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Small Beginnings

The 200 Word RPG Challenge has become a fantastic starting point for many new creators. Some have even gone on to turn their entry into a larger game! If you took your 200 word rpg to the next level please tell me about it! I want to feature your story here along with the others. Email me at davidschirduan-at-gmail.

Success Stories

LOVEINT. The title is actual slang used by professional spies to describe times where they misuse their espionage capabilities to stalk their exes and significant others. Until the 200 Word RPG Challenge came along, I never knew exactly what to do with the idea. When I heard about the challenge, it seemed like a good fit for the concept. It was important to me that the game have a unique game trick (the dice swapping), one that hopefully reflected the game’s unique premise. At the same time, I knew that trying anything too complex would be impossible given the short word count I had to work with. Once I had the basic components, the game came together actually quite easily. 200 words isn’t very many, so I had a first draft written quite quickly, and all I had to do was edit and revise it to be under 200 words (this probably took most of the initial development time). In the end, I was very happy with the game, and even more happy when it did well in the contest part of the challenge. More recently, I learned that Josh Jordan was organizing an anthology of games about conspiracies and espionage and such, and I thought that LOVEINT would fit in perfectly. When revising for clarity, the game expanded a bit, but I still wanted to preserve the spirit of the 200 Word RPG Challenge by making the final version of the game as short as possible. (In the end, it was a bit under 300 words.) - Nick Wedig

Time Travel Thaw. The challenge specifically wanted a game that encouraged engagement in a creative new way. I spent a few days thinking about some of the RPGs I’d read that used new or unique mechanics to interact with the game fiction. Games like Dread that used Jenga to promote a sense of escalating tension or some of the previous year’s entrees that had the players burning matches to indicate the use of game resources. I wanted something in that style, but with a new twist, which is where I thought up using a melting ice cube to both setup tension and have a real world, physical representation of the changing in-game situation. I spent a week experimenting with melting ice on all sorts of different paper types (fun fact: most paper is surprisingly hard to soak!) before settling on paper towels. From there, I probably wrote and re-wrote the 200 word text about 10-20 times (no kidding) before I was satisfied with the result. And while I was pretty proud of my creation, I never expected to be a winner considering how many wonderful games and ideas were submitted. Overall, the whole experience was an absolute blast. - Armand Kossayan

Paranormal Rescue Squad. 200 words is such a tight constraint. Right away I started thinking about lists as a way to compress information. I love the lists in Apocalypse World, and had heard Vincent Baker joke in an interview about a game that was just lists. I was also inspired by the Threeforged game To Return a Wallet, by David J Blair, Sean Fager, and J Groves, which had great lists. I had wanted for a while to make a game whose setting and tone were inspired by Mike Mignola’s B.P.R.D. comics, so I thought about lists of the kids of things that might happen in those stories. A lot of my games are about how the characters’ actions create more problems for them, and I am still finding new ways to explore that idea. Paranormal Rescue Squad playtested well, and I was very please when it was selected as a finalist, but it was clear that while 200 words was enough for the lists themselves, it didn’t leave me enough room to adequately explain how to play the game. I needed just a few more words! When the contest was over, I kept working on the game, and gave myself the new constraint of keeping it to one double-sided page. I added what I hope is just enough explanation of how to play, and still had enough room to include optional mechanics for the operatives to have supernatural Powers. I ended up with a two-page game I was really happy with, and it seemed like a good opportunity to see what a talented layout designer like Oli Jeffery could do with one of my games. I never would have created this game without the 200-word constraint, and I’m super happy that I participated in the contest. - Allan Dodson

Writing Rainbow World for the 2016 Challenge was a huge deal for me. I learned so much from this process. I had to decide what kind of game really called to be from the handful of rough ideas I laid out on the first day. I had to pound out and refine a simple, focused game due to the word count limitations. Discovering what I liked, how it worked, and how to communicate it with others are essential lessons in game design and I got to cram them all into a week! After it was done, I had a game that worked but, to me, was not complete. With the structure in tacks I could, over the rest of the year, experiment with added text (like play examples), layout, and illustration to really make it finished. - Matt Bonhoff

Kintsugi started this whole adventure, and now I’m proud to say that it’s a fleshed out, beautiful little one-page game that has been enjoyed by many! Heck, maybe you’ll enjoy it too! - David Schirduan