UGS Design Goals

Last post, I told you a lot about my history as a designer, now let’s talk about my specific design goals for the Untitled Game System (UGS). It is slightly different than for Starship Commandos or A Team of Losers, so I’ll get into those later.

Sword NoirThe continuing thread that runs through all my game designs starting with Sword Noir: A Role-Playing Game of Hardboiled Sword & Sorcery has been simplicity. None of my games from Sword Noir on have had more than 20 pages of rules. Examples expanded Sword Noir and Centurion: Legionaries of Rome slightly out of the 20 page milestone, but the mechanics have been pretty compact.

I wanted UGS to be the simplest system yet. For me, simplicity itself is a worthy goal, but there was a further goal beyond this: speed of play. Simple games seem to move faster than complex ones, and that is only logical. However, some simple systems can still lead to complex interactions. The strategy involved in building a hand with your dice pool in Centurion was part of the design goal, but it complicated the actual Tests. Not a problem, they still move quickly, but I wanted something pared down even further.

So, simple and fast. What else?

Centurion: Legionaries of RomeI wanted to get back to a system in which the GM does very little mechanical adjudication. In Sword Noir and Kiss My Axe: Thirteen Warriors and an Angel of Death, both built with the Sword’s Edge System, the GM does no dice-rolling. Everything is a target number which the GM decides beforehand. In a sandbox game, these numbers need to be assigned during the game, so there is some mechanical adjudication, but not as much as with Centurion or Nefertiti Overdrive, in which the GM is rolling dice along with the players. I want to be able to focus on the game and the story rather than the mechanics or how many dice I am using.

So there you go. UGS is intended to be simple, fast, and with little to no GM mechanical adjudication during the game session.

Starship Commandos and A Team of Losers had other requirements, but those would be built on top of the chassis provided by UGS.

You can find print versions of Sword Noir here and Centurion here. SEP’s PDFs are all available here.

You can find the UGS here and talk of Starship Commandos and A Team of Losers here.

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