Making of Naruto Pathfinder: Part 2: Core Principals
As we discussed last time inspiration is at the core of creating a new system. But that alone can't get you there. Once you know what you want to make it's important to pin down the key components and how you plan to abide by them. To this end I highly recommend finding the core creation principals you want to follow. I usually suggest picking out three. For example, when I began designing the Naruto system I thought carefully about what I most wanted.
For me when I play a game, I love the feeling of excitement when I consider what ability or item or class to pursue next. I wanted to create the wonderful sensation of wanting 30 things but knowing you have to pick out just 4 until next level. So my first core tenant was "I want players to always have "too many" options". Of course that immediately meant I'd be designing a great excess of abilities, but the variety of abilities in Naruto was one of the key things that inspired me, so that was perfectly fine.
Next, I thought about what I loved about their magic system. They use chakra, which serves as an MP pool, and Jutsu which function similarly to spells. One of my favourite things was how consistent and understandable the system was, I wanted to preserve that intuitive nature that allows fans to theorize about abilities. For my second core ideal I chose "I want players to be able to make connections about how the magic system works." I knew this would be very difficult and would be hard to pin down, but when it works I'd know it right away.
Third I considered carefully how this system being adapted to pathfinder works, and I thought a lot about ways in which the rules system may hinder the overall experience. I thought about pieces that didn't fit, or little problems in the system that bothered me. It was so important that I made my third core concept "I will not allow the problems of pathfinder to hinder the system." This meant realizing some things would have to be carefully designed, and some rules would need to be changed.
I had my guiding stars, things to keep in mind all the way from initial design to playtesting. Whatever your core principals are you should choose them carefully and let them help you make choices. Every game or system you design should have its own set of core principals, and they could be very different. Some systems may focus fun fast play, others might value depth, or style, or capturing a certain feeling. Whatever you decide is most important should stay in your mind from beginning to end and every time you examine your work. Hopefully this has proven helpful for anyone interested in designing a game of any kind, stay tuned for a deep dive into how to follow your core principals as you begin getting into the systsem.