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万字长文,关于RPG游戏结构撰写的相关探索上篇

发布时间:2014-12-17 13:14:13 Tags:,

作者:Rob Lang

本章节的目标是创造一个游戏理念。这个理念是:

*简短的项目概括

*范围描述

*目标用户

*与其他游戏的区别

不要试图编写一款缺乏明确理念的RPG。因为这样可能只会产生与其他游戏雷同的项目。

XNA_RPG(from xbox.creat.msdn.com)

XNA_RPG(from xbox.creat.msdn.com)

想法

在你动笔之前,你得先有一个想法。有了想法你才好构建一个引导写作的概念。这个想法可以只是一个单词或简短的句子。如果你有了一个想法,用笔在纸片上写下来,我们将使 用这个词组作为游戏的名称。

Chgowiz the RPG(from thefreerpgblog)

Chgowiz the RPG(from thefreerpgblog)

(我的想法是Chgowiz RPG,虽然这是已经存在我脑中的想法,我仍想将这个过程进行到底。)

如果你没有想法

如果你没有想法,但却想要制作一款有关某事的RPG,你可以从以下资源中寻找灵感:

*选取两件你喜欢的东西,将它们整合到一起。例如,把The A-Team与2001: A Space Odyssey相融合。

*选取一件你喜欢的东西,颠倒其中重要的元素。例如,考古学家在“终结者”世界中发现证据表明,是终结者创造了人类。

*随机翻开字典中的一页并选取其中首个单词。这样连续5次,根据这5个词写下一款RPG的主题。

*通过1KM1KT论坛寻找灵感。

*通过论坛征集灵感。

*阅读RPG博客,例如Boing Boing,Strange Maps或者你最喜欢的新闻频道。

*开发一个文本编辑器,开始写作,写下你脑中闪过的任何念头,如此持续3分钟。在写作的时候不要思考,将直觉交给大脑。不要考虑语序拼写的问题。

*在特定时间和地点写一个500字的故事背景。确保故事有始有终。然后据此创建这个游戏世界。

*通过修改其他游戏中的问题而创造一款新游戏。

*拿一份本地报纸,翻找一些很离奇的新闻,编写一款与此有关的游戏。

从其他RPG中获取灵感

可以从现成的RPG中发掘灵感,但要注意不要剽窃其创意。你可以试着找一款现代RPG并为其创造一个复古版本。或者,通过修复现成游戏的问题而组成一个新理念。尝试补充以下 句子:

*我喜欢RPG_____但其中的_____让我觉得不妥。我将进行_____来修改它。

*我希望有这样一款能够鼓励_____行为的RPG。

*我希望有一款使用了_____的游戏。

扩展想法

写下至少4个与你的想法有关的主题。这可以是游戏类型的主题,例如:魔法、太空旅行、邪恶帝国、僵尸、非人类种族等。写下这些与你的中心思想有关的主题,并画出线段,让 中心思相与各个主题相互联系。不要将广泛题材(奇幻、科幻等)本身作为主题。

each themes(from thefreerpgblog.com)

each themes(from thefreerpgblog.com)

针对每个主题,为其至少写下4个元素。其中两个用于支持主题,另外两个是其不利因素。例如,如果你的主题是魔法,那你的支持元素可以是“容易操作”,“强大”,而不利因 素可以是“非法”、“危险”。在支持元素旁画个小圆圈,并在其中标注+号,在不利因素旁则标注-号。兼顾这两个矛盾因素,有助于为你的游戏创造冲突,并设置一种平衡的游 戏背景。

components(from thefreerpgblog)

components(from thefreerpgblog)

 

通过质疑进行试验

回答以下问题,以确定自己是否要持续推进项目。

*玩家将做什么?

*这有何趣味?

*我为何要设计这款游戏?

*谁会玩这款游戏?

*我想用它达到什么目的?

*你是否将按需打印它?

*它最可能的竞争对手是谁,它有何不同?

玩家会怎么做?

玩家将通过找到基因突变怪物的弱点,并使用很酷的玩具杀死怪物。角色会经常死亡,但因为游戏中含有大量克隆人,所以这并不是什么问题。

为什么有趣?

只要用心发现,就会知道每个怪物都有不同的弱点。杀戮是一种趣味,使用很酷的玩具也是一种趣味。怪物会摧毁玩家的家园。

为何要设计这款游戏?我自己会玩吗?

我是为了举例而设计,我会试着体验这款游戏。

谁会玩这款游戏?

少年男孩至30多岁的男性。

我要用它达到什么目的?

将其上传到1KM1KT并在网络传播它。

它最可能的竞争对手是谁,它有何不同?

我并不完全确定,我认为是《Mutants and Masterminds》,《Mutant Chronicles》也有可能。

游戏将呈现哪种风格?

虽说并不是非得一开始就得确定准确的玩法,但这却有助于你之后决定是否将添加某些元素。在下列每个方格中,标点注明你为游戏设定的方向。

以下是我为Chgowiz RPG所设定的方向。

Chgowiz RPG graphics(from thefreerpgblog)

Chgowiz RPG graphics(from thefreerpgblog)

推广项目提案

项目经理将向玩家群体推广游戏。这一举措将迫使你更为紧密地定义你试图实现的目标。如果你发现自己总在自我重复,那是一件好事,说明你明确了游戏理念。现在要完成以下 操作:

*用5个词描述你的游戏

*电梯演讲,有12秒口头描述你的游戏。反复练习直到你满意为止。

*制作一份可以浓缩到海报上的推广信息。不要超过25字,但也不可少于12字。

*在一些纸张上绘制游戏广告。

1.用5个词描述你的游戏。

巨怪 vs 克隆战士,或者怪兽、战士、枪支、克隆人、工具。

2.电梯演讲,有12秒口头描述你的游戏。反复练习直到你满意为止。

在Chgowiz RPG中,你要扮演一个超级战士,准备拿下摧毁你家园的巨怪。

3.制作一份可以浓缩到海报上的推广信息。不要超过25字,但也不可少于12字。

他们是克隆战士,手持玩具,心怀目标。他们能否阻挡巨怪摧毁你家园的步伐?

现在要向你的RPG玩家群体推广游戏。这是否正是他们喜欢玩的游戏类型?其中假设是否存在致命缺陷?你的朋友会为你提供重要反馈。你能否想象出玩这款游戏的感觉?这个游戏 理念对你来说是否令人兴奋?如果不是,那你就要谨慎了。

创造游戏概念

你现在应该已经有了一个不错的游戏想法,是时候开始写下概念了。你的游戏概念即游戏目标,游戏实现过程的一份说明文件。用不少于200字的方法写下游戏概念,其中要包含本 章节中所有的元素。

Chgowiz The RPG是一款设置于未来的角色扮演游戏,其中腐败的政府偶然间向平民释放出一种巨怪。玩家要扮演不畏艰险的Chgowiz战士克隆人,通过找到敌人的弱点打败怪物。 核心系统很精简,但含有大量选项。

玩家可以用一个简单的地图描述自己的家园。

调查篇

市场调研是一个收集信息以强化游戏项目的举措。如果方法得当,这个调查过程会很有趣。看完本章,你就会知道如何执行调查,调查哪些内容,以及何时收手。

在设计之前进行调查的好处在于:

*避免重复制作已经存在的游戏

*确保你获知实际市场情况

*辅助灵感

进行多少调查?

我喜欢使用的方法有三个步骤:获取,分类和筛选。重复这一过程直到你用完自己为这一活动所分配的时间为止。

获取

你尽己所能获取自己认为合适的素材。这需要进行大量的搜索,并将结果复制到记录工具中。我使用过的优秀工具包括Google Docs,Evernote以及笔记本。不要担心标记、组织或 深度阅读信息的问题。只要搜集信息即可,例如文本、图片、引用材料、搜索字段、链接、YouTube视频等。

分类

对于你找到的任何信息,都要将它们分门归类:

*核心:你清楚自己将会用到的信息。

*灵感:那些启发你的思路,但并没有实际功用的内容。

*离题内容:你会发现自己所搜集的一些东西最后可能并没有派上用场。但不要急于抛弃,因为你之后的游戏可能会用上它。

筛选

针对你所划分的类型,将其按重要程度进行优先排序。最靠前的当属对游戏最为关键的内容,筛选的时候要果断,坚决删繁就简,太多信息只会让人喘不过气来。要摘出游戏的要 点。

调查哪些内容?

