First, the game was designed to be played in the car. Which is an idea that I love, an RPG that you could play during a long, boring trip. It’s also an idea that I’ve never been able to pull off :P I think there is inevitably too much to distract you, particularly if you’re the one driving.
But the idea of a game that can work under those restrictions, minimal rules let you forgo dice or maps or miniatures or other randomizers, that seems like a kind of platonic ideal to me. Mind you, I am already aware of games that already fit that bill, like Baron Munchausen or Puppetland. But it seems like a design space worth exploring.
Second, the designer’s notes describe the ‘no and’ to ‘yes and’ mechanic as old. To someone who got started with first edition D&D, that mechanic still feels fresh and innovative. And as someone who has gamed with a lot of improvisers, I think it is such a great mechanic.
Third, Tales of the Ring is a micro RPG, a concept that I am still trying to wrap my mind around. A micro game, in the board game sense, is easy to understand. It’s a game with only a few components. (Often, that also means a small footprint and easy to teach rules and a short playing time but not necessarily)
But it doesn’t take much space or stuff to play most RPGs, as long as you’re using theater of the mind instead of miniatures. A handful of dice and some play sheets plus some pencils doesn’t count as a lot of components.
And a short playing time or being rules light doesn’t qualify a game as a micro rpg. I’ve never heard anyone ever call Baron Munchausen a micro RPG even though it has practically no rules and is designed to be played in one short sitting.
I think there are two things that can make a RPG a micro RPG. One is small volume of total printed material. If the total game, rules and background and fluff and all, is only one or two pages, it might be a micro RPG. The other is narrowness of focus. Not just limiting a game to a specific genre or even a specific narrative but a very narrowly defined scenario.
The Name of God _might_ be a micro RPG. The original rules take up less than a page and you have a very specific structure and goal. Even then, the game is open enough that I’m not sure it qualifies as a micro RPG.
Game poems as a genre fit the bill but I never hear them being called micro RPG. They have their own goal of evoking an emotion or experience.
Really, while there is a need and a design space for rules light RPGs and short form RPGs, micro RPGs might be too limiting an idea.
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