#RPGTheoryJuly 2nd – Inclusion

My attitude to game rules is definitely less is more. When you add social inclusion into the mix then I think the less is more attitude is even more relevant. I am working on a Spacemaster retro-clone right now. In the original you had about 100 words or so to describe each profession, 700 words to describe each culture and 400 words to describe each race. When trying to fill that much content you end up with phrases like this:

…and there you have the immediate reinforcement of very traditional stereotypes.

Skip forward 40 years and White Star, which I am using as the source material for my retro-clone uses just 80 words for race, culture and profession. Just enough information for you to know the ‘spirit of the profession’. What you want to do with it is entirely up to you.

It is almost as if the old designers set themselves a word count target and then struggled to fill the quote. Before you know it you are thinking “We can make these a bit xenophobic, and these a bit nazi and these can be communists.”

If you just cut all of that out and leave it to the GM and players they can make a game that works for them. In my retro-clone version I have simply dumped all of the 1980s cliches and gone with the White Star minimalist approach. The only differences are that White Star ties race/species to specific professions whereas I have said that anyone can do anything. The second change is that I have included the rules for how to create a new species, culture and profession.

I have included three to six full examples of each so the game is playable ‘out of the box’ but the intention is that the players and GM will make their own universe. As the same rules are applied to every species, every culture and every profession they are all going to be equal. The deciding factor is what you want to do with your game. I will not prescribe anything or tell you how I think your universe should work. By ruling nothing out I am, by extension ruling everything in if you want to add it.

I think the conclusion is that if game designers cannot think of anything more useful to say, stop typing and don’t try to fill the white space. In the physical world you would say if you find yourself stuck in a hole, stop digging.

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