[RPG] Which role-playing systems might be best suited for use over a road-trip?


Four of us will be in the car for roughly 10 hours, for a road trip that will probably take 12 hours or so to complete. It occurred to me that we could try to spend the time doing a role-playing session.

I'm looking for a game system which can be played under these circumstances:

  • The driver will be on rotation, so the system has to allow for players to seamlessly leave/join mid-stream
  • If the GM is driving someone else will have to take over, so it can't depend too too much on the GM having secret information from everyone else
  • Dice throwing will be difficult, at best. The mechanics will preferably be as simple as possible. Also, they should ideally be easy to learn – so we can both learn the rules and play on the road trip.
  • Ideally, we can fit the entire session in one drive (or possibly two – we could continue on the return trip)

Best Answer

If it were me and I was road-tripping with players amenable to a different sort of RPG game, I'd try Archipelago II. Its virtues in this context are:

  • The rules are a free-to-download PDF of only 22 pages.

  • GMless. Setting, event, and rules authority are formally divided in such a way that no GM is necessary to have an unexpected and interesting plot.

  • Diceless. Everything is resolved by rules-moderated fiat between the players.

  • Some randomness of plot elements is added by a small (and optional) deck of cards, which can be copied from the back of the rules onto index cards while learning the rules. A stack of cards with an elastic is harder to lose than bouncing dice.

  • Everything except the setting, including characters, can be tracked with a few notes on spare index cards.

  • The setting is tracked on a map drawn during setup. For a road trip this can be a single sheet of paper, or a set of index cards with "join to card X here" noted on the edges. The position of PCs is usually marked with tokens on the map. In the case of a road trip, a pencil and eraser would probably work fine.

  • Character's plots are individual threads in an overall plot, with characters never or rarely meeting, so players can drop in and out of the game easily.

  • You can play a satisfying plot arc that includes all the characters in a short span, so playing for two hours and then breaking for a rest stop would complement the game's normal rhythm of play.

If that's intriguing, the game's page describes in more detail the sort of play that the system suits and tends to encourage.