301 Why Build Your Own System

Recording tonight, July 6th at 8pm cdt.

Dropping soon…

The topic of GM Style has lead Brett down a potentially dangerous path - the poor bastard is thinking of writing up his own game system shudder So, let’s ask ourselves - why the hell would anyone do such a thing?**



I guess no one complained enough about Avalon. Grousing about game systems is a gamers’ prime occupation. Are there 12 step programs for delusional people like him?


Just had a constructive thought (I know, surprising). Brett could publish his system in “fascicles” like in the olden days of private publishing. You’d get a section every so often and you’d put it in a special binder that you got with the first. Separate chapters could then be added. This way, should anything change or (god forbid), you need to fix errors, you can just replace the page rather than having to re-print the whole danged thing.


I doubt this sort of thing is what Brett has in mind. Or maybe? Looking forward to hearing the episode!

Anyway, got notice of this in the mail today. A bit of synchronicity.


That had me literally laughing out loud :rofl:

I figure it’ll be interesting to try and flex my creative muscles this way. Hell, I may end up gaining a new level of respect for all those game mechanics I’ve been bitching about for years after I get going on this little project :slight_smile:


I recently heard of “GLOG”.
Description of the community
Originally started here

Since I just heard of it, I don’t know much about it. What I have heard is it’s a framework for OSR/D&D-tropy type play; but the culture around it is all about hacking it as hard as you can. I’m not sure where that culture lives per se - reddit or slack or what. I bet it started on G+, but now… I’d have to do research that I’m not really motivated to do tbh.

As noted here, “The true GLOG is to abandon the GLOG and build your own GLOG. Well done.”

Made me think of Brett :slight_smile:

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It’s mostly blogs, from what I’ve seen.

I most likely wasn’t as clear on the show as I wanted to be but, at the heart of my desire to do this is the urge/passion to create stuff. Even if it’s only used by my friends and me in our games - I feel that creating stuff is fun and rewarding.

I also think I’ll be gaining a new appreciation for game system designers/developers and their creative processes. I’m also pretty sure this will force to to re-read a number of rule sets that I think I know :wink:


I can’t wait for this one to get released to see what the hub bub is about!

I haven’t listened to the episode yet (or watched the stream, I guess), but the topic reminds me of a conversation on MeWe a while back. Someone was complaining about people making new systems (it was about OSR-flavored 5e hacks, IIRC) instead of just using one of the systems that already exist, and how all those attempts weren’t “worthwhile”.

I said, “If I make a game, it’ll be because I wanted to do it, and because I enjoy creating things, even if they’re not very original, or someone else has done it better. Sometimes creating things is a selfish act, and whether anyone else has use for it is at best a secondary consideration.” And a bit later: “It’d have been a shame if everyone who thinks about making a game decided not to, because someone else might decide it’s not worthwhile.”

So I’m glad you’re making your own game, and I hope it’s creatively satisfying work for you. If you decide to share it outside of your gaming group, so much the better.

Edit: I should mention, sometimes it’s not the external critics that end up discouraging one from creating something new. I think most if not all of the people in this particular community of gamers will be pretty encouraging of such efforts. It’s the internal critic that starts thinking “Why am I bothering with this? Doesn’t system X already do this better than what I’m trying? Does anyone actually need another dungeon crawl / investigation / story game?” The response to that internal critic can also be “Who cares? I’m having fun!”


This is such a good comment. And there is so much to say in response.

I think that a lot of what has been called the OSR has shifted into DIY. Why Do It Yourself?

  1. Chances are one does so anyway. Whenever one makes a Ruling, one Does It Yourself.

  2. Get enough of those Rulings together, and one has a new game.

  3. If one “writes” one’s own game, it’s super familiar. Time taken looking up rules decreases. Play is more efficient.

  4. As you say, it’s irrelevant if the resulting game is shared with the wider community or not. Doing it at all was the point.


Unless you see the recorded stream, this episode has not dropped yet.

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Here’s the rub. People should be careful what they ask for.

If you want to design your own mechanics, cool.

If you want to combine them into a game, cool, cool.

If you want to share them with your community, cool, cool, cool.


It’s AWESOME to create and share - that’s a plenty good reason to do it. It’s what I do with my papercraft.

BUT, if you ask for honest feedback. Don’t complain when you get it. :slight_smile:

Over the decades, I’ve literally seen dozens of people go “I made something out of [GAMESYSTEM] that is way BETTER than [GAMESYSTEM] - here it is!”, followed by, “What do you think?”

They are then surprised/upset by a critique (that may weaken or invalidate a bunch of their hard work). They asked for opinions, and got exactly what they asked for.

