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New RPGs - Order of Design

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Renegade_Productions:

--- Quote from: AgentBJ09;1123650 ---I'm curious to know, when designing new RPGs, once the basic idea is decided upon, what is a useful design priority to follow.

Here's what I have been trying as an example:
1. Attributes and Skills, or equivilent
2. Derived Attributes and How To Calculate Them
3. Some, not all, Special Systems
4. How to build a character
5. ...

At the moment, I'm stuck trying to figure out if I'm missing something by step 4, or if I need to fully plan step 5 and onwards. (Hopefully what gets posted here can help other designers as well as me.)
--- End quote ---

Figured I'd give a bit more detailed post to explain my thought process, and what I'm getting at with this thread.

Since all characters in RPGs have a skeleton to them by way of Stats, I would start my design process (Step #1) with the core aspects of a character. D&D 3.5, the edition I started with, began with deciding on a class, rolling 3/4D6 to decide Attributes, and then deciding on Skills based on which Class was chosen. Since my game has no classes, only creature lines similar to Old/New World of Darkness, I'd start by coming up with the Attributes and Skills.

In this case, 7 Attributes and 24 to 28 Skills.

For Step #2, I would decide on what Derived Attributes all characters would have and how to calculate them. In my case, the Derived Attributes are things like Attribute Dice (When rolling 3D6, certain sets of three numbers, like 11, 12, and 13, mean you get a set number of dice to roll when that Stat is tested), Base Skill Points (If your character during creation is aged 18/19, you get only 12 Skill Points, then certain age thresholds from there give more), and Health (Similar to Skill Points, age determines the starting pool). There are other aspects to this that came into play later.

For Step #3, because I now have the basics for a human template, I can begin adding Special Systems directly related to the creatures a player can choose from. These get some basic mechanics as well. Example: Control Shape for Werewolves (New and Young Werewolves begin with a pool of 5 dice, which decreases with age and moon cycles. All dice must roll a certain threshold (5) or higher to cause a shift. Getting slapped or feeling like your life is in peril drops this to 4. If something is making you upset or angry, raise this target to 6.)

Once the basic Special Systems are decided on, I went to Step #4. This is when I started making slight alterations to what was done in Step #2, things like adding extra Skill Points based on the number of Attribute Dice for certain Attributes, and making some refinements to creature specific abilities/stats (more Health and slight instant regeneration for Werewolves after and while changing shape).

This is where I'm at, and why I asked is it better to get the initial four steps as good as I can before moving on, or should I move on and just keep in mind "Edit It Later".

Chris24601:

--- Quote from: AgentBJ09;1123650 ---I'm curious to know, when designing new RPGs, once the basic idea is decided upon, what is a useful design priority to follow.

Here's what I have been trying as an example:
1. Attributes and Skills, or equivilent
2. Derived Attributes and How To Calculate Them
3. Some, not all, Special Systems
4. How to build a character
5. ...

At the moment, I'm stuck trying to figure out if I'm missing something by step 4, or if I need to fully plan step 5 and onwards. (Hopefully what gets posted here can help other designers as well as me.)
--- End quote ---

For me the order of design is this...

1) Concept (you've said you've got this worked out).

2) Design a core task resolution system: when a character tries to do something, how do you determine success or failure. dice total vs. difficulty? Opposed rolls? Percentage checks? Success counting dice pool? card draws? trait bidding system?

It doesn't have to be the same for everything, but having the right system can either work with (ex. using playing cards for a Wild West game can be quite thematic) or against (ex. rolling on a table for a LARP-based game) your concept.

Also important at this stage is figuring out odds of success using your system for an average unskilled person, a skilled expert and the best-of-the best as these will help you gauge the values you need for attributes, skills, difficulties, etc.

3) What does a character in your setting need to make checks for?

Make a list of what you think most characters will need to make checks for and, if there's a bunch, rank them in terms of how common those checks are (numeric, stars, whatever works).

Then take your list and start grouping tasks together into similar categories with an eye towards creating three to eight "piles." These are going to the attributes your system needs with individual tasks becoming either skills (for a highly detailed system), parts of a skill (for a less detailed system) or a general task (for a system that doesn't want the detail of skills at all or where you think skill should never apply).

Pay attention to particularly small piles and/or those with many low-ranked tasks and for piles that contain lots of high-ranked tasks. Those could end up as universal "dump stats" or "super stats" respectively. Try moving some tasks around until the piles are fairly even if you want your attributes to be about equally useful.

4) Make your attribute and skill lists and figure out any other traits you're going to need (ex. hit points and damage to measure the success of combat task checks) and how to determine those (ex. From one or more attributes or skills, randomly rolled, set value).

5) Figure out how a character is built. If you've got superstats or dump stats you should look at either random generation (ex. old school D&D) or different costs using build points (ex. HERO System). If reasonably balanced with each other, then a more general point-buy or attribute array system might be where you look (or go completely random since you'll still theoretically get something playable on average).

