I want to make a browser based RPG. I am considering to use an existing pen & paper rule system (like FATE or GURPS) instead of developing my own rule system from scratch.

What pitfalls should I be aware of when adapting a pen&paper system for use in a video game?

  • \$\begingroup\$ @Tyyppi_77 It's not about technology. GURPS and FATE are tabletop RPG system's \$\endgroup\$
    – Feralheart
    May 8, 2017 at 9:13
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Oh I see, my bad. I still however believe that the question might be too broad or opinnion based. \$\endgroup\$
    – user35344
    May 8, 2017 at 9:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't know that much about GURPS, but FATE is a system which would be very difficult to adapt faithfully in video game form. Not that it wouldn't be interesting to try, but I am sure the game experience would be very, very different from any typical RPG video game. \$\endgroup\$
    – Philipp
    May 8, 2017 at 16:45
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I tried to rewrite the question to be less opinion-based. \$\endgroup\$
    – Philipp
    May 8, 2017 at 17:06

2 Answers 2


Generally, when you start without experience you should go with the existing solution instead of inventing something new.

However, your situation is different. Neither FATE nor GURPS are frameworks that are designed for browser based RPGs. So the question is about adapting them, not about using them. Adapting an existing tabletop system for an online RPG is non-trivial and likely an overwhelming task for an average person who writes their first online RPG.

If you make your own system, you still have to draw inspiration from somewhere, so I recommend making your own system inspired by FATE or GURPS. That way you can easily make changes that benefit the gameplay and simplify the implementation.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you. And if I inspired from a framework like GURPS or FATE how will the legals and licences going? \$\endgroup\$
    – Feralheart
    May 8, 2017 at 11:01
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derivative_work \$\endgroup\$
    – Peter
    May 8, 2017 at 12:40
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Just don't make your system exactly the same and you should be fine. They didn't invent, say, the notion of a Strength stat. \$\endgroup\$
    – jhocking
    May 8, 2017 at 17:09

Making an engine is a lot of work. Since you're at the point in your development where you are asking this question, I would recommend making one. I think every game developer should write at least one engine.

Once you've written your own, and it works for your first game, that's awesome. You'll learn how and why frameworks work -- you'll learn about some of the goofy things that seem simple on the surface but are surprisingly difficult to handle in an abstract way. You'll also learn more about what the popular frameworks are doing behind the scenes.

At the end of the day, the most limiting resource is going to be your time. Do you want to dedicate your time to making a game or making a framework?

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Although I'd agree with the point that every developer should write their own engine at one point, I'd say that most developers would benefit from writing a full, working game before tackling engine development. \$\endgroup\$
    – benh
    May 8, 2017 at 14:30
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ If you make your own engine for your first game, that's going to be a pretty bad engine. You need to know how engines work before writing a good one. That's working in a closed loop and nothing good can come out of it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Vaillancourt
    May 8, 2017 at 14:33
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ yeah, it will be a pretty bad engine, but it's an amazing learning experience. It helps to learn why some engines are good if you have working complete knowledge of a bad one. \$\endgroup\$
    – edthethird
    May 8, 2017 at 14:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is true, but it's not what this question is about. \$\endgroup\$
    – Philipp
    May 8, 2017 at 17:07
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ We're not talking about an engine, we're talking about a set of rules here. I think you're trying to address the wrong issue. \$\endgroup\$
    – Vaillancourt
    May 8, 2017 at 17:13

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .