|The Fun:Work Ratio
A tiny scrap of RPG Design-and-Fiddling
Philosophy by S. John Ross
As both a GM and a writer, I spend a lot of time coming up with new
rules, variants, and "fixes" to the games I play. Even if you're
just an occasional GM with no interest in professional design, it probably
happens to you now and again, too.
Usually, it's just a matter of typing it up to get it out of my system
for good - I need never look at it again. But sometimes, just sometimes,
the change is actually worth adding to the game. To determine when, I put
every proposed rule change, addition, or subtraction to the following simple
- (A) Does it add fun to the game? If so, rate the fun in Pounds
of Goodness. Go to B.
- (B) Does it reduce work in the game? If so, rate the reduced
work in Pounds of Goodness, and it to the pounds of fun added in A (if
any). If the current total Pounds of Goodness equals zero, STOP. The change
serves no function (at best).
- (C) Does it add realism to the game ("realism" being
the subjective realism of the genre for genre-specific rules, or more actual
realism for system-wide basic rules in a universal game). If so, multiply
the Pounds of Goodness by an arbitrary value that reflects how you feel
- (D) If step B added no Pounds, rate the amount of work added
by the change in Pounds of Badness (if any).
- (E) If the Pounds of Goodness to Pounds of Badness ratio is
at least Pretty Darn Swell in favor of Goodness, then go ahead and make
that change - it's worth it! If the ratio favors Pounds of Badness, or
doesn't favor Pounds of Goodness quite enough, it is not.
This formula, naturally, is almost entirely subjective! But it works
. . .