Archive for the ‘30 Roleplaying Shorts in 30 Days’ Category

Quick Guide to 30 Shorts

December 10, 2008

I’ve gotten several requests that I make a quick summary that points out the shorts from the past month that I think are worth someone taking a look at. I’ll do five, since it’s a nice number.

  • When the Giant Comes – The second short that I wrote and the first that I was really excited about. The plan as an artifact of play really excites me.
  • I Have to Go Potty – I really like the subject matter of I Have to Go Potty. I also can really see how the short plays out, and I’m already looking at reusing some of the mechanical concepts in Prehistoric Ties.
  • Family Dinner – I like the secret mechanic in this one. Splitting the secret into pieces so that each of the other players has something to work with, but not the whole picture.
  • Tryst in the Woods – I used a similar mechanic to this one in a few of the shorts that I did, but I think this was my favorite implementation. This short might need a little more, but what’s there inspires me.
  • The Only Toy – My Black Friday short, another dwindling dice pool game, but this implementation is closer to the original dice game that inspired me. I think this has potential.

30 Shorts in 30 Days… Finished

November 30, 2008

I did it. It was a little rough at the end, because I had to write six in three days, but I got it done. I can’t vouch for the quality of all of them, but I’m happy with a few of them. Enough to make the whole thing worthwhile. Now I’m going to go veg out for a while.


November 30, 2008

In Elevator you and two to four friends will play people that are trapped in an elevator. Decide who your character is. Give them a name at least, but you will probably also want to know what they do for a living and who they are close with. Some of these questions can be answered on the fly during play. Also you should come up with a connection to one other character in the elevator. This can be done in play as well, but should be completely clear to the other players when revealed in play.

Begin with the moment that the elevator stops. Play out this moment in character. Set a timer for one half-hour.

When the timer goes off, the elevator will begin moving again. Meanwhile stay in character and interact with each other. Try playing the game in a small space that simulates the elevator. The characters should open up to one another as time progresses. This isn’t a requirement, but it should make it more interesting.

After the timer goes off, have each character exit as if they were getting off on their correct floor. The “correct floor” is of course completely arbitrary, but should serve any dramatic necessity, such as leaving two characters alone.

Tryst in the Woods

November 30, 2008

Tryst in the Woods is a short for three people. Two of you will play a couple meeting in secret in the woods and the third will play the people opposed to their love. You will need five 6-sided dice. These dice will form the initial dice pool.

The opposition frames two simultaneous scenes, one for each lover. If you are playing the opposition, then you can frame one character into a scene, and then cut over to the other lover. Cut back and forth as it feels appropriate.

A scene should focus on the lover trying to avoid the people opposed to their union while searching for their lover. Play out the scene until it reached a decisive climax. The climax is a moment that should decide if the lover successfully escapes or is tangled up. If one of the scenes reaches a climax before the other, then cut back and bring the other scene to a climax.

When the scenes each reach a climax, one of the players of the lovers should pick up the current dice pool and roll all of the dice. Remove any sixes that are rolled from the pool. If a six was rolled, then the lovers escape the obstacles in their scenes and make progress towards one another. If a six was not rolled, then they are held up by their obstacles and are led away from one another. Describe as a group how the various outcomes occur in the story.

When the last die is removed from the pool, the lovers find one another. Play out their reunion, and wrap up the story in anyway that you feel is appropriate.

Last Hope

November 30, 2008

Last Hope is a short for four to five people. The story centers around one person who is the last hope for mankind and their doubts. One of you will play this person, and the rest will play that person’s companions. Each of the companions need to teach the chosen one in order to overcome the doubts that fester inside. Brainstorm to come up with a number of doubts equal to the number of players. Also decide who each of the characters are. Continue when you are all comfortable with the set up.

Each player of a companion will take a turn having a scene with the chosen one. Before the scene begins, the player of the companion should choose a doubt that their character will help the chosen one to overcome. Frame a scene in which the companion can teach the chosen one to overcome the doubt. Play out the scene, until the player of the chosen one feels that their character has learned to overcome the doubt.

Once all of the companions have had a turn, there will be one final doubt left. The player of the chosen one should frame a scene for the whole group of characters. This final doubt is a doubt in all of the companions, and in the final scene the chosen one will help them overcome the doubt.


November 29, 2008

In Homecoming, you and a friend will tell the story of someone that is returning to their home town for the first time after at least ten years. One of you will play the prodigal and one of you will play the people that they interact with in their hometown.

The story deals with the prodigal exploring the places that they remember from their childhood. The player of the prodigal should frame scenes starting with a brief monologue of a place that the prodigal remembers from childhood. The other player now describes how the prodigal finds the place in question. You can start with the prodigal already at the place, or the scene can be about them finding it. A scene ends when you both feel that it is appropriate to end it.

