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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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 ...
30
votes
5answers
4k views

How many rolls does it take to get to six coins?

I'm designing a microRPG and need some help calculating probabilities so I can make an informed decision about how many coins to start with (controlling session duration and early-game frustration). ...
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 ...
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 ...
27
votes
3answers
2k views

What does “Forgeite” mean? Where does it come from?

I have heard usage of the word "Forgeite" as a descriptive name for a certain kind of games - in most recent example it was Dogs in the Vineyard. It is implied that it has something to do with Forge ...
27
votes
3answers
868 views

What is the reason behind “one level at a time” level advancement in D&D?

During the answering to this question about large experience point gains getting truncated -- when a single XP award would raise a character more than one level at a time -- the following question ...
27
votes
4answers
1k 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 ...
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 ...
26
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
20
votes
2answers
2k views

What success rate design is the most “fun”?

I'm looking for researched answers here, not just your feeling of what you like best. I'm setting up a lego based rpg for a bunch of young children, and my friend and I are trying to figure out what "...
19
votes
2answers
4k views

Is the omission of a racial +2 to wisdom intentional?

In the 5th edition of Dungeons and Dragons, the selection of a race determines one or more bonuses to a primary attribute. For example, humans get +1 to all six attributes, while a wood elf gets +2 to ...
18
votes
3answers
1k 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 ...
18
votes
1answer
736 views

What Influence Did Sean K. Reynolds Have on Pathfinder's Monk?

As one of the designers, Sean K. Reynolds has a lot of influence on many aspects of the Pathfinder Role-Playing Game. With that said, I would like to learn more about his influence on the Monk's ...
17
votes
6answers
897 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
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 ...
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'...
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 ...
17
votes
1answer
2k views

Why did the sorcerer/wizard spell lists diverge in D&D 5e?

The party I am playing with is currently playing Pathfinder, and we are considering switching to 5e within the new couple of weeks. I have been doing research on the difference with Sorcerers between ...
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 ...
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,...
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 ...
16
votes
5answers
895 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
4answers
6k 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 ...
15
votes
5answers
2k views

Is there a one-word replacement for resistance to magic?

Is there a one-word term that's understood by role-playing gamers to mean resistance to magical attacks, in the same way that many role-playing gamers would quickly recognize armor to mean resistance ...
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 ...
15
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
15
votes
10answers
2k 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
1k 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 ...
15
votes
3answers
1k views

Are there advantages to descending AC?

From a game design standpoint, are there any advantages to descending AC? I've tagged this D&D because I think this was the most popular game which required a low AC all the way to the year 2000 ...
15
votes
2answers
871 views

What are the major design/philosophical differences between Dresden Files and Fate Core?

I've read the Fate Core rulebook and am starting to read the Dresden Files: Your Story and Your World books. I am looking to describe the differences between Dresden Files and Fate to friends. If ...
15
votes
4answers
1k 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 ...
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 ...
14
votes
3answers
438 views

How do I find playtesters?

Obviously the first tester group would be your own group. But beyond that? It would seem to make sense to have at least more than one group test out your game, as different groups want different ...
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
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 ...
13
votes
7answers
2k 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
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
13
votes
2answers
276 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. ...
13
votes
4answers
310 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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
12
votes
3answers
9k 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
3answers
941 views

How can I test a system I am creating?

I'm currently trying to create a fairly basic system for running table top role playing games that is loosely based on my experience with Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition and Pathfinder. By system, I ...
11
votes
9answers
1k 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 ...