. They do so in enough different ways that it may be difficult to sometimes recognise when two games are emphasising similar playstyles or goals.


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