[RPG] One-off simple game with little to no character creation?


We are between campaigns and are looking for a good, short game to fill the prep time for the GM.

  1. Character creation must be very short. Minimal stats is best. We want to be able to start playing less than 10 minutes after reading the rules. Which leads to…
  2. The rules must be very simple. We should rarely have to look up a rule to figure out how something works.
  3. It must be able to have a light-hearted tone. Silly, goofy, door-busting, dungeon-crawling, laser-blasting action would be best.
  4. All players should be considered "playing" at the same time. This eliminates games like Everyone Is John that push all but one person to the background for a duration. We don't want anyone to lose interest to their cell phone while it's someone else's turn to play. (Note that combat turns are fine, as long as they are pretty short.)
  5. Made for around 5-6 players. A GM is allowed, but not required if the rules are simple enough.

Bonus points if the system is cheap/free/available online.

Edit: What games are out there that could be played in a single night, with no prep? is another good resource, however it does not necessarily follow 2, 3, or 4 from this question.

Best Answer

Risus: The Anything RPG would fit the bill perfectly:

  1. Character creation lasts about 20 seconds if you know what you're doing. Simply divide 10 d6s into three or more clichés and you're done. It's probably 5 minutes or less if you need to explain the rules.
  2. The rules are very simple: generally there are just TNs or opposed checks where you pit one cliché against another (e.g. All-powerful Wizard vs. Man of Titanium). There are optional rules, but you can just ignore them.
  3. Risus bills itself as a "universal comedy system" although it can also be used for serious gaming. You could easily do dungeon crawling, laser blasting, or both at the same time! The examples, for instance, include having a wheelchair racer go off a ramp in order to jump off a pit, so that should give you an idea of what this can do.
  4. Unless the GM runs the game otherwise, all players have an equal share of the spotlight.
  5. Risus doesn't specify the number of players, but I've run it successfully with 6 players and one GM. It is intended to be used with a GM, but I've also run it with four players and the Mythic GM Emulator.

Bonus: It's free and online! There's also a solo adventure you can try out, although half the fun is trying to justify using a strange cliché in a given situation.