August 20th, 2021

net zombie!

RPG-a-Day 20: Foundation

Today’s prompt for RPG-a-Day is ‘Foundation’.

RPGs tend to have a lot of rules for all kinds of different thing. But as we had established earlier, all an RPG really needs is a task resolution mechanic. For instance, in D&D you roll a D20, add or subtract your skill modifier, and if you beat the target number, you succeed. In Rolemaster, you roll a D100, add your skill bonus and any circumstantial bonuses (or maluses) and if you beat 100, you succeed. In Amber, if your score for the attribute being tested is higher than the attribute of your opponent, you succeed.
Of course, you can add lots of stuff on top of that, but if the system is well-designed, it will keep using the foundational resolution mechanic for everything. Some games insist on different things for different subsystems, giving you for instance one set of rules for combat and another set of rules for magic. Such games often chase ‘realism’, but realism in RPG rulesets is kind of bad because it’s too complicated. And rulesets that are too complicated give a bad play experience.

Crossposted from my blog. Comment here or at the original post.