On Sunday, I wrote the first words of Pilot RPG.
I have been reading and playing around with a sack full of OSR/OGL D&D clones looking for the one that strikes me as the right one to do the d20 to d100 conversion to.
Pilot RPG is a bit of a strange fusion of ideas. Firstly, it is about doing to a fantasy game what I did to White Star Whitebox and create a free and open retro-clone of Space Master. ICE had said in 2018 and again in 2019 that there were no plans for a RMu Space Master. I wanted to keep the idea alive and make something that you could use with the old ICE Spacemaster books.
From that game came an open project called Bare Metal Edition, which is a mechanics only version of the “d100+bonus and get over 100” system. Bare Metal Edition, BME, started by extracting the rules from Navigator RPG, and then building up from there. It builds up how to create and balance talents and flaws. How to use talents and flaws to build playable species. How to build cultures, and professions. It took the meditations and gifts from White Star and made a magic system. But that was just the beginning. The magic system exploded into all kinds of things like cantrips and rituals, the talent and flaws spawned super powers. It has a tool for creating unique weapons and critical tables for anything and everything.
In theory BME can create a Rolemaster style game in any genre. I say in theory, because no one has every tried.
Enter Pilot RPG.
I am now going to use the rules of BME, and try and use them to do the conversion of a D&D retro-clone and produce a fantasy version.
What I am expecting is that Pilot will throw a spotlight on missing elements of BME, and BME will be improved by it.
I am also hoping that Pilot will become a painting by numbers project where the rules I need are already there, I just need to reword everything into fantasy terms.
When I was programming, back in the day, the buzzword was RAD, Rapid Application Development. What I am hoping for is that BME will be the RAD for rolemaster style games.
I am not looking to steal away users from Rolemaster, that was never my intention, but from Navigator RPG in the far future, and Pilot in the medieval, we have two ends of timeline that can accomodate converting Eldritch Tales to make a 1920s/30s Cthulhu game, and Operation Whitebox to make a Kelly’s Heroes inspired WWII game. I also want to create a near future zombie apocalypse version.
These three, Eldritch, WWII, and post-apocalypse are genres where Rolemaster never went. There are others that just sound incredibly good fun. Wuxia? Gun-Fu? Gold Rush/Tombstone?
Creating very specific niche games makes no commercial sense at all. They cannot possibly make enough money to recoup their development costs, unless of course the development has already been done. These can, and will end up as easy and building a Cyberpunk city out of lego. Building it is easy, knowing when to stop would be the hard bit.
It was always my aim to get Pilot RPG in the public sphere in 2020.
The base system I have settled on is Old School Essentials. I am 1000 words into the document.
This is the land of the Pilot, now I just need to bring it to life.