This blog post describes an experimental RPG design principle, Mosaic Strict. I'm defining this principle because I'm curious what kind of games result from applying it. (I have no idea!) I'm defining it very carefully because we live in a fallen world and shared understanding is fleeting.
MOSAIC is a set of criteria that might be true of an RPG text:
If all the criteria apply, then that text is Mosaic Strict. If only some (or none) of the criteria apply, then it's not Mosaic Strict. There are no partial points, it's all or nothing.
(If you use a hash tag for some reason, please use #MosaicStrict capitalization so screen readers handle it properly.)
Mosaic Strict RPG texts are meant to be used together with other RPG texts; each text only describes a portion of the rules that will probably be in use. One might describe an initiative system, another how combat works, another how gutter mage rituals work.
Anyone trying to have a pleasant evening of gaming will probably need to use several of them.
Modular: Any game text that explicitly claims to be
an entire, complete RPG is not Mosaic Strict.
This doesn't mean that all Mosaic Strict texts necessarily work well together! Any given pairing might be hot garbage. That's fine, because they're all..
Mosaic Strict RPG texts are all optional; you don't have to use them. Each play group will decide for itself which one(s) they are using. If a game text describes itself as mandatory, or necessary for the use of a certain gaming experience, it is not Mosaic Strict.
Optional: Any game text that describes itself
as necessary for play is not Mosaic Strict.
Please note that the modular and optional tests aren't about the rules of a text and whether they're "really" modular or optional; this rule is about how the text describes itself.
Short: Mosaic Strict game texts are no more than 1500 words.
This includes any and all words that are part of the publication, such as words in illustrations, the document's title, subtitle, headings, subheadings, byline, copyright notice, Mosaic Strict attestation (see below). If the text is longer than this, it's not Mosaic Strict.
- Mosaic Strict game designers, if there ever are any, have a slim chance of finding one another if their work is labelled
- It might help confused readers of your Mosaic Strict optional rules understand why it refuses to use the term saving throw for no good reason
- It makes the acronym work
or quantified state in any other game text.
Mosaic Strict texts don't refer to any rules whatsoever from other documents. Mosaic Strict texts do not build on one another, they don't assume you're using alignment or levels or that you have a Strength stat described in another document, none of that. There are no mechanical connections whatsoever between Mosaic Strict documents.
This means that a Mosaic Strict game text that describes a turn order for combat cannot assume that characters have Dex scores, or that the game is using 2d6. The combat turn order document could define those things
Now, game worlds have things that can be counted or quantified: money, a PC's height in inches; light switches flip on and off. A game text can refer to quantified things that exist in a setting and still be Mosaic Strict.
A two-page spread about being a wizard could say that you need $13,333 to join the magic society and that you must devour 13 white cats to be able to cast a tree-climbing cantrip up to three times a day and could still count as Mosaic Strict; these are all in-game quantities.
A game text that references any mechanical quantity from another text is not Mosaic Strict.
This isn't a separate rule, but a consequence of Independence that I need to be really clear about: There are no core rules and no character sheet at the bottom of Mosaic Strict, no standard interface of compatibility.
Coreless: assume nothing else is in use beyond free-form play
A game text could define a character sheet and still be Mosaic Strict, but any other document that requires its use is not Mosaic Strict.
A game text could define a universal resolution mechanic and still be Mosaic Strict, but any other document that references that resolution mechanic is not Mosaic Strict.
There's no central document or required rule at the heart of it all, only free-form play role-play and whatever assumptions a particular group brings with it.