Perhaps as an exercise in narcissism, I’m going to ask questions that nobody has ever asked me about my upcoming rpg system: The Patchwork Manifesto. That said, I figured it’d be a fun way to talk about the Hows and Whys of the project. Besides, you can’t tell me that any FAQ posted at time of any other game announcement consisted of questions that were, ya know, frequently asked up until that point.
What the hell is The Patchwork Manifesto?
It’s an attempt to pull all my independent gaming projects under one roof. If you’ve read or played REWIRED, Patchwork Fantasy, or even Sigil & Shadow you’ll see a lot of familiar elements.
What inspired this madness?
It’s something I’ve been thinking about doing for a long time, especially after reading Rob Lang’s review of REWIRED over at The Free RPG blog. He praised the game, and lordy did I get traffic (and still do) thanks to that review. But his one major criticism was that the system could’ve been hacked into anything, and didn’t feel particularly cyberpunk enough.
I totally agree with his criticisms, but a lot of my friends at the table read that and said “Wait, that’s a weakness?” For REWIRED it was, as I’ve seen some similar comments in other discussions about cyberpunk RPGs (including 4chan of all places.)
I’ve also held on to some notes and ideas that have never seen the light of day for using the REWIRED rules for other settings. I started scheming up a scale mechanic for potential use with things like mecha or space battles. A lot of how I approached Sigil & Shadow were ideas I was kicking around for supernatural characters. At one point I was even creating a Weird West setting.
The one thing that held me back was dreading the re-hashing of writing full game booklets that contained enough new content to not feel like a copy & paste job for the bulk of it. So I decided to do it one more time, with gusto, so I can then just focus on expanding.
So is this a generic retread on REWIRED’s rules?
More of a generic retread of both REWIRED and Patchwork Fantasy. I prefer the 3d6-based system, but I liked how Patchwork was Attribute + Skill based (versus keeping them separate). I saw a lot of players spread their points to thin, wanting to have their toes in a wide field of skills, but wound up being mediocre at everything.
What’s new in the Manifesto rules?
Biggest mechanical change that I’m digging is the Step modifiers. I really wanted to keep the number ranges for rolls modest (preferably not more than 30) but still wanted to give cool perks and features that makes the player feel like their character has an edge. For every point of Step Bonus you have, you get to roll an extra die and take the three best. Likewise, the opponent who is disadvantaged in steps has to roll a similar number of dice, but take the lowest.
It’s added a new dynamic to how to portray stuff like natural strength or the scale/size of a character without having to tack on flat bonuses or penalties.
I’ve also added character backgrounds, borrowing mechanics from DWD’s d00Lite System (which Sigil & Shadow used.) I liked having it as both a way to establish bonus skills or features to a character, as well as providing the base income for a character. I wound up being dissatisfied with my abstract credit system in REWIRED, and opted instead to use the monthly income and equipment picks as a happy middle ground to bean-counting and “quick pick” systems. Beautiful part is it can slide either way the GM prefers.
Any default settings?
Nope. There is a default genre or era, though: modern. Most of the stuff I prefer to build with this system fits in the modern to near future spectrum. There’s enough fantasy/medieval focused RPGs out there right now. If I run those with this system, I just ditch the guns and high tech options. Not to say I won’t expand later, but at the core I’m more modern focused.
So what do we get to see at release?
Aside from the core Manifesto, there’ll be two “patchbooks” available from the get-go: Chemicals & Circuitry and Grimoire of Keys. The first is the obligatory add-on of augmentations, drugs, nethacking and vehicle options from REWIRED updated to the new mechanics. The second title is the Patchwork Fantasy magic system, also updated but also clarified and expanded a bit. I was really proud of that spell system, and I intend for it to be the default blue print for magic in these rules.
What happens to the other games now?
They’re getting retired (as in, I’m not really working with them any more) but they’ll still be hosted here on The ChaosGrenade for folks who wish to still play them. I don’t believe in role-playing games being “obsolete” and even if just a handful of peeps use my stuff, I want them to continue enjoying them without obligation to upgrade — especially when the system has a lot of changes to it.
Well guys, it’s 3 AM and the fear is gone. I have a day of last minute changes and getting ready to upload this stuff for you by Friday morning. Hope you’ve enjoyed me talking to myself! CHECK BACK SOON!