Monday, May 18, 2009

Reel 'Em In: Great Quick-Start Rules

Quick-Start rules for RPGs can be a mixed bag. On one hand, they can be a relatively inexpensive introduction to a new game, or a useful demo tool/reward. However, if poorly done, they can also be a tremendous turn-off. Not enough detail, and potential gamers won't have a feel for the game. Too much detail, and the eyes start to glaze over. Below is a list of 5 of the better quick-start RPG efforts out there. (Please note I have not included any free RPGs, as those really don't need a quick-start in the same way as commercial efforts do):

1) Savage Worlds: Savage Worlds doesn't need a lot of help to sell itself, nor does it have a high price entry barrier, but its Test Drive Rules are outstanding nonetheless. Only Smilin' Jack keeps this from an A+ (can't stand that guy!).

2) A Song of Ice & Fire: The jury is still out on Green Ronin's recent offering, but the Quick-Start Rules for this game (available from the product's homepage) give you a pretty good idea of what to expect from it.

3) Shadowrun: I'm not a huge SR fan, but this intro to the 3rd edition of that game is a solid 66-page introduction that does a nice job introducing folks to what it's all about. The 4th edition also has a Quick Start pack, so take your pick!

4) Eldritch: Goodman Games' effort at a new system hasn't really caught fire, but that didn't stop this product from being a nice little overview of the system. Good job on including a free introductory adventure, too.

5) Castles & Crusades: A pretty solid effort. C&C isn't the toughest game to get a handle on, but this freebie does a nice job of explaining the basics of play and the all-important SEIGE Engine. It could use a little assistance as far as layout and ease of reading go, though--two things I think important in a first impression.

This is by no means meant to be a comprehensive list, so feel free to add your own!


Matt said...

White Wolf released two Quickstarts for Hunter: the Vigil that were a lot of fun to play. You can run them independently or back-to-back as the start of an ongoing story.

Contested Ground Studios released a pdf called a|state lite which comes in at about 70 pages and is full of awesome setting details and other goodies.

The Ghosts of Albion demo from Eden Studios is a fun little adventure that gets the characters into the action quickly.

Questing GM said...

No love for Wizards' 4E?

Zachary The First said...

Questing: Not really my bag. I figured that one was already pretty much out there, so I'd concentrate on some lesser-known ones.

Matt: Good call on A-State lite.

The Recursion King said...

You forgot the excellent Labyrinth Lord which I have had much success with new players with.

Zachary The First said...

Recursion: LL is a free download in its entirety. I only included quick-starts for games that didn't have free versions. That's why I didn't include it on here, much love as I have for that worthy RPG.

kelvingreen said...

Call of Cthuhlhu has a quickstart set which gives you everything you need to get started, plus the classic "The Haunting", revised to give suggestions on how to expand it into a campaign. It's a very well done starter set.

Mark Gedak said...

Ghoulash is a two-player strategy game that good for 30 minutes of fun. It has a test drive download on the site.

Steve said...

I've been collecting Quickstarts in PDF and print for the last couple of years. Here are my findings:

Print QuickstartsPDF Quickstarts

Zachary The First said...

Nice lists, Steve!

Will said...

I'm a fan of Savage Worlds in general, and I really like their quick start rules. They're simple, useful, and, of course, free. They also provide handy free supplements from a lot of their settings, which I also appreciate.