• Before making a single edit, Tropedia EXPECTS our site policy and manual of style to be followed. Failure to do so may result in deletion of contributions and blocks of users who refuse to learn to do so. Our policies can be reviewed here.
  • All images MUST now have proper attribution, those who neglect to assign at least the "fair use" licensing to an image may have it deleted. All new pages should use the preloadable templates feature on the edit page to add the appropriate basic page markup. Pages that don't do this will be subject to deletion, with or without explanation.
  • All new trope pages will be made with the "Trope Workshop" found on the "Troper Tools" menu and worked on until they have at least three examples. The Trope workshop specific templates can then be removed and it will be regarded as a regular trope page after being moved to the Main namespace. THIS SHOULD BE WORKING NOW, REPORT ANY ISSUES TO Janna2000, SelfCloak or RRabbit42. DON'T MAKE PAGES MANUALLY UNLESS A TEMPLATE IS BROKEN, AND REPORT IT THAT IS THE CASE. PAGES WILL BE DELETED OTHERWISE IF THEY ARE MISSING BASIC MARKUP.


WikEd fancyquotes.pngQuotesBug-silk.pngHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extension.gifPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifier.pngAnalysisPhoto link.pngImage LinksHaiku-wide-icon.pngHaikuLaconic

Game System is a Role Playing Game term. It refers to the set of rules that regulate gameplay and simulate actions that can be performed by the game's characters. The purpose of a game system is to avoid the "Cops and Robbers" problem — when one player can say "Bang, I shot you!" and the other can say "No you didn't, I dodged so you missed!", no meaningful progress can be made. What a Game System does is set down rules for how well the players can shoot and dodge (among other things), so everyone can agree on what actually happened. Given the sheer number of things that a player might attempt in a Role Playing Game, Game Systems can be correspondingly complex.

Most Game Systems involve using numerical statistics to mathematically chart a character's abilities, though the exact stats and the nature of their use varies widely between systems. In addition, most systems generally involve some randomness, so that there's an element of chance in most actions — you can't be 100% certain beforehand whether your attempt will succeed or fail. In Tabletop Games, this typically takes the form of dice-rolling, while Video Games use random number generators instead. In addition, there's typically one person who takes the role of "referee", controlling NPC's actions and deciding how rules apply in specific situations. The computer AI does this in Video Game RPGs, but it falls to a human Game Master to do this in Tabletop Games — this, unsurprisingly, means that tabletop RPGs tend to be much more flexible and fluid than computer-based ones, due to the fact that a program can only handle what it's been programmed to, while a person is much more capable of improvisation.

Game Systems can be divided into two general categories: Character Class Systems and Point Build Systems. A Character Class System has each player pick their character's "class" (which represents a specific skillset, like combat or stealth) and allows them to advance according to that class's abilities. A Point Build System, on the other hand, allows players to spend character points on whatever abilities they want; balance is provided by the cost of abilities and how many points players are allowed to spend, rather than balancing specific classes against each other.

There is a lot of overlap between the two types of systems, especially in the from of sub-systems. Game designers want to prevent characters of a given class from being identical, so in order to encourage Character Customization, they frequently build a Point Build System into their Character Class System. This will usually take the form of some "universal" abilities available to all classes and purchased via point buy, having point-buy abilities within a class so that different characters of the same class may have different abilities, or both.

Originally a Game System and its setting were tightly integrated — if you wanted to play in a certain setting, or genre, you bought a book or boxed set that described both the system and the setting, and/or an 'adventure pack' that detailed a pre-made storyline for the players to follow. However, over the years the concepts of House Systems and Universal Systems have emerged. House Systems, as the name implies, are House Rules taken to their logical extreme — home-brewed systems consisting entirely (or at least largely) of House Rules. Universal Systems, on the other hand, are deliberately designed without a specific setting or storyline — they usually consist of the basic framework (such as dice-rolling and combat mechanics), but also have rules that allow a player to adapt his favorite novel or computer game for use as a setting.

Specific Game Systems sometimes go through dozens of revisions. Each new version can be expected to either clarify existing rules (if ambiguities have arisen in previous versions), add entirely new mechanics to the system (ie, adding a new section for vehicular combat rules), or streamline existing rules that have been discovered to be unwieldy or poorly-designed.

Due to the nature of its design, a Game System's rules are not all-encompassing — some ambiguity is usually left as a "fudge factor" so that a DM can create new rules to suit a particular situation. Such ambiguity can also allow the player some leeway, by creating loopholes in the game's rules that permit him to do what the rule system would normally prevent. Such loopholes, if found to present an unfair advantage to a player, are usually closed in subsequent revisions.

Examples of Game System include: