So. I just decided to make the jump and evolve from enthusiast game tinkerer to a creator of sorts. Granted, my first project won’t precisely be an original idea, but it is an ambitious one, nonetheless: I intend to remake and improve my favorite role playing game system as a way to keep it alive and kicking after its lifecycle has ended. This is a work of love and admiration from a fan who has devoted several years playing, studying and, ultimately, obsessing about a great game. My goal is to stay true to the original, embracing its strengths while improving some areas whose implementation didn’t live up to expectations.
Like its predecessor, Square Fireballs RPG will be a combat-focused game featuring deep tactical encounters, huge character customizability and little DM preparation effort. On top of that, I plan to introduce a considerable number of changes, which are listed below.
- Game math updated to improve monster balance: Same level encounters should present a credible challenge regardless of tier, now.
- Better integration of skills in combat.
- General combat maneuvers are more varied and useful.
- Character conditions revised to be more fun and balanced.
- New rules to improve pacing of combat by regulating resource usage: reduced effect of nova rounds and end-of-combat grinding.
- Reworked skill system with flat DCs and bonuses.
- Ritual system overhaul: Rituals are better integrated with skills and game economy.
- Revised healing rules to streamline surge usage during short rests, reducing bookkeeping.
- Feat system revision, with a standalone set of feats to cover all player needs. Feat slots are now divided in two categories: greater feats, condensing all relevant combat benefits, and lesser feats, for non-combat effects or weak/situational combat bonuses.
- Magic Item revision, with a standalone set of items to cover all player needs. The number of simultaneously equipped items will be greatly reduced, to cut down on character complexity.
- New standalone sets of themes, paragon paths and epic destinies, emphasizing openness, flexibility, power uniformity and differentiation of campaign tiers.
- Guidelines for character effectiveness per level, made possible by reworked game math and integrated design of secondary character options.
- Reimagined versions of the most iconic character races (human, dwarf, elf, halfling) and classes (fighter, rogue, wizard, cleric), to play by themselves or alongside existing alternatives.
- In order to achieve a wider variety of viable builds, some of the most dominant strategies will be weakened through global rules: multiattacking powers, stunning and dominating, off-turn attacks. Likewise, some previously underwhelming yet quite common mechanics, like attacks that deal lots of damage dice, will be improved.
- Greatly improved flexibility in monster selection thanks to flatter game math. Monsters now remain challenging across a wider range of levels
- Mixed-level parties made viable by flatter game math.
- New monster creation method allows quick and easy stat generation, mixing of monster abilities, and random monster generation for encounters.
- Better balance makes it much easier to achieve challenging yet fair encounters for all party levels.
- Base game fully compatible with existing races and classes.
- Adventures and monsters usable after quick stat conversion - tools will be provided to make this as painless as possible.
- Current PC options (feats, items, themes, paths, epic destinies) usable but not recommended, as they break balance assumptions.
- Guidelines to mix and match the new rules with the existing ones.
This covers the most important stuff, though you can expect several minor tweaks and adjustments apart from those listed above. Regarding licensing and other legal aspects, I haven’t consulted a lawyer yet, but the idea is to stay away from GSL and write everything from scratch, likely using a Creative Commons license. From what I have read, this is fair game as long as I don’t use someone else’s IP nor copy text from other publications - which have no intention to do. That said, if any reader is aware of potential legal issues that could be derived from this approach, I’m all ears.
I’m vaguely aware of the existence of other similar projects currently in development. My position, for now, is to keep this as a purely personal initiative. While additional writing hands would definitely be of use, given my ever scarce spare time, I’d like to keep a tight control of the design process. I will, of course, be very interested in listening to any reader feedback and, if things go well, there will be a need for playtesting... but that is still far away in the future, at best.
To conclude, a few words on the publication medium. For the foreseeable future, all material for Square Fireballs RPG will come in the form of freely available blog articles. If the game ever becomes mature enough, I will also release it in PDF form, possibly for a price. Eventually, i have this crazy dream about making everything available in a fully linked web database (more like d20SRD than D&D Compendium, if possible), though that would be a ton of work on top of what is already a ridiculous amount of effort, so we’ll see.