I would like to try Hillfolk (or some other instance of Robin D. Laws' DramaSystem) with some players, as one particular example of what present-day role-playing games can be like.

I have about three hours of session time for this. Total. I am fully aware Hillfolk is not designed for single-session play. There is some description in the book (under Hacks) explaining how to run it in a convention or other single-session setting, and that is precisely what I want to plan for.

I feel like I lack experienced in dramatic – as opposed to procedural – scene-based GMing myself. If it goes well, the setup should make me able to help work out dramatic tension, but I feel I could do a lot better at framing and ending scenes.

The players come from experience with traditional RPGs. (They are interested in broadening their view. They may not know fully what they are getting into, but there'll be some time to warm up to less traditional RPGs before juping fully into this type of game.)

How do I prepare myself for running a DramaSystem game, and how do I get players to kickstart creating characters with interesting emotional needs and poles and to frame dramatic scenes, given that I don't yet have experience what makes them good myself?

  • \$\begingroup\$ "I have about three hours of session time." — Is that in total? I wouldn't use Hillfolk if it is, it is designed for campaign play. You can use up a three hour session just doing character generation. \$\endgroup\$
    – Quentin
    Commented Nov 24, 2015 at 13:01

1 Answer 1


I would argue that the DramaSystem is not a good starting point for a group that mostly comes from traditional RPGs, particularly if as a GM you feel weak in this area.

Fiasco is much better for an initial exploration into dramatic scene-based games - it's far more approachable, captures most of the same dynamics, and perfect for single-session games.

However if you're set on using Hillfolk your best bet is to go with premade characters and relationships. As GM, prepare yourself with a solid understanding of the mechanics (maybe even joining a Roll20 game run by someone else) and a situation that puts the group under some external pressure - needing to figure out how to split limited resources (food, water, money) is always a simple premise people can build upon easily.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .