Thoughts on a game for 2023

I’ve been watching other people talking online about what they want to run, and I’m conscious that I don’t really have anything. I’ve been doing a lot of OSR stuff for years, but right now my interested in that is saturated by my Lunacantium open-table megaproject. I want to do something, in parallel, that’s different to that, and that is likely to be interesting to a wider audience of players. (OSR play, no matter how well done, is narrow in its appeal, both within and without “gamer” circles)

I want to return to my roots[1] a bit and do something in the post-Forge individual-PC-story-centric tradition. Something where each player makes a distinctive very motivated PC, where the players continuously use author stance to intertwine their stories, and where my role as GM is to help something interesting emerge from that. I’m thinking of games like Burning Wheel, The Shadow of Yesterday, and I guess Sorcerer.

Biggest complications:

  • I’m not really interested in PBtA — the obvious post-Forge choice — I want a universal resolution system, not a mess of distinct moves. (Think of Burning Wheel — there are principles for when you roll a Test and how you agree what the stakes should be, which the whole game then revolves around. I am extremely in favour of that.)
  • I want something that emphasises pace, while still giving the world and emergent story room to breathe over multiple sessions. (in particular, I don’t want any kind of very-extended combat, tho that’s probably a freebie in this design space)
  • I can’t get interested anymore in complex rules, except perhaps if I can explain what every little fiddly detail is going and why and why it’s worth players having to learn about it. (Hence I’m not interested in just running Burning Wheel — I never could understand why there was so much detail)
  • I don’t want anything that encourages system mastery — I want to be open to all kinds of players and levels of rules-engagement.

Big bonus if it’s no-or-low GM prep. I am cautiously open to GMless stuff, too (I’ve been having a pretty good time with Ironsworn co-op)

If anyone reading this has any ideas, please, the comments. In the mean time, I might tour this around the forums and see what ideas I get.

[1] Not my real roots — I got into rpgs when I was 7, and the Forge happened in my 20s. But it was Forge and the ideas around it that got me back into gaming after I gave up on it in college, and it did that by showing me what I wanted in the first place[2].

[2] To summarise that, briefly, I can mostly easily do in the negative — “not trad” i.e. no linear GM-written plots, high emphasis on player control of story, and player-in-PC immersion as merely a nice-to-have. Oh, and efforts to find the best value in shorter forms of play, with multi-year campaigns relegated to “well, maybe, that’s a thing you could do” rather than being the aspirational ideal.

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