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Author Topic: Forge Open-Source Rules Repository Idea  (Read 3936 times)
Bob Bell
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« on: July 16, 2004, 03:02:42 PM »

The Forge would be a great place to compile an encyclopedia of rules/ideas for RPG's.   This is a huge undertaking suited to an open-source community effort and seems to fall in line with Forge ideas and fill a missing area in the on-line RPG community.

Since the Forge has been around the block, seems to get a fair amount of traffic, and seems to have birthed many games, there should be ample resources for the project, which could be based on the phpBB system itself, divided into sub-categories. Defining and categorizing rules in a clearly organized hierarchy would be the defining task for The Forge owners/ moderators.

The Forge seems to lurch this way but not go too far, for example, offering the G/N/S thread, as well as the opportunity for quick feedback to anyone posting rules ideas. The downside to only having feedback and a few articles is this requires all newbies to present a wheel, only to be told--it's just a wheel like we've seen before. If I could rummage through the Magic Mechanic Bin, the adventure idea bin, and the combat mechanics bin without having to buy and read 20 rpg's like some posters seem to have done, I could see if my idea was old news and possibly lift a system intact for my use if it is, or contribute my idea or variation on the theme if it isn't.

For example, forum topic: Rules Repository> subtopic 1 Action Resolution Mechanics> sub-subtopics> Dice(randomizer) and Diceless> sub sub sub topics Combat, Magic, Technical, Mundane.

There could also be a section for known commercial games and their basic systems to be described for the "it's already been done much better and with cool artwork" responses to those wanting to publish and charge for, say, a D&D clone.

There would be other divisions such as Rules>Settings, Rules>Character Design, and Rules>Weapons Database, I am sure Ron or some other long-timer could come up with a good hierarchy. The lists could be added to by users but the criteria would be that rules have to be detailed and specific, in a usable form, while an ideas board might just list ideas that had been proposed and link to the rules if there was an appropriate fleshing-out...or list the central ideas on the main page and the fleshing out topics on another linked thread.

The weapons and vehicles database could compile real-world stats while relegating system-specific ideas to other areas. Weapon construction, size, weight, range, ammunition, etc. could be listed in a spreadsheet style with a few blank columns for things like Health and Damage. GM's could lift this universal info for their games and apply the Action Rules they had chosen from the Vault as applicable. For instance one game might give a rifle a 4d6 damage while a percentile game gives it 2d10 and my rules would give it the damage from the initial Action Roll. However, all three systems could benefit by not reinventing the wheel of research for typical rpg weapon stats by using the Rate of Fire and Range from the manufacturer or qualified historical research.

Most magic systems might be the big trouble area with this, since the core mechanic can be listed, but spell-list systems would have lots of varying criteria. Here-again, a spreadsheet style like for weapons could be used where an effect type and short description could be listed with some blank columns for customization.

Another example is the Action Resolution Board would have topics covering Probability first (dice charts anyone?), followed by different dice systems, playing cards, tokens in a bag, dice with icons on them, rolling under, rolling over, modifiers, Results inclusive, Results requiring additional rolls or application of stats, roll stat+skill, roll vs. target number, etc., etc.

The Forge may be more aligned with helping aspiring authors get published, and this could turn out to be a nightmare task, but I think this would be an awesome resource worth trying for.

Any thoughts?
Bob
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greyorm
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« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2004, 03:40:43 PM »

I think that's a "beyond the scope of the Forge, but if you want to develop the project yourself, go for it" sort of thing. Sorry I don't have anything more substantial to add...I reserve judgement on the idea because while I like the concept, the actual execution seems problematic to me.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
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« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2004, 05:37:22 PM »

I don't think it's going to work (sorry), but let me point out why, and if you can figure a way to make it work, then go for it. Implementation begs for using an available tool like a wiki (Wikipedia is a good example). My criticism isn't hammering your idea; it's presenting the criticism that needs to be tackled if this is put together, and if it's actually possible, that IS good, because it's been asked for many a time.

Quote from: Bob Bell
Defining and categorizing rules in a clearly organized hierarchy would be the defining task for (...) owners/ moderators.
...
There would be other divisions such as Rules>Settings, Rules>Character Design, and Rules>Weapons Database, I am sure Ron or some other long-timer could come up with a good hierarchy.

