One of those recent conversations really hammered home to me how micro RPG's are odd genre, one that is more defined about format than anything else.
Seriously, while micro RPGs are all minimal rule systems, minimal rule systems don't mean micro RPG. Baron Munchausen has two pages of rules but it has very a hundred pages on setting, theme and tone. It is designed for light, short one-shots with minimal preparation but it's not a micro RPG.
Let's be honest, when a role playing game is only a few pages long, it is impossible for it to really discuss setting or gaming philosophy or anything more than the bare bones. And sometimes... okay, most of the time, that's really not enough.
The ultimate goal of a micro RPG is that you should be able to pull it out if your picket, slap it down in front of people who have never seen it before and have a game going in five minutes.
I have seen some that do pull that off. The Name of God, which is even laid on a set of cards for easy transport, is one. But most just don't have enough meat. To be painfully honest, I have read two or three dozen of them in the last three years and there are only three or four that I seriously want to get on the table. And I am obviously part of their target audience.
But, I don't think that's entirely a bad thing. Even if I don't view them as games to play, that doesn't mean they aren't interesting thought exercises. I get a lot of fun out of looking at them in experiments in game mechanics. And it is really easy to and one to a friend, see 'here, read this', and have a conversation going in five minutes.
A great example is A Flask Full of Gasoline. It is an absolute hoot to read and I have shared it with a lot of my friends. Really, anyone who might even be slightly interested. And I would never, ever play the game since it includes rules for drinking gasoline. Not the characters. The players. But, man, have I had some fun conversations about it.
Let's be honest. I am going to keep on reading micro RPGs and I am going to keep on commenting on them. Because it is fun and they give me a quick RPG fix and because they do bring up ideas worth discussing.
Heck, how many full-size RPG's am I going to play? :D Really, when you think about what a micro RPG has to pull off, I am lucky to have found ones like the Name of God or Keeton's Journey that I think would be really good to play.
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