In my last post I talked about my own introduction to RPGs through D&D and it's possible shortcomings as a game for new players, and then a game I found particularly suited to the task, Teenagers From Outer Space.
So why set out to create a set of rules specifically for the purpose of introducing players to the hobby? Well, for one I have pragmatic reasons. I'm living and working in a place where I don't know any other roleplayers, and so I don't have the opportunity to indulge in my hobby of choice. But for another, I feel like it's a niche that could use filling. Most people who try out roleplaying are talked through their first few sessions by a more experienced friend in whatever game that friend happens to be playing or to particularly like. Or else a group of friends stumbles on one of the big ones (usually Dungeons and Dragons, which has recognized it's place as practically the only RPG with name recognition outside of roleplaying circles and introduced starter kits in a box and so forth).
But for the reasons outlined in my prior post with respect to D&D (though they apply to other established systems as well), I feel like the focus is often wrong in these introductory attempts. The D&D in a box games provide little background flavor or opportunities to delve into characters. Joining an existing game in a full-featured system can have a steep learning curve.
So, where do I think the focus should be? For one, I think the focus should be more on the RP and less on the G. Most folks already have a pretty good idea what a game is, and from childhood have been trained to follow some fairly arbitrary rules in order to have fun. What RPGs offer that parcheesi or checkers don't is the ability to combine the imagination and storytelling involved with reading a good book or getting into a movie with the structure and social elements of a game.
My goal is to come up with rules powerful enough to cover whatever situation a wily group of players may find themselves in (or at least, powerful enough to give the GM a fighting chance in winging it) but simple enough to be picked up quickly and to take a back seat to character decision making and interaction. I figure that anyone whose interests lean to character development and interaction will either keep up with my system or find other games with a similar philosophy and enjoy their interactive storytelling. Likewise, those players who find themselves hankering for more definition to their actions and tactical decision making can be led to those games that better fit their tastes. But I think it's easier to go from roleplaying focused games to 'crunchy' games than it is to go the other way, and that there are more folks more likely to be turned off by too much mechanical detail than likely to be turned off of the whole hobby from too little of that and too much story focus.
But I could be wrong, and I'd love to hear feedback on why I could be totally mistaken here.