最好针对你并不太熟悉的领域展开调查。例如,你已经知道了自己将使用哪个RPG系统,那就没有必须再调查大量的RPG机制了。如果你想创造自己的系统,或者你不知道要使用哪 个系统,那就有必要研究这些领域。

虽然查看自己熟悉的调查内容是比较舒服,但这种无谓的舒适感却无异于浪费你的时间。

调查范围:

*对于游戏中的每个主题,找出与之相关的5个网页。尝试在YouTube找出可以代表你游戏理念的视频。

*阅读与你的游戏设定相关的内容。如果它是一款奇幻游戏,那多读一些与之相关的材料。

*找到与你的理念最为匹配的现成的游戏。它哪些地方做得好?哪些做得不好?你的理念是否确实与之有所不同?

*如果你的想法是要采用新系统,尝试找到一个拥有类似优势或劣势的现成系统。

*阅读一些其他与你的游戏相似的免费RPG材料。记录下它们如何组织,如何描述复杂的内容。它们做得好不好?

*阅读一些人们推荐的免费RPG材料(游戏邦注:例如Risus, Sketch, Fudge, Fate, Dungeonslayers, Five By Five, Lady Blackbird, Warrior Rogue and Mage)。它们为什么 会做得好?为什么受到人们喜爱?你可以从中借鉴哪些做法?

*阅读一些免费RPG的评论文章,并找出其中普遍主题。我将在本教程中列出我所发现的普遍问题,但其他评论员也提出了不少杰出观点。

*收集一系列图片来帮助确定游戏风格。这些未必是你最后一定会在游戏中用到的图片(并且这其中还涉及版权问题),但却有助于激发灵感。

*向论坛寻求帮助,看看大家对游戏理念有何反应,或许有人知道之前已经出现过同种游戏理念。

在何处进行调查?

如果你正在创造一款与某地相关的游戏,最好进行实地调查。如果它与媒体内容有关(例如书籍、电视、电影),那就去研究与之相关的内容。也可以借助本地图书馆和维基百科 ,但其提供的有可能是第三方资源来源。如果你想写一款与我们居住的地方有关的游戏,那就找到该领域方面的专家,例如你可以向外婆级的长辈询问有关上个世纪50年代的生活 情况。

谷歌也可以作为一个信息来源。谷歌街景地图也可以帮你描述现代世界的地方(假如你无法到访该地),谷歌地图也可以用于激发灵感。要注意不要复制受到版权保护的材料。可 以输入与你的游戏理念相关的关键字,搜索可用于激发灵感的谷歌图片。

Chgowiz:The RPG的调查

我用了2个晚上进行调查(大约4小时),以下是我搜集、分类和筛选信息的结果。

对于游戏中的每个主题,找出与之相关的5个网页

巨怪:

*日本怪物电影

*Giant Monsters Attack博客

*BBC TV Planet Dinosaurs

*维基百科的巨怪电影列表

*日本蜘蛛蟹

*Kill all monsters博客

克隆战士:

*Attack of the Clones

*关于《超级战士》的维基百科文章

*Soldat – mad 2D shooter

*Genetic engineering in Sci Fi

*Genetically Modified Super Soldiers or Robotic ones

腐败的政策,废墟城市 (关于科幻和战争)

*美国国防部门耗资数万亿美元

*全球军政府的腐败状况

*Above top secret

*电影中十大破坏惨重的城市

* 电影十大爆炸效果

工具

*五大军事武器

*十大最酷科幻武器

*最佳与最差科幻武器

*极限运动器材

*奇特而拉风的交通工具

找到与你的理念最为匹配的现成的游戏

《Paranoia RPG》在克隆这方面做得很好,我希望每个克隆人都会与前者有所不同。这意味着如果你死了,你会变出一个不像前者那么强的克隆人。我会为每个Chgowiz添加一点基 因突变,赋予每个角色一些特点。我不希望他们成为突变体——因为这样就太过头了。只要添加一点状态提升或有所不同的特殊能力就好。

如果你的想法要采用新系统,尝试找到一个拥有类似优势或劣势的现成系统。

我的想法要采用一个新系统。动作/战斗系统将使用与《Cloudship Atlantis》相似的系统,它有一系列所有玩家都可以共享的骰子。其好处在于玩家必须一起合作,有时候要选择 失败。其劣势在于如果玩家厌倦了,不想再进入游戏,他们就会觉得很难再生成更多骰子。怪物将像《Feast of Goblins》中那样随机生成。

创作RPG的第一条原则是:写,不停地写。除非你已经写出游戏的第一份初稿,否则不要忙着编辑。第一稿可能写得很烂,但至少你已经有了一个完整的游戏。如果你在某些地方卡 住了,作个记号(我用“XXXXXXXXXX”来标记)后继续写下去。写RPG有点像写小说,本文提到的建议也适用于写小说。

写到完

无论做什么项目,都要有完成它的觉悟。一开始,你会有饱满的热情,这股热情之火大概能燃烧到项目进展到三分之一的时候。如果你能成功地度过热情衰退期,那么在进展到下 一个三分之一时你又会产生新的热情。如果你再次撑过衰退期,那么你完成项目的可能性就相当高了。以下是帮助你克服停滞期的习惯和技巧。

1、给“测试”版本设置一个截止日期并遵守它。在这个日期内尽可能创作。截止日期一到,无论你的成果是什么,都把它发表到社区平台上——即使它距离完成还很远。

2、安排免费RPG社区的小发布。发布量虽小,但要经常。

3、收集社区的反馈,但不要照着更改你的游戏——等到完成了再说。

4、不要重读游戏,直到完成。

5、每天或每周安排一段创作时间。这段时间之外也可以创作,但永远不要错过这段时间。使用日程表、邮件、便签、tweet来提醒你。

6、如果你有自己的电脑,就创建一个专用帐号——使用这个帐号不能玩游戏。在游戏/RPG论坛网站上放一个过滤文件夹,以免受干扰。

7、充分利用时间。即使是半小时的午休或看宝宝睡觉时也可能迸发灵感。

8、安排你打算观看的电视节目,并且只能看那些。不要更换频道。

9、与朋友和家人(或非玩家)讨论你的构思。你可能通过与他们的交谈获得新的创作动力。他们可能会询问你的进度,把你的成果给他们看。

10、打破顺序,想到什么就写什么。看完文本后,你会知道如何组织你的游戏。先创作后组织。

11、(可选择)当你创作时,可以听一些适合你的游戏类型的音乐或电影,以便激发灵感。

12、当你觉得热情衰退时,把游戏有趣的部分打印出来(像图片一样)贴在墙上,在你创作时就能看到。

实用技巧

将以下技巧写在便利贴上,并贴在你创作的地方。

1、不要把文本永久性删除—-剪切暂时不要的部分,粘贴到“废料”文档中,标记好(我做成图表的形式)。

2、每周做一次备份。上传到免费文件储存器(如Google Docs)或放在U盘里交给朋友或锁进抽屉里。

3、如果你想不到合适的词,就在分类词汇网站或字典里寻找类似的词。把相似词放在一起。

4、如果这一节的创作速度下降,就跳过先写下一节的内容。

编写规则案例

为了让你的游戏能玩,一个好案例是必须的。案例应该有复合的,也有独立的。复合案例是指与前一个案例关联的案例,例如,如果你在一个案例中描述一个角色John Smith有9点 力量,那么John Smith在之后的所有案例中都应该有9点力量。独立案例与之前的案例无关。一个案例应该能体现一条规则。记住,GM使用这个作品作为参考,所以最好使用独立案 例或重复关于John Smith的重要部分。

一个好案例必须使用规则并体现规则的一小部分。大案例可以以简单案例和小案例为基础,但确保包含二者。小案例适用于参考,大案例适用于第一次通读作品。

“选择失败”的规则案例:

Chgowiz克隆人4123想使用涡轮大加农炮朝怪兽射击。他的本体攻击力是5,武器攻击力也是5,这样他就有10点攻击力(本体+武器)。这个射击难度是正常的,所以他需要12点才 能通过。而现在桌子中间只有2个骰子可以投,射击这个动作要消耗掉其中1个骰子。

玩家知道尽管射击可以伤到怪兽,但另一名玩家打算在下一回合时用坦克压怪兽,这就需要使用所有骰子才能通过!相反的,Chgowiz克隆人4123决定选择放弃。另一名玩家选择炸 毁邮局,从而拆除另一名克隆角色的掩护。哎呀!GM奖励一个骰子。现在中间有3个骰子了,坦克更可能成功!

