MicroCrunch Universal RPG: Introduction and Initial Release

Lately I've been fascinated with reading micro and quick-play systems for role playing. And there are some really creative ones out there. I've been inspired by so many: Barbarians of Lemuria, Risus, the Dead Simple sets, The Black Hack, The Rad HackMaze Rats, Lasers and Feelings, and a whole bunch more.

I like mechanics, and I like character generation as a mini-game within the RPG.

Sadly, my RPGer friends are scattered all over the country. But we do have a lot of local friends who are very willing game players. So I would like a really small game: one that's easy to pick up and play instantly with a group of non-gamers, and flexible enough to handle any genre.

MicroCrunch Universal is my very own complete role playing game that is small enough that the whole thing prints out on both sides of a 3"x5" index card. It does assume that someone in the group is familiar enough with role-playing games to understand the very concise rules, and how to play an RPG in general.

It's designed for one-shots and playing with people who aren't used to RPGs. The hope is that this index card in your back pocket, a one-page dungeon (perhaps from the amazing people at Dungeon Contest), and a set of mini-dice in your jacket would make an instant and complete game.

It has:
  • a CORE section, with all the mechanics you need
  • a PLAYER HANDBOOK, with the rules for character generation, and skill suggestions for a handful of genre-specific classes
  • a BESTIARY with some sample bad guys for fighting
  • an EXAMPLE CHARACTER, just to make sure we're all on the same page

I've only tested MicroCrunch out at my desk, but I'll run it with some people soon. I'm posting it for free, if you'd like to try it. Please let me know if you do. And I'll post here as I do, too.

I cobbled it together from ideas I've admired in other games. I've tried to pare it down to the parts I like the best in what I've read and tried.


I wrote the original as an entry in the super-cool 200 Word RPG Contest and expanded it beyond 200 to have a smidge more detail. I plan to add genre supplements, which will include classes, races, monsters, and extra rules. Each supplement will be printable as a two-sided index card.

(Here's the original 200 word contest entry, if anyone is curious...)

MicroCrunch Universal
By David Johnston

Needed: polyhedral dice, pencils, paper

One player is GameMaster who NARRATES WORLD.

Others make Characters and interact with narration:
* Divide 5 points between attributes (0-3 each): Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, Charm
* Write down three skills. Assign vales: 1, 2, 3. (e.g.: pickpocket, laser, fireball)
* Life Points = 3 + (strength * 2)
* List possessions

When character’s actions might fail:
* GameMaster rates task’s difficulty.
* Player rolls die from table.
* RR = Roll results
* Bonuses = values of all relevant attributes and skills
* Outcome = RR - Bonuses

* Difficulty decides die.
* All parties roll.
* Outcome = RR - Bonuses
* Low Result wins.

* Armor/Defense = Difficulty Die
* Attack Value (AV) = Strength (melee), or Dexterity (ranged), or Intelligence (occult)
* Outcome = RR - Bonuses - AV
* Subtract damage from life.
* Life = zero: unconscious or dead
* Rest to heal.

Difficulty       Armor/Defense   Die
Easy             Prone            d4
Harder           Unarmored        d6
Tricky           Light            d8
Trickier         Heavy            d10
Difficult                         d12
Very Difficult   Dragonhide       d20

1 - 3    Success
4+       Failure

Weapon  Damage
Light   1
Medium  2
Heavy   3&up

* Extra skill points and/or skills.

            Defense   AV   Damage  Life
Goblin      d6        0      1       1
Outlaw      d8        1      1       2
Robotron    d20       3      3      10