Recently, I've been pouring blood, sweat and tears into a really intriguing, innovative new way to play through stories involving surreal shifts in settings and plot. Working with friends and balancing new ideas with positive feedback on my current, the last month or so has been a really exciting time for me.
Today, I happened upon a 24 Hour RPG, buried in the depths of 1km1kt, that accomplishes nearly the exact same thing, using, strangely, nearly identical mechanics.
Now, the setting is 100% different, and circumstances involved in play are entirely unique... but I'd liken it to a setting for someone else's system, the way Forgotten Realms is still, at its' core, just D&D with lots of concrete ephemera from which to draw. Also, to know that it took me a month of hard work and collaboration to arrive at a sub-par clone of another guy's 24-Hour contest entry is disheartening, to say the least. It's surreal to read a nigh-duplicate setup, with notes about how "I'm too rushed to finish this" thrown into the mix, often next to mechanics I'd regard as elegant, well playtested, ultra-efficient variants of my rules, coupled with "I haven't had time to try these." You get the picture.
I normally wouldn't look to anyone for advice on the matter; I'd simply push forward and know that my setting would differentiate the two. After all, just because a game uses 3d6 to resolve a task doesn't make it GURPS, right? Except that, set next to one another, my book in its' current form looks like a triple-sized inefficient plagiarism. Also, to elaborate, the guy's system is entirely proprietary, not bound to any open source system; and I had hoped to release this as my first commercial RPG.
I'm tempted to swallow my pride and just write the individual a letter of plea, saying "Please, please don't sue me / take this as a personal insult or instance of theft / accuse me of plagiarism on the multitude of fora we mutually inhabit," but the answer could easily be "Um, no." In which case, I'm fucked. I'm kinda hanging this out here, gents.
What should I do? Has this happened to anyone else? If so, what did you do? If not, what would you do?
And also, what would you do if you were the other guy?