Thursday, May 21, 2015

Settings or Rules or Both and Why Not, Another Giveaway

+Erik Tenkar, the trouble maker over at his tavern region, posted a question based on a comment that +Michael S wrote in a response to a post about someone's critique of +James Spahn's very successful White Star (by the way James when is it going to be in print?).  The question is Where Should the Innovation Be - Rules or Settings?  Which was a response to Michael's comment,
Move beyond White Star for a moment... how do we encourage the next EPT? The thing that really goes beyond the same "orc and pie" or "dusty corner with 2000cp" ad nauseum? When do we get away from the D&D that has been trod and retrod and just "small changes" and really push for the stars? How do we encourage that, grow that? Do we focus on the reskins or do we take those really unique finds and give them the limelight?
Great questions.  As in all cases on this blog I can only answer for myself and what I prefer.  As is the entirety of the OSR we are all smart enough, creative enough to make the choices that suit us best.

While I am interested in new rulesets, recently I have been reading Torchbearer, I need to give Dungeon World a look, Heroes & Other Worlds, Basic Fantasy and I recently received a copy of The Burning Wheel RPG.  That's five rulesets I have sitting in a small pile behind me.  I've have dozens more sitting on my groaning bookshelves.   Even my favorite system, Swords & Wizardry, has different rules systems (Core and Complete) and within them there are different editions.  So for me, new rulesets is not what I'm looking for. 

A picture of someone else's groaning book shelves.
 However, I am always looking for ideas to improve the ruleset I prefer.  There are a few things in Torchbearer that I might try to staple onto my S&W game.  But will I run a Torchbearer game, probably not.  It's interesting, it's innovative (to me), but I'd rather stick to a system I am familiar with and add on to it.  Does that mean people shouldn't create new rulesets?  Absolutely they should.  There is a reason why my shelves groan with all those different RPG rulesets.  I read them like fiction.  For ideas.  And to see what goes on behind their GM screen. 

To me it's an artform.  Folks can draw a maps of the same place, paint a picture of the same object or write a story about the same event and all of them will be different.  To me, the interesting thing is to see other folks' interpretation.  I know when I am looking at other maps I steal from them all the time.  While I will never have the artistic talent of +MonkeyBlood Design, +Pär Lindström, +Gus L+matt jackson, +Dyson Logos or +Simon Forster, I try to learn from them.  See how they do things.  Hoping to improve my own style.

That's what rulesets do for me.  Teach me another way of looking or approaching a ruling.  Options are always good to have.

Setting are something I value.  Again, not as a whole.  Even when I was a snot-nose kid with a head full of hair and still figuring out if the Weapon Speed rule was stupid or was I missing something.  I love new settings.  Again.  Read them like fiction.  Again.  I pick things out of them I like and place them into what I'm doing.  When I find a cool culture or religion I try to integrate it into my setting.  I've been connected with two recent Kickstarters that feature settings and backed a couple more.  And I'll probably back others as they come out.

Here's the thing.  Back when the original neckbeards were creating their thing there were very few of them doing it.  So if someone popped out a setting or ruleset it was significant.  Even through the 80's if something new like that popped up it was like a shiny new thing.  But today, and this is especially true of the OSR, people are creating innovative settings and rulesets all the time.  Can we see it clearly?  No.  So much comes out it is nearly impossible to find and them all.  The subject of White Star that started this conversation, James created something that has been lingering for a while, but he was the one who was able to grab this amorphous idea and mold into something usable for a lot of people.  That is all you can ask.

Alright, now to the giveaway.  I recently ordered a batch of Starter Adventures and one of the copies got a little dinged up in transport.  Here's how this will work, might make you work for it a little.  If you give me an opinion about the subject you'll get entered twice for the giveaway.  If you don't want to give an opinion, comment and you'll get a single chance. 

I'll keep the window open for entries until tomorrow morning sometime.  Say 12 EST on the 22nd of May.   I will then randomly roll to determine the winner.  


