Justice Playthrough #2: Two Years of Mini-RPGs, 2017 – 2019

And the first properly randomized entry in the playthrough is:

Page 18, Game 15: Two Years of Mini-RPGs, 2017—2019, by Emojk

(Edit: This game can currently be found on Page 18, Game 14.)

Not one game, but a sub-bundle of 32 pen-and-paper mini-games!

Obviously, this is not one I actually played.

I was a little thrown and honestly a bit scornful when my first random toss of the bundle-dice landed me on something that wasn’t a video game — but as my friend pointed out, Itch.io is becoming a big venue for indie tabletop RPG aficionados, and including those games in this bundle put it on more people’s radar. Which can only be a good thing.

Okay, very fair points.

But what to do when my RNG traipse through the bundle lands me on these spaces? Just reroll and pretend they don’t exist? That doesn’t seem fair, but it’s not as though I can sit down and spend an hour or two playing them myself, unless I stumble across something I think my wife would really be into.

I can at least give ’em a look and report back.

This bundle-within-the-bundle comes from an indie game dev named Come Martin. He challenged himself to do a single-(ish)-sheet RPG per month, and wound up sticking with it for about two years, producing 32 games in total. They’re presented as either individual downloads, or rolled into a single mega-PDF.

The presentation is … rough. Even for casually perusing them, the individual PDFs are the way to go. Some are laid out in portrait, others as landscape, but no effort has been made to normalize them for the master PDF, so a whole bunch of it will appear sideways on your screen. The author also has occasionally unfortunate tastes in font selection.

This particular bundle is for people who are already heavy into one-shot indie RPGs; little to no effort is made to ease you into the conventions of the genre. Which I guess makes sense, really. It’s not like someone’s gonna go “You know, binging The Office has gotten kinda stale. Whaddya say we head down to the dining room table and pretend we’re magic trees?”

It’s been a while since I played games like this (ie, Fiasco) with anything approaching regularity. I feel like there’s a kind of group storytelling mindset you and the other players have to get yourselves in for any of these to work — but if you can get yourself into that headspace for one, getting into it for the rest shouldn’t be that hard.

Each game starts with a setting/situation of varying degrees of wackiness — You’re incompetent time travelers setting out to solve the paradoxes you probably caused! You’re plushies protecting your children from nightmares! You’re basically Wall-E, except your batteries are dying and soon the world will truly become lifeless! You’re old folks trying to escape the nursing home! From there come rules of varying degrees of complexity; some of them involve rolling dice and looking up stuff on a chart, others have some element of resource management and risk/reward thing going on. The most prep-heavy one I saw, Murder in the Quantum Monastery, involves printing out three decks of reality-shattering cards (“The monastery is now a giant robot fighting the forces of evil”) players can use to spruce-up their medieval whodunnit.

The overall effect is a set of games I’d be CURIOUS to play, but not necessarily EXCITED to play, you know? Like, if I already had a group that was meeting regularly to play these kind of indie one-shots, I’d be glad to print a few out to toss into the mix just to see what happens. But I’m not making a list of who I’d wanna invite to assemble that group myself post-Covid.

I feel like doing this particular entry justice involves doing a sub-crawl on its own 32 individual components, and … nah, I think I’ll pass. But what the hell, it’s a thing that exists — on my hard drive, no less. I could see coming back to this if I was on an indie RPG kick. There’s a wacky low-fi charm to the whole thing that I kinda like.

All right, who’s next….

Page 42, Game 24 (ooh, nice palindrome, random.org): Na Escuridão (In the Darkness), by Minakie

Dang, another tabletop; I think those are more heavily represented in this bundle than I realized. But this looks like it’s one ruleset, not 32; I think I’ll take a peek.