Now, I know what you’re thinking. A party isn’t really the most conducive atmosphere for breaking out the dice and heavy role-playing books. Just hear me out! Run one of these games for a group of friends while a bit of music plays in the background and adult players enjoy (responsibly) glasses of their favorite alcoholic victuals. Some RPGs really jive with a party vibe, and I’d like to introduce you to a few.
1 . Everyone Is John
Here’s a great starter game that works well as an icebreaker. In this particular light RPG, players take turns controlling a single individual. Player characters represent personalities that constantly vie for control of John’s body in order to fulfill their unique obsessions. Personalities have different skills and phobias that make life easier or harder for the controlling player. The goal (besides getting into as many insane situations as possible) is to accomplish your obsession goal as many times as possible before the end of the game. The mechanics are simple enough so that RPG newbies and veterans will feel right at home. Just grab a d6 and the basic rules, and a few character sheets if you feel like it, and start John’s crazy, often fatal, adventures.
2 . Numenera
One great party game choice that may shock you is Monte Cook’s Numenera. The setting for the game proves incredibly detailed, with quirky characters and monsters around every corner. Fortunately, the system is very simple, making it easy for the GM to create NPCs quickly. A game of Numenera should be fast paced – when you’re dealing with nanotech, characters that can ride lightning bolts, and truly bizarre alien lifeforms, it’s best to keep things moving rapidly. Making characters is fun in its own right, as you roll randomly for powers, trinkets, and artifacts. Players should be encouraged to act on impulse and help contribute to the story and setting during play. Throw in a little techno music and schnapps, and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results!
3 . The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen
No books required for this party favorite! In this gem, players need only concoct the most absurd sounding name for their adventurer and it’s off to the races. Party goers take turns telling the most incredible, outrageous story they can think of, based entirely on another player’s wild suggestion. For instance, a player might start another’s story with, “tell us the time you fought off the Pacific Grunge-Bears with naught but your comb and trusty jaw implants!” The kicker is this: during each story, other players can wager coins in order to throw in a complication that the story teller has to then counter with their own coins or accept. If they accept the change, they keep the coins offered; otherwise, the coins go to the interrupter. Collaboration continues until the story comes to its climax and eventual close, then play passes to the next adventurer. Oh the tales you’ll tell!
4 . Paranoia!
My favorite party RPG will probably always be Paranoia! This wonderful RPG places characters into Alpha Complex, a Cold War-style bunker safe from the nuclear wasteland waiting in the dreaded “outside.” Here, Friend Computer runs a perfect utopia, where nothing ever goes wrong, and when it does, valorous Troubleshooters (that’s you!) rush to fix it. Players are responsible for fixing the trouble as well as keeping a wary eye out for Commies, Mutants, Traitors, and Mutant-Traitor-Commies. More often than one might think, these undesirables are lurking within the ranks of your squad. Maybe you’re a traitor! Whatever the case. a well prepared GM will provide players with such handouts as toy guns, “happy-pills” in the form of candy, hilarious forms to fill out, and an endless supply of doubt. As each character has a total of six clones (read “lives”), caution is easily and readily thrown to the wind in favor of wild accusations and hilarious clone-deaths. I have to give special props to my bud Eric for his fantastic game that I was able to enjoy at our most recent convention. Eric, if you’re reading this, I must have more Paranoia!
As should be plainly obvious by now, there are plenty of RPGs that you should consider for your next shindig. Have you run a game at a party before? Which would you recommend? Let me know! My e-mail is located in my bio below. Have fun out there.
David Horwitz is a gamer and freelance writer with an obsession for exploring new forms of leisure. If you’re looking for an inquisitive mind and a deft hand, or just want to chat about gaming, contact him at www.davidhorwitzwrites.com/contact .
I am become death, destroyer of worlds.