Monday, September 9, 2013

Complex vs. Simple Systems

Hey everyone,

So, there has been much debate over the newest revision of Theatre Noir in the last week. Mostly, this debate in over the complexity of the system, and the basic character sheets. This led me to think: What’s the advantage of a complex system? What’s the advantage of a simple system?

The advantage of a simple system is that it’s adaptable. You can use it for any RP and it works. Theatre Noir is meant to work like this, sticking a human in different situations, with different complex rules being added as the GM (in our case Director) sees fit. As a player, the simple system allows me to be surprised, since so much of the game comes from the pure mind of the GM or Director.

As a GM, however, I also like complex systems, because the amount of rules often sparks ideas. When planning a session, sometimes I skim the books for ideas, using new mechanics to surprise my players. A complex system often also allows players to drop into a game, provided that they know the system. I like both and it really depends on what the game is and the group.

Currently Theatre Noir is built to be as complex as the GM likes, with rules for horror, gritt, comedy, drama, and action.

In terms of the character sheet complexity, ideally we’d like to make a sheet generator that allows the GM to make sheets based on what (if any) complex rules they are using in their game. (link to blog post about themes

How complex do you like your systems? What about character sheets? Do you mind character sheets with lots of information on them? Comment or email us at

If this discussion has inspired you, consider signing up to become a playtest GM for Theatre Noir.

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