Here’s my latest gonzo campaign pitch. It can be run with a group of any size, from 1-on-1 to large con groups of eight or more.
It would work best with an extremely rules-lite RPG—something that you can not only roll a character and get the hang of as a PC very quickly, but that you can understand as a GM very quickly as well.
If your group has that level of understanding with 3E/4E/Pathfinder or something more complex, however, more power to you—though pre-gens may be required.
Begin by splitting players in half. One half begins as PCs, the other begins as GMs.
That’s right. Multiple GMs. Follow me here.
Each GM has 10 bidding points, a la Everyone is John. They initially bid, and the high-bidding player takes the initial storyteller role. They set up a basic pitch, which provides a story-lite framework to the adventure (“You’re all halflings delivering a message to the elven kingdom” “You’re a group of common men raiding a haunted barrows” “You’re kobolds launching a surface world invasion”).
PCs roll their characters, and the co-GMs go about designing encounters, traps, monsters, and generally serving as evil minions, giving the storyteller fodder.
The storyteller runs the game as normal, adding in suggestions from his minions on how best to make the PCs’ lives hell. At any point, another GM may make a bid to take over as storyteller. The current storyteller can either take that bid and relinquish the chair, or give up that many points.
Now, here’s where things get fun.
The game isn’t rigged—because then no one has fun—but the game is fuck-you difficult. PC death is expected. When that happens, the deceased PC crosses over to the other side of the table, collects 10 bidding points, and becomes a co-GM. This creates a power imbalance in favor of the GMs, and potentially traps the PCs in a death spiral.
They can choose to continue on without their ally, or return to camp. If they return to camp, and cannot resuscitate their friend, they collect a new ally. When this happens, the co-GM with the lowest bidding points switches sides, rolls a PC, and sets off.
This goes on until the PCs succeed, or there’s a TPK.
In the event of a TPK, something big happens—both sides switch entirely. All GMs become Players and vice versa. Then, one of two things happen. Either:
* The (new) GMs say “one day/month/year/eon later, the saga continues” and the (new) PCs carry on the same story
* The focus shifts. Suddenly, whatever killed the PCs (and if it was a solo monster, his thralls/allies/etc.) take center stage, and we follow THEIR story instead.
What do you think?