AKA Beer & Pretzel games, minigames, oh-gawd-i’m-bored-let’s-play-something!
Hi All! Pete here.
So, there are times when my friends and I are sitting around and itching to play something, but don’t want to go through the rigamarole of coming up with a campaign. Or deciding on a system. Or pants. Actually, the pants thing is for a completely different post; probably not even on this blog.
Well, to quell this collective jones, there are several little games out there that you can play of an evening. One of my favorites is Schauermarchen by gaming maven John Wick (I like this game so much, I have an autographed copy!). It is a creepy little game and a good example of why I should never be allowed to rule the world – outlawing clowns and destroying nests of ghostly brides. However, this post is not about the virtues of Schauermarchen.
Rather, this post is about what happens when you don’t have a nifty little pick-up game! What can one do? Make one? Yep, these are easy to come up with and, providing you have the inspiration, they are quick to play. For my example, I offer to you, our adoring fans, a game called Where we hid the body.
One of the beauties of Schauermarchen is that the characters only have two traits/attributes/stats: Fear and Hope. Whenever you succeed at a task, your Hope goes up. When you fail, Fear goes up.
In this vein, Where we hid the body has only two traits: Guilt and Guile. Players create characters who have done someone in either on purpose or by accident (but, the accident is so unbelievable they will most likely get the Chair). Rather than a GM/Storyteller/Binky, we have the Inspector. The Inspector’s job is to track down whodunnit!
And therein lies the crux of the game. The Characters do their best to get away with it and the Inspector does his/her/its best to arrest the Characters. Nuances such as location, time period, motivation/accident can be decided on at the beginning of the game. All Characters start out with 2 Guile and 2 Guilt.
Whenever a Character engages in a conflict with the Inspector or another Character, they roll a number of dice (d6, d4, d100, whatever) equal to their Guile. Evens are successes – Odds are failures. You just need one more success than your opponent to succeed. If they succeed, their Guile goes up by one. If they fail, their Guile goes down by one. If the Inspector enters into a conflict with a Character, the Character rolls a number of dice equal to their Guilt. If they fail, their Guilt goes up by one. If they succeed, their Guilt goes down by one. The Inspector always rolls one more die than the Character has in any given conflict.
Characters who reach zero Guilt get away Scot Free! Characters who reach zero Guile must CONFESS! All other players have one round to convince the Guilt-ridden Character not to confess by engaging in conflicts of Guile vs. Guilt. If they cannot succeed and have not already gotten away Scot Free, then they all (or the remaining ones) go down together. For every successful roll on a Guilt-ridden Character, that Character’s Guilt goes down by one.
And that is pretty much it! If this seems full of holes or needs tweaking, do it! Add a round counter so there is a limited amount of time to get away with it. Make sure that all the conflicts are played out verbally and in character. Use a different dice mechanic. Whatever! The idea is that you can come up with a quick, fun, playable pick-up game all by your lonesome.
I’m gagging to find out your response to this! Please comment. Also, thank you to Lizzie at Charactergen.net for inspiring this with her creative tweets.
Pete’s Addendum: I got tweeted by a friend who wanted to know what all this rule stuff had to do with making up your own pick-up game. Well, I made this game as I typed. It took about 8 minutes to actually type it out and then another 6 to edit it. So, all told 14 minutes to a playable game ain’t so bad. Now go do it yourself!