One of the must have features listed in the announcement is an “integrated game system, inspired by old school games that anyone who’s gamed before would quickly understand and simple enough that even new players could join.” The inital work has begun on fantasy rules for use in play. There are a lot of vagaries and the numbers are educated guess based on years of play. They have yet to be play-tested. To keep it simple, for now, the rules are presented as a “one-sheet.” Everything needed for initial play can be found a single page (minus spell lists). The system is entirely d6-based with success rolls based on rolling under some value: an attribute, or a modified to hit roll.
Revisiting some older RPGs, I found that systems like D&D Basic were easy to understand with a high-level of abstraction. Whereas, the AD&D rules that I had always enjoyed thumbing through are pretty obtuse. They read more like a collection of house rules that are shoe-horned into the Basic rules to nearly the breaking point. They Gygaxian prose, too, is a little thick. It gives AD&D a particular flavor, but are poorly suited to clear and precise rules.
More complex systems, like Harnmaster, were well thought out, better organized, and reflected the world of Harn very well. The system, however, was a bit unwieldy and required a lot of experience playing to get a firm grasp on gameplay.
A few things I specifically wanted to address:
- Spellcasters were too handicapped. One spell and only a handful (often just one) hitpoint at level one? It’s a wonder there were any second level spellcasters around.
- Non-human characters were too advantageous. Elves, in particular, were like Twilight vampires: all pluses and no minuses. They live “forever.” They can cast spells and still fight well with a sword. They can see in the dark, and so on. The disadvantages? Not many. They’re multi-classed, so they split their experience points.
- Each race is a class. After the earliest class based systems, character race became just one factor and they could be of nearly any class. In this world, while there maybe Elf priests and Dwarf wizards somewhere, they are not the sort to go off adventuring anymore than a potter or a tavern keeper would.
The rules haven’t been play-tested. Many adjustments will need to be made. One particular advantage today over the 70s and 80s is that rules can unit tested. Thousands of encounters can quickly be simulated by computer and the results examined.