Wow. Thanks for pointing that out. Just watching the character creation video I can already see would be easier to adapt than The Sprawl.
I’ve been trying to make a space game, using PBTA rules. I’m running a campaign with it currently, and it seems to work.
The issue is like. Boy I plagiarized a lot. I basically just assembled a Frankenstein game from other PBTA games. Nothing like. Flavour texty. I didn’t put the intro to The Sprawl in my space game. I literally just copied various moves. But you know. Plagiarism is bad. And I’ve been trying to rewrite sections so that they aren’t that but man is it hard to rewrite something Adam Koebel or Hamish Cameron wrote that doesn’t just make it sound way worse.
So I’ve basically trapped myself in this situation where I’ve assembled a game I really like but I myself wrote like 30% of it and have no idea how to reverse engineer the other 70% to be my own.
Moral of the story is, just write your own stuff, kids.
It strikes me that it’s not inherently bad to have heavily cribbed from other games, so long as you don’t try to sell your homebrew mix-n-mash to others for profit. I’d be interested to hear what sort of legacy issues and unintended consequences crop up in the gameplay through this heavy lifting from other sources, though…
I mean, to some extent this is natural from using the Apocalypse Engine? Hamish Cameron has cribbed heavily from the original Apocalypse World, as have Adam Koebel and Sage La Torra. I think, generally, those authors are probably going to be much more open to the idea of using ideas from their games more directly.
I wouldn’t say that specific percentages matter, but in terms of what Cameron keeps from apocalypse world, I don’t think it’s far from 30-70, honestly. Like almost all of the basic moves are the same. The new concepts that are introduced are mostly in terms of [intel], [gear], and countdown clocks for corps and missions?
I’ve been working for about four months now on a co-op prototype set during the South African Apartheid, spanning 1948-2000. The game takes place on a board with nine spaces on it, and within each space a player can affect certain goings on of that place in a specific era. By being a presence in a specific place players can enhance cultural, political or social standing that they have in hopes to eventually thwart Apartheid.
Player characters essentially represent different sects of the South African public, and as the years roll on in the form of randomized era decks (of which there are six, two of which are reserved for the endgame which takes place between 1990-2000, the more difficult deck coming into play if certain goals aren’t completed by the end of the 80s deck) these characters can pass away in prison, due to police brutality or they might just retire in the case of, for example, a rich Afrikaner sympathizer-to-the-cause. At the beginning of each era, a common objective is drawn from an era objective deck, which is then the goal players should strive towards during that era. The separation between the different decks is key as I’ve tried to strive for historical accuracy in creating these goals, so each goal could only be achieved during a set timespan. An AI-deck controls the governing forces, spreading out opposing forces across the map. Some characters can overtake these forces, some can try, and some can not. The players can use their standing to achieve their goals or oppose the government. After each round of player and AI turns another year ticks by. Areas of the map can be effectively rid of the Apartheid mindset even if the laws are still in effect, triggering a physical placement of a colored area over said spot on the board. As the game starts, the board is black and white.
So yeah, this is still in shambles on a mechanical level and might change. A lot. This is because I’ve mostly spent time reading about Apartheid and writing historically accurate event cards to the era decks and crafting characters that would do their best to respectfully showcase the people we have to thank for this system of oppression being legally overturned after 46 years. The decision of making it possible to fail the game is a difficult one but I feel like it only heightens what a monumental achievement it is to have happened in real life. I still have things I’d like to add to this, such as pass laws becoming a mechanic, but… well, it’s all very much WIP. I’m absolutely certain I will eventually have to begin courting someone more personally familiar with the subject to join the project as a stock white dude in Finland can’t really have any idea from books what it would be like to live under this system.
And yet, that’s kind of why I’m so keen to create a game like this. I feel like a good board game, such as Freedom: The Underground Railroad can be a unique, sombre experience the likes of which just don’t really exist out there in other mediums.
honestly, derivation is mostly fine in RPGs, a lot of the very games you used as your basis have similar roots, things taken from elsewhere and recontextualized, reinterpreted, transformed, or sometimes even just taken. At least twice I’ve pointed out specific moves I loved on twitter only for the system designer to chime in all “oh yeah haha I straight up took that from Apocalypse World/Dungeon World/somewhere else”
It’s fine to say “this [mechanic/move/GMing principle] is just really good, I want it in my game”. And PbtA is a mostly open format for exactly this reason, Vincent Baker’s not gonna be bringing a case against Hamish Cameron for straight up using countdown clocks. The clocks are great, keep em!
The writing specifically is what you should put in the work to make your own (but technical diction like “on a 10+, hold 2” is perfectly fine). Not just out of respect for the prior creators, but also because a lot of interesting ideas can fall out of you while you’re trying to do that. The process you’re in right now is worth the effort but I don’t think you need to feel bad at all about where it began.
I think the most important thing is creating a tone and direction for everything that feels cohesive.
In PbtA, the flavor is as important as the straightforward rules implications. A lot of the moves in PtbA games actually have very little in terms of direct mechanics attached to them and instead directly alter fictional positioning. There are no rules for flight, but turning into a bird clearly has a big effect on what your druid can do. Hell, the names of moves do a lot to distinguish the different PbtA games from each other.
And honestly, the most thing is getting your game into a state where people can play it. Playtesting and getting feedback will help you refine it into something better.
I didn’t actually expect any responses to this post basically saying “nah you’re cool” so that’s. Nice? And yeah. I don’t intend to sell it or anything. I just wanted a game to use for adventures in space that wasn’t completely impenetrable like, say, Stars Without Number.
Haven’t gotten any of these to the table myself but maybe you can take inspiration from these as well.
I recently designed a small RPG system for pen and paper games, that may be ideal for those looking to get into the hobby. Or those that want a more storytelling focused system. It’s a combination of the Fantasy Flight Games system used in the Star Wars RPG and the techniques used by Matt Parker and Trey Stone of South Park. It’s purposefully rules-lite, though I am currently updating it following some feedback to add in more gameplay examples, determining damage and character creation.
I’d love some feedback if anyone ever wants to playtest it. It should work with any setting. And please let me know if it’s like other systems out there as I only have experience with DnD (3.5, 4 & 5), Star Wars RPG, SLA Industries and some knowledge of Shadowrun through the recent videogames.