"Louis, Louis, Louis. Always whining, Louis!" said Lestat from Interview with a Vampire. If I was much more attractive, stylish and an immortal who drank blood, he could be talking to me. I am, however, a ginger Brit with a forehead so large your could sell advertising space on it. I am always whining about how wonderful, free generic systems do not come prepacked with a wonderful, free setting. Well, now you can make your own without the horror of having original ideas. To demonstrate how easy Instant Game is, I'm going to create a game as I review, putting my results into italics.
A game, instantlyYour Instant Game is constructed from Setting, Story, Characters, On the fly and Resolution mechanics. I am going to concentrate on Setting and Story as I think they are where the power is for most gamers. Generally, you roll on a table with a d100 and pick the answer and move on. If you don't like it, you can roll again but I feel that somewhat out of the spirit of it. You could just choose and fore go the dice but I imagine Animalball will pay a visit with blowtorches and pliers.
SettingThe Setting is made from a roll on the Setting table (well, naturally), a roll on Tone table and two rolls on the Things tables. Each table has a huge number of items in it. I rolled:
- Setting: Lost Civilisation
- Tone: Conspiracy
- Things: Serial Killer, Dreams.
- For me, this brings to mind a serial killer, who has terrible dreams (which turn out to be true) and is trying to stop Atlantis from sinking by killing government officials. That's just the setting!
StoryYou might well indicate that I already have enough in the Setting to set up the characters - working for the government, trying to stop the killer but I will go on as it's all rather good fun. For Story, you roll on Opposition, an Action + Thing and Action + Other Thing. You can also add Descriptor (Abandoned, Clean, Occult etc) if you like but I am going to keep it simple (stupid). I rolled:
- Opposition: Evil Mastermind
- Action + Thing: Guide Scribe
- Action + Thing (again): Duel Hostage
- The players are after the evil mastermind (serial killer), a scribe is going to help them but is a bit useless, so needs guiding. Perhaps the scribe is blind? Yes! The big scene at the end is a duel with the serial killer, who indicates that they (government agents) are actually helping destroy Atlantis.
Things that matterThe book is well laid out, two columns and easy to read. A smattering of colourful pictures that print well lift what could have been a nightmare tablefest (am I the only person in the world with a Rolemaster phobia?). I would not print it, either. I would use it as a PDF and then take my ideas from it. There are sample settings at the back of the book as well as a glossary of terms. The glossary is superb, it describes every item in the tables - which is not required but adds extra flavour if you are unsure of how it might be combined with other tables. There is a quick start as well as a more detailed description of how to game instantly. There is also an active community (and I mean active). Loads of feedback and more ideas.
I imagine that Instant Game is also great for designers, whether you are doing a WoAdWriMo adventure, 24 Hour RPG Entry or just designing for fun. It can act as the ideal idea trigger to make that game that will refresh the haggard minds of your dungeon crawlers.
Imagination breakdown?Although Instant Game does do a lot, you do need to engage brain to connect the nouns and adjectives together. This might be a cool activity to do with your players but some player groups prefer to sit and game, not sit and create a game. My players like to sit and plot the demise of any plot/campaign/setting/NPCs/tension/thought/self-respect I might have. Your players are probably culture vultures, connoisseurs of roleplaying taste and decorum - the polar opposite of my knuckle-dragging, violence engines. If I were picky, I'd like all the tables right at the back to make printing easier and the twin column would be easier to read if their were justified left and right.
Instant ConclusionAm I going to stop whining? Of course not but Instant Game goes a very long way indeed to filling the void I feel gapes in many free systems. If you have a system you want to use and it is bereft of setting then use Instant Game to do that for you. It is well thought out and has more than enough combinations to generate a vast, and I mean VAST selection of settings. Of course, I have only reviewed the Setting/Story part of the game and there is more regarding characters and, feats and so on. Be assured, the rest is of similar high quality.
Mike and Kyle should be applauded, not only have they produced something superb for nothing but also an imaginative toolbox that anyone and everyone can find a use for.