Last night, I was introduced to Roll for Shoes. It was amazing. It’s a microsystem (seriously, you can find the rules if you follow the link and they’re seven lines long) where you start out with a single skill,
Do Anything rank 1, roll a number of d6s equal to your skill rank, and gain new skills when all your dice come up sixes or experience when you fail a roll. New skills you gain have to be a subset of the skill that you leveled up in, and have to be related to what you were doing when you rolled, so you end up with weirdly specific skill chains like
Do Anything 1 >
Looking for Things 2 >
Looking for Things in the Couch Cushions 3.
Since the rules are so simple, it’s easy to get a pickup game going — just throw some dice at someone, shout “Protect yourself, squire!” and you’re off. Don’t worry about waiting for a “proper” group; because you gain XP for failures and you can convert XP into advancement dice, latecomers will rapidly gain new skills to match the rest of the group. In the strictest sense, you don’t even need a GM, since anyone can roll to oppose and narrate failure (I found that letting players narrate their own success was way more interesting than doing it for them), and players bickering and fighting amongst each other drives some really interesting narratives and skill developments.
Some general advice: don’t worry too much about lawyering the rules. They’re meant to be whacky, not mechanically foolproof. As long as you keep pressing for more and more specific skills, you’ll encourage interesting and funny situations. In practice, we only made it to rank 3 in any skill because of the specificity requirements and the diminishing odds of rolling all sixes, but it works out somehow because it encourages more experimentation with different skills instead of trying to be a one-trick pony with loads of dice.
All in all, I enjoyed Roll for Shoes because it’s so easy to get started, and because its core mechanic is simple and works well. There was no need for more crunch because we weren’t trying to simulate combat, we were trying to have lots of silly fun. You can read a micro-review of the system from another player on the RPG Stack Exchange, including a link to an example of play, but really you should just try playing the game for a few minutes.