Generic role-playing game system

From Academic Kids

A generic role-playing game system provides rule mechanics for any setting (world or environment or genre). Many RPGs have rules designed for a specific genres such as sword and sorcery, or specific universes such as Star Wars. Conversely, a generic system has basic rules designed to handle the wide variety of situations that can arise in the spectrum of settings. An alphabetical list of generic role-playing game system would include: the d20 System, FUDGE, GURPS, the Hero System, and the Interlock system.

The advantage of a generic rule system is that players only need to buy and learn from one main rule book, saving money and time. Since most settings share a large set of features, such as characters that can move and fight, players would not have to re-learn such basics when starting in a new setting using those generic rules. This eases players in the move from one setting to another. The players and the game master choose the desired setting before starting a game.

Generic game systems also have their share of disadvantages. Often, the basic rules of a generic system are more complex than those designed for a specific setting. Generic rule books have to cover features and aspects that might be of little use in some settings. Also, game developers still might need to produce rule books designed for specific settings to provide meaningful gameplay. If the developers take this too far, it can offset the original advantages of a generic system in the first place.

The d20 system has done this, creating special setting-specific rules that mean that you cannot take a character out of one world and put him in another without adding rules to the new world to accommodate him. Fudge, because of the looseness of the rules system, and GURPS and the Hero System, through design, do not need to have rules added for a world change - although a little character adjustment may be necessary because of the different way the new world sees the character (eg, in a new world the fact that a character is an officer of the law will probably be ignored except for character background).

This, of course, only becomes important if you are taking a character from one world to another. On the other hand, that is one of the strengths of a generic system and may be the point of the game. The default GURPS 4th Edition setting, for example, takes advantage of exactly that strength.

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