游戏案例很有用,但要保持简明扼要——你不需要准确地描述人们怎么说话。如果你的系统特别复杂,那就要写至少两个案例。不见得你的受众会完全不了解RPG。

风格

糟糕的创作风格会让你的游戏难以理解。好的风格可以让复杂的游戏显得简单。应该按游戏的方式来写RPG:

1、可选规则很好,但要清楚地标记出来。

2、不要因为觉得“GM会忽略这一点,如果他/她喜欢……”而给游戏添加多余的东西。

3、避免过分聊天式的表达,因为这种风格除了添字数,并没有太多好处。要保证文本读起来有趣,又包含足够的信息。

4、在网站上解释为什么选择这条规则而不是另一条。

5、客观地描述你的游戏,当你扩展了别人作品的规则或以它为基础时,你就要把它与别人的作品相比较。可以说“使用了XX规则,但要投更多次骰子”,不要说“它就像《龙与地 下城》,但难度更低,理有趣。”

6、避免过分详尽地描述系统的非核心概念的部分。

7、不要在RPG中添加任何不能强化概念的东西。如果你想到一些不相干的创意,可以先写在笔记本上,以后再用。

8、避免叙述你的设计过程。确实想说的话就放在网站或论坛上说吧。

糟糕的例子:

Chgowiz使用全新的系统,玩家共享桌子中间的一系列骰子。它比其他RPG卓越的地方在于,正常情况下无惩罚,玩家可以随心所欲地投骰子,直到共享骰子用完。这个规则要求玩 家保持良好的合作关系。当玩家想出好主意或做出合适的行动,GM就会放更多骰子进来。但是你也可以无视这些规则,尽情玩你的游戏。

恰当的例子:

Chgowiz使用共享骰子系统。当游戏开始时,每个玩家有2个骰子。当玩家想执行某个行动时,就必须转动桌子中间的骰子。转动后的骰子就“回归”到GM手中。当玩家做了一些明 智的行为或选择放弃行动时,GM就会把骰子放回桌子中间。当骰子使用完,所有行动都不可执行,除非GM放出更多骰子。

创作Chgowiz RPG

我太啰嗦了(你可能在之前的文章中已经注意到了吧),几乎迷失在文本中,全然忘记自己当初想说什么了。我的创作风格偏向科幻,适合《Icar》,但不太适合Chgowiz。通过引 用和在插图中添加故事,我淡化了这种风格。游戏的规则仍然是简洁的文本形式,同时为了便于浏览而有所简化。

最近我遇上了时间问题,因为工作变更和升为人父。另外,我又迷上了《我的世界》。幸好,在儿子睡觉时,我又能回归正轨写我的RPG。

我没有直接在InDesign中编辑(写《Cloudship Atlantis》、《Commando》和《Icar》倒是这样),我使用Google Docs作为简单的文本编辑器,这样比较不会受到图像或布局的干 扰。

cloudship(from stargazersworld.com)

cloudship(from stargazersworld.com)

接下来,我将告诉大家如何写背景以及如何避免常见的错误。所谓的背景就是,角色存在的、通过行动可以改变的虚拟世界。即使你写的是一般的RPG系统(游戏邦注:如《Fate》 、《Risus》或《Five by Five》),之后你仍然应该考虑写一个案例背景,用来显示该系统的独特之处。向GM展示这个系统的功能,以便他把你的游戏与其他游戏区别开来。确保 你的背景成为故事的发生地,矛盾重重、危机四伏。

构思一个背景是一件艰巨的任务。以下指导当然不够公全面,但权当开个好头。

隐性背景 VS 显性背景

背景可以是显性的,也可以是隐性的。所谓的显性背景就是,你创作的地图、地点、一系列NPC、情节等;而隐性背景就是,你没有写出来的设定、魔法或规则等规定游戏如何玩的 部分。例如,施放魔法在不同的背景下的表述也不同:

显性背景:魔法是罕见的也是难以施放的,它由居住在高塔的大法师所掌管。

隐性背景:要施放魔法,必投两次20面骰子。当两次都投中20点,魔法就通过。否则不产生任何效果。

显性背景表达得很明确,魔法很难施放,但还提到了大法师精通魔法。隐性背景通过描述规则体现施放魔法的困难,意味着GM能自由决定在这种背景下的魔法施放方式。

如果你写的不是一个完整的背景,那以我建议你的表达介于二者之间,即先说魔法很困难,然后再解释为什么。免费RPG的背景应该简单一些,所以创造一个显性背景,如果GM愿意 就可以忽略它。注意,你可能会不小心通过系统或资源透露隐性背景。

构建RPG世界

小说背景最好自上而下地描述。从游戏的主题开始,再到主题之间的相互作用。尽量让主题之间相互关联,并控制主题数量。扩展各个主题,添加GM或玩家可能玩到的细节。当你 已经描述到玩家角色直接作用的背景部分时,就可以停止了。除非是角色必须经常做的事,否则就不要描述。构建游戏世界是一个大工程,其规模取决于你创作的RPG类型。以下是 一些通用技巧:

1、让游戏世界有趣。如果像真实世界那么样,那就没有什么探索价值了。

2、确保游戏中的组织、神祗、国家、NPC处于互相斗争的状态。给他们敌对的目标和动机。斗争冲突会让游戏世界更加有趣。

3、在你开始创作以前,罗列出所有你想加入到背景中的东西和不想加入的东西。

4、给角色一些有意思的事情做。

5、避免绝对化的表达——比如,可以说“大战过后,几乎没有地精幸存于难”,而不要说“绝对没有地精存在了”。

6、假设你构思了一个地方,就应该让它成为角色的一个目的地。如果是一个NPC,那么角色可能会跟他/她有所互动。

7、你不必从头到脚地描绘整个地图或把所有种族罗列出来,你只要指出主要的类型就可以了。

8、地点、组织和NPC应该不止一个突破口,否则玩家就会很难发现。

9、如果提供宽泛的描述,请多使用形容词。“在山脉上”就不如“在崎岖的山脉上”来得生动。

请大胆想象。想从山上飞下来,那就飞吧。想让两个核大国的元首搞婚外恋,那就搞吧。

Chgowiz RPG的故事就发生在你的家乡。当地政府滥用权力,将普通民众当成无价值的实验对象。作为一名Chgowiz克隆人,你是精英部队中的一员,效力于政府,保护民众免于突 变怪物的侵害。然而,你完全不知道的真相是:那些践踏了你的家乡的怪物正是由政府放出来的!

应该在背景中描述什么内容?

