Fantasy RPG Design Challenge

The Latest Challenge

Design a tabletop RPG within the following requirements:

Thematic Requirements:

  • No swords.
  • No guns of any type.
  • No dungeons (or dungeon equivalents, like widespread ruins).
  • No undead.
  • No demons or devils.
  • No Conan-style barbarians.
  • No elves, dwarves, or halflings/hobbits.
  • The player-characters cannot be generic adventurers for hire.
  • The setting cannot be just the standard Medieval Europe environment (peasants, barons, kings, Norman-style castles, horses, wagons, rolling farmland, etc.). It may include some of these individual elements.
  • If your game includes monsters, beasts, or other non-sentient opponents, they must be complex and interesting, not just a handful of simple combat stats.
  • If your game includes magic, it cannot use discrete, memorized spells with specific effects.

Rule Requirements (here's where things get interesting!):

  • Your core mechanics cannot involve rolling a die or dice, adding modifiers, and comparing the result to a target difficulty number to determine binary success or failure.
  • Your game cannot be directly Powered by the Apocalypse.

These requirements are meant broadly. Renaming swords to “blades” doesn't get you out of that requirement, and “swords” includes long knives, scimitars, katanas, rapiers, etc. If you're “skirting the line,” you're too close. Make something different.

For the purposes of this contest, “fantasy” is not a simulation of the real, actual world in the past, present, or recognizable future. Anything else is fantasy.

The game must be playable. Don't submit a game where part of it is still an idea; make something up and throw that into the document. It doesn't need to be polished with all the margins lined up perfectly.

Submit your game by midnight UTC, August 12th, as a post in the official Google+ Community, or by emailing your game to brent@brentnewhall.com. I'll choose whatever game most impresses me as a winner, who will get a .zip of every game I've ever published. All entries will be published on this official webpage for the world to see and play.

Winner

Submissions

The Second Challenge

Design a fantasy tabletop RPG within the following restrictions:

  • No swords.
  • No guns of any type.
  • No dungeons (or dungeon equivalents, like widespread ruins).
  • No undead.
  • No demons or devils.
  • No Conan-style barbarians.
  • No elves, dwarves, or halflings/hobbits.
  • The player-characters cannot be generic adventurers for hire.
  • The setting cannot be just the standard Medieval Europe environment (peasants, barons, kings, Norman-style castles, horses, wagons, rolling farmland, etc.). It may include some of these individual elements.
  • If your game includes monsters, beasts, or other non-sentient opponents, they must be complex and interesting, not just a handful of simple combat stats.
  • If your game includes magic, it cannot use discrete, memorized spells with specific effects.

These requirements are meant broadly. Renaming swords to “blades” or barons to “lords” doesn't get you out of that requirement, and “swords” includes long knives, scimitars, katanas, rapiers, etc. If you're “skirting the line,” you're too close. Make something different.

Also, you must write the game for this contest. Do not tweak a few phrases in a game you already wrote, though you can certainly draw inspiration and pieces from other games, including those you wrote.

You have until the end of April (UTC). Post your game in the Google+ Community.

In May, I'll post links to every game here and will choose a winner who will receive a PDF copy of every tabletop RPG I've ever published.

For the purposes of this contest, fantasy is not a simulation of the real, actual world in the past, present, or recognizable future. Anything else is fantasy.

Winner

Submissions

The First Challenge

Design a fantasy tabletop RPG that includes none of the following:

  • Dungeon exploration
  • Swords
  • Guns of any type
  • Monsters as simple as those in Chainmail
  • Women in revealing outfits
  • Barbarians
  • Elves, dwarves, or halflings (added late, so optional but encouraged)

Note that swords and dungeons might exist in the game's world, but the rules cannot mention them.

Regarding monsters: If you include them, either avoid established monsters completely, or re-imagine them. Monsters must be complex and interesting, not damage sponges.

You have until the end of February 2016. Submit your game in a comment on this Google+ post or any post I write on this topic. In March, I'll post links to every game, and will choose a winner who will receive a PDF copy of every tabletop RPG I've ever published.

Winner

Submissions

Written Before the Contest Started

Submitted After the Contest Ended

Brent's Advice, Buried at the Bottom of the Page

What I Judge For:

  • Completeness - Is this a playable game? Are gray areas and common difficulties addressed? Are any important game aids included (character sheets, play mats, etc.)?
  • Comprehensibility - Do I understand how to play the game? Does the text move clearly from introduction to explanation to details? Do complex mechanics come with examples? Do player-characters have a defined role in the world (or is the concept at least addressed)?
  • Creativity - Does this feel fantastic? Is the setting concrete and “of a whole”? How similar is it to well-known concepts? Does it go too far into obscure weirdness?

What I Care Less About:

  • Polish - cool images and such are nice but all the winners have had straightforward, Google Docs-level formatting

Bonus Points:

  • A compelling concept that addresses a real personal/social issue (without getting too icky)
  • Minimal physical combat (it’s just been done so much)

Advice:

  • Include your name, a license, and a list of games that inspired you (if any).
Last modified:: 2016/08/16 18:26