In this post, I would like to tell you about some of the design choices made in the Connexions RPG. If you want to know a little more about the history, here is the previous article in this series. Where we left off in the last post, I was ready to get back to the game I was kicking around in my head for a while.
The time had given me some distance, and I knew I would need to clean up the core ideas and remove some of the cruft that was the result of “wouldn’t it be cool if…” The first thing I did was to set down some design goals, so I would (or should?) have an easier time knowing what to keep, what to change and what needed to be thrown away.
I have three principles for the game:
- Design a game open to the myriad styles of play.
- Create a platform, not a codex.
- No more complexity than required.
What follows are my thoughts about each.
The first principle was based on what I long considered a strange phenomenon among players of the niche hobby of RPGs – the “you are playing wrong” debate and the “one true way” fallacy. In my opinion (and you should share yours below in the comments) is that the G in RPG is Game, and games are supposed to be entertaining, educational and/or social activities. Are you having fun? Then you aren’t playing it wrong! I will likely be writing a dedicated article on this subject, so I discuss how the first principle guided some decisions in depth there.
For the second principle, I need to define some terms. A codex has the connotation of a thick tome full of ancient and/or official information. It is a strong Latin-based word invoking ideas such as knowledge or law. The word platform has a much different and more open feeling. The goal is to provide a framework, without making you do all the work, for your game. So, the rules should not be a codex, with myriad hard directives, but a platform to stage your game where you can easily provide as much (or as little) set-dressing as you require.
The last principle is likely the most subjective, and like the first, will be a topic unto itself. But it represents the desire to provide just enough, but not too much, to make the game happen. When given a choice between the perfect rule with ten steps, and a good rule with three, the simpler rule gets you back to play faster. Additionally, it is easier to add complexity than it is to take it away.
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