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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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 ...
21
votes
9answers
1k views

What game elements are essential for a playtest?

I'm currently designing a game, and I have most of the elements of the game sorted in my head. I'm in the process of codifying them, and I wanted to know what game elements are essential for a ...
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 ...
10
votes
2answers
882 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
478 views

How can I simplify a series of rolls without changing probability too heavily?

Ok, I'm working on a combat system converted from a video game to a tabletop game, and I'd appreciate some feedback on how I can make my combat defense system work. Currently attacking is handled as ...
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 ...
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 ...
8
votes
3answers
996 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'...
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
4answers
950 views

How necessary is mechanical character advancement?

I've been fiddling around with a game system for some time (ever since the 2010 Game Chef competition) that's based around characters that are shape-shifters. Because of this, characters have a fluid ...
10
votes
4answers
338 views

How do I make players more comfortable in an unusual historical setting?

I run a lot of games/write systems set in specific historical/cultural contexts, because I like rpgs as a way to explore them and think they provide a great sense of place. However, I tend not to ...
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 ...
21
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the reason for introducing the rule for Attacks of Opportunity in D&D?

The Attacks of Opportunity are an important part in D&D and spinoffs of the game like Pathfinder. What does this rule do for the game-system? How does it affect the fun of the players? Why was ...
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 ...
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'...
12
votes
6answers
768 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 ...
36
votes
14answers
2k views

What kinds of rules promote good team cohesion?

It seems like a lot of roleplaying games quite freely allow players to play antisocial characters who can't really be part of the team. I've been part of groups (in D&D) with both a noble ...
29
votes
17answers
7k views

What alternatives to hit points are there for abstracting wounds? [closed]

I don't like hit points as an abstraction anymore. I'm interested in writing an RPG and I have some ideas for other ways of handling wounds, but I wanted to see what else was out there. MERP had ...
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 ...
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
894 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 ...
9
votes
5answers
486 views

PC characteristics overruling player intent

This question could be generalized (and thus it would probably reach more people) but is easier to consider in a given system, so I'll stick with nWoD's Storytelling. Is there a good official or ...
16
votes
10answers
934 views

What would you pick as the “four elements” of mind? [closed]

Good evening! I hope this isn't too vague, this is my first post on RPG Exchange (I see some cool conversations here, I'm happy to be a part). While doodling about with a magic system I'm developing,...
12
votes
8answers
5k views

What diceless tabletop RPG techniques are there?

I am interested in using a diceless resolution system for my roleplaying, but am not sure what my options are in that vein. I can think of basically two categories of diceless tabletop role-playing ...
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
7answers
497 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 ...
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 ...
10
votes
6answers
573 views

Game design question. What systems should I look at to see how hit points as a resource impacts gameplay?

(Sorry for the long winded intro. Since this is about a game nobody is familiar with, I'm trying to ensure that there is some amount of context before asking the actual question.) So I've got a ...
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....
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 ...
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 ...
13
votes
8answers
25k views

What could you call medical doctors in a medieval/fantasy setting?

This is a follow up to Medieval Medicine in a Fantasy Setting?. What could you call a medical doctor in a medieval/fantasy setting? I'm thinking along the lines of how an "alchemist" is more ...
21
votes
6answers
705 views

What can I learn from playtesters?

As a roleplaying game designer, I'm interested in discovering the range of useful feedback that can be solicited from external playtesters. Assume a rule-set and playtest document is all the contact I ...
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
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 ...
15
votes
8answers
502 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 ...