We’re all familiar with the complexities of pencil & paper RPGs, especially D&D. Veritable tomes are needed to describe every detail, every nuance, of the system. How about something simpler? How about a game that can be described in two double-column pages?

Minimus, from Ad Astra Games, is that system. Only two pages, yet it has some interesting features. For example, no stats. None. All you have are skills.

Skills that are chosen for you by another player. When you create a character, you write down five important things about your character’s life and background. Then you pass the sheet on, and that person decides the skills based on those five things.

The sheet is passed along once more, and the next player decides on what two special abilities you have, based on the “five things” and the seven skills. Then you decide whether to drop one of the specials, or hand your paper on to someone else, who gives you a drawback. Finally, you allocate 12 points among the skills, each having at least one point and no more than four.

Right here, we see how different this is from the usual run of RPG. I can’t think of any system where character creation is a form of group collaboration. Unless everyone is a munchkin, or hates each other, some interesting characters can develop from this, without min/max problems.

And it’s very much a role-playing game. There are no levels, just skill improvements over time. For that matter, there are no hit points, either. You decide if your character has taken enough damage to die; as the rules say, this is too important to leave up to the dice.

There is more, of course, but you can read that for yourself. As a compact rules system, it’s good. However, being only two pages, some things aren’t mentioned.

For example, there isn’t anything about dispute resolution. What happens if a player objects to a skill, special ability, or drawback? Apparently, this would be adjudicated by the GM, and there are no guidelines.

Likewise, the system barely touches on magic. It’s mentioned only briefly; there are no rules or guidelines for that, either. The combat system only looks at typical fighting with weapons.

On the other hand, all systems are made to be tinkered with. I doubt there’s a good GM anywhere who hasn’t modified the rules to fit his or her perpsective on what’s right or fun.

So Minimus allows for a great deal of leeway in GM creativity. In fact, given how the rules are presented, it’s likely the developers expect that any changes would probably be a group effort, rather than left to the GM alone.

Check this out. Not only is it a quick read, it’s free. Actually, the game is “donation-ware”. Meaning, if you like it, you can donate a couple of dollars to the cause (more is also acceptable ;). If you run pen & pencil games, this could be a real change of pace for jaded gaming groups.

Minimus download in pdf format