There’s something incredibly satisfying about creating a rich narrative and playing a role with a group of friends; that’s why roleplaying games are so enjoyable. Sometimes campaign play may be impractical or sometimes you don’t want to make the time commitment necessary for a traditional RPG. Don’t worry, there are games that allow you to still enjoy a roleplaying experience in a single night. Here’s are a few of our faves.
AYE! DARK OVERLORD
Image Credit: Fantasy Flight Games
Published by Fantasy Flight Games, this game sets players up as goblin minions of a Rigor Mortis, a merciless master who is trying to suss out which of his minions was responsible for the failure of the last mission. The Game Master plays the part of Rigor Mortis and begins the interrogation by setting the stage. GMs can begin the game with scenarios like, “I sent you to fetch me a lock of Queen Baldigrand’s hair, that I might use it to assume her form, replace her on the throne and rule over the kingdom! How is it you failed?”
Players are given a hand of cards including action cards and hint cards. Hint cards are to be used to begin spinning the tale–the player must use some aspect of the card to create their excuse. Action cards allow players to pass the buck to another player who must continue the tale using their hint cards. Action cards may also be used to freeze other players in the middle of their explanation, as though stuttering through the excuse as their goblin self.
Players who go on too long, inappropriately use their hint card or fail to use a hint card, cannot pass the buck, or who otherwise displease Rigor Mortis, earn a Withering Look from the Dark Overlord. If a player earns 3 Withering Looks, their character is dragged away to the dungeons and the game ends.
This is a fast-paced party game that scales up quite well with multiple decks and truly has no upper limit. And it’s easy enough to shuffle up and play again. The game also includes an in-box variant called “Aye! Dark Master” which adds more structure to the game.
ESCAPE FROM TENTACLE CITY
Image Credit: Willow Palecek
Written by Willow Palecek, this indie RPG looks and feels like a more traditional Pen & Paper RPGs, using a D20, a pile of D6s and, of course, pens/pencils and paper.
Each player chooses a group of people who wouldn’t be rich and/or privileged enough to escape a city during an apocalyptic catastrophe (in this case, the attack of a tentacle creature in the city). For example, penniless hipsters, circus folk, spoken word poets, and wannabe actors may be the selected groups for a game. Players create a character for each group except the group they chose to begin with. Don’t get too attached, though. All but one character from each player will die as they play through using a set of actions available to them. Once each player is down to their last character, a final run to the heliport is made; at least one character will survive and escape the city.
ALL FLESH MUST BE EATEN
Image Credit: Eden Studios
Speaking of games that let a lot of characters die in an entertaining fashion, All Flesh Must Be Eaten (AFMBE) is an RPG set in a post apocalyptic Zombie filled world. AFMBE is based on the Unisystem game system and is written by Eden Studios.
The high death rate and the piles of pre-built characters allows the play to be fast and furious. As characters die, players can re-enter the game using a new character, since survivors tend to stumble upon each other.
Skill and character checks are not the crux of the game–shooting a slow, shambling zombie won’t require a check as it’s more like shooting fish in a barrel. However, there are always consequences to actions, and you can count on something happening as a result of discharging a firearm in the open when innumerable undead are just around the corner.
Eden Studios also offers a free introductory kit to the game (which is perfect as a one-night session) so you can try it out for yourself.
Image Credit: Urban Island Games
Using a card system similar to Apples to Apples or Cards Against Humanity, Funemployed! allows players to roleplay and pitch themselves as qualified applicants to a job. The cards are loosely worded, allowing for maximum creativity.
There are two decks: a job deck and a qualifications deck. Qualifications live in player’s hands, and the job deck outlines the position an employer is looking to fill.
A player’s qualifications may include things like Privilege, Green Card, Cold Black Heart, and Jacked Forearms and the round’s employer may be hiring a nanny.
The roleplaying aspect of this game comes in as players pitch themselves and their qualifications for a job in character. With the aforementioned qualifications, a player may choose to attempt to apply for the job as Hulk Hogan, Mr. Nanny-style. The opportunities for self-deprecating fun are pretty endless.
EXTRAORDINARY ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN
Image Credit: Magnum Opus Press
Recommended by Wil and described by its designer as a game of competitive lying, this RPG is much more like an extreme improv exercise and the rulebook is like a perfect textbook to telling great, interesting, and fantastic stories.
Players tell tales in the style of Baron Munchausen, and as they spin these stories, other players can challenge elements of the story, throwing wrenches that must either be incorporated into the story or discounted at a cost.
The rulebook itself is an incredibly fun read and is exemplary of the wit and fantastic hyperbole required in this game, while the rules and mechanics are condensed on the last page. The winner also has to buy the next round, which certainly ups the stakes.
What do you think of our list? Would you recommend other games for a single night of RPG fun? Let us know in the comments!
Feature Image Credit: Benjamin Esham (Cropped – CC 2.0)