9 July, 2011
So, I figured I’d pick a little project to get me to post more regularly on here. I figured it might be nice to give some of you a glimpse into how a design project might work. I’m putting this under the “Weekend Design Challenge” category, but the challenge is mostly for me to post more often. :)
The project is to turn the d20 system (used for Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 edition) into a classless system.
I figured that some people might want to follow along at home, so here’s the plan. I’ll post on the weekends (for some definition of “weekend”). I’ll post something about the work I’ve done, and then give a bit about what the topic is going to be for the next post. If you’re interested, you’re encouraged to do your own work during the week and post up your thoughts in a comment or trackback. (Note that I don’t get some trackbacks from some places, notably Blogger. If your trackback doesn’t show up in a day or so, feel free to manually leave a link in a comment.)
Wizards of the Coast did something pretty daring for the 3rd (and 3.5) edition of D&D, they created the “Open Gaming License”. The goal was to mimic some of the “open source” licenses to allow people to create derivative products easier. This was a big concern, as previous owners of D&D were not always kind to people making derivative products. One of the big strengths of D&D has been that it is so flexible that you can create a bunch of interesting house rules to customize the game the way you see fit. The OGL was a way to make it easy for people to create products.
As a side note: it was very successful. The tabletop RPG industry was completely dominated by d20 books for a while. One could argue that perhaps it was too successful, as it lead to a lot of products of dubious quality despite creating a lot of great products as well. It’s interesting to note that the newest edition of D&D uses a much more detailed license; I couldn’t do this project with the 4th edition rules as explained by the license, as it only covers print or digital equivalent (.pdf) sourcebooks.
A nice hypertext version of the system resource document (SRD) can be found at http://www.d20srd.org/
My goal is to take the system and develop a “classless” system. To give it some context, let’s say I want to make a single-player RPG (downloadable or Flash) and wanted to use a system that was familiar. A game that uses the (unaltered) d20 rules is Knights of the Chalice.
So, why take a class-based system and make it classless? Masochism. Er, wait, I mean, personal preference. In university, I created a classless system for 2nd edition D&D that I used a few times, so I thought it would be fun to try it again. (And, if you go searching around in my old homepages, you’ll get the mental scarring you so richly deserve.)
So, the most important thing to do is research. Next week, I’ll post up information I’ve found after doing a bit of research. Do your own research and get ready to post up!
(And, yes, I know there are a few classless d20 systems like this out there already. I want to do the work myself, but I’ll show some of the other options next week when showing off my research.)
(Note that it would be best to hold off posting your own research for now so that people can try to work independently, then we can all compare notes next weekend. But do leave comments and suggestions about the project overall this week. Thanks!)