Arcane Game Lore

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Desiging Out Loud – Introduction

As if I don’t have enough on my plate right now (new job, back in grad school, running two fan magazines and several websites), I think it’s time I sat down and fleshed out my own RPG game system.  Heaven knows we don’t need yet another system out there but I’ve always wanted to try to build one and I’ve got these ideas bursting out of my head.  In fact, I’ve got ideas for two different systems.

So I’m starting up this new thread on the the blog entitled “Designing Out Loud”.  In the posts in this thread I’ll be discussing topics and details of the various aspects of the gaming system as I work through them.  Sometimes I’ll just be posting notes and ideas, literally talking out loud to organize my thoughts.  Other times I’ll be posting polished mechanics.  I don’t know exactly how this will go but I look forward to seeing your comments.

So what kind of game?  It’s going to be a science fiction game since that’s where my passion lies.  Now I love Star Frontiers.  I’ve played it since I was a kid.  I run two fan magazines for the game, the Frontier Explorer and the Star Frontiersman.  But I’ll be the first to admit that some of the rules are a bit wonky.  In fact some make my physics, math, and astronomy brain practically explode with their incomprehensibleness.  As time has gone on, I’ve realized more and more that it’s not the game mechanics that I love but the setting and feel of the game.  I like the way it plays but the details can get under my skin.

On the other hand, I think that mechanics-wise, the all time favorite system that I’ve played or read (and I’ll admit I’m not as well read or played as most) was a game based on RuneQuest 3rd Edition that I played in the late 80s to early 90s when I was in high school and college.  This was a fantasy game.  The mechanics were basically RuneQuest but with an additional magic system and a greatly expanded skill list (250+ skills instead of the standard 40 or so). I’m sure that a large part of the reason I loved this game so much was our GM.  I mean you can be doing too bad when your GM has an Origins Best Role-playing Supplement of the Year award.  The world was very richly developed and by the time we were playing he had been running games in this setting for over 20 years (it might have been over 30, to this day I still don’t know his exact age, I just know when he started playing. Yes, I know that late 80′s minus 20+ years puts you in the 60′s. He started role playing with his friends in high school before D&D was even invented using a 3 page rule set that he developed.  And you might recognize the names of his friends that he introduced to this type of gaming if I mentioned them.)  He still runs this game every Saturday at his home.  I loved the detail, realism, and crunch of that game.

So I’m torn between writing a game that is simple and fast to play like Star Frontiers, and one that has more detail and crunch like RuneQuest.  In the end, I’ll probably find myself somewhere in the middle but for now, I’m going to lean more toward the lighter, simpler system.  I can always add the crunch later.  So come along as I work on this system and let’s see what we can turn up.


Categorised as: Game Design


  1. [...] mentioned in my introduction article that I had the idea for two games bouncing around in my head.  In truth they are mostly the [...]

  2. neoproxy says:

    Nice, I think at some point a lot of gamers come to this point. I’ve had several ideas and tried testing some them out with varying success. I look forward to see what you have.

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