My friends and I like to come up with crazy game ideas all the time. Once in a great while, I'll throw down the gauntlet and challenge people to actually write a goddamn game. Not like, a seven hundred page monstrosity, just a wee little one-page or 24-hour game design. It doesn't have to be great, it doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to be a role-playing game, and you have to finish it.
So now I'm issuing the challenge to the rest of you: write a role-playing game in less than a thousand words and put it up on your blog. The Rules are only this: It has to be less than 1000 words, it has to have a mechanic I've never seen before (or a kick-ass variation of a mechanic I have seen before), and you have to send me a link, either in the comments here or to my e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or to my twitter at @warpgames. Go create!
Wee Little People
A Role-playing Game in One Page
The Point: You and your friends play the tiny people that live inside your house. Your characters are roughly mouse-sized and must overcome many challenges to simply survive. Also, you must never reveal the existence of your people to the humans, as they will kill you or eat you or something. Humans are terrible.
Tell a Story: One of the players is the Storyteller. He or she describes the situation in which your Wee Little People find themselves. The rest of you play Wee Little People and try to do stuff while the Big People in the house are clumsy and oblivious. Doing Stuff can include collecting food, thiefing things, fighting with the cat, disposing of garbage discretely, pilfering Tim’s weed stash, moving dice to where they will be most likely to be underfoot, building shelters under cupboards, finding water, defending your home against cockroach attacks, invading mouse holes for their supplies… You’ve got options. Alternatively, you could try and tell an epic tale of adventure on a tiny scale. But you already know how to do those.
Character Creation: Choose a thing you are good at, a thing you are bad at, a skill you have learned, and an item you possess. None of these may be the same thing (for instance, you cannot be good at climbing and have that also listed as your skill). When you attempt an action that relates to the thing you’re good at, get a +1 bonus to the roll. When you attempt a thing that relates to the thing you’re bad at, take a -1 from the roll. When you attempt to do a thing that relates to your skill, once per session you can succeed on the roll automatically. When you attempt a thing that relates to the item you possess, you ignore any penalties on that roll unless that penalty comes from the attempt relating to a thing you are bad at.
Rolling Dice: Whenever someone attempts something and the outcome is in doubt, roll a six-sided die. If you roll five or higher (counting all bonuses and penalties), you succeed. If the result is four or less, you fail.
Failing is Bad: Whenever you fail at a thing, mark it off on your character sheet. You are only allowed to fail at something six times over the course of a single session. If you fail more often than that, Bad Things Happen. The Bad Thing is decided by the player to your left, and you are out of the game until the next session.
This is Your House: Wee Little People is set in whatever place you happen to be. The setting is whatever is already around you. If you’re in your living room, for instance, that might include your couch, coffee table, TV stand, bookshelf, and the half-eaten pizza in the box on the floor. The antagonists are you. The Wee Little People cannot make their existence known to you, so whatever it is they’re going about doing, they have to try and sneak around you and your friends to do it. When Jim gets up to grab a soda, the kitchen is no longer a safe place. Scatter!
Discovery: If Bad Stuff happens to all of you, you’re discovered. If you are discovered, it can be safely assumed that you and your friends have cashed in on the existence of the Wee Little People and have left them to be tortured by scientists forever. You sick fucks. Or, you could spend the rest of the evening arguing about what you and your group would ACTUALLY do if you found leprechauns in your underwear drawer. Up to you, really.