Cases in point:
- I love B/X/BECMI D&D and LL. It's a simple system that plays fast and leaves a lot of open room for storytelling without being a "story game." But, like most DMs, there are things I would have done differently if I'd been the one to devise the rules. In the Evenoria games, for example, I'm using Base Attack Bonus and Positive Armor Class. Why? Because it just makes more sense intuitively and involves quick, in-the-head calculations rather than referring to charts and tables. Initially, though, it required MORE work. I had to look at to-hit-progressions for all of the classes and figure the BAB based on that, figure up the armor bonuses, and then assemble everything into tables that I must now remember to find and refer to at the game table.
- JB's 100 Reasons table rocks for figuring out cool ways to make a party "gel." And it saves on brainpower. But I almost forgot to use it because, again, it's just another piece of paper to have to keep on hand.
- Same thing for all of Zak's cool charts and tables from his blog and Vornheim, as well as Jeff's carousing rules.
Sometimes in mid-tinker, though, I wonder if I'm not making things harder or at least more involved than they ought to be. Ostensibly, one of the main reasons I gave up on Type III D&D was that I didn't like complexity. There were just too many systems, too many rules. So for a long time, I either didn't play at all or ran games like Risus, FUDGE, or even the old West End Ghostbusters game.
But sooner or later, we all revisit our roots. And in doing so, I finally figured out that "Basic" D&D had about the right level of complexity to keep both me and my players interested. (Perhaps still a bit too much for the former and a bit too little for the latter--but that's what compromise is all about, no?) Plus, you know, nostalgia. I mean it comes IN A BOX! With DICE! In THE BOX!
And now what am I doing? I'm adding more systems and tools. Complexity. Of course we're still about 20-30% as complex as Types I, II, or III*, but I wonder at times where customization ends and the slippery slope to byzantine rules lawyering begins.
How do YOU decide when or how something--even if it seems cool at the outset--is more trouble than it's worth?
* I haven't played Type IV. Don't even know anyone, personally, who plays it, so I can't really comment on it. But, from the few glances I've had at the character sheets, it looks to be roughly as "involved" as Type III.