Monday, July 14, 2014

[Roleplaying] GM-less Games I Want To Try Out

Since I'm taking a break from running games for a while, and I'm unlikely to find a game to join before the new batch of campaigns start at GUGS for the new academic term, I'm probably going to play a few GM-less games to keep me busy in the meantime.

There's a few games I've already played, such as Fiasco and Our Last Best Hope, but there are others that I haven't yet had the opportunity to try out (or have only played once), so I'll probably try and play them at some point over the rest of summer. Here's a list of the GMless games I'd like to give a go:

Dawn of Worlds: This is a collaborative world-building game in which the players take on the roles of gods, shaping the world and the races in it over the course of several rounds which represent different Ages. The idea is, that by the end of play, the group will have built up a world in which to set a roleplaying campaign. It seems to be mainly aimed at designing fantasy worlds, but it might be possible to use it for other settings.

Durance: In this game by Jason Morningstar, creator of Fiasco, players take on two different roles in a penal colony based on an inhospitable planet. They play a member of the Authority (which includes the administration and guards in charge of running the colony, free colonists, and convicts who have earned their freedom) and play another character from the Convicts side (from the Dimber Damber in charge of illicit dealings in the colony, to the most broken convicts in the colony). Over the course of play, they deal with not only the hostile enviroment in which they all live, but also with the power struggle between the Authority and the convict population.

The Final Girl: This game emulates the slasher horror flick genre. Players decide on a setting and a 'killer' to have on the loose, and come up with a cast of characters for the game. Over the course of the game, players will take turns as the Killer, during which the rest of the players get to play one of the cast members. The Killer targets a cast member and attempts to kill them, and the outcome of the conflict is determined by playing cards. Play continues like this until there's a sole survivor, and there's a final conflict to determined the ultimate fate of the 'Final Girl'.

Grey Ranks: In Grey Ranks, players play as teenagers in the Polish resistance during the 1944 Warsaw Uprising. I haven't got around to playing this yet, because the subject matter is a little bit grim, and I'd really need to find the right group to play it with, to handle the game with the sensitivity it really requires.

Hell 4 Leather: I've mentioned this already since I bought it quite recently. Hell 4 Leather is a tale of supernatural revenge in the vein of The Crow. One player will take on the role of the Fool (also known as the Rider), a badass who has been betrayed and murdered by his friends. The Fool is given a chance to return to the land of the living by the Devil (not necessarily the literal Devil), who gives him a limited amount of time to exact bloody revenge upon his former friends. The game uses Tarot cards for its revolution system and is short in comparison to other games, taking only about an hour or two at most.

Kingdom: This is a sort-of collaborative world-building game by Ben Robbins, who created Microscope (see below). In this game, you build a Kingdom and (from what I understand) some prominent characters within it. Over the course of play you confront the Kingdom and your characters with Crossroads, pivotal decisions which will shape the Kingdom's identity and future. Kingdoms can be anything from a Wild West frontier town, to a colony ship on its way to a new world, a secret school for wizards, and so on. I don't actually have this game yet, but it sounds like it might be fun. I know the Jank Cast has a couple of actual play recordings of it, so I'll check those out and see what it's like in play before I buy.

Microscope: Another collaborative world-building game. Well, technically it's more of a collaborative history-building game. At the start of play, players decide the setting they want to build a history for, establishing some elements they do and don't want included, and determining the start and end points of the timeline. They then proceed to take turns adding Periods (extended stretches of time, such as wars, reigns of monarchs, etc), Events (specific events which take place within those periods) and Scenes (where players get to 'roleplay' a moment from an Event in the history). I've only played it once so far, so I'd really like to try it out another couple of times.

One Last Job: This game is about a team of desperate and unlucky individuals trying to pull off one last job so they can retire and give up their life of crime (or similarly dangerous lifestyle). The default setting is about professional criminals in the vein of Reservoir Dogs, but the game can run in any setting (cyberpunk, post-apocalypse, space opera, superheroes, etc) as long as the situation is similar. The thing that's different about this game is that you don't make your character, the other players do by defining things about your character in play. Not sure that'll go down well with a lot of roleplayers, but I'd give it a shot.

Remember Tomorrow: The default setting for this is 'twenty minutes into the future' cyberpunk like William Gibson's Sprawl novels, but there are alternate setting hacks for it such as Remember Edo (Historical Japan) or Remember Your Wand (adults in the Harry Potter universe). Players take turns as controller, acting as GM for one character's part of the story, and also add new characters and factions in play. Players can switch characters at any point with one of the pool of characters built up during the game, or they can hold onto one for the long haul. I've played it twice already, but I haven't had much opportunity to play it beyond that couple of times.

Shock - Social Science Fiction: In Shock, players start by building up a sci-fi setting consisting of Shocks (sci-fi elements that make this world different from our own) and Issues (social concerns that they would like to explore through the setting). They also come up with characters, and then take turns playing as their Protagonist while one of the others plays their Antagonist (controlling the forces opposing the active Protagonist within the world). The aim is to emulate stories akin to the works of authors such as Bruce Sterling, Kim Stanley Robinson, Ursula K. LeGuin and Phillip K. Dick.


There's at least another month or two until the new batch of campaigns start up at GUGS for the autumn/winter term, so I should be able to find an opportunity to play a few of these before then. I'm looking forward to giving them a try. :)

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