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My RPG Making Plan

I have been having troubles with the website editor. It is very good for making a blog or a website advertising your business, but I struggle to do anything else. There is an advanced editor, but I would hold that off for the time being. Okay, I am not ranting about the website editor just for the sake of it. I was deciding between having a section for Turning Toothbrush into Tentacles on my website and edit it whenever I want (kinda like read-only Google Docs), or only post updates to the game after I have made significant progress. Due to the limitations of the website editor, I am going for the latter and post updates via the blog.

It is easier to accomplish what I set out to do if I have a clear plan, which is the main reason I am writing this blog post.

First of all, I am going to rewrite the rules of Turning Toothbrush into Tentacles. There were many things I wanted to expand upon, but left them out due to the 200 word limit imposed by the challenge. Also, there are a number of changes I want to make to the mechanics.

  1. Tags instead of stats. I initially left out character stats due to the word limit, but I now wonder if stats are necessary at all. There are a number of RPGs utilising tags (simple words or phrases on what the characters are good at), where characters receive bonuses if they perform actions related to the them.

  2. Dice system. The core theme of the game are the characters' powers. For the 200 word version of TTiT, I used the 2d6 system of Powered by the Apocalypse games, and the use of power allows a player to turn any failure into a success, as long as they are ready to face a disastrous consequence. After some thinking, I decide to use a dice system similar to that of Blades in the Dark, where a number of d6s are rolled (depends on how good a character is at performing a task) and only the highest number is taken into account. The twist in my game is that the player gets to roll a d8 instead of d6 if they use their power, but a 1 on the d8 would mean that the power would spread in a way they cannot control (regardless the overall success/failure of the task).

  3. All about the moves. When I was introduced to Powered by the Apocalypse games, I did not like the sound of success with consequence. Coming from D&D, where consequences usually stem from failures, success with consequence sounded like an oxymoron to me. It was not the case when I actually played PbtA games, mainly because there is a heavier narrative focus, and that the GM is supposed to be a fan of the player characters. But there is another reason why success with consequence does not feel like failure, and that reason are the moves. In many PbtA games, the player gets to choose from a list of consequences. For (a very simplified) example, if the player character is some kind of hero and they got success with consequence while protecting someone, the consequence can be either having the target take partial damage, or having the PC suffer the damage instead. Since the player envisioned their character to be a hero, they chose the latter. The consequence did not lessen the success, but made things more interesting to the narrative. Coming back to TTiT, there was no way I could have fit in the moves in the 200 word version. I am going to include moves with meaningful consequences in the extended version of the game.

  4. Playbooks and archetypes. One thing that drew me into PbtA games is the character sheets/playbooks. Unlike character creation in other RPGs, I do not have to endlessly go back and forth between a blank character sheet and the rule book. In PbtA games, there is a playbook for each archetype (like classes in D&D), and the player only have to tick the boxes and answer a few simple questions. I am thinking of either using high school stereotypes like jock, nerd and goth, or having archetypes based on what approach the character use to resolve conflicts, like stealthy, diplomatic and aggressive.

  5. One-shot focus. Not a change to the mechanics per se. The 200 word version of TTiT was short in both word count and running time. I am going to keep the short, one-shot focus for the extended version of the game. I struggle to find people who would commit to an RPG campaign outside of D&D, so I usually just run one-shots for people in the local gaming store. In most RPG books I have read, the rules assume campaign play, and one-shots are usually afterthoughts. The rules of TTiT is going to be optimised for one-shot play, with additional rules for people who want to run a campaign.

Having no experience in publishing my own RPG, I am going to have to learn things as I go along, but here is my current step-by-step plan.

  1. Finish writing the rules. The core rules of TTiT is going to fit onto two pages like many other PbtA games. It will allow easy reference for the GM and players when running the game.

  2. Examples and advice. Many PbtA books I read are filled with examples on how the game is played, and advice to GM and players. I find them much more enjoyable to read than say the D&D player's handbook.

  3. Play testing. Self-explanatory.

  4. Commission some art. I am not good at drawing stuff, so I will pay other people to do it.

  5. Kickstarter? Maybe I will put the game on Kickstarter, use the money to make it a better product and generate some extra interest.

  6. Hire someone to do the book layout. Not sure if I can make a professional looking book in Word. Again, I will have to pay someone else to do it, which is why it would be good to do a Kickstarter.

  7. Self-publish. I will probably publish it on DriveThruRPG with a print-on-demand option.

Anyway, here are my current plans to make Turning Toothbrush into Tentacles into a full game. Things may not go all according to plans, but hopefully it will be an interesting journey.

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