Why a new game system

I want to run a D&D game. I don’t want to use the Little Brown Books, B/X, Rules Compendium, 1E, 2E, 3E, or 4E. The reasons include rarity, density, and quality. Imagine a neat little table with all of these lined up. Some have more problems than others.

Why don’t I just use printouts of Labyrinth Lord? Or GURPS Lite? Same problems.

Why am I writing my own game?

Won’t it be hard for people to learn just to play at one table?
Actually, if they’ve ever played any version of D&D they will pick it up pretty easily. It’s simple – that’s the point. And if they haven’t played D&D before, or even a tabletop RPG before, the game is structured to be as easy to learn as possible.

Aren’t I detracting from the work of other old-school game authors?
I doubt what I write will become as popular as Labyrinth Lord or Swords & Wizardry. And if it does, it’s okay, because I’m not writing a retro-clone. It’s a revision that slices off all the rough edges without making you feel like you’re playing a different game. There are classes but no skills. There are spells you memorize and forget when you cast them. But no effort has been made to ensure compatibility with D&D – much compatibility is there because the basic assumptions are the same.

Isn’t it too much work for so little payoff?
I plan on selling exactly zero copies. But I like the writing, editing, all the fiddling and trickery to get everything just right. And if the payoff is that none of my players need to ever buy a book, and they can carry all their gaming supplies in one booklet with dice and a pencil in the other hand, that’s enough. There’s no reason for the rules to weigh more than a Big Mac.

So are all the rules on the DM side then?
The player book contains all the commonly-used rules for the game. The DM books contain more content based on those rules. For example, though there are a number of common spells in the player book, the DM will have a book that contains many other spells. These are rare, or have significant drawbacks or costs, and as such should be treated the same as magical treasure: it is not a guarantee that every character knows of them.

An example of a common player-book spell: enchant some wood so it burns without being consumed until the spell ends.
An example of a rare DM-book spell: clone a creature. If the clone wakes it may be malformed somehow. Fault table and a few rules follow along with required materials.

The break occurs when a spell is very limited or complex. Both of these tend to interest fewer players, and it makes sense they would interest fewer NPCs. So if it’s not very interesting, or it’s very complex, why include it at all? Because there’s a good reason for it to exist in the game world, even if the implementation is complex by neccessity.

And then, of course, things that should be mysterious to players are found outside the player guide. Monster statistics, magic items, that sort of thing.

More on Game XYZ if anyone happens by and cares at all.

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One Response to “Why a new game system”

  1. Greg Says:

    I’d like to see/hear more about this mysterious XYZ.

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