Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Some will ask "why?" Others, "why not?"

In my last post, I described how, through the combined efforts of game-players at the Conclave and Exterminatus.net, the Inquisitor game began to regain some of its early prominence.  The question therefore begs to be asked: why mess with a winning formula?

There are essentially two answers to that:

First, existing players of Inquisitor, as they pushed the rules to their limits across a thousand permutations of character and a thousand permutations of scenarios and campaigns, found that the rules as written were acting as limitations.  This shouldn't have been the problem it appeared to be.  The original designer of Inquisitor, Gav Thorpe, had always intended the rules to be a starting point for players to exploit in whatever direction their imaginations took them.  One of the great strengths of Inquisitor and probably its greatest appeal to veteran wargamers has always been that it allows them to do stuff that more restrictive rule-sets don't.  Leap dramatically from a ledge onto an opponent's head?  No problem!  Swing across a gap on a chain? whilst firing an automatic weapon at your pursuers?  Easy!

But whilst these options were open to (and exploited by) the players, there were aspects of the actual core rules left one restrained and constricted.  An obvious example is the mechanics for automatic and semi-automatic weapons: unleashing a storm of hot lead into a small area should have been a recipe for certain death.  And yet in most cases the rules would lead to one, perhaps two hits and the target doing nothing more satisfying than diving for cover.  Similarly, the rules for risky actions, elegant and simple though they undoubtedly were, also left room for deliberate manipulation that might not have been strictly in the spirit of the game but which were still, without question, tantalizingly obvious to the regular player.

So the players themselves thought the rules needed an overhaul.

The second reason for change lay with those who either had played Inquisitor once and not liked it or given up through lack of interest, or who had never played the game at all.  I did some research on a variety of veteran forums and discovered that Inquisitor had a serious image problem.

Many saw the rules-set as simply broken, with too many niggles and flaws.  Others saw it as a poor man's RPG that would be superceded by Dark Heresy.  Still others complained that it was neither fish nor fowl: an ungainly hybrid of RPG and skirmish wargame that failed to work fully as either.  Most, it has to be said, had either never heard of the game or, if they had seen it in passing, had never seen any reason to look closer.

So it wasn't just a rules revision that Inquisitor needed.  It was a complete image overhaul.  And, as I looked at the way we - the Inquisitor-playing community - were increasingly approaching the game, it became apparent that the game that Gav had written and the game the community was playing had diverged.  Whilst the rules were still valid - if flawed - the rest of the book (the sections on gameplay, campaigns and characters [and notorious Ready Reckoner]) and many of the subsequent articles (random character generators, experience system and campaign books) were completely out of step with what the players found worked best.

Hence, the realization gradually dawned that it wasn't time for Inquisitor 1.1 or even Inquisitor 1.5, but rather: Inquisitor 2.0.

And I decided - unilaterally and without really consulting anyone - that I would be the one to write it.  In my next post, I'll get to do my favourite thing: talk about myself.  I'll present my justification for having the lead on the project, what I've done since I started it and - most important to all of you, I'm sure - what my vision for the finished product will be.

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