I’ve been thinking again…

For some while now I have been thinking about how to create a roleplaying game where the emphasis is on what the player’s character can do rather than the mechanics of how they became able to do it.

Many roleplaying games have detailed character creation and development rules that involve the  determination of primary attributes and the derivation from them of secondary attributes, aptitudes, skills and abilities. Some of these can require actual arithmetic to determine how bonuses flow down from the primary attributes to the lesser ones. In this category, I include Dead Simple – which is a bit ironic when you come to think of it.

In play, these primary and secondary attributes hardly feature at all. Instead, the players make dice rolls based upon their characters’ skills, abilities and powers.


When I wrote WYSIWYG I quite accidentally ignored any form of attribute because I was concentrating on defining a chosen figure in roleplaying terms rather than the other way around. Characters were instead defined solely by their skills and abilities. They could choose six of these and, if they chose background race or profession ones, they generally got a two for one deal.

So, if you have a standard task resolution mechanism, such as rolling 15 or more on a d20, then all you need are skills and abilities that allow you modify these rolls in appropriate situations. Add  modifiers from having suitable equipment and you are laughing. Then you might like some abilities that give your character the capability to perform acts unrelated to the task resolution system, such as being able to see in the dark.

If you use a skill and ability choice system these could be represented by cards. Add cards for race, profession and equipment and suddenly a character is a deck, not a sheet of paper.

I am going to be playing around with these ideas over the next few weeks and then applying them to a genre to see how they will play out. So watch this space.


About Craig

For those who need to know these things: - I'll never see 50 again. - I'm tall enough to see well in crowds and fat enough to leave a wake. - I'm well married to a woman with twice my smarts, three delightful and challenging children (er-hem), and one cat overlord. - I am Welsh. - I have to work for a living, but do nothing that makes me perspire.
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4 Responses to I’ve been thinking again…

  1. Rob Adornato says:

    What about Fate Core? http://fate-srd.com/

  2. Toro says:

    In my opinion fate lets you play a role not role play. I like the balance of Deadsimple because it allows character advancement and development. I agree that the attribute system could be done away with and only use game stats like dagger for kids does. Basically I wonder what a dead simple dagger would look like.

  3. Hairy Dave says:

    It made me think of Fate as well. Or even USR.

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