只需要描述从你的概念中提炼出来的主题直接相关的内容。背景通常就是游戏大事件发生的地方。在本文的第一部分时,通过描述,你确定了若干个主题(游戏邦注:如危险的魔 法、交战中的大陆或星际联盟)。在描述主题时,要先叙述普通民众知道的信息,再补充主角才知道的信息。以下是你应该描述的内容:

地点

地点是冲突产生的原因,也是冒险发生的地方。如果你想不到让玩家去某个地方的好情节或好理由,那就不要描述它了。在描述地点时:

1、用形容词描述该地点的地理特征。例如:在一个狂风肆虐的冰川之地,绝壁的一角,河流包绕的,孤寂的平原,一个安宁的小村庄,紧挨着山脉的一边,向热带草原一直延伸, 在黄金海岸旁边,茂密的丛林……如果你觉得有困难,就谷歌一下相关地形的图片。

2、粗略地描述当地的建筑风格。比如:高大的石塔与桥和柱子相连,村庄里的房子是用石头和杂草盖的,闪耀着金属光泽的太空站……

3、描述地点的突出(或不寻常的)特点。这些特点应该吸引玩家去那个地方。要让这些突出的特点显得陌生。假设你描述的是Sauron的塔,玩家会自动联想到《指环王》。

4、给地点一些背景信息。为什么会存在这么一个地方?谁建造了这么个地方?为什么那个地方会有一个小村庄?那个地方的用途是什么?不要觉得你必须解释所有地方,但这些背 景信息会让一个原本很普通的地方显得特别。

5、给地点取一个名称。查字典寻找体现它的特点的名字。

在Chgowiz RPG中,我使了一些把戏。玩家会在他们的家乡玩游戏。当地的地点和道路的地图也是角色创造的一部分。为了让游戏更有趣,有些地点还隐藏了一些未知的秘密。例如 ,一个购物中心可能是某个章节中角色的集会地点。

人类和种族

描述居住在游戏世界中的人。这些人将是玩家角色的主要互动对象。你可以通过介绍不同种族的生理特点、人生观和才能等可以充实背景内容。种族差异可能不一定很大,但可能 就是偏见之源。有偏见有会有冲突,有冲突的背景才有意思。

记住,玩家角色必须出现在背景中:他们是好人还是坏人?他们是由一个种族还是不同种族组成的?

团体组织

给一群混在一起的NPC一个标志性名称。一个组织可能是某个地方的居民,他们怀有相同的目标,组成秘密团体。

目的:他们想得到什么?

资源:他们掌握了什么资源?可以宽泛地描述为“能影响法律的制定”,而不要说“有4个议员”。

公知:角色对这个组织有何了解?

势力范围:他们是城市性、全国性、大陆性还是宇宙性组织?

活动:这个组织做什么事?不做什么事?财政来源是什么?

盟友和敌人:他们与什么人交好?与什么人为敌?对敌人的态度是含蓄的还是公开的?

在Chgowiz RPG中,政府就是最重要的组织,怪兽、克隆人和武器都是他们生产的。

目的:靠他们的克隆人军队或怪物(哪一种胜利就选哪一种)统治全世界。

资源:大量武器和怪物。当然,一般政府能做的事他们也能做。

公知:民众是淳朴的,以为这是一个为他们着想的政府!

势力范围:全国性的,不过他们以为自己是全球性的。

活动:把怪物放进小城镇,以实验怪物的破坏力。派出Chgowiz克隆人战士前往消灭怪物。

盟友和敌人:这个游戏太简单了,所以政府没有敌对组织。一定程度上,政府就是在跟自己人较劲。

植物和动物

植物和动物可以丰富背景内容。不需要创造一个完整的生态圈。选择几种植物和动物,稍作调整,使之与众不同。然后确定它们之间的互动方式。也要做一个图鉴。

神祇

如果背景中出现神祗,务必介绍他们的作用,人们信仰他们的原因。太长的背景故事和历史就不必了。

通用NPC

国王、议员、英雄人物、恶人、著名工匠、公会首领、商人等都会增加背景的深度。不要忘记:如果背景中出现某NPC,务必让角色与他有所互动。为了让NPC有趣,他们必须追求 某个目标,模式化的角色虽然方便,但目标必须让GM容易理解。当玩家玩游戏时,复杂度就产生了。确保至少有两个NPC存在互相矛盾的目标。有矛盾才有故事!

Agent Backstard是政府中的克隆人联系人。他给克隆人战士提供怪物的情报。他是一个高大、憔悴、头发油黑的男人。他回答任何问题时都以“是,是,是”开头,即使答案是“ 不是”。他看起来不太可靠,那是因为他本来就不可靠。

T是一个装备商人。大家只知道他的代号是“T”。他虽然是一个浮躁的男人,但他卖的东西都是战斗的利器。通过无线通信可以随时联系他,甚至提供空降装备服务。

Doctor Socks是政府捏造出来的一个人,作为政府制造怪物的替罪羊。据说他是坐在格子扶手椅上咯咯笑的老头。

地理

地图是显示游戏区域的视野和规模的实用工具。集中于地图上某区域的细节,而不要面面俱到。你应该给GM一些适合发起战役的地方,和大量可以扩张的区域。

最近历史

在最近历史中介绍大事件,特别是如果这些事件解释了为什么世界变成现在这个样子。描述最近几周内对民众影响比较大的事件,或预示着将有巨变发生的事件。最近历史可以作 为情节导火线。

GM信息

给GM一些关于你提到的地点的额外信息。帮助GM展开剧情,如提出“如果……那会怎么样”之类的问题。解释你打算如何使用背景和你的主题。你必须很明确,因为GM可能很难通 过文本理解新背景的细微差别。

冒险样本

冒险样本应该显示小说的部分背景(和系统),并且给GM一个选择这个游戏的理由。冒险样本的目标是引出角色,以便GM直接展开冒险。保持冒险简单,要包含战斗情节和有趣的 情节。

使游戏与众不同

在构思阶段,你必须问你自己“游戏的直接竞争对手是谁?它与对手有何不同?”许多免费RPG被无视了,因为它们的内容与GM见识过的商业RPG相比,并无独特之处。以下是一些 可以避开泛滥主题的技巧。不过,我针对的是幻想题材,因为这个类型最容易出现重复。

避免模式化的幻想元素

玩家角色种族的定义就是第一个需要避开老套幻想设定的地方。你可能对“精灵”这种生物产生非常不错的创意,但就“精灵”这个名字就已经被用滥了。你应该使用其他名称, 以免受到幻想游戏粉丝的非难。唯一的例外是“人类”,你的游戏不一定要有人类,但如果有,人类应该作为标准种族。如果你的游戏中有精灵、人类和矮人作为幻想元素,那么 请注意,你的游戏可能已经陷入陈规了。

借鉴民间传说

许多幻想游戏受到北欧民间传说和历史的启发。所以你也可以从中取材!我不是民间传说专家,也不是维基百科。你不必绞尽脑汁找灵感。

《Chgowiz》有两个灵感来源: 《Godzilla》(一部1954年的电影)和Chgowiz本身。我看了原版电影和Chgowiz的源信息。

日本版的更令我害怕——可能是因为我的日语水平有限!

阅读其他游戏

在研究中,有两种说法:一是,无知放飞思想;二是知识避免犯错。这两种说法我都实践过了,我推荐后者。通过阅读其他游戏,你可以发现目前存在什么游戏,从而找到你的游 戏的间隙市场。你可能会认为挪威神话比较特殊,但通过大量阅读你会发现,Ben Redmond的《Midgard》和Nathan Russell的《The Beast of Limfjord》已经借鉴挪威神话了。

the beast of limfjord(from perilplanet)

the beast of limfjord(from perilplanet)

颠覆常见主题

颠覆常见主题可以让你的游戏显得非常与众不同。例如,在大多数游戏中,只有魔法师才使用魔法。那么,如果普通民众也能使用魔法,会怎么样呢?或者,在科幻小说中,如果 人类不能居住在星球表面,而只能永远生活在宇宙飞船中,会怎么样呢?

从类型之外取材

你可以从幻想之外的类型寻找概念,然后将其融入到你的游戏世界中。在观看科幻小说或《CSI:Miami》时,不妨思考一下如果是在幻想世界中,会有什么样的情况发生。机器人可 以是魔法概念——用破碎的岩石粘合起来的仆从。也许你的游戏是关于幻想犯罪现场调查的:某个矮人被取走脑袋,寻找脑袋,找出真凶。为了进一步扩展这个想法,你可能要混 合两种或以上的不同的类型。比如,蒸汽朋克幻想、太空歌剧超人、网络动画超人、现代幻想……

从自然世界中取材

自然世界是可怕的。将一些可怕的野生动物习性放到人类社会中。比如,在游戏世界中,有一个主要由女人和年轻男子组成的秘密结社,玩家发现它的风俗习惯居然是女人怀孕后 就吃掉自己的恋人!当这种行为被投射到有感情的物种身上时,自然界的现象显得异常恐怖。

Chgowiz怪物的灵感中有很多是来自自然界。我靠BBC的《Live n Deadly》节目激发灵感。

相关拓展阅读:篇目1篇目2(本文由游戏邦编译,转载亲注明来源,或咨询微信zhengjintiao)

How to write a free RPG – Chapter 1: Inspiration

The goal of this chapter is to create a concept from which you will be able to write the rest of the game. The concept is:

A brief overview

Description of boundaries

Target audience

How it is different from other games

Do not try and write a roleplaying game without a strong concept. You may produce something but you will find that it will be indistinguishable from other games.

