Random Thought on Tweaking a Game System for a ‘weird’ setting

So here’s a thought, grown from an offhand comment in a podcast last week.
If you’re going to run a game in a setting, and plan on tweaking a game system to run it — specifically, a game system that’s designed for something else — you should first, foremost, and without exception run at least a short game with that system, in that system’s default… let’s say “genre.” By that I mean:
– If you’re going to use Sorcerer to run kid’s fairytales, use it for a normal game first.
– If you’re going to use Dogs in the Vineyards for a Vampire game, use it normally first.
– If you’re going to run Conspiracy of Shadows for a Delta Green/Resident Evil game, do the dark fantasy game first.
– If you’re going to use Spirit of the Century to run a 18th century swashbucking game, play a standard Pulp thing first.
– If you’re going to use Heroquest to run Firefly or Star Wars or Amber, use it to run some kind of fantasy game first.
– If you’re going to use Shadow of Yesterday to run Jack McGraw and the Mind-Kings of Jupiter or Shadowrun, use it to run a fantasy game in the world of Near first.
What I’m saying: access the system as intended before you decide what comes and goes during a customization; drive the car before you try to rebuild it into a 4×4. They don’t have to be long games, but they should dig deeply into the system’s conflict mechanics and the reward system and how progression works, before you pull an Italian Job on the system and start tearing off ‘unnecessary engine parts’.
This isn’t relevant to any particular game or situation — I’m as guilty of jumping right to the Modified Version as anyone (Petrana, and that’s fairly mild; Firefly, which wasn’t), but I think it’s a good rule to keep in mind.

One comment

  1. This is a fine idea, and a good extension of the maxim that you should know the rules before breaking them (usually applied to rules of art, music, and literature, but gaming would apply, too).

Comments are closed.