Tuesday, August 23, 2011

7K - Another reboot?

Yeah, I've walked down this road before.  I'm becoming less and less happy with sticking to d20 as a system for this campaign.  I'm just feeling like the real strengths of the system aren't things I'm looking to leverage, and the drawbacks of the system are definitely cropping up as stumbling blocks.

So, the question of the moment is, should I scrap what I've done and start over with a new system?

Fools Rush In

There are some very good reasons not to reboot.  One of the biggest is simply that I'd be throwing away a lot of work that I've done.  But, if that work keeps leading me to places I don't want to go, shouldn't it be thrown away?

I also really do like the d20 system.  Especially when you look into some of the d20 variants, you can see that it can function as an excellent framework for a wide variety of games.  Tweak various elements and you can end up with very different play experiences.  The class/skill/feat triangle really can allow you to rapidly identify key facets of your character, and allows for very wide degrees of customization.  The standardization of nomenclature and the integration of the various pieces of the system together makes for a game that is easy to modify on the fly.

I have some strong ideas of ways to modify the d20 system to make a strong game.  I do want to get those ideas out there.  I'm just thinking more and more that the Seven Kingdoms project isn't the right vehicle.

Angels Fear to Tread

Given the above, why do I want to switch to a different system?  What are my actual issues?

The biggest issue at this point is that I'm feeling like I want a system that is light and elegant.  I want to strongly encourage descriptive action over tactical action.  I want to be able to handwave big swaths of uninteresting things, like gear.  These are attributes that decidedly do not fit with d20.

One of the other reasons is that I'm starting to feel like I want this to be a self-contained project, and not just another d20 clone.  That may be crazy thinking on my part, but I'm thinking I might have a real game here.  If I can come up with mechanics that are as interesting as the setting, I could get some genuine attention.  I probably am crazy, but I keep hearing Wil Wheaton, Chris Hardwick, and Storm Costanza telling me to make cool things and take chances.

The Elevator Pitches and Yaws

So, what would my idea be?  Well, I've been highlighting some of the really nifty system ideas I've encountered in my "System Wank" series.  I've noticed that, at least so far, they are independent of one another enough that they could easily be slotted together.  The core mechanic of Edge of Midnight, the attribute array of WoD, the initiative system of 7th Sea, aspects from FATE.  I already have a combat mechanic that I'm liking (if I can work out how to expand it to more than 1-on-1).  I also have a gear system that I like that I haven't presented yet.

The basics are: Each character has a "race" which defines the type of super power she has, and a "class" that defines the type of swashbuckler she is.  She will have a set of attributes rated from 1 to 10, a set of skills rated from 1 to 10, and possibly a set of class-based stats (e.g., attack bonus, repartee bonus) rated from 1 to 10 (those may end up being skills instead).  A simple skill check uses a d10 each for attribute and skill, with the relevant number added to each d10.  If you roll doubles, the result is critical.  This gives a range of results from critical failure to failure to partial success to full success to critical success (along with the potentially weird category of critical partial success, if I allow that).

The system will include a mechanic like fate points that will be hooked to aspects.  One of the basic functions of the fate point will be to change the category of success, rather than giving a flat bonus.  So, invoking an aspect and spending a fate point will allow you to change a partial success to a full success or a critical failure to a simple failure.

I can go on, but that clearly would be defeating the point of this post.


  1. So let me get this straight.

    You want a system that allows for at least three different mechanical areas for differentiation - what you do, what you know, and what makes you special.

    What you don't want is a focus on positional tactical combat, gear (assuming magical items as well); other uninteresting things.

    Dude, I say run away from d20 at all speed. If you want to keep most of the trappings, look at something from Mutants and Masterminds/Warlocks and Warriors.

    Not that I don't want you to do the leg work on a combination of Edge of Midnight and 7th Sea and Fate as noted - as I've played with all three of those.

  2. I'm thinking more and more that you are right. I could do it in d20. But, by the time I was done, it wouldn't look or act much like d20 any more. And I would be fighting/gutting at least as much as I was using.

    Which does mean that I need to take it back to square one. Especially as I will really need to look at how several pieces fit together.

  3. I really do like the d20 system (and it's various permutations) myself, but from the sound of it, I think you actually seem to want to make your own game...

    I could be wrong, but that's what I felt when reading this. I say go for it.