Ever since Gary Gygax published the seminal tabletop RPG Dungeons & Dragons, many other creators penned their own gamebooks with their own systems — some in imitation of D&D, some much less complex, and the internet has caused their numbers to absolutely explode. Since D&D continues to dominate this niche market so much that it pretty much is the market, it seems as if all of these smaller games serve no purpose to gamers. However, these smaller games are not only welcome, but vital to any RPG player worth his salt.
This is because small, simple rulesets allow for easy homebrewing — mandatory for any extended campaign.
Homebrewing is mandatory because the system as published will not be able to handle everything you and your group will want in your game.
The best thing about this is that it will happen slowly and organically. At first, there will be a house rule or two. Next, as the campaign progresses, new situations will arise, and the official rules won’t address them, so the players will need to invent new rules and ignore some official rules. Go on long enough, and the game the group is playing will look nothing like the game in the rulebook.
With a more complex system like D&D, this can be more difficult to do, but I am positive that the above has occurred even with that one.
This process of customization and personalization is what makes the tabletop RPG hobby as magical as it is, and this is on top of the stories that the GM and the players build. You end up playing a game that fits you and your group, not some standardized product. Standardization is the enemy of imagination.
RPG rulebooks aren’t law codes, they’re springboards for the creative impulse.
And my creative impulse has led me to write the novella Sword & Flower, which you can purchase below.