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52 Pick Up

Gareth-Michael Skarka
February 1, 2001



"You're insane."
      -Sandy Antunes, upon hearing my proposal for this column.

As promised, I'm back.

A while back, I was sitting in a New Jersey diner with Sean and Josh Jaffe, the president and vice president of Synister Creative Systems.  If you've never eaten at a Jersey diner, let me fill you in-- imagine a small restaurant with vinyl-seated booths and menus the size of the Oxford English Dictionary.  If you want it, they serve it.  That fact, combined with the added bonus that most diners are open 24/7, makes them perhaps the ultimate post-gaming cuisine.


There we were, discussing the possibility of me writing a new column for RPGnet.  I was trying to come up with something that would be a worthy follow up to my last column here (Game Design Step by Step, which ran last year, in which I designed the UnderWorld RPG in public).  Since that column ran, game design columns have sprung up on several gaming sites, and, in my opinion, the whole idea is rapidly becoming old news.  So, the discussion at the diner table that night was what I could come up with to, as Josh put it, "catch lightning in a bottle twice."

Jeez.  No pressure, right?

The conversation continued, until Sean half-jokingly made a suggestion.   "You know, " he said, "You could always nail that whole game design thing shut by doing a new game every week for a year."

We all laughed, and made various disparaging cracks about the idea.  Sean relented.  "You're right," he said, stirring his drink slowly with his straw.  He looked up at me.  "It's too difficult.  Probably can't be done."  A half-smile crept across his lips.

Well, that was it.  Now I had to do it.

Which brings us to this column.   This is the introduction, as you may have guessed.  Begining next week, the column proper takes off.  As its title suggests, 52 Pick Up will present a new game design every week for the next year.

Yes, you read that right.  52 different game designs.  1 per week.

These, by neccesity of space, will not be intricately detailed.  However, they will feature enough of the background and rules that any gamer can pick them up and flesh them out with their own ideas, and have a perfectly usable game system.  (Hence the "pick up" part of the title.)  The forums for this column will be a place for readers to offer their own suggestions to the frameworks presented, which will develop these games even further.  Plus, it's all free, and if you don't like a particular game, then wait a week and there will be a new one for you.

Most of the games will be RPGs, but I will not limit myself exclusively to that format.  Wargames, LARPS, hell...even card games will appear in this column over the next year.  Basically, anything that strikes my fancy is fair game.  I'll use this for ideas that I don't think have commercial potential, or ideas that are in genres that other games have dominated, or just stuff that is plain wierd.   Who knows...I might even dabble in d20.  Ya never know.

I think that'll about do it for this week.  It is, after all, only the introduction, and I've got to get some sleep and start training...I've got a helluva year ahead of me.

See ya in 7,

Gareth-Michael Skarka

Gareth-Michael Skarka is the Operations Manager for Synister Creative Systems.  He has written and edited for games including Star Trek, Deadlands Hell on Earth, and GURPS.  He is the designer of several RPG systems, including UnderWorld and Hong Kong Action Theatre!. TQo0~^DҒt< ek&Ǿ$\۵ZFȃuwݝIŃU QYir2HR2.u3MFoعq]4#A`pP5(b& )b)ⰾp7(i<[-2gL#5[f g?*rVGf8*)s'+20ϟ̑F}KB<7wSL\gbvm9WiRބYŜvd y0'p2I_Fc2>#o A )VL[Qk?3`)<У[(*W.JH ?tXCt谙 X:@ \0w ~LqĤE-rFkYœj4q 5AQ6[AxG [>w|?( fХθY䝛$c=_qNĦoǸ>O_|&/_Mi7"宥CЧk0dӷLh;TmuCGU-!Ul{ h<\bQX.~"O2*yPcz!ŠGg

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Reshuffled: 52 Pick Up, edited by Chris Czerniak

52 Pick Up original run, by Gareth-Michael Skarka

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