I’ve been lately reading a lot on the internet about the gaming business and game design. Mostly stuff about what you should never do when writing a game.
I call my design philosophy the Bob Ross School of Game Design. Everyone knows who Bob Ross was, I think. He was a great guy and I occasionally wish he would have invented D&D instead of the guys who actually invented it.
The fundamentals are that the game should be fun. We’re not making a grand treatise of philosophy here, we’re doing something that should be fun to do for a couple of hours now and then.
Everything should be interesting. No one really wants setting material that says “the village of Aardvark produces grain, there is a blacksmith and three knights in the village.” Everything in the setting should be there for a specific reason, which most often is giving the gamemaster a plot hook or several to use.
The game should be inclusive. Too many settings have stupid stuff about gender roles and ramblings about versimilitude or realism or how things were back in the day. This is a fantasy world. I can create a world where everyone is actually equal, regardless of gender or sexual leanings. I first invent what I want the setting to be like, then I come up with a motivation of why things are as I describe them to be.
A variety of play styles keeps the setting strong. In Lions of the North, you can be an explorer, take part in court intrigues, fight to defend the weak and helpless or pretty much whatever. You can do swashbuckling adventure or survival horror. Since there’s no grand storyline or metaplot, you’re free to do whatever you like in Lions of the North. Once I finish writing the thing and release it, it’s yours.
Also, nothing should be “mature” for the sake of being “mature”. There’s not going to be any creepy stuff about sex workers in the world of Lions of the North, nothing about slaves being exploited in that way. That’s not my thing and if you end up playing the game when it’s released, I hope it’s not your thing either. I want people to be comfortable with the game instead of getting creeped out.