World of Rulecraft is a massive multiplayer indoor game (MMIG) that can be played with 10-50 players. (I haven't tried more than that, but it might still work.) The participants divide into two groups: the players (about 90% of the group) and the moderators (the remaining 10%).

To play you will need at least one character sheet per player (see below), approximately 10 red, 10 blue and 10 white "tokens" (beads or poker chips) per player, and a large whiteboard or projector to display the rules as they change. It is also helpful to give each player a name badge that they can stick on their shirt and a sheet of colored circle stickers that can be used to mark a player's current level..



The players' goal is to fight other players and gain experience. The more fights you win the higher you "level". At the end of the game (usually one hour, but the length can be varied to suit the crowd), the player with the highest level of each class wins.

At the start of the game each player picks a character class and takes 5 battle tokens (red, white and blue poker chips or beads). Red is the power of blood, white is the power of magic and blue is the power of shadow.

  • Fighter: Strong and fierce, the warrior uses brute force to overpower the enemy. Fighters start with 3 red, 1 white and 1 blue token.
  • Wizard: Masters of the arcane, the wizard has the power to cast spells that transform his tokens. Wizards start with 3 white, 1 blue and 1 red token.
  • Thief: Sneaky and underhanded, the thief has the ability to steal from other players while they are distracted during a battle. Thieves start with 3 blue, 1 red and 1 white token.

Each player takes a character sheet that they will use to keep track of kills and experience points. Write in the character's name and class along the top. When a player wins a battle write the opponent's name along the next empty blank. After every 5 victories the player brings this sheet to a moderator in order to "level up".


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The moderators' job is to keep the game balanced and to try to make the majority of the players happy. As the game progresses the players can suggest improvements or point out flaws in the design. The moderators collect this feedback and discuss the implications of the proposed changes.

When they agree on the new changes they issue a "patch". At this time the game play freezes while the moderators announce the new rules. After the announcement the game begins again.

Since patches pause the game it is recommended that the moderators only patch once every 10-15 minutes. They should try to group several changes into each patch instead of making frequent small patches. But this is only a suggestion. Sometimes an emergency patch may be necessary.

The moderators are considered winners if at the end of the game the top figher, wizard and thief player are each the same level and approximately a third of all the players are in each class.



The heart of the game is the battle system. It starts out as a simple blind bidding game, but depending on the demands of the players and the whims of the moderators may end up being much more complex by the end of the game. To battle follow these 10 steps:

  1. Find someone to duel. Lower level characters can refuse to fight higher level characters, but higher level characters must fight lower level characters if asked.
  2. Both players hide some number of their tokens (at least one) in their hands.
  3. Both players reveal tokens simultaneously.
  4. Calculate your score. Count one point for each token and then add in your character's level.
  5. Highest score wins!
  6. In case of a tie place all the tokens in a pool in the center of the table and duel again. If you have no more tokens or decide not to duel again then you lose.
  7. Pool all the tokens that were used in this battle. The winner selects any one of these tokens and adds it to his or her personal stash.
  8. The winner then divides the remaining tokens into two piles, as equally as possible.
  9. The winner takes one pile and gives the remaining pile to the loser.
  10. The winner writes the loser's name on his or her record sheet.

Leveling Up :

Everyone starts the game at Level 1. After each 5 wins you need to find a moderator and show him or her your character sheet. Note: To level up each of the 5 names in a box must be different. In other words, you must win a fight against 5 different characters before you can level up.

Whenever you level up you get a token of the color of your choice. You also receive a colored sticker that you can stick to your shirt. Each sticker represents one level. Remember to add your level to your score after counting up your tokens.


Class Bonuses:

Each character class has a unique power. As the game progresses players are free to request new powers or to suggest modifications to the existing powers. It is up to the moderators to decide if the suggestion is worthy enough to be included in the next patch.

  • Fighter: Rage! Each red token counts as 2 points.
  • Wizard: Illusion. After revealing tokens, but before determining the winner, you may add 1 white token from your stash to your hand, or you may remove 1 white token from your hand back to your stash. You may do this once for each level. For example, a level 3 wizard could add up to 3 white tokens to his hand or remove up to 3 white tokens from his hand.
  • Thief: Pickpocket. You may only do this if you are not a participant in a battle. Walk up to any duel in progress, say "Pickpocket", and lay 1 blue token down on the table. Immediately after the winner is determined slide your blue token into the pool and take up to 2 non-blue tokens from the pool. Only one thief can pickpocket per duel.


World of Rulecraft is half game, half design exercise. It is designed to illustrate what it is like to tune a game while the game is being played. In many sessions I have found that the moderators can get extremely stressed as the demands from the players begins to escalate. Every time a new "patch" is released to fix existing problems a new set of unexpected problems rise up. The moderators will have to deal with many real world issues such as players who manipulate the rules for their own gains, players who whine if they don't get their way and players who get upset at the moderators' "stupid" rulings. Make sure the moderators know what they are getting into before they volunteer.

Here are some common questions and rules suggestions that will come up. There are no "right" answers. Each group of moderators will have to decide how to deal with the issues as they arise.

  • I just ran out of tokens. What now?
  • Can my friend and I team up?
  • If teams form, how do we split the loot?
  • Can I change my class?
  • Can I trade tokens with another player?
  • My class is too weak. It needs a better power.
  • Other classes are too strong. They need to be weakened.

At least one moderator should stay at the front of the room so that players can knows where to go for answers to questions and to level up. It can be helpful for a moderator to go out "into the field" to get a firsthand view of the action. If he is feeling adventurous, a moderator can even give himself a character sheet and stack of chips and pretend to be a player.

Download the PowerPoint version of this exercise (288K)