Issues related to designing RPG system mechanics.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

31
votes
14answers
1k views

What kinds of rules promote good team cohesion?

It seems like a lot of roleplaying games have no problems with players playing antisocial characters who can't really be part of the team. I've been part of groups (in D&D) with both a noble ...
27
votes
16answers
3k views

What alternatives to hit points are there for abstracting wounds?

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 ...
25
votes
3answers
1k views

Did having a 'Caller' player positively influence the gameplay in Moldvay's Basic D&D?

In the 1980 Basic D&D rules (Gygax and Arneston, Moldvay editing), the following text appears in Part 4: The Adventure: THE CALLER: One player should be chosen to tell the DM about the plans ...
24
votes
16answers
2k views

How to design game elements other than combat?

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 ...
24
votes
4answers
778 views

Why do characters with a high prime requisite gain bonus XP?

In earlier versions of Dungeons & Dragons, a character with a high ability score in their class' prime requisite receives a bonus to all experience he earns. For example, the 1983 Frank Mentzer ...
22
votes
10answers
963 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 ...
19
votes
9answers
665 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 ...
19
votes
6answers
536 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 ...
17
votes
6answers
692 views

Is the use of XP as a narrative currency for both GMs and players a novel idea?

In Monte Cook's new roleplaying game Numenera, XP is used as a narrative currency not only by the GM but by the players as well. Taken from his design diaries: Say the PCs find a hidden console ...
17
votes
6answers
475 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 ...
16
votes
10answers
726 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 ...
16
votes
5answers
713 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 ...
16
votes
6answers
237 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 ...
16
votes
5answers
612 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
3answers
584 views

Why is spellcasting not improvisational, like martial combat is?

From my reading of the D&D 5e PHB, as well as other answers on this site (see Are melee combatants limited to standing around saying "I attack"?), it appears that martial combat is ...
15
votes
10answers
655 views

Difference in basing damage on degree of success compared to a separate roll

So I am thinking about my own homebrewed system, and am wondering how to implement damage. I am considering two types of system here: Damage is rolled separately (base on weapon), and success of the ...
15
votes
5answers
611 views

How would you play test an RPG before all of its rules are complete?

I've been writing my own RPG, mainly to address some of the flaws / frustrations I've come across in other games. Luckily, I've found a few willing participants to help test the rules and mechanics in ...
14
votes
2answers
937 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 for the game-system? How does it affect the fun of the players? Why was this ...
14
votes
4answers
996 views

How to improve my fast-paced scene

I recently got myself into short forms RPG as a GM and I really love the potential! I tried a short game (3 hours) and it went OK, but I am not quite satisfied yet. I need more practice, that's for ...
14
votes
3answers
610 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 ...
13
votes
7answers
1k views

D&D: How to find out if someone is a spellcaster?

I know that one can use the spell "Detect magic" to find out whether any spells are being cast or active. But is it also possible, using some spell, feat or whatever, to find out whether a person is ...
13
votes
3answers
237 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 ...
13
votes
2answers
232 views

Who should be addressed in an RPG rule text?

When reading RPG rules text, I have noticed that the text sometimes rather inconsistently switches between assuming that the player is doing the reading and that the character is doing the reading. ...
12
votes
10answers
2k 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 ...
12
votes
6answers
659 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 ...
12
votes
3answers
4k views

Common Dice Mechanics [closed]

I'm thinking of doing a study/paper/educational-piece about different dice rolling systems in RPGs and other games. I've played RPGs in the past but it's been years so I wanted to be sure I knew the ...
12
votes
7answers
422 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 ...
12
votes
4answers
158 views

How to add challenge to a RPG-like experience for a three year old

This is an offshoot of this question, and comes in part from a comment recommending this blog post about "Advanced Doggies and Dragons", a game developed for a four year old by a gaming Dad. I have a ...
11
votes
8answers
10k 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 ...
11
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
11
votes
5answers
461 views

Looking for game with a specific initiative system

In working on a new game system, I'm looking for any relatively-balanced system that uses initiative in a specific way. I'm just looking for a reference point and inspiration, or if anyone else has ...
10
votes
9answers
622 views

In need of general tips for making more interesting and fun battles

I've been a Game Master for about 5 years now and I've mantained the same group of players for that long, we're all young gamers (I being the oldest with 22 years old) and since we're not from USA we ...
10
votes
4answers
669 views

What is an “ashcan” release?

What are "ashcans"? What are their purpose? Where does the name come from?
10
votes
3answers
352 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
4answers
592 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 ...
10
votes
3answers
576 views

Why Does Spellcasting Have Levels?

I was reading this question, and it occurred to me: I don't know why the designers of 5e chose this magic system. There are a lot of spellcasting systems out there, and I want to know why they choose ...
10
votes
3answers
478 views

Water and electricity spells - RL physics approach

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 ...
10
votes
1answer
373 views

Recommendations for game mechanics that emphasize reagent or component based spellcasting

I'm researching spell component systems for a 3.5e campaign. In 3.5e, spell components are an inconvenience at best and a waste of time at worst. I'd like to homebrew a solution drawing from mechanics ...
9
votes
4answers
714 views

What are the best ways to utilize Wisdom and Charisma?

This question primarily refers to a fantasy RPG called "One Step Beyond", published back in 1989. It had five ability scores: Strength, Mental Strength, Will, Agility, Health. These were essentially a ...
9
votes
1answer
319 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, ...
9
votes
5answers
444 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
583 views

What constitutes a “story game”?

In Dealing with players of vastly different skill levels?, I got into a discussion with @SevenSidedDie about characterizing Dungeon World as a story game. @SevenSidedDie stated that: @neontapir ...
9
votes
5answers
331 views

What are the essential design features of a combat system that make it scalable from single combat to mass warfare?

My question stems from this post by p.marino, as it raised my curiosity. I do not wish to spend the time and money to acquire and read Silhouette Core. Furthermore, I lack the knowledge of piles of ...
9
votes
6answers
419 views

Game design question. What sort of effect does HP as a resource have on a system?

(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 ...
8
votes
4answers
2k views

What are the major innovations in Dungeon World compared to D&D 3.5/Pf/4e?

In various comments on this site, DW was mentioned as [Dungeon world/Apocalypse World] is really more required reading for any designer today working on innovation in mechanics Having read the ...
8
votes
3answers
182 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
490 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
186 views

What purpose does keeping Vancian Spell-casting in Legend serve?

I've got to admit, I'm somewhat confused by the option to keep Vancian-style spell slots for the Shaman and Tactician casting tracks. Most tracks in Legend either provide abilities that are at-will or ...
8
votes
3answers
820 views

Structure for a political sandbox game

I am looking for a fairly structured approach to creating, preparing for, and running a political game. To be more precise, I am looking for the following: A structured approach or even a game ...
7
votes
3answers
367 views

What about “Save-or-Die” spells makes them so powerful? Are they balanced as is, or require tweaking?

On reading guides on classes, most notably caster classes, near every guide recommends that the player take the "Save-or-Die" or "Save-or-Suck" spells. Usually, these end up being status effects. I ...