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Author Topic: Generic Systems vs Specific Settings  (Read 235 times)

RollingBones

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Generic Systems vs Specific Settings
« on: October 01, 2020, 08:10:06 PM »
Hi all,

I've been tinkering away for some time with our homebrewed system, and in the past few months I've really begun pulling it together into a format we hope to eventually throw on drive-thru. We have very low expectations, and consider this a mere personal project, but part of that project is taking a professional approach for it's own sake (despite the anticipated single digit financial return).

We've ended up with a quite universal system, which we use to play in a variety of settings: Low and high fantasy, 1930's eldritch horror, 50s pulp, western, space opera, etc. You get the drift. I am well aware that mechanics matched to genre tend to make better games, but there's also something to be said for being able to work one system across a variety of games, and that's where we've ended up.

My conundrum is where to focus my efforts for this first toe-dip into self-publishing.

Our basic ruleset is pretty straightforward, and of course we think it's fun and unique, or we wouldn't use it. But no matter how unique, a system without a setting has poor appeal. On the other hand, I don't want to reiterate the rules for each setting.

I cannot decide whether to simply pool all the rules together as a stand alone system, including the 'plug-ins' that enable each setting; then present the settings in their own guides. Or whether we should combine the system and a single setting into a more traditional product.

If we put it all together into a rules+setting product, let's call it 'Old-Swords', then drop a second setting called 'Space-Guns', I don't want it to be seen as "Space-Guns is just Old-Swords in space". Nor do I want to repeat a lot of material by including the main rule set over again. I mean, the basic rule set is the same, but the feel of the game is completely different. I see the rules document and the settings as quite different beasts.

Either way, we'll probably start off with free abridged rules, alongside a few PWYW one-shots. But whether we go from there to a stand alone SRD with all the extra crunch, or a more comprehensive SRD+setting is a puzzle.

I'm interested in people's thoughts.

consolcwby

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Re: Generic Systems vs Specific Settings
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2020, 12:42:49 AM »
I tend to hate generic systems and games where the setting IS the game. With that being said, one of my favorite RPG experiences was playing GURPS with Riverworld https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GURPS_Riverworld (being a fan of Farmer - this was great!). So if  you plan on going full on with settings later on, with only rules-addons, I guess GURPS would be the way to go. But such faire no longer interests me. I'm too invested in a 38 year old campaign world to bother. But good luck with the project! :)
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myleftnut

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Re: Generic Systems vs Specific Settings
« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2020, 12:55:02 AM »
If you want the book to be commercially viable you need to put setting at the forefront IMO.  I have lots of books for games I won’t ever have time to play or even if I did I won’t find players. Either way the publisher got a sale thanks to the setting. 

warwell

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Re: Generic Systems vs Specific Settings
« Reply #3 on: October 04, 2020, 06:10:55 AM »
I suspect the previous poster is correct, but I tend to the opposite. I buy a lot of rules sets, even if I don't use them. I like to read (and steal) other's innovative mechanics. I prefer generic, universal systems, but I have no interest in other people's settings. I like to make my own. I guess I'm unusual

trechriron

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Re: Generic Systems vs Specific Settings
« Reply #4 on: October 06, 2020, 04:47:48 AM »
1) Create a nice polished book of rules. No setting. Make it pay what you want.

2) Create a fantasy, sci-fi, or modern horror game (setting and all) powered by the game. Market this one.

3) Create a free quickstart for #2. Market the hell out of that.

4) Make your system open, so others can make shit for it.

5) Promote the hell out of any game made with your system.

6) Keep making setting books that don't need the core system book. Keep making quickstarts for those new setting books.

7) DO NOT change you system 52 times with each setting/campaign you publish.

Good luck. Let us know when you are live!
Trentin C Bergeron (trechriron)
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RollingBones

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Re: Generic Systems vs Specific Settings
« Reply #5 on: October 06, 2020, 09:16:56 PM »
Thanks everyone.

I think I have an idea of a path to follow. Once I have the rules polished up (which really could still take months, what with paid work getting in the way), I've been informed we're starting with our 30's Lovecraftian horror game.

Of course I'll post when we have something worthy of sharing.

In case anyone's curious, our core mechanic revolves around pools of 2d6 to 10d6, and is somewhat akin to ORE (which I've only discovered recently). One roll determines hit vs opponent's skill, hit vs armour, and damage (even hit location as an optional rule). The same mechanic is used for skill test resolution. We have an exponential difficulty scale, which means as your dice pool grows, easy tasks become much easier, but hard tasks only become somewhat easier, so "bounded accuracy" is inherent. For us, we've found it to be a happy balance of maximising simulation, and minimising rolls.

Thanks again!

trechriron

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Re: Generic Systems vs Specific Settings
« Reply #6 on: October 06, 2020, 09:46:11 PM »
Sounds nifty. Have a preview ready yet? Email list?
Trentin C Bergeron (trechriron)
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RollingBones

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Re: Generic Systems vs Specific Settings
« Reply #7 on: October 06, 2020, 10:24:02 PM »
I'm leery of releasing it for public consumption before we have a decent enough doc to really be proud of. The internet is a cruel place, and I want to make sure we're properly fortified!

trechriron

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Re: Generic Systems vs Specific Settings
« Reply #8 on: October 07, 2020, 03:34:18 AM »
I'll keep my eyes peeled here then.  8)
Trentin C Bergeron (trechriron)
Bard, Dreamer & RPG Enthusiast

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VisionStorm

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Re: Generic Systems vs Specific Settings
« Reply #9 on: October 08, 2020, 01:35:08 AM »
Interesting topic. I often ask myself the same questions if I ever get around finishing my homebrew that’s currently in the back burner. Trechriron’s suggestions sound like a solid plan. Good luck with your game!

RollingBones

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Re: Generic Systems vs Specific Settings
« Reply #10 on: October 08, 2020, 02:05:07 AM »
Thanks guys.

I'm inspired now to try and get the text for a highly abridged quickstart guide tidy, so I'll at least have something to share here, and provide you some mechanics to pillage. I'm trying to pare down to the core of the rules, until I can fit something playable on two pages (four A5 pages), plus a character sheet.

Real work on the farm never ends, meaning I can only write during the occasional evening, or rainy day. So don't hold your breath!

Even then, the good stuff will still be many (many, many) months away. Then it all needs to go the the art and layout folks... etc, etc.

Cheers!