The Idea

Before you write anything down, you need an idea. From this seed, you will construct a concept and that will guide everything you write. The idea need only be a single word or short phrase.

We will flesh it out later. If you have an idea, write it down in pencil in the middle of a piece of paper. We will use this phrase as the name of the game for now.

My idea is the Chgowiz RPG, first introduced in my Guide to Organising an RPG. Although it’s an idea I’ve already had, I will still go through the process to bottom it out.

If you do not have an idea

If you do not have an idea but know you want to make an RPG about something, here is how you come up with that seed.

Take two things you like and mash them together. For example, The A-Team meets 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Take a thing you like and invert something important about it. For example, The Terminator universe where an archaelogical dig turns up proof that it was the Terminators that made the humans.

Open a dictionary at a random page and take the first word. Do this five times and write a roleplaying game about that.
Check out the list of insanity on the 1KM1KT forum/.

Ask for ideas on a forum.

Read outside of RPG blogs, such as Boing Boing, Strange Maps or your favourite news broadcaster.

Open a text editor. Start writing. Write whatever comes into your head and don’t stop for 3 minutes. It can be anything at all. Do not think while you are writing, just let it straight from the brain. Don’t worry about proper sentances either.

Write a 500 word story set in a very specific time and place. Make sure you have a beginning, middle and end. Then build your game to represent that world.

Create a new game by fixing things you do not like about other games.

Grab a local newspaper, find something mundane on page 5. What would it take to make that extraordinary? Write a game about the world if that was to happen.

Generating an idea from other RPGs

Existing RPGs can be used for generating ideas but you must be careful not to plagiarise them. There is an Old School movement that seek to reproduce the feel of the original RPGs, you could try finding a modern RPG and creating a retro version of it. Alternatively, form an idea by fixing problems in existing games. Try filling in the following sentances:

I like RPG _________ but ____________ annoys me. I will do _____________ to fix that.

I wish there was an RPG that encourages _______________ type of behaviour.

I wish there was a game that used _______________.

Expanding your idea

Write down at least four major themes associated with your idea. These should be themes of a genre, such as: magic, space travel, evil empire, gods walking about, corporations, psyonics,zombies, non-human races. Write each of these themes around your central idea and draw lines from the central idea to each theme. Avoid using the broad genres themselves (Fantasy, Sci Fi etc) as themes.

For each of these themes, write down at least four components of them. Two should support the theme, two should be detrimental. For example, if your theme is magic, your supporting

components might be ‘easy to do’, ‘powerful’ and the detrimental components might be ‘illegal’, ‘dangerous’. Put a + sign in a circle by the supporting components and – sign in a circle by the detrimental components. By having both supporting and detrimental components, this will create conflict and provide you with the seeds of a balanced setting.

Trial by Questioning

Answer each of the following questions. Do not proceed until you know all the answers.

What will the players do?

What is fun about it?

Why am I designing it?

Who will play it?

What do I want to do with it?

Are you going to publish it in print on demand?

Is it suitable for Campaigns or One-Shots?

What’s its closest rival and how is it different?

What will the players do?

The players will be killing giant mutant monsters by working out their weakness and using cool toys. The characters might die quite often but that won’t be a big problem as there are loads of clones.

Why is that fun?

Each monster has different weakness that will need to be discovered. Killing things is fun. Using cool toys is fun. The monsters will be smashing up the players’ home town.

Why am I designing it? Am I going to play it?

I am designing it for an example. I am going to try and play it.

Who will play it?

Male teens to 30 somethings.

Is it suitable for Campaigns or One-Shots?

One shot.

What do I want to do with it?

Upload it to 1KM1KT and spread it around the net. Not interested in publishing a hard cover.

What’s its closest rival and how is it different?

I am not entirely sure, I think Mutants and Masterminds comes close, as does Mutant Chronicles.

What style of game will it be?

It is not important to tie down exactly the style of play the game will engender but it will help you decide whether or not to include something later one. On each of the graphs below, put a spot where you would like your game to be.

Co-operation

Players co-operate Players compete

Shared resources Individual resources

Mechanics

Rules for everything General rules

No dice Lots of dice

Easy to die Hard to kill

Character creation

Random (quick) Point buy (slower)

Choose from a list Players make it up

Rapidly changing characters Static characters (no advancement)

Tactical

Grids + miniatures Scrawled piece of paper

Precision measurements Purely descriptive

Style

Personal quest World changing consequences

Humourous Serious

Realistic Cinematic

Here is what I chose for the Chgowiz RPG, roll over the graphics to see my thoughts behind each one.

players co-operate Players compete

Shared resources Individual resources

Rules for everything General rules

No dice Lots of dice

Easy to die Hard to kill

Random (quick) Point buy (slower)

Choose from a list Players make it up

Rapidly changing characters Static characters (no advancement)

Grids + miniatures Scrawled piece of paper

Precision measurements Purely descriptive

Personal quest World changing consequences

Humourous Serious

Realistic Cinematic

Pitch it

In the future, a GM is going to pitch the game to a group of players. The act of pitching will force you to more tightly define what it is you are trying to achieve. If you discover that you are repeating yourself a lot, then this is a good thing, it means that you have a tightly defined idea of what the game is about. Do all of these pitching activities:

Describe your game in 5 words.

Elevator pitch, describe your game verbally in 12 seconds. Keep trying until you can.

Create a marketing blurb that you might read on a post. No more than 25 words, no less than 12.

Draw an advert for your game on a bit of paper.

1. Describe your game in 5 words.

Giant monsters versus cloned soldiers or Monsters, Soldiers, Guns, Clones, Gadgets

2. Elevator pitch, describe your game verbally in 12 seconds. Keep trying until you can.

In Chgowiz The RPG, you play cloned super soldiers tasked with taking down giant monsters who are wrecking your town.

3. Create a marketing blurb that you might read on a post. No more than 25 words, no less than 12.

They are clone soldiers. They have the toys. They have the target. Can they stop the giant monsters from trashing your town?

Now pitch it to your roleplaying group. Is it the sort of game they would like to play? Is the premise fatally flawed? Your friends will provide you with an important grounding. Can you imagine playing this game? If you can, you’re a long way towards an idea that will work. Is the idea exciting to you? If it isn ’t then it will come across in your writing.

Create the Concept

You should now have a good idea of what your game is about and so it is time to write your Concept. Your Concept is a statement about what the game is going to achieve and how it might achieve it. Write down in no less than 200 words what your game is about, incorporating all the elements in this chapter.

Chgowiz The RPG is a roleplaying game set in the near future where a corrupt government keep accidentally unleashing giant monsters onto the general populace. The players play a fearless army of Chgowiz Soldier clones who must destroy the monsters by finding their weaknesses and using cool toys to bring them down. The core system is lite but with lots of options, which adds a fair amount of crunch. The players are invited to describe their home town with a simple map for the monster to destroy.(source:thefreerpgblog)

How to write a free RPG – Chapter 2: Research

Research is the act of gathering information to strengthen your game. If approached with gusto and the right mindset, research can be very enjoyable. By the end of this chapter, you will know how to research, what to research and when to stop.

The benefits of researching before you design are:

Helps avoid reproducing a game that’s already out there

Ensures your facts are straight

Aids inspiration

How much research?

It is important to set a limit on the amount of time you spend researching. By capping the amount of research you do, you will limit the scope of information you have to sift through. Do not set a cap on quantity as it is quality that matters. Set one of the following caps.

