The problem with Risus

There are in this world Good Problems, and Bad Problems. Having too much cake, for example, is a Good Problem whereas having no cake at all is a very Bad Problem indeed.

Just like the proverbial cake, the problem with Risus falls squarely into the Good Problem side of things. It is such a conceptually simple and elegant system that it’s all too easy to end up using it for everything, all the time.

Want Gamma World? Here’s my Telekinetic (4) Cyborg (3) Yeti (2) Housemaid (1). Let’s play!

How about D&D? Cool! I’ve got a Dark Pact Warlock (4) Druid (3) Eladrin (3) I’m itching to introduce. (Hybrids and Multiclassing is such a non-issue in Risus).

Superheroes? He’s my Liquid Shadowform (3) Teleporting (3) Secret Mutant (2) Baseball Player (2). Game on!

Modern gaming? How about an Ex Mafia Hitman (4) Crooning Club Singer (3) Family Guy (2) with Gambling Debts (1), or a Hardass Ex-Marine Sergeant (3) CIA Operative (3) Closet Transvestite (4)?

That’s the Joy of Risus. This is a game where the concept is the character, and that puts it streets ahead of any other system when it comes to role-playing potential. If you can think up an idea for a character you’re ready to play. It can be as serious or silly as you want, as befits the tone of the campaign setting.

It’s the same over on the DM side of the fence. I don’t need no steenking Monster Builder app to create the create that Scary Dark Thing With Red Eyes (4) in the next adventure. I’ve done it already, just now. Need a Horde of Scary Dark Things with Red Eyes (9)? Job done, again.

That means it frees me up to come up with adventure ideas, plots and other cunning frippery rather than pouring over a computer screen (role-playing is what I do to get away from the computer. Thanks, but no thanks, WoTC). I can come up with a Risus adventure in 5 minutes and hit the ground running. No preparation needed.

That that, ultimately, is the Problem with Risus. It’s in danger of squeezing Mutants & Masterminds, 4e D&D, Savage Worlds, ICONS and all the other great systems out of my gaming schedule.

It’s taking over.

Like I said though. It is a Good Problem to have.

7 Comments on “The problem with Risus”

  1. I agree. I’ve only ever played on game with Risus with my group but it was a blast. Halloween teen slasher flick. Everything’s so easy to do on the fly. The one minor niggle I have is the combat/opposed actions mechanic, but maybe that’s just me.

  2. I’ve never played Risus but I’m sure it is fun. I will say though that part of the fun of the RPG experience for me is the juggling of the numbers and I actually like how rules/game balance can influence the source material. Its not great for all game experiences certainly but I’ve found joy in that part of the game for the Mutants and Masterminds and Pathfinder games I’ve played in recently.

  3. Well, give me a dump-truck load of this cake! It took me a while to wrap my head around Risus, to be honest. Not that I can’t grasp it, it’s only a few pages after all, but their are nuances there that an ingrained RPG mind might not immediately pick up on. Love it, once I did. The typical hurtle is “inappropriate cliches” and me wanting to do more “realistic” gaming with Risus. Once I had the “I get it” moment that “inappropriate cliches” meant, in my mind, applies to the task, not the setting! So, no Sushi Chief (3) in my Fantasy setting, but using Worldly Book Smart Scholar (3) can be used to attack a Goblin…

    Add in setting cliches, such as Dark Moss Covered Cavern (2), that a PC can take an action to “beat” and then gets a bonus to his Black Leather Clad Rogue (4) for the scene or next action, you get Double-Pumped Awesome Sauce (4)!!


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