An RPG System for Road Trips
I've made plans to go on a long car ride next week, and I've been thinking of ways to combat the boredom of a two- or three-hour drive. The first thing that popped into my head was the idea of an RPG tailored for the car environment.
There are a few things to keep in mind when designing such an RPG.
• You can't expect the driver to make any hard decisions or make any dice rolls. Safety first, guys.
• Unless you know that your driver can do fast math in his head, avoid math-heavy systems like Pathfinder and Dungeons and Dragons. You can always assign someone else to do all of the calculations for the driver. However, it might be best to make or find a streamlined, fast-resolution system that requires very few dice rolls to resolve actions.
• Rolling dice in a car can be difficult. I recommend getting one of the many free (or paid) dice rolling apps for your iPhone or Android phone. If you must roll dice, bring along a shoebox or something to roll them in.
The Original Idea
Now that we have that basic stuff out of the way, we can use the tips that I supplied in another article for our basic outline. What kind of RPG do you want to run? I've already established that I want a rules-light system that resolves things nearly as fast as flipping a coin.
A few months ago I found a forum filled with people who were creating every kind of RPG you can imagine. Unfortunately, I can't find that forum anymore. Anyway, one of the more interesting systems I found was this:
The player has only three skills, represented by 4, 6 and 8-sided dice. The player assigns the dice to the desired skills. The GM has only a single d6 for opposed rolls. To test skills (or combat) the player rolls his skill die (lets say d8) and the GM rolls his d6. The higher number wins. Ties go to players. Reeeeeeal simple.
Now, the problem with this system is that it was designed for only two people. When more players are added, they can simply cross over skills to ensure that there are no weaknesses. I propose to add two additional tiers of dice (d10 and d12).
The GM gets to use a d8 (the middle value) for opposed rolls instead of a d6. When the players create their characters, they must choose from a list of skills (see the image to the right) to assign their dice.
Five dice must be assigned to the Primary attributes of Agility, Smarts, Spirit, Strength and Vigor (stolen wholesale from Savage Worlds). Then they must look at the list of following skills and pick three of those, assigning the 6, 8 and 10 sided dice. Assuming there are four players or less, there shouldn't be much skill crossover.
The final result might look like this: Strength: d12, Agility: d10, Vigor: d8, Smarts: d6, Spirit d4.
My character is based on Jack Sparrow, so his three skills are Fighting: d10, Streetwise: d8, Shooting, d6.
The Best Part
Shoot the GM: Players will be able to earn points (represented by paper clips) that can be used to “shoot” the GM, penalizing his dice rolls. When this happens, the GM must roll a d4 in addition to whatever he was originally rolling. He then takes the lowest of the two rolls. When players begin, they start with 2 “story bullets” to use. As the game progresses, the GM can award players these “bullets” for doing things that are surprising, entertaining or helpful to the story. Paper clips are used because they can be clipped onto the players' character sheets, unlike poker chips or other objects that can be easily lost in the car.
Because of the flexibility of this system, any kind of story or genre can be played. Any pre-written adventures should work as well, since the difficulty check is irrelevant and totally up to the GM.
Now we just have to see if it works.