Ask The Readers: Can You Recommend Any GM-Less Games?

In my last post I talked about my plan to take a break from running games. But this doesn’t mean I want to stop playing. but taking on the GM’s mantle feels like a burden to me right now. The players from my group are currently not interested in running games themselves, so I thought about an alternative.

Here you guys come into the equation. Please help me find a GM-less roleplaying game to try out with my group. I already own Fiasco, which sounds like a lot of fun. The other game I’ve checked out is Remember Tomorrow which feels closer to regular roleplaying instead of the story game approach taken by Fiasco.

I am sure there are other games like this out there, BUT since I have no experience with GM-less games, I ask you to provide me with some advice. What games would you recommend? If you have played such games can you please provide some feedback? Every comment is highly appreciated!

Michael Wolf is a German games designer and enthusiast best known for his English language role-playing games blog, Stargazer's World, and for creating the free rules-light medieval fantasy adventure game Warrior, Rogue & Mage. He has also worked as an English translator on the German-language Dungeonslayers role-playing game and was part of its editorial team. In addition to his work on Warrior, Rogue & Mage and Dungeonslayers, he has created several self-published games and also performed layout services and published other independent role-playing games such as A Wanderer's Romance, Badass, and the Wyrm System derivative Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, all released through his imprint Stargazer Games. Professionally, he works as a video technician and information technologies specialist. Stargazer's World was started by Michael in August 2008.

18 thoughts on “Ask The Readers: Can You Recommend Any GM-Less Games?”

  1. Apart from Fiasco I don’t think I’ve personally ever played a GM-less RPG, but I would like to bring Fate up here anyway. While it isn’t intended to be played without a GM I think it provides players with all the tools necessary to do so. Setting up the campaign aspects and character creation and such is already a very cooperative exercise in the game and you wouldn’t need to change that many things to extend that into the actual play part.

    It might be worth looking into.

  2. There are two flavors of GM-less games: The GM-less group RPG and the GM-less solitaire RPG. Most of the group RPGs spread story-telling responsibility around the group. The solo RPGs can generally be played as a group, but the action is handled by a decision-making engine that is interpreted by the player(s).

    Here’s a pretty comprehensive list of GM-less solitaire RPGs — there are more,if you count computer-based tools.

  3. Concerning Fiasco: Where did you get it? I checked a few months ago and wasn’t able to find it at any german retailer. I am VERY interested in that game.

    Concerning your immediate problem of gaming without being the GM:
    Obviously, I am going to push boardgames as an no-headache alternative to rolelaying. While they obviously are not the same thing, there are a lot of RPG-like boardgames by now, that can scratch the itch. And I am realy a big fan of cooperative boardgames, which can have similiar group dynamics to a RPG, even if they are not about playin a roll at all.

    A current favorite is TIME-Stories, which is quite similiar to a roleplaying game and actualy tells a story. Which of course comes with the drawback, that you can only play each adventure once. Check it out here:

    Another interesting upcomming game is 7th Continent, which allows you to explore a huge area and has enough options/randomness to play differently each time. I also has a heavy dose of Lovecraft. More details:

    And for a general CoOp-fix, I can not recommend Pandemic Legacy enough. Again, you can basically only play it once – but this still means at least 12-15 plays. Details:

    So, why don’t you take a break from RPGs in general for a few months? With boardgames you don’t have to take responsibility of running the game and entertaining the players. You only have to read the rules. It takes MUCH less prep time and leads to fewer headaches – which sounds like the thing that you are looking for at the moment.

    1. Thanks for your advice. I plan to play more boardgames with my RPG group, but I also want to keep an eye out on GM-less RPGs. I bought Fiasco on DriveThruRPG as a PDF, I actually haven’t checked any German retailers if they sell this particular game. Usually I would guess that the Sphärenmeister can get it for you. As far as I know there’s also a German language version.

  4. Ah…I am still not big on ebooks. Especialy in gaming, when I will want to leaf through the rules to find an entry. Thanks…I’ll keep looking.

  5. Recommend: Kaleidoscope, Primetime Adv. ‘Terps, Love in the Time of Khvareneh, Carolina Death Crawl, Shock, Until We sink, Archipelago III

    Would like to try: 183 Days, Annalise, The Quiet Year, Montsegur 1244, Bacchanal, ViewScream, Okult, Lovecraftesque ++

  6. Have you looked at the “Mythic: Game Master Emulator”? It was originally written for the Mythic RPG, but then they recognized games might want to use it with other systems, so they published it as a separate entity.

    From the Intro:

    Welcome to Mythic: Game Master Emulator, improvisational role-playing using your favorite role-playing games. Mythic: GM Emulator is meant for use by role-players with a little experience under their belts and their favorite game in hand. It is not a stand- alone game. For that, we have Mythic (just Mythic), which is a fully fledged, universal role-playing game. Mythic was published in early 2003 as an attempt to produce an rpg that could be played solo or with a group, minus the game master. Or, with the Game Master, but without preparation.

  7. Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple is an awesome game where in the end, the group has physical artefact of your game as you write the story.
    The Quiet Year does the same but you draw a map.
    Microscope is a fun game where you’ll then have a history for a setting.
    Cosmic Patrol feels more like traditional RPGs but the role of GM changes after each scene. It recreates pulp sci-fi stories.
    Becoming has been described as 1 PC & 3 GM. One player plays the protagonists and the other 3 players plays the fates trying to pressure the story towards them.
    Posthuman Pathways is a great 3 player RPG where you explore the stories of 3 characters has technology on them.
    While in Heroine there is a GM role, it will change when one player gets enough points to take over.
    Project Ninja Panda Taco is basically Despicable Me the RPG. On your turn, you play a super villain trying to take over the world, another player plays your super illusion nemesis and everyone else are the minions who you are trying to convince to help you. Those roles rotate.

  8. I am currently working on a game called Troll Jaw Tavern it is a legitimate Roleplaying Game (I have to stress that cause it’s important to me). The game is turn based and online to allow play throughout the week with far away friends (PC or Mac now mobile coming soon)Trying to launch a massive free beta test for anyone interested next weekend. Google Troll Jaw Tavern website for info and to sign up for the beta test weekend. Thanks!

  9. Sorry to ad to that last post. I forgot to tell you there is no GM required (that’s the main reason I posted here) We have successfully simulated a DM. It’s not perfect but it’s pretty cool.

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