  1. I whole heartedly agree with your point about using new systems to modify or add on to the system you know. After reading Dungeon World, I thought it was the best GM's guide I had read in years. I plan to use much of it in my S&W adventures and house rules. I love to mine new material for ideas.

  2. I am fairly convinced that I need Torchbearer in my life. Especially since I'm steadily falling in love with its forbearer, Burning Wheel.

    Anyway, I think that when it comes to rules or setting that I tend to fall more along the line of both. That's not a good answer to the question but I genuinely value each equally. I want a rules system that is robust enough to allow me to do whatever I want without getting in my way (which is why I'm constantly looking at the next rule book in my read pile) but what gets my imagination going at the end of the day is the setting.

    I know, very helpful. But in my defense I didn't sleep last night and I really want a copy of Torchbearer so I'm going to go order one right now.

  3. Anybody who has read my blog over the years or either of my products Weird Adventures or Strange Stars knows I'm mostly on the side of setting, though I don't think it's an either or choice.

  4. Tim, you probably have figured that I side with settings, but I'd like to offer this thought - which one can truly be a game without the other?

    I ask because I've found that my settings "persist" no matter the ruleset. My Vale campaign with my wife - I've gone through 4 rules changes - and yet she's not noticed a single thing except a new character sheet. To her, it's "tell Mike what I want to do and he tells me what dice to roll." Yet the campaign is still as vibrant as ever. The "rules" are basic D&D with my interest of the week houserule. Which, true, come from reading other people's stuff or my own thoughts, but I see the real magic from the setting, where Angie and I bring it to life.

    Same with Dark Ages - it's "AD&D" in name, but really an amalgam of various things... but it's the NPCs and adventure that matters. I run war games in that campaign. I have two separate campaigns in it, each running a different approach. The rules have become secondary mechanics. The world comes to life through what the people do, not the dice they roll or what is on their character sheet.

    I make the clear distinction from ruleset and settings, where I read what you wrote and it seems to me that you merge the two, perhaps?

    I think my games could live on if I stripped away D&D and substituted something else.

    And that's why I think the innovation in what we've been doing for the past (mumble) years here lies in the settings. Lies in the expression of our imagination. I'm not convinced that all those rulesets you listed couldn't be easily swapped because they are just mechanics. Now, strip out those rules, look at the setting perhaps they bring with them... that's the innovation I think that is magical.

  5. As I own Starter Adventures already, (excellent product, btw) I am merely putting in my two cents. I play GURPS almost exclusively, but raid dozens of systems and suppliments for ideas.

  6. Someone clever suggested that rules are there to help a group play in a manner that they wouldn't otherwise. I agree that a great campaign is an awesome thing, and a flexible GM can probably pull off nearly anything in any ruleset. One way to look at rules is as a way of transmitting a play style.

    The other thing is the shaping of player choices. D&D's 'xp for gold' rewards, Torchbearer's light, food and encumbrance rules, Burning Wheel's healing rules - each of these has an enormous effect on players' choices.

  7. Chicken and the egg. Rulesets can make a game different. Setting can make a game different. And I think we are always looking for one or both. Which is why I don't care if the next innovation is rules orientated or setting orientated. If it has something in it I want to use I will use it. And I will check both out for that something.

  8. 98.73% agree! I'll keep my quibles to myself.

  9. You overstate my trouble making tendencies; )

    Already have a copy of Starter Adventures. Awesome stuff.

  10. I tend to be a setting guy, since no system to ever cross my table has gone untinkered-with. But, also like you, I tend pull bits and pieces from settings, and shoehorn them into my own version of a setting (whether it be a modified setting or an original one). However, I am also fond of taking what I pulled out, and re-imagining it somehow.

    So, really, I'm just a tinkerer at heart. Nothing is good enough as is, apparently. That being said, when I look at something new, my first thought is of the setting. Rules tend to be secondary.

