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Introducing Chimera Basic

A word or two about Chimera Apologetics...

And at last our rules have reached stability, and we regard them now with the virtuous pride of men who have persisted in a great undertaking and arrived at precision after much tribulation. There is not a piece of constructive legislation in the world, not a solitary attempt to meet a complicated problem, that we do not now regard the more charitably for our efforts to get a right result from this apparently easy and puerile business...

– H.G Wells, Little Wars, 1913

When I read Little Wars for the first time, and was still struggling to get Chimera to a playable form, I was struck by Wells’ words. Three versions later, they’re as appropriate as ever. Writing a game is one thing—making it playable is most definitely another.

The odd thing about roleplaying games is that, by definition, they establish an inherent conflict between imagination and rules. Call it “restricted creativity.” You can play a wizard, but he’s not allowed to wield a sword. You can shoot for the heart, but your gun only does 1d6 damage. You can grapple a foe, but hold on a minute while I look up how in the rulebook...

Chimera 3.0 represents a stronger push towards “rules-lite” gaming than previous versions. In fact, it’s more of a gaming framework than a strict set of rules. Rules-lite means flexible guidelines instead of absolute dictums, where player interpretation is more important than what’s in the book—it’s the spirit of the game, and not the letter, that matters. Rules-lite lets players and game masters create the characters and campaigns they want to run, without the arbitrary restrictions imposed by “what’s allowed.”

Like most gamers, I get a lot of inspiration from books and movies. Creative types (and aren’t we all?) want games that translate the larger-than-life heroes in these stories without the bother of meta-level abstractions like game balance, level limits, and hit points. We want characters who can move the story along without worrying about class restrictions, villains who can put up a good fight without worrying if they’re high enough level, and encounters that reach resolution in minutes instead of hours.

And we want these things—this level of essentially complete creative freedom—without a lot of work. Gaming is about imagination, not algebra; our time is too precious to squander on computing challenge ratings, or doing QA on 500-word stat blocks, or figuring more than one armour class per character.

Roleplaying games used to accommodate this need, but for whatever reason, we (the players, the designers, the industry itself) decided that rules-lite flexibility deprived us of the quality control required to run a sound or balanced campaign. Gods forbid we imagined for ourselves that which was not written in volume upon volume of rulebooks.

Chimera Basic returns to the rules-lite era by providing creative freedom within a fast and playable framework. Built-in flexibility lets you apply as much or as little detail as you want. Game balance is assured simply by following the guidelines. And there’s no character, plot, power, or setting in any book, movie, cartoon, or comic that Chimera can’t handle.

Complete creative freedom and playable? It’s a lot for any game to promise. But it is possible, and we hope you find that Chimera delivers. If you haven't done so already, why not download a copy and give it a read?

Some Housekeeping

Having disposed of my high-minded rants, let's take care of a few business items:

First up, typos. It pains me to admit there are typos. You'd think that an OCD author with an undergrad in English (which, I'll have you know, includes grammar), would represent an aggressive proof against typos. Sadly, it ain't so, and I'm fixing them as I find them.

Now, in fairness, these are not the fault of my editor, Greg MacKenzie. No, these are typos of my own devising, conceived solely from my penchant for last-minute change. Realistically, I need to set aside the book for at least a week, then read it cover-to-cover with fresh eyes so I can find the little buggers where they sleep.  But you can help: If you find a typo, kindly drop me a line. I'll add your name to the credits for the next "printing."

Fantasy Apocalypse Campaign Map

Fantasy Apocalypse Campaign Map

Second, it occurs to me that the Fantasy Apocalypse campaign map on page 27 of Chimera Basic is a bit on the wee side. Blame the Layout Norns, who permit my graphical additions with no small amount of caprice. But I'll show them: the picture at right leads to a full-size version. Ha!

Third, whither the Core Rules? As a full-on, stand-alone volume, the Core is on hold. Which I think is smart for a couple of reasons, most significant of which is that it saves me the time of writing a huge piece. One of the reasons I went with a scaled-down, Basic version of Chimera is because I wanted to release it quickly--a full Core version wouldn't have seen the light of day until next year, and without the aid of the foundational feedback you--the readers--can provide. Given my Real Life schedule, that would have been a lot of eggs in a small basket.

Another reason is that I really want to start writing supplemental material for Chimera--settings, rule options, adventures, software tools. I'd rather crank those out in small bursts than heave out a major volume once or twice a year. Supporting the smaller, but fully stand-alone, Chimera Basic lets me do just that.

