What is FreePlayer?

FreePlayer is a diceless, objective driven RPG that sets the Players as the disruptors of the game setting and the Host as a representative of the Status Quo. Let’s break that down.

FreePlayer- I came up with the name to represent a game that strips away dice and most of the structure associated with what makes a game. Like Freeclimbing or Freediving- it does away with the protection.

Diceless- I remember playing the James Bond 007 RPG back in the day. It had a bidding mechanic where opposing parties had a bidding war to set the difficulty for a chase scene. I ended up using that mechanic for all conflict in the game. And then using the rules to play Paranoia and pretty much everything else. This inspired the diceless bidding mechanic for Freeplayer. I was also inspired by my favourite diceless game (um until now…); STALKER. Its FLOW system presents objective benchmarks for the Host to provide consistent rulings, a valuable tool for balancing the abstract shared imagination space. This is useful for FreePlayer because it doesn’t use numbered statistics for relative comparison of character abilities.

Objective Driven- The ‘granularity’ of conflict resolution is scaled to the conflict or to the Player goal. When one or more Players want to achieve an objective, the game scales to fit and resolves it . I did this because it can be hard to emulate fiction or create a cinematic feel when conflict breaks it all down to rounds and dice. How do you design a game with the goal of immersing players in the fiction of a shared imaginary world when, if they come into conflict (as the game intends), the game immediately switches from an abstract space to an objective space? My answer to this design conundrum in FreePlayer is to have an Objective scaled resolution system.

Players are the Disruptors – One of the challenges Hosting a game is – how to inspire Players to engage with the game without railroading? This is hard because many games are designed around the assumption that the Host’s role is to provide Challenges for the Players. This is subjectively true, the Host is the gateway to a shared world that will have some kind of challenge requiring the interaction of the Players to solve or at least engage with (or be defeated by – Hello Cthulhu!). Objectively and structurally, this does not have to be true. FreePlayer approaches this by flipping it around. It is the Role of the Players to Challenge the Status Quo.

The Host represents the Status Quo – and that is all they do. Status Quo is one of those simple in concept, complicated in application things that most games use but not objectively, they have other objective tools. Status Quo is everything that has happened in the Game World. It is the unit of measurement that the Host uses to weigh Player interaction. What is feasible? What is the tipping point between a demand and a request? How risky is that? If the Player’s role is to disrupt, the Host’s role is to weigh. It is how the Host can provide consistent rulings without specific and lengthy rules.

FreePlayer is in a draft form. Download it here. I think that the Rules themselves are in a fairly developed form, the Guide has a way to go. My ultimate goal is to get it to a 2 page form that I can use in any game I want to produce, tailored to fit. I really want to get LEDNIK and Mesh Dream out there and FreePlayer is the vehicle for that. I am keen for feedback so if you have read this far, let me know what you think.


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