Winning Players Over

Winning Players Over

Getting others into Risus

You're already into Risus. Your friends are into something else. Here's how to get them to try Risus out.

Just in case you got here without really knowing much about Risus or why Risus should be your game of choice, here are some pointers (in no particular order):

  • Risus is a universal system

  • it's free

  • stick figures are cool

  • you can make a character in seconds

  • simple dice pool mechanic

  • Risus is Latin for laughter

  • works for any style campaign

  • a lot of free resources are available

  • did I mention that it's free & stick figures are cool?

Finding Players

Risus is not just the Anything RPG, it's also the AnyONE RPG. However, there are people who are going to warm up to Risus more easily than others, so be on the look out for:

Wanna-be Gamers

Often people look at something like DnD or The World of Darkness games and think, "Hey, that'd be cool!" but get turned off by the associated investment of money and time, not to mention the often steep learning curve. Risus makes a good gateway for getting would-be newbies into pen-and-paper gaming.


Some people, particularly GMs, sometimes need a break from the rigors of simulation gaming. If you find your friends cancelling gaming sessions frequently, offer to run a Risus one-shot to remind them why they loved the hobby. If you're crafty and the game goes well, they might just want to try an extended campaign.

Hopeful GMs

Just as Risus is a great intro to gaming, it's also a good gateway for aspiring game masters. Because of Risus's simplicity, a GM is often called on to make decisions about how the rules will be applied in a particular situation. Further, because there are fewer rules to worry about, the GM can confidently make rulings without worrying that he's forgetting the latest update on such-and-such rule. If a buddy wants to try GMing but is afraid of making mistakes, introduce her to Risus as a way to GM without worrying about screwing up too badly.

Everyone Else

Even the most crunch-happy power gamer can have fun with Risus. You may find Companion rules handy for convincing them that the system has enough depth to it. As always, there's no wrong way to play.

Overcoming Common Objections

Here are some common objections to Risus and how to overcome them.

It can't fully define my character

In reality, nothing can. Some systems try to have attributes/skills/abilities to try to define everything, but they can't succeed. No matter how hard they try, they just do their best to simulate only those things that the designers felt were important for the game. The don't simulate everything (and they can't).

Someone more used to "traditional" RPGs will find Risus a bit strange due to the fact that there are no stats. Yes, that's right, no stats. No variable used to measure how strong you are, how agile you are, how smart you are, what type of leader you are, how hearty you are, how wise you are, etc. They might see this as a weakness. However, in reality, it is a tribute to the genius of the game.

Can you tell me what your Strength rating is? How about your Charisma? No? I didn't think so. So, does it make sense to define a character in such terms when it is something that can't easily be measured (let alone properly defined)? Isn't what you can do really a combination of all of your qualities (your stats) combined with various skills (training)? You don't really think that there is a one to one ratio between a stat and a skill do you? Being good at American football requires more than just physical strength; but most "traditional" RPGs will try to make just such an assertion. Risus is different.

Risus avoids this by applying ratings to clichés (the shorthand listing of what your character can do). If you think of your rating in a cliché as being a combination of your natural talents (stats) and your training, it makes the most sense. Like I said, genius.

It's only for silly one-off stuff; it won't work for serious play

While it is true that it was designed as more of a beer and pretzel type of game, Risus works just fine for long term serious play.

There are many examples of fully developed campaign settings out there (some of them are even available here at Risusiverse). You can find pretty huge lists on the Settings page and the SuperFans page.

What's more, this argument may get your friends to try Risus in a comedic, one-shot context. If you can artfully work in elements of drama and mechanical manipulation of the system, they may be convinced that it's crunchy enough for them.

But, I've spent all this money on the game system that everyone else is playing

Unfortunately, once people spend money on a game system, they become invested in that system. To suggest playing a different game system is to suggest that they not use what they've spent their money on, that they've wasted their money or that they've chosen a bad system. It's hard to look at a shelf full of books and not see the investment that was made. Here are a couple possible solutions for this dilemma.

First, raise the possibility of using the other material. Suggest playing a Risus game in the published campaign setting that is sitting on the shelf. Use the book that is chock-full of monsters that are just begging to be "Clicheified". The "classes" in that rulebook would make wonderful cliches. These resources don't have to be avoided, ignored or sold off on ebay. Use what's available to make the game more enjoyable.

Second, point out that Risus doesn't have to replace the "other system", but can be used in addition to the "other system". A group can switch between systems in a variety of ways. One session, GM-A runs system-A and the next session GM-B runs Risus. Use Risus as a periodic break from the regular game when the GM has hit a temporary roadblock. Break up the year into blocks, perhaps by season, with a different system being run for a period of time throughout the year. There are many ways that a new system can be tried out or added to a gaming rotation without having to toss out the old system.

Risus isn't very balanced

While Risus allows you to create exactly the character you want without having to concern yourself too much with balance between classes and powers and what a class does or doesn't allow ( and you don't have to wait until you are 15th level), with the standard 10 dice pool and a good cliché definition, characters can be very balanced.

The guy who wants to play an undead skeleton warrior that can summon ghostly soldiers is possible with a few well chosen clichés and by using sidekicks for the ghostly soldiers. He has the character he wants to play, but he will still be balanced with the other players' characters.

And with fantasy fighting, everyone is on equal footing. A fighter, an archer, and a wizard, all with a 3 dice cliché, are all equal in a fight; they just have different flair.

The simple Risus dice pool mechanic allows players to concentrate on role-playing and the cool factor. A Risus character isn't governed by dozens of Do's and Don'ts. A Risus character can try anything.

Simplicity isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Other stuff

This page is on a wiki, Risus Fans. Feel free to add more objections and appropriate responses to them.