A Guide to One-Shot Indie RPG's
Mark Cookman
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The purpose of this list is to review One-Shot Indie RPG's. Everybody has those nights when someone in the group can't make gaming night. Don't cancel your game just because 1 or 2 people can't show. Grab one of these games and play a one-shot night; your gamers just might enjoy it.

When I review the games, I will look at 5 main characteristics:

Originality--Is there some originality to the scenario or is it an old trope?
Rules/Background--Are the rules clear or are arguments/confusions going to be the norm?
Handouts--Are there handouts? Do they add to the game or are they annoying?
Theme--Do you get lost in the game or do you not understand it?
Cool--Playing it is cool? or does it make you feel like a fool?

Each characteristic will get either , or

Thus a perfect score is 5 stars.
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1. RPG: Atlantis [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
RPG: Atlantis
Mark Cookman
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2. RPG Item: Cosmic Patrol Core Rulebook [Average Rating:6.76 Overall Rank:2610]
RPG Item: Cosmic Patrol Core Rulebook
Mark Cookman
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"Cosmic Patrol" is a fun, light-hearted story RPG from Catalyst Game Labs set in a retro future designed using elements of classic science fiction from the 1930's through the early 1960's. In this exciting RPG, players take on the roles of space patrolmen (and women) of various races (Human, Venusian, and Martian to just name three) dedicated to protecting the planets and space stations of our solar system from enemies, both internal and alien. There are known alien war fleets moving through space, so far they don't know where earth is. One of your main jobs is to keep it that way. We thought we were ready to explore the great black, to make it ours; we were wrong.

The mechanics in Cosmic Patrol are dice based and easy to learn. Actions are accomplished by beating an NPC/Difficulty d20 roll plus modifiers vs a d12 plus a stat die, ranging from d4 to d12, plus modifiers. The highest roll "wins" narration rights over the action. Additionally, each player starts the game with three Plot Points. These can be used to bring a new element into the story at any point, among other things. This mechanic, plus the idea of no fixed GM, makes this a wild story telling game that can go anywhere. To make certain that the game doesn't go too far, each adventure has guidelines and questions to keep the group on track. This game is a lot of fun; you should try it sometime if you like golden age space opera.

Here's my review.

Originality -
I debated giving a half-star to this one. At its core, this game is a simple storytelling RPG based upon the visions of science fiction writers of the 1930's -- 1960's. That, in itself, is NOT original. However, the authors of Cosmic Patrol manage to capture the feel of the fiction perfectly without bringing in anything either easily recognizable or truly "hokey".

Rules/Background -
Enough rules to play the game are available for free, but if you prefer to hold a book in your hands then you can also order one of those. This game has a very simple system, the mechanics are easily learned by playing the game.

Handouts -
The character sheets for this game are awesome. Large, easy to read numbers, a set of Cues (Phrases that describe the character's way of operating and thinking in the character's own words), and a set of Tags (One word descriptors of the character from another's viewpoint) quickly describe any character.

Theme -
This game clearly earns a full star for theme. The art, the fonts, and even the layout of the character sheets helps promote the game's Golden Age of Science Fiction theme. From the introduction of the game alone, I was hooked into the theme.

Cool -
This is a fun game. I have played it multiple times with different groups and I have enjoyed it every time. Because the role of GM (called the Lead Narrator in this game) switches around between the players, you never know where the game will go.


Total: -- 5 Stars

You should try this game. You can find the FREE quickstart rules here:
http://www.cosmicpatrol.com/?page_id=71
 
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3. RPG Item: Dread [Average Rating:7.94 Overall Rank:66]
RPG Item: Dread
Mark Cookman
United States
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"Dread" is a fun, suspense-filled story game from The Impossible Dream, an award-winning publisher of innovative, immersive role playing games. In this horror RPG, players take on pre-prepared roles from the scenario that they are playing. Before the game begins, players choose which role they want to play in the scenario. Next, each player fills out a questionnaire to put the "meat on the skeleton" of their character. When the players have completed their questionnaires, they give them back to the GM who uses the customizations the players have made to adjust the game. Finally, the GM has the players introduce their characters and then he or she presents the scenario.

