Initial Ideas

Not long after starting to run my very first D&D home campaign in 2017, I started one of my periodic re-watches of the Reboot TV series and with the lens of a new Dungeon Master, I started to think it could be a fun D&D game. Bob the Guardian was basically a Paladin, Matrix the Rengade was a Fighter, AndrAI the Game Sprite was a Ranger, and so on.
I didn't do anything with the idea for a while as I was focused on learning to create engaging adventures and learning the ins-and-outs of D&D. 

About 6 months later I felt like a had a better grip on DMing, and my focus switched to campaign-building and learning how to be a better game designer. I started mixing one-shots into our weekly D&D sessions to experiment with different concepts and settings, and eventually I started to think about Reboot again.
The thing that brought it together was that the Friendly Local Game Store we played our weekly game at had a few copies of a car-racing board game falled FormulaD in stock. I looked at the game and was intrigued. One of the things I'd been unsure of in converting Reboot into a TTRPG was how to handle the Game Cubes. Now with FormulaD in my hands, and remembering the racing game episode of Reboot, I had my eureka moment: The Game Cubes would introduce different actual games into the session, each with its own rules and goals, just like the show. 

I'd like to say I bought FormulaD, took it home, and started to deconstruct it, but I simply didn't have the budget. D&D is not a cheap hobby, especially for a Dungeon Master, and I had recently transitioned to being comepletely self-employed, so instead I found the instructions and a good picture of the FormulaD game board online, and used that as a starting point. As the Game rules had to be taught entirely within the RPG session, in just a few minutes, I ruthlessly gutted FormulaD down to its key core mechanics, and built a new game inspired by it. (I have since purchased a copy of FormulaD!) From there I took a lot of inspiration from Mario Kart, to give it a relatable video game vibe, and I had a my first functional game. 

Next I had to build my classes, and for the intial one-shot, only had two classes, the Guardian (heavily based on a 5e Paladin), and Game Sprites (several variations, but all based on the 5e Ranger).  After putting it all-together with a healthy dose of Reboot flavour and what I hoped would be a fun adventure plot, I was ready for the first ever playtest.

My players were thrilled with a lot of the ideas, but had many, MANY suggestions and a lot of constructive criticisms. 

Alpha Testing and Next Steps

For the next year I continued to develop my creation, slowly building it out into full game instead of a janky one-shot. Each playtest added new features and re-worked old ones, and slowly but surely, it got better.

But as it improved I started to realize something: Reboot was inherently a soft-magic system (technically things like KeyTool abilities aren't "magic", but they functionally are), where the magic in the show did whatever the plot needed, without establishing many clear rules or boundaries. But D&D 5e is a hard-magic system, where magic genererally has very specific effects and limits. I began to realize that Reboot's days on the 5e game engine were numbered. I looked at many other systems that allowed for more flexibility, but I also wanted to keep the game at least somewhat familiar to D&D players, so in the end I started developing my own game engine, based of the d20 system under the OGL.

While working on the new game engine, I continued to refine the gameplay of Reboot, adding more Games and Formats to the RPG experience, adding a battle-arena and, ironically, a tactical RPG to the game library, while also adding the Web Surfer Format and more Game Sprite variants. Periodic playtesting continued.


As I continued to refine the mechanics, I got a better understanding of the key elements that helped my Reboot RPG feel like Reboot, which led to further work being needed on the custom d20 game engine, leading to further delays and complications. I was making progress, but it was slot and frustrating. And that's when Modiphius announced the pending release of their 2d20 SRD and plans to allow publishing of third-party 2d20 games. 

I was already familiar with 2d20 from Achtung!Cthullu and Star Trek: Adventures, and immediately knew it would be the perfect fit. 2d20 combined the structure that D&D players expect in a game, with clearly defined stats and equipment, while offering a more open-ended way of using abilities/spells/skills, where the player simply tells the DM what they want to do, and DM determines if it's possible, the difficulty of the attemped task, and how it will effect gameplay. 2d20 also offers both DMs and players a way to bend the odds to allow for big heroic moments, as well as dark threats, without either player characters or enemies needing becoming massively overpowered.

With the SRD in-hand a week of quiet at a friend's cottage, I set out to... erhm.... reboot, Reboot.  With my, by this time, deep understanding of what worked for Reboot, and my non-trivial experience with 2d20, the initial conversion mostly went smoothly, and even allowed a workable build of the format, something I had long struggled with. The Game Sprite did prove to be more of a challenge, but not an insurmountable one.

Now progress nears completion on a intial beta of 2d20 Reboot...