New Gaming Systems

I have been slowly working on a new gaming system. I have no real interest in selling it or turning it into anything more than a hobby but I am curious.

Is there really any chance for a new gaming system to suceed? Right now it appears at least to me that the only real new gaming systems that come out are fairly setting specific. As in the system doesnt come out alone but comes out with a very well known setting attached to it.

Examples would be the newer LOTR system and Serenity. Neither one runs on D20 but would anyone be interested in the particular system if they were being used by well known settings that people are interested in?

Would you try a new game system if it didnt have a big name attached to it? Or would say the Serenity game system fall on its face and horribly fail if it had been the same game mechanics but been a generic all unique space setting?

If and when I ever do finish creating it I may use it to run a session or two at a Chicago Gameday.

log in or register to remove this ad


Front Range Warlock
The questions you're asking are somewhat flawed as they assume that games succeed or fail merely based on being new to the market and/or being attached to well-known IP. This isn't alwayas the case - take Castles & Crusades, for instance.

C&C has been a rousing success and, not be cause ti was new or tied to some specific property, but because it was well designed. Ditto HARP. In point of fact, both of these games specifically model older, now out of print, game systems. Neither is very revolutionary in terms of doing something new - but they both do something well.

Alternately, take a look at the new LOTR RPG - the initial print run was new and tied into a crazy popular property, but support of the physical line (i.e., printed books) was dropped due to a lack of revenue generation. The first print run of LOTR was widely criticized as being chock full of errata and horrribly broken. This stigma ultimately trumped the game's appeal as 'new' and it's tie-in to a popular property.

The bottom line is that focussed and functional games win out over games that are merely 'new' and/or tied into a popular property. Games that were tied into popular IP that succeeded, did so less because they were tied into popular IP, than because they were functional. The same can be said of new games. A game that relies solely on the 'next big thing' factor to drive sales won't be popular for very long.

If you want something to sell well for the long haul, worry less about being new or different - worry more about being functional. Go watch some of the 'Game of the Moment' indie-press releases... they exemplify the 'new=better' school of thought, but few of them have any lasting market impact, instead being wildly popular just until something newer comes along (a period of time that can often be measured in weeks).

[Note: This isn't to say that being 'new' and 'different' or tied into IP is a bad thing, merely that neither of these things is the be all end all of commercial success that a small portion of the design community believes them to be.]
Last edited:


I'm certainly willing to read a new system. And contrary to the vast majority of folks who play RPGs I don't really care about background. If it is a smooth system with fun dice tricks - I'll bring the flavor.


First Post
Since opinion is asked :

There are so many RPGs around here, that I am not interested in trying yet another one. There is plenty of great games that I know of, that I won't have the opportunity to play. As such, I really won't bother with reading another one, especially if it is an amateur PDF game.


Mod Squad
Staff member
DocMoriartty said:
Is there really any chance for a new gaming system to suceed?

Well, what do you consider "success"? Is success, "being in print without costing me money" or is success, "Having sales equal to one of the top 5 games on the market"? The former is a whole lot more possible than the latter.


Likewise, there are so many systems out there i'm not keen on trying really new ones. I happen to like d20, and i like it because it is so flexible. With some creativity, you can turn the rules into so many different, yet recognizable directions. If there were something really elegant, and highly recommended, and nicely presented, i might take a look at it, but it would have to be pretty exceptional.

I think it's actually pretty hard to come up with a new system given how many pro markets are already out there competing


First Post
You need to check out more independent game systems. The Shadows of Yesterday, Conspirdary of Shadows, etc.. etc.. etc... This doesn't count fairly recent and popular books like Savage Worlds, or old ones that have made a comeback like d6 system.

There are a ton of game systems out there. Check out for some examples of actual play threads.


I don't have enough time to really peruse too many new games. Every now and then I'll pick a new system up, but very rarely.

If the system plays fairly quickly with good mechanics, character creation, and some neat little options to really make the game my own, I'll check it out. As far as if it would be successful or not for the author/publisher, I don't know. A small press game is going to have a tough time rising through the mass of games already on the market. Such a game would have to be well-done with very little to no errata, solid gameplay, and lots of good word of mouth press. The last one can be had by getting people to your product. Posting previews on RPG message boards is a good way to go. Get people interested before you release, and your game would likely do better than just popping it out for sale on RPGnow cold with no introduction.



DocMoriartty said:
Would you try a new game system if it didnt have a big name attached to it? Or would say the Serenity game system fall on its face and horribly fail if it had been the same game mechanics but been a generic all unique space setting?
I suppose that a system itself doesn't really sell. If it comes with a game that I find really interesting, I might try it out.

The point is: What does it do better than the bucket loads of (more or less) generic systems that are already out there? Is it better than d20? GURPS? Hero? BRP? Unisystem? Silcore? Tri-stat (dX)? d6? Savage Worlds? Fudge? Palladium? Omni? Questworlds? Or is it better than any of the countless systems that have been developed for specific games?

I'd say, if the game itself doesn't do anything revolutionary, the chance of success is next to zero. Or you try the S. John Ross model ;).

Personally, I'm always interested in new game systems...

...if they are generic settings.

To use the Serenity example: had it been a generic sci-fi RPG, I would have looked at it to see if I liked it. However, because it is so tied into a setting - in this case, one I know nothing about, having not watched the series/movie - I'm not interested.

I like to review new systems that have lots of flexibility for me to adapt to my own uses.

Remove ads


Remove ads

Upcoming Releases