This is essentially the bottleneck, and probable borders of impossible, sorry to say. A lot of folks will agree, at least, that the fundamental components of an RPG are: Character, Color, Situation, Seting, and System. BUT: System greatly seems to dwarf all of these, and you don't necessarily need them all to play. So supposing this is just about System choices (including social contracts, metasystem, action resolution, etc.); I still think we're almost getting to a theoretically impossible problem for organization.

Fundamental problems: What if my game have Firearm Damage powered by your philosophical Evil rating relative to the moral quandary? (Blurs Situation, Character, System and even Creative Agenda.) What about TRoS's Spiritual Attributes

If you make a lot of assumptions, then you try to find some focus. So, for example, games where a character is defined by some set of and when they declare some action, there is a deterministic method for how to figure out the outcome of said action, and so on - I'm basically talking about the things in common between things like D20, GURPS, EABA (and mind you some of these are games I greatly love). (Or for that matter, supposing I'm only using mechanics that involve no probability and no numbers.) On one hand, we lose a great deal of variety, and honestly we're not broadcasting as much innovation as we were hoping.

Or you can take an extremely narrow focus (e.g. just ways of using dice and other randomizers to get a semirandom result). This in particular is a good example of how maddeningly difficult categorization is. There is such a diversity of dice roll mechanics - just rolling polyhedrals, man! - that categorization skills have been tossed around and have been problematic.

On the other hand, you now have a useful database, that many designers + players will find useful. It's trade-off, but some of the most important advice in creative endeavors is to just take a decisive stand and let the consequence fall. In fact, you were on to something here:
Quote
The weapons and vehicles database could compile real-world stats while relegating system-specific ideas to other areas. Weapon construction, size, weight, range, ammunition, etc. could be listed in a spreadsheet style with a few blank columns for things like Health and Damage.


Sure, many people won't find this remotely relevant, honestly, but there IS a significant population of folks who would like to see that info, and actual use is optional, but it can be a good guideline.

Here's another thought: organization is the enemy! Really. Overly rigid forms will just constrict stuff. Just put some content guidelines (focused on good content), encourage useful hyperlinking between articlles + collaboration, and some crude organic order will come. The Forge's "collective memory" is basically run through humans giving their intutive response, and that's probably the best way to handle this kind of information.

So: figure out these problems, either how to solve them or why they're not problems to you. Then just kick-start it and own it. If you're unsure about the technical side, ask around and someone (like me) will help you get started.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: July 18, 2004, 12:00:25 PM »

Hiya,

This definitely falls into the whole "great idea, go for it" category - which is a polite way of saying that I have no intention of actually doing anything about it myself.

A wiki, a personal website, a series of short articles, whatever.

Remember, the Forge is not a company. It's not even an organization or association. It is literally just a website that permits communal contribution. So that means that there is no reason on this earth why someone couldn't start up their own internet project that spins off from it, under their own control.

I really think that would be a much better approach (and with any luck, multiple approaches) than suggesting a whole 'nother project-level addition or service here.

Best,
Ron
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Bob Bell
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« Reply #4 on: July 19, 2004, 11:47:54 AM »

Thanks for the replies from all. I will try to start this on my site using phpBB first and see how fast it becomes unmanageably complex. I don't even know for sure that phpBB will nest topics. Good way to learn, eh?

If I get a semi-decent format and more than a couple of topics I will post a link on the forge so I can be flamed. I have only gotten my own web-site up since July.

Dev, thanks for the input about the problems with organization. Definitely will be useful as I start. I may take the initial approach of a historical listing of rpg's and a  v e r y  brief overview of their Character, Color, Situation, Setting, and System. That would perhaps allow me to become more familiar with what has been written since the first boxed D&D set. My own knowledge of what has been and what still is actually published is rather limited. I will surf on over to wikipedia as I have heard of it, but never seen a wiki site. Also, with a couple of dozen games so categorized it might make a rational structure or appropriate lack thereof more apparent (or magnify the hopeless futility of even attempting such a project!)

