RPG Development: Goals and Directions

Now that we are making roleplaying games a core part of Infinite Black, we wanted to talk about our goals and what direction we see the RPG taking. Our primary goal is to produce a game that gets people playing story-focused roleplaying games as quickly as possible. We think story is a major component of roleplaying games and with Journey to the Tree of Sorrows, they should be dark and horrific.

Therefore, we are making decisions about what to include or exclude based on what has the greatest potential to drive a story. For example, a major part of some roleplaying games is detailed tables of weapons that describe each weapon’s range, damage, clip capacity, recoil rating, and even more. We are not against that, but if the focus of the game is to tell a dramatic and engaging story, detailed equipment tables is one of the first thing that can be done without.

Similarly, we are starting with a classless system. This will not only the players greater flexibly in the creation of the characters, but also means we do not have to write and balance a large number of character classes with their associated data tables. Journey to the Tree of Sorrows takes places in many different places and many different times (and even in other planes of existence like the Dreamlands), and we want the RPG to be able to accommodate them all. If we have to create class and equipment tables, we would have to do that for all times and places, and we don’t want to do this. We think a much better way to go is for the core rules to provide the general information needed to play in any time and place, but then add more detail in dedicated sourcebooks.

Another important consideration is our own constraints regarding what we are capable of physically producing. As amazing as it would be, we cannot start out by creating a huge 400-page tome. Therefore, or first step is to create a “light” version of the game which can be published as a PDF and later a small softcover book. We want this to fit seamlessly with much more robust core rulebook produced later. It also allows us to experiment with rules and get feedback from the community as the game and the rules are developing.

Finally, we want the Journey to the Tree of Sorrows RPG to be fun and rewarding even for gamers that don’t have a lot of time. We want gamers to play long and extended campaigns in the Journey to the Tree of Sorrows world, but we also want players who only have two or three hours to be able to play fun and exciting games in that time, even if everyone cannot get back together next week. This goes hand-in-hand with the broad setting of Journey to the Tree of Sorrows. There is a lot of the world we want to explore and we know other players will as well. By making single-session RPGs a core part of the game, players will get to play more characters, see more of the world, and have more experiences in the Journey to the Tree of Sorrows world.

That is a basic rundown of our thoughts behind the RPG development so far. What do you think? What do you want to see from the Journey to the Tree of Sorrows RPG and RPGs from Infinite Black roleplaying games more broadly?

Heath
Twitter: @EHeathRobinson
The Journey to the Tree of Sorrows Inner Circle