All of the playing (and design work to support it) I’ve done over the past few months has allowed me to work in some of my house rule ideas, trial them in play a bit, and tweak them or discard them. One example is the archer class, which failed to deliver and was eliminated. Another is a new hit point/death system, which is still in trial mode and will probably be tweaked a bit as we get more experience with it.
It’s that experience that is always so valuable, and you can’t get experience if you don’t do. Some of my ideas have been in place for a long time but, due to limited play opportunities, they haven’t really had the chance to get used a number of times in diverse situations. My wonderfully large amount of play since the start of the pandemic has given me a lot of experience with many of my ideas, some of which were definitely not ready for prime time.
Things that I’ve used for some time have been adjusted or eliminated. Like clerical turning of the undead, for which I used a more Arnesonian-style method proposed by DHBoggs but eventually returned to B/X BTB after an undead-heavy campaign showed me that, while the alternative method looked nice and was definitely more of how I envisioned turning, it just didn’t deliver what we wanted in our game. So back to the book in that case, with plenty of actual use used to make the decision.
My current tinkering efforts are based on a formal separation of race and class in B/X and a skills/abilities/powers system. The projects are related, as I want to use them in combination to “balance” the classes and races a bit more to my tastes while not departing TOO far from the rules as written. It’s a tough line to walk, but hopefully I’ll be able to use the proposals in play enough to get it right.
Hats off to my players, who seem mostly okay with the tinkering. Part of that probably has to do with the fact that 90% of my house rules favor player-characters, but I’m grateful that they’re not too bothered when I say “Hey, by the way, today hit points work differently and I’m reserving the right to change it again tomorrow.”
In the end, I’m not sure what sort of game I’m going to have. I went through a similar phase with both 1e and 2e AD&D back in the day, and in both cases I eventually tired of it and went cold turkey BTB. Many of these tinkerings are based on things I did back then and I’m doing them for the same reasons, so I hope I’ve learned good lessons and can do it better this time instead of simply repeating past mistakes.
I have definitely failed my save vs. tinkering.