There are a lot of RPGs out there that contain a lot of words and rules and stuff. I know that a good system of rules and setting info can really structure a game and give you something to sink your teeth into, but it can sometimes be freeing to get rid of everything but the bare essentials; the DM, the players, and the premise. This is especially true when you just want a quick game at short notice, or a one shot.
Because this games don’t have a lot of structure to work around and build on, they could potentially be a bit difficult for an inexperienced DM to run, especially if they aren’t fairly confident with their improvisation skills. However, with the right DM I think these games can show off the silly fun that can be had with an RPG in a far more easy to digest way for newer players. Rather than giving someone the impression that RPGs are all about numbers, loot, and killing things, these games show off the side of RPGs that are about teamwork, inventive problem solving, and just having fun by telling stories with friends!
Without further delay, let’s get onto the first one: Lasers & Feelings.
This is a one page game by One Seven Design that is based around a basic Sci-Fi spaceship crew dealing with a randomly rolled interstellar threat without the leadership of their captain to help. As with all the games you’ll see here the basic rules are based around 2 character attributes that are worked into a basic system for rolls; Lasers and Feelings. On top of this you are encouraged to make interesting and varying characters by choosing a style, a role, and a character goal. The players in this game also have the added option of giving their ship a couple of strengths and a flaw to add a little bit of detail to the game. As for the DM, you are given a small table to generate the threat/antagonist and their goals, and are simply told to not plan outcomes and use failures to push forward, so you’d better be pretty confident in your improv skills!
You can get this single page game from here
The Next game we have is called Honey Heist.
In this game as the player you take on the role of a CRIMINAL BEAR, with two stats CRIMINAL and BEAR. If you aren’t already on board then there’s no hope for you.
But as before we have just two stats to cover everything in an interesting way. The players roll on a few d6 tables to get a bear species and a couple of identifying features. The DM has a few more to roll on for the various details about HoneyCon. From then on the bears have to try and steal the honey and both they and the DM has to just hang on and see what happens!
This game is made by Grant Howitt, a guy who has made quite a few of these silly little games, as well as some fully fleshed-out ones, which you can find here
Up next is a game named Escape from Triassic Park.
This game was made by Reddit user /u/Blandis, and it’s something that I found one day while browsing the /r/rpg subreddit. Grant Howitt’s games were credited as the inspiration for this, which led me to him and thus prompted me to make this list!
As with the other games we have two stats: ‘Escape’ and ‘Dinosaur’ with the general rule being that a bigger dinosuar has a lot of ‘Dinosaur’ and less ‘Escape’, makes sense. There isn’t a lot to go on here for the DM, but if you just imagine Jurassic Park from the point of view of the dinosaurs then you’re pretty much there, just make sure you roleplay some incompetent and terrified humans, and try to describe human technology in a way that a dinosaur might interpret it 😀
Find this one on Reddit here
Finally we’re going to finish off with another by Grant Howitt called The Witch is Dead.
This game is exactly TWICE as complex as the others, meaning you have 4 stats instead of 2: Clever, Fierce, Sly, Quick. You play as a cute woodland animal which you roll a d10 to find out. Another d10 is rolled to reveal a useful but not very powerful spell the witch taught you to help around the house. The DM gets a couple of tables to generate the witch hunter you need to kill and the village he is staying in. Other than that there is a slightly more expanded rules explanation for rolls which gives a little more meaning to your skills and rolls, but that’s all you need.
This is probably my favourite from this list, and I’ll be looking to try it out myself soon 🙂