There are several things which we believe to be true about role-playing
games. (Our survey results have
backed us up on most of these.) You should be able to infer a lot about
the current system from them.
Of course, there are games which break some or all of these rules, which
we consider to be perfectly fine games. We have even been known to play them
and have a good time! These are just what we think of as being perfect, and
we have no problem with anyone who thinks differently.
- Classes are too delimiting. They tend to put characters into boxes, and
discourage truly creative players.
- Levels are too artificial. People get gradually better at things, not
all at once.
- Skills should be consistent and their interaction should be intuitive.
- Combat and Magic are skills and the previous rule should apply to them.
- There should be no races that characters cannot be members of (subject to
GM approval, of course). In certain campaigns, dragons would be fine. In
others, birds and small woodland animals would be best. All rules should be
designed with this in mind.
- Game balance is overrated. The GM should be able to take care of this
through plot, rather than have it forced through awkward mechanics.
- Armour should reduce damage taken, not make it harder to hit.
- Alignments (as have been done elsewhere) have similar results to classes
(see rule 1). (IH has 216 (85766121) possible
- Random character generation is eventually self-defeating, since people
will often just re-roll until they get a character they like (ie. much
better than average). Point-based systems allow people to create the
character they want the first time. (Some people like random characters,
so IH has a suggestion on how to make almost-random characters.)
- Pre-defined magic is limiting and discourages imagination. Magic effects
which can be combined any way (as we have since heard that Ars Magica does)
would be better.
- A game should consist of a set of rules. A setting or genre should be
neither included nor assumed. A properly designed game will be able to
handle any setting.
- Vehicles are vehicles, weapons are weapons, and creatures are
creatures. It should be possible to design a single set of rules that
handle, for example, any means of conveyance from a skateboard or a horse
to a HyperLightSuperTransGalacticPlanetBuster; the former are just
lacking some (okay, most) of the capabilities of the latter.