Monday 30 May 2011

4 awesome minimalist roleplaying games

Sometimes you don't want to have to plough through a 300 page hardcover rulebook in order to play your next one-shot. It's so much easier to pick up a rules-lite RPG and get your improv on. The following games have really gone to town with the 'lite' aspect. Here are the top 4 minimalist roleplaying games:

1. Cthulhu Dark

Chaosium's Call of Cthulhu isn't exactly a crunchy game mechanics-wise. Simply roll a percentile to find out if you succeed in doing something. Of course, there are other rules for phobias, magic and the like, which make it a little more than a proper rules-lite game. Cthulhu Dark is the Call of Cthulhu experience distilled to its bare essentials. Conceived by Graham Walmsley, Cthulhu Dark (a pun on Cthulhu Lite) is a 3 page rules set with freeform character creation and simple d6 task resolution. Dark still keeps a simplified sanity system in which when you see something horrific you roll a d6: if you get higher than your insanity value you increase it by 1. Once it reaches 6 you're incurably insane.

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2. Risus: The Anything RPG 

Risus is arguably the most popular rules-lite game out there, with it's simple-yet-brilliant task resolution system involving dice pools and madcap sense of humour. Risus is designed as a system more than a setting in itself, so it can be used for whatever genre you want. Last Halloween I ran a teen slasher flick game with Risus completely on the fly and it went great.

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BEAN! Is a game I've been championing for a while I even interviewed creator and artist Jeff Freels about the second edition of his unusual and brilliant system. The D2 system involves using a 2 sided object like a bean or a coin for resolving tasks and combat. Each character has only 3 attributes which have 'beans' assigned to them. The default setting is fantasy, but there are rules for modern and sci-fi too.

Get BEAN! for cheap

4. Zombie D6 Lite

Now this is what I call minimalist. Zombie D6 Lite is merely 1 page in length but offers a really fun zombie apocalypse system. Each character has attributes that have a poor, average or good score. Each score has a related roll to succeed in a task with modifiers depending on the difficulty of the task. Give this a whirl if you're looking for zombie mayhem without the prep time.

Get Zombie D6 Lite for free


  1. "Here are the top 5 minimalist roleplaying games:"

    Heh, this list of 5 games is so minimalist, it only has 4 games! ;^)

  2. You fixed it the wrong way...

    There is no such thing as a Top Four list. Outside of cartoons, anyway.

  3. Appreciate the vote for Zombie d6-lite.

    You honestly can't get much more minimalist without just removing ALL the rules and just playing make-believe.

  4. i love to use memory foams because they are soft and they can make impressions; awesome games

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