Sunday, February 21, 2010

Following the Guide ... Finally!!

So, if you haven't done so in awhile go read Rob Lang's Free Guide to Organizing Your RPG. Go ahead ... I'll wait. I had orginally started working on the project now called, Xceptional several months ago, and at the time I was determined to follow Rob's Guide as I created.

Rob's guide was helpful in the creation of my RPG. Mostly it was nice to be reminded of the kind of content that an RPG should probably contain.

Originally Rob's Guide had me spending more time worrying about trying to fit my creative process into a particular mold and less time actually creating. So, this is what I have learned and what I will personally advise from my experience.

"Organizing" as in Rob Lang's Free Guide to ORGANIZING Your RPG, is an editorial process. Creativity is rarely organized and when inspiration hits you should follow it and organization be damned.

Read through Rob's Guide. Read it a few times. Get comfortable with the information it contains. Then ... forget it, and create your game. Create in whatever wonderful wacky process works for you. Carve your dice mechanics into the sides of carrot sticks, if that gets the creative juices flowing.

Do whatever you need to do to get the words down on paper, and don't worry if it only makes sense to you. Rob's Guide is an editor's tool, and it comes to the rescue after the creative work is done ... that's what I have learned.

I finally finished Xceptional, the UNGUIDED version and presented it here in the Playtest Version linked above. In days past that might well have been "all she wrote" for me, but I started this whole project with the intent to use Rob's Guide to produce the final version of an RPG and so I'm not done yet.

Looking back at the Guide we see the components we need to present ...

COVER - The one I have is guide compliant as is ... check!

CONTENTS PAGE - Uh, err ... my version of the game didn't even have one. I always try to keep my page count small, so I have rarely bothered with one of these before. But, adding one is easily done ... so, presto! Page 2 is now, Table of Contents!

DEDICATION - This got added under the TOC. It got a bit scrunched once I added the Creative Commons License (see below) but, it's there and this seems to be the perfect place for it.

INTRODUCTION - Had to write one of these too. My playtest is apparently pretty sparse. But, it's okay, now that the playtest document is completed, I know what information actually goes here, so writing the introduction becomes pretty easy.

CHARACTER CREATION - Ok, I am again adding content to become Guide compliant, but after a basic introduction the rest was simple reorganization of stuff already written. I kept the lists of Skills and Xceptions in the Character Creation section; they're brief and as character creation makes use of random die rolls, I felt they were necessary, but I moved all the descriptions to the back of the book in Appendixes for easier reference during play per Rob's advice.

THE GAME MECHANICS - This bit I was able to keep pretty much unchanged.

THE SETTING - This information was in the playtest and was transplanted easily enough, although admittedly it would not have existed at all if not for Rob's Guide. I wrote it for the playtest specifically because I knew the Guide would call for it.

GM SECTION - Oops. Don't have one of these either. Had to write all new material for the GM section. Rob mentions the importance of a sample adventure, so ... I had to write one of those too. This proved to be a sizable addition to my document and I am glad that I took the time to do it.

APPENDIXES - Moved Skills, Xceptions, Equipment, Advancement Tables, Character Creation Summary and the Character Sheet here, also added some Example Characters to help round everything out.

The document jumped from 28 to 36 pages. I tend to favor small concise tool kit sorts of games over massive volumes and I am very happy with the 36 page final count.

All in all, looking at the versions of my game both before and after the guide I am very pleased with the result.

The last thing that I did was remove my copyright and change it to a Creative Commons: Attribution - Share Alike License. If I am going to offer my game for free, I may as well make it really free. I also updated the game version from 1.0 to 1.1.

I have posted the finished game as well as the "playtest version" (made prior to Following the Guide) so that folks can compare the change in content if they like. (Again these look better if you download them and view them with Adobe rather than using the Google Docs Application.) Eventually the playtest version will go away but I'll keep the final version available with the rest of my Free RPG's.


Jeff Moore


  1. Congratulations, sir! I shall eyeball the finished result and then update the guide if need be. :)

    Your step-by-step guide through the creation process has been great to read. What's next?

  2. Next? I'd like to playtest Xceptional quite a bit. I'd like to evolve the world setting beyond the small amount of information in the game document to a full blown working setting maybe producing a world document of about the same size as this 36 page rules doc. If I do that though it will be a direct result of playtest as I tend to evolve and develop my world settings as a part of the adventuring process and it's dependent a lot upon the input of my players.

    I have other games in my head. I really want to do a "Growing Pains" type of game about everyday life. I am still just "thinking" about that one though. It hasn't gotten out of my head yet. And, I'd like to do the open source SAGA System document one of these days too ... so, there's enough going on for me that I shouldn't get bored.

    Thanks for everything Rob. I consider your guide to be an invaluable tool for game organization and fully intend to reference it from here on out.


    Jeff Moore