DIY RPG Productions Rules Development Notes- Starting at the Beginning

Ok…  let’s start at the beginning-

When I started looking at developing my own rules the first thing I looked at was roll under or roll over. I LOVE the simplicity of The Black Hack and Into the Odd and I got to experience the joy of watching players who normally never grok or care about the rules learning them and having fun!

That was definitely an amazing thing.

On the flip side, I noticed that players either succeeded everything (with just a simple roll under mechanic without modifiers/Target Numbers and high stats the challenge can become minimal) or they had low stats and became frustrated at the constant failure.

Finally- without skills in the game, I’d watch the Wizard with the 16 Wisdom do the tracking and shit while the Ranger with the 10 Wisdom sat and picked their nose. I know that this can happen in roll over/TN based games as well, but it was more pronounced to me here. There have been several hacks, houserules, etc. that have come out in the Into the Odd (ItO) and The Black Hack (TBH) communities to attempt to resolve this- and many of them are damned good.

I’ve been running Death is the New Pink (which uses Into the Odd) and Barbarians of the Ruined Earth (or other Black Hack games) for over a year now, so I’ve gotten to see where issues/etc. for my players come up and what seems fun (mechanically) and what doesn’t.

In the end, I decided to move towards a TN/Roll equal to or over mechanic. 1- I enjoy the fuck out of rolling a 20 and the thrill/dread or rolling a 1.

2- I feel (and this is totally my opinion here) that a game with small range of modifiers has a wider berth for long term play, and as my goal was to attempt to create something I’d want to run for one shots, con play, and long term- this sat right with me.

3- Those modifiers help to facilitate an easy mechanic for skills that help flush out characters to feel interesting/varied.

After that I needed to decided on the whole gambit of modifiers, etc.. but more on that later:) #diy_productions_rules_dev_notes

First post in this series.

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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

6 responses to “DIY RPG Productions Rules Development Notes- Starting at the Beginning

  • rolemasterblog

    If you want to keep the ‘thrill’ of rolling a 20 then you are probably right in your logic.

    I have seen people get really excited over blackjack based systems.

    I haven’t written a game yet that uses one but I have one scheduled for 2019/2020.

    Blackjack systems give a nice sense of graduated success. What you lose is that it is less DnD and by extension less OSR.

  • wrathofzombie

    Cool cool. I’m not a huge fan of card-based systems and prefer to roll d20s. That’s just me though. It’s where my heart is.

    I didn’t use cards when I played Savage Worlds, either. The only system I’ve used cards in is Demon City. 😀

  • tidfisk

    This is super interesting to me. I’ve always liked the idea of roll-under because it bakes the difficulty target number into the ability scores. To me, there has always been something a bit too subjective about Target Numbers. Roll-Under does have all of the pitfalls you mentioned above, though, which is also frustrating. I think reading DCC is what finally made me come to terms with the fact that Roll-Over has the most flexibility and provides the best experience. Looking forward to seeing where you take these posts. Thanks for blogging!

  • wrathofzombie

    @tidfisk- Yeah, DCC is awesome:). When I was pondering what to do with roll over/TN- I was worried about crazy ass escalation (and I’ll cover this a little more in a future post). That was a major pitfall of 3.x/Pathfinder. I decided on very hard TN- Easy 5; Moderate 10; Difficult 15; Hard 19: Impossible 22. I wanted it to stop after that. No Heroic 25, Epic 30; Godlike 40 level shit.

    It also needed to be a smaller range of TN as I limit the amount of modifiers, so there isn’t the huge pool of addition to slog through.

  • Mark Kroening

    I think that Rolemasterblog was actually talking about Blackjack systems in the way like Whitehack is. Roll under, but the closer you are to your ability score the better. And hitting your score exactly is a crit!

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