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Nefar

RPG Design Elements (Brain Storm)

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Hi all, Currently I am in the process of developing the design document for my game(more importantly my rpg system). I came to realize that many people re-invent the wheel to many times or come up with something somebody else all ready thought of. I have decided to start a database that has common items all rpg designers can draw from. I am planning to comb an electronic dictionary word by word and catogorizing every word I find into an rpg element category. For example the word agility can fall into the following categories, Ability, Trait, Skill. Another example the word douse can fall into the following category spell. And yet another example the word slime can fall into the following categories race, creature. Before I begin this long and exhaustive journey, I would like to have all the top category tree elements fleshed out. My Question to all of you is, what rpg categories can you think of or remember from past pc/tabletop rpg games? Examples of what I have so far are Category--------Item List Description-----Name, Gender, etc. Attributes------Strength, Charisma, etc. Race------------Elf, Goblin, etc. Government------Enclave, Kingdom, etc. Profession------Theif, Wizard, etc. Alignment-------Good, Evil, etc. Persona---------Behavior, Beliefs, etc. Traits----------Inherited Modifiers, Small Frame, Gifted etc. Perks-----------Gained Modifiers, Drinker, Kamikazee etc. Skills----------Active Actions, Evade, Jump etc. Talents---------Passive Actions, Artist, Cobbler etc. Spells----------Typhoon, Bolt etc. Equipment-------Sword, Dagger, Potions, etc. Creatures-------Slime, Dragon etc. Your time and help is greatly appreciated. [edited by - Nefar on April 28, 2003 2:54:54 PM] [edited by - Nefar on April 28, 2003 2:57:48 PM]

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Oh, nifty. Its about time we got list of this stuff. Though be prepared for people like me to use it as a list of what-not-to-do.

So, anyways, heres an exerpt stuff from Dogma2001 ( http://www.gamasutra.com/features/20010129/adams_01.htm )
# # # # # # # #
4. There shall be no knights, elves, dwarves or dragons. Nor shall there be any wizards, wenches, bards, bartenders, golems, giants, clerics, necromancers, thieves, gods, angels, demons, sorceresses, undead bodies or body parts (mummified or decaying), Nazis, Russians, spies, mercenaries, space marines, stormtroopers, star pilots, humanoid robots, evil geniuses, mad scientists, or carnivorous aliens. And no freakin'' vampires.

Justification: Self-evident. If you find that doing without all of the foregoing makes it impossible to build your game, you are not creative enough to call yourself a game designer. As proof, note that it does not exclude any of the following: queens, leprechauns, Masai warriors, ghosts, succubi, Huns, mandarins, wisewomen, grizzly bears, hamsters, sea monsters, vegetarian aliens, terrorists, firefighters, generals, gangsters, detectives, magicians, spirit mediums, shamans, whores, and lacrosse players. One of the games that made it to the finals of the first Independent Games Festival was about birds called blue-footed boobies, so forget you ever heard of George Lucas and J.R.R. Tolkien and get to work.
# # # # # # # #

That should give you a nice list.

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Well, I disagree with Inmate2993. I think that the more conventional classes and characters can be a vital island of familiarity in an otherwise new and innovative system.

I remember having a terrible time with the Ogre Battle games. Learning all those new stats and battle dynamics, being concerned with morale and compatibility between my units, and waging a stylized war while mastering these unfamiliar systems was almost too much for me to handle. If I had been forced to learn the inherent traits of Masai warriors and detectives while doing all that, I''d have put that game away and left it there.

So don''t shy away from things just because they''re new. I think it''s inconsistent to keep gameplay mechanics while vilifying old writing elements, and I think it''s reckless to try to change absolutely everything about a genre with one game. I advise you to take what you like and create what you need. But all of this is off-topic.

With regard to the thread''s purpose, the list Nefar put up in the first post seems pretty exhaustive. However, it only seems to address things-in-the-world, or characteristics of things-in-the-world. Should game design aspects like combat engine, trading system, time scheme, and viewpoint be factored into the tree, or have I misunderstood the nature of the list?

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To be a little clear, I''m not asking for specific items such as elf, goblin, etc. I''m asking for general categories. What mechanics define an rpg character and its enviroment.

Its Description
Its Attributes
Its Race
Its Government
Its Profession
Its Alignment
Its Persona
Its Traits
Its Perks
Its Skills
Its Talents
Its Spells
Its Equipment it uses
Its Creatures it deals with
+ Any new ideas?

Iron chef is getting the idea, only include things-in-the-world and characteristics of things-in-the-world. Adaptable to any system.

My goal is to cover old themes and even brush up on new themes people miss on. I figure by covering the whole english language, I covered everything. A sort of rpg reference dictionary/database.

I would hate to think I already covered everything in that list.

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What about world geography, both natural and unnatural (which I''d personnally split into two).

So:

Natural Geography -- Mountains, Forests, Magical mushroom fields etc.
Unatural Geography -- Castles, Towns, Wizards Towers etc.

Also religion (although that could fall under Government, Persona or creatures in a way).

Religion -- God, Goddess, Diety, Spirit, scriptures, laws etc.

Hope thats kind of on the right track . If I think of any more I''ll post them.

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according to inmate, u have to create a new language/ writing, to be original, so people in game speaks a whole new language, u have to read dictionary that come with the software box inorder to play it

lol @ inmate

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Inmate brings up a good point, but I also disagree. I actually like having things common in games. I see an orc, and I can instantly make some assumptions without having to read into it too much. Same goes with Elves, I know about Elves from other games, and they are often treated similarily. It''s called learning curve, and familiarity with the elements cuts down on the time it takes to learn your game.

That''s a really complete list you have there. Everything I tried to think of was in there. One thing that came to mind was religion, but I think you cover that in beliefs. Another possibility would be to flesh out your ideas regarding equipment some more.

Characters
Affinity: Maybe have some sort of affinity to an element, weapon, or race

Weapons / Armor
Weapon Type
Weapon Quality
How it is used (fired? slash? cleave?)

Terrain
Terrain type (desert, marsh, ...)
Terrain weather patterns

I dunno, just some _VERY_ random ideas there. Maybe you can find some useful piece in all the junk I wrote

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I just thought of karma/luck from religon, and yes terrain and buildings help, both added to list. I also added nature/weather.

Im going to break down the main categories in to sub-categories.

Example) Creature->Animal->Bird->Parrot.

So general opinion, is the list complete?

Keep ''em coming if you can think of more main top categories, thanks.

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Peon''s suggestion about affinity reminded me of a half-formed idea I omitted in my first response. I had a very vague sense that ideas of relationships between individuals and groups should somehow have been included in the list. Party alliances, aversions, the elemental and equipment tendencies Peon mentioned, and other such inherent or acquired affinities are a specific sub-set of the inherited and gained modifiers mentioned in the original list. I''m not sure how to fit them in, but it''s something to think about.

When this reaches an advanced stage of development, I think it needs to be put somewhere more permanent than this board. This is an important tool, the end result of a process that every game writer/designer has to perform to some degree. If this list is filled out and categorized as it could be, then it''ll be invaluable. Good thinking, Nefar.

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I''ve noticed that although your list includes many positive aspects of your characters-to-be, you do not seem to mention any of their faults. You may want to consider including a few weaknesses.

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