RPGs that have audience involvement

I’m currently collaborating on a Pokémon inspired PbtA game and I wanted to start a discussion about a particular aspect we have been working on. One of the stated design goals for this project is to encourage audience participation as part of the game, either at a convention panel or on a platform like Twitch. I wanted to probe the community about methods they’ve used to engage with an audience in any aspect, and see if anyone knows of other RPGs that have mechanics like this.

Some examples of what I’m talking about:

Embark: when the party embarks on a long journey, the audience rolls+nothing. Result determines whether they find good things or they find trouble along the route.

Audience Roll + nothing
The party ventures forth into regions unknown

10+: There is no danger and the players choose 1
7-9: There is some danger and the GM chooses 1
6-: There is significant danger and the GM moves


  • You find an ancient ruin of a lost civilization
  • You find evidence of a powerful pokemon
  • You discover a secret about the world
  • You find resources that can be exploited
  • You find someone in need who will pay for your help

Consult the Pokedex: when the players ask a question about the world, Pokémon, or the players, someone will answer truthfully. If the question is about a player or that player’s Pokémon, they will answer. If the question is about the world, the setting, or non-party Pokémon, the audience will volunteer answers and the GM will choose their favorite.

Wild Encounter: At the start of the session, each member of the audience is offered a raffle ticket. When the party encounters a Pokémon in the wild, the GM pulls a raffle ticket and that audience member decides which Pokémon they run into.

Has anyone seen other games with mechanics like this? How would you optimize these mechanics for a convention panel? For Twitch? For non-live media like Podcasts or YouTube? Curious to hear your feedback.


I played in a live action version of Toon (made for large scale convention play) about 18-20 years ago, where the core mechanic when you did anything difficult or had a conflict went like this: find a random convention goer who was not part of the game. Explain, calmly and politely, that you were playing a cartoon larp and attempting something difficult. Then ask them what a silly or humorous outcome of that action might be. What they tell you is what happens.

Humans as randomizer, which made the game incredibly unpredictable and gonzo strange, bit also a lot of fun.


This is super interesting! I like the choices you’ve provided but I’m not entirely sure how they map to the roll and how would audience actually take the roll. In particular if people simply shout/message 1-10, it’s statistically unlikely that you’ll get 10 given that at least some people in the audience are going to experiment and potentially select 1, some people will genuinely be interested in low scores (and select one) and people are bound to not be so polarized to just select 10s and 1s (which could save the end-result) and pick something inbetween.

So I suspect that unless you sell the participation as something that has to be pro/against players, you’ll always end up in 6-7 range. If that’s what you want, its totally fine, but with time participation may withe. I also don’t get who/how picks one of the choices for Journey Forth (I admit I’m not sure how much the Embark and Journey Forth is different in your proposed setup either). If GM picks one of the choices from the list above then participation seems superficial to me (same goes for Pokedex one). Given that Embark and Journey Forth would probably be the first participation audience will be involved in, you may end up discouraging them or showing that this participation is meaningless.

Conversely Wild Encounter participation seems like a great idea. Unless there are more than a few dozens of people in the audience (in which case you’re probably bound to hit “my vote doesn’t count” attitude) this is going to be a high stakes, engaging and meaningful mechanic.

So to answer your questions directly, here’s my take:

  1. Convention panel that’s sub 100 in the audience and smaller Twitch (i.e. sub 100) streams should work great with raffle tickets. It feels important, high stakes and direct.
  2. Larger audience is probably better suited for a poll-like experience with predefined set of outcomes. So, say, voting on choices should work (think: Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Ask the Audience lifeline) but using people as a dice probably wouldn’t.
  3. For smaller audience you could use counting randomizer (that’s probably used by children around the world[1]) as a dice but I’m not sure it’s superior to raffle.
  4. As an audience I’d be upset if my choice was ultimately up to GM’s interpretation.
  5. Raffle could probably work for large audiences if it were triggered many times over a span of a game (more often than once per 100 audience members per hour would be my initial estimate) and this was known ahead of time.

