Your "Perfect RPG" Wishlist...


So, I know that this is going to produce wildly divergent answers, but I'm sure everyone has thought about what their perfect RPG looks like. And I'm sure that everyone's answers are a little bit different. But with all the new games arising from the OGL kerfuffle, I thought I'd throw up a thread. Who knows? Maybe if a large percentage likes something, it'll be helpful to the CoolNameHere, Black Flag, ORC, or some other group of designers. So, to get the ball rolling, I'm going to throw up my wishlist.

1. Fun and easy to play: Some of that is below, but it should also have mechanics designed in ways that facilitate the ability to narrate the action. If an attack hits, it should HIT, and if it does damage, that should be real damage, unless the PC somehow absorbs/soaks or shrugs it off. Similarly, choices should matter, so that weapon choice is relevant, armor is relevant, etc.
2. Some ability of the player to control the narrative, via the mechanism of fate tokens, luck points, or whatever should exist. I want a degree of unpredictability, but I don't enjoy having to restart a character from novice all the time.
3. A (mostly) unified mechanic: In my idea world, this mechanic lets us make regular use of all the standard polyhedral dice. Why? Because it sounds fun to be able to use all the dice I own.
4. Classless, and Skill-based: One of the things I have grown to hate in D&D is classes. In part this is because it then requires new classes for every new genre, and in part because it tends to make it hard to think "How would I build a character like [X fictional character]?"
5. A flexible system for pulling off stunts/skill tricks/magic: I'm thinking something here like "Mighty Deeds of Arms" from DCC, Tests from Savage Worlds, or Stunts from the various AGE games. By baking it into the skill system, non-combat encounters could potentially be just as engaging as combat ones.
6. A flexible, but comprehensive, magic/power system: See above. Give me the basics of a robust system of powers, so that I have the building blocks of spells. I'm thinking here of something like Savage Worlds, where the various spells are primarily differentiated by their actual effect, not their special effects. The trappings system is amazing, but might need more guidelines.
7. "Sweet spot" durability: I want to see the "5-minute adventuring day" die. I want characters that can get into fights, get beat up, recover, and keep going. I wouldn't personally mind long-term wounds, but overall, I'd like it to default a bit like a pulp action movie, although in an idea world, this would be a dial one could tune.
8. Experience progression: Characters should get better or more competent. I'm not sure how to marry this with Point 7, but while I want PCs to get "better," I don't want combat turning into a grind.

I could go on, but those are some of my preferences. In a lot of ways, Savage Worlds ticks most of my boxes, which is why it's my go-to system right now. But I would have to stop using my beloved d20s, and I'm not sure how I'll feel about exploding dice until I get to play the system. And since I'm having trouble getting a gaming group together, I'm left with a lot of thought-time.

So those are my wishlist items. What are yours? The floor is open.

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- Fast character creation (under 15 minutes). This is kind of needed to realistically have an actual threat that characters can die if they pick the wrong fights and fight poorly.

- Fast combat. Combat should answer who lives or dies (or gets badly injured) so we can go to the next scene. It should not be the main game.

- Combat should not have a structure where one player plays for 3 minutes at a time and then everyone else has nothing to do for 10 minutes and goes looking for entertainment elsewhere, not paying attention to the game. (And subsequently taking 3 minutes to decide what to do when it's their turn.)

- Enemy stats heed to be simple enough that I can put together a combat encounter I did not expect to happen in under 5 minutes.

- I will not play your game if you require me to buy your proprietary dice.

- A game needs procedures, structures, and incentives that result in the the kind of actions that are appropriate to the genre also being the most efficient mechanically.

I believe that almost no progress has been made in RPG design since B/X D&D and d6 Star Wars fourty years ago. Almost everything since then has just been bloat that makes games worse, not better. PtbA being the one notable exception.


My problem is that I keep comparing the games and wants to D&D. It is not a bad thing and I guess most of us do that, but my answer keeps coming back to something like 4e, but faster and more cinematic. Maybe MCDM is working on something like that according to his video.


I'm too flighty to have a "perfect" RPG. Sometimes I want one kind of game, sometimes I want another. If I started going into descriptions I'd start to sound like the kids on that Simpson's episode where they were the focus group telling the Itchy & Scratchy team about the perfect Itchy & Scratchy episode.

"So let me get this straight - you want a game with quick character creation with a resolution system that allows for quick, improvisational play where all players have equal agency with fast easy to run combats that let you do action scenes like from the movies and then quickly move back into the story, but you also want to have a highly crunchy tactical miniature combat skirmish system with lots of ways to customize characters and terrain and opponents who are easily used by the GM but also have lots of options to make the battles all feel different?"

"Yes! And also you should win things by playing the game!"


My problem is that I keep comparing the games and wants to D&D. It is not a bad thing and I guess most of us do that, but my answer keeps coming back to something like 4e, but faster and more cinematic. Maybe MCDM is working on something like that according to his video.
Interesting. What was it you especially liked about 4e?


B/X Known World
My list is pretty short, I guess.

Light enough that I can easily memorize the rules.

Free-form enough that I can use it for any genre.

Quick enough in play that it doesn't become a boring slog.

I guess I'm lucky in that there are already dozens of games that fit those criteria.

FKR (Free Kriegsspiel Renaissance), 2400, Lasers & Feelings, World of Dungeons, Risus, Over the Edge 3rd Edition, Fate Accelerated, Classic Traveller (3LBBs), Paranoia Troubleshooters, Dread, Cthulhu Dark, The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Ghostbusters, Star Wars WEG 1E, etc.

Teo Twawki

Coffee ruminator
Hm. Don't need a wishlist because any game that we sit down to play is tweaked to fit our needs according to that genre and game world. So our "perfect rpg" is the one we return to play a second, third, or forty-seventh time... 😎


Interesting. What was it you especially liked about 4e?
I liked the powers and how all the spells were a to-hit against a save. I liked monster design and that I could easily adjust to make things harder if I wanted. I liked the battle maps that came with the modules that we still use today.

Things could be expanded with more choices for powers and tricks for each class. 5e monsters are not that bad to modify, mostly since I do not care to give a reason why some things happen. If I want to give an orc a fireball spell, I do. He might not have anything else to do with spells, but he gets a fireball 1/day.


I like modular rule sets - options for extra crunch, no crunch, etc. - that use the same mechanical assumptions as the core rules, rather than being tacked-on notions with irregular resolutions or requirements. Not touting ICE, but I'm thinking that level of consistency, rather than things like percentiles for some skills, THAC0 going in the "wrong" direction, etc. With the move to VTTs and tech-supported game play, it would be nice to have rules to "toggle" on and off. Like, if weapon speed, damage types vs armour types, critical hit locations, etc. are not to one's liking, switch 'em off, maybe even for just one session or encounter.

I'd like to see that in PDF rule books, too - imagine being able to pick and choose from a menu of rules/options you want to print into your own rule book. Talk about POD!

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