iApprove: Risus.

January 21, 2009

There are a lot of tabletop RPG systems out there.  Like, really a lot.  Most of which don’t really mesh.  Consequentially, if you want to do multiple RPGs, not only do you have to read and memorize all these different systems, but you have to pay for them all.

Risus: The Anything RPG sidesteps both of these difficulties.

Firstly, it’s free, saving you from spending fifteen-plus dollars each time you want to play a different genre.  Secondly, it is, as the title suggests, a universal system (though it is designed mainly for comedy).  You can play virtually anything with it, even pre-existing RP universes if you’re so inclined (the legality of this is uncertain if you do not own a guidebook for said universe).

While there are a large number of universal systems available, Risus is without doubt the easiest I have ever seen.  Rather than using the stat/point/ability systems common to many RPGs, everything in Risus is neatly compiled into “clichés”, or character archetypes.  Rather than points, each player receives ten dice (real or imaginary) which they can invest into various clichés.  For example, a character can put four dice into Wizard, four into Poet, two into Pulp Action Hero and one into Marine Biologist.  Adding a cliché automatically equips you with all the necessary tools of the trade and the ability to attempt anything that the archetype could possibly do – cast spells, write poetry, swing over ravines by a whip, or identify lesser porpoises, for example.  To attempt something, roll the dice you’ve invested in the relevant cliché and compare your results to the difficulty number.

There are a few other bonuses – upgrading dice, for example, or taking a crippling weakness for a bonus die – and you may have to modify it for some universes, but it is without a doubt the simplest and most humorous system I know of.



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