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Can we come up with a 'System Summary' formula?

mitchw

Viral Marketing Shill?
Validated User
#1
Thinking about the 'Best System Summaries' thread I began to wonder, can we come up with a quick System Summary formula?

Something like this:

Genre: Generic, Sci-Fi, Space Opera, Western. Weird West, etc.
Main Die Type: d6, d8, d10, d12, d20, various, etc.
Die Mechanic: Additive, pool, etc.
Usual Number of Dice Rolled: 1, 2, 3, 5, 2+, 10+, etc.
Tone: Comedic, Dark, Neutral, Parody, etc.
Crunch: Light, Medium, Heavy
Expected Player Agency: Light, Medium, High

Example: Fate Core

Genre: Generic
Main Die Type: dF (Fudge/Fate Die)
Die Mechanic: Additive
Usual Number of Dice Rolled: 4
Tone: Neutral
Crunch: Medium
Expected Player Agency: High

So, questions... would this actually have any value to anyone? What other descriptors need to be added?
 

FoolishOwl

Registered User
Validated User
#2
Maybe just one line for dice mechanics?

Perhaps something about influences, or one line for game system influences and another for fictional, putting that under genre. Game designers often lead with that when describing a new game.
 

Agemegos

Member
RPGnet Member
Validated User
#5
You might want to include an indication as to when the resolution system is simulationist, dramatist, or gamist. I find that whether the resolution procedures force me into character stance, writer stance, or wargamer stance makes a lot more difference to my experience and enjoyment than the "main die type".

Maybe some indication is called for as to how the game divides authority for the characters and the world between the GM and the character-players, if at all.

It matters to a lot of players how character creation is conducted. Is it random, point-buy, template-stacking, semi-random lifepath-based?

Perhaps you might want to indicate how closely the game hews to the "zero-to-hero" experience, and how close to the "essentially static iconic hero" alternative. Also: how radically does "experience" change the character. and how much control does the player exert over that — on a scale from Traveller through RuneQuest then post-3.0 D&D to HERO and GURPS?

Scope. Some games are built for use in a wide range of genres. Some for broad genres ("science fiction") in a wide range of worlds. Some for narrower genres ("interstellar space-opera") but still in a wide range of settings. Some for a wide range of campaigns (e.g. interplanetary tramp/trader, mercenary, secret agent…) in particular settings (e.g. the Traveller Universe). Some for particular campaign frames (e.g. Star Trek, the Gaean Reach RPG). There are games designed for a very narrow range of party types and adventure templates (e.g. Dogs in the Vineyard). There are games designed for a particular group of pre-generated characters. There are games designed for a single particular scenario. Perhaps you will put this into "genre". If so that needs to be established in the specification right from the beginning.

As for "main die type", "usual number of dice rolled", and "die mechanic", you ought to generalise those for diceless systems, bidding systems, card-drawing systems, card-playing systems, point-spending systems etc.

When I bought a Basic D&D boxed set in 1980 it came without the usual and advertised dice. Instead, there was a roneoed note blaming the shortage of plastic on the Carter administration, and a set of "die-cut randomiser chits". The instructions said to separate the chits from their sheets and sort them into opaque cups, and replace all the references to rolling dice in the rules but drawing chits at random from the appropriate cups, with replacement. In your suggested formula that would have changed three out of seven of the indexes for D&D. I don't think the effect on the game was anything like that profound.
 
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DeathbyDoughnut

a.k.a. Mr. Meat Popcicle
Validated User
#6
My first thought also was that rpg geek does this already. Adding general system information like resolution methods and such would be very helpful in the game-index.
 

Agemegos

Member
RPGnet Member
Validated User
#7
More suggestions:

Is combat tactical (tabletop or grid) or abstract, on a scale from Tunnels & Trolls to Aftermath! How much does a character's success in combat depend on the player's skill and mastery of the system? How general is the combat system? What does it cover apart from hand-to-hand brawls.

How well and in how much detail does the game handle equipment other than weapons and armour?

What character actions does the game have concrete, specific rules for apart from combat? Stealth and lookout? Infiltration and patrolling? Dissimulation, deception, persuasion, and seduction? Temptation and torture? Races and chases? Running, riding, swimming, driving, motorcycling, sailing, boating, shiphandling, and piloting? Climbing and mountaineering? Medicine, surgery, and recovery from injury? Diseases, deprivations, poisoning and venoms? Wilderness survival, tracking, and trapping? Damage and breakdown, maintenance and repair? Research? R&D? Engineering design and construction? Lockpicking and safecracking?
 

Octiron

Pariah
Validated User
#8
You might want to include an indication as to when the resolution system is simulationist, dramatist, or gamist. I find that whether the resolution procedures force me into character stance, writer stance, or wargamer stance makes a lot more difference to my experience and enjoyment than the "main die type".

Maybe some indication is called for as to how the game divides authority for the characters and the world between the GM and the character-players, if at all.
I suspect including that sort of thing would just lead to endless arguments and confusion.
 

Jerry D. Grayson

Putting the f-u in FUN
RPGnet Member
Validated User
#10
Something like this would work well on the back cover of a game book. It would be like what's already on many board games.
short, clean and gives a bit of info without being overly wrought or pedantic.

MythicD6_Bastion_Cover_example.jpg
 
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