An overview and explanation of my design goals for RIPE, inspired by Chris McDowall’s “Bastionland Manifesto”.
Disclaimer: I’m obsessed with mechanics and game structures. Worldbuilding and lore is always an afterthought to me. Also these can change at any time depending on the phase of the moon.
RIPE began as a heartbreaker inspired by Index Card RPG that was about managing your energy. Now it’s morphed into a game of Elder adventurers fighting against the Harvest.
- Every decision matters. Provide the players with several opposing choices and tasks to accomplish.
- Time and Energy are limited. This drives the above point; characters don’t have the resources to do EVERYTHING they want to do. They must pick and choose.
- Creative Teamwork is the most effective solution.
I run a LOT of games with new players. I pride myself on hosting a fun game and making them feel welcome to our hobby. However I’ve seen players get left behind time and time again.
Either they don’t know the rules well enough to contribute to the game or they lack the confidence/imagination to pitch a plan to the group.
Index Card RPG uses an enforced turn order at all times, not just combat. This forces every player to take the lead and contribute to the game. It was a little awkward and fell apart at times but I saw how it encouraged quieter players to step up and participate.
I want RIPE to encourage that same contribution from all the players in all tasks. Just because one player is the rogue doesn’t mean that other players shouldn’t unlock doors or disarm traps. This also has the benefit of enforcing creativity: “how will the mage open a locked door?”
- Empower the fantasy of growing older and more experienced. The main inspiration for this concept come from my dad. He’s in his 60s and is way more fit and capable than most people I know (including myself). If it came down to it, my dad could kick some serious ass. I’d like to see more bad-ass older characters in our media, and I DEFINTETELY want to role-play as someone like that.
- Core Rules are compact . It’s just a lot less work for me. I’m
- The character sheet teaches the game. See the above; I play with a lot of new players and the less rules I have to teach, the faster we can jump into the game.
- Worldbuilding through random tables/generators. Honestly this one is the most outside my comfort zone. But I still want to try.
As I’ve worked on RIPE it’s changed a lot. Some new concepts have emerged that I’m really excited about exploring further.
- Classful. Classless? Characters in RIPE are more frail than most RPG characters, but they make up for it with experience and skill. Thus traditional statistics were replaces with “experiences” in various careers/classes. You’ve lived a full life, you’ve done a little of everything.
- Vaguely compatible with OSR adventures. I have a huge folder packed with amazing adventures that I just can’t wait to play. Since most of these are OSR, then as I playtest and develop the game it will require a vague compatibility.
- Characters always have initiative. With the game’s emphasis on choices, the traditional “save or suffer” gameplay loop found in traditional RPGs seems really cheap and unfair. Instead RIPE has a system of “Countdowns” that give players time to react and plan. Even taking damage contains a choice that the characters make.
Rather than keeping a changelog or detailed list of notes I’m just going to post all previous versions of the character sheet and rules here. The game changes after almost EVERY playtest.
You can always find the latest version here: RIPE.