You know that feeling when you type "gamebook rule system" into a search engine and the first result that comes up is your own topic that you started 18 months ago? Not that I have any regrets, it was a fun and productive discussion. But it does say something about the state of experimentation in the field.
Yes, I'm finally working on that long-planned second gamebook. No, the system I described back then isn't right for it (the tone is wrong). So what to do?
My first impulse was to roll my own (pun very much intended) 2d6 rules, but after struggling with the basics for a couple of days (and losing a night of sleep in-between) I decided to go with something tried-and-true. Finding something appropriate however took some searching.
Little did I know that a few short months before I posted that topic, a new game had been released by the name of Tunnel Goons. It's right here on Itch.io, and has its own community. Also
literally hundreds of almost a hundred hacks, as supplements and derivatives are known (it's open source).
Turns out, Tunnel Goons is incredibly flexible. Well-balanced, too, even after changes, as I found soon after picking it up.
Not that it was love at first sight. I set it aside repeatedly, in fact, while looking at alternatives, but somehow came back to it every time.
The fifth or sixth time that happened, I knew it was a keeper.
Tunnel Goons is humble, very much on purpose. In fact that tends to be the problem with 2d6 systems: they don't exactly feel heroic, with their small numbers and short ranges. But as it happens, my WIP is supposed to feel humble, as you play a peasant driven by necessity, not some big damn hero. Tunnel Goons also happens to have very similar traits right off the bat: a class-less, level-less system with three attributes playing the same roles, just with different names. And it's one roll per attack, exactly like I wanted (though some complexity crept back in by another path). It can still accommodate interesting combat, though I suppose that will mostly come from the magic system.
Don't worry, I plan to finish the other system too. Going to need it for a cyberpunk JRPG. But first, this little warm-up.