I’ve been working on one of my roleplaying projects again and I think the groundwork, the basic system, is finally pretty much under control.
For a long time the working title of this game has been FaLoR (Fast & Loose Roleplaying). That’s one of the things I’d like to change at some point in the future. At the time I came up with it I thought it was short and had visual balance. But the more I read it the more it sounds like a cross between Valor and Fallacy, plus it’s got this weird EvErY OtHeR LeTtEr CaPs thing going on that is bugging me a bit.
There’s this concept of why people play RPGs that’s referred to as the GNS model. This stands for Gamist, Narrativist, Simulationist. At The Forge game design forum they have some very picayune definitions for what constitutes each of these categories. Also apparently at The Forge they’re pretty picayune about alot of the details of RPGs, too picayune for an amature like me to desire parsing on any kind of regular basis.
Anyway a bastardized version of what these terms stands for follows:
Gamist – This sort of person is interested in solving problems and puzzles or otherwise “winning” the game and comming out on top in some way.
Narrativist – This person is interested in telling a good story, getting some interesting details in, depth of setting, fleshing out and developing characters, etc.
Simulationist – This person wants the game to accurately model reality. Even if “reality” is a made up universe they will probably be satisfied as long as the game replicates both the harsh and pleasant aspects of that universe with mechanically imposed consistancy.
Of course most players really want a combination of these elements (one reason RPGs are different from wargames or short story writing). And most games include each of the categories to some degree. Still some games satisfy one category more than others.
With regard to this model FaLoR sits pretty firmly in the Narrativist camp. It doesn’t even have a damage resolution system for Bob’s sake, anyone could die at any minute if it seemed appropriate and agreeable to all involved.
Most games I design draw heavily from others that’ve impressed me in the past. Usually during the course of writing about any game material I’ve come up with there’s this little war that goes on in my head. The two combatants are:
A) The feeling that by mentioning all the designers who inspired this work I’m dropping names like a little kid trying to carry 200 lbs. of phone books,
B) The desire to avoid the ingratitude and intellectual dishonesty incurred by not citing my sources.
Fortunately I suspect readers here may be unfamiliar with these gods of indepentant game design. So it’s really no immodesty (only inaccuracy) for me to claim that over the course of the last three years or so I’ve born love children to each of them in turn.
octaNe – I mentioned this one in an earlier thread. Although the default setting and alot of the mechanics of FaLoR are completely different from those in octaNe, many of FaLoR’s task resolution ideas and other brass tacks are drawn directly from it. This is to the point that I sometimes fear Jared A. Sorensen will break down my door one day and demand comeuppance or something. But from what I can tell he isn’t exactly the sort of guy to demand comeuppance unless maybe it involves a steel cage match with masked luchadores. And probably FaLoR is different enough that my fears of copyright infringement are unfounded in this case anyway.
Donjon – Another little narrativist masterpiece, this one by Clinton R. Nixon. The main idea I scooped from Donjon was how he handled the use of character’s expendable resources. In all a Donjon’s a pretty cool idea for a game. Only drawbacks being a mechanic that involves a butt-load of d20s and (apparently) a somewhat intense and competative form of narration between the GM and player. This second aspect isn’t necessarily so bad, but not exactly what I was looking for.
Risus – A really simple little RPG by S. John Ross. Although I’m not the greatest fan of ‘dice pool’ mechanics like this game uses, John’s brevity (it’s only 6 pages long) and the intuitive “Cliches” system of character definition have been things I sought to emulate in my recent attempts at designing universally adaptable games.
So, where to next with this thing?
For one thing I’d like to throw in a little art-work here and there to make it more attractive. This is something I was hoping Loki could help me out with, but other submissions are also welcome. Since I’m not planning on charging for this thing in the forseeable future it’s just pro bono I’m afraid, though artists will get credited in there somewhere.
Also the name of this game could definitely use an update. Originally I picked FaLoR to suggest something simple and easy to use, but at this point I’m not so concerned about that. A name that suggests narration or telling stories might be nice, but “Storyteller” and “Saga” are already taken and “Talespinner” just brings to my mind pictures of Baloo in an airplane.
So suggestions for a new name are welcome. But please steer clear of stupid junk like “Dookie Fart Pants, the RPG”. Try for something short (maybe one to three words or sylables) and evocative sounding that rolls off the tongue.
Any suggestions about the mechanics welcome. General criticism is fine too, prefferably constructive though.
Also alternate rules, specific settings, or other add-ons are encouraged. I’ve got a couple of my own in mind, but in the tradition of Risus I’m not above linking to other folks adaptations of the game.