By Popular Demand

By Ryk Downes

This is a simple game for any number of players who may join in at any time. It normally runs over a number of turns predetermined by the GM.

Standard Game

Each turn the GM lists 6 categories and an initial letter. All you have to do is find something that fits the category and begins with the initial letter; you will score points equal to the number of people who offer the same answer as you. The winner is the person with the most points at the end (after a predetermined number of turns).

Example: The initial letter is A and the category is cities in Holland. 13 people give Amsterdam as their answer and score 13 points each, 6 people suggest Alkmaar and score 6 points each, 3 suggest Arnhem and score 3 points each.

There are also the following variants:

By Fairly Popular Demand

Exactly the same, but the most popular answer or answers (if a tie) score zero.

By Quite Popular Demand

Same again, but the most popular answer or answers (if a tie) score negative points. Note that the Quite and Fairly versions have also be named the other way round in zines.

By Unpopular Demand

This time you score 1 point if no-one else goes for the same answer, otherwise zero. In the other versions of the game, it doesn't matter if your answer is not a legitimate answer (e.g. if you said Bill Clinton for a British PM beginning with C), as you are almost certain to get only one point, but obviously for this version it must be a correct answer.

By Popular Opinion

In this variant (by Allan Stagg) the questions are subjective, e.g. "Who is or was the best rock guitarist of all time?" and there is no starting letter. Players are encouraged to submit press justifying their choices.

By Popular Choice

A variant (by Richard Smith) of By Popular Opinion in which the GM gives four options for the answer, one of which is his own favourite. Players must submit their choice from the four, and specify an alternative that is not on the list. They must also try to guess the GM's choice. One point is scored for each matching answer to the multiple choice, plus one point for each answer matching the alternative, plus a bonus 2 points for picking the GM's choice.

For example the question is "Which is the best ever sci-fi TV show?", and the choices are Star Trek, Dr. Who, X-Files or Firefly. Your answer might be "I choose Dr. Who and I reckon the GM will go for Firefly. Alternative Fringe." As with BPO press is welcomed.

By Bridgeular Demand

In this variant (by Richard Smith) each turn three Bridge problems / questions are posed on bidding, opening leads or play. The important thing to note is that there are no right or wrong answers, only popular and unpopular ones.

Top 5

In this variant (by Allan Stagg), each turn the GM will decide a number of categories. For each category, players will be asked to give five answers in order of preference - i.e. their "Top 5".

The GM will give a score of 5 points to each first choice, 4 points to each second choice, 3 points to each third choice, 2 points to each fourth choice, and 1 point to each fifth choice. The GM will add together the points for each choice and and compile a list of the overall top 5 choices.

If a player's first choice appears in the list, the player will score points according to his/her choice's position in the list (e.g. 5 for first place, 1 for fifth place, etc.). If a player's choice does not feature in the eventual top 5 list the player get no points. NMRs will receive no points, while players who send a list of less than 5 choices will have 1 point deducted for each missing choice. Similarly choices which do not fit the category will have 1 point deducted per invalid choice.


Popular Explosive National Aardvark Ladders is a game by Denis Arnold which combines BPD with features from Snakes and Ladders, Grand National and Aardvarks.

The GM supplies 6 categories and a letter of the alphabet before each round. Players then submit a word under each category beginning with the given letter. The word(s) occuring the most (and not exploded, see later) will advance those players 3 rungs up the ladder (well if aardvarks can ride bikes, I reckon most of them should be able to climb ladders). Second most popular words will advance one rung. If there is more than one most-popular, they each advance 2 rungs, but there no second-most.

Each round, players vote to explode a word of their choice in one of the categories, specified by the GM. The word(s) receiving the most votes will explode and score nothing, with the points for the most popular surviving word(s) counting towards movement.

Similarly, players will prod a category of their choice. The category(ies) getting the most prods will add 3 to the most popular and 2 to the least popular words' movement.

The GM may also announce a change of scoring rules for one or more of the categories, this applying only to the current turn. E.g. The least popular word(s) score 3 points and the most popular 1. He may also declare a temporary change to the main rules, e.g explode a category instead of a word this time.