Hello, everyone, I have a question for you all, and this seems to be the best place to put it:
How difficult do you think it would be to make an RPG without any form of (directed) advancement?
What got me thinking about this was an idle thought, oh, 2 years ago? about a joke variant for the d20 system called d1, where everyone played 1st level characters and leveling was removed in the name of "simplification." I think I had it so you could still get minor boosts to skill points as you progress.
But anywho, that idea got tabled for being excessively silly; I mean, seriously silly.
But, I remembered a website recently; the author of squidi.net has a challenge where he will eventually write up 300 different mechanics, for video-games or for board games, and in a recent read-through, this idea
caught my eye.
Now, what I basically thought of, to bring it into the realm of P&P gaming, was:
1. There are 3 types of classes; temporary and its subtype forced, and permanent.
2. Temporary classes are a one-time use; you use the portal-mage class to open a gate to another realm, or the technician class to operate a machine, then they are gone. They represent small bursts of ingenuity, and all that jazz; a forced class would be something like Mind-Controled or Poisoned.
3. Permanent classes are core features of a character; you can slap 'em on or take 'em off, but you don't lose them if you do so.
4. Each player can only hold so many classes at once; I would think restricting it to maybe 2 permanent classes and 3 temporary classes at a time sounds like a worthy idea, though uncapping Forced classes sounds like it would be in order.
5. Each class is tiered, like in the linked example, though permanent classes would have a range (so the portal-mage class might be 3rd tier, while a basic Mage class might be 1-3 tiers.) This determines the order of stacking.
And finally, the whammy idea...
6. You don't get to pick what classes you have; temporary classes are given out as loot, bought in a shop, or can be freely added in given circumstances (you could grab a Medbay Operator class when you were in a medbay, for example), while Permanent classes must be bought (A big shiny suit of armor), or earned (slaying a dragon might give you the Dragonslayer class permanently).
7. Each class is a physical card; the entirety of the rules for that class should be able to fit on said card.
To give an example, let's write out a Mage card:
: Spellcaster: You can apply a Temporary class with the subtype [spell] as a Forced class to one target within X range.
OK, that sounds nice, but what about spells?
: Temporary [Spell]Ability
: You are attacked by someone with a skill roll of [X]; the damage is fire based. Remove this class after resolving the attack.
I'm thinking this would be layered over a really simplified combat/social system (maybe FATE based?), and each card carries its own rules, so...
It would be like playing M:tG, the RPG, which is not something I'm afraid to do.
An additional point to note; the above classes took me literally 10 seconds each to think up. And, stop to consider this for a moment...
Homebrew just got really easy.
Of course, Gentleman's Agreement to stop people from adding their own outside cards to their "loot hand" should be in effect.