At one time I spent a lot of my writing time devoted to crafting a game system that would become “the” game system everyone played. Hours. Countless hours spent creating one system and then another. Then crafting them. Each time something would stand out and something else would stand out and in the end the system would get shelved.
Here I am working on a book and a game system at the same time (for those interested, currently editing/revising the last of the second wave of story). The book/story is coming along well. The game system depends upon your point of view.
If you view a lot of writing as progress then I am making steady headway.
If you view a lot of writing like I do, as a sign of something, then I am also making headway.
If you have any experience designing games then you might be familiar with this scenario:
With a core mechanic in place that I like and is useable I moved onto character generation where most of the modifiers will come from. These modifiers will test the core system or in this case will show me how much math I need to include in the system and how flexible the system should be for future growth.
Setting aside the species write-ups which was becoming cumbersome, the modifiers tossed the system close to out the door. The whole system instead of being something I wanted to use and want other people to use was a cumbersome mess. Which is where lunch at Wendy’s came in.
A long lunch at Wendy’s, a notebook (you do carry a notebook with you everywhere you go?), some okay fast food (food by way of looked and tasted like chicken, but the Matrix taught me that while there may or may not be a spoon, everything can and does tastes like chicken), and the desire to fix the problem lead to a change in direction.
My want is a simple system for people like me who want to be able to focus on roleplaying, teach others quickly so they too can focus on roleplaying, minimize power-gaming statmunching, and allow anyone reading the book to roleplay in the Stroud universe.
In my keep column:
Core mechanic of comparing die rolls against a target number.
Die rolls of 1, fail. Die rolls of 2-9 modifiable. Die roll of 10, roll that die again and add two results together (10 + roll of second die).
Keywords, words and phrases indicating something about a character or character’s skills, abilities, or powers. Keywords are intuitive, easy to understand, plentiful (perhaps too plentiful), but the modifiers I created mucked up the simple system…fix that with easy to understand modifiers to an aspect of the core mechanic that is static for the most part making math quick and easy.
As an explanation: a number that is always a 6 is easier to add and subtract from than a variable number.
The to go column:
Where am I now, other than working on the book; a new system of attributes again intuitive. Perhaps a bit too simplistic for gamers desiring an attribute for everything and a number for everything. Keywords will focus on the highlights of the character, the assumption (in game system) is that characters will have learned a lot of basic knowledge and skills over their lifetime such as driving, basic cooking, history, science, etc. They may not be good at any of them, but they know them. Keywords enhance via modifiers what the character is good at.
Every character can drive, characters with driving keywords drive better is all.