Wednesday 20 December 2017

Frames vs. Cages

So, I've been thinking quite a lot about gaming systems lately, and which best serves my purpose of getting the New Kingdoms 'out there' - and which provides the most impediment to translating setting into mechanics. Most of the work I've done on the setting is for Rolemaster, with Pathfinder a fairly distant second.

The problem here is that Rolemaster does not have anything resembling an Open Gaming License. This is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future (in a perfect world, there'd be some kind of RM OGL and I could just self-publish a bunch of New Kingdoms material for it...if wishes were horses, every beggar would ride). Whilst I respect this as a business decision, it does put the brakes on sharing New Kingdoms content, so it fails to jump that first hurdle. In addition, the setting itself doesn't quite match the mechanics in all particulars. The blog is, after all, about the New Kingdoms, not just Rolemaster. So, although I will continue to share RM material here (being as how I have a huge backlog of stuff!), this will be less of a focus, and with an eye to avoiding IP issues.

That brings us to Pathfinder: I love this sprawling system, and would love to produce work for it. Thanks to the OGL, there are options for just about any setting. I could, for example, dispense with a pet hate: 'fire-and-forget' spellcasting by using such a resource as the Spellpoint Companion. I could incorporate a comprehensive critical system by using TPK Games' Laying Waste, and I could dip in to the vast - if uneven in quality - sea of races and classes out there to give full expression to the setting options I want.

Buuuuut...Pathfinder, is, in many ways, a fully worked-up system. There are so many resources out there that few people have the inclination, let alone the time, to follow each and every possibility. Pathfinder is not just a frame, waiting for me to build upon it, and breathe life into it. It's a thriving metropolis, needing a SatNav and a lifetime to navigate. To use it successfully might require more tinkering - and cross-referencing - than I care to do. Pros and cons, cons and pros...Pathfinder material will continue to be provided, as I see the New Kingdoms taking shape across more than one system. As new PF material appears, I'll update the Pathfinder Resources Page so people can see the optional rules I'm using and seek them out if they're interested.

I've also considered Fantasy Hero: I love the extreme flexibility the system provides. I can truly incorporate anything into the game! However, I'm sufficiently grognardy to still love the idea of character classes. One can simulate these in Fantasy Hero, and perhaps I will, but for now, its not the framework I'm looking for.

So I've been looking over the various games that come under the rubric of the 'OSR', and liking some of what I see: with a certain amount of effort, I can create exactly the setting I want (no fire-and-forget!), without having to write in a whole bunch of exceptions and constantly referring people to multiple sources just to understand where I'm coming from or what I'm trying to achieve. It might also satisfy my love of strange and baroque subsystems!

Well, we shall see how that goes. As I proceed, I'd appreciate any input folks care to provide.

Or maybe I'll just make another heartbreaker. There clearly aren't enough out there already...

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