So, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about RPG design. My goal is mostly towards minimalism. While I appreciate the mechanical elegance in Pathfinder, I found running it to be wearisome (especially with players telling me I was doing things wrong).
We played Labyrinth Lord (with Tomb of Horrors), and it played fast, but it has no mechanical elegance. A lot of people have tried to mesh the simplicity of design with elegance of design. 5e looks really good, but it has a lot of stuff. Certainly nothing close to Pathfinder and its ilk, but sometimes you just want something that’s easy, where all of your character’s stuff fits in your head, etc.
Microlite has both, and I think it’s great to introduce newbies to the genre (my wife’s uncle took to the game like the proverbial duck last Christmas), but it has too little crunch. I like the mix’n’match feel of the skills, and I plan to use that philosophy — but 4 skills? I don’t think you can create meaningfully diverse PCs at that level. It’s worse than LL.
When I was looking up M20, I rediscovered PocketMod booklets. I have 4 of these, and together they summarise: character creation and gameplay, spells (9th levels for 2 classes), monsters, and a GM’s guide. On 4 pocket-friendly pieces of paper. How great is that?
So, what am I aiming for? Rules that…
–are short enough to fit on a few PocketMods (like, char.gen, combat, spells, GM stuff).
–allow for players to make meaningful choices when designing characters.
–allow players to make solid characters without system mastery or min maxing.
–simple enough that I have basic structure for anything, but room to rule everything if need be.
–can be played without any reference to the rules (with spells as the only possible exception).
Is this possible? I believe so.
Character creation is going to be modelled off Zak S’s post “Since Nobody Asked Me…Here’s My Type V“, and simple combat with structural room for meaningful combat choices will be based on Sly Flourish’s “Guide to Narrative Combat in Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition“.