Monday, January 30, 2017

My Life as a Gamer: Making Your Own RPG, Easier Than Advertised!

I'm talking gaming today, specifically making your own role-playing game for your own use at your table with your pals. I posted about this previously, which you can review here and did a more specific post on it . Before I get on with where I'm going, allow me to point out something for you folks who feel a bit overwhelmed at the prospect:

  • Homebrewing is tinkering, not engineering. Don't sweat the details.
  • You don't need to meet professional standards for publishing, as you're not publishing anything for commercial sale. Instead, what you're doing is making just enough stuff so that you can easily run your game, and that's specific to you and how you think. Do what works for you.
  • What you need is far less than what publishers trying to not eat ramen for every meal want you to think.

What you need, in terms of mechanics, in a RPG is very little. Classes? Chucked. Levels? Punted. Skills? Binned. What you need is some measurement of ability, some representation of gear, and a metric for establishing the odds of an uncertain event occurring. For everything else, you need to rely on the What Do You Do feedback loop that drives the entire genre of gaming. Want to learn how to cast a spell? That player talks to the Game Master, and together you figure out what your character needs to do and go about doing it. Want to get a new starship? Same thing.

Doing things is usually, for gameplay purposes, a binary proposition: either your man does the thing or he doesn't. You don't need Hit Points (by any name), as merely having a throw at the moment the attack comes is sufficient; what injuries your man sustains, and how to recover from them, is best handled in the moment by the GM ruling what's damaged and to what severity. Illness is the same thing.

Long story short? That fat fucking tome of rules Paizo sells? Unnecessary. Even the slim rulebooks Palladium's put out back in the 80s for some of their games isn't really necessary; you can reduce the actual mechanics down to a couple of pages, if that, and let the rest come from the real strength of RPGs as a medium: the power of a human GM able to assess the situation in the moment, and use that emergent gameplay to inform rulings he makes at the table to best resolve actions attempted and keep that feedback loop rolling.

That's why rolling your own is way easier than making a commercial RPG, because what you really need is information delineated in real-world terms using real-world measurements and not game mechanical jargon. I'm about ready to give my own a good acid test soon, and when I do I'll let you know how it goes.

1 comment:

  1. Origins was easy and fun for the past few years with my 5-page rule set; 1 page of mechanics. Adv D and D edition 2 went overkill with the books, and no one should have been surprised by the "Rules Lawyer"-friendly edition 3 or the pen-and-paper MMORPG of edition 4.

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