The 18 Card Challenge - Role-Playing Game

Hey Designers, guess what's back... The 18 Card Challenge! 

Before we start let me introduce myself. I'm George, Jason's brother. A few weeks ago I started helping him out with Button Shy. One of the thing's we discussed was getting the 18 Card Challenge back up and running. My plan is to assist with organizing the contest, judging the games and work with Marty Cobb and Jason on the results. Most importantly, we plan to bring the 18 Card Challenge to you more often and more efficiently. 

Ok, so lets get to the fun part! This challenge we are looking for something entirely new for Button Shy. That's right, a Role-Playing Game!! Role-Playing Games are my personal favorite genre of games (again, George speaking, not Jason) So I am super excited to see what you all come up with. I know it's gonna be lots of fun!

First let’s define a role-playing game:


A tabletop RPG is a game where a character exists with defined qualities separate from the Players and the character's chances of success and failure are independent of the Player's abilities.


A tabletop role-playing game (typically abbreviated as TRPG or TTRPG), also known as a pen-and-paper role-playing game, is a form of role-playing game (RPG) in which the participants describe their characters' actions through speech. Participants determine the actions of their characters based on their characterization, and the actions succeed or fail according to a set formal system of rules and guidelines. Within the rules, players have the freedom to improvise; their choices shape the direction and outcome of the game.


Fiasco, The Quiet Year, Mouseguard, Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder. Role-playing games take many forms these days, both big and small.


What we love about role-playing games is the unique experience you share with other players. No two play sessions are ever alike. Playing a role-playing game should inspire and reward creative thinking. We are looking for games that blend the tabletop and role playing experiences. A good tabletop game has table presence, great theme, and great mechanics. Role playing brings story, character, and personalization. We’re looking at where these meetup, but in 18 cards.

Second, lets give you place to share your games, thoughts, look for playtesters and join in on the community behind these awesome games:

The Button Shy discord server has a whole section for designers, and a subsection for each of our contests. Visit it here and join along:

Now let's get into the rules:

-The game must consist of 18 cards.

-Cards must be poker sized (2.5" x 3.5") and not square. Cards cannot be modified by the players.

- You may use up to 3 six sided dice OR 1 full set of polyhedral dice (d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, d20, d%), these will be provided by the players. These cannot have required colors or color combinations. 

-Rules must fit onto 3 pages of a google doc with a minimum font size of 10. 

-Players may print their own play sheets if required. You may have 1 printable single sided pdf sheet for the game. This can be one shared sheet per game or one for each player. This sheet may not be cut or folded.

-Pen/pencil - no specific color requirements

-No additional components 

Additional rules & guidelines for this challenge:

  • No game master. We want these games to be able to be played by casual and experienced role-players.
  • Card Based gameplay. The game must utilize 18 cards. These do not need to be in play at all times, but the game should be card-based. These cards would be used in lieu of your typical role-playing materials and mechanics. 
  • Player count: Games that include low player counts are great if possible. Solo only is also allowed in this challenge. 
  • Combat is not required. Combat may be at the core of some games but not all role-playing needs it.
  • Keep the content PG-13. We are not looking for themes that are overly violent or adult in nature. 
  • No D&D lite games. We are looking for something new, so we would suggest against a generic fantasy game. If you want to dive deeper into a specific aspect of fantasy, it’s ok, but we don’t want a bunch of standard dungeon crawlers. 
  • We do not expect you to write a full backstory. This isn't a writing challenge. We want to see the interactions and mechanics that come alongside of your setting.


Submissions will be accepted from now until Wednesday June 30, 2021 at 11:59 PM EST.

Winner will be announced on or before Tuesday August 31, 2021.

Submission Requirements

For your submission, instead of emailing us, we have created a simple google form to collect the following information from you.

  1. Game Description: Including Game Title, Player Count, Estimated Play Time, Recommended Ages (if any), Brief Description of the game play.
  2. Print-and-Play File: This should include the rules and game files. The file can be hosted on either your own site, or a public one like Dropbox or Google Drive, or included as an attachment. IF YOUR FILES HAVE PERMISSIONS, PLEASE MAKE SURE THEY ARE OPEN SO THAT WE CAN SEND TO OTHER JUDGES.
  3. Short Pitch Video: No more than 3 minutes. This doesn't need to be any more than a handheld phone video, but we just request to see some visuals of the gameplay. We do not need a full play through or anything fancy. WE RECOMMEND YOUTUBE OR VIMEO. WE WILL BE USING SOME VIDEOS IN OUR RESULTS POSTS.

Additional Restrictions

Designs must be original works that do not infringe on any intellectual property. Submission must not be available for sale through any retail, secondary or print-on-demand market and may not be currently under consideration for publication by other publishers.

One submission per entrant.

Designers must be 18 years or older to enter.

While designs need not have final artwork or graphics, they should be complete and playable. All designs remain the intellectual property of the designers.


The winner will receive $100, paid via Paypal. All entries may be considered for publication by Button Shy Games (and if so, will be offered a contract with royalties like any other design that we publish).


We may feature the game images and submission videos on our YouTube channel. We will not be providing feedback on all entries, but hopefully seeing the finalists and winner will show why specific games pushed through the competition. We plan to keep our comments positive, and highlight why a game won instead of why a game lost.

Good luck everyone!


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