  11. I have a hard time understanding how you can wholesale replace rulesets without the setting seeming to change. I *like* the way the Auran Empire relates to the ACKS ruleset. I've been playing around with putting together vanilla-ACKSy settings with various initial conditions, but I think what needs to come next is throwing out the classic D&D spell list, merging something highly variant like or Theorems & Thaumaturgy (or a novel series with a not-really-D&Dish magic system) with the ACKS PC spell creation guidelines, and then seeing what sort of campaign world and set of classes are implied by that magic system.

  12. You overstate my trouble making tendencies; )

    Already have a copy of Starter Adventures. Awesome stuff.

  13. You find the system you like and then you find the setting to fit into it. Sometimes it's easier said than done. For me, the setting's the thing that excited me. A fun setting stokes my imagination.

  14. @Tom Hudson - very easily actually. And I think I've hit on an interesting point here - when rules are the setting itself, to where you can't possibly substitute, then I probably wouldn't switch to them or use them, unless the mechanics were easy enough.

    Case in point, I have little use for a Shadowrun Hacker mechanic in my high fantasy setting. So that's not something I would substitute.

    I've thrown out the complete D&D spell system and substituted spell points and my own system in my Ultima game, but I was deliberately trying to have the mechanics simulate the CRPG. That's again not a game I would probably substitute in and out, but then I don't see my Ultima game as necessarily innovative, and I could probably make do with Vancian style magic. The setting would trump the mechanics, at least at my table.

    As well, different style games can be played in the same setting, which means you can have wargames, social games and RPGs in worlds, pretty easily. The rules give the players the mechanics to do the things, and most rules for a common "technique" (combat, magic, task resolution *yak*) tend to be modular enough that with some imagination I can make it work.

    I guess I'm seeing some interesting camps - where for some, the rules define the settings, for others, the setting defines what they want to get out of the rules or how they'll bend the rules to get that desired outcome.

  15. Some rulesets define the settings. For instance, with the rules regarding races in D&D, that in and of itself, defines the world of D&D. Sure, there can be campaign settings on top of that but the rules themselves define the base setting that is diverged from.

    Of course there are some setting neutral rules, but even those tend to define the setting to a degree. GURPS, for instance, is considered generally setting neutral (merely a system) but the GURPS Magic books define how certain spells work and this helps define the setting itself. If I want radiation magic powers that are different from the book, I can do it, but I need to diverge from the written rules.

    As such, the rules and setting tend to be chicken/egg. You can further define both (changing the thief skill table, or adding new classes) but there is usually only so far you can go before you've essentially created a new ruleset.

    And that's fine. House rules rule the roost, if you ask me. And collecting both systems and settings help define those for my favorite base systems. :)

  16. I have ported several rules subsets from Burning Wheel/Torchbearer into my OSR/early-edition games. Essentially, they are "tacked on" house rules that inspire me from one system ported to another. I don't use them for each game/campaign group, but when and if they are applicable, I use them. Some examples:
    - Rules for non-combat conflicts resolution (convince, drive off, pursue/flee, banish/abjure, etc.) in the form of both protracted scene mechanics and one-roll opposed contests
    - gritty rules for Conditions (hungry/thirsty, angry, exhausted, injured, etc.) that essentially amount to different modifiers and things that can't be done or undone unless the condition is mollified
    - Emotional Attributes (Elven Grief, Dwarven Greed, Orcish Hatred, Drow Spite, etc.) - basically a "ticking clock" of the emotional (read: narrative arc) lifespan of a PC as it interfaces with the campaign world
    - Instincts (ways for PCs to "stick it to the DM" under certain circumstances, trumping narrative with pre-installed conditions)
    - Motivation/Goal (long- a short-term PC priorities that affect the campaign narrative and a session's game play with actual mechanics with the dual purpose of serving as a "love letter" to the group about what kind of "fun" the Player wants to have in the campaign and during that evening's session)
    - Traits & Wises: mini Attribute Roll bumps with adjective/modifiers dictated by Players that can be applied to rolls when they make sense within the narrative fiction. There is no "list" like skills - just "I am Crafty so I get a +1 on my attempt to make a raft" or "I use my Blackmarket-Wise to get a +1 when haggling with the fence."
    - Peer-Voted XP Awards (MVP, Teamworker, Embodiment)
    - Fate Points: karma/luck/hero points that serve as "+1 cookies" under certain circumstances
    Let me know if you're interested in any of these, I'm happy to share :)

