We are making a new roleplaying game. In the process of doing so, we've had a few musings and ramblings that have lead us to make changes in the game. We thought we'd share some of them here.
Why Do Character Classes and Races Work?
In so many role-playing games, there are pre-defined character types. these usually come in the form of a character's race and chosen occupation. While we were working on our point-based, classes, do-what-you-want RPG system, we started thinking about why. Why do so many games use these character creation tricks? Well, there's lots of reasons.
The biggest one is that it makes it terribly easy to get into. Defining your character with a couple of words is huge. I am an elf barbarian tells me that you are tall, agile and brutish. There is an economy there that really can't be beat and helps players get into the game quicker. The other thing it does is let's players find an affinity to latch onto and be a part of. Players want to be a part of a clan, a bloodline, a faction, a color, a race, or class. Giving them the option gives them the chance to be part of something. Both the ease of getting into the game and defining yourself is half the battle for a character. So... classes, races, clans, factions, etc., are really great for removing the barrier of entry.
We keep coming back to what dice to use for our game. Again, and again, and again. In fact, we even found ourselves playing around with different dice for players and ones for Game Narrators. In the end, though, we really kept coming back to the question "what is the easiest to get into?" The answer: the 6-sided die. Everyone has them. You can get lots of them cheaply. Everyone is familiar with them.
Outside of dice, though, there is more to a game mechanic than rolling dice. We also started thinking about how stats on characters should be used to modify the dice. Should they add to some totals, should they mean more dice to roll? Do they let you reroll dice? There are so many options, really. You can break them down into a hierarchy of how much mental power (and thus complex) things are to understand to help find out what to do.
Honestly, it's a lot to think about, and most things have been done before.
Next time, we will discuss what all these meanderings did for our RPG... including changing the name.