The One Hour Game Session Campaign

I may try squeezing in another rpg per week, but I may only have an hour per session, per week, to do it.

Is it possible to do this for multiple session and ultimately a campaign?

Is there a game that facilitates this better than others, IYO?

What things need to be considered when approaching such a game?

What type of game would work best - fantasy, modern, mystery, fantasy, supers, etc.

In my experience, combat can tend to soak up the most time in a session, so perhaps a system that has streamlined combat would work best, Low hit-points and/or freeform combat that doesn’t require you to break out the minis would be best.

Honestly, streamlined everything would be best. You don’t want players having to look at their character sheets all the time to figure out if they’re supposed to roll a D10 or a D12 or what spells they can cast. It’s best to have a simple dice mechanic like “roll 2D6 for everything”.

You probably shouldn’t do mystery as you won’t be able to have much more depth than an episode of Scooby Doo if you only have an hour to solve a mystery.

Supers seems like it would be a pretty good fit, allowing you to have one combat per session with a villain and then if you wanted to tie it together to a larger campaign, have the villains working for someone “behind the scenes”, whose plans become more and more apparent with each caper, culminating in a scenario where the players will need to save the world from the threat. (Great way to end the campaign would be with a two-parter, session one the final clue to the plan and the beginnings of the big threat, with session two being the final battle)

Fantasy could also work, with each session consisting of the players encountering an interesting character who needs help with a straightforward task (dealing with enemies, overcoming an obstacle, finding an item) that they can get in, complete in an hour, and get out. Maybe they’ve been hired by the King to help out around the kingdom, or maybe they’re on a journey to somewhere far-off and do odd jobs along the way to pay for lodging.

Try thinking about structuring your stories like a kid’s show, with a clear three act structure. In a 22-minute cartoon, you’ll typically have 2-5 minutes of setup, 10-17 minutes of action, and 2-5 minutes of resolution. For an hour long game, that means limiting your setup to 10-15 minutes, and making sure you’re ready to begin your resolution/final action scene by the 45 minute mark. If your players dawdle and haven’t gotten halfway through completing their task by the 35 minute mark, that’s when the antagonist or a vital clue comes to them so there can be finality to the session and they don’t leave on a cliffhanger.


@joshua220 makes a lot of good points about structuring the 1 hr game session so I will defer to him for that.

So I want to nominate Index Card RPG as the game up to the task. Over the last few years, using ICRPG as the base ruleset for my homebrew games I have experienced the following:

1st) Single Displayed # to Succeed
I have been able to keep combat fairly efficient and decisive. With the “Room DC” displayed for all to see and each player knowing the roll they need to succeed for any action, makes for speedy player turns and “ownership” of their rolls. Hell, some players even end up narrating their successes and failures (many times creative…some, WAY too creative).

2nd) Low Hit Points & Low Damage
All weapons do d6 damage and all magic does d8. Very easy for everyone to remember. All PC’s have 10 Hit Points. Terrifying! The players are worried about every round they are in battle.

3rd) Barely Any Subsystems
The core mechanic, roll a d20 and meet or exceed the target #”; pretty sure we all understand that one.

4th) No Skills (dropped the mic)

But wait there’s more: I could go on about the other sleek and streamlined mechanics; dying, healing, XP, but I think the four I detailed are enough to make the sale. Still not satisfied? If you act now, in the next 10 minutes you can have the characters made and start playing.

Any further questions, please send a self addressed stamped envelope to:

Get Me Some ICRPG
123 It’s That Easy St.
Itwillbe, OK 12345

Feelin Good about ICRPG


I feel I could essentially do this the way I ran Rappan Athuk/ DCC last summer at my local convention. Here’s 3 level 0s. I had a handout with the “how is this different than other RPGs” from the DCC book on a poster board (no skills, etc). I could have people up and moving quick, combat moves fast enough. I think I could do that in 1 hours chunks fairly well.