Are there any other Beer & Pretzel PnP games along the lines of Paranoia? Silly games, or mold breaking games meant to be played over hours or at most a few game sessions as opposed to longer more drawn out campaigns?

I find it helpful to take an occasional break from typical PnP games which enforce character protection and long-term character building. I also find that playing these alternative games directly benefits play in more serious games as it tends to help reinforce playfulness, experimentation and roleplaying which then tends to carry over back into other RPGs.

A beer and pretzels game is a game which is humorous and light on rules and strategy, usually containing many random elements. This is in direct contrast to German-style board games, which are generally heavy on strategy and light on randomness. They are so called because of the tradition of drinking beer and eating pretzels while playing these kinds of games; this is not to be confused with drinking games, which actually include alcohol as a game component. Wizwar is a beer and pretzels game, as are many games produced by Steve Jackson Games. An actual game called "Beer & Pretzels" was published in the fall of 2009 from Bezier Games. In it, players toss coasters on top of other players' coasters to score points. It is a Beer & Pretzels type of game with a beer & pretzels theme.

Recommendations should include as many of the following as possible. It is helpful if you specify which points your recommendations meet, though feel free to expand to other points not specifically mentioned which are in line with the spirit or goals of the question.

  • It should be a beer and pretzel game in that it should be humorous and silly (in other words the more alcohol one drinks the more brilliant the game appears).
  • It should be a beer and pretzel game in that it should be light on rules and strategy (in other words one can still drink a few beers and understand the rules).
  • It should be a beer and pretzel game in that is should contain random elements.
  • It should have at least one non-standard mechanic which is generally uncommon to RPGs.
  • It should encourage short episodic play over long campaigns.
  • It should encourage more throw-away characters to help players to learn to detach from or retire characters in other games.
  • It should allow quick character development and ideally allow characters to quickly create replacement characters during play unless the goal of the game is last player standing.
  • Ideally, success in the game should be generally determined by at least one non-standard RPG mechanic (not wealth, or power, but perhaps something like collects the most garbage, maid who cleans the best room, most complicated death, gets all other party members killed, or some such).
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    \$\begingroup\$ Closed - sorry, we (and SE in general) doesn't approve of list questions. If this can be modded to include your needs such that there might be a best answer to your request, it would be valid. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk - SE stop being evil Sep 2 '11 at 22:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yes, of course more than one game can be returned, but the question is can there be a BEST answer to the question. Consider the recent question on realistic Western games, and the guidance on meta relevant to it (linked by others above). "What are some fantasy games" is a list. "What fantasy game best fits these more unique criteria" is not. I think the question can be fixed if you think more about what you specifically want other than "bunches more." And we generally don't try to include everything in the FAQ that is part of any SE philosophy (we only edit the top part anyway...) \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk - SE stop being evil Sep 3 '11 at 0:22

Maid: the Roleplaying Game. You play maids who are given orders by the Master, who penalizes you for disobeying his orders (but only if he catches you) and rewards the maid who best fulfils his orders. Although you're nominally a team, the reward system encourages you to compete with the other PCs and sabotage their efforts, while hiding your own super powers and weaknesses from your so-called allies. Sound familiar?

Maid is easy to learn and suits a one-shot game well. It's suited to creative hijinks (you can attempt to use your cooking Skill to fight a ninja by feeding him poisoned food, and one of the random events is that the mansion blasts into space).

To answer how this game meets your criteria for a "beer and pretzels" game:

