I could have explained what FKR design means in the title, but I wanted you to click through. And now if you dare leave before you’ve read the whole post, the Ancient Dread Curse of the Drained Device Battery will plague you and the children of your children. Sorry not sorry.
FKR stands for Free Kriegspiel Renaissance, a school of game design experimenting with the very roots of our hobby. Here is a couple links with attempts at definitions, in case this sounds like something you’d be interested in. If not, just assume that by FKR design, I mean super simple rules, tweaked and developed at the table.
I knew precious little myself about Free Kriegspiel games until I realised than my latest attempt at designing for short online sessions had fallen squarely in the FKR wheelhouse (thankfully no one in there was harmed). So I dived into blog posts and forum threads and Discord servers to hoover all the wisdom I could. I even proposed a segment about FKR design to Radio Rôliste (which we recorded a week ago) to have an excuse to do some more research.
Long intro short, I’ve been running two weekly games for about a month, and having an absolute blast. I really needed that freedom and creative mindset after running almost excusively 5E D&D for over a year.
Obliviax Oracle, the d20 to rule them all
It is very simple. Let me quote the game text:
The referee describes situations; the players say how their characters react, asking for details as needed. When the referee is unsure of the consequences of a course of action, the table agrees on a question and a player rolls the d20 to get an answer from the table below. The referee interprets the result and describes the consequences. Traits, knowledge, items, favourable circumstances, etc. can add a bonus to the roll.
That’s the whole of the game: a d20 table with a suggestion of what could happen for each entry. An oracle.
The other page gives you rules you could have made up yourself — and I encourage you to do so! — for character creation (and death), as well as some random ideas to expand the ruleset as needed.
Because you certainly will need more rules, for chases, for magical duels, for divine intervention.
Make up the rules as you need them
Of course this all depends on the kind of game you’re running. One of mine is set in Andrew Kolb’s beautiful hexcrawl Neverland, so the exploration and encounters procedures are baked in (except maybe carousing but Jeff’s Gameblog has me covered).
All I had to do was to drop the characters in hex 01. Character creation was simplified to lower the barrier to entry for non gamers, but so far I haven’t had to come up with anything else yet.
The other game is World Warriors, a nostalgic look back at the Street Fighter Storytelling Game (ah, the 90s! do you reckon there is a place on Earth where White Wolf is still making weird license games?). For this one, I thought about character creation and combat, of course. And now, after about seven hours of play over three sessions, I have thoughts about written and unwritten rules, but that will probably be the subject of another post.
In the meantime, if you want to read what I’ve done with this game, I put everything I’m happy with in the Obliviax Oracle folder.