Other times I’ve seen “I’m about to do something amazing to [GAMESYSTEM] for the whole world to see - I’m gonna spend weeks/months to fix [IDEA]. What do you think?”

If you do this, don’t be surprised if some people say “We’ve seen it already, click here to download it” and “Don’t waste your time.” Those can be interpreted as important feedback - if that’s what was truly desired.

Do what you want to do because that’s what you love to do.
It’s for you first,
your table and friends second,
maybe your online community third,
but almost never for everyone else.

It’s a labor of love, baby!



(By the way, Shia Labeouf actually got his character’s actual tattoo tattooed onto himself for his next role).

So really, Just Do It.

I think we all in some way make our own system. Every think we play a different game. Over the years we pick up things that make sense to us on how things should & should not handled. We cal them at times “House Rules” but really they are may to change the system to our own. And to those of us over the years have Frankenstein a system of our own making. We pull pieces from systems & stick them in something different. Somethings because of the group we play with it makes sense to adapt it. I know nobody that plays a pure game system from the book. we all make it our own & a lot of developers what & know we do that.


First, I’m 100% on board with Gabe, Tymonger. I don’t think ANYONE’S AD&D 2e game looked like anyone elses.

Excellent timing, I was just talking to a buddy last night about all the widgets I’d take and bolts together to make “my ideal” system. I’d use HackMasters second based/ no rounds combat, DCCs spell roll set up, and so on, possibly just sitting on top of something along the lines of Castles and Crusades (yeah, it’s not much different than DCC, but more classes, a few more choices, etc).

OK Brett… the race is on :wink:


The Elder Ones must returning. I’ve recently been haunted by similar fevered dreams of creating my own RPG - except mine have been of the post-apocalyptic genre.

In my formative years of late 70s and early 80s, I played AD&D and Gamma World (1e). I then drifted away from the games for 35+ years. A few years ago, my teenage kids played GW some. Had a blast.

Recently during the pandemic lockdown, my now young adult kids started running D&D 5e and CoC 7e. Again we’re having a blast - especially CoC. I still have an itch for post-apocalyptic, but beyond GW - I’m tired of the ignorant tribesman venturing out on a rite of passage. (But I still love Jake Jaquet’s Introduction in GW 1e!)

I like the intrigue of an urban setting, where the city itself may destroy the characters ie Thieves World. My ideas of mutations become less “gonzo” and are now more influenced by Andre Norton’s early novels and Jack Vance’s, “The Dragon Masters”. Like CoC, I prefer players being “small characters in big and dangerous world”

I enjoy the mechanics of CoC and fortunately Chaosium has now offered out BRP Systems Reference Document (SRD) for publishing content under the BRP Open-Gaming License. It’s flexible and allows you to create normal, extraordinary, or heroic characters. BRP provides a framework for many different genres. So, now, I’m working on my post - apocalyptic labor of love…


I’m commenting because your post (and Laramie’s) has me thinking, “Yeah, totally, me too!”

Except what I’m working on is a roll-under percentile mechanic eschewing most modifiers in favor of dice pools emulating the epic high fantasy quests of The Lord of the Rings. Basically it’s 1987 Middle-Earth Role Playing with a CoC approach and things I’ve learned from Conan 2d20 and (in my view) some opportunities missed by Against the Darkmaster.

If I’m guessing right that we’re all about the same age (45) and demographic, maybe this drive is impelled by nostalgia coupled by the modern understanding that our favorite old games, though right in spirit, don’t exactly play the best for us anymore. So we want to rebuild them.


I’m a wee bit older and have gotten to the point of: “too little time as it is. Need to game more.” Besides, paperwork kills me.

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As someone whose entire creative career has centred around designing original games and systems, kudos to you for wanting to give this a shot @Fafhrd.

For me, it’s been a masterclass in puzzles as you try to find a way to have either the physics of your world or the story prompts follow game mechanics to create a cohesive and coherent experience across the board. Even when I start using an existing system (like we’re using the Pip System for our Wiccan/Pagan RPG, Ironbound: Guardians of Novala), it quickly becomes a hack of the original.


…when the next stage is playtesting, it becomes a true test of personal character and endurance. It’s one thing to make sure the adventure you wrote works for your group, it’s another to ensure your game can hold mustard at EVERY TABLE THAT WILL EVER TRY IT.

Luckily, you have a horde of ravenous fans eager to put whatever you make to the test and swarm you with other systems that might solve the 27 problems pointed out in session 1. And there hasn’t been a game designer who’s been abducted and forced to re-hash their work a la Misery so it’s safer than writing a novel.