In 2016, Grant Howitt decided – flippantly – to write a one-page roleplaying game every month and release it for free online. Little did he know that the barely-intelligible pen-and-ink scratches he turned out would go on to define his career, and the shape of roleplaying games, for years to come.
Played by thousands of people all over the world, Grant’s one-page games run the gamut from strange to silly, daft to deadly serious, and powerfully original to potentially copyright-infringing. This volume presents the fourth group of 13 games in their original single-page format (except if they’re longer), complete with SECRET BACK PAGE material for every game that’s never been released online.
(ADVENTURE CALENDAR, a 50-page booklet written out of desperation in the depths of 2020’s Christmas Lockdown and illustrated by professionals, is also included.)
Each game has been written, illustrated (sorry) and laid out entirely by Grant, unless someone else helped him, in which case it says so.
VOLUME 4 (2020-2021) is comprised of:
System Shutdown: As a team of ultimate cyberpunk badasses, can you survive enough to enact your terrible mission of revenge after the digi-bank forecloses on your implants? The longer play continues, the fewer limbs, competencies and senses the punks have access to.
BACK PAGE: BIG MAN ADVENTURE! You’re a BIG MAN and you have one stat: BIG.
Night Hag: Grim urban horror game where sleep paralysis sufferers team up to reveal the truth: malevolent spirits are sapping the life from them when they’re unconscious. The only option left to them is to hunt down and kill the night-hag that’s been plaguing their dreams.
BACK PAGE: Additional content for Night Hag including magic rules that will kill the user, firearms rules that will kill the user’s friends, and more.
Sepulchre: Powered by a cut-down version of Spire and Heart’s Resistance System (and set in the same universe), Sepulchre puts players in the role of relic-hunters in a vast subterranean arctic arcology.
BACK PAGE: Black Market Black Magic, additional content for Sepulchre. Additional details on all the districts evocatively but vaguely alluded to on the front page, and some illegal spells you can buy.
Nice Marines: The Space Marines are renowned across the galaxy as immortal killing machines. What happens when they try to do some diplomacy? Charming Warhammer 40,000 fan game (with enough names changed so we don’t get sued) with the potential to Succeed with Catastrophic Collateral Damage.
BACK PAGE: A Fete Worse Than Death. Hack of Nice Marines which tasks evil Iconoclast Marines to spread the fearsome gospel of their dark gods at a local village fair.
Orcball: Orcball is a cross between the riots that happen after other, more respectable sports and Burning Man. As new rules are handed down from mushroom-addled shamans after every goal, can your team of scrappy underdogs win the championship?
BACK PAGE: Orcball Fun Facts. How was orcball invented? What’s the largest game of orcball ever played? How does the religious hegemony of Bog-Al-Kurruk complicate sports reportage? Is elfball a thing? All these questions and more are answered.
Goblin Punks: You’re a no-good goblin kid with a distinct lack of prospects and a gang of similarly snot-nosed goblin friends. What are you going to do today? Includes full rules for goblin slang, rewarding players for inventing their own shared language.
BACK PAGE: Lists of names for things that I struggle to come up with names for when I’m GMing, such as: an Orc, a Goblin, a Sexy Wizard, A Gruff Bartender, A Friendly Shopkeeper, A Tiger You’ve Put In Someone’s Bedroom Without Them Knowing About It, and more.
Briarwood: Two (!) page game which sets players on a recovery mission deep into shadowed and lawless woods. Jolly little OSR thing with a magic and abilities system, as well as a cool drawing of a tree that you can use as a map.
BACK PAGE: MIRROR/MIRROR. There’s another you that lives in the mirror. Tonight, you’re going to need their help. Unusual game with a two-sided character sheet that unlocks different abilities depending on which You you are.
Kaiju Girls: You’re a teenage girl with all the usual worries: school, parents, love, etc. Also when you get upset you turn into a sixty-foot behemoth and stomp downtown to pieces. Can you unravel the alien conspiracy to destroy the world AND get good marks on your exams?
BACK PAGE: Girl Kaiju. A drawing of Godzilla with some cut-out femme accessories that you can stick on.
I’m A Lover, Not A Fighter: Hack of 2016 classic Honey Heist. You’re a handsome duelist of some kind, and you have two stats: LOVER and FIGHTER. Can you rescue the Queen from the Baron’s ball?
BACK PAGE: As many copyright-infringing Honey Heist hacks as I can come up with, including stat pairings such as: VAMPIRE and MASQUERADE, SPACE and COWBOY, FAST and FURIOUS and DUNGEONS and DRAGONS.
Stone The Crows: If Guy Ritchie directed a film in which a load of birds had to steal the Crown Jewels from the Tower of London, this would be the game of that film. Contains a full map of the Tower, personal motivations for all the magpies and that, and cast details for all-male and all-female versions of the movie.
BACK PAGE: How to: Create Your Own Wildly Popular Free-to-Download Animal Crime One-Page TTRPG. Deeply self-referential “guide” which devolves into dejected ranting about crabs.
Adventure Calendar (booklet): This is not a one-page game! This is a collection of 25 tables that combine and overlap to form a winter wonderland that gradually develops into a permafrost hellscape over the course of a campaign. Fully illustrated by professionals. (Merry Christmas!)
Once Upon A Crime: Kick in the back door of a beautiful fantasy kingdom and steal anything that isn’t nailed down. The more junk you’re carrying, the more powerful you become but the greater chance you have of dropping it and causing a catastrophe.
BACK PAGE: Scenarios for Once Upon a Crime which are mostly gags about fairy tales that Chris and I wrote down one afternoon. Plus: a drawing of a sleeping pig wearing a crown.
Predestined: Final Destination the RPG (basically). You all cheated death. Now, death hunts you down with a series of complicated, hamfistedly-foreshadowed and honestly improbable “accidental” fatalities. Can you avoid kicking the bucket, even though the big firework contest is taking place at your favourite racetrack TONIGHT?
BACK PAGE: D71 Terrible behaviours for throwaway characters who the audience are excited to see die, such as: laughing at a gravestone, shooting a horse when they think no-one is watching, pressing every button every time they get into a lift, and shouting hard into a pram.
Administrative Carnage: Follow-up game to Nice Marines which puts players in the role of the endlessly put-upon mortal servants of immortal Space Marines. Can you earn enough second-hand glory, perform your sacred duties, and survive long enough to retire?
BACK PAGE: A Galaxy at War. Hacks for Administrative Carnage allowing you to play space goblins helping out a space barbarian or iconoclast cultists serving an evil Space Marine.
Fetch: The product of several years of therapy: a grueling, physically painful and emotionally challenging solo journaling game in which you, a year after discovering that you are a changeling copy of a real person, descend into the deep woods to burn their eternal kingdom to the ground and die on your own terms. Probably the most upsetting thing I’ll ever make.
BACK PAGE: Just the words “I EXIST” written out by hand around three hundred times.