The type of play I'm talking about here is using Skype as well as an online dice roller.

The differences between this kind of play and standard play is that it can be very chaotic, especially for the GM, to keep track of what's going on. In addition combat takes much much much longer in a game like D&D to the point where it slows down the game to nonfun.

So what I'm looking for in a game like this:

1) Not that many rolls and the rolls NEED TO BE EASY TO FIGURE OUT. Something where everyone rolls 1d20 (e.g. paranoia) or a success-based game (e.g. vampire, 7 seas, broken wheel) are better for this. D&D is difficult because you have to calculate what you need to roll before you do AND calculate a target number and then manually compare it. For a GM dealing with 5 other people this is terribly difficult.

2) Simple rules with very few exceptions. I should know enough to play the game within an hour of starting reading.

3) Emphasis on problem solving without rolls.

Paranoia is practically the perfect example of this. It is a very simple game to play and practically perfect for this medium.

Me and two others are GMing: One is doing D&D, one is doing paranoia, I just need to find something, so hopefully something that contrasts well with those.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I'll edit my answer with more details if you can tell me what kind of genre you want to play, what kinds of tropes you want to deal with, and how indie you want to get. \$\endgroup\$ – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Aug 17 '11 at 6:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Brian Ballsun-Stanton Very kind of you. I'd love to do something modern day (with fantasy/occult elements is fine) where individuals are amateurs, not members of a well-trained organization. I'm willing to go Indie. I think? \$\endgroup\$ – Jeremy Aug 17 '11 at 7:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ Related: rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/1407/… \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Aug 17 '11 at 13:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also strongly related: rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/2434/… \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Aug 17 '11 at 13:44

Any game that has a heavy role playing element instead of a heavy rule/tactical element would be suitable.

General musings I would go for plots that involve investigation, interactions, politics, and mystery rather than combat and tactics. Combat needs to become more descriptive rather than visual (no map or figurines) but that makes it more realistic. If you think of Bourne style visuals instead of Jackie Chang. If you just use text as a medium, you need to learn to type really fast. If you use video, you need to figure out how to make sure that everyone understands what is going on. Immersion is key. Anything you can do that help that will be good: music, sound effects, images, photos, etc...

Here are some settings recommendation:

Amber: No dice for starter but it goes against your "amateurs" requirement since you all play God-like beings.

Eclipse Phase (or any other transhuman favoured game): Clearly using technology to play a game about transhumanism is kinda cool. On the plus side, combat should be rare depending on what your plot is.

Dresden Files: Fate rules so light on dice rolls and tactical maps. Lots of investigative work and few combats.

Over The Edge: A very good game, with ultra simple rules, on a island with more weird things that you can sake a dozen sticks at.

Unknown Armies: Again, rule light, mostly centred on role playing than combat.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I took a look at most of these -- Over the edge (I spent about 10 minutes searching for 'other the edge') is a crazy cool setting and I love the character creation. Dresden Files looks fun as hell and I will definitely be touching that in the future. I still haven't looked at unknown armies. Thanks for the excellent suggestions! \$\endgroup\$ – Jeremy Aug 18 '11 at 10:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ Unknown armies has rules to start as total newbies and go from there onwards. It is best played that way instead of giving your players lots to read. Have a few games at street level with a few generated characters and then let the players make their own characters. This works for Over The Edge too. \$\endgroup\$ – Sardathrion - against SE abuse Aug 18 '11 at 10:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 for DFRPG. I have recently completed a roughly year-long campaign with one player on Skype and the rest at the table. I occasionally used a dabbleboard to share maps / diagrams with the remote player. We used voice only because her broadband just ain't that broad. \$\endgroup\$ – gomad Aug 24 '11 at 20:21

Minimus, Microscope, and Fiasco

Minimus is a 4 page RPG that has just enough rules to enter into interesting situations. It's not the most sophisticated RPG out there and the GM has to have an awful lot of the game-space in their head at one time, but... it fits your criteria.

Microscope is a very solid RPG that has no dice whatsoever, nor a formal GM. It is a fractal world-building game that can translate very easily into online play.

Fiasco is also a very simple game that doesn't need detailed battle maps.

One thing that I've found playing in Google+ Hangouts is to restrict verbal chat to IC only and to have all the dice and whatnot be in the chat pane. While it's a little hard to get used to, it can dramatically increase immersion.


Maid RPG. The core rules are simple (20 pages, and most of that is character generation tables and example text). Combat requires few rolls: Each participant rolls 1d6 x relevant attribute, the highest roll wins the whole combat, and the losers take damage.

Maid RPG challenges the player to think of clever ways to use attributes. If you can think of a way to apply your high housework skill to melee combat, and the GM doesn't nix it, you can do it. Anime laws of physics apply.

It plays surprisingly well - sort of Paranoia-ish, with more anime-style over-the-top action. Just don't use the optional seduction rules at the back of the book.

  • \$\begingroup\$ This sounds awesome. Have to give this a try. \$\endgroup\$ – Jeremy Aug 18 '11 at 10:08

You should check into Monsters and Other Childish Things. It uses the one roll engine. The game itself uses a bunch of rolls, but it's simple to figure out whether they've succeeded or not, basically if you have two or more matching numbers it succeeds.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the site, mate. Good recommendation. \$\endgroup\$ – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Aug 18 '11 at 20:44

Fudge or FATE would both be good, not many die rolls and all easy to interpret. I also like Risus for online games -- six pages of rules, takes five minutes to make a character, and you're just adding dice and comparing totals most of the time.

"Problem solving without rolls" is more of an adventure design/GM style thing, I think. If the players are investigating crime scenes or talking with informants, there won't be as many rolls as there would in (e.g.) GURPS combat.


+1 to Brian Ballsun-Stanton's answer.

I would like to add Universalis to the mix.

You will need a multi-user editor (e.g. Google Docs) and a dice roller application / website, that is all. The play is more focused on story telling than long-drawn combats. In a nice and cooperative way that ensures that everybody enjoys the narration. It is setting-agnostic and does a good job in creating your setting on the fly (or dropping back to an established one).


Within limits any traditional tabletop roleplaying game can be run on-line. Traditionally you need three tools, voice/chat, dice roller, and a map/picture display. Virtual Tabletop software typically provide all three, and many go beyond to include combat trackers, character sheets, and online references.

From your question is sounds like you lack any type of map/picture display. Without that it become difficult to run an online game due to the lack of the visual cues we are used to while sitting around a table. You don't have to use the map display as a miniature board. You could just simply have tokens representing each players and arrange them in order of their actions, or slide them around indicating their status to everybody. And you can use it to easily show image, or draw a sketch.

I personally use Fantasy Grounds and have successfully used it and Skype to run games on-line for over three years. A tool many use is MapTool. You could use this offline as a status board. Just find some tokens as markers and draw an image for your game to help you track who is doing what, when. In either case using a visual tool like this effectively replaces the lack of visual contact that is found sitting around the table. And will allow you to run any system you like.


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