Making A Game System

Premier kakosPremier kakos Registered User, ClubPA regular
edited September 2006 in Critical Failures
So, I'm working on my own little RPG setting and I want to use my own home rolled system, for a variety of reasons. Now, I'm not asking for a system that I should use or whatever, but I'm asking advice on what sorts of things I should think about when making a game mechanic system.

So, any suggestions on what kinds of things I need to pay attention in order to roll my own RPG system? Thanks.

Premier kakos on


  • INeedNoSaltINeedNoSalt with blood on my teeth Registered User regular
    edited September 2006
    piecemeal armor

    INeedNoSalt on
  • Aroused BullAroused Bull Registered User
    edited September 2006
    I would suggest reading a whole bunch of different systems for inspiration and to steal any bits and pieces you like. To make sure you don't have any gaps in the rules, skim through the sourcebooks of a similar system and make sure that your system covers everything major in there.

    Aroused Bull on
  • SageinaRageSageinaRage Registered User regular
    edited September 2006
    It depends a lot on the setting you're using, and how much you want the system to convey the tone, the mood, and the feel of it.

    SageinaRage on
  • Premier kakosPremier kakos Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited September 2006
    Statistically, is there anything I need to look out for?

    Premier kakos on
  • RiemannLivesRiemannLives Registered User regular
    edited September 2006
    Statistically, is there anything I need to look out for?

    Two things immediately come to mind:

    1) Be very familiar with the math of die rolls. EG: Rolling multiple dice and adding the results always produces a bell curve. The more dice you roll the less likely it is to get an extreme value (eg: on the good ol' 2d6, the odds of getting a 2 or a 12 are 1/36 but the odds of getting a 7 are 1/6).

    2) Effects that make the game more random favor the monsters (bad guys, evil robots, Coalition, whatever) over the players in the long term. EG: Critical hits, insta-kills and especially critical failures tend to do the players far more harm than good in the long run.

    If you game is set in a fantasy setting, I would suggest reading the 3.5 D&D Dungeon Master's Guide. Obviously you don't want something exactly like D&D or you would be playing that but the book has a lot of info about why the rules are how they are. Also a lot of good suggestions and ideas for any fantasy system.

    If you can find a copy also read through the rulebook for Middle Earth Roleplaying (look in used bookstores, if you are in Seattle the Half Price Books on Rosevelt in the U District probably has one). It is a conversion of the Rolemaster system and is a great example of very deadly combat with lots of crits and so forth. If you want a system where even very high level characters think twice before engaging in combat with anything this is a good example. It so happens it fits the fiction for Lord of the Rings very well and all the books are very good.

    RiemannLives on
  • laughingfuzzballlaughingfuzzball Registered User regular
    edited September 2006
    First, address why you want to make your own system. What are your goals? Why don't other systems address these goals? In what ways can you address them? Why do you want to address them?

    Find every RPG you can that sounds like it might address any of your goals. If someone has a good concept, think about why that concept works. If someone has a crappy concept, think about why it doesn't work. The goal is more to understand the concepts behind what makes a good roleplaying game, not to use the ideas themselves. Frankensystems don't work. It's also a good idea to read reviews of these systems to see what others think.

    Read every article at, and lurk and ask questions at They're helpful folk with lots of good ideas on every thing from the vaguest theory, to stat plotting, to publishing. This will probably help you adress your goals further, and will definately expose you to more systems. Don't ignore the theory bits. A game without a strong basis in theory will tend to have an unclear creative agenda and lack in depth.

    The most important thing about statistics (assuming you're using dice) is how random (rolled), set (character stats), and variable (anything else that varies in a non-random fashion) inter-relate in your system. You don't have to crunch a whole lot of numbers, but have a very firm grasp on the trends. Will a 'low powered' character tend to be incredibly random, while a 'high-powered' one will be certain? Vice versa? Do outside influences alter how random a roll is, or just randomness in relation to total values?

    Once you get a first draft drawn up, playtest it constantly. Once you've played through it and picked it apart enough that you begin to despise it and everything associated with it, you're nearly done with that phase. If you're ever completely happy with it, you aren't trying hard enough. The goal here is to completely destroy everything you wanted the game to be by following the draft you've written. If you're heading in the right direction, it will get harder to break creative agendas, easier to follow them, and will generally be more satisfying. A good rule is one that does what it is meant to or things it wasn't meant to that agree with the creation goals.

    Finally, don't be afraid to do something new. If you're just creating another manilla system, you're wasting your time. They're out there, they all suck, and yours will too.

    laughingfuzzball on
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