  17. Ugh, don't make me choose - but in the spirit of the original writers, as well as the OSR hive-mind... the rules are there to provide a framework and guidelines for game master in his adjudication of the game. They don't cover everything - certainly everyone like s to tweak the rules or add to cover conditions or cases.

    That said, the setting is the thing. It's where we play- it influences the atmosphere and style of play - are we going Arthurian, Tolkein, weird, mixed? How does this shape the characters, the encounters, the environment?

  18. I think setting should be reinforced by the rule system used for it. Not sure if that helps, but even when playing an established system, I tinker around the edges to shape it to match the setting I am GMing.

  19. Ps. I guess my vote/opinion therefore is "rules subsets that, when tacked on appropriately, flesh out both the game and the implied game world."
    Not sure if that counts or is a cop out - but it doesn't matter, I already own your brilliant Starter Adventures HC.

  20. Some rulesets are inspiring; when I first came across Sword & Backpack I was immediately in love with how the rules were presented and affected the setting. It was a kind of Adventure Time feel with a lot less yelling. My brain was on fire with treasure maps and quirky bad guys like librarians and trolls who were more greedy than they were hungry. The rules are perfect for the setting; everyone fights and it is a punk rock thing, not as serious thing.

    But the OSR rulesets I play now are in no way inspiring to me, not really. Not in the same way, anyways. At the end of the day, most rulesets accomplish the same thing: there is a contest and then we roll some dice to see how it works out. What IS inspiring to me, are the settings that brazenly walk out of the OSR's vagina, all screaming and covered in a creative goop and not scared of anything. My entrance into the community was marked less by being in love with Labyrinth Lord rules (i bought those books because they seemed to be industry standard) but because I wandered into Middenmurk and Goblin Punch and Last Gasp, staring at the walls like a man struck dumb. Everything was so influential and beautiful. Arnold K's druids really pushed me over the cliff. "You mean I can play this class of anarchic geomancers with these, some, or any rules? Sold"

    If we separate idealistic and tiny mechanic from the rules, then things change a bit. I love the small and simple mechanics that people create, but those ideas infiltrate our brains and nudge out rules that were there before and maybe we don't even notice. They are innovative and inspiring but I don't think they define the community the way setting does. Everyone has their own rules.

    Rules are cool and small mechanic invention is quirky and fun, sure. Wonder & Wickedness presents new rules for magic but really why I love that book is because it sweeps out the blasé and tested idea of a regular magic user, and drops someone into your game with a closer connection to the actual magic. The setting is enhanced because the rules are removed and there is more room to elbow around. Now my setting, my world, doesn't have magic users cowering behind the sword guy simply to gain XP to get new spells, she is on the front line fucking shit up because she is already good at magic.

    What I am meandering around is that the settings are what define the OSR innovation for me, and niche mechanic is like using celery salt on your food instead of regular salt. It adds a hint of flavor to the meal, but in compliment to the setting.

  21. I like free things and I cannot lie
    You other bloggers can't deny
    That when a blogger has something and wants to give it away
    you say 'eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeey.

  22. It depends? A fair number of the books/games in my normal to-go GMing kit are of the themed toolkit variety: Staws Without Number, Red Tide, Vornheim in particular - books where I'm given rules to run by, a few strong themes to hang my ideas on and tools to spin those ideas out into campaigns. Implied or semi-explicit settings, coupled with the explicit resources to expand upon them, are what I get the most use out of and probably my favorite thing to have come from the OSR within recent years. It's that extra bit of "here's the setting, and here's how you build stuff within it" that sets my creative wheels turning.

