#RPGaDay 2017: Day 9

For our 9th question in the month-long challenge of #RPGaDay, we are asked about a game that works well for short campaigns or well-defined runs of a number of sessions, specifically cited as 10 or less in the question.

Question 9: What is a good RPG to play for about 10 sessions?

As I like long-form campaign play without a set limit on number of sessions, my library typically contains games which support that. That is, most of the games involve means to allow play to evolve over long periods of time, support character development as well as the growth of personality and outlook, and if they have a ‘sweet spot’ of ‘best play,’ it is one that takes months or years to reach, is fun to strive toward, and is broad once reached.

Some games of this type are easily re-purposed to shorter form play, either by selecting a point along their spectrum of development to start play, or by adjusting the rate at which players traverse it. Some games make it easy to step outside the idea of character development altogether and focus on a single period of interest.

A game that is clearly about a specific type of play within a clearly-defined context is far easier to turn to such a task and it is in these systems that I find myself most drawn to creating premises for short-term play of a month or two before exploring something else. Games built around multiple options and approaches can sometimes seem to be under-used when cast into the role of supporting a short number of sessions.

In the video for today, I briefly look at a few choices which work well for me in limited runs. In this written response, I will suggest a different set but for the same reasons.

Unhallowed Metropolis


There is a lot to like and explore in this game, but I find for me to get the most out of it, I want to focus on meaningful struggles amidst the fog and pain of the greater war, in other words – I want to employ it in short and intense bursts. I prefer to run it for more than a one-shot, but significantly less than an open-ended campaign, so that the players are sure in their decisions, the characters are well-defined, but with the sense that all good things must come to an end. When this is achieved, the pressure to survive and develop over time is removed. The way this changes play and decision-making is glorious, and the struggles can feel that much more real.

Pitched and played just right, this is a great one to ‘leave them wanting more’.

A Time of War


I love A Time of War for long-form play and have run it more than many other systems since its release as the roleplaying extension of Battletech in 2010, but it can work wonders in short-form play as well – particularly in the context of a rapid invasion of a world, or in the money and blood soaked streets of the arena world, Solaris VII.

The core mechanics are simple, the system plays quickly, and in the context of a limited run of sessions, the background material for players to be conversant with is vastly reduced. If the players choose from the provided templates as the basis of their characters, or if recurring characters are used, then a group can be up and running in very little time. They can even, if they wish, incorporate the tabletop skirmish game.

Where this game can prove to be a challenge for short-form play is in character generation. It is an investment of time and thought to build a character from scratch, and as a result, I would not recommend going through the full chargen system for a short campaign or series of sessions.


There are some games which are so pure and so delicious that sadly, they work best as a dessert rather than as a main. One such is Paranoia, a game that I love dearly, but one that I found early on that I love best when served in small doses – primarily as a celebration of camaraderie and a palate-cleanser between longer and heavier campaigns.

This game requires no alteration, addition, or subtraction. Just run it to your heart’s content with the time you have allotted to it, and then…. put it away for the next time.


Today’s video contains different content than this written response.

Question 10: Where do you go for RPG Reviews?

3 Responses to “#RPGaDay 2017: Day 9”
  1. velverin1981 says:

    Nice to see someone else playing BattleTech: A Time of War.

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