Revising my first original game system

I decided to fiddle with an old system. Just playing around, but honestly I’m quite proud of this old thing.

Storytime (you may want to skip ahead)

Back in 2005* I made a game system. I’d made hacks of 3rd edition before (and my 2nd-edition play was such chaos that it was effectively it’s own system), but this was my first fully-original system.

At the time, all I really knew was what I’d learned from 3rd edition D&D, 3rd edition Shadowrun, and 3rd edition L5R, all of which are fairly crunchy.** I’d heard of the various World of Darkness games but not played them.

As it happened, while I was visiting friends, we had a prolonged power outage which prevented us from playing the video games we’d planned. Candlelight was a bit thin for reading hefty RPG manuals and character sheets, so I made up a system we could play with just some d6 (you can read pips by candlelight) and we played until the power came back.

The next day, I wrote up the rules, naming them the No Power system for their origin story. I made character sheets for everyone and we played a few more sessions. I think I ran another campaign of that later the same year. At the least, I have character sheets from a different group of friends in a different region.

Anyways, it was a rules-light system that, considering my experience at the time, I’m very proud of.

The Original System

I made up the basic rules in about ten minutes, improvising as we started, then revised them the next morning before we played. Maybe 4 hours total time spent working on them. Everyone had some custom rules and character sheets, so what I’ve got as an artifact is a photocopy of someone’s character sheet.

The sheets were designed to be a tri-fold, so they could close it up and have their character name on the front and some rules on the back, or unfold it and have the full ruleset and the cover on the back and their character sheet for play on the front.

Another upside of the tri-fold is that it fits in a standard envelope, so I could carry my whole campaign in one white envelope, which really helps keep things together.

Here’s the original:


I’ve now spent another 4 hours re-writing the rules, more the way I would right now. I’m not sure they’re not better rules, they’re just more in line with my current perspective on gaming.

I kept the tri-fold rules-on-character-sheet design and much of the core principles but rewrote everything last night.

Here’s my revision:

Why Did I Do This?

There’s the obvious bit of wondering what I’d do differently, but I was also reminded of it when I saw a mention of the different ways of determining a result being fortune, karma, and drama, and I remembered that I’d sorta naively combined all three in the little system I made up on the fly so long back.

Also, come on, it’s a 1-page RPG. It doesn’t take forever to do a revision, especially if you’re not planning to use it.

Anyone Else?

I’d love to see then-and-now versions of some other people’s early work.

* Not 100% sure, but I think it was late in my senior year of college.
** I’ve always felt it was weird that I was playing 3rd edition of 3 largely unrelated games at the same time.