Next to D&D 5e, Maze Rats (links to free original and updated paid version) is the game of I’ve run the most unique instances of. I’ve run more individual sessions of quite a few other games. However, with Maze Rats is the I’ve played most from start to finish. So far, it’s also the game I’ve run with the most people. It’s prefect for pickup games.
Maze Rats is an old school revival (OSR) style role playing game. OSR games look back to the early days of RPGs for inspiration. Random character creation, random dungeons and sudden death for players are common to these games.
Why Maze Rats is a Favorite
The beauty of Maze Rats lies in its simplicity and randomness. All character traits are rolled on random tables. So are magic spells, locations, setting, NPC names and events. Players get to experience the story unfold at the same time as I do (give or take a little preparation on my part). I roll the combat encounters into existence in real time and tell the players about it. Because of this, the game can go from character creation to satisfying conclusion in 4 hours or less.
The level of simplicity makes it a great starting point for players new to ttRPGs, and for kids. The simplicity of the rules and ease of character creation get them up and playing in no time. Although, in my experience, children often aren’t comfortable accepting random character traits related to appearance and personality. They usually like to be very cool, or just themselves with armor and a sword or spellbook. After a few failed attempts at getting one of my daughters to accept being a brawny slave with a broken nose, I gave up and let them pick.
I’ll talk more about Maze Rats in an upcoming Art of the Pickup Game post