Forum-based (semi)GM-less RPG idea

edited July 2007 in Story Games
Hi. My name's Michael. I've been lurking for a bit, but I finally decided to post.

While discussing diceless mechanics and forum-based roleplaying at another site I had an idea for a (semi)GM-less forum game. I'm not sure how 'do-able' it is, and since I'm not a programmer of any sort, I'm fairly certain I'll never know. This was a sudden 'hey, this sounds cool' kind of thing, so I thought I'd post it here.

The concept is built around random generators of the sort you can find at Seventh Sanctum. Of course, this all also suggests a group of dedicated players. Basically, a genre is decided on (space opera, horror, contemporary fantasy, whatever). The group of players come to an agreement on the generalities of the game world, and basic target benchmarks for DCs. Then, as a group, they create a collection of unnamed NPCs (and Beasties, if appropriate) in which ever game system they'll be using; I'd suggest something simple, and probably diceless. These NPCs are entered as a 'list' for an Encounter Random Generator. Or, an alternative would be to create randomizers for all character stats.

Then, each player creates situations they'd like to see happen In Game. They come up with one short, descriptive sentence per each number of players involved in the game (for example, if there are five players Tom writes five sentences). These are entered as a 'list' for a Situation Random Generator.

Gameplay is semi-freeform, players create the narrative as they go. Whenever a character becomes involved in conflict with an NPC they use the Encounter Random Generator to create the opposition's traits. Conflict proceeds normally. Either the player or another player may narrate the outcome. I'm thinking a random generator for each individual Trait would be better suited for this.

At any time in the game, any player may roll on the Situation Random Generator and bring the result into play. The player has the right to play the situation with his own character, or toss it into another character's path.

I realize that play should be policed in some way. Maybe a player takes on the role of Judge for a certain amount of time. Judge duties should rotate on some type of schedule.

What I'd like for the Random Generators would be something along the line of Invisible Castle. Something that documents the rolls and provides a tag to be placed into the post, similar to a dice roll.

These are just some basic ideas of course. I realize it needs a lot of fleshing out, but I like it for what it is nonetheless.


  • edited July 2007
    Hey man, welcome to the site!

    Can you throw some links for Seventh Sanctum/Invisible Castle? (namely direct links to the generators, if possible: If not, maybe a breakdown of what those generators are like?).

  • edited July 2007
    Sorry. Invisible Castle and Seventh Sanctum

    You can also find similar generators over on the Story games Codex.

    The generators for my forum gaming idea would have to be created by someone who knows how, as they currently don't exist.
  • edited July 2007
    You can make them yourself on Abulafia! You and all your players can customize your generators to have the content you want.

    Start at Malthusian's Experiment

    You'll need to create an account (helps keep the spammers off) and then click 'edit' at the top. You should see the following:

    <sgdisplay iterations="5">[main]</sgdisplay>


    1,I am Malthusian's idea!
    1,I am someone else's idea!
    1,Oh wait, can I play?

    1,This result came from a subtable!
    3,Here's a random Arabesque Name: [Arabesque Names.main]!


    Generators are composed of two sections:

    The sgdisplay section:
    iterations is how many results you want from your generator, and needs to be between 1 and 100. Whatever goes between the tags is what'll be displayed that many times; in this case, a result from the table 'main'.

    The sgtable section:
    the numbers to the left of the first comma on a given table row represent relative probabilities - the higher the number, the more likely you are to roll it. If you keep them all at '1', everything has the same chance of being rolled. 'main' also has a chance to call 'subtable1', which in turn has a chance of calling in a result from one of the other generators on the site, 'Arabesque Names' (specifically, the 'main' table from that generator). This way, you can use results from any portion of any table on the whole site, including many name generators, treasure generators, and all kinds of other goodness. Plus, as you create multiple generators for your game, they can call each other's pieces as needed. That should get you started - post here if you need help.

    Happy Generator-crafting!
  • Thanks for the info. I'll definitely have to play around with this. You've put me in a spot here. Now I'll HAVE to flesh this idea out. Next on the list of things to do, I guess, would be 'how to frame scenes' in this type of game.
  • I don't know how to make it give you your 'certified results' for posting, though. I suppose people could post screen captures of the results. Players set on cheating could manipulate the tables in advance of their rolls, but if they saved the table that way it would show in the history.
    Posted By: malthusianAt any time in the game, any player may roll on the Situation Random Generator and bring the result into play. The player has the right to play the situation with his own character, or toss it into another character's path.
    And decide after the roll? or before?
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