I have a newfound appreciation for even the worst of the d20 conversions from the heyday of the d20 Boom. You see, I've been working on converting part of one game into another game. For personal use - but I think other folks might get some benefit from it.
Let me explain a bit:
As I'm sure you know, I'm a huge fan of the Legend of the Five Rings RPG. I have at least one of every product published since first edition (with one frustrating exception). I love the system. I love the setting. I just plain love this game.
But there's one thing that's always been lacking for me: Any sense of the passage of time. This is a big deal because of the metaplot. The setting has several large overarching storylines which are running at any given time - and it's really not realistic for PCs to be at every single event that is part of this story. At the same time, GMs don't want to Infodump on the players. Because infodumps are No Fun.
Not only that, but player characters are eternally young and vigorous. Right up until the point where they are cut down by a foe on the battlefield ...
This is glorious and all, but when you read the fiction, elderly samurai retire from active duty and serve as teachers. Characters do die of old age and natural causes. Admittedly, we see this more from Emperors than from characters who are on the same level as the PCs, but it does happen.
On the other hand, having your character gradually degenerate into unplayability due to advancing age is not going to be a ton of fun, either. Because we'd much rather focus on the Epic Glory Days of our characters. So a way to introduce new characters to the mix is also important.
There's another game which I very much like. It's called King Arthur Pendragon, and it has a feature that was 100% unique at the time it was introduced. Several features, really, but one that's relevant here. It's called the "Winter Phase."
During the winter phase of the game, your character will age (and eventually die of old age or retire). To keep it from being a frustrating spiral of PC decay, however, KAP added a family. Your character will, by the time he is too old to continue, have an heir ready to step up and become your new PC. Every year, your children will age - and some of them won't survive to adulthood.
It also has another effect on the players. Suddenly the game isn't about your character, it's about your character's legacy. It's something I think a lot of games could use.
If you're at all curious about it, I heartily suggest that you check out the current Bundle of Holding which will be Pendragon for the next day or two. If you miss the bundle, it's always available in PDF and print-on-demand via DriveThruRPG. And it's a phenomenal game.
It's something I very much wanted to add to my L5R game. So I decided to make it happen.
This file (PDF link) is the current draft of my project. And it's ... it's more difficult than I thought. It is, by the way, not even close to finished, because that will require playtesting and more playtesting and tweaking and balancing. But it's at a point where parts of it are written enough to share. Feel free to download it and check it out and tweak it and adjust it. Find out where it's broken (because I'm sure there are places where it is broken).
And re-download it periodically, as I'll be updating it somewhat regularly ...
But if you decide to do so, I have one request: Let me know what you think. Tell me what flaws you find. I need to know what doesn't work so I can fix it.
I'll (obviously) not be releasing this commercially, but that doesn't mean I don't want it to be as good as I can possibly make it ...