I like games with physical, tangible elements: rolling dice, playing cards, tracking with tokens or coins, and moving minis around a map.
When I started DMing I found myself crafting maps, handouts of various notes / signs, potion jars, my own style of spell cards– I felt compelled towards homebrew rules using dice in place of other calculations– That led to my core design principle for Apparata Kitbash: Making a game with the complexity and depth of a classic tabletop RPG, but with as many physical interactions as possible to resolve actions.
I like pen and paper, but I love dice and cards.
There will still be character sheets, with stats to roll and determine during the character-creature stage of a campaign. Less calculations during gameplay. During combat or skill tests, players will likely be adding dice rather than modifiers.
5E Homebrew Examples:
- DM-granted Inspiration at my table was similar to Bardic Inspiration: I handed out little 12mm d6 dice (fancy Chessex dice, because DM blessings should look awesome). No marks on sheets or tracking with an app. A little die in front of you, begging to be rolled and used up.
- Paladins have a class-heal that subtracts from a pre-set pool of points, but rather than tracking those points I just give the player a comparable pool of those little d6 dice (red ones in this case). They roll-to-use-up those dice piecemeal for heals. The calculation isn’t the same, but it’s close enough and IMHO a lot more fun, especially if they hand out the dice themselves to let the other players roll their own heals as they occur.
For Apparata Kitbash:
Every ability, feature or feat I design will be on playable cards, just as spells will be. There will be mini-decks as well, which would be comparable to table lookups. Some mechanics will have instructions for handing out dice (dice pools of that sort will usually be d6, because those tiny dice are cheap and fun).
For dice or tokens that expire or get used up from pools, a cup-container in the middle of the table is convenient for discards.
What are the downsides? Printing, cutting out cards. Dice and tokens to purchase. It’s old-school at-the-table stuff, although online paradigms are possible for systems like Roll20 or Fantasy Grounds (not yet my priority though).
I will manage the printing+cutting burden by making a limited core set of rules, abilities and spells for the base game. DMs can add from sets of modular optional rulesets / mechanics that I will also create, or homebrew their own. I will be distributing files to print in PDF form. I do not have plans to ship the game as a hardcopy (book or boxed), but who knows down-the-road if that ever seems feasible.