One of the most fun things about being a Standard Nerd is the ability to indulge in some roleplaying games from time-to-time. Mostly, my friends and I have been playing the old standbys – D&D, WFRP, Paranoia etc.

What do you do when you just want a quick and simple game? Well, we came up with what we thought was a pretty ingenious solution; As I’m down here in Manchester and they’re back up in Glasgow, we’ve had to conduct our recent RPG sessions using Voice Over IP. Which of course, leaves the problem of rolling dice. It’s amazing what you can get an IRC bot to do! Ultimately, our IRC guru hacked up a few modifications to the bot: the dice roller (xdy), and also a mashup generator.

What’s mashup, you say? Mashup is a wonderful, splendiferous thing! It represents the ultimate in Game-Master challenge, and is perfect for quick roleplaying games. What we do is we have a bucket for genres, and a bucket for locations. Then, we select two genres and a location, and play a scenario in that for an evening.

For example; This Friday, we had two established roleplayers and a roleplaying newcomer, with me GMing. After rolling some generic characters (portable between different adventures so that GMs could award good roleplaying with skill points and whatnot), we hit the mashup button on the IRC channel.

What we got was “Space Opera” “Political Intrigue” “Set in a High School Gymnasium”.

So, a bit of a curveball. However, with a few minutes of planning, I was able to craft it into a little story for my players to follow! In this story, they were Dredges, the lowest-of-the-low in a generation starship on-route to some distant galaxy, and their boss had designs on the captaincy of this vessel in the upcoming elections. They met with him, Watergate style, in the dark of a high-school gym room on the lower decks of the ship, after hours, to be handed an unenviable task; remove the competition.

Of course, players being players, the whole thing ended up in a rather amusing bloodbath, which involved an impromptu full-head shaving, a re-enactment of the Die-Hard air vent scene, and the world’s worst Rube Goldberg machine trying and failing to set off a bomb constructed entirely of cleaning materials. It was daft, it was frenetic, and most of all it was DAMN good fun. Everyone had a great laugh, and best of all it proved that we could really pull off this sort of thing over the internet. Although I’m still concerned about how many of my players’ “plans”, and I use the term VERY loosely, involved the potential exposure of hundreds of innocent people to the vacuum of space…

I’d love to hear about it if any of you’ve done something similar in the past, or try to give something like this a go! All we used was a stripped-down version of the BESM 2nd Edition rules, so that we had something to resolve rolls against. Other than that, it was almost pure improv storytelling. Great if you’ve got a good group!

Until Friday, my friends!