By date. Set a date and be finished by then.

By duration. Set a number of hours and stick to it.

How to research

The method I prefer to use (both for RPGs and academically) has three steps: Grab, Sort and Filter. Repeat this process until you run out of your self- allotted time.

Grab

You run round grabbing whatever you see that is appropriate. This requires a lot of Googling (see Where to Research) followed by pasting into a note taking tool. Good tools I’ve used are Google Docs, Evernote and your notebook. Don’t worry about tagging, organising or even reading your information in depth. Just collect it: text, images, quotes, search terms, links, YouTube videos – anything!

Sort

For each piece of research you find, group it into one of these categories:

Core. Information that you know you will need.

Inspiration. For those items that just light your mind up but does not have an obvious application.

Off Topic. Some of the things you grabbed might turn out to be not useful. Don’t throw them away because you might need them for another game.

Filter

For each of the categories you sorted, order them in importance. The very top item should be absolutely key to your game. Be ruthless in your filtering, too much information is overwhelming. Get to the nub of what your game is about.

What to research for?

Research is best performed in those areas where you are going to diverge from what you already know. For example, if you know what roleplaying system you are going to use then do not research lots of roleplaying mechanics. If you are creating your own diceless system or you do not know what system to use then it is worth researching those areas. It is comforting to read research that is familiar but that comforting feeling normally means you are wasting time cementing what you already know.

A list of things to research for:

For each of the main themes of your game, find five relevant web pages. Try finding a YouTube video that represents part of your game concept.

Read around inside the genre of your setting. For example, if its Fantasy, read something other than Tolkein.

Find an existing game that is the closest match for your concept. What does it do well? What does it do badly? Is your concept different enough to be worthwhile?

If your ideas are based around a new System, try and find an existing system that has the same benefits or drawbacks.

Read a few other free RPGs that are similar to yours. Take notes on how they are organised and how they describe complex things. Do they do it well or poorly? You can find lists of free RPGs in either my free directory or the venerable John H. Kim’s Free RPGs on the Web.

Read those free RPGs that people are always recommending (Risus, Sketch, Fudge, Fate, Dungeonslayers, Five By Five, Lady Blackbird, Warrior Rogue and Mage). What makes them good? Why do people like them? What can you do in a similar way?

Read a few reviews of Free RPGs (from this blog or elsewhere) and check out the common themes. Most of the common problems I have found will be listed in the course of this guide but other reviewers come up with excellent points too.

Collect a bunch of images (or deviantArt or Flickr) that help you define the feel of your game. These are not images you necessarily use in the final game (so can be copyrighted images you find at random) but will be useful for inspiration.

Ask on forums about the concept, do people think it is a good idea? Perhaps someone may know that it has been done before.

Where to research?

The best research is from the source. If you are creating about a place, go there. If it is media (Books, TV, film) then consume that media. The local library and Wikipedia are also useful but beware that these sources can be third hand. If you are writing a game about the world in which we live, try and find an expert in the precise area – for example you might want to ask a grandparent about life in the 1950s.

Google can also be a wealth of information. Google Streetview can help you describe a place in the modern world (if you cannot go there) and Google Maps can be used for inspiration. Be careful not to copy copyrighted material. Google Images can be used to help inspiration by typing in keywords associated with your concept.

Research for chgowiz: The RPG

For research, I gave myself just two evenings (about 4 hours). Below is the end result of my grab, sort and filter. I have grouped them by some of the What to Research topics and have left out things that are Off Topic.

For each of the main themes of your game, find five relevant web pages
Giant monsters:

Japanese monster films

Giant Monsters Attack blog

BBC TV Planet Dinosaurs

Wikipedia list of giant monster films

Japanese spider crab (real!)

Kill all monsters blog

Cloned soldiers:

Attack of the Clones

Wikipedia article on Supersoldiers

Soldat – mad 2D shooter

Genetic engineering in Sci Fi

Genetically Modified Super Soldiers or Robotic ones

Corrupt Government, City Desctruction (regarding science and military)

Trillion of dollars of missing from US defence department

Military government corruption around the world

Above top secret

Top 10 most destroyed cities in movies

Top 10 movie explosions

Gadgets

Top 5 military gadgets

Top 10 coolest sci fi weapons

Best and worst Sci Fi gadgets

Extreme sports gadgets

Strange and Cool vehicles

Find an existing game that is the closest match for your concept

The Paranoia RPG did cloning well but I want death to be more of a pain in the rump. I also want each clone to be slightly different to the last one. This means that when you die, you might end up with a clone that isn’t as good as the last one. I could add a little mutation in with each Chgowiz, giving every character a unique trait. I don’t want them to be mutants, though – that’s too far. Perhaps a stat boost or different special power.

If your ideas are based around a new System, try and find an existing system that has the same benefits or drawbacks.

My ideas are based around a new system (for the purpose of the guide). The action/combat system will use a similar system to Cloudship Atlantis, which has a bunch of dice all the players share. The benefit is that players have to work together and sometimes choose to fail. The drawbacks is that if the players are tired and not getting into the game, they will find it difficult to generate more dice. The city will need to be created in a joint story-games way. The monster will be randomly rolled like in Elliot ‘Kumakami’ Brown’s wonderful Feast of Goblins.

In this Chapter, we will look at the act of writing itself. By the end you will know some habits to keep and pitfalls to avoid. The second part of this chapter focuses on style and details how writing in a particular way can help the GM and players pick it up.

The first rule of writing an RPG is to keep writing. Do not edit until you have a full first draft of the game. The first draft will be poor but you need to have a complete game before a proper edit can occur. If you get stuck on an area, make a note in the document (I use a load of Xs like ‘XXXXXXXXXX’ to make it easier to pick the notes out) and move on. Writing a roleplaying game is a little like writing a novel, some of the ideas included here are applied to both and you can plunder novel writing resources if you get stuck.

Getting it finished

Any large project requires dedication to complete. Initially, you will have a fire and passion of enthusiasm, which will last about one third into the project. If you manage to force through that barrier, the next drop in enthusiasm comes at two third through. If you can get through those then the chance of you completing is extremely high. Here are some habits and tips to help you push through those barriers.

Set a deadline to have a ‘test’ version of the document. Stick to it. Produce whatever you can by that date. Whatever you have at that date, release it to the community – even if it is far from finished.

Schedule small releases to the free RPG community. Release small, release often.

Collect feedback from the community but don’t edit your game right away – wait until it is finished.

Don’t re-read the game until it is finished.

Set aside a time each day or week when you sit down to write. Do write outside of this time but never miss it. Use a calendar to set a regular appointment with a reminder to send you an email/text/tweet.

If you have control over the computer you’re writing on, set up a new user account that does not have access to games and puts parental filters on games/RPG forums sites to reduce the distraction.

Use whatever time you have, great progress can be made even in a half-and-hour lunch break or while the newborn baby is sleeping.

Schedule what TV programs you are going to watch and watch only those. Never channel-hop.

Open a dialogue with friends and family (non-gamers too) about what you are trying to achieve. By talking about the game, you will find it easier to keep motivated. They might also enquire how it is going and that acts as a softly softly pep talk. Show them the work you have put in.

Write the game in any order. Later in this guide, you will learn about ways to organise your game. Organise it last, write it first.

[Optional] Play appropriate music to the genre you’re writing in for inspiration. Soundtracks to films that inspire your genre are useful.

When you feel like you’re flagging, print out an attractive chunk of your game (like a picture you found) and put it on the wall next to where you create.

Good practise

Write these best practise tips on post-it notes and stick them near the place where you write.

Never delete text forever – when cutting a section, copy into a ‘scraps’ document, label it and leave it for later (I do this with graphics too).

Do an off-site backup your work weekly. Either upload to a free file storage (such as Google Docs) or put on an old USB thumb drive and hand to a friend or put it in your desk at work/locker at college.

If you are stuck finding a name for something, use Thesaurus.com to help find similar words. Mash similar words together.

If writing starts to slow, move onto the next section.

