Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Design Challenge

When I teach my students about creative writing, I explain that you need to create a framework for yourself in which to be creative; if I give a student a blank sheet of paper and say that students can write about anything, paralysis sets in. If I tell students that they have to write a story with two characters trapped in an elevator, it's 8 in the morning, and one of them keeps sneezing, I suddenly have everyone with pen to paper.

It's just how creativity works.

So, I've created the same confines for myself with the new edition of Tales. I did it with the first edition as well, with the challenge to get the complete game system into 16 pages (which I later expanded to 20 when I realized I had left out some things I really wanted in there).

For this draft, the challenge was originally 64 pages, but I have since been able to slim it down to 48. So, the challenge is to get an entire game (basically, all of the Basic and Expert rules of '81, plus my own mad creations) down to 48 pages. 

And I'm almost there. I have a solid working draft that includes the following:

- 6 races and 6 classes, for a total of 36 possible race/class combinations. And with multi-classing, this actually means that there are 720 possible character options in the core rules (gnome fighter, gnome fighter/thief, gnome fighter/thief/magic user...).
- 31 Talents, including rules for alchemy, familiars, and ethereal animals (think Patronus)
- 120 spells
- Rules for chants
- Hundreds of magical items (30 potions, 100 miscellaneous items, plus dozens of combinations of armor and weapons, and every possible spell as a scroll - and the potential that any of these is cursed).
- 141 monsters (at present - might squeeze in a few more)
- An overview of a campaign setting, a campaign map (in full color), a starter location map with key, an introductory adventure, and hooks for further campaign exploration.
- And of course, guidelines for henchmen, hirelings, building strongholds, and 'name-level' gaming.


I plan to release the pdf first (in a week or two) and the print version a bit later. It will be a saddle-stitched 8.5x11 book the way that nature intended.



  1. I've been a meager writer for years that's sadly slipping further behind, but I get your idea of keeping things slim. The system I am slowly doing has a 'hard' limit. I've decided to keep it to 20pgs or less text wise. Art of course will change that up.

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