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Bibliotecs 04: The Shoulders of Giants

Bibliotecs in its current state is an amalgamation of a range of different, yet similar systems. I don’t have the brain to invent game mechanics from scratch (at the moment at least). I need to have all the pieces on the table and then build from there. Bibliotecs is no different. Below are the games that have given me the most inspiration and the pieces of them I’ve got in the game at this stage. For the first round of play testing, I just threw all the bits I liked into a Word document, unedited.

This meant there were a lot of rules and mechanics that didn’t gel very well, were not used, or just didn’t fit. That was fine. For the second play test (which is happening over the next few weeks) I have done quite a lot of work modifying language, and mechanics, and making all the pieces gel together much better. For the most part, this seems to work much better. But I can’t be sure until we have played more. And there will be more and more changes over the next few months. As usual, I digress.

I will not be diving into what these games are all about, I will just be explaining why and how they’ve impacted my ideas on running and playing games.

If you click on the images you will be linked to place you can buy these games. This is my endorsement of them and encouragement to buy them. They’re good.

Into the Odd by Chris McDowall

I fell in love with this system the first time I played it. It was one of the first smaller systems that I played after 5E and it made me realize exactly what it was about D&D that was Bothering me. The bloat. While I still think abilities etc are cool, and fun, and progression is great. Creating a Level 1 adventurer took me two hours the first time I played D&D. Into to the Odd took about eight minutes. No modifiers. Just the cruddy gear I had in my pack and off we went. This was a lightning strike sort of moment for me. This is in 2019 and that was probably the beginning of the end for my fascination with 5E.

The roll under mechanic from Into the Odd lends itself to a solo or co-op style game as the player’s are rolling against their characters abilities. This removes the need to create a system that sets up challenge levels for the characters. Not rolling to hit means that there is an instant reward clever planning in combat and an instant punishment poor planning or preparation. The other element that carries over is idea that equipment helps to flesh out the character and help to distinguish them from one another.

Into the Odd bookcover

Cairn by Yochai Gal

Cairn, the fantasy RPG built on the Mark of the Odd system, is the next key influence on Bibliotecs. Cairn builds on a lot of what Into the Odd started and the changes that it makes all help to support play at the table and guide new players. New players are what I am aiming at. Perhaps not completely new to TTRPGs but players looking to branch away from traditional games. The fatigue system in this is also an amazing step. It’s a great feature that can be adapted to be used for a range of different things. A lot of Bibliotecs uses Cairn’s SRD verbatim at this stage but as I work through play tests it changes and adapts to the need of the new game.


NUKED! is a Knave hack that let’s you play Fallout/Mad Max style adventures. It’s pretty fucking excellent and I thoroughly suggest you check it out. The key things I have pulled out of this game are the Perks and the Mutations. While I love the idea of equipment=character I want something more to help differentiate characters. On the first play test I just dropped both Perks and Mutations in and went for it, but they’re written for a different system. I’ve now made some changes and I am again making more as I work through it. I’m also playing with the Relics as an option too. I like the idea of finding old tech and trying to make it work.

NUKED! Book cover


This game change my mind on solo gaming. It is… brilliant. It is one of the best games I’ve read in the last 6 years. While there is nothing mechanic wise that I am carrying over, I have written an Oracle that is used for creating the world and solo and co-op play. I think I just really like rolling on tables.

Ironsworn book cover

While there are some more, and there probably will be more to come, these four are my major inspirations. Bibliotecs only exists because of the work of these writers and designers.

Bibliotecs is progressing well and all play tests have been really well received. Each one gives me more things to work on, more things to refine, and ways to make it more bibliotec-y.

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Long days and pleasant nights.


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May 2023
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