  • Humorous and silly: Maid RPG is typically un-serious. My first session involved the players fighting Godzilla while one of the maids used a time-travelling weinermobile to visit 1946 and meet physicist Richard Feynman. It helps to have beer when roleplaying women in frilly outfits.
  • Light on rules and strategy: The basic rules can be summarized in one page.
  • Random elements: There's a game mechanic where a player spends 1d6 Favor to create a random event. Random events include Godzilla showing up, and the mansion blasting off into space with everyone in it.
  • Non-standard mechanics: Hit points represent stress. Instead of being killed or knocked out, you suffer a temporary mental breakdown, which makes things more "interesting".
  • Episodic play: Maid RPG is prep-light. The only level-up mechanic is slowly increasing attributes.
  • Throw-away characters: Standardly, character generation is entirely random. My campaign has a katana-wielding ghost maid in an orange uniform, a musclebound bodyguard maid with rainbow-coloured eyes, a teenage serial killer, and a one-legged 65 year old butler whose weapons are "chainsaw" and "helicopter". These were completely randomly generated, except that the butler got to choose which limb was crippled.
  • Quick character development: Character generation is quite short (6 attributes, 2 archetypes, 1 random ability, 2 character traits and optionally one weapon). "Killed" characters are not removed from play (see "non-standard mechanics").
  • Non-standard success mechanic: The "winner" in a one-shot is whoever gains the most Favor points, awarded by the GM for whatever he likes - most interesting choices, funny one-liners, whatever.
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  • \$\begingroup\$ sounds funny :D \$\endgroup\$ – OpaCitiZen Sep 2 '11 at 11:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Jonathan doesn't it get old say, "Make me a samich..." ;-) This game inspires me greatly. I'm of a mind to run a normal campaign where scullery maids, stableboys, and the like are left to defend a village when all the heroes run off on some campaign. I've re-edited the question as per comments, the change in question might effect your answer. \$\endgroup\$ – user179700 Sep 2 '11 at 17:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ @user179700 There is actually such a game: HQRP. It's a "serious" game… but it's random and deadly enough that it plays well as a non-serious beer & pretzels game too. :) \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Sep 2 '11 at 19:50

There's been something of a renaissance of short-form indie games recently.

Most in that Paranoia style, and my favoured RPG-to-play-in-the-pub, is Og; I recommend the "unearthed edition" lately redesigned by the ubiquitous Robin Laws.

You play a caveman trying to survive. The fun comes from the party's attempts to coordinate using the... limited... vocabulary and skills of the cavemen. The GM is not so limited, but should keep the description appropriately simple. (The game's motto is "No use big words play Og.")

(Quick situation example: using only gestures, your character's actions, and the words "Bang", "Hairy", "Go", "You" and "Rock", explain to the rest of the party that a caveman-eating bear is nearby in the forest and come up with a plan to trap it. No drawing diagrams, your caveman doesn't have 'draw' skill. He can fish, make fire, and run away.)

Well-suited to quick one-off sessions.

For a more serious - but arguably more brilliant - one-shot game, definitely take a look at Dread. It's intended to do horror games in which the party are eliminated one at a time, so a Dread campaign is actually impossible. But the mechanics allow for brilliant, steadilt ratcheting tension in a one-off.

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Toon, the RPG is one you should check. You play toons and the adventures pan as a cartoon. A very good game indeed for short silly sessions.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm aware of Toon (from the 1980's IIRC) though never played it. Thanks. \$\endgroup\$ – user179700 Sep 2 '11 at 7:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ Upvoted for a core principle of Toon: The sillier, the better. \$\endgroup\$ – Codes with Hammer Jan 17 '19 at 18:00

Good question, though rather wiki-like imo. :)

As for an answer: You might want to check HoL: Human Occupied Landfill by Dirt Merchant Games (published by White Wolf's (afaik now defunct) Black Dog Game Factory.)

It's a seriously crazy sci-fi parody (with elements/motifs of Warhammer 40k, Aliens, Mickey Mouse, Silver Surfer, McDonald's, Elvis and raving mad accounting departments, to name only a few) that proves ample opportunity for short (very, very short) sessions. And it's entirely handwritten, by mad game designers (and waitresses, sometimes) who got really tired of the 10' by 10' dungeons and other trademark features of certain other games.

At the start of the game, you (as a PC) are dumped on a planet-size wasteyard... that is, a wasteyard planet, where you'll face the greatest challenges of your life. And you'll probably stay there forever.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't mind it being a community wiki (if you think that's best). Just saw that the questions per day for beta was on the low side and thought I'd add a couple of questions I had in the back of my mind. \$\endgroup\$ – user179700 Sep 2 '11 at 7:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've never heard of that and it certainly sounds like a game where people could cut lose and blow off steam! Thanks. \$\endgroup\$ – user179700 Sep 2 '11 at 8:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ Definitely a wiki candidate. And a good one. \$\endgroup\$ – Tynam Sep 2 '11 at 12:10

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