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Sunday, April 7, 2019

Excerpt: General RPG Usability Notes

Just a quick check... this is an excerpt from the introduction to a book I'm working on:


It's a summary of terms and conventions I will be using that, with any luck, will be broadly applicable to many old school RPGs, with only minor tweaking needed for any particular system. I'm aiming to be clear and concise, but: Is this clear enough? Is it concise enough, or too concise? Can people actually use it to adapt OD&D-compatible game material to games on the outer fringes of the OSR?

Edit to Add: I'm trying out condensed versions of some paragraphs, including the description of the basic stats, which now read like this:

Dice -- How hard a monster is to kill, and how dangerous it is in combat, written as dice + points, for example 1 + 1. 
Armor -- Protection against damage, labelled as Light Armor (equivalent to leather or padding,) Medium Armor, Heavy Armor, and No Armor
Move -- How far a monster can travel on its turn and how fast it is in combat. Ordinary humans have Move 12 normally, Move 6 when loaded, and Move 3 when overloaded. 
Damage -- How deadly each attack is. Like Dice, this is written as dice+points, for example 1 + 1, possibly with a type, such as “fire” or “ice”.


  1. I think you should consider letting the stat line be as self-explanatory as possible. For example, 1+1 HD is probably more intuitive than 1+1 dice, and 1-6 is probably easier to grasp than "up to 6"

    1. Changing the frequency is possible, although the reason I used words there (up to 6) instead of a numeric range (1-6) is for two reasons:

      1) It lets me give "# appearing " without actually using that phrase, or "frequency" (saving a little space,)
      2) "1-6" looks like "1 minus 6", especially when right beside hit dice.

      On the other point: "HD" is definitely clearer to D&D players, my primary audience. I avoided it for pseudolegal reasons. However, if you can point to some '70s/'80s RPG products that safely used "HD" or the phrase "hit dice" without hassle, that would be a good argument for switching to HD.

      I take it that armor and damage are self-explanatory, though?

    2. Incidentally, although I've made no changes to the stat block itself, the points you raise made me go back and look at the explanatory part that comes before the stat block discussion, and I decided to try out a shortened version, which I'll edit into the main post.