    On the other hand, it's rare for me to buy a ruleset for the rules: I'll take ideas and mine them for stuff when I come across it but it's the setting or playstyle being pitched by the game or splatbook that garners my interest and makes me care. I'm more likely to buy a straight, systemless setting book than I am to buy a straight, setting-less rulebook (which, sadly, is why White Star has been dropping from my 'Must Have' list to 'Maybe, when I catch a sale'), if that makes any sense.

  23. I agree. I love reading new systems and taking little bits and pieces of them. My Swords and Wizardry campaign is an amorphous blob of S&W complete, DCC, OSRIC, and too many zines.

  24. I wish we could +1 some of these responses - all great here!

  25. Through a rather ugly series of play-testing fiascoes I've discovered something about setting v. rule set. I think it's a bit like mind body dualism, that is it's a useful distinction, but ultimately breaks down in practice if applied strictly.

    Setting isn't just fluff, evocative description and such. One of the key elements to setting is feel and play mechanics have a lot to do with it. Let me give you an example if this isn't making sense. Now I've described my Apollyon setting as "weird fantasy survival horror" and certainly the world is set up where the characters are more rats in the walls then heroes bestriding the universe. At least that's the intention, but when I ran it as a flailsnails game using the OSR's favorite B/X rule-set characters could behave more like fantasy heroes then skulking scavengers and survive.

    Yes high lethality and environmental danger can be obtained with stronger enemies, more damaging traps and various mechanical fixes, but ultimately doing this results in less streamlined play then simply changing the ruleset to become more dangerous.

    Mortality, the ease of successful action, the nature of spell casting, skill use (the distinction between 5E style skills for most character actions and 1e limited skills for specialized character actions) all have an effect on play all effect setting. Another example - I'm looking at a DCC module and it has all these DC tests for spotting things like a loose slope of rock which if successful presents no danger. That makes it a different game (character focused?) then one where a cautious player who says "I examine the rock slope" automatically discovers the peril, but then has to figure out how to negotiate it through player skill.

    To me then, creators making settings are likely to be making rules, or modifying them if they are really making settings, and vice-versa. There is nothing exciting to me about adding rules for the sake of it, that way leads to the mess that is the WOTC/Pathfinder default world - an overripe slurry of special snowflake classes, complex rule variants everywhere and a world without distinctive flavor. Likewise a setting that sets up one kind of world, but then leaves itself with default rules, might be interesting, but it's less interesting then one that has some rules that support it.

  26. Also charging for rulesets that are 80% plus 1980's D&D is bad mojo, or should be. I mean charge for the book as artifacts, but the PDF - better to give that away and maybe charge for setting.

  27. For me, it's more about settings. Although commercial settings, I take and cherry pick parts and ideas from to use as I please, since I seldom run anything exactly as written (keeps my players on their toes :D)

  28. I think making a setting develops it own house rules and then you have a new ruleset. Most new setting gs come with a new race, monsters, class. It's the setting that develops the rules set and defines it to me. I still get new rule sets but I always fall back to a couple or three and tweet them. So settings is what I like more but I get a little out of both

  29. I think making a setting develops it own house rules and then you have a new ruleset. Most new setting gs come with a new race, monsters, class. It's the setting that develops the rules set and defines it to me. I still get new rule sets but I always fall back to a couple or three and tweet them. So settings is what I like more but I get a little out of both

  30. My two coppers is that innovation should be embraced however it is found, be it clever rules or shiny new settings.

  31. As I said at the Tavern, I just don't think it's about either. There's room for more rules sets and new settings, but the main thing is the scenarios (modules). If EPT was a singular achievement, possible only due to Barker's unique psychology and life - so be it. But definitive adventures like the Tomb of Horrors are something that every generation of gamers deserves.

  32. It's all about settings, or more generally, content for me. I don't need another ruleset - we already have 0e/BX/1e for simple rulesets that don't imply that much about a setting. They might be mostly fantasy-based, but that's probably just because there is no generic OSR setting (that I know of) that doesn't include the mechanics without also including content like monsters, spells, classes, etc.

