System Jamming

I have returned to this blog, as I often do, after a passage of several months. Suffice to say that my enthusiasm to write anything at the beginning of the pandemic eventually gave way to a general malaise, followed, eventually, by a return to attending other obligations. But once again I am back (for now).

Another thing that is back: the itch. The desire to put something together and run it for my dear (and patient) friends. Here I find myself at the foot of that great hill that I have so often gazed upon. Unsatisfied with 5e and uncertain where to turn my (admittedly fickle) attention. I have perused OSE, Into the Odd, The Black Hack, Whitehack, Maze Rats, and many more, but haven’t been able to settle on any one system. There are so many clever ideas packed in each one, but do any of them allow me to offer the experience I want for my players?

This is, of course, a gamemaster problem, more than anything. Every time I ask my players what would get them excited, the response is typically some form of “anything you decide to run!” They are, above all else, a kind and generous lot. But it’s true, game systems don’t matter as much to players. Gamemasters are the ones who work directly with those systems 90% of the time, so this makes sense. And game systems, particularly the minimalist structures that underpin the OSR and Indie design spheres, really don’t give players much to get excited about. The gamemaster may love how a particular system reduces the rules for conflict adjudication down to one dice roll and a reaction table, but this doesn’t give players the insight they need to understand the shared world/narrative space of the game.

So my new goal is to splice and dice some amalgamation of my favorite RPG system ideas and stuff it into a setting that I intend to build with some input from my players.