RPG Design: The Frustrating Puzzle
There are few things more frustrating than a puzzle you have a problem solving. Imagine a world without the interwebs and your really analytical friend to tell you how to solve the Rubik's Cube. You would pick it up, fiddle with it, think that you got somewhere, get confused, put it down, do another thing, pick it back up again, peel off a sticker or two, put it down, look for help, pick it up... and maybe quit.
That is kind of how the quest for making a new RPG has been going for us of late. We try something, don't like something about it, try another, try a pre-published game, come back to our design, go to something else, try again... you get the idea.
What We've Been Trying
For example, we tried a game system, but it ended up being a little too odd. Then, we tried Fate Core again. Then we remembered why it wouldn't work the game type we wanted to play, tried to modify it, still had the same problems and gave up on it. Then, we looked at more RPGs. And more RPGs. And even more RPGs.
Next, we brought out GURPS 4th edition. GURPS has a great system where you can do anything you want. We played a whole Angels in the Old West campaign with it. However, I don't know that I like the "roll under an attribute" mechanic since we are playing with terribly powerful beings in a very cinematic world. Plus, I feel like I'm cheating the system out of its genius by stripping out so many of the rules it has.
We went through another iteration of our own pre-made game... but things just fell flat in the execution. It is a frustrating little puzzle, to be honest.
So What Now?
Cortex Plus. We got a copy of the Cortex Plus Hacker's Guide, a few other books, and have started a campaign with it. The things we like about it are:
We are 3 adventures into it, and we are really finding the sweet spots with the game and using lots of sticky notes. Don't be surprised if a book comes out of all of our fiddling around with the rules. It has tons of potential.
There's more to come, but this is the journey in our year of experimentation. We'll have more as the summer flits on. In fact, we are way overdue in telling folks about the amazing Geekway to the West convention experience we had.
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