I’ve been roleplaying since the dim and distant days of the early/mid-80s. It wasn’t too long after I started that I found myself making tweaks to published rulesets and not too many years after that I started to venture into writing my own rules.
In the early 90s I bought a supplement for Rolemaster RPG called ‘At Rapier’s Point’, for gaming in the 17th Century Europe of the Three Musketeers. Rolemaster was, in my opinion, a pretty wretched set of rules, but I really wanted to run a game set in this historical period. Even though I had a copy of Rolemaster, I wanted a more approachable system, but at that time I didn’t have anything that would work with the swashbuckling game I had in mind. I did have Middle-Earth RPG (also known as MERP) from the same company (Iron Crown Enterprises), which had a system that could be called ‘basic’ Rolemaster, and that I thought would allow me to use – at least in some form – the new rules presented in the At Rapier’s Point supplement. I quickly realised, however, that in order to make the MERP system support the concept I had for At Rapier’s Point, I had a fair bit of work on my hands. I ended up having to rewrite a good chunk of the character generation rules: ditching the fantasy races and replacing them with social backgrounds; coming up with new skill categories and skills; designing a whole new set of character professions; etc.
Over the years I’ve been running At Rapier’s Point, the parts of the MERP system that I didn’t initially discard have – bit by bit – been replaced to the point where there’s nothing left of it and I have my own set of rules. These have been used – with amendments – for other genres and settings, so have proved incredibly useful.
So, have any of you designed your own rules, whether it’s for an entirely new game, or to replace an existing set of rules that you didn’t like? Or maybe you’ve simply hacked an existing ruleset to make it work ‘better’ for you and your players? If you haven’t done either of these things, have you considered doing it, or are you more than happy with the rules in the published games you already have?