So, while thinking about what I wanted to put up for today's post I remembered a comment a friend made earlier in the month (year, it's January, I can say either one :D) about a type of game he wanted to see. So, since this blog is all about game design, I figured why not actually do this system in the blog so people can see game design at it's most basic sense.
John Wick (of Legend of the Five Rings, 7th Sea, and Houses of the Blood Fame) says that when you are designing an RPG you need to figure out what you game is about, then figure out how to be about that, third you figure out how to reward the kind of actions you want around that theme, and lastly how do you make it fun. In general I agree with this, however there is a simpler way to make a game. Maybe not a game for long term play, but a game that will definitely fulfill everything you need for that quick RPG fix. How fun it is, well, that will depend largely on the people playing it. For those wondering, that one thing you need is a way to resolve conflict. Traditionally this involves dice, but this is the simplest game ever we're making right? So lets get right down to it.
Alright, character creation, the first bit of system every person gets exposed to when playing RPGs. Alright, do you know what kind of character you want to play? An idea in your head? Good. Got a name for him/her? Good. You're done. Yep, you are completely done.
In order to keep things as simple as possible, our conflict resolution system is going to be done for narrative control. When the player wants to do something, that could have a chance at failing, you go to the conflict resolution system. If it comes out in the player's favor, they decide (and narrate) what happens. If it comes out against the player, the GM narrates what happens, along with any and all consequences.
So what do we use to resolve conflicts? Why, anything we have available. All we need is something that is just as likely to come up in the player's favor as not. A coin could work, evens and odds on a die, rock paper scissors, odds n' evens, whatever you have available. When you want to do something that could dramatically come as a failure, use this method. If it comes up for the player, he says what happens, if not the GM does.
For more fun, regardless of how the result comes out, the GM offers you the chance for "Double or nothing" afterwards. If you failed, you take this option and a success turns it into you narrating, but if you fail, it's an extreme failure (more commonly known as a botch to most RP gamers). If you succeed, take this, and win, you get to describe an extreme success (a critical success to most gamers) but if you lose, the GM gets to narrate what happens.
In this way, you can try for more and more on things, or save a failure.
And, you're done
That's it, the game is over now. You can play it if you want, with as many players as you want. Conflict resolution between multiple players is easy, just flip the coin or rock paper scissors multiple times. What takes a 'roll' and what it can do is between your groups of friends. But I recommend using it for the over all challenge. The entire combat, the entire hacking, the entire chase. Keep it simple, and just have fun switching off the story telling.
Now for a complex game, you need more than this. Still, at it's simplest hopefully this shows that the only thing you really need for a game is a way to make a decision when the GM and Player(s) or individual players come to an impasse.