Questions tagged [game-design]

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

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164
votes
6answers
12k views

How to let my players fail their rolls intentionally, but covertly?

I'm experimenting with some pen-and-paper role-playing involving characters with hidden agendas. To foster a proper sense of paranoia, I want these hidden agendas to be unknown to not only the other ...
68
votes
18answers
15k views

What dice mechanic gives a bell curve distribution that narrows and increases mean as skill increases?

I'm looking for a dice mechanic that produces a bell curve at all skill levels. I also want it to increase accuracy and precision as a character's skill increases — this basically means better average ...
54
votes
3answers
5k views

Is there any known limit for how many dice RPG players are comfortable adding up?

After reading a few RPG systems that use successes and others that use dice whose shown number are totalled, I came to the conclusion that personally I prefer adding up a maximum of 3–4 numbers and ...
39
votes
4answers
2k 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 ...
37
votes
14answers
3k 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 ...
37
votes
2answers
29k views

Why did the designers make Werewolves *immune* to most non-silvered damage? [closed]

The Werewolf's statistics are that of a CR1 monster, even though it is listed as CR3 in the Monster Manual, presumably as a result of playtesting. By my personal experience with pop culture, ...
33
votes
6answers
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). ...
32
votes
17answers
15k 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 ...
28
votes
1answer
4k views

Were “class tiers” in D&D and Pathfinder made on purpose?

As I read it everywhere, classes in the games I mentioned in the title differ in power a lot. This takes place in 3.5e and wasn't fixed in Pathfinder. Some search indicates that this problem isn't ...
28
votes
3answers
3k 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 ...
28
votes
2answers
2k views

How do I get started learning how to design my own RPG?

Let's say I have an idea for my own tabletop roleplaying game. How do I begin to learn about how to design and publish my RPG? In particular: What do I need to know about? And how should I learn? ...
28
votes
2answers
849 views

Are the design goals for 5e currently available?

Numerous questions and answers refer to the design goals of 5th edition, and if a reference is given, it is to a no-longer valid link at wizards.com. Are the design goals of 5e currently available, ...
28
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
27
votes
16answers
7k 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 ...
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 ...
22
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
22
votes
6answers
912 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 ...
22
votes
3answers
3k 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 ...
22
votes
3answers
743 views

How can I find online playtesting groups to playtest my game?

I'm just putting the finishing touches on the 9th iteration of my self-designed RPG system (with its own setting), and though it was woefully rocky in its early days I think that it's really coming ...
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
3k 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 "...
20
votes
4answers
8k 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 ...
19
votes
6answers
1k 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 ...
19
votes
10answers
3k 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 ...
19
votes
4answers
1k 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 ...
19
votes
1answer
16k views

What have the designers said is the reason that Druids don't have animal companions?

In Pathfinder (and possibly 3.5, I'm not sure), Druids get an Animal Companion as a class feature. Rangers do as well, but their Druid level is equal to that of their Ranger level -3. In D&D 5th ...
18
votes
3answers
4k 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 ...
18
votes
1answer
1k 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 ...
18
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
18
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
17
votes
9answers
3k views

How can the probability of a fumble decrease linearly with more dice?

I'm working on a simplified RPG system that uses only D6s, and I want a mechanic for fumbles/critical fails. Depending on how good the player character is, they have 1-5 dice to roll and they have to ...
17
votes
6answers
563 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
1k 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
608 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
5answers
2k views

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

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 ...
17
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
16
votes
5answers
4k 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 ...
16
votes
10answers
2k 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
8answers
612 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 ...
16
votes
9answers
412 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
1k 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 ...
16
votes
7answers
2k 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 ...
16
votes
5answers
2k 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 ...
16
votes
3answers
1k 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 ...
15
votes
8answers
45k 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 ...
15
votes
7answers
2k views

How to handle falling down during LARP combat?

I am currently working on writing the combat rules for a Dishonored LARP with a team, and we are stuck on how to proceed with a certain point: handling falling. Sometimes during LARP melee combat my ...
15
votes
7answers
569 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 ...
15
votes
1answer
2k views

What was Burning Wheel made for?

Of course all RPG systems have many characteristics, and all of them are made to improve or impede some part or another of the experience. My question is not about what different features Burning ...
15
votes
4answers
525 views

How can I run a session where two opposing parties play at the same time?

A player of mine had an interesting concept where two parties who are opposed to each other would play at the same time in the same session. In essence the plot would be a group of thieves have been ...
14
votes
11answers
6k views

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

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 ...