I ran across this post today that reminded me that my brother, Robert, and I used the game board from Avalon Hill’s Waterloo as a star map for a science fiction space combat exploration game we made up in the 80’s.
My planet/system had the brilliant name of Erloowat, I don’t recall what Robert named his.
There were two or three games we made up back then. A Science Fiction/Space RPG we called Scout, and a space pirate game centered around ship capture/combat. I don’t recall now if our space combat game built on the rules from our space pirate game. The rules for all of them were pretty broad. The space/interplanetary war game was actually more like an RPG without a GM. We didn’t have enough rules to cover certain scenarios to make it truly playable the way we intended. I think we just played at it for an afternoon or two and it faded away.
The problem with making your own game is defining the parameters and limitations of it so that there is an agreed upon framework to make it playable without a GM or the creators on standby to deal with scenarios as they develop.
The benefit of RPGs is that you only need enough rules to build enough framework to be able to have fun, and as play develops, the players and GM work together to fill in the gaps, thus the prevalence of house rules and homebrew games that are a freankensteinian combination of multiple ideas from other RPGs and the experience of actual play and house rules. Our Scout game was just such a one. We took ideas from Traveller, Star Frontiers, Metamorphosis Alpha, Gamma World, and probably others I don’t recall to get mechanics/rules for things we had trouble fleshing out ourselves. Robert also wrote great short stories that tied into Scout. We passed them around in high school and kept asking for more. (I wish he would publish his writings, he could even do the artwork for the book covers.)
As I was writing this I recalled another RPG we had was based on Androids, I think that was more of what would be a LARP. However, we did not run around in costume, it was more a sit around and talk about things our characters did. We drew ships and different kinds of androids and robots and wrote little scenarios and stories. I don’t recall if this preceded our discovery of Blue Box Holmes Basic D&D or not. I know one guy involved moved away at some point, and I don’t recall what grade. It was spring of 7th grade we discovered D&D, I don’t recall when David moved away.