When I started looking at my fourth edition of my classic role-playing game, I wanted to make some interesting decisions when it came to the game principles. During the various iterations of the game, I have always struggled with the concept of making the game more or less a derivative of Dungeons & Dragons. It its first inception, I wanted the game to feel familiar to those that played the famous title but also contain rules never seen before. In my second printing I moved grossly away from Phantasm Adventures being anything like Dungeons & Dragons, in the hopes that people wanted something fresh. On my third attempt, I moved closer to adopting more D&D game mechanics but also made the rules overtly complicated, with dozens if not hundreds, of intricate rule expansions for each rule.
In the third edition of Phantasm Adventures, for example, I used very familiar statistics to represent the qualities of a character. Taking the familiarity of D&D, I then turned the generation of the scores upside down with a highly complicated set of rules starting with rolling two ten-sided dice, then adjusting the generated scores with innumerable modifications and ultimately converting the value back into a number very close to 3 through 18.
In the fourth edition, I removed much of the complexity leaving the basic roll of three, six-sided dice. The values are not converted, but simple adjustments are made. Because of the tried and true mechanics of the game, I do take the three values and apply some rule changes on to how they are added together and the final score generated. This is just one example of how I am moving back towards a more familiar concept of game mechanics, yet still offering unique rules for play.
I made an early decision not to use the open 4E rule system offered by Wizards of the Coast. First, I find the acceptance of such to be horribly constraining, both intellectually and creatively. Each role-playing game must have its own set of core rules accentuating specific aspects of the game that differentiates it from other rules.
In the future, I will be showcasing a new role playing game that I wrote fifteen years ago called Troy’s Enhanced Dungeons & Death, with the acronym TED&D – pronounced Teddy (like the bear). Even with this tongue and cheek naming convention, the game will not use the 4E rule system but will have its own set of unique rules (though they will be more familiar with old school players, drawing upon their memories of the first edition Dungeon & Dragon rules).
In Phantasm Adventures, there will be many concepts that will be familiar to players of Dungeons & Dragons, but the rules will be unique. For a system to stand on its own legs, it will need to garner its own unique following among players. Some may find the rules complicated, while others will want to add their own “house” variants. Hopefully there will be enough room within the set of rules to allow people to play the game and feel comfortable enough to experiment with the game. I can attest that people that have tried the game, all find it fun and enjoyable, and they find it no more difficult as a whole than Dungeons & Dragons.
The true test of the game is ultimately time and the number of players that consistently play it. I know from those that still play games and who have had the opportunity to play the game, they still have active campaigns in the world of Monokon.