QAGS: Adaptable, Not Generic

Category: QAGS Corner
Created on Sunday, 09 August 2009 Written by Steve

Welcome to the first installment of QAGS Corner. As the name implies, QAGS Corner is all about QAGS, the hot new role-playing game that’s sweeping the nation. Each and every month, we’re going to give you new stuff that you can add to your QAGS game. While QAGS Corner will occasionally discuss general concepts, most articles here will tend towards “crunchiness,” offering ideas on how to adapt the QAGS system to different settings and genres.

Rather than jumping right into the crunchy stuff, I’d like to spend the first installment of QAGS Corner by explaining some of the design philosophy behind the system. You may notice that we rarely refer to QAGS as a “generic” or “universal system.” That’s because such labels imply that the game system will work for any style, genre, or setting without modification. In reality, such a game system would be impossible to write. Even a system that provides rules for every possible character action will run into trouble when the system doesn’t quite fit with the dramatic expectations of the story being told. For example, most RPG magic systems won’t quite model the way magic works in the Harry Potter universe without a few tweaks.

The term I like best for QAGS is “adaptable,” though in the rulebook we say the system is “flexible.” Our meaning here is that, while the basic QAGS rules won’t work perfectly for every single game as written, the strong central mechanic and simple rules make the system easy to tweak into shape for the game you want to play. Think of it kind of like the Firefox web browser: the core browser gives you all the basics, but if you want to use it as a FTP client or get constant updates on whether Abe Bagota’s still alive, you’ll have to download some extensions. And just like some Firefox users prefer different extensions that perform the same function for different situations (for example, you might use Zotero for research and Scrapbook for personal stuff), QAGS users might need different rules sets for the same action in different games. To continue the magic example, characters in your Harry Potter probably won’t use the same spell casting rules as the ones Dr. Occult uses in your super-hero setting.

Every month (or so), QAGS Corner will offer new “extensions” for the QAGS system. Like Firefox extensions, some of them will (hopefully) turn out to be things your gaming group can’t live without, while others will be completely useless to you. Also like Firefox extensions, trying to use too many at once will slow things to a crawl. Pick and choose the things from this column that will add to your gaming experience and ignore the stuff that won’t. And if you come up with a better way of doing something, please let us know in the forums.

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QAGS: Adaptable, Not Generic.
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