Thursday, September 5, 2019

What is the Clout Role-Playing Game?

So there's a million different role-playing games out there. What makes Clout unique? I don't think there's any one thing that's unique to Clout, rather it's the combination of features that makes it unique.

  • Easy to play: If you can remember "The 7/10 rule" (or the optional "5/9 rule" instead), then you know how to play Clout. You should never have to open a book during play.

  • Clout has no class: In Clout, characters are based on skills and "tags," not character classes.

  • Tags: Tags were initially inspired by "cliches" in S. John Ross's brilliant Risus but ended up looking a lot more like "aspects" in Fate. These are short phrases that are used to describe something about a character, a place, or a thing. For example, you might decide that your character is #The Best Swordsman in the Land; that would be a tag.

  • Short skill list: I like skill based systems, but most systems have an outrageous number of skills. GURPS is a great game, but it's bloated with over 400 skills. I don't really want to play in a campaign where I have to make a bunch of checks against my accounting skill. The 3rd edition of Dungeons & Dragons has about 40 skills, which is better but still too many. Savage Worlds has a very usable 23 skills. Clout uses 13 very broad skills, which I think covers just about everything a PC would want to do.

  • No skill-attribute stacking: Stacking attributes and skills adds complexity, and occassionally leads to min-maxing or wonky results. I first had this pointed out to me in Steffan O'Sullivan's Fudge. I avoid this in Clout by doing away with attributes altogether (although the classic ones are all there in the skill list).

  • Single roll resolution: In Dungeons & Dragons, a single round of two PCs fighting six kobolds could potentially take 16 dice rolls! In GURPS that could be 24 dice rolls (8 attacks, 8 defense rolls, and 8 damage rolls). In Clout this would be just two rolls: one for each PC. This mechanic was inspired by Paul Elliot and Mike Hill's great TunnelQuest.

  • Variable result task resolution: inspired by TSR's Conan Role-Playing Game and by Steffan O'Sullivan's Fudge. In addition to a simple success/failure result, the die roll can return a result somewhere in the middle, not to mention a fumble or crit.

  • Small rulebook: Hopefully the rules will be short. I consider wordy rule books to be a bug, not a feature. Risus is 6 pages and feels very complete, though I doubt that I'll be able to be so concise. The 1995 version of Fudge is 100 pages, and it's too long.

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