Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Island Crashers!

Last month Brent Newhall threw up an impromptu Fantasy RPG design contest. There was only about two weeks to come up with an RPG that fit a list of parameters. He was tired of the same-old same-old in Fantasy RPGs. He wanted something without the standard tropes of Sword and Sorcery so the contest was to make a game without things that you'd expect to see: No swords, no dungeons, no guns, no boring monsters, no women in revealing outfits, no barbarians, no Vancian magic, and no elves/dwarfs/hobbits.

"Island" by Elbardo
Back when I first started the blog I mused about a mash-up between Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom and Ursula K. LeGuin's Earthsea settings. I never did anything with it before, but the more I thought about it the more it fit Brent's requirements. I had to lean it more toward Earthsea than I originally planned, since swords and the scantily clad are a big part of the Barsoom identity, but it would fit naturally.

With my setting decided and ten days left in the contest I cleared a few days to sit down and write. I have a scattered collection of hand-written notes for an RPG system that emphasizes fast, pulpy play that I've mentioned here before. I took that scattered mess, read through it, and then I wrote.

The 3D System is designed to facilitate the fast-paced pulpy play that I love. There is room to be creative as a player. Combat is usually decisive and brutal while having the robust quality needed to for the fight scene in The Phoenix on the Sword. Magic is freeform, making wizards almost as dangerous to partner with as they are to face if they overreach their ability.

"Ruins - Environment Sketch" by Jorge Jacinto

The character generation system is integrated with the system. If there is a weakness, this is it. Anyone who wants to run in their own home brew setting will need to adapt the character generation tables to fit their dream setting or rewrite them entirely. I plan to make at least one fairly generic version of the game that can be used for different settings but the implied setting is going to be baked in regardless. What could be a bug for some I see as a feature. In the process of rolling up a character a player should get a feel for the world that created that character. The character is a natural product of the setting and fits into it.

"Overgrown Temple" by Jorge Jacinto

The Island generator is also not as complete as I would like. I'll finish fleshing it out after the contest, but for now it has a lot of repetition and does not go to the 216 unique encounter entries that I originally conceived when I started it. There was not enough time to fill it out the way I wanted within the contest time but it will allow a GM to create a viable point-crawl on an island in 15-20 minutes.

"Turtle Island" by Khirono

The setting for Island Crashers is an Archipelago that is slowly sinking into the sea. The need for new land to settle sends explorers out into the blue for new island wildernesses to tame. Too bad they aren't the only ones interested.

I basically jumped on the contest to force myself to get the game into a playable form that I could share. I don't know how Brent will be choosing the winner or even when. The draft for Island Crashers is rough, but usable and the island generator should get you a couple of decent islands for your group. There are some subtle hooks to draw your party into intrigues in the Archipelago proper, but there's no reason why you can't start with something like that.

If you do take the time to read through the rules I'd like to hear what you think about it. If you actually give it a try, I'd love to hear how it went and what your thoughts are.


"Fantasy Island" by Peter Lee