If you aren’t playing the prodigal, then it is your responsibility to introduce change into the places that the prodigal visits. Stores change ownership or close. Sometimes the only changes are the people. Maybe the place is exactly the same, but no one remembers the prodigal. Often things are smaller then the prodigal remembered them.

If you are playing the prodigal, you could use an old favorite hang out, a favorite store, or even the tree with the prodigal and a high school sweethearts carved initials in it. Draw on these memories from your own life, and use these to help fuel your ideas. After the prodigal has visited three different places end the short.

The Story of Freddie the Snitch

November 28, 2008

In The Story of Freddie the Snitch, you and two to three friends will play out Freddie’s story. Freddie was a small time bookie snitching on the mob, and they want to know exactly what he squealed about. You will play the mafia enforcers that were the last to see Freddie. You will need a standard deck of cards. Take two cards of each suit and the ace of spades and make a small deck out of them. Shuffle the cards together.

Start out by describing, as a group, how your characters captured Freddie, and where they took him afterwards. Play will proceed with scenes where your characters interact with Freddie, either to get information from him, feed him, or just talk with him. Take turns having these scenes.

Choose another player to play Freddie during a scene. That player should draw a card from the mini-deck. If the card is a heart, then Freddie spends the scene in pain or gets hurt during it. If the card is a diamond, then Freddie tries to bargain with his captor with money. If the card is a club, then Freddie pleads for his life. If the card is a spade, then Freddie struggles against his bonds and lashes out at anyone who comes near him. If the card is an ace of spades, then it’s Freddie’s last scene, your character will kill him. Describe as a group how the character’s dispose of the body.

The Only Toy

November 28, 2008

The Only Toy is about several parents that are all trying to get the one toy that their child wants the most. Unfortunately there is only one left in the store. The short is written for play with four people. You will each play both a parent, and the obstacles in the way of the other parents. You will need six 6-sided dice.

Decide what kind of toy the parents are trying to acquire. Have someone begin the game by describing the toy alone on a shelf in the store and visible to all the parents. Each player should now take a moment to describe their character. While you are describing your character also describe your character catching sight of one of the others. A moment of realization that they both want the same toy.

Now each player will take turns trying to make it to the toy. Describe how your character attempts to make progress toward the goal. The player to your left should now describe an obstacle that would keep your character from making progress towards the goal. If you are the first player pick up all of the dice and roll them, otherwise roll the dice that were passed to you from the previous player.

If you rolled any sixes, then your character successfully doges the obstacle with no problem. Set aside those sixes and describe your character’s success. If you did not roll any sixes, then mark down a strike for your character and collect all previously discarded dice and add them back in to the pool. Your character gets tangled up with the obstacle and the player to your right gets to describe exactly how. Once your turn is over pass the dice pool on to the next player.

After three strikes your character is out of the race for the toy. If there is only one player left, then that parent gets the toy. After you describe their triumph, the short ends.

Cooking the Turkey

November 27, 2008

Cooking the Turkey is a short for two players. One of you will play someone cooking a turkey. The other will play any problems or obstacles that arise while the turkey is cooking. You will need four 6-sided dice to play.

Begin the game with preparation. The turkey must be prepared before it goes into the oven. The player of the cook should explain what the cook is doing to prepare the turkey. At this point the other player will describe a problem that is developing with the turkey. This begins a series of exchanges between the cook and the problem.

When a series begins, each player should roll two dice. The player with the highest die will describe an action or development within the series. In the case of a tie the cook always gets precedence. Discard the highest die and the series continues with the player with the next highest die. If the player of the cook isn’t the last player to go, then they get the final word on any exchange. After a series ends, wrap up the scene as necessary.

Play out two more scenes before the short ends. Some examples of possible scenes include basting the turkey, taking the turkey out of the oven, or presenting it to the family. The final scene should provide closure on the fate of the turkey, either with it’s ruination or confidence that it will come out delicious.


November 26, 2008

Traffic is a short for 2-4 players. In this short you will play the driver and passengers in a car that is stuck in traffic. Unfortunately, the group has somewhere to be and every minute that passes increases the chances that they will be late.

Start by deciding who will play the driver. This player will have the responsibility of setting the pacing of the short. They will interject random traffic events into play and control when traffic begins to flow and stop again.

Once you’ve chosen a driver, decide where the group is going and why they can’t be late. This should play prominently within the short, since not being late should be on everyone’s minds. Who are your characters? How do they relate to the group?

Now arrange four chairs in a square just like they would be in a car. Find and sit in your character’s spot within the “car”. Proceed by making conversation in character as you sit in the car. Some suggestions for topics include talking about the traffic, talking about what your character will do when they get to the destination, or what will happen if the group is late.

At any point the driver can interrupt the current conversation by yelling at “another driver” on the road. This should reset the current conversation moving it on to a new topic. In addition the driver progresses the short forward by indicating that traffic is moving again. Allow a short time for passenger reactions to the news, before announcing that traffic has stopped again. The third time the traffic gets moving, it does not stop again and the short ends.