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PostPosted: Fri Jun 19, 2009 12:08 am
by Nephilim
Here's my advice, although I suspect some or all of it is "well, duh" type advice, having seen what others have put together...

1) Start with the experience. Remember that the game world, the game mechanics, the NPC's, the level of's all in service to delivering an experience for your players. Have a clear idea of what you are trying to evoke for the players - what it should feel like to play - and let that lead you through the tough parts of your design. Come back to that picture whenever you are stumped, or can't decide where to go next.

2) As mentioned by another poster, stay small. Focus on a single core element, and be wary of adding elements to your game that don't directly support that focus. With a short, fixed time constraint, more content means shallower treatment. Implement only what serves the idea, and leave the more mundane tasks of managing a game to the referee.

3) Remember that your RPG doesn't have to be long-term. You don't necessarily need rules to handle situations not covered in a sample adventure, or rules for long-term character advancement if . You could design an RPG that can only be played as a one-shot in an evening, for instance. (And you could always release a supplement with rules for character advancement later - just get them playing the game first!)

4) Be careful about game balance. You're not going to be able to playtest your game due to the competition rules (unless it's an RPG that can be played solitaire), and even if it were legal, you'd probably only get a brief shot in. Do the people who will be playing your game a favor and build a system that won't explode if you get the game balance wrong, or at least make sure that the mechanics can be easily adjusted on the fly without tearing the entire game apart.

5) Finally, I think I'll say something about the bullet point you mentioned: "Don't get hung up on trying to devise a completely novel game system". While I think that's true, you should strive to have something novel about your game, be it mechanics, setting, tone, etc. Otherwise, what distinguishes it from other games out there (let alone those of your fellow competitors)? In my experience, you're far better off trying something different, creative, and ambitious and having it fail spectacularly than trying something similar to other things that have been done before and succeeding at it. If nothing else, you'll have had more fun.

Thanks for organizing this. It was fun.