Zero DM RPG's

My weekly table top rpg is Changeling, which is one of the World of Darkness templates. This past week some stuff went on sale on DriveThruRPG so I picked up a few things that I’d wanted to look at for a while. For our game I’m the DM or GM or Storyteller or whatever you want to call that. It’s not because I’m overly creative or even wanted to, it’s because I wanted to play and no one else seemed willing to do it. Anyway, the following two games are appealing to me because they would decrease my amount of planning for the game. On the other hand I can’t imagine using either of these for long term campaigns.


Geasa is a game nominally based on the concept of a geis which is a curse taboo thingy. To play the game each player gets a Person (PC) and a Fairy. The person has a handful of stats but is mostly just a regular Person. The Fairy has a handful of powers or w/e, that are all used to control the person the Fairy makes a deal with. Note that you cannot make a deal between your own Fairy and Person, it must be done with another player’s Person.

Turns rotate around the table and when it’s your turn you are in control of your Person as well as describing scenery etc. Other players control their Person, Fae, or possibly Non-Player Persons (NPC’s). When you run an NPP except for extenuating circumstances you play that Person every time they come up for the rest of the game.

When you create your Person and your Fairy you give each of them goals, which is what ultimately drives play.

The actual dice-based rules are very minimal. If you like combat, crunchy character building, or leveling up, this is not the game for you.

One thing that really strikes me about this game is the clever mechanics of Fairy powers. The cheapest power is a form of free form spell that allows you to, for instance, tell a Person: “Eat a worm every time you see a friend or else you will not be able to hear that friend speak until you steal a loaf of bread.” The Person can say no to this, but if they say no it basically forces the Fairy to do more devious things, including taking complete control of the person.

Another interesting thing I’d like to experiment with this game is skinning it. So while the obvious default is Fairies, you could instead have Greek Gods, or Aliens from space, or what if it were high tech devices implanted into the Person’s head that communcates messages from a governement?


The best description of Microscope is that it’s fractal gaming. Unlike any other RPG, you don’t have characters with stats at all. Microscope is a universe/history generator. It’s very well described with some very neat features. The birds eye view of the game is that you have three basic parts of the game: Periods, Events, and Scenes. All of these things are strictly nested. Periods are tens to hundreds of years. Events are significantly shorter and probably closer to days or months. Lastly you have Scenes, which are more or less realtime.

When you create a Period or Event, you do so without any input from the other players. The only rule is that you cannot contradict an existing Period or Scene, so if you want, you can completely destroy an empire that the previous scenes go into depth on. Or if you want you can add an Event focusing on a barely mentioned race 1000 lightyears away that will maybe show up before the end of time. Or maybe not.

One thing that sounds really cool about Microscope is the ban/require ruleset. When you start the game you create a Pallete of required and banned “things.” So for instance if the game is a fantasy setting that mimics middle earth, you could ban humans so the game is exclusively alternate races; or maybe you don’t want vanilla fantasy, so you require psychic powers, or maybe time travel (which could be REALLY confusing in Microscope because you don’t play the game in chronological order.) As the game is a fractal, you can do this at the lower levels as well, so for instance in a Scene asking what The Prophet did the last night of his life, but you banned The Prophet from appearing in the scene, you’ll end up with a somewhat different scene.

I think Microscope sounds fascinating and I really want to play it; one thing I think would be fun to use it for is to generate the backdrop for a campaign. That could give the players and the DM all a good feel for the tone of the game and the overall history of the universe.

Anyway, I may try to set up one or both of these games async (email) or long-distance (google hangout.) I’d love to do it in person but I just don’t know if I can scrounge up the humans for it. Let me know if you are interested!

Posted Sat, Jul 28, 2012

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