9/05/2022

Hammondal: Presenting a High-Trust RPG

Back in the day, Cheapass Games began by publishing board games without dice ... because they assumed (reasonably!) that the kind of gamers who'd find their games at a hobby shop already have dice, often to a hugely redundant degree.

To a high-trust trad gamer (raises hand) RPG systems are a lot like that. We've already got hundreds, thanks, stacked to the sodding ceiling, so we're more interested in what makes a game special to us: Settings designed to be tactically rich. Adventures designed to be tactically rich. Resources designed to help GMs design and run their own adventures and other material, and to help players enjoy more satisfying play.

So, to me, and to other gamers like me, Hammondal: Light of the Candle Islands will already be a complete game. It doesn't need to come with a system anymore than it needs to come with dice. We're good on those. But I can't really describe it that way when describing it to gamers unaccustomed to that perspective.

So ... should I give in, and include a system, so I can pitch Hammondal it as what it is - a fantasy RPG?

Maybe. On the one hand, I find the perceived necessity exhausting. On the other hand, it'd make the process of explaining the game a lot easier if I hope to reach out to those gamers who've never (or only fleetingly) experienced high-trust play.

Systems cannot contain trust, but they can undermine it, and I could certainly include a system that doesn't. That would, if nothing else, be convenient if I want to publish adventures with pregens, for example (and I do).

And I could, by presenting a "complete" game (as some perceive it), maybe gently provide a more easily-digestible window into what high-trust trad play is like. Because in my universe of mixed metaphor, you want to be able to easily digest a window.

And I'd get to design a character sheet. That's fun! Even if most gamers I know would never use the "official" sheet any more than they'd bother with the "official" system ...

The Tradeoff

If I go that route (and I'm considering it, clearly, but haven't decided) I lose so much of what I love about systemless publishing. That clean portability, where you don't have to scrape away the system-crud in order to just play the game. I'd be preloading the game with that crud.

So I Dunno

Just thinking out loud, as it were. I'm leaning towards no. It's 4AM here. I need to examine why I'm considering this. Winding down. Hi!

The City of Hammondal