Some time ago, I heard about the 200 Word RPG Challenge. The name is pretty much the concept—create an RPG in 200 words. I’ve never created an RPG before, but I wanted to give it a shot in between flash fiction pieces. And it’s opening up to entries in a little over a week!
The main purposes of the challenge are to encourage people to write a complete RPG and collect a variety of ideas for the community to build on. There’s also a competition component. To that point, entries will be judged based on actionable rules, new/overlooked stories, and engagement.
Of those, the second criteria is the one that stood out the most. Normally, I think I’d be inclined to write a more generic fantasy-adventure type RPG. But I like the fact that the contest encourages creators to expand into less common stories and settings.
All that said, the setting is probably what I’ve spent the most time thinking about. I have a draft, but with the contest opening to entries on May 18, there’s still plenty of time for revisions (whether they’re major overhauls or minor tweaks). But as it stands right now, I think the concept jives pretty well with the current game mechanics.
Which brings me to my second-most-thought-about-element: mechanics. (Otherwise known as how the game actually plays.) It’s not uncommon for tabletop RPGs to primarily use dice and character sheets. But in reading previous years’ entries, I really liked how these games (especially finalists) introduce other elements of gameplay, like playing cards, matches, or even paper towels. You want to use something that’s both common enough for people have on hand and also won’t use too much word count to explain.
Speaking of, I think that the 700 word limit I try to work with in writing flash fiction has been valuable training. But 200 words is still really short! And since it’s providing the framework for a game, it needs to set the stage concisely in terms of settings and characters while also explaining mechanics/rules just thoroughly enough for players to understand what to do.
At the same time, it take a little pressure off because it doesn’t need to include a scene with a beginning, middle, and end. That’s up to the players to create 🙂 But still, 200 words, man.
Anyway, that’s what I’m writing these days! Every entry will be published on the website after the contest is over, so I’ll be sure to share the link when it’s live. Think this is something you’d ever be interested in trying?