But I suspect the question of the Core is more interesting to existing customers (i.e., those of you who purchased Chimera versions 1 or 2). As promised, you'll get full upgrades for life, though I confess that I don't have even a ballpark release date in mind. But I do have some Chimera Basic supplements coming up. As a sign of good faith, I'm willing to send existing customers the next supplement for free in the next several weeks, then the updated Core Rules whenever it materialises which (in all honesty), could be a decent stretch into the future. Let me know if that sounds reasonable to you.

Final Words

Chimera represents a great deal of RPG experience, and while it's subjective, I think you'll find it of value--if not as your system of choice, then at least as a framework to inspire ideas within your own game. I'm proud of the material, but I'm also thick-skinned, so please--let me know what you think. Thanks for giving Chimera a shot, and good gaming!

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  1. November 3rd, 2010 at 09:41 | #1

    Wow, Erin… Just… wow… It’s like Chimera RPG was MADE for D-jumpers, because each of our “encounters” seems to be in perfect sync with one or more sections from the back end of the PDF file, to the point that I would rather like to provide Chimera RPG material with our products.

    I was absolutely enthralled with your “Fantasy Apocalypse” campaign write-up, as the early stages pretty much mirror how we at DVOID Systems think and create our “encounters” for D-Jumpers. I would totally pay you for this – and fact, I think this is probably an even better system than D20 for games like the Legend of Zelda Roleplaying Game, and I cannot wait to get cracking on working on some of the ideas for that.

    You can expect plenty of feedback and support from me – because I suddenly feel like I’ve just remember why I love gaming, like I did 20 years ago when I started out on this most exciting hobby, and… WOW!

    I salute you, sir, for bringing back the fading passion for the game to this jaded gamer – consider me SOLD!

  2. deimos3428
    November 3rd, 2010 at 10:52 | #2

    I haven’t had time this week to read it in it’s entirety, just skimmed, but I think you’ve hit it out of the park.

    What this needs is to go “viral”. I’ve already tweeted & posted about it on Facebook, and I’d encourage others to spread the word so others can feel as happy as Da’ Vane.

  3. Daniel “Theophage” Clark
    November 3rd, 2010 at 11:15 | #3

    So I downloaded the rules and I’m looking through them…I can see the Savage Worlds influences, and I can see the old school D&D influences, and I’m really digging on both.

    I haven’t seen the earlier versions of Chimera, nor have I really been following your development blog (though I have clicked over here a few times in the past month or so). So my view of this basic version is fairly unbiased and fresh.

    I think you’ve got a very good thing going with this game.

  4. November 5th, 2010 at 10:05 | #4

    I’ve posted a mini-review of Chimera RPG on the Cult of Da’ Vane (www.da-vane.com) to help spread the word which will go live tomorrow. I will facebook that and hopefully get some more traffic for you…

  5. deimos3428
    November 5th, 2010 at 15:34 | #5

    Well, I’m still out evangelizing for the game…any idea if downloads have picked up, Erin?

  6. November 5th, 2010 at 16:19 | #6

    @deimos3428 : At this early stage, I can definitely say that downloads have already exceeded sales of Chimera, versions 1 and 2 combined. This is precisely what I was hoping for, and your evangelical efforts are truly appreciated!

  7. November 6th, 2010 at 08:20 | #7

    But you didn’t have me pimping Chimera v1 and v2… It’s all about me, baby! :P

    Congrats on the downloads – I hope they turn into something more useful. I look forward to seeing where you are going with Chimera RPG 3.0, and actively engaging in comments to help boost this wonderful system. You might find yourself wanting to focus one a bit more community building after this, Erin, unless you intend to be actively leading discussions from this blog… in which case, you might need more frequent updates!

  8. November 8th, 2010 at 21:42 | #8

    @Da’ Vane : Your efforts are appreciated–the Goat-Man thanks you well.

    Right now, it’s all about community, so tell your friends, host a pick-up game of Chimera, and share your ideas. I’m weighing the value of hosting a forum on this site to promote discussion–so let’s all dive into the rules and start putting Chimera Basic through its paces!

  9. November 9th, 2010 at 06:03 | #9

    A forum is definately the way to go – I’ve successfully integrated bbPress with WordPress, and have a lot of experience with forums as a community building tool – especially as a place to run Play by Post games so you can lead by example. I bet if you were to establish a Play by Post game, possibly integrating it with Obsidian Portal, you’ld get a ton of applications for people wanting to join!

  10. deimos3428
    November 10th, 2010 at 10:40 | #10

    Heck, I could actually play the game if someone hosted a PBP! It’s been my preferred method of gaming for the last few years, because my schedule almost completely precludes long RPG sessions. It’s not hard to sneak in a few minutes several times a week to post, though.