    If you don't like the simple mechanics of 0e/BX/1e or clones, then you have more complicated ones like the Hero System, or D20/Pathfinder or others - not sure if we need another set of mechanics or not. Maybe the cinematic/story RPGs (I just haven't played them) like Fate, Savage Worlds, Dungeon World, etc. are another category - I'm just not that familiar with them.

    So, don't give me another brand-new or incompatible ruleset. Instead, give me interesting settings, monsters, items, content, etc. - whether that's fantasy, or sci-fi, or something else - that doesn't imply that much about the underlying system - then that's stuff I can use everywhere, and it can be fun to just read.

    Note that this doesn't mean that the 'content' might say that there are only these specific races (but nothing standard like elves, etc.), and these specific spells, and these monsters - might be nothing like D&D or PF or whatever. That's not 'ruleset' to me - that's content for the setting. I haven't played Ponyfinder, but assume it's very different from stock Pathfinder.

    Can setting be completely independent from ruleset/mechanics? Well, not really. If the setting is high mortality - you probably want a simple system with simple character generation - nobody wants to spend 2 hours creating a character to see it die right away, but not a big deal if chargen takes a minute or two to get started.

    Modern systems might need more skills and less 'classes' to make sense - so maybe you lean away from the super simple systems for that since too much may have to be made up on the fly, and that might frustrate players (but maybe White Star proves this wrong? I haven't played it yet) Cinematic settings might need something like Fate to work well.

    Again, I want settings - at least start by tying them to a system that fits some basic style elements (high mortality, cinematic, etc.) - and maybe let 3rd parties provide the conversions to specific systems like PF, S&W, Hero, Runequest, whatever. Just don't invent a new set of mechanics unless you really have thought of something nobody else has.

  33. Neither new rules nor new settings appeal to me much these days. I have little time to play, and so prefer to stick with the rules and settings I know well. What I look for are new scenarios that can be dropped into my existing game with little trouble. One thing that I love about the OSR is the easy compatibility that most of the material has because it is built on well established rulesets and settings that were widely published and played with by legions of budding role players back in the day. If you deviate too far from this common "language" of play in the creation of a rule set or setting, I think it could be fair to question if that item really is a part of the OSR.

  34. Setting and rules interact with each other, I think. While it is certainly true that a Referee with a strong image of the setting will alter or interpret the rules in a way that supports the setting, it remains true that those alterations and interpretations are changes to the rules, just "written" by the Referee instead of the nominal game designer.

    On the other hand, it is precisely those house rules and interpretations that undermine the arguments of the people who emphasize that "System Matters". At the table, distinctions of system only matter in how much the Referee and other players appreciate the nuances of the game.

    On the third hand, though, there are matters of flavor. Greyhawk run under AD&D will "feel" one way, but run using GURPS (or TWERPS!) will give another approach, and to run it using Toon (using, probably, the Dungeons & Toons rules) will be something else again. Imagine trying to run Star Trek using AD&D 1E RAW. Even with significant house rules, it's going to be rather different in feel and tone than the FASA or LUG Star Trek rules.

    What was I writing about again? I seem to have meandered. Anyway, there's a third S&W option, Swords & Wizardry: White Box, which is quite different than either Core or Complete.

  35. Like others have said, it seems to start with a couple of new homebrew monsters and maybe a class to deal with those monsters. Before long, there are rules about "Turning Clockworks" or rulings about Lightning Bolts as EMPs.

    As game sessions pile up, the notes, rulings, anecdotes, and massive soda-induced scribblings coalesce into a setting.

    I go buy the setting (or massively drool over it) and read it like a work of fiction. I take a rule or two, the monsters, and maybe a class and unleash them on an unsuspecting group.

    Much fun is had by all.

    I love White Star and I bought it specifically as a ruleset. Having Sci-Fi adventures based on S&W is a great idea. Still, I will most likely end up using it to "spice up" my existing game. Specifically, I plan to use the spaceship combat system as my aerial combat system.

