Tuesday, October 20, 2009


As I continue designing a new roleplaying game, I've come to realize that I need to establish a set of guiding principles. I need to state my vision clearly in order to realize it.

I believe that modern roleplaying games are too big: Part of this is due to economics, part of it results from an impulse towards completeness. Game companies obviously want to sell as many books as they can, in order to keep revenues flowing in. This often means a release a month, typically supplements (see below). Also, writers write, and the more they write the more they get paid; I saw this with LUG (saying something in ten words when only five would do). As for completeness, gamers demand that the publisher provide the "right" answer to their rules questions. Rather than wait for the questions to roll in (thank you Sage's Corner), it's more efficient to include rules for every situation in advance. Thus, you get 256-page phone books that weigh ten pounds. I don't have time to read all that.

I believe there are too many supplements: Again, economics. After you publish your core rulesbook, what next? The Complete Guide to Thieves. The Ventrue Splatbook. The Tome of Additional Spells. I understand it. But I was looking at one company's offerings because I was interested in the premise, and I was intimidated by the sheer number of books on the shelf. I don't have time to read all that, either.

I believe that the length and breadth of contemporary games acts as a barrier to entry.

Let's face it. We're all pressed for time these days. And we have a lot of entertainment options open to us. Let's not forget that we're dealing with adolescents with the attention span of a fly. Why are we churning out giant mega-games when what we started out with were 96-page, saddle-stitched games?

This shouldn't be construed as an attack on the hobby as it stands now. Nor is it an attack on how you all do business these days. I just think there's a simpler way. I'm just not sure how to do it.

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