Cover from West End Games’ “Wretched Hive of Scum and Villainy” book by Chris Trevas
This week, only 2 of my players showed up, so we ran a Star Wars one-shot using the Risus rules. We had a blast, and these are a few recommendations if you want to do something similar.
(For those not familiar with Risus, in brief: your character is made up of a few short, descriptive phrases called “clichés.” You distribute 10 6-sided dice among them. In a difficult situation, choose an appropriate cliché and roll all those dice, adding them up. If you’re rolling against an enemy in some sort of conflict, whoever rolls lowest loses one die in that cliché. Lose all the dice in one cliché and you’re temporarily sidelined; regain dice at intervals determined by the GM.)
Especially for a one-shot using a system that’s new to your players, choose a simple adventure with only 1-2 required combat encounters. It can be great to end your session in the middle of the story during a longer-running campaign, but if you stop just as players begin to grok the adventure, they can feel more frustrated than engaged.
Read through the module and adapt the NPCs to Risus. Basically, look at their most important attributes, descriptors, and phrases, and turns those into clichés. A nameless assistant might only have a single 2-die cliché of “mook,” while a big bad guy might have several clichés like “Bounty Hunter (4),” “Cunning (3),” “Brutal (2),” “I’m Da Leader a’ Dis Outfit! (3),” “Force Sensitive (2),” etc. In general, give simpler adversaries just a couple of dice, but give bigger bad guys lots of dice.
Then build a big list of clichés, catchphrases, and professions, and on game night, hand those out to your players. Give each player a piece of paper, and tell them to choose 3-5 clichés (or make up their own). Once they’re done, have them assign their 10 dice to their clichés.
And you’re off to the races!