The Shape of Things to Come

Chimera's Form and function

Now that Chimera Basic has been released in its final form (and I do mean final), it’s time to consider next steps. Traditionally, this meant expanding Basic into a larger set of Core Rules, but I’m no longer sure this is the right direction. So here are some options I’d like to open up for discussion.

Option 1: Core Rules

In this scenario, I write the Core Rules, which is an expansion of Chimera Basic. The Core Rules contains more races, more classes, more Perks and Flaws, more powers, a full range of equipment for all Tech Levels, rules for Vehicles, fleshed out rules for exploring different environments, more combat options, more monsters, and a bigger GM section containing guidelines for creating all kinds of stuff.

The Core picks up where Basic leaves off, though it’s still relatively broad in that it doesn’t focus on any one genre. If you like Basic, but want more multi-genre material to run your games, the Core would be the answer.

On the downside, it’ll rehash a lot of stuff from Basic (verbatim) and it still only touches on setting-specific things like magic items, spaceships, WWII small arms, or post-apocalypse mutations. Unless this is more than just an expanded rewrite of Basic, I question whether this advances the game in a useful direction.

Option 2: Short Supplements

Short supplements are individual “building blocks” that contain Chimera rules for a specific topic (e.g., one supplement for magic items, another for spaceships, another for WWII small arms, etc.). Each is “backward” compatible with the Basic rules, so you’d build your campaign with Basic as the foundation and whatever mix of supplements you want to incorporate.

D&D Supplements
Too many books?

The primary advantage is rapid development time--the granular scope of each volume means it wouldn’t take long to write, test, and release. Costs would be low, too, because each supplement would be small (smaller, in fact, than the Basic rulebook). Finally, you choose only what you want: It’s like an RPG salad bar, so you don’t get stuck with a full rulebook when all you needed was a particular section.

The disadvantage is that it’s fragmented, and the risk is that you’ll end up referencing multiple works to run a single game, which history shows isn’t too cool. Another downside is that you might end up waiting for all the supplements you need before you can run the game you want to play. Even though I’ll be able to produce faster, the number I’ll need to produce is larger, so your Chimera fantasy campaign might have to wait until I can release all the  individual supplements for fantasy races, magic items, monsters, dungeon guidelines, et al.

Option 3: Genre Companions

This is somewhat of a synthesis of the first two options: a single companion book for each genre, setting, or time period. In this scenario, you’d get one volume for fantasy, another for space opera, another for apocalypse, yet another for WWII, etc. Each is backward compatible with Chimera Basic, such that Basic would become your "Core" rulebook. However, each would be more specific than the Core Rules but less granular than Short Supplements.

This gives you a comprehensive volume for each major genre, which is more portable than a collection of short supplements and a bit more useful if all you want to do is run a fantasy game. It also lets me concentrate more on setting-specific stuff in the proper forum--I can confine magic items to the fantasy book while starship combat gets its proper home in the space opera book. Naturally, each is mutually compatible, so you could mix stuff from the fantasy and sci-fi companions as necessary (or desired).

The downside is that each volume will take as much time to create as the Core Rules would (which at this point is longer than short supplements, but probably less than 6 months). Another potential issue is that you loose Chimera’s cross-genre capability, at least until you start picking up multiple genre books (put another way, Chimera Basic becomes the only true “multi-genre, core" rulebook in the product line). However, with that said, I'm fairly confident that little (if any) of the Basic material gets reprinted in each--they'd all be adjuncts to the Basic rules as they currently stand.

Let’s Play Focus Group

Option 3 is most “foreign” to me in terms of my original vision for Chimera and its long-term growth. As a test of its viability (i.e., whether it was even worth considering as an option), I thought about what sorts of products it might spawn.

Spear and Spell
Spear & Spell?

Here’s a short list of possible titles, in no particular order, each compatible with Chimera Basic:

  • Spear & Spell (fantasy)
  • Fortune & Glory (modern pulp)
  • Uploads & Orbits OR Circuits & Moons (near-future sci-fi in our solar system)
  • Ruins & Mutants (post-apocalypse Earth)
  • Cloaks & Daggers (modern espionage)
  • Frogs & Limeys (adventures in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic wars)
  • Lasers & Sabres (sword and planet adventures)
  • Steam & Ether (Victorian sci-fi)
  • Stars & Darkness (far-future sci-fi horror)
  • Droids & Voids OR World & Wormholes (space opera)

Again, just working titles to give me a feel for whether this is even worth pursuing.

Final Words

Despite any apparent bias above, I’ve not made any hard decisions: Chimera’s future direction is still to be assigned. And, naturally, there may be Option 4+ out there as well.

What I'm really interested in hearing is this: What format is most useful to you?


Spear & Spell image by Greg MacKenzie.

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