So, there's a thread gong on at the story-games forum talking about what RPGs can learn from board games.
I have no idea if this is any kind of solution, but some of the things being discussed there led me to ka-noodling this idea. Currently, the idea is theme agnostic...but there's no reason why you couldn't add cards that theme-specific as expansions or whatever.
First of all, the cards themselves.
This is basically a card game. Once you know the basics, everything else you need to know is on the cards. A player's turn is simply this: play a card and follow the directions. The cards show a list of instructions to follow, starting at the top. Once a player follows the directions in the grey box, he flips a coin. Flipping a tails is a "minus" result while a heads is a "plus" result. The player then moves down the list of instructions until he finds the next instruction that matches his result. Once a player hits an instruction that reads END CARD, his turn is over.
And that's the basic idea in a nutshell.
So, let's say a player played the Wander card over to the side here. He describes why things are "hard to see", and then selects another player for their opinion on what is in the distance.
He flips a coin, which lands as a heads...so he moves down to the next instruction with the plus sign, and now he needs to describe the voices that he is hearing, and ask another player to flesh that information out.
He flips a coin again, which lands as a tails..so he moves down to the next minus sign, and now must describe as they investigate, how whatever the other player thought was going on...it's actually much worse.
Again, a coin flip, and another minus...which results into sliding all the way down to the final instruction. And now he describes how things have gotten much, much worse. He selects another player to play an Encounter (as seen below). Once that player's Encounter card is over, control of the game comes back to him, at which point he hits the END CARD instruction, and his turn is over.
Encounter cards play out the same way. The only big difference is that while Wander cards set up a scene, Encounters are more about a character's action in the scene. Encounters play out as little scenes within the main Wander scene. And yes, Encounters can cause other players to play Encounters.
Once an Encounter hits an End Card, the control of the game is reverted back to the player who was the person who requested this Encounter to be played.
And finally, there's a class of cards called Conditions, which you acquire and play when you can't play the required card, or when you become injured, as seen further down.
And that's about it.
And now for the more detailed rules. I'm leaving out theme, setting, and character building for the time being. The game is designed to have no GM, and no pen-and-paper stat tracking; the only "stat" is your five cards and the amount of Conditions that suck up those five spaces.
With that said...
There are two decks of cards. The main deck is comprised of Wanders and Encounters. Shuffle those together, and have every player draw five cards. Shuffle the Condition cards to create the Condition deck. The Condition deck sits off to the side until a player needs to draw a Condition.
On a player's turn, he plays a Wander card from his hand and follows the instructions. If he doesn't have a Wander in hand, he then selects a Condition that he owns in front of him to use as his set of instructions. If he doesn't have a Condition, he then draws a Condition and follows the instructions on that card.
After completing each instruction, the player flips a coin, and then moves down the list of instructions to find the next instruction that matches his coin flip. The player never moves back up the card. Any instructions passed over because it does not match the correct coin flip at the correct time is "lost" for that play.
If the player must choose another player to play an Encounter, the originating player becomes "the caller"; he is the player who called on another player to play. The caller will need to remember where he is in his instruction set as the player he called will return control back to the caller when the called upon player's instructions are finished.
(And to be fair, there can be multiple callers and "called upon players" in a chain if Encounters require the choosing of another player. As long as everyone remembers where they were when control bubbles back up the chain, everyone is good).
If a called upon player is asked to play an Encounter, and he does not have one, he must choose a Condition he owns to play. If he does not have a Condition, he must draw one and follow those instructions.
If at any point an instruction notes that a player is "injured" they must draw a new Condition and follow the instructions.
Conditions are always kept face up in front of the player who acquired them, and the player can never get rid of them unless an instruction tells them to do so.
After playing a Condition, the player can discard one card from his hand and draw a new card from the main deck.
Instructions are followed until the player hits an END CARD instruction, at which point his turn is over. At the end of his turn, the player draws back up to five cards, which include any Conditions the player may have. So, a player with 2 Conditions can only draw up to three cards for his hand. The Wander is officially placed in the discard pile, along with any Encounters that were played during the player's round. The only player who draws cards is the player who's turn has just ended.
A player is considered dead if he has five Conditions.