little games for big tables

Table of Contents

team chess card game

co-op sleuth roleplay

bird gambling card game

hidden identity card game

cynical voting card game

puppet master card game

light-hearted epic fantasy rpg

Kill the King

A chess-themed, team-based, grudge match.The game works best with an even number of players, alternating seats around a table so that no two teammates are side-by-side. Play runs clockwise, without stopping until a king is killed.

How Does It Work?

Each player plays one card on their turn. That card—unless it's the king or queen—remains exposed until the player's next turn. Exposed cards are vulnerable to capture.Every time a player plays an identical card to one of their teammates exposed cards, they can choose to capture an enemy card instead of using their card's effect.Rounds are swift. Communication becomes cryptic. You're never sure where the enemy king is hiding. And the tides of battle turn suddenly.It's a volatile 20 minute game for 4–12 players.

Download the Print and Play version for free!

Mister Murdery

An improvised, murder mystery roleplaying game.The idea is to solve a mystery that nobody wrote, without the aid of a Game Master, using the game mechanics to establish facts that will eventually incriminate one of the suspects.The game requires only a standard poker deck. The sleuths will want pencils and notebooks for fact finding.

How Does It Work?

Once a crime scene and list of suspects have been established (the rules randomize that for you), the game begins.With the facts of the crime scene at hand, all sleuths spend five minutes writing out wild accusations (we'll call them leads).Leads should have precisely 3 elements (person, action, place, thing, time, motive, etc)e.g. Mr Sutter was seen burning his jacket in the garden.On each sleuth's turn, they choose one lead, announce how they will investigate, then draw cards to determine if the lead is fact or phooey.

How Do You Win?

Sleuths have traits and hunches so they can tip their hand (push the story nearer its conclusion).The goal is to solve the murder as quickly as possible, but the fun comes from the wildly desultory narrative. Like all good murder mysteries, the story's really about the exposed eccentricities of the average citizen.It's a great story-game for players who are new to roleplaying because it's a hallmark of the genre to be confused until the very last moment.

Download the text-only version for free!


Birdbeard the Pirate can't grow her own beard, so every spring she hires feather hunters the world over to capture beautiful birds to fill out her nom de plumage.

How to Win

The 5 best birds are chosen via 5 casino-style wagers, which the feather hunters call Auctions. At the end of each Auction, Birdbeard collects her favorite bird (highest value) and the hunter who supplied that bird keeps the other birds as a gift. At the end of the game, the hunter with the most birds wins the game!

The Birds

Birdbeard’s feather palette is sophisticated and unyielding. This preference is represented by the value on the top left of each bird card.
The feathers on the top right of each bird card represent the total number of birds in the deck of that same species.

Birds of a Feather

At each Auction, if two feather hunters have the same species of bird, they flock together and fly away, leaving those feather hunters empty-handed.
Furthermore, Birdbeard only selects unique birds. If a Macaw wins the first auction, Macaws will be passed over in subsequent auctions.

Download the Print and Play version for free!

Top Frog

A family of Frogs is throwing a picnic and Ducks in disguise have crashed the party. Lurking in the reeds is the wily Fox. While eating their fill of Flies and Grasshoppers, the Frogs try to shoo away the Ducks and identify the Fox before he makes a picnic of them!

How to Play

This is a game of snacking.
Frogs can eat up to two flies per turn, but they can't eat snails. Ducks can only catch one fly at a time. Foxes can't catch flies. But if a Fox eats a Frog or Duck, they steal all of their snack points.
By observing your fellow picnickers tasting habits, you can potentially identify the interlopers.

Out, Fox!

Once a Frog eats 10 or more snack points, on their next turn they can accuse a partygoer of being a Fox in Frog's clothing. A thumbs-up vote is conducted. If the majority back the Frog, the accused must reveal their card. If the player turns out to be a Duck and not a Fox, the Duck leaves and the party continues.If the Fox is found out, the accuser earns Top Frog status and collects the top hat. The picnic ends.

How to Win

Each group should play 3 or 5 picnics, shuffling and re-dealing each time. It's a quick game and everybody wants a chance to be the Fox. At the end of all picnics, the player with the most points wins.Crackers and Lily Pads stay with their player from picnic-to-picnic but only 1 top hat exists. You can steal the title Top Frog in a later picnic.A picnic ends when any player has 15 snack points, or when a Fox is fond out, or when a Fox eats a Frog.Foxes earn no points for eating Frogs, but they keep the snack points the Frog had already eaten.The Frog with the most points in the picnic earns a new lily pad.Ducks that remain hidden earn a stack of crackers.

Print-and-Play version coming soon!

The Red & The Black

This is a silent game.At the start, you're dealt a faction card facedown. Then you're dealt five random cards, most of which are Red or Black votes and a few are oddballs. Without speaking, you have to deduce who is on your team and work together to sway the elections.

Coming soon!

Necks in Line

You are a puppet master at a time of violent revolution. The common rabble doesn’t know your name nor your face. As Nobles are executed in the public square, you see your prospects vanishing. Without your landed pawns, you would have no power. Who will you hang to save your own spine?Nota Bene: This is an impossibly difficult game of Machiavellian strategy. You'll be constantly recalculating which cards in your hand should be played and which should be kept close.

How to Play

At the beginning of each turn, the Gallows cards are randomly dealt. The player who is dealt the Platform card must submit one Noble to be judged. One at a time, and clockwise, each player votes with 1 Noble card of their own.
A face-up Noble is a vote to execute. A face-down Noble is a vote to spare.
If the judged will be executed, all face-up Nobles join them on the gallows. If the judged will be spared, all Nobles, face-up and -down, are exiled.

How to Win

Your goal is to discard those Nobles you no longer need to bring down your rivals. But as the revolution comes to an end, you must try to retain the loyalty of a single cat’s-paw. The more powerful this Noble, the better off you’ll be in the new political reality.

I believe this light-hearted roleplaying game to be my design masterpiece. But it needs time to dry on the easel.What thrills me most is its baked-in, story-centric mechanics which encourage meta-gaming habits by folding them back into the hero's journey.The dice are much more interested in how than if.(Or I'm totally crazy and this game chews salt.)Being a writer is lonely—this game is my attempt at bringing my closest friends around a table as fellow writers, not players, to collaborate on longform fiction.

Much more coming soon!


I was born in Chicago, grew up in St Louis, spent my 20s in Chicago, my early 30s in Seattle, and my mid 30s in Los Angeles, where I now reside.The two coolest things about me are that I have a minivan and I'm the perfect height.


© Dan Sutter. All rights reserved.