Writing rule Examples

A good example is essential to making your game playable. Examples should be both compound and independent. Compound examples are where one example leads on from a previous example, for example, if you describe an example character John Smith with a Strength of 9 in one example, John Smith should have a strength of 9 in all examples thereafter. Independent examples do not rely upon previous examples to be understood. A single example should be enough to demonstrate a ruling. Remember that the GM uses the book as a reference, so lean towards independent examples or repeat the important parts of John Smith.

A good example takes a small part of the rules and demonstrates it. Larger examples can build upon the simple, atomic examples but be sure to include both. Atomic examples are good for reference, longer examples are better when the book is read through at first.

Good rule example for ‘Choosing to fail’:

Chgowiz Clone 4123 wants to shoot at Godzilla with a Turbo-Mega-Cannon. His Brawn attribute is 5 and his Guns skill is 5, giving him 10 (Attribute + Skill). The shot is normal difficulty so he needs 12 to pass. There are only 2 dice in the pool in the middle and shooting will burn one of those.

The player knows that although shooting Godzilla would hurt it, one of the other players is going to try and ram Godzilla with a tank next turn and will probably need all the dice he can get to pass it! Instead, Chgowiz Clone 4123 decide to choose to fail. The other players decide that the shot misses and blows a chunk of the Post Office away, removing cover for another Clone character. Oops! The GM awards another die into the middle for comedy of it all. There are now 3 dice in the middle and the tank driving Clone is much more likely to hit!

Actual play examples can be useful but be careful to keep them curt and to the point – you do not have to write precisely how people speak. If you have particularly tricky parts to your system, include more than one example. It is unlikely that your audience will be completely new to roleplay.

Style

Poor writing style can make your game inpenetrable. Good style can make a complex game appear simple. Write the book the way it is supposed to be played:

Optional rules are fine, mark them clearly as such.

Do not load down the game with ‘The GM can ignore this if he/she likes…’

Avoid an overly chatty style of writing, it adds words and does not help the reader. Strike a balance between being interesting to read and being informative. Check the example below.

Justifications of why a rule is prefered over another belongs on a website.

Describe your game objectively and compare it to others only if you are extending the rules or using it as a basis. It is OK to say “Using Fudge rules but with more dice rolling” but not “It’s like D&D but lighter and more fun”.Avoid elaborating in too much detail on a part of the system which is not core to the concept.

Do not add anything to the RPG that is not going to enhance the concept. If you have an idea for a tangent, write it in a notebook and use it later.

Avoid including your design process, that is best left on the website or internet forum.

Bad writing example:

Chgowiz uses a completely new and brilliant system where the players share a bunch of dice in the middle of the table. It’s so much better than all other roleplaying games because there is normally no penalty to just rolling a skill as many times as you like, here you use up a shared dice when you do it. Sure, fewer dice are rolled but then it means more when they are. I chose this rule to force people to work together, which works really well. The GM puts more dice in when the players have good ideas or do cool things or have fun but you can ignore than if you want. It’s up to, it’s your game.

Better writing example:

Chgowiz uses a shard pool of dice in the middle of the table. When the game starts, 2 for every player are put into the middle. When a player wants to do an action, they must roll a dice from the centre of the table. This dice is ‘burnt’ and handed back to the GM. When the players do something fun, clever or choose to fail an action, the GM awards them by putting dice back into the middle. When the dice run out, all actions fail until the GM puts more back in.

Writing Chgowiz the RPG

I am frighteningly verbose (you’ve probably noticed in other posts) almost to the point of being lost in a paragraph of text and completely forgetting what it was I was trying to say in the first place. The style tends to lean toward the scientific, which is K for Icar but didn’t feel right for Chgowiz. I lightened the tone by writing quotes and paragraph-long stories in callout boxes for flavour. The rules could remain clean of chatty text while lightening it for those reading through.

I have also had time issues recently, given changes in job (for the worse then for the better) and being the father of a toddler who likes to play with parents. Also Minecraft has consumed my soul. In a nice way. I am getting back my routine that involves writing for an hour once my son is in bed.

Rather than write straight into InDesign (which is how I wrote Cloudship Atlantis, Commando and Icar), I used Google Docs, as a simple text editor. This way there are no distractions by messing around with graphics or layout.

In this Chapter, you will learn how to write an unique setting; what to include and how to avoid common pitfalls. The setting is the imaginary world that will act upon the characters and that the characters will change with their actions. Even if you are writing a generic roleplaying game system (such as Fate, Risus or Five by Five) then you should still consider writing an example setting that showcases the unique features of the system. Show the prospective GM what can be done with the system, it will help you differentiate your game from all the other games out there. Make sure your setting is a place where things happen, fill it with conflicting organisations and danger.

Creating a setting is a huge task and this guide is far from complete, acting only as a starting point.

Implicit vs Explicit Settings

Your setting can either be explicit or implicit. An explicit setting is one where you create maps, locations, a range of NPCs, plot hooks and so on. An implicit setting is where you do not write any of that but you do create a bestiary, spells or rules that constrain how the game is played. For example, for spell casting, the difference might be:

Explicit Setting: Magic is rare and difficult to perform, it is controlled by an Archmage who lives in a tower.

Implicit Setting: To cast a spell, roll 2D20. On two rolls of 20, the spell passes. Otherwise nothing happens.

The explicit setting lays out in black and white that magic is difficult but adds the flavour of the Archmage. The implicit setting makes spell casting difficult through rules but means that the GM is free to decide on how it is implemented in the setting they create.

If you are not writing a full setting, I recommend you take the middle ground, noting that magic is difficult and then demonstrating why. A free RPG should make life easy for the GM and as such create an explicit setting and let the GM ignore it if they wish. Be aware that you may inadvertently write an implicit setting by system or resources.

Building your world

Novel settings are best described from a top down point of view. Begin with the major themes of the game and how they interact. Try and keep the themes limited in number and intertwined. Expand on each of the themes, adding only detail that the GM or players might need to play. Stop when you have described the parts of your setting that the player characters directly interact with. Unless going to the toilet is something the player characters will be asked to do a lot, do not describe it. World building is a huge topic, which is very dependent on the genre of RPG you are creating. Here are some general tips:

Make the world exciting. If the world is mundane, there will be no desire to explore it.

Ensure that organisations, Gods, nations, NPCs are in conflict with others. Give them opposed goals and motivations. This conflict will make your world more interesting.

Before you start writing, list all the aspects you want in the setting and then list the things you do not.
Give the characters something to do that is interesting.

Avoid absolutes – it is better to say that there are few Gnomes left after the Gnomageddon rather than none at all.
Assume that if you include a location, the players will try to go there. If you include an NPC, assume that they will shoot it in the face.

From top-down, you don’t have to draw the whole map or include all the races, you’re only specifying the big themes.
Give your places, organisations and NPCs more than one weakness. A single weakness can be difficult for players to spot.
If providing a broad description, use an adjective. ‘On a mountain’ is less inspiring than ‘On a craggy mountain’. Big list of adjectives

Be as fantastical as you can. If you want a flying upside down mountain, then do so. If you want the heads of state of two major nuclear powers to be having an extramarital affair then go for it.

The Chgowiz RPG is set in your home town and your home set in a world seen through the eyes of a crazy person. The Government are all powerful and view the people of your fine town as worthless test subjects. As a Chgowiz Clone, you are part of an elite army and fight for the Government to protect the people against huge mutant monsters, who want to trample and burn your home town! Little do you know that the Government sent the monsters in the first place.

What to include

Only include the minimum setting description needed to meet the themes you specified in your concept. Settings are typically where game bloat occurs. When defining the concept in Chapter 1, you defined a number of themes (such as dangerous magic, continents at war or space federations) start by describing these themes. When describing a theme, begin with what is known from the general populace’s point of view and then add information that the heroic characters
would know. Here is a list of entities you might wish to include:

Locations

Locations should act as seeds for adventures as well as the places they take place. If you cannot think of a good plot or reason a player might want to go there then don’t include it. To create the a location:

Begin with the geography and an adjective. Examples: on a windswept glacier, on the edge of a cliff, surrounded by rivers, on a lonely plain, snug in a valley, clinging to the side of a mountain, sprawling across a savanna, by the golden beach or in a sweaty jungle. If you are having difficulty, put the noun of the geography (such as Jungle) into Google Images.

