Andrew Peregrine’s “Dance of the Damned” is a morbid role-playing game without dice and without a GM. Instead of dice the game utilizes a standard pack of playing cards, although there are alternate rules for using a Tarot deck. Gamers intrigued by the macabre will get a lot of mileage out of this game. But Peregrine holds no punches, this game is brutal, brooding, and a cookie-cutter happy ending isn’t easy to come by. Peregrine cites the works of Edgar Allan Poe as the premier inspiration for the game.

 The implication of a “GMless” game is that all participants are responsible for telling the story together. Personally, I think that playing a game without a GM ensures that every participant is playing exactly the kind of game they want to. Not to mention, no single GM has to spend hours thinking up a story, especially when some of the best game-sessions are actually tangents delineating from the GM’s main storyline.

The game’s only assumed scenario is that the players are hidden inside a castle keep while the world outside succumbs to a horrific plague. This game is inherently  competitive, and therefore differs from most other cooperative roleplaying games. Ultimately this is a game about bringing out the worst in others for your own gain. Much of the game’s strategy involves reading your opponents cards, and knowing when to take minor defeats so grander victories can be achieved later. Because a given game session lasts about an hour, this is an ideal pickup game. Play-test pending.