Back in April of 2003, Phil Reed (who had just left Steve Jackson Games at the time, and was running his own game design studio which was rapidly overtaking the established PDF RPG Publishers in the market) discussed the idea of a 24 hour RPG challenge on the well known (and often reviled) indie-RPG forums, the Forge.
From this post evolved the 24 hour RPG challenge. The goal of the challenge is to develop, write and produce a full pen and paper RPG (with a target size of 24 pages) in 24 hours. Designers can take the challenge at any time as long as they stick to the rules – typically a designer will post to the 24 hour forum or to the Yahoo mailing list when they start the challenge and post their final product to the site when they are finished. In the early years, there was also a Grand Event every year where the challenge was taken by multiple people during a one or two week period in order to produce a “batch” of products in one push.
Several of the projects originally launched as part of the challenge have gone on to be refined by the authors and then published – one by Phil Reed himself and another by Joe Prince. In addition, Ron Edwards of the Forge added a new twist with the Ronnie Awards – a series of 24 hour RPG contests that required participants to work from a set of “ingredients” for their game, much like the Game Chef contests but with the addition of the 24 hour time limit.
These days, the 24 hour RPG challenge has moved from it’s original site to the new site and forum at 1KM1KT (1,000 Monkeys, 1,000 Typewriters) where they take the uploaded games and post them (as well as thousands of other free RPGs well worth checking out). The rate of release has declined in the past few years, but there was even one posted this month, so the challenge is not quite dead yet.
And yes, I’m looking at heading out into the world of the 24 hour RPG challenge in the next week or so – just have to find 24 hours to do it in and make myself a few pitchers of iced tea for the trip.