Creating my own Tabletop RPG..

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Creating my own Tabletop RPG..

Postby MuthSera » Tue Jun 16, 2009 1:15 pm

Okay. A couple weeks ago I got this wild hair and started working on a Tabletop RPG in responce to playing far too much risk. I have ALOT of the main points finished, to the point where when I'm given players to play test it, I'm able to roll their characters and play. What I don't have is a setting.

Typically when I start to describe the game to people, they get rather excited. I felt something had changed, when the last several people I spoke to all seemed to push me in the direction of getting very serious, because as they put it.. "Get serious. If you finish a game like this and sell it, you'll make yourself a pretty penny."......!

So... Somewhere down the road I was working on magic.. which I put into various branches, and whatnot. I began to call things "Fire Magic" "Ice Magic" "Life Magic" "Charm magic.." "Sentimancy..(Sentience magic. this is about where the parralel started..)" or what have you.. Various fields, defined by their names, and then I got down to death magic.. and I realized I wanted to call it naughtymancy... so I just.. stopped. I smirked and thought about that chart showing all the various magics in erfworld.. and about how much my own ideas were coming out like them. (kinda) So I talked to a few of my friends. They suggested I note it on the forums. So I am.

But really, I'd been working on the basic workings of the game at first, and not so much the setting of specifics of logistics, but a few notes about it:
It's generally simpler in form than D&D, but hopefully not in a bad way.
It works with both Large scale armies and individual players.
It is based off playing WAAAAAY too much risk.

But yeah, I guess what I'm trying to say.. is that I'm developing a tabletop RPG. I've begun to want to make it about erfworld.. And I guess I've never talked to Jaime or Rob.. But I'd like to talk with them about it.
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Re: Creating my own Tabletop RPG..

Postby MuthSera » Wed Jun 17, 2009 8:30 am

Huh. No replies.. No curiousity.

I hadn't realized the community was so flooded with gaming stuff.

But if nobody cares................ truely I'm wasting my time. ;p
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Re: Creating my own Tabletop RPG..

Postby Binty » Wed Jun 17, 2009 10:02 am

If anyone tells you there is a lot of money to be made writing RPGs, they are either being sarcastic or they haven't a clue about the games industry. People do this for a love of it, not the money.

http://www.dyingearth.com/pnestjune2006.htm
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Re: Creating my own Tabletop RPG..

Postby Cmdr I. Heartly Noah » Wed Jun 17, 2009 11:16 am

Ok, I didn't respond when I first read this because I had no idea what to say.


Now, first, let me see if I get you right -

As I understand it, you have created a set of game mechanincs (somehow Risk-inspired) that your friends/playtesters feel is good enough to be publishable, but you had no specific fictional universe to set it in. At some point you realized that your magic system was (in name at least) approaching copying Erfworld.

And it seems your desired "best case scenario" is to acquire an Erfworld liscence from Rob and Jamie and sell your game in bookstores everywhere and make lots and lots of money.


Assuming this is the situation, you have the following choices:

1) Finish your game, set it in Erfworld, and play with your friends/post the rules here.

Pros: Having fun, larger and more directed playtesting base, Jamie & Rob might look at it, even play it themselves. Sense of satisfaction.

Cons: You can make no money off the game whatsoever, not even to cover costs, as you do not have the rights or liscence to Erfworld characters. Any new Erf characters/fiction based off your game and posted on the internet are open to use by Rob and Jamie, free of charge. The game, in some sense, ceases to be yours and becomes more of a community tool.

Best Case Scenario: The game is a runaway hit on the forums, and eventually (after they publish book 2, maybe book 3, and the world is popular) Rob and Jamie approach you about publishing the game and you work out a mutually agreeable contract. You eventually make a little money and maybe become a "famous" game designer.

Worst Case Scentarios: The game is panned, or someone steals your game mechanics for something else, or you make money off the game and Rob and Jamie are forced to sue you and win your rules as compensation, or someone else makes a deal and creates an official Erf game, and yours is forgotten.

2) Seek out an agreement with Rob and Jamie before finishing the game.

Pros: Don't go into this full of questions and possibilities. Potentially have input from Rob and Jamie.

Cons: You have no bargaining position in negotiating an agreement, and it's probably never gonna happen anyway.

Best Case Scenario: You wow Rob and Jamie, they agree to give you the rights for 2 years, give you all the secret Erf rules (and an NDA), you finish the game and you publish when Book 2 comes out.

Worst Case Scenario: Rob and Jamie try as politely as possible to shoo you in the direction of the man in the white lab coats, and keep an eye on any product you make for similarities to Erfworld.

3) Write your own story

Pros: If your rules are good, and you want to "make a pretty penny" without investing thousands of dollars on a liscence or giving up a large percentage of your grosses, this is the way to go. Release a product entirely of your own design and you get all the money; even if you self-publish a handful of copies, it provides you a legal defense against copycats.

