Short GMless game recommendations?

edited April 30 in Story Games
Does anyone have recommendations for shorter GMless games? I'm looking for games that play under 2 hours (without changing the rules). Is there something you've played and enjoyed that fits that bill?

Comments

  • There's a bunch of Game Poems I enjoy which you should be able to find online; chief among them is probably Cheat Your Own Adventure and a few others mentioned within this thread.
  • FONT consistenly runs just under 2 hours including debrief and it's very quick to learn.

    https://narrativedynamics.itch.io/font
  • Happy Birthday Robot and Dō: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple
  • Oooh! I was just about to post about this one in more depth because I played it over the weekend and loved it so much. Tricksters Save The World, a game that was just posted today about trickster gods (Eris, Coyote, Anansi, Maui, Loki) navigating grim parts of history to try to achieve small, specific concrete goals by mocking the powerful and protecting the innocent.
  • Here's Fictioneers.net search results for games with no GM...
    http://fictioneers.net/games?gm[]=0&field_free_value=All
  • edited May 1
    (Mostly) under one hour:
    The Last Stand by Jason Morningstar
    Love & Darkness (search for it in the forum)
    The Lodger
    We Are Here To See the Evil Wizard Kormákur
  • KARMA and CHILDREN OF THE FALL
  • edited May 1
    I'm going to mention Mind of Margaret. I know Caroline already knows about Mind of Margaret, but someone else looking at this thread for ideas might not.

    edit: updated link to newer version
  • Dungeons and Bananas is wacky, fun, GM-less, and short if you don't choose a long scenario. http://www.story-games.com/forums/discussion/20439/dungeons-bananas-its-finally-here/p1
  • I should probably mention The Leviathan Manifesto too, and the other short GMless games you'll find on my blog.
  • I should probably mention The Leviathan Manifesto too, and the other short GMless games you'll find on my blog.
    Oh, right, that's meant to be short, not to spawn multi-year-long campaigns involving half a dozen game systems! :D
  • You can play Fiasco in under two hours if you have a small group, or keep your scenes tight and short, or both.

    You could get through several rounds of Microscope or The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen in that sort of time.

    I usually run Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple in 2 hour convention slots. That gives me enough time to explain the game, do character generation, run through the tutorial mission and either one long mission or two additional shorter missions, then the endgame to resolve the pilgrim's fates.

    I tend to run my own game Mesopotamians at cons in 2 hour slots a lot, and it works great for that. 2 hours is usually enough time for the band to visit a few towns, have some ridiculous comedy interactions and to max out at least one scale. (If the players are very tactical, often they can max out all the scales in 2 hours.)
  • My game Musette (a storytelling game) plays really nicely in two hours or so, even with people who’ve never played it before. Unfortunately, I don’t have an up to date document at the moment. I should take some time and type it up at some point!

  • I usually run Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple in 2 hour convention slots. That gives me enough time to explain the game, do character generation, run through the tutorial mission and either one long mission or two additional shorter missions, then the endgame to resolve the pilgrim's fates.
    What, two missions in two hours? When I played it two hours was about what I needed for chargen and the intro mission! I guess because we’re new at it? Or maybe we were too descriptive? Dang! “Teach me Sensei!”, because that would make using it in class a way more doable thing!
  • What, two missions in two hours? When I played it two hours was about what I needed for chargen and the intro mission! I guess because we’re new at it? Or maybe we were too descriptive? Dang! “Teach me Sensei!”, because that would make using it in class a way more doable thing!
    When I run it, it's typically for people who have never heard of the game before, so I don't think it's a familiarity issue. It could be a matter of how long each player takes in a turn. From the text, you could get the sense that the player narrating only says the tiny sentence they write down (to cross off words from the target list), which makes for unsatisfying gameplay. Or you could have each player narrate out a whole short scene, which makes the game last too long.

    You probably want a happy medium, where each player gives a brief description of what they're doing, maybe a paragraph or so. Enough to make the story seem real and fleshed out, but the minimum to do so, so that the next player gets to their turn faster. (The faster the turns go, the more engaged people remain, so then turns go faster, etc.)

    Don't explain the game mechanics until after the letter is chosen and you're ready to begin the story proper. Even then, don't explain everything. Take the first turn. Take some stones from the bag, explain as you go the choices you have and what happens, only explaining certain rules when they first come up (like the trouble options.) Only explain how characters grow and change after the first story is complete. Do explain that it's okay to get into trouble, that their characters won't be harmed by doing so, and that it is often the best move to get into trouble in order to work toward completing the mission.

    Use the quickplay and reference sheets. Give one to each player, with their character sheet, including the short version of the first letter. This makes it easier for people to read the rules when it isn't their turn, to follow along on other people's turns, and to understand the consequences of what they're doing. Always do the "Swallowed whole" letter as a tutorial into the game, as it's a great introduction and very short. After that, have 3-6 letters preselected that you find interesting, that you have printed out and can summarize for players to pick between once you finish the "swallowed whole" letter.

    When the table as a whole is supposed to create trouble for a character, I'll try to guide the discussion the first couple times, offering examples and ideas until someone starts speaking up. that's a moment that can lead to stalling out (as the group as a whole has a responsibility but no individual does, so no one speaks up), so you want to make sure it gets done quickly.

    Sometimes, it's okay to have a character help or get in trouble in a general way that doesn't match their avatar or banner word ("I want to help with the baking but I don't see how my particular special skill helps, so can I just say I knead the dough?"). You want most of the narration to stick to the character's banner and avatar, but if it will slow down the game while the player thinks about how it applies, it's better to move on. And don't be afraid to give suggestions and feedback on other player's turns if they need help! ("Maybe you can use your snakecharming to recruit an army of snakes who will knead the dough for you?")

    For character creation, I usually try to get that done very quickly. I will come up with a good noun/adjective combo and have it prepared beforehand to use as an example. "So I will be...] [grabs my yellow dice bag] "...Yellow Bag. Yellow Bag helps people by having a big bag of useful everyday items, and he gets in trouble by being cowardly or fearful." I encourage other players to just pick a random nearby object as their name, if they're having trouble. And I remind them that their name will change after each letter, so it isn't essential that they get a perfect name. Ideally, it shouldn't take more than 5 minutes to create the PCs.

    One other thing I noticed that makes the game go much longer is when we tried to play with more than 5 players. It throws things off in subtle, unexpected ways, but mostly what it does it kill the momentum and energy. If I have 5 people sit down at the table with me, then I will not actually play the game and just act to explain the rules, offer feedback and suggestions, and keep the game on track.
  • edited May 3
    Uh, that was a lot longer than I intended to write about something that's tangential to the topic. Sorry about that.

    A little of that can be used as general advice for finishing a GMless game under a tight time frame. A lot of it is specific to Do, though.
  • Sweet! Thanks! I think we had to much fun playing out scenes and then summarizing them into scentences when I played it. (once with 11 year olds with poor language skills, once with adults)
  • Our Last Best Hope (by Magpie Games) is another great, short, GMless game
  • My game *A Cool and Lonely Courage* (coming to kickstarter on 7th May) is GMless, and can be played in just 2 hours - all the game slots I ran at Metatopia in 2018 were 2 hour slots. More details about it are available here https://planesailinggames.com/a-cool-and-lonely-courage/
  • “For the Queen” should easily be playable in a couple of hours, and work nicely.
  • there are many GM-less 200 word RPGs that could be played in under two hours.
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