Not such a long time ago at a blog not so far away, the The Angry Lurker put up this image of Luke's proton torpedoes entering the Death Star. As I mentioned later at the D6 post here, my comment was this: "It's a fundamental law of a fictional universe. You can't get round that kind of thing." At the D6 post I explained the thinking by saying "that is what we're talking about here - fictional worlds. A DM/GM and players may not be operating at high magnifications, and may not need to. I'd argue the range of options we expect in any given situation - and are happy to be given - are fewer than we'd think."
Since then I've come across the idea in all kinds of places, notably in the prototype mashup machine at The Lost Continent and in some thoughts on fantasy tropes at The Ostensible Cat. Cyclopeatron has just covered major influences, and the list is worth exploring. I was recently introduced to Seventh Sanctum and that site does this kind of thing very well - you might need your imagine much less for knowing about it.
The system is supposed to be universal also for the range of rulesets it can be used with, and this is to prove a point, the one I made here and have made at Bell of Lost Souls many times, albeit indirectly. The point is that there's essentially no difference between a wargame and a roleplaying game - both allow works of collaborative fiction.
Whether or not these events are desirable is another matter, but we need to know our enemy. At the very least, utter boredom - if we ever reach it - may usher in a new era.
The key term is 'playing piece'. Given the multiplicity of games, this will only ever be a highly compromise and compromised term. My intention is that this covers everything from a player character or non-player character in a game like D&D, through a single model representing a single individual in a game like Warhammer 40,000, to a stand of models in a game system like Epic or Flames of War. It also includes individual vehicles and other items with which the players can interact in the game, such as terrain pieces.
The key distinction is between an 'animate playing piece' and an 'inanimate playing piece'. This is where we really get into difficulties. 'Animate' is used here to mean 'killable' in the general gaming lexicon sense and therefore includes most organic playing pieces, or playing pieces with a personality, but also those we wouldn't normally think of as living, for example undead. 'Inanimate' on the other hand is used to mean non-organic playing pieces which are usually said to be 'destroyable', such as vehicles, buildings and terrain pieces. In thinking this through, the biggest problem I came up against was that of robots. If you're using any, you'll need to decide which they are for you, and I think the personality point is the critical one. I'd have the droids from Star Wars as animate, but larger, more industrial machines for example as inanimate. That's more than a brief discussion in reality of course, it's whole academic disciplines.
Given the number of systems I've never played or likely even heard of, this approach will never be perfect and will in many cases require mature discussion or agreement from the players, without which it is very open to abuse. This is not a system for players whose love of competition prevents them from applying cool, disinterested thought during a game. I'd recommend you only use the system if you're sure it will add to the fun.
I realise too that individual cards may have a wildly different impact in different game systems. If this seems unbalanced, remember that both sides are in a sense the 'hero' of the piece, in the minds of the respective players at least, and in that sense a hero will always win. If we're talking good versus bad, well, again, that's a whole other post.
Here's another to finish for today, the regular reminder coming from Double 0 Sven.
I'm eschewing copyright on these in the sense that the ideas certainly don't belong to me. I'm also rather embarrassed by the current quality. Print them and use them as you wish. If they're popular I'll aim to put more up over time, to build a fuller deck.
If you have any thoughts, or have already found flaws, comment away. I'm especially interested in problems with more unusual game systems I know little or nothing about, for example Rolemaster in the case of the second card.