Friday, October 2, 2009

Cutting down to the basics

I have been tying to get to the core idea of the D&D system. Despite all the add-on rules of the later versions, one thing is clear. D&D is a combat system. Characters have hit points and attack rolls because they were trained in combat. The origin of roleplaying is wargaming. Before it was characters in a adventure it was models in a scenario. The rules focus on fighting and the DM handles everything else. I have begun changing the way my world works to fit this idea. There are no non-combatant stat lines. NPC's who don't fight don't have stats. They don't have levels. They don't have hit points. I as the DM can decide what happens to them if hit by weapons or magic. I can define character classes by their role in combat terms. The Fighter is of course obvious. What about Magic-Users? They are fighting mages, trained for magical combat. Cleric? Holy warriors, fighting for a cause. But not Thieves. I don't consider the thief a viable class because fighting is secondary to them. I am tossing out any class that doesn't fight as its principal role. By concentrating on only using the rules for combat I can have greater control and streamline the mechanics of each game session. I can let the story move the game along. And give players more control over non-combat actions. Experience is now only for defeating enemies. Non-combat success is measured by bonus points, story points or hero points. I haven't decided if this will work as redeemable points in game or a running total similar to EXP. The running total idea will work this; the more points a character has the higher importance in the world. The more things the will happen for the benefit of the character but also the larger challenges they will face. They can accomplish much with just swordplay but greater rewards lie within the story.

1 comment:

  1. I think this topic falls into the catagory of blindingly obvious. It's so taken for granted that people need to be reminded sometimes. I know I did. By resorting to another mitt-full of rules each for every conceivable activity, you quickly wind up with something as massive as the collected GURPS library.

    Also worth considering is how far to trim down. "Searchers of the Unknown" and the other one-page rule sets might be pushing it, but make for an interesting experiment. How trim can the rules get? It's like game designers limbo.