Questions about the design of RPGs. More specific tags may apply—click “info” or “learn more…” for a guide. Not used for homebrewing, rules, or house rules questions.

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9
votes
1answer
443 views

Why does (A)D&D change so much between editions? [closed]

Most systems, as far as I know, stay mostly the same between editions. Yet Dungeons and Dragons has had major changes between almost every edition, with the skill systems, combat abilities/feats, ...
2
votes
4answers
542 views

Handling many modifiers on a probability curve

So I've been working on a 2d20 based system for a side project, and it's playing out as a hybrid of a roleplaying system and a simulation-heavy combat game. This means that the engine has quickly ...
8
votes
2answers
1k views

Creating my own RPG but having a hard time. Need advice

I've been playing tabletop RPGs for 20 years and I finally mustered the courage to create my own RPG. The problem is that I've gotten very discouraged as of late. I asked my local gaming community ...
17
votes
2answers
474 views

Incentivizing Player Betrayal?

I'm working on a game where the players have a competitive goal (hoarding as much money as possible) and there will eventually be a reckoning where the amount of money they have hoarded away will ...
7
votes
3answers
559 views

Do universal rules systems without any implied setting whatsoever exist?

Is it possible for a system to be universal without implying anything about setting? If it isn't, why? There are lots of universal systems, but they all seem to have mechanics that pin down ...
27
votes
10answers
2k views

How do I balance game interactions between a giant mecha that can level cities and its pilot?

I have had recurring trouble with a subject I like, and would like to implement into my games, but can't find a good way to do so: mechas (big huge robots) From a system point of view, it is usually ...
12
votes
6answers
767 views

Is the concept of a mutable game system viable?

I've been toying around with some prototypes for game systems, and I'm wondering if "mutable" RPGs (games where the rules of the game are represented and can be interacted with/changed in game) are ...
3
votes
2answers
197 views

Combat - What is the chance of hitting someone on Range? [closed]

I'm designing a game system, and am working on the combat system. I have several questions, and I'm trying to create a system that is as realistic as possible. Sadly I have no experience with guns or ...
4
votes
4answers
570 views

“High on Magic” - how original is it? [closed]

I have written a RPG called "Chuť magie" - it's in Czech and it means literary "Taste of Magic", but I'd definitely call it "High on Magic" in English. I'm not planning to translate it to English soon,...
5
votes
3answers
287 views

How to implement dual-classing in a non-levelled RPG game?

I'm working on an alternate ruleset for a tabletop pen-and-paper RPG (like D&D). Recently I've been toying the idea of abolishing a level system. However, I don't want to remove the ability for a ...
5
votes
5answers
273 views

Character turn mechanic that is both detailed and handles long actions

We play according to a homemade-ish freeform-ish system. I, as a GM, have a lot of fun with the system as I morph it. And the benefit for the players is that the whole thing is a one-pager. But we ...
6
votes
4answers
938 views

What can be done to maintain balance in a magic system in which mages must construct their own spells?

I'd like to build a magic system in which every spell is a one-off. A spell is created to serve a particular purpose and is cast once. I'm thinking that the time and place of the casting would be ...
10
votes
3answers
476 views

How do I make headshot rules interesting?

I'm working on a unified conflict system for a lightweight setting-agnostic RPG ruleset. The beta version is available on my website, although I have changed a lot of rules since that was released. My ...
10
votes
2answers
871 views

How can I introduce Life Paths to character generation?

The first time I played* Traveller, I found myself blown away by the detailed character creation, featuring year by year (4 year chunks actually) break down of how your character got where they are ...
13
votes
10answers
4k views

What are common design flaws of build-point game systems?

I'm designing my own RPG system and I want to avoid the most widely-recognized flaws, loopholes, and exploits that build-point character creation systems usually suffer from. What are the most common ...
13
votes
2answers
2k views

What didn't Monte Cook like about 4e?

It seems to be an established tenet of the conventional wisdom that Monte Cook does not like Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition. However, I came late to this party and never read the criticisms Monte ...
26
votes
16answers
4k views

How to design game elements other than combat? [closed]

Most RPGs I know about and have played are fighting-centered. That doesn't mean that all gaming is only about fighting, but that most of the rules and character abilities are primarily useful in ...
1
vote
1answer
451 views

Combat and exp/gold reward equations

I have a pen and paper game that I'm creating, but I'm running across issues in keeping the ratios between high and low level players similar in the battle and reward equations. Obviously a higher ...
17
votes
5answers
877 views

Cooperative character building?

