Generic vs. Specific

Upon the release of Camp Myth: The RPG (which was just yesterday), it brings about certain questions. One of them I’ve seen is “does it do a good job emulating Percy Jackson?” I can answer this one easily: yes. At the same time, though, it is based on a separate literary work and focuses on that setting in particular. Changing things around with the PIP system is super easy to do, though, so a quick-fix or hack will get you there pretty quickly.

The harder question hits home to a lot of game designers out there right now. “Is the system better than just using a generic system, like Fate?” This one can’t be answered quite so easily, but here’s my personal take on it…

I’m a system hopper. I like to dabble in several systems, instead of attaching myself to one and never moving away from it. Whenever a new system comes out, I make an effort to try it out, see how it’s different, and find out whether I like it or not. It’s not a matter of finding that ONE SYSTEM that I’ll never have a reason to leave. I’m definitely not one to hack every setting into a single system, because I believe every system is its own creature. Each one is attempting to create a certain feel to the game. Fate, while still quite crunchy, attempts to make gaming more narrative, whereas Savage Worlds focuses on making their settings have a pulpy feel. If we were to take a game like Eclipse Phase, strip its custom system that it’s so intrinsically attuned to, and replaced it with another… it’d be a different game.

In short: system matters.

When designing my own games, I work hard to create a feel, a mood and mechanics that enhance my idea. There are systems that are similar enough or strike the same nerve which make it easy to convert from system to system, but I’ve been to conventions where I run into people who say “No, I only play X game”. And fill in that X with just about any game or system out there.

Generic systems are cool, but if you dig down deep, you’ll find they are not as generic as you might think. If you’re looking to hack every setting to your favorite system, that’s awesome! There are other flavors or game out there though, so don’t be afraid to try out a new system/game!

Until next time.