I should probably get a ring of water breathing (I feel like I'm in over my head).


So, I mentioned in passing that I want to create my own rules/world. I have some ideas for what I want to incorporate, but I find myself hitting a wall when it comes down to how the game will work. I've only created singular adventures for D&D, Robotech/Macross, L5R, and maybe a couple others, but never anything on this scale. I figured by sharing my thoughts on this, the rest of you could help me see any errors I might be missing or maybe point me in the direction of a company that has this style of adventuring. This will mainly be a list of things I want to do (or don't) since I haven't focused nearly as much as I should on the whole project, and this will have a flavoring of D&D 2.5 (skills and powers) because I enjoyed the diversity it seemed to give me with creating a character.

I'm not a big fan of alignments. I can understand why they are in there, but it feels very limiting. What one culture considers good isn't what another culture might consider to be good.

I liked how D&D 2.5 gave you the ability to modify ability scores. You could lower one sub-stat by two points to increase the other sub-stat by two. In essence, you could have a muscle bound freak that had less stamina, and it was optional so if you wanted to keep the base stat at, say, 18 then you could. I'm unsure if I'd keep it at the 2 point max or raise it a point or two.

This may be one of the bigger tasks I have in front of me:
1) No classes. Players can still think of their characters as Fighters and all of that, but there wouldn't be a chapter with templates for you to modify. There may be templates in the back in case somebody just wants to do what would be considered a standard class, but I'd rather allow the players the freedom to create the character they want. I'd like to use a point based system for purchasing skills, abilities, advantages/disadvantages, etc. I don't know what would work best in that situation... giving them x amount of points to purchase everything from one list or x amount of points for one category with the excess, if any, being carried over to the next category (i.e. racial bonuses carrying over to abilities).

2) All skills can be learned. There will have to be some restrictions. Obviously, if someone doesn't have magical training then they can't exactly learn how to craft a magic wand. I'm contemplating having a set of Core Skills that all characters can have, and will level with the character, but the vast majority of them will need to be purchased. Raising the proficiency of the skill will be based on use. Not sure which would work better.. x amount of uses to raise the skill 1 point, or if you use said skill before you level up to gain that point. I'm leaning more towards the x amount because other skills could be picked up by them having to practice the skill a certain number of times before they gain the basic proficiency (after the character has been created).

I think the most daunting thing for those two is keeping everything balanced. There will be characters that will have some kind of fighting and magic use, but, I don't want someone to be able to fight the best and cast the highest magic, unless he/she was going to be useless in any other situation.

I liked the way that magic was separated by schools with oppositions, and I had a random thought that maybe I could break up magic into two different spheres.. Experimental (can't think of the right word.. basically, all the studying and using components) and battle magic (be it in the form of temporary tattoos on their body that vanish once used, tracing runes, and all that jazz). Not sure if that would make the system too complicated, but characters would be able to take both. Clerical arts would fall under a category of its own.

I've never enjoyed the segmented combat of most Pen and Paper games that I have played, though most of them have basically run under the same premise.. 1 or more actions in a round with initiative deciding who attacks first. That would be fine, but i can't think of a single campaign or adventure I've been in where combat didn't end up turn based. Character 1 attacks, character 2 reconsiders what to do post 1's results, monster attacks, character 3 modifies their decision, etc. I think I'd rather give the players 15 seconds between rounds to coordinate their attacks, everyone declares their actions, then results are rolled and determined by initiative. Players can talk among themselves while the battle is raging, and maybe take a penalty to their action if they have to ditch the chosen one for something else.

I've been writing this thing during free time while at work, and I apologize for how disjointed it may be. I'll add more in a reply if I see anything I left out or explain anything else if it is needed. I appreciate and look forward to anything that all of you might share.

As you don't want things to be class-based, I am wondering if you should use a system like GURPS as your starting point, rather than D&D. I don't know if you've tried this?

I have to admit to coming into this discussion with a few biases.

First, I'm a big proponent of the idea that rules play a big part of shaping the feel of your game. The rules system you use certainly doesn't have the same kind of impact on "feel" that narrative material such as setting or dialogue, but I believe that it has a pretty big impact nonetheless. This issue has been debated rather infamously on Gamegrene (basically devolving into a flame war, a creature I had thought wasn't on the Gamegrene random encounter chart), and so I want to simply make my views clear and leave it at that.

Secondly, I'm also a big fan of not reinventing the wheel when it comes to rules systems. I don't know how much you've looked into the many and multifarious game systems available, but the indie RPG market has pretty much exploded with the rise of teh interwebz. There are an enormous number of different systems out there already, and if you are simply looking for a rules system that matches the sort of game you want to run, I suggest that you look at the work that's already been done before. It seems from your post that you're more interested in creating a system for the sake of creating a system, but even then, you have plenty of material to at least get your thoughts started.

At the suggestion of Scott Free, I've picked up True20 and after reading it, I'm converting my D&D campaign to the True20 system. I haven't had a chance to play it yet, but you may want to look at it. It uses a sort of class system, but the 3 classes are highly generic, and focused on combat, supernatural power, and skills respectively. Characters can multiclass between the roles freely, and all abilities are represented as feats, so there's no real class pidgeonholing.

If you're wanting a highly tactical, "crunchy" rules system, very much in the style of D&D, I've heard Burning Wheel is great for that, although I have no experience with it myself.

I'm a big fan of the FATE system (as seen in Spirit of the Century and The Dresden Files RPG), but that offers a much more cinematic, narratively-focused r.uleset with an emphasis on player action. You can get the base rules for FATE 2.0 online in a pdf for free, but I prefer the FATE 3.0 ruleset myself. SotC and DFRPG are good examples of how FATE can be specifically tailored to the type of game you're running.

You may also want to check out Savage Worlds, another generic indie RPG that's very rules light.

However, I recognize that from your post, it seems you're looking for a very different style of game than is my preference, so you can take or leave this as you please.

Soon to be released RPG Project

* Non-Turn based
* Flexible characters -- Buy Actions add skills. Skills are a bonus to action. Creates incredible balance.
* Setting agnostic. The ruleset centers on a small village in a small kingdom with a slightly dark and mundane tone. Lots of rumours abound, but you choose what is true and can take the game into the realm of Prehistoric Fantasy, High Magic, Science Fiction, or anywhere else.
* Fast combat // Single core mechanism for resolving action
* appeal to old grognards and new players alike
* mechanism ties to the narrative to draw "roleplaying" out of the table
* Multiple levels of strategy at a fast pace
* Designed to keep the table moving quickly

It might fit your bill.