The unique mechanic in Dread is the use of a specially prepared Jenga tower to serve as the randomizer for success and failure. If you want to accomplish an action that your character should be able to do without any problem, then you only have to pull one brick. If you want to accomplish an action that your character has no training for, in a life or death situation, then you might have to pull four bricks. If the tower falls, then the GM narrates the character's death and play continues until only one player remains or the scenario end guidelines are met. There are four scenarios available for download and as many more as your mind can imagine. Dread is a unique story game experience and I recommend that you try it out sometime.

Here's my review.

Originality -
This is decidedly an original game. I like the idea of using a Jenga Tower as the randomizer because it is both something different and something familiar.

Rules/Background -
Enough rules to play the game are available for free, but if you prefer to hold a book in your hand then you can order one of those. This game is simple. There are no confusing mechanics to learn -- you knock over the tower; your character dies.

Handouts -
The handouts that help players to define their characters are one of the elements that make this game so great. You can play the same scenario with different people and get a completely different game based upon the players answers to their questionnaires.

Theme -
This is another toss up for me. A part of me loves the mechanic of using a Jenga tower, something that naturally creates tension and suspense, in a suspense / fear driven game; it just seems to fit. Unfortunately, another part of me feels like I'm just a geek making up a story to go along with my Jenga game -- or rather -- "Why aren't we just playing Jenga?"

Cool -
This is a pretty fun game. I have played it multiple times with different groups and I enjoyed it every time, although I will admit that on more than one occasion I just wanted to wreck the tower and be done.

Total: -- 4 Stars

You should try this game. You can DL it here:
http://www.tiltingatwindmills.net/games/dread/
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4. RPG Item: Dust Devils [Average Rating:6.94 Overall Rank:4004]
RPG Item: Dust Devils
Mark Cookman
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5. RPG Item: Engine Heart: Hard-Coded Edition [Average Rating:8.00 Unranked]
RPG Item: Engine Heart: Hard-Coded Edition
Mark Cookman
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6. RPG Item: Everyone is John [Average Rating:6.68 Overall Rank:3327]
RPG Item: Everyone is John
Mark Cookman
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"Everyone is John" is a free, fun, one-shot story game from designer Michael Sullivan. In this GM-less RPG, players take on the roles of one of the multiple personalities within the disturbed man named John. Players take turns (by means of a simple bidding mechanic) controlling John's actions and trying to accomplish their personality's goals. Players score points if they manage to complete a goal within the framework of the story. The player with the most points at the end of the game wins, but really everybody wins because this game is hilarious. Here's my review.

Originality -
This is decidedly an original game. I don't think that I have ever run across the idea of multiple players sharing the mind of one character in any other game.

Rules/Background -
The rules are free, well-written, and easy to understand. No one in my group had any problem picking up on the rules of game and our ages spread from 12 to 53.

Handouts -
There are no character sheets or handouts of any kind.

Theme -
I'm divided on this one, that's why the half-star. There is nothing in this extremely simple game that adds to the theme of playing a mentally-disturbed person. Yet, the mechanics and players just lend themselves to supporting the theme almost naturally.

Cool -
This is literally one of the most fun games that I have ever played. I have played it multiple times with different groups and enjoyed it every time. This is much more fun than a barrel of monkeys.

Total: -- 3.5 Stars

Seriously, you need to try this game. You can DL it here http://pftdcast.com/resources/EveryoneIsJohn.pdf
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7. RPG Item: Havoc Brigade [Average Rating:7.30 Unranked]
RPG Item: Havoc Brigade
Mark Cookman
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8. RPG Item: Heist Aces [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
RPG Item: Heist Aces
Mark Cookman
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9. RPG Item: Hell for Leather [Average Rating:5.38 Unranked]
RPG Item: Hell for Leather
Mark Cookman
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10. RPG Item: Lady Blackbird [Average Rating:7.80 Overall Rank:89]
RPG Item: Lady Blackbird
Mark Cookman
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11. RPG Item: Resolute, Adventurer & Genius [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
RPG Item: Resolute, Adventurer & Genius
Mark Cookman
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