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Design Dilemma

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I’ve been working on designing an RPG for sword noir. Right now, it’s running on a PDQ engine, but with each step, moves a little farther from that. I don’t know where it will end up. I know it will have some form of “qualities” or “aspects.”

In any case, the whole thing is based off the description of sword noir I’ve provided here previously. One of the biggest difficulties is getting something together that I would both love to play and hits all the beats. For example, I’m having real problems addressing this part of the description: “Trust is the most valued of commodities . . .” Then there is the part that states: “The characters are good at what they do, but they are specialists.”

For the trust thing, I’ve been working on a Reputation mechanic, but I find that while it might do what I want, it doesn’t seem to fit organically into the rest of the system. For the specialist part, using descriptive qualities doesn’t really enforce this, though if the character is built from a concept forward, it certainly could help to facilitate it.

In the end, I don’t know if the design I am working on now is the one that will meet my needs. I may need to try again. Here’s a question, though: do I need a new/specific system to address that description, or can I address it using flavour—like setting and narration—to create an atmosphere, expectations, and motivations?

Right now, because I am enjoying the design process, I’ll keep at it. It may prove, though, that story may trump system: that I can do what I need without re-inventing the wheel.

You can follow the design process here.

You can read my thoughts on the design process over at Sword’s Edge Publishing.

The sword noir description can be found in this article.

The sword noir system is inspired by Jaws of the Six Serpents, which you can learn about here.