Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Random RPG?

Sometime in the last few days my daughter and I picked up a nasty little flu bug. Last night, in the throes of fever, my addled brain came up with the idea of writing a randomized role-playing game.

Think about it. If your using an old school clone, Swords & Wizardry being my favorite these days, you have two key elements. The first is the core rules of the system (ability scores, combat rolls, saving throws and hit points). Beyond that, you have the options for players (classes, races, spells, weapons) and the options for Referees (monsters and treasure). I've already posted some random races and monsters on my blog and I know where I can go to generate some random coinage, random magic items and random classes. Random spells I'm not sure about, but given the vast number of OGL spells floating around, I could randomly choose non-SRD spells for whatever spellcasting classes turned up. Imagine a spell system without old standbys like magic missile and fireball. Essentially, you could put together something akin to Talislanta (no elves) and Monte Cook's Arcana Unearthed for old school gaming. The idea is tempting, even if for no other reason to see what it would like when I was done.

Considering the enterprise more, I think I might do the following:

  • Six classes and six races - lots of variety, but not so much that players are overwhelmed.
  • Maybe one spell list for all spellcasters, ten spells of each level, level one through nine. It would be fun to give them all Jack Vancian names. Maybe the spellcasting system would be the spell interval system I did that showed up in Knockspell #4.
  • Use the basic magic item categories, creating about twenty unique magic items for each, with unique meaning that there is only one such item in existance. Since magic items don't turn up too often using S&W's random treasure system, that shouldn't be a problem.
  • Maybe have all weapons deal 1d6 damage, and then produce two illustrated pages of weapons for players to choose from. Maybe some "classes" of weapons would have special benefits - like light weapons give a +1 bonus to initiative, long weapons a +1 bonus to hit people wielding shorter weapons, and rolling two damage dice for heavy weapons, taking the higher value.
  • I'm thinking 50 monsters would be sufficient - some spirits, some humanoids (replacing the kobold - goblin - orc - hobgoblin - gnoll - bugbear - ogre hierarchy), some dragonesque monsters (subterranean treasure and knowledge horders - perhaps they're the only way to discover new spells), some hybrid beasts to replace normal animals.

Well, the idea intrigues me, so maybe I'll pursue it along with rolling out my mega-sandbox on this blog. Perhaps I'll call it Pars Fortuna?

Fortuna by Albrecht Durer.

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