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Revolution D100

A new RPG from the makers of Stupor Mundi and Merrie England

PERSONALIZING THE RULES

WATCH OUT FOR THE RPG.NET Q&A ON REVOLUTION D100 WITH PAOLO AND SIMON ON THURSDAY OCT 15 AT 19:00 GMT. FEATURING ALSO CHARLES AS OUR GUEST STAR.

Today's update is about one of the favourite subjects of the average D100 player: customization, that is tailoring the rules to suit one's needs and tastes.

THE TOOLKIT APPROACH

Many, probably most roleplayers love to tinker with the rules of the game they play, sometimes rebuilding it from the ground, other times just adjusting some details that produce in-game results that the group finds bizarre. 

Most multi-genre roleplaying games originate from the generalization of a system designed for a specific setting or genre, and thus may have a "sweet spot" in that particular genre. But this does not mean that a generic system cannot support different genres with equal efficiency. For instance, the original game that fathered all D100-based ruleset was tied to a gritty, bronze age fantasy world. Yet its most popular and successful derivative implementation is a modern horror game. Flexibility and modularity are the key factor in this department.

The toolkit approach to designing a ruleset implies that the rules contain a wide array of gauges and switches devised to allow the players to choose beforehand among several options, with the rules suggesting which configuration and plug-in is the best for the particular kind of game the group has in mind.

An example of how choosing a rules option might be important for setting the mood of a game is the decision, quite common with D100 rulesets, of whether to use hit locations in combat or not. If your game is about a zombie apocalypse, you can easily figure how having quick rules for blowing up pieces of undead might be extremely appropriate. However, if you are playing a superhero game, describing the position of a wound in detail, or in the most extreme cases handling the loss of a limb, is almost always out of context. And what about a space opera game? Normally you would say that locations are not very useful here, but if I ask you to name a famous sci-fi franchise where the protagonists get their hands cut off every other movie, you might suddenly realise that there are contexts where they might be more than appropriate.

This example can easily show you that there is no quick and easy "right answer" to the question "Should I use this option in my game?".  An inflexible, option-less ruleset that tries to make choices for you might lead to an unsatisfactory game. With a toolkit ruleset, instead, when creating a campaign for a game world that the system does not support natively, the job of the GM is not that of adapting the world to the ruleset, but rather that of tailoring the ruleset to the world; either by following the suggested guidelines, or by trying unexplored paths for the most creative and daring GMs.

And this is the reason why the so-called "toolkit approach" is so popular with D100 roleplayers.

THE OUT-OF-THE-BOX APPROACH

While tinkering with the rules is one of the favourite sports of our usual customers, it is also true that some players prefer to have a simple, straightforward set of rules that they can apply without selecting options beforehand. They want to take the game out of its (metaphoric) box and start playing after reading the rules, without any preliminary choice to make. To them, options are an unnecessary complication that hampers their reading and understanding of the rules  of the game.

Yet Revolution will be a "toolkit" ruleset. How to make it appealing to this kind of players, too? It is quite simple: we will use the "open" part of the rules, the reference implementation (SRD) that we make available for free in electronic format, to provide an "out-of-the-box" version of Revolution, one that does not contain any option but heads straightforward for the explanation of the default rule. In this way people who dislike choosing among options can stick to the SRD, and yet have a useful resource in the commercial edition of the game to handle those rare cases when they need a variation of a rule - a need that this kind of player usually feels only after multiple sessions of play.

But how can we be sure that the default configuration that we propose in the Revolution D100 SRD is the one best suited to the tastes of players who prefer not to tinker with the rules? Well, in fact we cannot be sure that it will suit everybody's tastes, but by adopting the option configuration that was most popular during playtest we can at least ensure that there is a high chance that the rule default presented in the SRD will please the majority of those players who want to play Revolution "out of the box". And this is exactly what we will do: use the most popular options as the default for the SRD, and leave the description of the other options for the commercial edition of the game.

THAT'S ALL FOR TODAY, FOLKS. CHARLES, SIMON AND I ARE WAITING FOR YOU AT THE RPG.NET Q&A ON THURSDAY OCT 15 AT 19:00 GMT.