A Lifepath system can be used in relation to any of those.

Your concept will help a lot here. If campaigns are intended to be short or characters fairly disposable, then random generation can speed up creation by removing a lot of choices from the player. Games where players will expect to be using the same character for a long haul then giving them more control via point buys or arrays will make them more invested in the resulting character.

6) Now start filling in all the supporting details: opponents, allies, terrain, equipment, special abilities, etc. For these sub-systems you just need to run through steps 1-5 within a more focused area (spellcasting for example) to figure out what's needed and then figure out how that attaches to the main system.

At least this is the approach I've followed.

Renegade_Productions:

--- Quote from: Chris24601;1124447 ---For me the order of design is this...

1) Concept (you've said you've got this worked out).

2) Design a core task resolution system: when a character tries to do something, how do you determine success or failure. dice total vs. difficulty? Opposed rolls? Percentage checks? Success counting dice pool? card draws? trait bidding system?

It doesn't have to be the same for everything, but having the right system can either work with (ex. using playing cards for a Wild West game can be quite thematic) or against (ex. rolling on a table for a LARP-based game) your concept.

Also important at this stage is figuring out odds of success using your system for an average unskilled person, a skilled expert and the best-of-the best as these will help you gauge the values you need for attributes, skills, difficulties, etc.

3) What does a character in your setting need to make checks for?

Make a list of what you think most characters will need to make checks for and, if there's a bunch, rank them in terms of how common those checks are (numeric, stars, whatever works).

Then take your list and start grouping tasks together into similar categories with an eye towards creating three to eight "piles." These are going to the attributes your system needs with individual tasks becoming either skills (for a highly detailed system), parts of a skill (for a less detailed system) or a general task (for a system that doesn't want the detail of skills at all or where you think skill should never apply).

Pay attention to particularly small piles and/or those with many low-ranked tasks and for piles that contain lots of high-ranked tasks. Those could end up as universal "dump stats" or "super stats" respectively. Try moving some tasks around until the piles are fairly even if you want your attributes to be about equally useful.

4) Make your attribute and skill lists and figure out any other traits you're going to need (ex. hit points and damage to measure the success of combat task checks) and how to determine those (ex. From one or more attributes or skills, randomly rolled, set value).

5) Figure out how a character is built. If you've got superstats or dump stats you should look at either random generation (ex. old school D&D) or different costs using build points (ex. HERO System). If reasonably balanced with each other, then a more general point-buy or attribute array system might be where you look (or go completely random since you'll still theoretically get something playable on average).

A Lifepath system can be used in relation to any of those.

Your concept will help a lot here. If campaigns are intended to be short or characters fairly disposable, then random generation can speed up creation by removing a lot of choices from the player. Games where players will expect to be using the same character for a long haul then giving them more control via point buys or arrays will make them more invested in the resulting character.

6) Now start filling in all the supporting details: opponents, allies, terrain, equipment, special abilities, etc. For these sub-systems you just need to run through steps 1-5 within a more focused area (spellcasting for example) to figure out what's needed and then figure out how that attaches to the main system.

At least this is the approach I've followed.
--- End quote ---

Sounds like a good route to follow; I would be at Step 6 with what I have, so I need to go forward with the newer stuff and refine the existing as needed.

Chris24601:

--- Quote from: AgentBJ09;1124556 ---Sounds like a good route to follow; I would be at Step 6 with what I have, so I need to go forward with the newer stuff and refine the existing as needed.
--- End quote ---
Well, also remember the unwritten Step 7-9;

7) Playtest, Playtest and then Playtest again; ideally with different groups.
8) Unless all issues are over tiny details (in which case you're done) revise based on user feedback.
9) Go to Step 7.

SirParadox:

--- Quote from: Renegade_Productions on March 07, 2020, 08:40:31 PM ---I'm curious to know, when designing new RPGs, once the basic idea is decided upon, what is a useful design priority to follow.

Here's what I have been trying as an example:
1. Attributes and Skills, or equivilent
2. Derived Attributes and How To Calculate Them
3. Some, not all, Special Systems
4. How to build a character
5. ...

At the moment, I'm stuck trying to figure out if I'm missing something by step 4, or if I need to fully plan step 5 and onwards. (Hopefully what gets posted here can help other designers as well as me.)

--- End quote ---

I started with the basic intro to the system world then a brief outline of species.
Then I started with the attributes how they are determined
Next I started on random tables for boosting attributes creating unique characters and such
I have a baseline skill system figured out and a starting combat system.
Lore for each species, GM lore, world lore and other tidbits ad they come to me
Once I have everything ready I would put the intro lore first as it already is,  species description outlines, then character creation, more detailed species information, skills, combat, then equipment
I would add in the lore not attached to a given species, and other interesting tidbits as needed and appropriate.
Lastly would be the GM section with lore, suggestions, guides for running, enemy information, critters etc..

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