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?
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."
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.
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!