So, far be it from me to never learn anything from opening my big mouth, and I’ve been thinking lately about how I go about role playing game design – be it and adventure, a campaign, a character, and so on.
How much do you design from experience, and how much do you design from a standpoint of doing something different? Sub-question: If you’re designing from the standpoint of something different, is it different for you (something you’ve never tried before), or is it a reaction to things you commonly see (something you feel is unrepresented)?
I ask because, in my latest rant, I politely suggest that one could change the minor details of an adventure of other product to suit one’s desires. But how often do you do that?
For me, the answer is “quite often.” I have no problem with changing a product, however slight or large, to fit my gaming needs and to fit the personality of my group. I will fudge details just like I will fudge rolls, if it suits the needs of the story I want to tell.
Case in point: Monte Cook’s Ptolus, one of my all-time favorite RPG products, has some setting details that I don’t particularly like. My solution? Creatively throw them out/replace them with other details. The way I did this was pretty simple. I advanced the timeline of the world.
What I was left with was a Ptolus where the empire had fallen, technology had leapt forward in a big way, the planar focus of the world had shifted mightily, crime lords waged open war in the city, and one whole district (the Warrens) had been swept clean by city officials and is now the home of outcast races like Aasimars, Tieflings, and creatures who use Psionics.
That’s some pretty heavy editing, with some far reaching consequences and ramifications for the setting – some I am sure I don’t even see yet. But, all in all, it was pretty easy – just took some creative energy to tie it all in together. It makes something as simple as changing a character’s gender or an adventure’s setting a cakewalk.
How and why do you change material you use? Is it a matter of taste, of wanting to do something new, of wanting to represent yourself and your desires for a product more clearly, or something else all together?