“Are you real?” is my entry to the 2018 “200 Word RPG Challenge“. The idea is to create a playable game using 200 words or less. If you think that is not possible check out the winners and finalists of the past for some inspiration. Here I humbly present to you my entry. I have also added some comments and ideas that did not make the 200-word cut. I appreciate your feedback, so make heavy use of the comments section or social media to let me know what you think about “Are you real?”.

Are you real?

Are you player or character? Are you calling the shots, or is someone else rolling for you?

This game is not played at a table but in real life. As you go through your day, ask yourself:
Am I interacting with players or NPCs?
What skill am I currently using?
Did my player roll well or not?
Do you feel they played out your actions, or did they skip ahead?

In the evening, take a couple of minutes to write down the day you had – from the perspective of your player.
Ask yourself why they made the choices they did – how do they want to develop you?
The best roll they had – like when they had you write a 200-word-RPG and rolled really well on their performance check.
Vice versa, their worst roll.
What class and archetype are you?
Did you level up?
And is this still backstory, or the adventure proper?

For a multiplayer experience, share these entries with your friends and discuss the dynamic of the group that plays you. Try to find out what their game master is like from what they throw at you.

The best part: you can play as long as you like!

This, of course, is the meta approach. Or is it? The idea is to question everything while still having fun. Keep this in mind even if you think you are the character. Anything good or bad that happens to you is still a matter of luck or dice rolls, no matter what you are. As for your actions being based on bad decisions by your player, let’s face it – we have all made bad decisions both in life as well as on the gaming table, so there is no evil intent in those either.

How to go further

Taking things to the next level is a pretty standard thing to do as a human being. For this game, there are some ways for you to do that, but they, more than the game itself, depend on your preferences. Also, since this game is pretty much open in all directions, feel free to experiment and let me know how things go! Have fun with this, because, truth be told, that is the whole idea.

You could put some thought into what game system you are running on. Is it more of a stats-based game where numbers and skill rolls are most important? Can you feel the modifiers at work, making you more focused after a cup of coffee, or fatigued after a long day?  Is it story-driven, more fluid, or governed by strict rules that give you the dazed-condition if you did not have your morning coffee?

What does your character sheet look like? Does it use the widespread atributes like strength and dexterity, or something different? What are you good at? What skills are you trained in, and which skills appear on the sheet in the first place? Are there spells, maybe in a way that we do not consider magic?

Is the game system a familiar one for the players, or are they trying a niche product for the first time? What flavor does it have that you might not have discovered yet, or in what way does the world portraied differ from that of the players?

Speaking of the players, are they experienced roleplayers, aiming for character developement, or powergamers that seek to exploit the rules? Did you ever feel like they managed to break the rules and score a win, or interpret what their game master gave them to full effect?

And the trickiest question of them all – who actually is the game master? Does she keep a short leash on her players, basically railroading them from one adventure to the next, or are you free to roam within your player’s controle?

You can probably go even further or deeper into this, but there is definitely a “too far” somewhere down the line. This is meant for you to enjoy a different perspective, but just like characters cannot really influence their players, there is no point in disecting every single event, or fussing over things that did not go as plannes. So stay sane, unless you are in a Lovecraftian game and fail your madness saving throw.

Thank you!

Thank you for checking out my contribution to the challenge. I encourage you to submit your own! Having to cut down to 200 words forces you to be concise. It helps you find the right mix of information given and inferences drawn, without getting lost in the details. And it demonstrates what you can do with words if you cannot rely on pictures or tables.

I for one enjoyed writing “Are you real?”, and I might give this format a try again – or at least try my hand at basic game designing. Feel free to look around to find roleplaying inspiration, paper models, and how-tos.

Thanks again for stopping by, and remember to Be Inspired!