Tuesday 22 September 2009

Glorious multiple personality disorder with Joe in Ten Persons by Daniel Ravipinto

In Joe in Ten Persons every player plays a version of the same person, called Joe, each from a parallel world. Wandering between parallel worlds, you have become obsessed with one Joe called Joe Prime. Your task is to find out what Joe Prime's big decision is and why he's avoiding it. If you have felt that The Free RPG Blog has failed to offer you anything new then Joe in Ten Persons is for you. Designed for a one shot. Joe in Ten Persons was written in 24 hours for the FRPGB and 1KM1KT competition.

Character Creation

Before you start creating the individual Joes, you must decide in which decade he was born. This is important from a time frame point of view. If you choose 1920 then modern day would make Joe nearly 90. It's best to choose an era such that your players are familiar with it. You then choose the setting but more on that later.

Unlike most roleplaying games, you do not create your own character individually but you create ten Joes simultaneously with a pseudo random process. The players engage in some free thinking anarchy and scribble random words on folded pieces of paper, which are assigned randomly to ten Joes. These words act as inspiration for one of the two Statistics: "My Obsession". From there, you decide on a "My Decision" for the Joe you have. You finish by choosing an age that you feel is appropriate to the obsession and decision. Now that all of the Joes have been created, each player picks one to be their character.


Joe in Ten Persons is set wherever you are. You are encouraged to utilise local landmarks. This is good because stepping from dimension to dimension through time is rich enough without having a detailed setting on top. You could set it in the same universe as your recent roleplaying campaign. The one connection between all the Joes is that they all met someone called Keeton, who showed them how to travel between parallel universes.


The system perches uneasily between a roleplaying game and board game. It shuns its wargame roots giving it a more storygame and less traditional feel. Joe in Ten Persons has a winner. The person to have the most influence over Joe Prime. To influence Joe Prime, you must influence the Joe NPCs. In a turn, you can either increase your influence with a Joe NPC, move the influence from one Joe NPC to another or destroy the influence of another player. These actions are taken by risking existing influence tokens, rolling some dice and roleplaying a scene.

There is considerable help with deciding the scene, although it is driven entirely from the players - there isn't a GM as such. The players compete in these scenes to gain influence and roll dice to decide who wins.


[24 Hour Proviso] Joe in Ten Persons is superb. There is very little I can recommend to improve it. The only thing that comes to mind is more graphics. Before you ask to change the record, the graphics are inspired from the excellent web comic xkcd and as such they should be easy to produce in droves.

This didn't win?

Joe in Ten Persons is excellent. It's novel, interesting, thoughtful and exceptionally presented. My biggest problem with Joe in Ten Persons is will a group of players accept it? On two fronts, is it actually fun to play - as the burden is on the group, it requires a good dynamic and people willing just to make things up. Most groups aren't like that. The second, more wintery front is that Joe in Ten Persons is a very difficult sell. How do you go about explaining and selling this to a group? I think it might be just too left field for 90% of gaming groups. The proof is in the playing but getting over that hurdle may be too much for a group to jump.


Joe in Ten Persons is a work of genius. It's inspired. I cannot begin to imagine how it might play but if you read one roleplaying game this year, make sure it's Joe in Ten Persons.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for the kind comments and thank you so much for putting the competition together! I'd never have put JiTP together without that particular fire under my ... ahem.

As for finding a group willing to play such a weird game, I definitely understand your reservations. I just went with the vision that the contest phrase gave me and followed wherever it lead, not matter how strange the destination. :)

Thanks again!

- Dan R.