Redundant systems for more reliable performance

So there’s a guy out in NYC who’s running a regular weekly game.
Yes, to me that’s notable and enviable enough that I find it worth remarking on. No, it’s not what the post is about.
Anyway, what he’s doing with this game is:

(a) recruiting from a pool of people far too large to get sitting down all at one table.
(b) setting the weekly hard limit of participants at a first come, first served, six people
(c) setting the whole thing in a static location (one town)
(d) wrapping up loose ends each session well enough that the NPCs of note are ‘free’ (not in the middle of some other ‘thing’ and thus unavailable) for the next session’s events.
And I think these criteria deliver both a reliable ongoing campaign and a lack of dependency on the variable schedules of people. I like it.
Come right down to it, I feel the need to remove every possible impediment from a game actually happening because right now, between sudden cancellations and people playing twice and then dropping the games permanently, I’m beginning to wonder if the problem is me, that I’ve utterly forgotten how to run a fun game, and I should just play video games from now on.
So I’m pondering this model for a game. Here’s what I see as some potential must-haves:
– A quick and clean character generation/system, so people can come with a concept and be rolling with a playable character in short order.
– A game that lends itself to non-contiguous play sessions. (Thus totally ruling out PTA and its screen presence arcs.)
– A little crunch, but no so much that I can’t play by the seat of my pants, depending on who’s ‘in’ for that week.
– An easily grasped setting and situation.
Petrana, using Shadow of Yesterday, is potentially that game — the only problem there being that I took a perfect set up (static setting) and immediately put everyone on the road for a trip. My only excuse there is that that situation was supposed to take one session and has instead gone on for three sessions (and about four months) — it wouldn’t honeslty be that hard to rejigger things to make that setup work for this, though — just a little exposition and scene framing and we’re back in the city. Voila. Don’t know if it’s the universally ‘grasped’ setting I was talking about, though.
Other possibilities include:
– using Heroquest in a fairly straightforward fantasy setting.
– using Spirit of the Century in a straight Pulp setting… maybe… okay, that’s perhaps a leetle bit harder, but honestly something like the setup for the old Pulp d20 thing I did would work easily enough.
– using Over the Edge/Risus or something else that’s been around a good long time with a solid track record of quick playability.
The other major problem I have is that i just done have a particularly big pool of players to pull from at this time. Being ready for anyone to show up doesn’t do me much good if the pool of players is the same size as a ‘regular’ game that never happens because not enough people can make it. Not entirely sure what to do about that.

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