In Grey Ranks, you will assume the role of a young Polish partisan before, during, and after the disastrous 1944 Uprising against the Germans. Together with your friends, you’ll create the story of a group of teens who fight to free their city, one of countless Grey Ranks "crews" that take up arms. Your characters – child soldiers – will have all the faults and enthusiasms of youth. Across sixty days of armed rebellion, they will grow up fast – or die.
The story you create is informed by many things. Grey Ranks has a scene structure, and each scene corresponds to a specific date in 1944. A broadcast of the Polish underground radio station, Radio Lightning, prefaces each scene and provides some background. In addition to Radio Lightning, you’ll choose historical and dramatic elements that pique your interest to include in each scene. The game is collaborative, and together with your friends you’ll work to create challenging, exciting, and poignant scenes for your crew – some mission-oriented, and some strictly personal.
As the game progresses, success becomes increasingly difficult and you’ll be faced with difficult choices. Is achieving a goal worth destroying the Thing your character Holds Dear? How will Reputations change over time as youngsters have adulthood thrust upon them? The emotional state of your crew is tied to the Grid, which tracks their individual condition as they are drawn to the opposing extremes of love and hate, enthusiasm and exhaustion. Success or failure will pull them in unexpected directions, and where these strong currents intersect lie death and heartbreak.
Winner of the 2008 Diana Jones Award for Excellence in Gaming
(co-winner with Wolfgang Bauer’s Open Design development model)
Winner of the Indie RPG Awards Independent Game of the Year, 2007
Winner of the Indie RPG Awards Innovation in a Roleplaying Game, 2007
Mid-Atlantic Convention Expo (MACE) 2005 Iron Game Chef winner
Grey Ranks is the gold-standard for GM-less games. – Jesse Burneko, Actual People, Actual Play
"Jason Morningstar has not created a game that lazily appropriates the historical horror at its heart, he has created rules that reveal that horror, rules that re-create that horror in its players’ hearts and minds. Aristotle said that all true tragedy must end in terror and pity. It’s hard to believe that Aristotle never played Grey Ranks." -Diana Jones Award Committee
"Our specialists found your game very attractive … we think that whole idea of the game is very innovative. We are very happy that you’ve created a game about Warsaw Rising and we’re grateful for spreading history about events of August ’44." – Julia Sielicka-Jastrzębska, Warsaw Rising Museum
“It was touching and crushing, enlightening and enraging.” – Emily Care Boss
“This game was just stuffed with awesome. Tragedy, coming-of-age stories, violence, teenage sexuality – this is going to be a game we can point at when people think that RPGs are just about dragons and lasers.” – Bret Gillan
“I do think Situation creation is a work of genius. It’s a great mix of group vs. individual (in the fiction), group vs. individual (real people), lots of elements but keeping them optional, Radio Lightning, and constraints on narration plus character development.” – Ron Edwards
"Playing Grey Ranks was one of the most deeply moving roleplaying experiences that I’ve had. In a way, I think that it was a bit of a bonding experience for our group … maybe I’m reading a lot into it, but I think that this will go down in the annals of our gameplay as being one of Those Games." – Seth Ben-Ezra
“It was emotionally powerful and engaging and we were on the edge of our seats the whole way through.” – Andrew Kenrick
- Actual People, Actual Play (Podcast)
- A Little Thing called War
- The Chicago crew, first two sessions
and final session.
- Grey Ranks at Gateway
- Grey Ranks in Denmark
- Seth Ben-Ezra and the Peoria Crew Session one, Session Two, and Session Three.
- Two Crews at Dreamation
- The Durham Crew
- An Ochota Boy’s Tale