DW II - System vs Setting

,",On 29th August, James Wallis, the supremo at Magnum Opus Press, announced that MoP will be ceasing to publish the Dragon Warriors line once the upcoming "In From the Cold"(IFTC) supplement is released later this year. One immediate effect of this is that the next supplement after IFTC - the eagerly-awaited "Players Book" will not see the light of day under the MoP impriment.

In the aftermath of this announcement, apart from the general wailing and gnashing of teeth, there was a lot of interest from several groups in somehow publishing the Players Book (in the short term) and a revised/revamped/revivified version of DW (in the medium term), among them:
  • the player's book authors and artists
  • the Ordo Draconis team (of which I am one) - we have not actually discussed this properly yet but its certainly high on our to-do list
  • Dave Morris himself on his blog
  • By the more sober accounts I have received, the new owners of the licensing rights to the Legend/DW Intellectual Property (Fabled Lands LLC) are also not averse to such new material coming out
In the rest of this article I will focus on a revamped Dragon Warriors (which in this article I will henceforth call DW II), specifically the commonly-held view that "the setting is great, the system less so". This may or may not end up having some impact on the final content of the aforementioned Player's Book, however that is not my decision! My primary concern is to collate and confront the many interesting and potentially valid suggestions which have come up in several forums and blogs over the last few days, so that anyone who is actually thinking of contributing in some way to a DWII, can get a clear idea of what the options are.

The article is based on a summary of the following threads, trying to pick out who suggested and likes what, naturally coloured by my own views and experiences. Please point out other relevant threads which I have missed - and of course, if your name appears in the table below and you feel I have misrepresented your views, please let me know. I hope that others will comment on and contribute to this article, as part of an ongoing discussion.
BIG SCARY NOTE: if you DIRECTLY EDIT the page then PLEASE put in a decent "Edit Note" when you save it, to say what you added/changed.

Update 09/09/2010

I have removed the "Barbarians of Lemuria" option from the table, for three reasons:
  1. So far I am the only person I have found anywhere, who is keen on this option, and even I was never that keen
  2. Several people, most forcefully Bhoritz, have made the point that if we're going to port DW to another a system in order to try and reach a wider audience, then that system should be well-known and have a wide following. BoL, so far, is definitely "niche".
Next on the list would be FATE, I guess. Except... that it seems to combine very well with strong settings - have a look at the sales numbers here. So I'm reading up on FATE and will ask Deadly Fredly for his opinion too...

Update 12/09/2010

I have made some changes below:
  1. More info about FATE, after some helpful feedback from the folks at the FATE Yahoo Group
  2. I have removed the "Setting dominant" as the only person interested in it seems to be be!
  3. Based on feedback in the comment threads I have added a note into the "2.0" row which might well bring some people there from the "1.2" camp: that any major revamp should not throw out any of the 1.1 rules "just because they're old". This means that the major differences between "1.2" and "2.0" are the following:
  • 1.2 would be backwards-compatible with 1.1 whereas 2.0 would not be
  • 2.0 would be a standalone game whereas 1.2 would be a "companion" dependent upon the continued availability of a 1.1 core rulebook

Update 20/09/2010

Just to make it clear - ANY update to the rules (even the most mild "1.2"-style update) is clearly going to alienate some "old faithfuls". I am aware of that and I believe that everyone who has commented so far on this issue, is too.

We should also all be clear that DW1.1 going out of print, like DW1.0 already did, will not alienate old faithfuls as they, like me, surely have all the print and PDF copies they could get their hands on. However it will certainly alienate many potential "new faithfuls" - in most cases before they even knew that DW existed and it was something they might like. Therefore to a certain extent this entire discussion is about the conflict between these two dynamics.

