Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Jeff Rients Channels Ryan Dancey

Jeff has a great post on his blog today, entitled The D&D Toolbox. He hits on lots of cool topics, and just when you think he's gone off on a wild tangent, he ties it all together with an awesome idea:

THAT is what I want from an OGL D&D pdf. Total effin' customizability. Give me a bigass checklist in the front of the file, like the ones that you can find in the back of old RoleMaster Companions. Allow me, through judicious checking and unchecking of little option boxes, to drill down to the exact version of D&D that suits my tastes. Give me the option of typing in additional text, or have the output of the program be in a form that I can easily edit. Then I can print out a copy for each player in a campaign and I will know that we're all on the exact same page.

How cool would that be? Frankly, it's exactly what I'm doing with my Moldvay/Cook/LL hack. When I'm done, I'll have a PDF that I can give to my players, based on the LL PDF but with my houserules in it. In essence, I'm going to be doing what Jeff wants to be able to do, but only because I have access to the Acrobat software necessary to make it happen. You could do a bunch of copy-and-paste into the word processor of your choice and do the same thing, but again, that's an ugly, time-intensive cludge.

How much cooler would it be to have a giant database of rules and systems that you could pick and choose from? Want combat to be light and simple? Pick the minimal options. Want more detailed combat, with individual weapon-vs.-armour aspects? Just check the options and activate them in your personal rules set. Brutal and bloody? Abstract and quick? Complex and tactical? Just choose the rules modules you want to use, and the rest will remain in the toolbox, ready if you ever want them. Then seed with appropriate clip-art, hit , and you have your very own RPG rulebook, custom tailored to your campaign.

Thing is, haven't we heard something like this before?


Jeff Rients said...

Thing is, haven't we heard something like this before?

Well, if it's gonna go down like that I think it's only fair of me to point out that I first proposed this same idea (though I used HERO and GURPS as my examples, IIRC) on RPGnet many moons ago. I'd link to the thread if their softwares didn't suck donkey balls. I remember the thread distinctly because it was my first time starting my own thread there and it pretty much fell on deaf ears.

trollsmyth said...

I'm not surprised.

I think this is one of those ideas that folks are going to need to beat on and beat on and beat on before it really begins to catch because the industry is so intensely focused on the glossy coffee-table book.

And yeah, RPGNet needs to fix their search software yesterday. :/

- Brian

thanuir said...

Currently there is a huge number of games available for free. Some are licensed under Creative Commons or OGL. They are basically a huge buffet to be stolen from when hacking together something resembling a game.

Making the process easy for a random gamer would be a great deed, but it sounds kind of challenging.

trollsmyth said...

Absolutely, an amazing deed.

I think it will be years, if ever, before we see a project on that scale. It's more likely we'd see something like an OD&D project that starts with an OGL version of that game, then has a list of hacks from things like James Maliszewski's Pulp D&D project mixed with my verisimilitude hacks and a bunch of retro-stupid hacks from Jeff. Because it's OGL, you could maybe toss in the entire SRD while you were at it, allowing you to "recreate" 3.5 D&D with it, or some wild variation of that game mixed with all the others. That sort of project seems a much more reasonable target at this point, though yeah, a giant, omnibus collection of hyperlinked OGL material would be incredibly awesome.

A sort of D&D Genome project. ;)

Bobaloo said...

fwiw, here's Jeff's rpg.net thread:

(Yahoo and Google have the site pretty well indexed. Just tag the search with site:forum.rpg.net. In this particular case, going off of Jeff's comment I went "site:forum.rpg.net jrients hero gurps". It was the second hit.

trollsmyth said...

Nice catch, Bobaloo. Thanks!