Thursday, July 1, 2010

An insight into "rules lite" systems

Yesterday we met for the first real session of 7th Sea, the new game in my "indie Wednesday" group. We had met once before but had not finished making characters. This time I had decided to set a time when everything had to be done, so we could play at least one scene. Having accomplished that goal I was struck by a sudden insight about "rules lite" systems.

I know some of my readers are familiar with The Bat in the Attic blog, and might have noticed the posts about GURPS there a while back. If you would have asked me two weeks ago if I wanted to ever pick up my GURPS books again, I would horrified have said "Never!". After last night, I think I might have changed my mind, slightly.

Just like GURPS, 7th Sea is a game where you build a character from points. Just like GURPS, there are dozens of things to spend those points on and choosing can take a while. A long while. That was really my main beef with GURPS.

Looking closer at the rules in GURPS, both from The Bat posts and my own copies, I realize it can be a fairly smooth game. On the other hand, if you spend all that time making characters, you not only feel an urge to cushion those Player Characters from danger (as a GM) but also risk loosing all interest in the game if it takes two sessions until you get to roll dice.

I don't know if I'd call GURPS a "rules lite" system, but it sure looks like a lot of the clunkyness can be found in the character generation system with point builds. This brings me to my newfound insight and hypothesis that the "rules lite" aspects that are so fondly spoken of in the OSR, is mostly the fact that the games most talked about are games where you get to dive into the action, right from the start. The reason "rules lite" is so popular is that "rules lite" = no point buy systems.

There, now go find a game popular in the OSR which have a quick character generation system with complex rules once play starts. I think that combo could be a seller.
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