Sunday 7 March 2021

RATKING BOSR business card RPG out now

 If you know me or have been following this blog for the last decade, you'll know I love tiny games. Restriction breeds creativity, which is why I wanted to get involved in the latest business card RPG jam over on Itch. 

RATKING (it always has to be shouted) sits in the realm of British Old School Roleplaying (BOSR), influenced by games like WHFRP and Fighting Fantasy. This is an entire ruleset on one side of a business card, and a full adventure on the other. 

RATKING uses a coin flipping mechanic (it has to be a grimy, crappy coin) as task resolution because dice don't fit easily into wallets along with the business card. You choose a gutterpunk career (no ability scores here) and head out into a murky world where Chaos and Order are in constant flux.

The Chaos/Order mechanic is my favourite part. Every day the Ratking (the GM) flips a coin to determine how the winds are. If they're chaotic the rules change. Enemies act before PCs in combat, enemies also may get stronger and NPCs react differently. I've taken inspiration here from Soulbound, which uses a Doom mechanic to similar effect. This adds a layer of uncertainty to the game. Do you really want to head into the crypt during a Chaos wind? What if you absolutely have to? What if the Chaos lasts for days?

On the flip side is GHOULFOG, a tiny adventure. A stinking mist rolls into town and things quickly go to hell. 

Business card games present some interesting design challenges, particularly if you're creating a traditional RPG. A fair few rules have to be implied or left to the players to houserule - obviously you can't cover all bases. For instance, RATKING only mentions when something is a success, implying the converse is a failure. Combat, too, has to be streamlined. There's no space to go into detail - there are no rounds or actions, so it's up to the players to decide the flow based on their judgment. 

I wanted three main elements. The game had to be an open, trad design that worked purely with the rules on the card. It needed to have mechanics that reflected the world and it also needed to have an adventure. The last one was important because an adventure could build a slice of the world while showing how certain mechanics like the winds worked. 

These are my favourite kinds of games to design because they present a puzzle. I ask myself what game I'd want to create regardless of size and figure out how to bring an authentic experience to a tiny format. 

Download RATKING here 


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  2. Hi
    The rule about order and chaos is great. What were your initial plans for this mechanic? I write ultra-light rpg's myself and I know how frustrating it is to have no more space on the sheet to talk about your brand new ideas.

    Anyway, it's a great source of inspiration for all DMs!

  3. I think this is cool, and would buy a physical business card of it, for sure.