An unexpected side benefit of sending off Valour to a publisher for evaluation, is that I got a chance to turn my focus to a project I’ve had cooking for a while but has been stalled (much to the chagrin of my collaborators) while I worked to push my board game across the finish line.
That project is Short Story RPG. I love tabletop role playing — it’s such a dynamic medium for human-to-human interaction, and a few dice and a little bit of imagination, you and your friends can spin a tale to rival many mainstream movies. Some of my fondest memories involve sessions of Dungeons & Dragons or Call of Cthulhu.
But those games have a problem. Two, actually: Firstly, while I understand that nerdy genres like high fantasy and sci-fi are gaining ground in public opinion, let’s face it… they’ve still got a long way to go. Ask a person on the street what they think of Dungeons & Dragons, and you might as well have said Dungeons & Dorks. Secondly, even those of us who are into such things have an entirely other problem: Scheduling. An ongoing tabletop RPG campaign requires coordinating the calendars of five or six people with jobs, other hobbies, possibly kids, etc. etc. etc. We’ve all been there, the group misses a session, then by the next session, half is spent catching everyone up on what was happening, then your mage has to leave early…
Looking at these problems in parallel, I realized there was an opportunity to help groups not stress so much about scheduling, and a way to expand the audience for tabletop role playing in general: a series of one-shot adventures, based on genres with broad appeal, that come fully baked with a simple set of rules, and characters ready to play out of the box.
Not familiar with the genre, or not sure what that means? Awesome! Short Story RPG is probably for you 🙂 Here’s how it works. One player is in charge of guiding the game’s story, and does so with the help of a narrative laid out in an adventure packet (called the “Game Master” some places, but here, the Story Master). The other players take on the role of characters within that story. The Story Master describes the situation the characters find themselves in, and the other players are responsible for their characters decisions, be they solving a puzzle, negotiating with a non-player character (voiced by the Story Master), attacking another non-player character, or performing an act of derring-do. “Chancy” situations are arbitrated by a roll of dice. Trying to jump from one rooftop to another? Good luck, you’ll have to roll pretty high; attempting to knock over a bookshelf to hinder a group of pursuers… much easier! As the story progresses, the Story Master might put the characters in ever-more harrowing situations, eventually coming to resolution all within one sit-down.
“Short Story RPG” started off as a ‘working title’, but I ended up feeling like it fit so well that I should keep it. The first adventure that will be coming out is with an editor as you read this, and will be shipping before the holidays. As a special pre-launch bonus, if you pre-order either launch title, you’ll get the other as well! Already pre-ordered? That deal includes you too 🙂