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Pleasure-not-Business Card RPG Jam prioritises pocket-sized play

Let’s see Paul Allen’s RPG.

Tabletop RPG jams are known for pushing creative constraints on applicants, tasking them to conjure art unders specific circumstances or within certain genres. The Pleasure-not-Business Card RPG Jam wants a tabletop game condensed to fit on a single printed card that fits in a standard wallet.

Started by UK-based designer Oz Browning, the jam currently has nearly 200 entries with eight days left on the submission clock. Browning left the jam open for interpretation: full games, hacks, supplements, and the more weird art can all be thrown in as long as it can be crammed into one business card - hint: the front and back are both viable.

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The result, so far, has been a collection of micro-games and bite-sized experiences running the gamut from drag racing to pistol duels at dawn; from dad-joke LARPing to a one-letter Hamlet RPG that simply has a big, bold B printed on the back of the card (that one’s for the intellectuals).

Favourites include Zak Barouh’s C-Pet, which simulates a Tamogatchi-esque virtual pet that can be enjoyed in about a minute each day. After naming the new theoretical responsibility, players take their daily “turn” by checking its health and doing a single activity: gather, train or adventure. The experience and food gathered thus will keep Death from claiming their pet, for now. Luckily, Barouh swerved on adding a waste-cleaning mechanic in this initial version.

The slightly more esoteric Dodman, or Deviner or Odd Domains, is a map-drawing activity by Alfred Valley that uses the business card, along with a writing implement, a coin and a sheet of paper to procedurally generate the outline of a map that can be used in a different campaign or one-session RPG. Or, it can just be a way to pass an otherwise dull lunch break.

“‘Dodman’ is an old English word for a land snail. According to some it is also an ancient word for a surveyor; one who divines and demarks ley lines,” the description reads. Players flip or spin the coin, using its ultimate position and orientation to sketch lines from a center mark, eventually creating a nest of nodes and intersecting paths. Each node is marked by some broad descriptor to provide a hook for filling in details later, such as “subject of ill rumour” or “site of dire dreams”.

The majority of the submissions to the Pleasure-not-Business Card RPG Jam can be downloaded for free or at a name-your-price rate, and include printable versions of the rules in a business card format. Use them to enrich - or complicate - campaigns in larger systems or while waiting for takeaway to arrive. Keep a few in the pocket of a jacket or purse for any of life’s constant moments where all one can do is wait.

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