  11. November 10th, 2010 at 15:38 | #11

    @Da’ Vane : I gave OP a cursory look, but not sure I couldn’t do the same thing for free. Speaking of, I’m leaning heavily toward a Fantasy Grounds port of Chimera Basic…any thoughts on that?

    @deimos3428 I’d love to know more about the ways and means of PBP. Like you, I don’t have the time to play regularly, and I haven’t had a face-to-face group since moving 2 years ago. Any step-by-step or best practices guide to PBP out there on any of the Internets?

  12. deimos3428
    November 10th, 2010 at 16:34 | #12

    I ran a PBP campaign for the better part of last year, with a varying number of participants (player attrition is a big problem). I also played in several others.

    It’s not unlike tabletop, online chat, or play-by-email play, but you need to give the players more leeway in terms of their assumptions to keep the game moving because naturally, the game does move a lot slower already. Unlike play-by-email, it’s also a performance art — others not in the campaign can read along.

    In my campaign I elected to roll all the dice for the group; some groups prefer an online die roller. In general I find PBP are a lot of fun to play, but often less fun to read if you’re not part of the group. In any case, they’re great for the busy person that can’t afford to allocate a large block of time to RPGs.

    Here’s an example; one of my favorites but sadly it rather early on:

  13. Greg MacKenzie
    November 15th, 2010 at 15:13 | #13

    Chimera Basic
    By Greg MacKenzie

    I’ve been lucky enough over the past few years to be one of Erin’s editors, so I have seen the Chimera RPG grow in leaps and bounds from its first iteration.

    Chimera Basic is the latest incarnation of Erin’s energetic and spirited approach to Role Playing. One of the things he said early on was that Chimera is the game you already know how to play. If you are in fact from the generation who cut their teeth on the early RPGs you’ll undoubtedly catch on very quickly when you read the rules for the first time.

    Those of you who are from later generations may find Chimera shockingly direct in it’s rules-light approach, by shocking I mean fast paced and fun. However you will not find another mere OGL clone here, the rules are original and take a different approach to character building and game play.

    Chimera Basic is not unlike the old Classic Basic Boxed sets which provide you with the essential rules to jump in and play right away. There is a section on campaign building to assist the Game Master (GM) which encourages you right away to start thinking about Genres for Chimera Basic is much more than a mere Fantasy Role Playing game. If you are a GM it is a tool box which enables you to build quite interesting adventures. You can build anything from Swords and Sorcery High Fantasy to Apocalyptic Alien Worlds. The only question is where will your imagination take you? In the old day’s if you wanted to play something different you had to change games, not so with Chimera Basic.

    A game setting such as the 18th century Adventures of Baron Munchausen would combine both elements of technology and the fantastic, all of which work consistently within its setting for Chimera Basics Powers seamlessly cover both Occult and Mentalist Abilities. On another occasion you might wish to play a good Dungeon Crawl, 1930s Gangsters, or Cold War Secret Agents, and no one ever has to learn a new game.

    What is interesting is the potential for mixed genre games where character’s using Powers might well go head to head against one another. Cold War Secret Agents investigate and discover an Enemy Facility where Mentalist Powers are being developed for use against their country, sound far fetched? I’ve never seen a game where such concepts were handled so seamlessly. Certainly the notion of combination can be stretched to absurdity, which might be fun for an evening or two of hilarity, but the real bonus here is that if you can imagine it you can do it. Maybe that should be Chimera Basic’s new slogan!

    If you haven’t yet checked out Chimera Basic I highly recommend taking a look, it might just be the game you’ve always been looking for!

  14. November 16th, 2010 at 09:40 | #14

    I agree – DVOID Systems and D-Jumpers was designed to be systemless, for use with any setting, but Chimera RPG 3.0 is very close to making us want to abandon that stance and go full out with supporting it as our base system, simply because of the ease in which it can be used.

    Got some shameless self-promotion here with a point – DVOID Systems and D-Jumpers Volume #1 got a very good review here: http://www.gameknightreviews.com/2010/11/book-review-d-jumpers-volume-1-a-gate-to-adventure-by-da-vane-of-dvoid-systems/

    A key highlight of this was that a certain phrase was picked out as underlying the whole concept: ‘As a fan of cross-genre rules systems, my interest was piqued by the very first paragraph and the question – “Why limit your games to one genre, to one setting, to one world, to one imagination?”’

    The very same quote applies to Chimera RPG 3.0 as a rules system, and that is why I am so positive in endorsing it – it is like Erin and I are providing two halves of the most AWESOME product in the universe. At DVOID Systems, we simply decided to imagine their was a perfect system for our purposes, and Chimera RPG 3.0 comes along and does just that.

    By the way, I would certainly recommend sending a copy of Chimera RPG 3.0 Basic for review to Game Knight Reviews, Erin…

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