In my continuing search for a new generic RPG system, I can sit here all day and write about the importance of clean layout, simple rules presentation, and proper power scaling. Yet that overlooks one of the most important, and least understood reasons for choosing or selecting a new RPG—the Click Factor.
Now, there are a lot of RPG products out there I am ambivalent towards. Most of them don’t do anything for me, even as I recognize some of their merits (i.e., GURPS, JAGS, D&D 4e, etc.). Whatever the reason, I just don’t get into those systems. But there are other products that I just “get”, right off the bat. They appeal to me, I get the system, and I feel like I have the game figured out. I call this the Click Factor, because everything just “clicks” into place all of the sudden regarding the game.
There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to this. Rolemaster and Risus both clicked for me immediately. So did In Harm’s Way, d6, and Two-Fisted Tales. I understood what the game was going for, and that made the rules seem to be following a logical progression. It’s almost as if the writer and I were on the same wavelength at that point. I suppose it’s a mix of layout, rules presentation, tone of writing, and just how I’m wired. I’m sure other people feel this way about games from GURPS to Exalted.
I’m an old Palladium fan, but that’s how I started in the hobby. That’s not so much a Click Factor as my native tongue (which might be why I feel compelled to write in italics with exclamation points at times!!!). You could say the same of Rules Cyclopedia D&D.
The Click Factor isn’t always an immediate thing. It took a revisit to Castles & Crusades before the light went on. I’m following the same sort of path with EABA, as I also messed with it before to middling effect.
If a game doesn’t “click” for me, that’s not to say I won’t use it or work on it, but it’s a far tougher endeavor. Feeling comfortable with a RPG product is an invaluable thing. Sometimes it comes from experience, sometimes it comes from writing what you want yourself, and sometimes it just clicks.