Long before consoles, back when I didn't yet know the joy of sitting at home in a recliner in front of my wall-mounted "big screen" for hours and hours of console play, I embarked on adventures of the mind with my friends, armed with nothing but pen, paper, and dice. It was the era of the Role-Playing Game.
The 80s were filled with gaming for me. Instead of D&D, I played games like Star Frontiers, Traveler, Star Trek: The Role-Playing Game, James Bond: The Role Playing Game, Car Wars, and my favorite, Marvel Super Heroes. In the 90s, I joined the USAF and was shipped overseas. I discovered a game called Shadowrun and was hooked, despite the lack of many folks to play it with. By the late 90s, back home in Indiana, I tried to keep up my RPG habit, but eventually, all those manuals, modules, and dice got boxed up and put away, replaced by my wife, my kids, and of course, X-Box.
In the past two years, I've seen a number of RPGs rise from the nostalgic ashes, and it seems the pencil-and-paper/table top Renaissance is upon us. My youngest, now 12, a board game addict, has been very curious about just what an RPG is.
My first thought was to unbox the old stuff and teach her right. But then, I came up with a better idea: we're going to make our own RPG. What better way for a young lady to grasp the nuts and bolts of RPGing than to work on making a game from the ground up?
Many might think this is crazy, citing that developing a system from scratch would take too long--then they'd bring up the whole world-building aspect of RPGs. Well, that one is easily covered. Since 2012, I've been writing supernatural military fiction--I have over 30 books done, all in the same fictional universe. It's a wealth of material to draw from.
So, despite the fact I just don't have the time I once did for stuff like this, over the next few months, my daughters and I (we shanghaied the eldest into our nerdy cause) will be developing a new game system, incorporating features from the past, and all-new mechanics. It should prove interesting.
Our goal is simple: have a completed product done by October, in time for the Christmas shopping season--not that we really care if we sell any. This is a project for fun, but to do it right, we need to have the same goals any game designer would, and we have to take it seriously--at least until it's time to play and we can have some fun.
If you're interested in seeing what it takes to make an RPG, check back here for RPG Updates, as often as we can put them up.