Cons: Your story might suck, and even if it doesn't, you probably won't make much money.

Best Case Scenario: After a few quiet months of self-release, Wil Wheaton blogs about your game, and suddenly you're selling PDFs like gangbusters and a publishing company approaches you about distribution.

Worst Case Scenario: No one plays your game, ever.

4) Hire a writer

Pros: You can get someone to make up an exciting world for your game, probably for free (until you start selling copies, anyway). You only have to split your earnings with one person.

Cons: It's like doing it all yourself, but you don't get all the money.

Best Case Scenario: You're the perfect team, the game finds a distributor or a huge internet following; you make copycat games on peoples' liscences and make a living touring conventions; your partner writes a series of novels based on your game and you both make (relatively) mad money.

Worst Case Scenario: No one plays your game, ever, AND you fight with your writer, during the process, and again after you split up and both do your own thing that is too similar to the other's work.

5) Shop for liscences

Pros: A liscence can get you, a nobody, a chance at publishing a game that will actually get purchased by fans.

Cons: Getting someone to agree, especially if you don't have money to buy a liscence outright, added pressure to succeed, irate fanboys.

Best Case Scenario: Someone decides to give you a shot, gives you the liscence free in return for later profits, you release and are at least as successful as the Serenity or Buffy RPGs.

Worst Case Scenario: Some rich Hollywood types laugh at you, and you never make a game.

6) Release the rules without a story

Pros: You've been working on the mechanics and not the story, so you're much closer to done. No need to deal with anyone else or share profits. If the mechanics are that good, they could stand on their own and lead to future products. You could gain notoriety more easily if the game is not wrapped in someone else's work. Easier to protect against copycats.

Cons: Harder to sell.

Best Case Scenario: The rules are an instant hit. You get distribution for the basic rules, then release supplements GURPS style, plus get liscenses from hot properties and hire writers to do most of the conversion work.

Worst Case Scenario: No one plays your game, ever. Someone steals the rules and releases a game with them.
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Re: Creating my own Tabletop RPG..

Postby chrono » Wed Jun 17, 2009 12:50 pm

Wow @ the above (that's some thorough reply). Not sure what use it is though, and I will tell you why.

In other words, I'm here to piss on the parade ;)

It seems to me that the OP has worked out a handful of rules and since they are (to him/her) pretty good rules it is not (in their mind) too unreasonable to hope to make money off it. Well, I wish it were that easy. I'm a madman for game rules and balance and I've thought I could 'improve' pretty much any ruleset I liked enough to play for more than a week or so. I made a number of my own combat systems (and I think some of them are pretty good and definitely unique too), but I haven't even tried to make money off them (though one or two became very popular on a certain forum where I introduced them), and I'll tell you why. There are more combat/magic systems out there than you can count. Not even counting computer games or the zounds of tabletop games with their modifications, you just need to look at the first 100 MUDs you like and you'll find some pretty stunning combat systems. Why they aren't more mainstream, I cannot say - I've seen at least one which has blown my mind and I'd definitely wish to see it in a computer RPG, but it's likely not gonna happen. It's not, because (and that's my main point) combat systems don't really sell well, not even good ones. If you can sell your combat system then you are wasting your time writing it - you should be getting serious about getting a job in sales or something, not in RPG design.

Well, that sounded a bit more negative than intended, but the point is that you shouldn't hold your breath even some of the best case scenarios above come true.
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Re: Creating my own Tabletop RPG..

Postby Cmdr I. Heartly Noah » Wed Jun 17, 2009 1:40 pm

No worries, it's not my parade... I just thought he seemed lost and could stand to have a little perspective/direction put in front of him.
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Re: Creating my own Tabletop RPG..

Postby chrono » Wed Jun 17, 2009 4:03 pm

Cmdr I. Heartly Noah wrote:No worries, it's not my parade... I just thought he seemed lost and could stand to have a little perspective/direction put in front of him.


Ohhh, I didn't mean you :)
I thought your answer was very thorough, but when it really comes down to it there's not many people one can point out who make any amount of money out of an idea about a RPG. Ideas are cheap, implementation costs money (and even a good combat/magic system is just an idea unless you can apply it to something). Anyway, I'm a great believer in crowdsourcing, so if I were in the OP's shoes (and I am, in a way) I would only consider two options:
1) make a complete product by myself (this includes free help from friends)
2) with more or less free & minimal preparations, have the people play your system for free and in return use the content they create.

