Suggest to me short games that strongly represent the Story Game meme

edited July 2010 in Story Games
As some of you guys might remember, I do the Indie reviews for Knights of the Dinner Table magazine. Now, I'm very much of a mind to review Happy Birthday Robot, but there's one problem: it's a very short game. There's nothing wrong with that, but it's just not going to be possible to stretch it out to the required length without rambling like an idiot.

So what I thought I'd do is make it a multi-feature; review two or three small and preferably very different story games in one column so that I can show contrast in the different ways that story is promoted over anything else. All I have to do is find one or two other games, preferably of a similar length or depth to HBR, preferably as different as possible in terms of mechanics and theme, but undeniably Story Games.

Any and all suggestions welcome.



  • I'm not sure they "strongly represent the Story Game meme' (I'm not even sure what that means), but Lady Blackbird and Ghost/Echo should fit the bill, right?
  • Hm, Lady Blackbird. I have a copy of that around the place somewhere, though it might be a bit out of date by now. Never heard of Ghost/Echo though, I'll look into it.

  • I admit to a conflict of interests that makes me potentially biased, but: 1001 Nights

  • *Grins* hey, don't worry about conflicts of interest. It's a review. It could go either way.

  • Ribbon Drive comes to mind also. It comes in a DVD case with a mix CD, and it's very beautifully put together, but the underlying game is very simple.
  • I'll go ahead and pimp my own Knuckleheads!, the classic slapstick comedy RPG. It's never seen any discussion, but it has seen play. It's fun, short, and storygamey, and completely different from HBR.

    There's some more description here, and I can email you a review copy (it's PDF only).
  • Hell for Leather is a 3-4 hour affair, tops. Uh, Mortal Coil can be played as a one-shot, 3-4 hours as well. It has some neat things! I also second Ghost/Echo, or any other Harper minigames. Those are excellent.
  • edited July 2010
    Yes, 1001 Nights needs more love. There, I'll say it.
  • There can only be one answer: mine, for each value of "me".
  • Ash, here are two free ones I made. Nine Worlds was a paid game, bit I've since made it free. Both are well playtested.

    Nine Worlds

    44: A Game of Automatic Fear
  • I just recently got turned on to the card-story game "Once Upon A Time", which has a lot in common with Robot.
  • Lady Blackbird is a good candidate if you need short.
  • Oh, I like Nine Worlds and 44! I haven't played them yet, but I really enjoyed reading them.
  • You might want to check out:

    S/lay w/ Me

    Neat two player Swords and Sorcery RPG. It takes about an hour to play one story. The players are supposed to switch roles after each story so I would say it takes about two to three hours to play a "whole" game of two stories if you do that.

  • Posted By: DestriarchAny and all suggestions welcome.

    Gun Thief is super short. It promotes story above all else by structuring player roles to zoom right into the heart of the genre it springs from - there's an underdog thug, a cruel world full of people who want a piece of him, and steamy women who drag him down stupid paths of action. Those are the 3 player roles, respectively.

    It's diceless, instead relying on tough choices made from concrete lists.

    It's super short, and it's super tight.
    It's normally $3 - whisper me your email and I'll send it you for free.
  • Oh dude, I seriously want to play Gun Thief. Are you planning on putting it into print?
  • Posted By: framweardOh dude, I seriously want to play Gun Thief. Are you planning on putting it into print?
    It's in print.

    The PDF costs $3, and the Print + PDF combo costs $5 (plus shipping).

    The link is... oh, you just made me realize I don't have the print link on my own site. Gah!
    I'll update that. In the mean time, the link is here.
  • Posted By: DestriarchHm, Lady Blackbird. I have a copy of that around the place somewhere, though it might be a bit out of date by now. Never heard of Ghost/Echo though, I'll look into it.

    If you're considering Lady Blackbird, I'll go ahead and not hide my self interest: I've got a Lady Blackbird hack of my own that's pretty great. Makes an awesome one shot too.
  • Ron Edward's S/Lay w/Me is the best short playtime roleplaying game there ever was and ever will be. As well as being the best swords & sorcery game.
  • I've been enjoying these suggestions and thinking that I didn't have any recommendations that hadn't already been made. And then I remembered that I wrote Under the Bed and Ben Lehman wrote an expansion for it called Journeying West that turns it into The Monkey King. It's a card deck with an instruction book, and Journeying west is an additional book (effectively with a special card).

    It asks a lot of players creatively, but it returns a pretty unusual RPG experience.

  • The point I was making: one possible "the Story Games meme" is the democratization of design. When I explain indie games to someone uninitiated, that is the first thing I point out. Lady Blackbird is wonderful, but it's just one manifestation of the nigh miraculous fecundity of this scene.
  • I just want to say how much I love the phrase "miraculous fecundity".

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