I'm going to give a short presentation, how I came up with my game "Burgen & Backwaren" (roughly "Castles & Cakes"). It all started, when we were playing Clinton R. Nixon's Donjon, a game providing "Old-School Dungeoneering with an all-new bent".
That new bent is narration rights for players, when they succeed on a roll. So when a player investigates a crime scene, there would be a roll, and the player can tell what she finds. Alternatively a player may use successes to provide bonus dice to a later die roll.
The stats on the character sheet included a set of six attributes, lifted from D&D and presented with funny names, freeform skills, and some other stuff.
We encountered some problems. First, the game uses a very complicated mechanism for rolls (contested rolls with Xd20). Secondly, the rule described above is not complete. There is more in Donjon to do with successes, apart from narrating facts and providing bonus dice. There is also damage, and healing, and summoning creatures and so on, and skills would factor into all those subsystems. That wouldn't be a problem, but with these freeform skill there was no hard and fast rule what subsystems a skill could influence. Thirdly, the homage to D&D, although funny, became rather old fast.
So, I decided to take the parts I really liked and make a new game from it. I devised three basic rules for my endeavour:
1.) Only one player shall roll, and only once for every action. (No seperate damage rolls etc.)
2.) There will be a clear list of subsystems to influence and each skill would apply to exactly one. Apart from that, each skill could still be used to provide bonus dice and create facts. Players will still be able to create a unique name for their skills.
3.) Put in attributes, and skills, and levels, an alignments, and all those things, but have each of them work in an unexpected way. (All-new benting and all.)
As this is part 1, I will look into each of those aspects in future posts. Those will be collected here:
Part 1 - And so it begins.
Part 2 - Rolling dice.