15 April 2013

Birth of the Soar Engine

In a blog post last week I mentioned I was, against my better judgement, jotting down a few ideas for a RPG rule system. I have now named it the Soar Engine. (Or SOAR Engine. I haven't quite decided on the best typography.)

Concerning the name, 'soaring' is, of course, a type of flying. I'm using it figuratively (although there is of course no reason why games couldn't involve flying), as in letting one's imagination soar. But it actually came about with me toying with various words in my head, trying to think of a cool acronym. The words that, in the end, made up 'soar' were 'situation oriented action roleplaying'. Which, basically, means very little... (I also debated for a while between 'system' and 'engine'. 'Soar System' would have had that nice alliteration, but I eventually decided it looked too much like a typo'd 'solar system'. In any case, I like 'engine', because the rules are meant to drive the narrative, not define it.)

It's a very minimalistic set of rules, but with a twist or two. One of the main ideas is that there are no hit points. Rather, action is more goal or situation oriented. You decide on an action. You either succeed or you don't. You move on to the next obstacle, or try a different approach. What you don't do (hopefully) is get stuck in a loop taking turns punching each other. It's intended for heroic characters, the kind who routinely take out minions with one hit and walk away from failures saying: 'It's just a flesh wound.'

Of course I have no idea if it works in practise at all like I've imagined it. I hope to run an alpha test adventure sometime this spring or summer. It'll be a long time till I make any material public. If ever.

This thing has been... kinda like an earworm. The idea keeps bouncing around in my head, and I just need to get it out of my system. A couple days ago, I spent an evening designing a character sheet. I guess that means I'm somewhat serious about it. Although I've made a lot of stuff like that over the years that has never been used, at least there is some actual potential for making use of it now. I'm fairly pleased with the end result, too. It's the first time I've made a fillable PDF (yeah, I know, so modern).

Welp, if anything worthwhile comes out of this, I'll undoubtedly blog about it some day. If not, well, one more unfinished idea for the archives...

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