Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Crunch Overload

I've mentioned before that my gateway into the roleplaying game hobby was the 3.5 edition of Dungeons & Dragons. While I have fond memories of 3.5 and its spiritual predecessor Pathfinder is one of my favorite games at the moment. However, I have always been bothered by "crunchy" nature of the d20 system.

For those of you who are new to the hobby and haven't learned all the strange, little terms that we use yet, "crunch" is the mechanics that are the basic foundation of these games that we play. Some games, like Risus and a number of "indie" games, are rather light on crunch and just give you a basic framework of rules that you can expand and build upon during the game. Others, like the d20 system or the Hero system, have a decent amount of crunch, meaning they have a large amount of rules for numerous things both big and small.

While I enjoy running and playing Pathfinder and it is still my go-to fantasy game, I starting to find the amount of crunch it has unattractive. I understand the idea behind having a robust system. It is supposed to provide the players with a large amount of choices and hopefully give you a rule for pretty much anything so you won't have to worry about every being caught off-guard.

That basic idea is an admirable one and I can understand why a number of people would find it an attractive one. However, recently, I find the amount of crunch in Pathfinder rather annoying and in a strange way restrictive. With the amount of rules present in the game, I find myself hesitating when a situation arises that the rules don't cover. Instead of just quickly figuring out a way to handle it and move on, a little voice in my head keeps popping up and saying, "Wait, maybe you should check one of the rulebooks. There might be a rule for this somewhere."

So, I have been doing a lot of thinking and I'm going to be taking a break from Pathfinder for awhile. Instead, I'm going to be running a Savage Worlds-based Sci-Fi game. Unlike the d20 system, Savage Worlds is a lot more simple and straight-forward. It has a lot of variety, but that variety never causes the game to become really complicated or restrictive. While I'm running this campaign (which I might talk about in a later post), I'm actually going to be working a rules-light fantasy game that has somewhat of an "old school" feel, but includes a number of rules and elements from more "new school" games. Once I get the basic rules written up, I might just post a PDF of them there for others to check out. I think this break from more crunchy games will be good for both my future games and my own creativity.