Last year, after Con of the North, I'd had this dumb idea to bring a big, shabby tagboard hobo sign that says GAME AT ME BRO! and set up shop at empty table. I'd egg on passers by to sit with me and craft an RPG on the spot. Had things not gotten so busy with Saturday Night Space Opera, I might have still done it. Anyway, here were my thoughts:
Total development time cannot exceed 60 minutes. Tasks to be completed include:
- MECHANICS - Game must have a basic mechanic for resolving conflicts/problems/combat, etc. Doesn't matter if it's dice, cards, hand signals, staring contest, etc.--but there needs to be some sort of action in play, other than storytelling. This can be an existing ruleset, if both GMs agree.
- SETTING - No more than 10 minutes permitted to brainstorm on genre and setting using the infallible Jeff Reints alchemical game creation proposal (omitting part 1, but using parts 2 and 3). Difficulty = using only resources available at the Con (any books on hand or immediately available via electronic device or memory)
- CHARACTERS - Game must include at least 3 player-character types. (I don't want to say "classes" or "races" that's up to the GMs to figure out).
- DETAILS - Once setting is established, GMs divide up duties of fleshing out as many foes/monsters, locations/maps, treasure/gear, what-have-you as the remaining time allows. Using existing resources from step 2 is totally acceptable, as long as some cross-pollination of sources was accomplished in that step.
After one hour, the sign gets flipped around on the table. The GMs write the name of the new game on the tagboard with the added note of "WE JUST MADE THIS GAME. SEEKING PLAYERS TO PLAY NOW." Once at least three people show up to fill out the party, GMs can flip a coin to see who runs it. Anything not created ahead of time (e.g., rules, setting, etc.) is made up on the spot.
The game is played right then and there, for better or worse. It might suck, but everyone has a story to tell about that one time they played an insane game that was invented minutes before they sat down at the table. This could be a fun activity at a smaller con too--make it into sort of tournament style game design. Maybe something like this has been tried (I have no idea).
Even if none of this actually ends up being finished or made usable in 60 minutes, you'll end up having an awesome conversation with total strangers about games and what you love about them. Maybe your tastes will be totally incompatible. Or maybe you'll strike creative gold.
Either way, you're not stuck reading the same books, having the same boring debates about rules, or trudging along your same, overly-trod gamer paths.
In the time it usually takes you to sit down with a stack of RPG books and try and come up with next week's adventure, you've completely given yourself over to gamer ADHD and made something half-baked, but spontaneous. Ugly, but beautiful. Uneven, but exhilarating. Isn't that worth 100 real-life XP?