Let’s Get This Party Quick-Started

Quickstart rules are a great way for a group to dip their toes into a new system without spending tens of dollars or wrapping their heads around 300+ pages of new esoterica. With the hobby currently expanding, I thought I would take a look at some of these Quick Start rules and highlight a few of my favorites.

cha23135 - call of cthulhu keepe.jpg

Call of Cthulhu​

Let’s start with one of the first that I ever tried myself: Call of Cthulhu

Call of Cthulhu is a skill-based horror game. The quick start rules take only 15 pages to walk you through the use of skills and difficulty level, the Sanity mechanic, and for those truly unlucky, the combat system. Keen eyed readers who have already downloaded the pdf from the Chaosium website will notice that the entire guide is actually 50 pages long, 35 pages longer than the 15 I mentioned above. That’s because Cthulhu also includes a starter adventure called The Haunting as well as pre-made player sheets, handouts for the adventure, and several fantastic full page pieces of art. The layout of the guide is fantastic and easy to follow and the artwork is appropriately creepy.

Grab your copy at: Call of Cthulhu - Quickstart Rules


13th Age​

Next up let’s jump on one of the darlings of the TTRPG community: 13th Age

13th Age is not a genre defining game. You won’t find mind-bending new mechanics set in an alien environment. It’s classic fantasy, pure and simple. You will roll initiative, swing your sword at the dragon, and use your skills to explore the dungeon. However, it does introduce some unique elements like Escalation Dice, a system where all attacks get better and better the longer combat lasts. 13th Age is geared more toward a player-driven narrative than many other games. The quick start rules are a mere 19 pages long and focus largely on walking players through character creation. There are no pre-gen characters or beginner adventures but they can be found at Pelgrane Press’s website and the guide suggests two of the best. If you’re looking for something familiar but innovative, 13th Age is definitely worth a go.

Find it at: 13th Age Quickstart Rules now available


I couldn’t wrap up this list without talking about this next entry: GURPS

What do Wyatt Earp, Goku, and John Wick all have in common? Someone has definitely built them all in GURPS. Though not the first, GURPS has proven to be one of the most successful generic rpg systems to date. Of all the guides on this list, GURPS Lite is definitely the most…comprehensive. Coming in at 34 pages, this rules lite version of the game doesn’t include pre-generated characters, sample adventures, and doesn’t overdo it on the art. One might even call it: daunting. Daunting, but worth it. The page layout and overall design is not the most pleasant to follow along with, but us old-timers might get a kick of nostalgia from the sheer contempt for the reader that publishers once held for us. This is a text-book abridged and it’s glorious. Also, it’s not nearly as bad as I let on.

Give it a go at: Warehouse 23 - GURPS Lite (Fourth Edition)

The Tip of the Weird and Wonderful Iceberg​

These are just a few of the weird and wonderful quick start rules that you can find out there. Remember, these are just abridged rules, so you don’t need to master them before playing. Just grab the pdf, give it a once over, and then reference back as needed. Seriously, grab a couple and try them out, I bet you’ll enjoy yourself.

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Welcome, @Chappy Thoughts and thanks for the rundown.

I think a good starter set not only teaches people the game, it "sells" the complete version.
One way we did this in our quickstart was to provide an index of all the skills, spells and monsters in the core book, to give people an idea of what to expect if they invest the full game.

Another thing we did is condense the rules into a single page and put it up front, so people can quickly gauge whether they might enjoy the game or not. It's also a good cheat sheet to print out for new players.

Another thing to remember is that the introductory adventure is not just a teaching tool, it's people's first experience with the game. So it better be good! I think most people would agree that the Call of Cthulhu quickstart is one of the best in this regard.
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Since the beginning of the year I have been writing reviews of quick-starts under the 'Quick-Saturday' thread. Written six to date with another appearing soon and I have more quick-starts to hand.


Since the beginning of the year I have been writing reviews of quick-starts under the 'Quick-Saturday' thread. Written six to date with another appearing soon and I have more quick-starts to hand.
My Search-fu seems to be weak. Mind providing a link?

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