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#RPGaDay - 18. Favourite Game System


I find this quite an interesting question, as sometimes the system is fundamentally meshed with the setting. However, if I had to pick one game system as a favourite, it would be 'Wordplay'. Developed by Graham S and the group of Sheffield gamers which I used to play with regularly, this is a game dear to my heart. I spent a lot of time involved in play testing and also in helping to develop parts of the system. I also proofed and laid out the game for publication.

At its heart, 'Wordplay' requires you to build a hand of ordinary common-a-garden six sided dice. You throw these, and each 6 gains you two successes, each 4 or 5 gives one success, and 1-3 gives you nothing. You then compare the difference in levels between an opponent or a fixed difficulty, and the wider the gap, the bigger the success level. In many ways, 'FATE' works in a similar way, but that wasn’t an inspiration for the game engine.

You build the hand through taking a trait (which is rated in numbers of dice that go into a dice pool) and then potentially picking up to two supporting traits (which add a reduced number of dice based on their original levels). Other players can help by lending you a helping dice from their character. You can also gain dice from equipment and the environment. You can create temporary traits through narration or action that can also help.

Nothing ever takes dice away from you; you can only ever gain dice. Even if you are wounded, you do not lose dice. Say you had 'Broken Arm (3d)' and that trait would act against you in a task, then you would give your opponent 3 extra dice. One of the sweet things in the system is that you can see who helped or hindered you.

Final task resolution effectiveness can be gauged from a table - in all cases, a 7 success margin is a total victory.

'Wordplay' sits firmly on the fence between contest resolution and task resolution. You can use the system in either way; either frame the outcome you want to achieve, or approach it like a traditional RPG and roll with the dice at a more granular level. You can resolve with a single roll, or have an extended contest. The use of descriptive traits makes it really easy to build characters and adventures. The dice mechanic is quite clever, as it engages gamer instincts in building a hand of dice, but the process is quite swift. The outcome supports narrative resolutions, and the whole system hits a sweet spot for me.

'Wordplay' deserves more recognition than it has, and hopefully it will get it soon. Currently, the PDF and POD book sit at [Lulu.com], but the intent is to migrate them to RPGNow/DTRPG in the near future. There are two supplements nearly completed, so hopefully the game will gain in popularity.

So that, ladies and gentlemen, is my favourite game system.

And yes, I also love the bell curve functionality of 'Traveller' and the d100 simplicity of the Basic Role Playing engine which started at Chaosium. But 'Wordplay' is now my go-to system.