I'm aware of games where the players cooperatively build elements of the story world (I hear Dresden Files does this), but are there any where the players cooperatively build their characters? What I'...
11
votes
2answers
549 views

Water and electricity spells - RL physics approach [closed]

I like to master (and play) in a world I can believe (even fantastic ones). This question comes from D&D3.5 but applies to every game where reality collides with things you can't (usually) do. So ...
15
votes
5answers
2k views

How to design a game for sociopathic characters? [closed]

A few years ago, I played a D&D 3.5 game in Forgotten Realms with an evil party. The characters (played by my brother and me) were sociopaths, bent on exploiting anyone and everyone. The game ...
4
votes
3answers
833 views

Which systems use a dice pool *and* highest score mechanic?

I'm trying to design a system with a dice pool mechanic that looks at the highest roll in the pool as well as total number of successes? I want to show the quality of a success and it's extent. ...
17
votes
6answers
522 views

What are some examples of games that don't invent history or language? [closed]

IE, games that don't make up words or names in languages belonging to the game-verse, but borrow as exactly as possible from history, folklore, etymology, and mythology. (What is this type of game ...
13
votes
3answers
272 views

What kinds of player contributions work well and under what circumstances?

Introduction In Amber diceless roleplaying game players get extra points for building their characters by committing to player contributions, such as: Writing a diary, writing game reports, drawing ...
6
votes
4answers
310 views

How can adversarial game mechanics be added to a game?

Some systems have the concept of an adversarial relationship between the game master and the players. These games typically have a series of mechanics to enforce this behavior and prevent one side ...
7
votes
6answers
753 views

Chuck Norris player character - can I keep true to the internet meme while still running a balanced game?

One of my group mates has been quite obsessed with creating a Chuck Norris inspired character. He's playing a martial arts heavy, assassin flavors of Rogue, in a DnD campaign, which works well enough ...
6
votes
2answers
452 views

Handling merchant inventory with lots of items?

Ok, so I'm converting a roguelike video game to a tabletop game (GearHead, if anyone's interested), and I'm running into a catch where I want to keep the tabletop game essentially compatible with the ...
8
votes
3answers
993 views

Do these stats cover enough of a person's ability?

I've had this thought in my head for a while, as I'm developing my game, but this question really sparked me into posing the question. In the game I'm developing, peoples normal stats/attributes aren'...
9
votes
4answers
543 views

What should be included in a 'getting started' player handout? [closed]

When playing a new RPG system and setting, it is helpful to have important game information in front of you. For my free RPG Icar, I intend on having a single side of paper with reference rules and ...
16
votes
6answers
267 views

How do I ensure separation between historical events and the game world while still feeling historical?

I am running a pulp WW2 campaign where the players are deep inside Germany in 1940 uncovering secret projects, getting involved in the occult and discovering ancient powers that the Third Reich are ...
10
votes
4answers
784 views

Guide to writing an RPG - Examples inline or at the end?

I am writing a guide on how to write a free RPG on my blog. The guide has a series of techniques and tips from inspiration to playtest. I have been writing an RPG as I go along as an example of using ...
5
votes
5answers
713 views

Why do Combat encounters and Skill checks give the same XP reward?

Not much to elaborate on. Reading the DnD4e rules, it sort of bugs me that a "skill challenge" counts the same as a combat encounter. They don't seem to be very equatable to me, both in terms of ...
16
votes
5answers
892 views

Co-operative story-telling mechanics

What are some existing or potential game mechanics that encourage players to "take the reins" a bit more and involve themselves in a story-telling perspective? Specifically, are there any examples of ...
15
votes
8answers
501 views

Can rules changes fix interpersonal problems at the table?

Can rules tweaks help deal with some of the common interpersonal problems at the gaming table? For example: Someone is not really interested in the game, and reads and ignores play until they ...
13
votes
5answers
6k views

How do you create a new D&D 4E character class?

I'm a somewhat experienced game designer, yet creating a 30-level character class for Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition intimidates the hell out of me. Where do I start? Is there a list of kinds of ...
10
votes
4answers
999 views

What is an “ashcan” release?

What are "ashcans"? What are their purpose? Where does the name come from?
13
votes
7answers
496 views

Role-playing within role-playing

Suppose that the PCs are actors that have to play roles in film, television, theatre. Or that they are some sort of spirits that process other people and make them do their bidding without letting ...
5
votes
3answers
418 views

What games are based around single historical events? [closed]

I recently came across the game Montsegur 1244, which I think looks rather interesting, and it made me wonder whether there are any other games that centre around a single historical event in that way....