Now I assume 1) isn't an option, otherwise this thread wouldn't exist. For 2) you need very few things - organize the rules on a website (web know-how not required, you can get free hosting and site building tools for dummies easily); then go to a forum (i.e. this one) and ask if people are interested to play. With a reasonable time investment you can run a few campaigns and get a bagload of PCs, NPCs and places (possibly also some signature monsters or items). If you have more time to invest you can do even better - run a virtual city using your system and have more players (i.e. 20ish or even more). The latter requires a lot more organization and possibly getting helper GMs, but you'll likely get a lot more out of it.
So in the end if enough people like your game they will be happy to play and flesh out your world doing it.
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Re: Creating my own Tabletop RPG..

Postby MuthSera » Wed Jun 17, 2009 10:45 pm

Noted.

Keeping in mind I don't have enough energy, money, or hope invested in it to really have any sort of loss, the worst case scenarios aren't sounding so terrible that I won't try anyways.

If Erfworld is a bad scenario, thats fine: It's mean I'd have to change a whole lot of nothing, as nothing in the game resembles erfworld's magic any more than say.. D&D's way of classifying magic did: "Necromancey." "Croakamancy" ect. It was more of a passing resemblance in the way the magic branched out.

Really, what I'm going for is thus: A very simply Tabletop RPG with very simple rules. I'm big on game flavor but not big on numbers. I want people to be creative when making characters, because lets face it: Whilst rolling a character in 4rth edition D&D.. do you really feel you're breaking new ground, or doing something even a little unique? (I had to make stats for a blink dog, and then roll it as a laser cleric, before I felt I was being unique enough in the 4th edition game I'm in..)

So.. maybe I could find a new friend.. one who digs going over game possibilities.. playtesting.. possibly somebody whose better at balance than myself.. (Because I know from experiance that while I was good for coming up for newer ideas for the ultimate classes in 3.5, It took the guiding hands of the other mods to keep it balanced.) .. :/ I dunno. Anyways..!

In conclusion: Hi. I'm trying to make a game and I wanna talk. :/ The end. This isn't my life's goal. I just wanna have some fun, and I already find my system fun with the playtests I've done with it.
Last edited by MuthSera on Thu Jun 18, 2009 11:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Creating my own Tabletop RPG..

Postby malekith » Thu Jun 18, 2009 6:45 am

I'd be happy to help you mate.
I did read this before but as the Cmdr said I didn't know how to reply.
We tried making an Erfworld game over on the 'Systems of Gaming' Thread but it seems to have come to a halt if not died whilst the Computer game thread is crawling along. mainly due to lack of interest from J + R but also i think because as they say: too many cooks spoil the broth. So again i'd say steer away from Erfworld, cos as awesome as it is, the only people to really be able to stick a big green light on it are the authors themselves, who atm seem more focussed on the comics (and kudos to them for it).
So basically what I'm saying is that I'm more than willing to help and very interested to see what you've come up with. I'm also fairly good with the old internets and computers so if you need a site or a forums just gimme a nudge and i'll see what i can do for ya :D

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Re: Creating my own Tabletop RPG..

Postby Gerwulf » Fri Jun 19, 2009 3:08 am

I'd be willing to help out with balance and play testing. I created a space based RPG with some friends of mine a few years back, if I can dig up the rules I may post them here. In the mean time if you want to share with the community and get input etc. But worry about losing your rights to the system designed there is an easy way to protect your intellectual property. Hand write everything out on paper, take it to a notary or call one of the traveling notaries (a notary is someone who verifies your identity for legal matters in case you didn’t know. They sign off on the fact that you are who you say you are and you did in fact sign/present the document you claim to have signed or presented.) Have them put their seal and signature on the paper saying that you brought it to them and signed it in their presence. (It will cost you about $20) then put the whole thing in a large envelope and mail it to yourself. The notary will sign and date it verifying that you had it first, and the post office will date stamp it when you put it in the mail. When you get the envelope back put is somewhere safe (preferably a vault) and if someone ever steals your work you can pull out your sealed envelope and take them to court. The judge will find a sealed date stamped envelope (date stamped by the federal government so it means something) and inside he'll find your work with your signature and a notarized copy to boot. The idea is clearly yours and no one can take it from you.
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Re: Creating my own Tabletop RPG..

Postby MuthSera » Fri Jun 19, 2009 9:39 pm

Thanks, Gerwulf. <:3 I wuv you.
Oh yes! Anyways...!

I am writing in a stitched back notebook, all my ideas.. so I'll end up having to do just that.. cause that was what caused my hesitation, was the idea that it could get stolen.. because the sensation that people may actually like it has struck me several times.
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Re: Creating my own Tabletop RPG..

Postby DevilDan » Tue Jul 21, 2009 6:27 pm

It's my understanding that the "poor man's copyright" (with the added twist of using a notarized copy) is a flawed system and may not be worth the postage (much less a notary's fees). On the other hand, "Online registration of a basic claim in an original work of authorship (electronic filing)" with the U.S. copyright office only costs $35.00.
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