Tackling AE took keeping a lot of things in mind. These three tie back to my previous post (Arduin Design Notes III) as things to keep in mind while I was forming up the material for each section.
I touched on this in the previous post but I'll hit on symmetry again. Symmetry was the drive to have a core mechanic and to have AE reflect the core mechanic and only deviate from it if no other good way existed to capture the capability at hand. I knew, for instance that at this point my core mechanic was going to a be a d100+bonuses versus a target difficulty (TD). So I knew that everything would use this mechanic to handle a conflict unless it did not fit or couldn't fit. For instance, using the idea as an example, look at how we could answer the following questions: Can I climb a wall? d100+bonuses versus a target difficulty (TD) Can I hit my opponent? d100+bonuses versus a target difficulty (TD) Can I sneak past this monster? d100+bonuses versus a target difficulty (TD)
Ease of Use AE had to be easy to use, not too overburdened with bookkeeping but enough to capture a specific level of complexity while retaining the flexibility to be as complex or simplex as the GM and players desired. A tall order. Symmetry works hand in hand with ease of use and supports it intrinsically. Ensuring exceptions are few, makes understanding AE simple. For instance, the battle and melee portion is mirrored by the psychic and magikal portions of AE. If you learn one, you don't have to learn a whole new way of doing business to use the other. A second part of Ease of Use is how much you have to look up in the book in order to play. A lot of engineering went into ensuring player would need to look up as little as possible in the book in order to play. Thirdly, great care was taken with the math. No matter how deep the role playing in an RPG, eventually you have to do the math if you use dice. AE was engineered to make that as easy to use as possible. Your primary math function is adding, and while the sums can grow to 100 or more, they are typically in easy to add chunks. Depth Depth is a lot of things but here I defined it as Fun, Attractive and Roleplayable. Fun A game can be the best game every made but if it is not fun to play (due to whatever reason), no one is going to play it. A lot of factors go into whether a game is fun or not, not the least being how well it handles the job at hand. Attractive A game that is attractive is one you want to play. It could be because it does something new, something in a way you haven't seen or just fits your mental image of how an RPG should work. Roleplayable It can change pacing to accommodate you needs, the mechanics support role play and the game demands it to reach its epitome. I personally think AE has the strength of these if players can realize them. Time and steady sales have shown I'm right. AE isn't blazing a path to the stars but it is growing steadily in fan base and appreciation as everyone adjusts to the culture shock.