Wednesday, August 11, 2010


I call the new system I'm using FTD. No, it has nothing to do with floral delivery services. FTD is an adaptation of Atomic Sock Monkey's PDQ system. PDQ stands for Prose Descriptive Quality. Since I draw on it so heavily, I thought a three letter acronym seemed appropriate. Mine's based on the attitude I went in with: Forget The Details.

See, when I designed Shadowitz, I was creating a system for a serious game that modeled the cyberpunk genre as well as I could make it, and included details in it both for genre considerations as well as player sensibilities. But pickup games don't require that kind of consideration. People don't tend to make deep characters for one shots: they're going to play once and then throw those characters away. In a setup such as this, I'd argue that 90% of the stuff I designed for Shadowitz is unimportant, and maybe even gets in the way.

Instead, I need something that provides some basic abilities, a quick combat mechanic, and otherwise gets out of the way. It does need to handle magic and artificial augmentation, as well as vehicles and virtual reality, since all of these are part of Shadowrun, but it doesn't need to do so in excruciating detail. As long as the players feel their characters are represented in the proper way, the level of detail probably doesn't matter.

So, my goals for FTD are as follows:

  1. Minimize mechanics so that there are almost no rules to remember or adjudicate, and what's there is flexible enough to be broadly applicable. 
  2. Provide some way of representing and simply handling all character aspects, from cyberware to sorcery.
  3. Make NPCs so easy to create that they can be drawn up on the fly, including all gear.
  4. Re-design scenarios such that they can be run almost entirely off the cuff, since pickup games occur without warning and I'll likely have nothing prepared. 
Notice there's no genre considerations this time. That's because I don't think genre's all that important in this situation. I sprinkle in the proper setting scenery and everyone will be happy. No one's looking to feel the dehumanizing aspects of hacking perfectly healthy body parts out and replacing them with chrome, for example.

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