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When I set out to design the MONAD System (the underlying Nostalgia ruleset), I was hell-bent on making it as simple as possible. Imagine Memento’s protagonist is a role-player – I’m that guy. Unquestionably influenced by my supernatural ability to forget rules, I’ve never favored tables, numbers, and technicalities over a good story. I know some people do, and the MONAD System is probably not for them.  There are plenty of other games where an Accounting degree comes in handy.

This is why, even as a player, I quickly moved away from more classic system designs (such as the ones attached to the various editions of D&D) and gravitated more towards White Wolf’s “storyteller” system (which in all fairness is complex in its own right), and dice-less systems like Nobilis.

Not to say I don’t like rolling dice – I’ve actually lost sleep over them, as related in Episode 3 of this Dev Diary. But what I sought to create was a system that sacrificed realism for quick resolution; chances for choices; and excessive randomness for performance and resource management.

On paper, this sounded great. However, it took only a quick read of the first rules version from my group of play-testers to realize that what I had in mind, when tested by real players, wouldn’t work as expected. The main problem with simplification is that sometimes you end up simplifying things too much, especially when it comes to customization and options. Luckily, over the past few months, I’ve received invaluable counseling from Luca Vanin, one of my oldest friends and a GM in his own right with a passion for creating games. Luca helped me mold a combat system that’s both deadly and interesting to explore for players of all levels, and he inspired me to offer more character diversification choices.

I still see Nostalgia as a game with a large focus on political intrigue, careful strategizing, and interpretation, but I’m glad we settled on a system that’s flexible enough to support players who prefer to resolve conflicts the old-fashioned way. Getting this part right was a must, because we want to publish the MONAD System as a generic system that’s compatible with a variety of settings: fantasy, horror, sci-fi, etc.

Despite my revisions, two core aspects haven’t changed:

  • Nostalgia will still be a game where entering combat is a serious (and potentially deadly) matter
  • Though the system currently features a few reference tables, it doesn’t pretend to cover every possible situation a player can think of. Instead, we’re relying on the GM’s experience and common sense. There will be no handholding here; no detailed explanation of how to address every scenario.

With the basics covered and the tools to resolve complex problems at hand, we believe the only things missing are a group of friends, a few snacks, and the desire to create awesome stories together.