This is somewhat of a ramble about the design decisions that I made with Dice & Glory, both the system and the books themselves. And how choice and circumstance shaped and continue to shape them.
Initial Design Motives
I first wanted to write a ttRPG sometime in 1998. I decided on a generic system design early on. Preferably, I wanted a system where I could build a world through improvisation. The early drafts of what would become Dice & Glory are not worth mentioning other than the first two drafts both exceeded 1,000 pages in length.
My mistake with those first drafts: I included the core rule-set with chapters containing the concrete components for the game. These components that were built with those rules. Components being such things as monsters, spells, skills etc. To correct this, I split the unnecessary game crunch from the core rules and those of character creation.
It took a few years to refine the rules and switch out certain systems. Especially those that were either too rules-heavy or clunky. All through what was essentially, play testing. The names of many of the character attributes in the game were somewhat different from the current. Due to the confusion of players at the time, I decided to use names that would be more recognizable. At about this time I also realized many other RPG systems used identical attributes but all had their own names for them. I thought it best to use the most popular and recognizable of these for the equivalent attributes in my system.
This eliminated the potential for confusion. Any players with a moderate amount of experience could recognize the base attributes for what they were.
Characters & Crunch
When it came to the player characters, I decided on Character Classes. It was the ease of identifying a character’s in-game role by their class. However, I decided to strip them to the bone to create the general classes. This design would allow maximum malleability and customization potential. Stripping the classes generated the bare-bones classes of Adventurer, Brick, Clergy, Fighter, Mage, Psychic, and Mage. Upon these skeletons, all the Specialist classes are fleshed. I strove for a fully customizable system so I included rules on how to build any such Specialist Class. These being the classic form of character classes found across ttRPGs.
This led to chapters that included rules on how to generate all sorts of bits found in a roleplaying game. These being things such as equipment (particularly weapons and armor), monsters, other races, and spells. This in turn led to the writing of other components such as psionics, which I wanted to discern from magic. I also created a basic outline for how the universe as a whole functioned. I also included ideas for building in-game technology.
It took until 2006 to release the first edition and a cut-down free edition. There was a preliminary release of a pre-first edition. Fortunately, not many people noticed or purchased these. The problem with the first edition aside from several editing snafus was that certain abilities repeated throughout having duplicates in most of the subsystems. Not to mention the amount of crunch was a level above overdose.
Versions & Aesthetics
I’ve re-edited the game multiple times, refined it in a revised edition, and then a second edition since then. I have no plans for a third edition but I will continue to write the resource manuals. These manuals consist of the bits that I couldn’t fit into the Core Rulebook. The bits and crunch not core to the game but necessary to populate it. These accessory manuals arose from the initial need to split the crunch from the core in the first place.
Essentially, I wanted a rule-set that I could use for any genre of game. And have it fully customizable for both players and the Game-master. I wanted rules that could easily generate any crazy thing that I could imagine and throw it at my players. The aesthetics of the books however are born mostly out of budgetary constraints and lack of personal talent. However that said, I don’t much care for the highly polished, artificial, and impractical look of most contemporary fantasy art.
I like the more individualistic art and too much polish tends to deter me. Don’t get me wrong I like a lot of professionally produced art. However, it’s never attracted me to RPG material as more identifiable and amateurish work has. Of course, due to budgetary constraints the responsibility to complete most of the illustrative work falls on my shoulders on many of the books.
World Settings & Dragons
The game has remained world-less for the simple reason that its designed as a generic/universal system. In addition, I’ve needed the time, always at a premium, to create a cohesive fantasy world. I wrote the titular world setting Arvan as a sword & sorcery & sandal in mind. Some of it inspired by the fiction that I read. Note that I tend to read in manic insatiable bursts consuming several books in a row then suddenly slowing down (or stopping altogether) until the next spree. I’ve tried my best to get away from overused tropes of the genre. Especially its well-known trappings like dwarves and elves. I’ve also striven to include uncommon races and creatures, aside from the dragons.
The dragons of Arvan take after very specific literary references with a lot of my own creativity going into them to give them depth in nature and character. Their design was to give them a place in nature as well as in super-nature. The kernel of my Draco-lore built and outlined in a splat-book, a monster manual, called the Monster Magnus Vol. I.
In collecting certain types of game information in several books, I intended that the core rules be modular. All one needs to play and to create whatever else necessary for a game being the core rules. In other words, just the Core Rulebook is required.
Budgetary and time constraints have shaped and colored the core rule design, all of the published material, as well as the tons of stuff yet to see the light of day. The real trouble is in collating, structuring, and editing the masses of info and ideas I can generate. The only part of Dice & Glory that a GM and Player group would require is the Core Rulebook. The crunch books for Dice & Glory are different, I hope, from the typical disposable splat-book in that; they contain the pregenerated concrete components needed to populate games. Allowing groups to mix and match to their hearts’ desires when they have the blocks to build with as well as the ability to shape and carve blocks of their own. Hopefully striving for the outer limits of their imaginations with increased ease. At least I hope so.