And no, I haven’t seen anything like this before but I love it. :smile_cat:

[1] In Poland we have this counting game: everyone picks a number from 1 to 5 and participants show a number of their choosing using their fingers when triggered (typically ref shouting “now”). Then you spell out, syllable by syllable, a short rhyme, counting syllables over a randomized set (typically participants). As long as there are participants around or below the range one selects (1-5) it feels like you have some control over outcome. Probably simpler to show on an example:

Rhyme: “(1)ci-(2)sza (3)w^koś-(4)cie-(5)le (6)ci-(7)sza (8)w^kom-(9)na-(10)cie, (11)kto (12)się (13)o-(14)dez-(15)wie (16)zdej-(17)mu-(18)je (19)ga-(20)cie” (silence in church, silence in hall, who says a word takes off it all – I’m paraphrasing)

So by spelling out a rhyme you basically count to 20. Most kids know that and if the purpose of this is to select someone who does something dangerous, they try to 1) guess what other would select, 2) pick something that puts 20 as far from them as possible. So if you have 4 participants and you’re the first one you probably assume 2.5 as average and want to either go low (1) or high (5) so id it comes back to you it’s either sub-10 or high above 10 and you can evade the responsibility. There’s a variant where you start counting from zero (heavens), exchange church for sea and call this a sailor game (not to be confused with another sailor game which is about drawing matches). I ramble, I apologize.

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I’m not entirely sure how the audience would actually take the rolls

I’m sorry I wasn’t clear with this, but this is a PbtA game and we would have two giant foamy dice that the audience would throw into the stage. I also edited the phrasing to make it more clear that Journey Forth and Embark were two names for the same thing.

I like the ideas for a poll, but I’m not sure how you would set something like that up for a convention. On twitch you could just use Strawpoll or something similar.

I’d get in the habit, sooner rather than later, of not using any trademarked terms to refer to the game or any of its elements.

Not trying to be a fun-ruiner, but especially if you’re going to be running this at cons with large audiences, get used to whatever parody/generic terms you’ll use when presenting it, because you absolutely do not want your first milestone to be a C&D.


The mental image of GIANT FOAM DICE being crowd-beachball’d around makes me happy.

As inspiration, I’d recommend looking into how audience participation works outside of RPGs. Off the top of my head, the “Show of hands, how many of you have X” type thing could work for some broad checks. Ask an unrelated question “How many of you played pokemon? How many chose Fire-type starters?” and then make a judgement (pass-fail would be easiest) based on the percent of the room raised their hands.


Oh I 100% agree, but it’s easier for now to just keep the names that help people quickly understand the concept and then change them later when we have time to write out detailed explanations. Definitely not planning to keep “Pokédex” in the final product.

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I figured as much, but if someone decides to mess with you on a copyright issue, the less you’re in writing using those terms, the more solid ground you’re on.

I’ve facilitated public Fiasco games for charity, where you can donate money to influence outcomes or even replace players at the table, and it is very silly and fun. Basically every possible interaction and decision point is monetized. I highly recommend this.

I’ve also run an “introduction to roleplaying games” panel that is structured as a one GM (me) and one player (the audience) adventure, where a beach ball is tossed around to determine who makes the next decision for the character. Each decision point emphasizes some different aspect of roleplaying, or a new GM technique, or a different way to resolve a conflict.


Also, I’ve seen Ghost Court run in public with ~30 people. Each case, folks from the audience rotate to have their cases heard.

I like the monetization idea, that would integrate really well with Twitch where viewers can donate to do specific things.

Can you elaborate a little more on the beach ball RP training? Was the game literally “whoever holds the beach ball gets to talk” or was it more nuanced than that? Do you have anything written down?

You could roughly count hands raised or you could judge preferred outcome by how loud people cheer/clap (you could even invest in a cheap sound level/decibel meter - they start at around $10 and $20 gets you a pretty decent one).

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Oh, I’m extremely curious what decision points in Fiasco were monetized for donations, and how. That’s some interesting design!

We’re running a game of Fiasco with some improvisers at a bar. The audience will all have white and black flags to vote on scene outcomes.


For charity Fiasco, every seat has a price. You can pay to replace a player. The initial seats are also auctioned off. Choice of which playset to use. Every “die roll” in the Setup is available if you want to pay to take it over. Character names. Scene outcomes - positive or negative - are decided purely by cash. High bidder gets to narrate. Which Tilt elements.

Basically think like a hypoercapitalist scumbag and be prepared to sell everything. Do it in a semi-public place, with good humor and a carnival barker’s enthusiasm and you will make a pile of cash for your charity.


I ask them to toss the ball around, and whoever catches it gets to make a choice at the next decision point. If you don’t want to be in the spotlight, you can avoid the ball. Depending on the decision point, sometimes I’d poll the room, but it was always the ball holder’s choice, or resolution, or whatever.

Here are my notes from one such talk


Well, Matt Baume has run a few live shows of Dungeons and Drag Queens for his podcast Queens of Adventure, if that’s any inspiration.

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