I’m on a study project to improve my understanding of roleplaying games. To this end, I already have two reading projects, A Game Per Year and An Adventure Per Year. This is the third, with the goal of reading or playing 52 games made in the last few years. Originally I considered making this “A New RPG Per Week” and that’s where the number 52 comes from, even though a weekly schedule is probably not within my abilities.
Move Action is a Finnish roleplaying game released just a few days ago with a distinctly original concept. It’s designed to combine jogging and roleplaying so that you can have a roleplay adventure while taking care of health and fitness. The tagline “Ulkoiluroolipeli” means an outdoors roleplaying game.
The way it works is that each participant is on a shared Discord channel on a voice chat so that they can talk to each other while running or jogging. You can play the game remotely so that each is on their own solitary run while connected digitally, or so that two or more participants are running together.
The basic unit of play is the run. Because of this, sessions are typically an hour in length, enough time to cover a simple scenario or situation. The game comes with tables to quickly generate concepts for games in all sorts of genres, from post-apocalyptic fiction to cyberpunk and western. The game is big on rules light, freeform roleplay, perhaps because adjudicating complex systems questions is hard when you’re running.
The default mode of play includes a GM although there is also a GMless option. There are mechanics based on using what you see outside while you run as a randomizer. For example, the GM can say: “You’ll run out of time when I pass somebody with a red shirt.” Players can check if they succeed at a task by making improvised tests, like trying to hit a tree with a pinecone.
There’s also something called a portal mechanism, where if a player encounters an item in real life during their run, they can give it to their character who now has it inside the fiction.
Almost all roleplaying games assume the play takes place in a room with a small group of people facing each other. This has recently been expanded with the option of playing remotely. Move Action is a reminder that there’s no reason why roleplaying should be limited to these formats. You can take roleplay out of the house into other environments and see what happens.
The only roleplaying game that comes to mind that does something similar is Eero Tuovinen’s Julenius-arkiston tutkijat. In that game, the players physically travel to a heritage site in Finland and play out a scenario while on location in real life.