I am Sucker for Purpose

When I started working on my own roleplaying game, my main intent was to avoid switching systems whenever I wanted to play a different genre. And I wanted to keep it simple because maybe I could play it with my kids. Within these broad guidelines, I picked whatever I liked, improved what I thought needed improvement and filled the gaps with a lot of ideas that seemed convincing at the time. I did put together some playable versions. We had fun playing them and some players even used it for their own games, but it never really convinced me. After years and years of writing, playtesting, re-writing, I finally understood what I did wrong. I created what I liked at the moment, but didn't follow a clear purpose.

I think it was at the end of 2017 when another version of my game pissed me off. I liked it during design, but not so much during play. I had some interesting ideas and it was fun to put them into rules. The rules weren't supporting fun at the table, though. That's why I decided to go back and start from scratch. And instead of following an idea that seemed nice and pretty, I only followed those that could justify themselves. What was the purpose of a rule? Was there something similar in my notes already? Could I join and simply those similar ideas? Would that support my purpose?

It took me a year to get to the point where I thought I covered enough to be able to actually play. The advantage of that year was, that I purpose-checked everything. It took several loops. Ideas looked fine at first but didn't survive later features. The problem of that year was that I only took notes in bullet points and fragments. I had no clearly formulated rules text in any kind. And without rules written down it would be easy to miss a detail or simply explain them wrong to my group. I spent most of my end of year holidays and lots of my spare time in January to check my notes and put them into clearly defined rules. I am glad I did because I found that some of what I thought was clear had changed during concept. Completely unnoticed by myself. Now I have a rules document for reference that is reliable and double-checked.

Interestingly, just a couple of weeks ago Brad J. Murray blogged about intentionality and expressed a similar sentiment. Although, he focused much more on reasoning why it is important than lamenting about his process. Take a look, it is a good read.

Anyway ... I am really looking forward to the first game. I will let you know how it went. And hopefully, if it goes well, start sharing more about it.


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