Thursday, December 12, 2013

Gamers' Common: A Manifesto

Of Dice and Men brings up the concept of Gamers' Common. Originated by Frank Mentzer, it is an idea designed to get around the Edition Wars and bring all roleplayers together, regardless what game they happen to be playing. What it means is writing game supplements using terms that are common to most games, or at least understood by all gamers; things like Rounds, Hit Points, Experience etc. It then falls to the game-master (and players!) to choose what rules set they want to apply. This might seem like a bit of work, but isn't any different than trying to convert a really good adventure that might not exactly fit your current game, edition or preferred OSR. More importantly, it leaves things open-ended enough to allow for GM improvisation and adaptation. I don't believe that you should play anything straight out of the box.

Two of my all time favourite role-playing supplements are The Chronicles of Talislanta (available all free and legal here) which outlines the continent of Talislanta, the primary setting for the game of the same name; and Titan which describes the world of Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone's Fighting Fantasy and Sorcery! gamebooks. Neither has a single rule in them, but both are utterly bottomless in terms of ideas and inspiration.

I thought of both of them when I came across of Mentzer's idea of rule neutral supplements. I've been struggling to find a focus for this blog for a long time and my own game writing has been all over the freakin' map.

I find the D&D Edition Wars to be tiring and pointless* and my own pet favourite games (Talislanta, TWERPS and WEG D6) are a little too esoteric to fill out a regularly posted blog. Homebrewing is fun, but again appeals only to a very small niche market (basically, myself). Still, I want to share my ideas, or at least put them down in one place so I can refer to them later. Writing in Gamers' Common allows me to do this, and I don't have to cross reference anything to make sure I converted the THAC0 correctly.

So I am leaving the rules behind and embarking down the GC path. I might occasionally dip into a rules specific post from time to time (if I ever bother to finish that TWERPS GI:JOE supplement, for example), but otherwise I am going to concentrate my energies on being as general as possible.

*For the record, I am an OSR Grognard at heart, but I am a believer in playing the game in front of you. If the GM puts the time and effort into running a 4thE game, play that and don't bitch how AD&D or the Red Box or Labyrinth Lord or Pathfinder does it better.  

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