The Options

The table below should be pretty self-explanatory but if it isn't just give me a shout.
When a name appears multiple times in "Who seems to like this", the number in brackets is their relative preference if they have expressed one, with (1) being most preferred, etc.
Who seems to like this
All setting, no/weak system
Setting only - basically a Legend sourcebook
  • Legend already a great setting
  • May widen potential market
  • Glorantha stuff has apparently done well using this model
  • How many pure settings have actually done really well? Most seem to have some link to a system
  • most gamers today seem to like some crunch
  • may attract only a subset of gamers who are willing and able to meld it to their preferred system
butscharoni, Dave Morris, Simon Bray, resident.deity(1),
Tom Clare.
Keep the setting AND the systemThe rules are fine, just as they are
  • "Quickest and cheapest" option - the existing community is very familiar
  • fails to deal with the most common reason why potential newcomers don't go for DW
Damian May, Dominik (1), Bhoritz (1),
Keep the setting, revamp existing system
Basically "DW 1.2", if the MoP version is considered to be "1.1". Some potential candidate systems from:
  • Bill Edmunds
  • Cameron Smith
  • Rumtap
  • Wayne Imlach
  • Could be backwards compatible and thus allows direct continuity with MoP line
  • Minimizes extra investment in books for existing fans
  • could put off new fans as "more of the same old-skool stuff"
  • how far is it possible to revamp DW without changing it wholesale?
  • would create a dependence on DW 1.1 always being available and reasonably priced
Bloody Stupid Johnson, Damian May, Hogscape, Rumtap, Tim Harford,
... and, I'm guessing, a lot of people who were holding their breath for the Player's Book, Owlglass (2),
Chelrican (2), Korentin Black (1),
Mike Page, rabindranath72
, alms66
Keep the setting, totally new system
AKA "DW 2.0". What would that system be? Some candidate systems:

  • Could be attractive in its newness
  • Could allow a chance to really try and capture in the crunch, the "DW feel"
  • Use Dave's Tirikelu system? Or Tim Harford's DWII ideas?
  • Should not discard any 1.1 rules "just because they're old"
  • a huge amount of work
  • significant risk of falling flat as new systems are 10 a penny
  • risk of the great setting getting forgotten or besmirched by fights about this or that contributor's pet houserule
Dominik (2), Bloody Stupid Johnson (1), Owlglass (1), Chelrican (1), Korentin Black (2), Bill Edmunds,
Stephen Dove (but only as "new" as necessary)
Keep the setting, meld to another system This line discusses general pros and cons, the lines below are for each specific candidate system.
  • Any reasonably modern system would deal with a lot of the grumbles which DW 1.1 got since its relaunch, about its antiquated system
  • If the right system is chosen, could put DW on the radar of a whole new legion of fans
  • and if we choose the wrong new system?

  • Very flexible and crunch level can be tweaked
  • Legends of Anglerre already done a lot of work with fantasy conversion
  • "Too" story based for the "DW feel"?
,Bill Edmunds(2), Random Code

  • Grandaddy (??) of generic systems
  • Well-known
  • Preferred by "the man himself" who plays a "7-stat variant"
  • Very crunchy (some would say only reasonably crunchy)
  • Appears to be seen as "dry" by many FRP fans
  • May require you to buy lots of books: GURPS Core, GURPS Fantasy, GURPS Legend, etc. etc.
  • Alternatively requires more authorial work to create a "Powered by..." version
  • "the man himself" often finds it clunky
Dave Morris(2), Tim Harford, Wodenkrait, alms66, Bhoritz (2), resident.deity(2), Thierry Mallard

  • "Natural" community of FRP players
  • Intensively marketed
  • Reaction from PF community to Ordo Draconis 2 was pretty positive
  • Still pretty crunchy
  • the D&D lineage already has a zillion settings - might Legend get lost in the midst?
Rudd? , Bloody Stupid Johnson (2)

  • "Natural" community of FRP players who lack an alternative to "wacky" Glorantha
  • MRQ SRD/OpenQuest have an attractive license
  • Well known FRP system for those who have strayed from the D&D family
  • Dave Morris reckons it would be "better fit than GURPS"
  • Pretty crunchy - though both MRQII and OpenQuest are somewhat simpler
Anonymous1, Bill Edmunds, Bruce Mason, Cameron Smith, Bhoritz (2), resident.deity(2), Mysticfish, NDM, TrippyHippy, Simon Bray, Dave Morris (1), Rudd

Savage Worlds
  • World + Dog have a Savage Worlds version
  • About the right crunch level for DW
  • World + Dog have a Savage Worlds version
Mysticfish,Jeff White, gebeji, urbanfrog, Rudd, Bhoritz (1)

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