Saturday, March 21, 2009

Choosing the Rules

That's a good question. Athanor started out as an idea, then I tried to match it to the Grim Tales rules. Then I tried doing my own d20 house rules. Since then, I have tossed around True20, Savage Worlds, Basic Roleplaying, Fudge/FATE, Feng Shui and even Risus as ideas for running the game.

To be honest, all of them seemed like too much game to run and too much game to teach people given the amount of world exploration I hope to present. Except for Risus and FATE, but they brought their own baggage. What I like about using Swords and Wizardry is that it brings three things to the table:

1. Simplicity
An easy system that does not require new users master the system. Instead, decisions made provide a narrative for decision-making by the GM. This makes the game flow more quickly, and relies less on players needing to know how to play the game aspects of the system and more on making choices in the game world.

2. Low "Investment" for Players
Building a character in most systems involves having some idea of their past, their future development, and concept. Using S&W (or OD&D, or BECMI/BFRPG/Labyrinth Lord or Tunnels and Trolls for that matter) reduces this demand on the part of the players. They can read a one-page handout (or ot), roll up their characters, and get right into the game, developing their character as they go and not having to have put too much thought into what the character knows and did in the past. And if a character dies, replacing him or her is really simple.

3. Easily Customizable
In the 2 hours I thought of using the newly-released D&D 4th edition for Athanor I realized that I didn't have a clue how I could easily cobble together classes or adjust power levels for flavor without throwing off the game experience. I don't fear that as much with S&W, since the system is balanced by the DMing process more than the game itself, which makes getting under the hood easier.

Now, other games bring similar things to the table. Tunnels & Trolls 5th edition, for example, is appealing for its saving roll system and the ease of abstract combat, but the system has some weird kinks in it too, especially at higher levels. But a clean, simple system lies in there with only a little digging around. Basic Fantasy and Labyrinth Lord also have some things to offer here, too, as does Microlite d20. And all are floating in the back of my head, too.