Thought Process

This is a post I originally had on a different blog, but in the interest of consolidation have decided to move here:

I made a game! I have a dozen or so Google docs outlining rough ideas for games, but this is the first one I’ve actually finished! It was part of an game jam. The stipulations were that the entire game (except for a character sheet) had to fit onto a single piece of paper and the game had to be created during the time of the jam, no submitting games I had already started. When I signed up, I had no idea what kind of game I’d end up making but the jam was over a month long so I knew I had some time to think about it.

A lot of people use these one-page game jams as an excuse to make something ultra-specific and a bit absurd, which is what I assumed I’d end up doing. However when I figured out how I wanted the mechanics to work, I decided to just focus on making a system and keep it generic fantasy. This system should be easy enough to port over to other settings, just swap out the Skills, Equipment, and Gaining Experience lists.

My main two inspirations were Call of Cthulhu and Four Against Darkness. I like how conceptually straight forward Call of Cthulhu is. Instead of classes and levels you just have a long list of skills with varying degrees of competence in each. Almost anything you do in the game boils down to picking an appropriate skill and making a roll. With Beyond the Horizon I came up with a list of skills that I thought would cover the bases for D&D heroic fantasy, and purposely inserted five blank lines so that each group would be encouraged to add skills of their own.

I have been reading through Electric Bastionland and Into the Odd. Something I like about those games is how Chris has tried to speed up combat by only rolling damage, no attack roll. Recently I started playing through Four Against Darkness which does the opposite, you still make an attack roll but everything does a fixed amount of damage. I liked how this paired with the universal skill roll mechanic of Call of Cthulhu, basing just about everything you do on one style of roll. Another thing I stole from Four Against Darkness is rolling defense. Since Four Against Darkness is meant to be played solo, player vs book, the player makes all the rolls. Instead of rolling for the monsters’ attacks, you roll for your characters’ defense. I believe Cypher System does something similar, but I haven’t gotten a chance to play it, only flip through it.

The last key mechanic was the 3d6 dice pool. I haven’t played or read through any dice pool games, and how I treat it works more like advantage in 5e. Instead of modifying your roll, your skill points (0-3) modify how many dice you roll, which increases your chances of getting the desired number. Lasers and Feelings kind of works this way too, but it also switches up when you’re rolling over vs rolling under. Since I’m just using d6’s and not adding any modifiers, that limits Difficulty Target (my equivalent of Difficulty Classes) to 1-6. There’s no reason to set a Difficulty Target at 1 (that would automatically succeed) so the real range is 2-6. Five degrees of fidelity feels a lot more understandable and less squirrely than the range of DC’s in 5e (anywhere from 5 to 30ish).

That’s about it mechanically. I tried to keep all the game rules to the front side of the paper and dedicate the back side to advice and tools for the GM. A lot of times these one page RPG’s don’t give a lot of support to the GM.

I realize this probably isn’t the best sales pitch for my game, mostly just self indulgent-rambling about my thought process, but isn’t self-indulged rambling kind of the point of blogs? Also a big thanks to my buddy Will for proof reading the rules and helping me make sure my phrasing was clear! (I promise the actual rules are a lot less rambly).

If you print pages one and three duplex, the players will have a handy copy of the rules on the back of their character sheets.

Get Beyond the Horizon

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