I actually figured I would hear "go for it" quite loudly, as I have been slowly reading the vast number of messages on the forge. I am a middle-aged gamer with family myself, so I fully appreciate the effort required just to maintain a project like the forge while also carrying on a life, let alone 5 other projects of similar scope and time. It's just too bad I can't get any of the gamer's at the local college interested in doing anything but playing D&D 3E, I thought it would be easier to find art, web, game-design and multiple system interest at the local college, but it hasn't turned out that way.

Regards, Bob
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LordSmerf
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Posts: 864


« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2004, 11:58:16 AM »

Bob,

I just wanted to chime in that i think this is a great idea, if it can be done :)

Also, i think that a Wiki would be idea for something like this.  Basically a Wiki is a series of inter-linked web pages that anyone can crosslink to.  So you can write a page about task resolution and say: "There are many ways to resolve things in RPGs, some include: Fortune, Karma, and Drama."  Than later on i can write up a description of what Karma means and link your page to mine so that people who aren't quite sure can simply click for a definition...

Thomas
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Current projects: Caper, Trust and Betrayal, The Suburban Crucible
John Kim
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« Reply #6 on: July 19, 2004, 05:04:39 PM »

Quote from: Bob Bell
  I may take the initial approach of a historical listing of rpg's and a  v e r y  brief overview of their Character, Color, Situation, Setting, and System. That would perhaps allow me to become more familiar with what has been written since the first boxed D&D set. My own knowledge of what has been and what still is actually published is rather limited. I will surf on over to wikipedia as I have heard of it, but never seen a wiki site.   Also, with a couple of dozen games so categorized it might make a rational structure or appropriate lack thereof more apparent (or magnify the hopeless futility of even attempting such a project!)  

A brief note here.  You should probably have a look at my RPG site in general along with my start of a glossary.  The URLs are

http://www.darkshire.net/~jhkim/rpg/
http://www.darkshire.net/~jhkim/rpg/theory/glossary/

As I understand it, your original idea was compiling a large list of mechanics in a hierarchical structure.  But now you seem to be talking about an overview of different terms and published RPGs (?).  If so, you should definitely look at the RPG encyclopedia I have, along with my System Design articles.  I'd be open to putting the theory glossary into a wiki, by the way, or just making a CGI to edit and add entries within the current structure.
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- John
DevP
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« Reply #7 on: July 19, 2004, 05:10:23 PM »

I definitely think a glossary is somewhat covered ground. We can use some of our theory terms to get some vital organization, but this should have a different purpose.

Anyway, in about 20 minutes a wiki will be up at my local site. It's not a permanent solution - it's redirected of my personal site, I have finite room, and if there's enough traffic we'll need real hosting etc etc - but why not?

I'll call it GameBrain, at gamebrain.forgreatjustice.net (since I own that domain). Give me a few minutes, and if you can give me a better name in those minutes I'll change it.
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DevP
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« Reply #8 on: July 19, 2004, 06:54:15 PM »

Sorry, Twiki was being more problematic, and I've had a really long day jobwise, so all I have is a very minor UseMod wiki:

http://gamebrain.forgreatjustice.net

Basically, it's a sandbox, and the actual organization still needs to be discussed. If someone can set up something better (or else, when I am able to take another crack at it), I'll even set up the re-direct, or what not.

But yes, go for it and figure out a rough organizing scheme.

(Incidentally, the Twiki was installing at http://hcs.harvard.edu/~dev/gamebrain2 but it doesn't seem tos ave properly.)
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Bob Bell
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« Reply #9 on: August 10, 2004, 12:43:27 PM »

Dev thanks for posting the wiki page. It could work with a lot of moderation for format. I will still think on that idea, and may post some more than my test post on it. However, I was blown away by John's web-site as he has done much of what I was thinking of, just not in a rigid template format. The Big Ass List of RPG's is so astromongously bigger than I thought it could be that I am humbled at having underestimated the RPG universe. Hubris on my part, I suppose.

I see no need to completely re-do the mountain of good work that John has already done, so I will email him with a couple of thoughts. If you haven't checked out his link yet I highly recommend it!

Thanks,
Bob
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