You know all those blogs where random indie designers post about their own projects? I find them utterly boring. Even if the projects are interesting. I won’t be doing that, hopefully, by starting a small design project here. If I ever get it done, it will be available for free under creative commons. I do it mostly as an exercise and because the damn thing has implanted itself in my head.
The core idea: Dungeoncrawling and generic adventuring. Genre: Somewhere between D&D and sword and sorcery. Core story: One or multiple characters select a goal and succeed at it, give up, or perish trying to achieve it. This works best with a self-balancing game.
The game will be full of exact rules. Every skill shall have a clear and explicit use. In addition to that, and to avoid the problems inherent in exact rules, adventure/dungeon designers are encouraged to expand the use of skills for specific situations. The game will be very much a game; players take on goals (GM can design quests or players can decide to do something else within the offered setting) and receive rewards for completing them. If they try too hard, their character may get killed or permanently maimed, or get other trouble. The game will work with only one player and one GM. If I manage it, the might work with only a single player, but it will have a different nature when played that way.
Structure of the game
Characters start at a safe place (a point of light, if you will). They gather information and set an objective for themselves. They equip themselves for the quest. They travel to adventure location (by default, a dungeon). Quick or stealthy travel means no or few random encounters, which potentially deplete the resources of the characters. Once they arrive at the adventure location, the characters must navigate it to their final destination. This is essentially navigating a flowchart. Moving too slowly or carelessly will cause random encounters. Rushing in too quickly will cause missing useful shortcuts and other secrets. Once the objective is reached (or characters too exhausted to effectively go on), a way back to safety must be discovered and the journey survived. Once back, characters will face the consequences of the quest they took and those they didn’t (though some will only manifest given a longer period of time and some won’t be urgent at all). They will have time to recuperate from their wounds and weariness, will usually spend all their hard-won loot on booze and whores and other entertainment, take on new quests, and the process begins anew.
On actual crunch
Core mechanic is stolen from Ville Vuorela‘s Praedor (a Finnish rpg) and a forum thread by Jim Bob (Kyle). That is: Roll nd6, try to get below relevant skill. Sometimes the number of dice/difficulty is fixed, but usually the player gets to decide it, with greater number of dice giving greater benefits. Also, most rolls are player-initiated. Also, players roll all the dice (as a default assumption). Opponents have fixed results.
Why not just play D&D or Rune
D&D has too much cruft and extra bits. Rune is too competitive, has at least one significant balance problem and has far too much point-counting to be enjoyable to me. Besides, I’m doing this as a design exercise and as an excuse for playtesting and fun dungeonbashing every now and then.
Why not make it electronic
I don’t have the skills for that, nor do I find it equally interesting. One or both of these may follow from the other.