Pen and Paper Roll Playing Game

I always wanted to play a pen and paper roll playing game. I just recently convinced some friends to play one and they refused to play D&D citing that it was too nerdy. So I searched the internet for a simple game to get them involved, thinking after a few session I might be able to talk them into D&D or some other complex game.
I was elected to be DM even though I have never played one either, they just figured I knew more about them than any one else.
So we have played one session of a game called Risus. (

It is a humorous game and Im running a humurous campaign and so it works. Everyone had a lot of fun last time, and we are playing again tonight.
I just have a couple of questions, any of you ever used that gaming system? and have tips for a starting out DM?
Secondly the game is quite simplistic and shallow and I believe we will tire of it soon, can any one suggest a difference pen and paper roll playing game that might be good for us?

Congrats on getting a game going. I’m not familiar with Risus, unfortunately, so I can’t help out with that portion…

think they’d go for the Star Wars RPG?

Ditto the Star Wars RPG. C’mon, who doesn’t like Star Wars? Although, for beginners the old West End Games SW RPG was a thing of beauty-- simple, effective, and a great gateway drug for the friends of mine who wouldn’t be caught dead playing an RPG.

Alas, there’s more out there now for the D20 Star Wars, so I’d go with that.

I always wanted to play a roll playing game, but when we actually sat down to do it we couldn’t decide on wheat or rye. And the discussions about buttering mechanics are best left unmentioned.

Don’t be silly. It’s a roll playing game because otherwise, you’d have to call it a Pen and Paper and Dice Role Playing Game. But since you’re rolling the dice, it makes more sense to just call it a Roll Playing Game. Flows better.

Usually the term I hear is “Tabletop RPG”. Although both are susceptible to jokes about a particularly nice grain.

I don’t wanna divert from the OP, but I’d like to beg a sec to poll our resident roleplaying experts for their opinion: I’m planning a game set almost entirely inside a huge spaceship, but I’ve been having trouble coming up with a decent generic scifi ruleset. Beyond retooling Star Wars or Shadowrun, is there a good system I should be looking at?

D20 Future is one possibility; it has more flexibility than Star Wars d20.

GURPS is another.

I’ve used Risus and it’s not bad for a quickie framework system. By that I mean it gives you a nice and easy set of rules that you can drop just about anything into. I did a pick up silver age superheroes game with it, for example. It works so long as you don’t need the details and want to just keep the adventure moving along.

So let me get to advice for you: don’t sweat it too hard. You’re not going to get things quite right the first time out so the best thing you can do is just set up a general scenario, a few scenes that you want to put before your players, and point them to them. Keep things moving; Risus (and systems like it) are not designed for the narrative and not gaming. It’s okay to resolve fights with scrub villains in one die roll. Finally be flexible; this isn’t about you versus the players or making the players do thing just right. It’s about all of you coming together to tell a story under certain guidelines. Think of things that way and you’ll be better off.

I’m of the school that says when it comes to role-playing simpler is better. Risus for that reason is decent as a generic RPG but other games can be geared in the rules more toward encouraging certain styles. Call of Cthulhu, for example, has very simple rules in general but adds a sanity tracking rule that adds a lot of flavor. When you get to things like d20, GURPS, and the Hero System they have a lot of detail that’s good for gaming but tend to get in the way of role-playing. Each has their place but I wouldn’t drop a rules heavy game on someone who is just starting out; my rule of thumb is that everything important needs to fit on one sheet of double sided notebook paper or you’re getting too complicated.

Spirit of the New Century is not bad; but if they find D&D too nerdy, try a zombie game, maybe All Flesh Must be Eaten. That’s something which almost anyone can relate with…

Paranoia, if your group can get into the backstabbing element.

I’ll be the Kaiser. I win.

I’ll shill for Savage Worlds. There’s a core ruleset for 10$, and umpteen settings with specific rules - superheroes, western, victorian horror, etc. The base genre is pulp/low fantasy. If you want to play characters that can split the world asunder, you might be better off in a different system.

Everyone’s got a sweet spot for rules/flexibility, and SW hits mine on the nose. Most character interaction is free form, and combat is somewhat crunchy but moves quickly. It works better with a battle mat and miniatures than spoken word though.

Did I mention the base rules are 10$? If that’s too steep for you, grab the test drive rules (PDF) and a one sheet. One sheets are stand alone adventures designed to be played in a single session. It’s certainly a great way to get a feel for the system. The community is strong, and the designers are very responsive to questions.

DM Suggestions: Let your players make the campaign their own. There’s a hilarious comic, DM of the Rings, that’s about a DM who is so wrapped up in his story he runs roughshod over the players. Make sure that everyone gets to be special - it’s easy to fall into the trap of only letting characters shine in combat, and then you wind up in a munchkin race. Finally, make sure you and your players are on the same page - Do they mind having characters killed? Do they expect to be able to win every fight, or are they willing to retreat? Do they want to explore the world, or follow the plot you’ve prepared?

Amongst our suggestions, remember that you’re viewing your world at noon on a fine spring day. Your players are walking through a dark house with only a single 20 watt flashlight. I ripped that off of some DM suggestions blog, but I really like the image.

Sorry, was I supposed to make a bread joke instead?