Why create a new tabletop roleplaying system when there are so many others already on the market? It’s a good question. I have specific design goals, and reasons for crafting things the way I did. There are a number of problems the Hippogryph Codex is solving for. Today I’d like to share a few of them, to help answer that question of why I bothered.
Comfort and Familiarity
The reason I built the system around the D20 and Fate Open Game Licenses isn’t because this is a quick cut-and-paste job. It isn’t. This isn’t a conversion of one system into the other. It’s not D20 with aspects bolted on, or Fate crammed into a classes-and-levels matrix. I wanted to work with concepts that my target audience would already be familiar with.
Because people are already familiar with the core concepts, I can focus on what’s different. The things that I want to say with the system, that are creatively and philosophically important to me. I don’t have to reinvent the entire wheel to do that. I can use the bits and bobs of other systems, remix them, and build a new thing out of them.
A Creation-Forward Mindset
Half the fun of tabletop roleplaying is making things. Character creation, worldbuilding ,adventure prep, you name it. Dungeons & Dragons doesn’t necessarily make that difficult, but it’s not exactly easy either. I get it. They want to sell you sourcebooks. The information on creating your own classes, feats, spells, magic items, monsters, and so on, is all in there somewhere. I wanted to streamline the process. Instead of infinite lists to things to choose from, the methods for quickly and easily creating your own stuff is up front, out in the open.
The flip side of this is that while Fate makes that part easy, it lacks a certain amount of rigor. When I’ve run Fate-based games the biggest complaint, especially from new players, is the lack of picklists. They want more examples. It’s not that they don’t want to create anything. They just don’t want to have to create everything if they don’t want to. The system is also a bit too freeform for some folks, too.
I needed to balance rigor with flexibility. There had to be consistent blocks to build with, but the freedom to make whatever I wanted out of those blocks. That’s where the melding to the horse and the eagle comes together to form the hippogryph.
Speed of Play
Angels and ministers of grace defend us from combat round that take forever to get through. That extends to any other sort of rule, for any other type of challenge, as well. On the other hand, no, I don’t want things to be entirely freeform and open to interpretation. I wanted more player agency in determining results, but not an extreme that’s vague and confusing. A nice mix of stable, consistent rules and storytelling is what I was after.
When I say speed of play, I don’t just mean combat. I mean being able to spend as much time on any sort or interaction as the players choose. It shouldn’t be a matter of using the rules for crunchy parts, and completely ignoring the rules for roleplaying. The system should always be there in the background, as invisible as possible but ready to be called up and used at any time, for any reason.
About the Hippogryph System
Hippogryph is a d20-based, story-driven tabletop fantasy roleplaying system. It is the collision of the D20 System and Fate RPG, but like the legendary creature it is more than the sum of its parts. This isn’t off-brand D&D with Fate aspects stapled on, nor is it a collection of feats, spells, and class abilities translated into Fate terms. Hippogryph is a unique system that blends established legacy fundamentals with flexible, DIY story game ideals. Info Page ¦ DriveThruRPG ¦ Our Shop
About Dancing Lights Press
Dancing Lights Press is a lo-fi publisher of tabletop roleplaying systems and system-agnostic creative aids, including the best selling Building series, the DoubleZero action thriller system, and Hippogryph, a fantasy story game system with traditional roots. Our products embrace a minimalist aesthetic in design and presentation because roleplaying is an activity, not a collection of expensive rulebooks.
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