June 4th, 2011


24-style RPG

This might be a just plain bad idea, but... has anyone tried to run an RPG with the same gimmick as the TV series 24? That is, each minute of real time corresponds to a minute of in-game time?

It would impose some limitations. You couldn't really do combat or anything else where the pace of in-game and real-life time diverged. You also couldn't skip over boring moments, unless they took happened between sessions or during breaks. And unexpected interruptions to the game would be inconvenient.

On the other hand, some things seem like they'd be hard to do, but could be overcome with a bit of creative trickery. Splitting the group, for instance. Say you split the group into two, and then ran one ten-minute segment for one group, and another ten-minute segment for the other. Then you declare that for both groups, whatever they did took twenty minutes in total, and the "off-screen" time was spent doing unimportant things like travel. It'd be hard to pull off just right, but possibly worth it if you succeeded.

What would the benefits be? Well, for one, you could plot out a timeline of things for the NPC bad guys to accomplish unless stopped. Tell your players at the beginning of the session that they have some fixed amount of hours to accomplish something, and that they'll fail if they don't manage that in time. Actually being in a race against the clock might produce a nice feeling of tension for the players.

This would probably work better as a one-shot than a campaign. It might be suited well for a convention game, since those have fixed timeslots anyway. Of course, they never seem to get started on time and you need to explain the gimmick and stuff, so you'd need to allocate some buffer time. Maybe three hours for a game in a four-hour slot.

EDIT to add: On the other hand, in a race against the clock scenario, it's not a given that the time correspondence has to always be absolute. For instance, you could tell the players "if you do this, it's going to cost you 10 minutes of time", and then skip ahead 10 minutes if they do decide to do it. Cue the players spending 15 minutes arguing over whether it's worth it to spend 10 minutes on this. ;)