Provide an overview mention its architecture (broadly). A tall stone tower of arches and pillars, a squat village of stone and thatch buildings or a gleaming metallic space station.

Describe its prominent (or extraordinary) features. These should be places the players will want to go. Try and make the prominent features unfamiliar. If you describe Sauron’s Tower then the players will automatically associate the tower with the Lord of the Rings.

Give the purpose of the place. Why does it exist? Who made it? Why should there be a village there? What purpose does it serve? Do not feel you have to explain away every location but purpose can make a mundane place feel special.

Give the place a name. Use a thesaurus to help find a word that describes it.

In the Chgowiz RPG, I am cheating here. The players will be playing in their home town. Building a map of local places and roads will be part of character creation. To make it more interesting, some locations will have a previously unknown secret fact. For example, the mall might be a meeting place for a Druidic chapter.

People and races

Describe the people who live in your world. The people will make up the majority of the people your player characters will interact with. You can add flavour to your setting by introducing different races with physiology, philosophy and wisdom. Racial differences do not need to be large and can be the source of great prejudice. With prejudice comes conflict, which in turn makes your setting more interesting.

It is wise to keep in mind the role your player characters have in the setting: Are they the good guys or bad? Are they made up from the different race or all one?

Organisations

This is a generic name given to groups of NPCs that work together. An Organisation might be the inhabitants of a place who share a common goal or a secret society.

Aim: what do they want to achieve?

Resources: What resources do they have at their disposal? Use general terms such as ‘Can influence the creation of law.’ rather than ‘Has 4 councillors under payment’.

Public knowledge: What will the characters know about the organisation?

Reach: Do they operate only in the city or countrywide, across a continent or throughout the galaxy?

Activities: What do the organisation get up to? What do they not do? How do they raise cash?

Allies and Enemies: Who are the organisation friends with, who do they hate? How do they interact, is is subtle or openly hostile?

For the Chgowiz RPG, The Government are the most important organisation as they provide the monsters, the Clones and the Gadgets!

Aim: To take over the world with an amazing army of either Chgowzi Clones or Giant Monsters (whichever comes off best).

Resources: Huge amounts of gadgets and monsters. They can do all the usual stuff a Government an do too.

Public knowledge: The public are thick, they think the Government are nice and care about them!

Reach: The Government are countrywide but like to think they have global reach.

Activities: Sending in Monsters into small towns to see how destructive they can be. Sending in Chgowiz cloned soldiers to mop up the monsters.

Allies and Enemies: The Chgowiz RPG is too simple to have them fight another organisation. In a sense, they are constantly fighting themselves.

Flora and Fauna

Plants and animals breathes life into your setting. Avoid creating an entire ecosystem. Choose some plants and animals and give them a twist to make them different. Then decide how they interact with each other. Include a Bestiary too

Pantheon

If Gods figure in your setting then be sure to describe them by what they do and why people praise them. Long back stories and history are only interesting to Classics scholars.

Common NPCs

Kings, Lords, famous heroes, arch villains, well known craftsmen, heads of guilds, merchants can all add to a setting’s depth. Don’t forget that if you
include an NPC, you should expect someone to shoot it in the face. For an NPC to be interesting, they must have a goal, stereotypes are fine but the goal must be easy for the GM to understand. The complexity will come when the game is played. Make sure you include at least two NPCs that have conflicting goals. It is through conflict that interesting stories are formed.

Agent Backstard is the Clone’s contact at the Government, Backstard will provide them with just enough information on the monsters. He’s a tall, gaunt man with shiny black hair that begins every answer with ‘Yes yes yes’, even if the answer turns out to be ‘No’. He doesn’t come across as trustworthy because he isn’t.

T is the equipment man and called only by his codename “T”. He is scatterbrained and finds it difficult grasp that his creations are used for fighting. He can be contacted at any time over the radio and can parachute equipment in.

Doctor Socks is a fictional man created by the Government. He is blamed for creating the giant monsters. He is pictured as a cackling old man in a plaid arm chair.

Geography

A map is a useful tool to show the scope and scale of the play area. Concentrate detail to one area of the map rather than spreading it out, you should give the GM somewhere well described to start their campaign and yet allow plenty of area for them to expand.

Recent History

Include large events in the recent history, particularly if they explain why the world is the way it is. Try and include a couple of events in the recent couple of weeks that would effect everyone or that would signal that there is going to be a big change. Recent History can be useful for the GM to create plot hooks.

GM Information

Give the GM some extra details on the places you mentioned. Help the GM create adventures by providing plot hook ideas by posing “What if…” questions. Explain how you intend the setting to be used and what themes you had in mind when you designed. You need to be explicit because it is difficult for a prospective GM to understand the nuances of a new setting through the text.

Sample Adventure

A sample adventure should showcase the novel parts of the setting (and system) and demonstrate why the GM should run the game. The sample adventure should be aimed at starting characters so that the GM can run the adventure straight off. Keep the adventure simple to achieve and include some combat or excitement.

Making your game different

During the ideas phase, you had to ask yourself “What’s its closest rival and how is it different?”. Many free RPGs go ignored because what they offer is barely distinguishable from commercial PRGs that the prospective GM already owns. Here are some techniques you can use to avoid common themes. I refer to genres specifically here but only because it is fantasy where the greatest overlap occurs.

Avoid standard fantasy elements

The definition of player character races is the first place where you can depart from fantasy lore. You may have an excellent idea for Elven creatures but the word ‘Elves’ brings along a huge amount of baggage. Use a different name and you are free from the strictures of fantasy canon. The only exception is ‘Humans’. You don’t have to put Humans in your game but if you do, then it is an understandable benchmark. If having Elves, Humans and Dwarves defines fantasy to you then do put them in but be aware that your game is running down a well trodden path.

Go back to the folklore source

So much of Eddings, Tolkein, D&D and other great fantasy proponents is inspired by northern European folklore and history. So can you! I’m no expert in folklore, and neither is Wikipedia. You don’t have to be to pillage for inspiration.
For Chgowiz, there are two folklore sources: Godzilla (the original 1954 film) and Chgowiz himself. I’ve got hold of the original film (trailer below) and emailed Chgowiz for source information.

Japanese version is way more terrifying – probably because my Japanese is minimal!

Read other games

In research, there are two schools of thought: Ignorance provides you with freedom and knowledge allows you to avoid other’s mistakes. Having tried both academically and in roleplay, I can recommend the latter. By reading other games, you will be able to find a niche for your own game by reading what is already out there. You might think Norse mythology is different enough but then you find Midgard by Ben Redmond or The Beast of Limfjord by Nathan Russell.

Invert a popular theme

By taking a popular theme and turning it upside down you can end up with a very different type of game. For example, magic in most games is wielded by Wizards. Instead, what if magic was the purview of the general populace? Or in Science Fiction what if the human race could not survive on planet surfaces and were stuck in space craft forever.

Borrow from outside the genre

With care, you can take concepts from outside fantasy and build them into your fantasy universe. While watching a Sci Fi or CSI:Miami, think about how various things would look in the fantasy world. Robots might be magical constructs – beings moulded from natural detritus and bound together as a servant. Perhaps your game is about fantasy Crime Scene Investigation: the Dwarf is missing a head, find the head, find the killer. To go further with this idea, you might want to crash two (or more) very different genres head on. Steam-punk-fantasy, Space-Opera-Supers, Cyberpunk-Anime-Supers, Modern-Fantasy.

Take from the natural world

The natural world is an awful place. So inhumane! Lift some of the terrible things animals do to each other and place them into societies. Imagine a player group stumbling into a society of mostly ladies and young boys only to find out that the lcal custom is for the woman to eat her lover after conception! When projected onto sentient species, the actions of nature reads like a nightmare.

The Chgowiz monsters will be taking a lot of their inspiration from nature. I used the BBC’s Live n Deadly programme for inspiration


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