Designing DIY RPG Productions Ruleset

Over the past few months I’ve been debating back and forth about whether  I wanted to dive into the deep end of the pool and create my own rules.  There are so many great rulesets out there that I love and am inspired by; why do I need to create a whole new ruleset?  The more I pondered and tried to fight of the muse to do so, the more I thought about it.  I really started examining all this over the year of playtesting Going Medieval on Yo’ Ass and seeing the niggles in the system/issues my players were having…  

Needless to say- I am creating a DIY RPG Rules system.  This system will truly be Powered by the Middle Finger.  

I started a thing of Dev Notes on my MeWe DIY RPG Productions community page.  Come feel free to join the community.  Also feel free to hit me up for a friend request on MeWe now that G+ is shitting the bed.  I’ve decided to move the posts to a blog format as MeWe doesn’t put the posts in chronological order, so if someone comments on an older post, it puts it right back up and the top and that’s annoying.  I’m still going to post ideas, thoughts, and chat (if people are interested), but the bulk of stuff will be here.  

The first few posts will be me putting the stuff that’s already been on MeWe on the blog.  

Thoughts on Designing

Several key components have been at the forefront of my brain when I’ve been pondering/working on DIY RPG Productions rules.

It must be:

  1. Rules-lite.
  2. Accessible to new players.
    2a) Enticing for casual gamers who don’t want to learn stuff.
  3. OSR(ish).
  4. Hackable.
  5. Exciting for veteran players.
  6. Great for one shots, Con games, and long term play.
    6a) For long term play, not suffer from massive bloat.
  7. Be able to handle a wide range of genres for my books (from DitNP all the way to BotRE to an eventual Cyberpunk game).
  8. Forever be DIY!

I love Into the Odd and The Black Hack. They are fantastic systems created by great designers, and from their games I’ve learned quite a bit of what I want as a designer and a GM.

When Chris and David both announced they were working on new projects, Electric Bastionland and The Black Hack 2e, respectively, I almost immediately started getting messages and emails asking when I was going to update my rules to the new editions… and the honest answer was, “fuck if I know.”

I have Barbarians of the Ruined Earth, Orcs (a 3rd level Hubris adventure), High Noon: A Gritty Western for White Box, Going Medieval on Yo’ Ass (Fantasy DitNP), and The Forever Dungeon all in stages of development- I don’t want to start thinking about new editions of stuff…

And that’s when I really pondered what I wanted from my groups. I’ve been running DitNP (Into the Odd system) and Barbarians of the Ruined Earth (uses TBH) or other TBH stuff for two years now- so at this point I have a pretty damned good idea on what I want from a rules-lite system… What feedback I got from groups from hours and hours of playing, etc.

I want these rules to run through many of my projects (same mechanics, barring setting/house rules) for ease of use for those who enjoy them. And with the goal of being hackable- if you don’t like my rules, you can say fuck all to them and use whatever system you enjoy.

I’ll post more about the mechanics and decisions soon.

Aside: I have no plans on rewriting Hubris: A World of Visceral Adventure to these rules currently. I love DCC and feel that Hubris fits the system perfectly.


About wrathofzombie

I am a History major attending a community college until I can get more financial aid and attend a four year school. I am living in NJ with my girlfriend who is currently wrapping up on obtaining her PhD in Toxicology. I love Star Wars, Role-playing, video games, working out, reading, writing, and hanging with my girlfriend, dog (Perfect), and two kittens (Birch and Brambles). My main focus on this site will be my discussion of Role-playing games and ideas and hopefully contribute something worth a damn. View all posts by wrathofzombie

7 responses to “Designing DIY RPG Productions Ruleset

  • Yochai Gal

    Very, very interested in this. I’m looking for something OSR that is more flexible than ItO but more rules lite than TBH 2e (if that’s possible). Lethal, but flexible for my story-game friends I’m converting.

    Also, how many ability scores are you planning on using? Weird question, I know – lately I’ve felt like 4 are perfect.

    • wrathofzombie


      I’m not sure if I’ll be more rules-lite or not, but it’s what will make me happy (hopefully) when I run it.

      I am using the six stats normally found in D&D, but I note that you can slim the stats down. When I print Going Medieval on Yo’ Ass and Death is the New Pink 2e, there will only be three stats.

      • rolemasterblog

        You and I have been moving in completely different circles for the past 50 years, right up until October this year when we both landed on MeWe.

        As it happens you use a load of game and system name abbreviations without mentioning what they mean.

        I guess in your usual circles these are common place and everyone knows what DitNP and TBH. It took me ages to decipher BotRE into Barbarians of the Ruined Earth.

        Can I ask that if you are going to mention a game/rule by abbreviation that you either link to it on DTRPG or give its name in full the first time?

      • rolemasterblog

        Are you using the six DnD characteristics to help tick your OSR-ish criteria?

  • Jay Murphy

    Please take a look at Scott malthouse’s (U)nbelievably (S)imple (R)oleplaying system Mike. I would be happy to show you how I have used the system for a custom S&S game, western, fuzzy animal and gonzo seventies America.

    • wrathofzombie

      Thanks much, Jay:) I just bought it and scanned through the book. It looks fun and interesting to play. I appreciate the suggestion as I always enjoy seeing new systems. For me, the DIY System will be designed so I can unify the games I am publishing under one system (two in the case of Hubris) and takes what I enjoy and find thrilling from D&D style mechanics and the OSR. 🙂

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