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。
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。
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。
隐性背景 VS 显性背景
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。
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。（本文为游戏邦/gamerboom.com编译，拒绝任何不保留版权的转载，如需转载请联系：游戏邦）
How to write a free RPG – Chapter 3: Writing and style
by Rob Lang
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.
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.
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 OK 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 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?
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 local custom is for the woman to eat her lover after conception! When projected onto sentient species, the actions of nature reads like a nightmare.