Please, No New RPG Systems!

i might get some flack for saying this… not sayin’ anything, just sayin’…
i’ve been working my way through my file of RPG pdfs, prolly about two hours now, and i got to say…
i know, lots of very smart gamers want to put their own individual stamp on gaming, have their own systems, and are proud of them.
but folks, the market is SO goddamn saturated with systems from everybody and their grandmother (why do i want to publish my own gaming system under the imprint “Everybody And Their Grandmother”? insane, i must be), so any new system, no matter how well thought out, is trying to break into a market where everyone pretty much knows the system they like, and things in that system they don’t like, they’ve adopted house rules to make it taste right.
unless you are ready to keep supporting your idea with a steady stream of supplements and adventures, don’t publish. you’re aiming for heart-ache. and yeah, if you can pull off a successful crowd funding campaign, you might have enough people interested to keep the game profitable, but from what i’ve seen, don’t bet your own money on it. also, don’t beg/demand/guilt trip your friends and acquaintances to help you finance your dream. if they don’t support it willingly, remember – it’s YOUR dream, not theirs.
a better idea is to adapt your ideas to an existent system, and see if the owners of said system want to publish it, or to get a license from the owners and self-publish, or if the system is open source, publish that way. 
in my files, i’ve got so many little (and not so little) RPGs that released their core book, and promptly disappeared. the rules for these are, for the most part, variations on a theme, no real originality, at best an interesting setting.
and if an interesting setting is all you have, better you adapt it to an established system. then you can tap all the people who use that system, instead of trying to interest people in learning your whole new shiny system so they can play in your setting.
really, if you are not undeniably bringing something new and exciting, keep your rules as a house system, have fun playing it, and don’t set yourself up for the heartbreak of breaking into a flooded market.
listening to: “Eye in the Sky” – Alan Parsons Project
mood: pretty good

6 thoughts on “Please, No New RPG Systems!

  1. oh HELLZ yeah… been playing since ’79 in one system or another. i am a junkie. unfortunately, as i and my fellow players have gotten older, it’s been harder to find time to get together. i’ve been using roll20 to GM a game online for friends, but 3 hours every two-to-three weeks isn’t exactly feedin’ my jones.

    • You and me, we should maybe talk about online gaming…you have my email of course…

      • not a problem, Magus. what do you like as far as systems, genres?
        also, i was just in the reading room, and it occurred to me: “Oil of Roses- the RPG”. if played with the right group of people, it could get as sexy as you want it. if played online, it’s made for cybersexing. otherwise, a lot of intrigue, with the occasional fight. of course, depending on who you pick a fight with, the fighting could be a lot more than occasional.
        please, tell me it’s a stupid goddamn idea.

        • It’s not a stupid idea. I know a forum where it might be very popular. However, I wouldn’t play or run it myself—the people who would flock to it mostly like freeform RP, and I can’t work with that—and asking everyone who played to have read something as substantial as “Oil” might be a high bar to entry. One would have to write a short intro.

          Myself, mostly a modern fantasy guy, with excursions into SF and high fantasy. I do a lot with the various incarnations of the World of Darkness. Used to be heavily into Exalted but 3rd edition burned me out. Big on Mage: the Awakening 2nd ed right now; Mage: the Ascension 20th Anniversary Edition (M20) is also a favorite of mine, and I seriously wish there would be a Geist: the Sin-Eaters 2nd ed. I never do Pathfinder or Shadowrun.

          I also dig various Powered by the Apocalypse games (Apocalypse World, Urban Shadows, Masks, and especially Monsterhearts).

  2. One of my all-time favorite “flash in the pan” gaming systems (and yeah, I still have the core book and the two supplements featuring six – count ’em, SIX – modules for it) was “It Came from the Late, Late, Late Show”. Your players are cast as the actors in a bad B movie (making the DM take the role of the Director). Favorite module for it has to be, hands down, “The Iron Fist of Shao-lin Against the Dragon Ninja”. You even get bonus experience for “Acting Appropriately Stupid”, and, in the case of the Iron Fist, acting out your Bad Dubbing.

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