Custom Systems and Customary Mishaps Ray O’Mahony talks about the joys and fears of running custom systems
Ray O’Mahony There may well come a time in the life of many a Games Master, when the thought occurs….“I could create a better game than this”. It doesn’t matter so much what “this” happens to be at the given time, only that it has become constricting. Maybe there are character or story concepts that excite you, but they don’t quite fit the gameworlds on the bookshelves. Whatever the case, the game you want to make doesn’t fit the moulds you’re used to, and you set out to make your own. Nothing can possibly go wrong. I’m lucky enough to have some experience from both sides of the fence. I’m sure we’ve all arrived on a Saturday morning of a convention, perhaps bleary eyed and pos-
sessed of an inexplicable headache, to gaze upon a timetable. “Hmmm, will I buy a ticket for Pathfinder? Spirit of the Century? What else is in this slot? Oh, a custom system, eh? Dunno what it is, or who wrote it. Dunno if he’s a good GM. What if he’s super precious about his fan-made world? Not gonna risk it. One ticket for Spirit thanks.” It might seem harsh, but life’s too short to buy into bad games. Con games can be a bit of a gamble to be sure, but players will regularly stack odds in their favour by going for something they know they like already. That’s totally true if we take the view of tabletop RPGs, but the other option is LARPs. If you look at a LARP timetable, you won’t be
Ray lives in the abandoned insane asylum, at the top of a steep and distant hill. He emerges to advise would be adventurers of Azeroth on matters of accounts and tech wizardry. Otherwise he writes, runs, and plays in all manner of traditional games.
hung up too much on the system. I mean it’s not like you’ll be around a table rolling dice, right? Most LARPs you’ll see are stand-alone scenarios that only need a situational structure. The only rules that matter deal with what hap-
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