Saturday, 19 May 2018

Poetry RPG Challenge

A friend introduced me to the 200 Word RPG Challenge. I quite like the idea as an example of constrained creativity, but it got me wondering whether 200 words was too much - and too banal a concept. Would it be possible to create the rules for an RPG in the form of a single haiku? The rule is that it has to be entirely complete and playable - no extra explanation allowed.

Here was my first attempt:

Roll a d-20
To do whatever you want
Higher is better

But there maybe isn't quite enough there (on its own, the haiku sort of implies you can do whatever you want automatically and the higher the dice roll the better the result, but there's no accounting for failure).

Another one:

Player and DM
Each roll a d-100
Compare the results

I quite like that one. Although, as above, it also requires a little bit of creative interpretation to tell that the idea is the player and DM both roll 1d100 and the player succeeds or fails accordingly, with the difference between the two scores affecting the extent of the success or failure.

A last effort along similar lines:

Success or failure?
Competing d6 results
Determine outcomes

This makes me wonder about other poetry-related RPG challenges. Can you come up with a complete ruleset in the form of a sonnet? How about a limerick?


  1. “Whatever you dream, you can be it.”
    But some players just couldn’t see it.
    So they made up some rules,
    But despite all these tools,
    In the end it was just DM fiat.

  2. I'm trying to fit B/X into 200 words for people who have no reference. I'm stupid today.

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  3. Actually, I was wrong. It turned out to be a good idea. It works. I envision it as a game you keep in your wallet (if you haven't already memorized a system) and play with your spouse when you're on a walk, waiting at the airport terminal, making dinner, on the phone, etc.

  4. Very kind. Lines 3-5 are about a beat over budget each, and I didn’t follow the rules in any case. It’s more of a joke entry about D&D in the voice of Ron Edwards.

    I actually think that the limerick form is I’ll suited to this task. Haiku is perfect for expressing simple, unadorned observation; a limerick wants to have a punchline.