HAGIS: No one cares what the hell it stands for

I’ve determined that too much time has been spent by me trying to fit a witty acronym to HAGIS, my game houserule/homebrew game effort. It has largely centered around the following: “what does the second vowel stand for…and do people ‘get it’?” Is it:

  • High Adventure Games Integrated System,
  • High Adventure Games Invocation System,
  • High Adventure Games Implemental System,
  • High Adventure Games Ingratiating System,
  • High Adventure Games Impertinent System,
  • High Adventure Games Illegitimate System, or
  • High Adventure Games Inexcusable System?…..a la, Ron Edward’s Fantasy Heart Breakers

Let's Go!OK, I know that using an acronym for a game system is SO 1980’s, but this is my game project and if I want to name it with an acronym steeped in not-so-subtle Scottish food connotations, I will. If I want Ninja-Space-Monkey Pirates in drag to serve a critical role in the design….well, then there’ll be that too.

Some of the above proposed acronym definitions were planted just to be silly (and just added to this post for fun), but the bottom line is this: It really doesn’t matter too much what it stands for. It is just HAGIS. What it means or stands for may change. For the time being, I’m going with “High Adventure Games Implemental System”. Implemental, as in implement or tool.

That’s what the whole HAGIS project is all about really, developing ideas and tools that will add more High Adventure to existing games (via the time honored use of house rules) and aid in the development of whole new games. In fact, one of the key motivators for the HAGIS project was to formalize the design of my Aega Mythea fantasy game. It had stalled and I felt the need to refocus and better define what I was trying to do. HAGIS is central to that refocusing effort. And hey, it might actually be useful to someone else.

At this point, I’m using three broad labels for “things” in the HAGIS development cycle: Principles, Ingredients, and Recipes.

Principles are broad ideas that I feel are important to game play, or rather CAN be important to game play. They do not necessarily define gaming Truths (note the capital T there). They are core ideas that may or may not fit in with what you as a game designer or tinkerer are trying to do. If a HAGIS Principle doesn’t fit a particular game, it can and probably should be ignored. An example of a HAGIS Principle might be: “Player social skills should not impact on the success or failure of character social actions”. It is important to note that two HAGIS Principles can be at complete odds with each other. If a second Principle were: “Character Attributes should only model physical attributes of the characters; mental/social capabilities should emanate solely from the player”, it would obviously be inappropriate to try to effect both Principles into the same game.

Ingredients are more specific or practical bits or pieces that are intended to help in achieving the Principles in a game. These might include skill sets, dice mechanics, bidding mechanisms, character motivation systems, player reward systems, etc. They tend to be mechanical in nature rather than based on setting or genre…..though setting/genre may impact on the core Principles that in turn guide the selection of the specific Ingredients. I had considered using the term Elements for this concept, but felt it was more interesting to stick with the culinary analogy. Mmmmm, HAGIS Ingredients.

Recipes are, more or less, collected implementations of HAGIS Principles and Ingredients. They may be games made from whole cloth using HAGIS or they may be existing games that have been tweaked to behave in a fashion desired by the tweaker (e.g., a d20 or FUDGE game with several HAGIS Ingredients added so as to better reflect some HAGIS Principles). Essentially, HAGIS Recipes are finished games that are ready to be played.

I will be expanding on these concepts and playing around with them to see where they lead, all the while documenting my progress on the blog. I welcome any comments or other feedback on this process. And I encourage all of you out there (and you know who you are) to whip yourself up a nice succulent bit o’HAGIS and share it with a friend.

Cheers for now,

~Adaen of Bridgewater

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