Nearly two years ago, I began designing my own RPG. I’ve thrown out much of the early work I did. I’ve changed the dice mechanic at least three times. Character generation, which started as point-buy, moved on to random generation and then back to point-buy.
It has been a lot of work and a lot of chasing my tail, and the process has only just begun. In a few days I’ll run the first real play test. After that, I’ll fix whatever broke and release it into the wild for play tests by people who’ve signed up to look at it.
Some one asked me why I went to all this trouble when there are several RPG systems that I like enough to run campaigns in. Why make my own? There are three reasons. Two have to do with my own gaming preferences and the final has to do with projects I’m planning on producing.
During the last four years of my podcast, I’ve had the opportunity to really examine my own gaming preferences in great detail. I realized what I like and what I don’t like. I’ve also seen things done in a certain way, a way that sometimes doesn’t work out well, and wondered if there’s a better way. So I came up with some design goals that guided the design process.
Combat Should Be Fast and Decisive
In some games combat is the centerpiece of the system, the raison d’être for the game itself. Many flavors of DnD fit into this category. You can often tell this by how much of the rule book is devoted to combat, how many character options affect only combat. The centerpiece of my game is (if I did it right) the characters and the story.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not some “RPGs shouldn’t contain so much violence” sort of people. It is during combat that the stakes are the highest. It’s mano a mano. It’s a moment of truth. It’s also the culmination of dramatic tension, often the climax of the story.
But it doesn’t have to take all night, with round after round of wearing down the bad guys’ hit points.
I’ve designed the combat system to give a relatively quick resolution so the players and GM can deal with the aftermath of the violence, which is the interesting part.
Players Control Their Role-playing, not Numbers or Dice
This manifests itself in a couple different ways.
Firstly, there is no intelligence statistic. It has been replaced by two statistics: perception and education. With perception, you can notice things, recognize patterns, see the unobvious. Education represents your knowledge base — what you know about the world you live in. When paired with skills it represents what you know about various subjects.
Secondly, is the social mechanic. There are no social skills like fast-talk, persuade, or convince other. Rather there are skills like read mood, read crowd, conversation. These skill rolls are made BEFORE interaction with an NPC happens. With a successful roll, the player will be provided information by the GM that will help him in the conversation with the NPC. The dice roll does NOT determine the outcome of that conversation.
I Have Ideas That Need a Home
I have stacks of game world and adventure ideas. Some of these things I want to publish, but I don’t want to be beholden to someone else and their third-party license, bit it very open or restrictive. With my own system, I can publish what I want and I only have to answer to myself and those who buy it.
A glimpse of one of these game worlds will be previewed in the play test document, which is a couple weeks away from release.