My Micro-RPGs are single-note riffs on concepts that interest me but don’t fit into a larger project. They are generally untested and presented as brain food as much as they are “actual games”. If you do play any of them, I’d love to hear about your experience.
Deadshots is a super lightweight system for escalating cowboy-esque conflicts. The two mechanics at the heart of the system – the dice-to-bullets and reload – might show up in something else I do. I like the concept of dice as a physical representation of an in-game resource, so that players actually care about what they’re holding. I feel it can help build immersion. The reload is a classic risk/reward system that punishes players for firing too many shots idly. Ideally, the slow pace of dice will lead to measured, careful conflict, as shown in many famous westerns.
Have you ever wanted to play Bullsh*t, but you’re a pirate and also roleplaying? Hooks, Lines, and Sinkers is a competitive bluffing game where your captain offers players the chance to gamble in order to earn their respect, but players are encouraged to cheat and steal to get their way and a place in the captain’s fleet. The more players you have, the faster this game will go, and all you need to play is a deck of cards.
Betwixt is a town evenly spaced between the world of man and the world of fae. The players control entire households across time, watching their characters age, marry, raise children, and die. Each season of play could be quite short, but if you want to tell a generational story about a town’s identity crisis, this might be the choice for you. It is among the heaviest of my MicroRPGs in terms of rules, and contains several ideas I’m using elsewhere or planning to use down the line.
One Player, one GM, and one lifelong quest for vengeance. FIND HIM is love-letter to Dredd and similar meta-mechanic games, centered around stacking dice. Exclusively useful for telling stories of tragedy and anguish. FIND HIM is inspired by The Decemberists’ song, “The Mariner’s Revenge”, but would work equally well with similar situations of single-minded revenge. Genderswap characters at your discretion – FIND HER is a functionally identical game.
Allocation is a better idea that execution, in my opinion, but the ideas here are solid and the game is neat anyways. The basic premise is a way to gamify that rolling determines how much narrative control a player has, and then that system was stapled onto a strange health/dying system and Burning Wheel-inspired advancement. My favorite part of Allocation is the interplay between the mechanics, and the result is much more feature-complete than my other MicroRPGs.
This game is unreasonably weird and completely untested so I offer it only for your consideration as a potential source of inspiration. I designed this game as a potential submission for Game Chef 2017, but after finished decided not to submit it. Game Chef’s rules basically stated that the RPG had to be themed around “Borders” and had to use the ingredients of Yarn, Echo, Smoke, and Cut. I took all of this pretty literally and made a weird game about borders that you cut apart and try to block yarn. If you actually want to play this, I’d suggest messing around with the yarn and shapes beforehand – I estimated the yarn’s length based on dubious math and haven’t tested it myself. This game was also inspired by Stan Roger’s song “Northwest Passage,” which I have always found inexplicably moving.