In the SHOTGUN WIZARD thread, Eero writes:
Sounds solid to me. If it's party-based and challenge-oriented, it might be interesting if instead of the usual adventure paradigm you did explicit missions, as befits wizard-marshals. For example, the players could manage a wizard-marshal headquarters that sends their characters to ride specific circuits among the frontier settlements. This would then form the framework for determining where and when the party goes, with implications for what sort of trouble they end up in.
My best recentish games have all fallen into that category of "party-based, challenge-oriented", and additionally somewhat open-ended. I think there are kinda five-ish traditional PB&CO paradigms that I'm familiar with, which can kinda fade into each other at the doors and corners...Overland Exploration
, a kinda sandboxy explore-the-wilderness game, with points of interest and dungeons and stuff scattered about. Hexcrawls, Western Marches, pointcrawls. Goals are to explore and to acquire treasure. Fixtures are overland maps, encounter tables, sometimes location generators, sometimes treasure tables. Sometimes totally random hex generators.Dungeon Delving
, either a megadungeon or a ton of smaller dungeons. It's open-ended when the party gets to decide what paths to take, how far to push on, etc. Less so when the dungeon is not sufficiently Jaquayed
as to present real choices to the players, or the DM takes a "here's your duengeon of the week" attitude that removes the possiblity of punting and going somewhere else. Goals are again, to explore and acquire treasure. Fixtures are dungeon maps, encounter tables, sometimes treasure tables. Sometimes totally random dungeon generators.Investigation
, in the CoC style. I'm pretty much completely unfamiliar with this style. Goals are to unravel the mysteries.Missions
, a la traditional Shadowrun. I've never really seen this done in a properly open-ended fashion, but I know it could
be! (How would it be?) Goals are to complete objectives and get paid. I don't have much experience here either.Mercantile
, as in some Traveller modes. You've got settlements and frontiers, you move around among them doing jobs and trading goods. Goals are to get paid and build out your operation. Fixtures are trade and route maps, location generators, maybe focusing on economic / political factors and what work is available, sometimes encounter tables or NPC generators.
I'm sure there's tons of other possibilities out there. What other structures could you build a game or campaign around, particularly using something like D&D and its cousins as a substrate? What would the present day OSR look like, if in 1974 Gary had built the first RPG not from a medieval infantry game, but from a game of Napoleonic naval combat, or something like Diplomacy or Axis and Allies?