Play Improvised

By Calle Dybedahl (calle@lysator.liu.se)

You remember that Web thingy where you can get GURPS crossovers generated? A couple of my friends started playing around with that back in 1994, by pointing at random on my shelf with GURPS books. Eventually it ended up as something totally unrelated to GURPS, which we have been running on Swedish conventions since spring 1996.

You need:
1 GM.
3-5 players.
It's nice to have:
A timer.
Paper and pencil for the GM to jot down notes on.

Assemble the players. Have each one decide on a topic, described as a single word or at most a handful of words. The players are not supposed to confer with each other. When they have decided, they give their topics to the GM. The GM now has a short while to make up a scenario, including characters for the players to play. The hardcore people use the timer to make sure it takes no more than five minutes. The less hardcore use some more arbitrary limit, like the amount of time it takes for the players to fetch the GM another cup of tea.

After the short while has passed, the GM tells the players what characters they are to play (in words, there is no time to use a rule system and make up stats), he describes the introductory scene, and the gaming is begun.

On the cons we've had this as a drop-in activity, where we have provided the GMs and random groups of players have dropped by and asked to play something. We also have a list of 100 random topics for them to roll 3D100 on, if they can't make something up. They also often give a time limit ("We're playing Warhammer in 45 minutes, so we have to be finished by then").

Combinations of topics I can remember off-hand are "Satanism, Cyberpunk and Cooking", "Godzilla, Men With Shovels and Puppies With Large Cute Eyes" and "Smurfs, Space and Unhappy Ending".

This all sounds much more complicated than it is in practice. Give it a try, you're not risking anything more than a few minutes of time.