RPGs using a timer as a mechanic?

Given the variety of clever game mechanics around, I was wondering whether there are any games that use a timer as a mechanical component? I’ve not heard of it being done but it feels like the kind of thing that would turn up on small or experimental games that would probably have passed me by- does anyone know any games like this? I was brainstorming a few ideas with a couple of friends and it got me to thinking about how something like this might work and whether it would be fun or frustrating in practice.


The game Alice is Missing, which recently finished its kickstarter, uses a timer. As I understand it, you flip cards that give clues and suspects at predetermined times.

From the kickstarter game description:

Once the timer starts and the game begins, you’ll flip your Clue Card when the number on the timer hits the number on the Clue Card’s back. This will often result in you drawing a card from the Suspect or Location deck and combining it with the prompt on the Clue Card to create the information your character uncovers.

At this moment that’s the only game I’m aware of that has a timer built into the game.


Some other examples:
“Our Mundane Supernatural Life” by the storybrewers has exactly d4 + 1 minute long scenes.
“Community Radio” by Quinn Murphy alternates between an untimed host and timed slice-of-life scenes to get a radio show vibe.
“Tumbling” by Sydney Icarus has an explicit design goal of a game taking less time than a load of laundry.


There’s A Scoundrel in the Deep that uses a lit match as a timer for the descriptions given in an otherwise dark place.


These are really good suggestions, thank you. I knew there must be some around.


I seem to recall that Sherpa by Stefan O’Sullivan (creator of Fudge) uses a stopwatch to mimic a d10: you run it for a few seconds and the last digit of the milliseconds is pretty much random, so you can use it as a randomizer.

In Jason Morningstar’s The Skeletons, you have a phase where you sit in darkness for a set amount of time silently contemplating the soul crushing passage of eternity.


Haha, I just now learned about Dungeon Thief, which uses a deck of cards and a stopwatch for solo play dungeon delving! :slight_smile:


6e: The game where everything is a problem has a timer when it’s time for the party to face a challenge.

Ten Candles’ main mechanic seems like another prime example of “sort of a timer”