I've been contemplating the rules vs. imagination 'conflict' in RPG's and feel the need to weigh in briefly. I think that rules can serve two functions: to define the possibilities of an expansive world (D&D, GURPS, etc...) or to encourage a certain type of play (Asylum, Paranoia!, Vampire, etc...). Which of these do I prefer? Neither, really. As a GM, I use the rules as a guide to help players make decisions, but I'm not often satisfied with them fully. I drop rules out when I need to, ignore things for the sake of cool and make fast calls when I have to. Rules are just another toolset to aid a GM with storytelling, as far as I'm concerned.
And so now I have found myself contemplating the creation of my own RPG, which will in turn lead me to creating a rule set. My goal is to make the rules fun, fast and with minimal complexity. Clearly the details have yet to be carved out. But my thoughts tonight turn towards character creation, always one of my favorite parts in RPG's, and one that is often mishandled.
Though character creation isn't exactly what I mean. More, I mean a leveling system. While skimming RPG Bloggers early, I came across an article that linked to this article: Just One More...
The article itself is a rant about WotC and 4E, which is less pertinent to my topic. But in the article, the author links to another rant of his: Reward Made Easy
The second is an analysis of what video games have done right that tabletop rpg could learn from, and he makes some interesting points. Namely, the "practice makes perfect" mentality present in games like Dungeon Siege and the Elder Scrolls series. The more you use a skill, the better you get with it and the more it helps to increase your attributes.
How can I implement that in my Savage West? I'm tempted to try and heist the mechanics straight out of Elder Scrolls, but that seems an overly complicated conversion. This keys in to character creation though, and a functioning rules system. I need to decide how detailed the skill/attribute list will be.
I'm thinking something like the attribute/skill system from 7th Sea combined with a leveling mechanic akin to the Elder Scrolls, something that will eliminate EXP all together. Mmm. Brain food.