Engle Matrix Games are a way of running a play by email game. We've done them on the MatrixGame2 yahoo group for many years. We've done murder mysteries, horror, spy thrillers, wargames, political campaigns, comedies, fantasy adventure, crime games and much more.
Here is how they work. A referee puts out a call for players on the list which includes a short description of the scenario/game world, what the game is about and a short cast of characters (between 6-10). Players pick characters to champion which helps them know what they want to accomplish in the game.
Players take turns making things happen. A player sends in an email to the list saying what they want to have happen next. This "argument" for future events is not automatic. The referee decides how likely it is to happen. This sets a roll. (Can't miss-roll 6-1's in a row to fail, really strong roll 2-6 to happen, pretty strong roll 3-6 to happen, okay roll 4-6 to happen, pretty weak roll 5-6 to happen, really weak roll 6 to happen, impossible roll 6-6's in a row to happen.) Referees generally start off ruling all arguments okay or pretty strong and then branch out as they become comfortable with their judgement. The referee rolls and then reports back to the list the results. Players can jump in with counter-arguments to say "what really happens." The referee rules on these arguments strengths as well. This is resolved by a dice rolling competition between arguments. The referee rolls for each argument in the competition. If they roll the to happen target number the argument stays alive. If they miss the roll the argument drops out of future rolls. Rolling continues until only one argument remains or all roll out.
The referee can trigger secondary rounds of arguments to resolve trouble, conflict, trials and to speed up the game.
The rules are VERY simple but allow players to navigate the most complex situations. For instance in murder mysteries players make up the clues. No one knows who did the crime at the beginning of the game. The guilty party is dsicovered during play. Or in wargames unexpected events can happen without needed tons of rules to cover them.
Right now (4-07) we are playing a Jack the Ripper story game and a Waterloo wargame using these rules.
Chris Engle Hamster Press = Engle Matrix Games
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