Freitag, 20. Juli 2012

Rule Systems & Licenses

I have made some posts about RPG rule systems in the past. I ranted in most of those, at least to a degree. I probably annoyed one or another who bothered to read these blog posts. I must admit I don't like my own rants either. Enough so that I decided to go about it a bit more constructive. 

Over the years I bought numerous RPG rule books, in part to see if I could find the one rule system that would fit me perfectly. As some of you could guess I was of course doomed right from the start, although I came so very close with the recent release of the Contact! roleplay game and the rules it uses. That rule system was as close to perfect in my eyes as anything written by someone else could be. And that is the point exactly. If I wanted a rule system that would fit me perfectly I would need to either write it myself or find an author that could read my mind. Most of you will agree that the former is ever so slightly easier than the latter.

Thus I decided to try and write a system of RPG rules myself. "Duh!" you will say. There have been only thousands of others who have tried. But like with many other gamers and game masters I have had ideas about it floating around the back of my mind for years. With me those ideas where never very clear until I got into contact with my first percentile rule system written by someone else. I think it was a second edition book of the Warhammer Fantasy RPG.

Ever since then those ideas have become a more clear. I think it helped that I had to take a few hours worth of courses on statistics in college. Reading through many more rule systems and other designers blogs since then probably didn't hurt either. By now those ideas have resolved themselves into a few pages worth of scribbled notes in a spiral notebook. What do I want to do with those notes now? Well, I feel inspired to try and put those notes into order and turn them into a readable PDF document which I could release for some peer review (in a very loose sense of the word).

"Peer review?" you might ask. "Are you not afraid that someone else will steal the ideas?" The answer would be no. I'm not afraid, as I plan to release it as an open game system, probably under a creative commons license. Why release my ideas under a license that allows others to copy them for free? Well, if you managed to read through some of my other blog posts you might know that I'm of the opinion that a RPG company (or an individual) should not try to make their money through the sale of a rule system. Instead they should sell content for that rule system. An opinion by which I stand.

And it is hard enough to not write up a rule system that reads like a rip off of any one of the many other rule systems out there anyway. Walking on the right side of the thin line between simple inspiration and stealing someone else's ideas will probably be one of the biggest challenges. There are after all only so many ways to make use of some basic principles of probability theory. I already noticed when brainstorming for a working name. With all the other rule systems and creative people out there picking a name and a logo that, as far as I know, is unique was a tough first challenge. Here is quick preview of the cover I use for my work in progress document (as a kind of appetizer):

Work in progress cover mockup

More information on this project later. Probably once I'm ready to ask for a first round of feedback. In the meantime I'd like to mention something else I stumbled upon. A blog post my Monte Cook to be precise. It is titled "A+". Read it, in my opinion its worth the few minutes of your time it will take. Anyway, I'd like to adopt this as my second project for the time being. Have a positive attitude! It will be challenging enough for me for sure, but I'll try anyway. Wish me luck.

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