    Heaven help me, I may even end up making Spelljammer for S&W thanks to White Star. The cycle continues.

    Not sure that there's really a good way to separate a full setting from a ruleset. A Spelljammer clone would have all kinds of rules in it, even if they were copied almost verbatim from other OGL games.

    Anyway, that's my two cents.

  36. Once you get outside the mechanics, and the mechanics of all the OSR games are similar enough that they are all effectively interchangable (we even successfully played a game once with a dozen players all using different rule sets), the rules effectively exist as worked examples for how to apply those mechanics to get the play you want.

    That's the great benefit of different rule sets - ideally they show us how to play the game differently. So one rule set might provide the opportunity for dark and gritty murderhoboing, while another might provide the opportunity for glorious heroics. The mechanisms might be very similar, but how they are applied will generally be completely different.

    For me this is inescapably wrapped up in setting as well. I would say that the best games have rules that apply directly to the setting, but in actual fact all games have rules that apply to the setting. It's just for the vast majority of the OSR clones their default setting is something called "D&D." [Whatever that actually is, although it does seem to have some common tropes. =9) ]

    One game I particularly enjoy is _Torg_, which has a rather simple mechanic at its heart. It then goes through over two dozen volumes describing rules for applying this mechanism to a wide variety of situations, from souping up a pulp hero's car, to creating an occult ritual to slay a werewolf, to casting a magic spell, to hacking the Godnet, to convincing someone to do something, to hitting someone with sword or laser pistol. Each of the genre realities in this game play quite differently because the rules apply the mechanism in different ways. [And have the desirable effect of actually forcing the players to approach the settings in the appropriate way for the genre of the setting.]

  37. I want system more than setting, but I give away setting more than system.

    I am eternally in a quest to perfect D&D. I fully believe that someone smarter than me will craft encumbrance rules of such elegance that they will make me cry tears of joy. So I love reading mechanics or musings on mechanics.

    In this age of publisher and lulu I am happy to say I made my own “D&D mine” a system embodies what I want in a fantasy RPG. I can now hand my players a copy of a shiny rule book or send them a PDF and start a game as a DM that is recognizable, but unique to my style.

    I think I have some clever mechanics; I particularly like how I handle clerical magic. Clerical magic uses a modified spell points system with a semi random element. Clerics of different faith use different dice to determine spell point costs. I have detailed 10 faiths, each with a unique spell list and restrictions to ensure that clerics of different religions are district. By doing so I have created an implied setting, one that ties to my home brew campaign.

    I offer three of these faiths for free on Drivethrurpg as print and fold zines (one or two more hopefully by this summer but work has been brutal lately). Despite these being offered more to showcase a mechanic I think they instead come off more as setting.

    In the end I feel hypocritical, giving more setting than system.

    All that being said the best setting is adventures. I buy more adventures than anything else. soooo a free adventure would be great, pick me.

  38. I like to see innovation in both, but either one is fine, in a fan project. In a project that's being sold as a new game, it really ought to be in both.

  39. I play Pathfinder and I can tell you that Less is More. That said, I can't imagine playing White Star (for instance) without More Rules. So I guess I agree with the prevailing sentiment. Give me a solid foundation and I will build a Game. So whether is Far Away Land or Deep Carbon - there are take away pieces (rules or setting) that end up in my game.

  40. I myself prefer setting and adventure material which I can drop into any rule set I feel like using. I tend to avoid products which are restricted by the very rules which surround them. After playing 30+ years of RPGs I’m always looking for ways to improve things, to be a constant student but not to reinvent the wheel. Therefore inspirational material is far more valuable to me for the various campaigns I run. I don’t need an off the shelf product that tells me what to do cradle to grave. The former may have appeal to someone new to the hobby and that is understandable.

  41. I think the future is in combination rules/settings or genre, such White Star, Crypts & Things, Warriors of the Red Planet, Scarlet Heroes, etc. I love the creativity so much, I'm considering staking my own claim: